Keeping Lease Renewals High in 2013

Well here we are in a brand-new year, and if you’re a property manager, you’ve no doubt drawn up your plan for

keeping your residents and keeping them happy in 2013. Many property managers follow a fairly standard playbook when it comes to resident perks — Super Bowl parties, free coffee in the mornings, discounts on multi-year leases, and so forth. But here’s something to consider: SatisFacts, the apartment industry’s authority on resident satisfaction and retention, discovered that the top three factors that influence a renewal decision are quality of maintenance service, safety and security, and quality of customer service provided by office staff. But what about the free peppermint candy in the leasing office? Nope. Not gonna cut it.

Leasing Center Sign

So how can you use these three factors to your advantage? Let’s take a look.

The quality of maintenance service is a no-brainer. It can be a challenge for larger properties, but maintenance staff showing up quickly with the most likely tools they’ll need for the issue can go a long way. And though many properties have switched to an online maintenance request system, most service requests still come via phone or in-person leasing office visit, so having staff on hand who are familiar with the most common issues and how to resolve them can be a real feather in your cap. Never having to worry about the malfunctioning garbage disposal? Who wouldn’t want to renew?

It’s no surprise that safety and security are a high priority for residents. Why would anyone want to stay somewhere they didn’t feel safe? Taking proactive steps to ensure a well-lit property filled with well-informed residents is key. Make sure that you have a good rapport with the local law enforcement. Replace burnt-out light fixtures in exterior common areas quickly. Inform residents if there have been any incidents such as break-ins, vandalism, or strangers hanging around the property, and be sure to let them know what’s being done about it. A feeling of security? Who wouldn’t want to renew?

And finally, customer service. It doesn’t matter if you have five units or 500, it all comes down to customer service. Do you have experienced professionals in place? Folks who can endure the most expletive-laced tirades with a smile? Who can make prospective tenants feel at ease, but with just enough sales experience to convince them they should take the plunge? And the $64,000 question — do you have a customer service staff that cares? Really cares about resident concerns? If so, you’ve got the biggest piece of the puzzle already in place. A pleasant voice on the other end that makes a person feel valued and appreciated? Who wouldn’t want to renew?

So? What are you doing to keep your renewal rate high this year?