Resident Retention 101: Eliminate the bad experiences
Resident retention opportunities can happen when it is least obvious. Therefore, let’s look at a popular topic we are all confronting this time of year: the weather.
Portland is known for mild winters. Sure, it rains. But snow in the Portland metropolitan area and SW Washington is supposed to be a like a petting zoo: you can drive 20 minutes to the mountains, visit it and then come home without any concerns. 2017 was a nutso year. It seemed every other week we had an ice storm or blizzard. As a result, we were all under considerable stress.
Schools were constantly out, cars were skating off of roads and into ditches (or off an occasional cliff). Some people ditched their cars on the side of the road and shivered their ways home by foot. We put on tire chains and hoped we wouldn’t thrash our wheel wells driving 20 mph on major roads. And for a split second (only a split second) we thought California wouldn’t be so bad. But then we reminded ourselves about how much we love the place we call home and swore this would not happen again for another 3 or 4 years.
Here we go again…
Well, it happened again in 2018. But in property management, foul weather is an opportunity to prove to our residents that we care. We don’t want you to slip on the ice and bruise your tailbone. No. We want you to look around and admire the beauty of the snow clinging to tree branches and walk in your nicest shoes on snow and ice free ground to your car. There will be plenty of opportunities to freak out on the road, but leaving and arriving to your home should be the good part.
Keeping it safe and eliminating stress
They say insurance isn’t appreciated until it is needed. Arranging for 2000+ residents to wake up after a snowy evening to clear sidewalks and plowed parking lots, all de-iced, is not an easy task. We plan months in advance to ensure we can accomplish this for our residents. At the time, we don’t even know if these efforts are going to be necessary. A snow free winter in Portland is plausible after all. But when Jane Resident goes to work and her co-worker is holding her elbow because she fell in her parking lot, Jane Resident will appreciate that her management company took the time and energy to keep her safe. “Appreciation” is what we hope she feels. But we can at least expect her to not be sore and angry. She didn’t have a bad day. And that’s good enough, right? WRONG!
Resident Retention 101: Creating the good experiences
When a customer service person says good-bye, she says “have a nice day” not “don’t have a bad day.” We say “good luck” to people, not “don’t have bad luck.” Clearing the snow and ice is great for eliminating the bad luck and not promoting a bad day. But that is a pretty low bar.
Make their day
The management book “Fish” provides a parable that takes place in the Pacific NW. One of the lessons this book preaches is to “Make Someone’s Day.” If you are determined every day you go to work to make at least one person’s day, you’d be surprised how likely you are to overachieve and make A LOT of people’s days. Bad management can drive a tenant away. However, resident retention is your reward for giving them a reason to love their community.
Therefore, what if a manager ventures into the snow with some of the children in her community enjoying a day off from school and makes a snow man? And what if this snow man is planted right in front of her office to greet the visiting residents? Sure, they didn’t slip on ice and have their day ruined. But how do you not smile at a snow man? The children are undoubtedly high-fiving each other for a job well done. Their parents are happy that for a good 45 minutes their children were occupied with something fun and creative. And at least four other residents took pictures of the snow man to post on their Instagram or Facebook accounts or show to their friends at work.
If clearing the snow and ice is what separates the good property management companies from the meh. Then a snow man, a snowball fight, and snow angels separates the great ones from the good. This is how the magic happens!