By: Shad Bookout
Think back to the last time you had to move. Was it a joy-filled experience in which everything went exactly as planned and there was little to no stress involved? No? Now imagine if you were moving from across the country or across the globe. The difficulties and stresses for such a transition are magnified by the distance and most people are delighted to receive any and all help possible.
As we head into a post-pandemic economy, many businesses will begin to transition team members back into the office or into new roles across the country. This means more people will be relocating for their jobs and arriving at a place they have little to no direct knowledge of.
In order to differentiate your community and help these future residents as much as possible, it is important to rethink how you interact with them. Setting your community apart as their top choice starts with a focus on these 5 ways to better help renters who are relocating to your city.
For employees who are relocating to a new city, time is of utmost importance. They still have to get their jobs done and they still want to live as uninterrupted of daily life as possible. The time it takes to find the best apartment needs to be efficient and effective.
A quick online search will reveal many of the most important items about your community online. Before a future resident even picks up the phone, they have already learned everything they can from your website, ILS listings, and reviews.
When they reach out to you, it is important to ask probing questions to discover if they are familiar with the area and what is important to them. Remember, you are not just selling your community; you are an ambassador for the area.
“The biggest obstacle for relocating employees is local knowledge,” says Melissa Arciga, global account manager, CRP, GMS at CORT. “A lot of information is at their fingertips, but can they trust what is online, such as the reviews? The leasing team is a resource and their first friend. All the information they can provide — not only to help select an apartment but also to find pet care, a car wash, schools if needed, tanning salons, Thai food, the best coffee shop, etc. — is what they need the most.”
It is important to be reassuring that you will do everything possible to assist them through every step of their relocation process.
Help With Discovery
For some, relocating into an apartment they have never set foot in is stressful. You can help by providing a guided video tour through a video chat app such as FaceTime or Google Duo. This allows you to treat the tour as though they were in-person and can ask questions along the way. As a follow-up, send them videos and photos of the other portions of the community that were not covered on the tour.
This is especially useful if you have images of their actual apartment. Talk about the lifestyle they can expect and how close they will live to the things they have stated are important. Do the work for them and save their precious time. You are the local expert they can rely on.
For most people, the next big step after moving in is adjusting to the area. If you have done a good job asking questions, you will already have an idea of the things your relocating residents will be interested in and can provide everything they need to know before they arrive at the community for the first time.
Jon Harman, global account manager, GMS at CORT, suggests providing a guide to the closest: gyms, dry-cleaners, parks, and other services of interest. When you ask a brief lifestyle survey in the initial calls, you are able to generate a guide that matches the renter’s interests. This includes suggesting routes for their daily commutes, public transit info (e.g. which bus, what times/schedule, how to buy a pass), and how longs trips are during the peak times they will be out and about. Even though much of this can be found online, providing the information for them saves their time and provides a valuable amenity.
Create a Sense of Home
It is hard to move to a new place where you know no one. The first few weeks can be lonely and taxing on a persons’ mental health. Some apartment communities miss a real opportunity to provide community to these relocating singles or families who are moving from another country or even another city or state, according to Arciga.
“In most cases, we are their only ‘friend’ on the ground and they need more connections. If the apartment communities could provide new resident coffee/happy hours, meet and greets, tours around the neighborhood, evening walks, etc., they could establish strong ties to their brand for that resident and likely their company,” Arciga says.
This sense of community/home helps transform stressed-out renters into long-term happy residents.
All too often, we fall into our routines of sticking to our phone scripts or copy and pasting the same email follow-up. Today’s renters expect a customer experience that is more. This is especially true for relocating renters who need you to be a problem solver and not just a leasing agent that lists off the same amenities they saw online. Find out their challenges and offer ways you can make their lives easier.
The best thing you can do for every renter is to exceed their expectations at every step and be more than just an apartment provider. Become a resource they can rely on when they choose your community to become their home.
Shad Bookout has over 20 years of experience as a multifamily supplier and educator. He currently serves as the Director of Content for Rent & Retain Magazine which provides on-site teams with tips and tricks to gain more traffic, earn more leases, and retain more residents. He also serves as Chief Social Officer for OpinionsVary Inc. where he can found behind the scenes helping multifamily suppliers succeed in their digital media and marketing efforts.