Written by: Shad Bookout
Apartment shoppers today are looking at more than what they will pay in rent each month. They are searching for what is going to benefit their lifestyle the most. In some cases, location is the deciding factor. For others, it is the fact they know someone that already lives there. But the main factor that sets one apartment community from another is the amenities that are being offered.
Look at your advertising — whether it is on your website, ILS pages, or brochures. Now, look at your competitors. If all the apartment communities in your marketplace are advertising the same features and benefits, along with the same approximate rate and the same general location, it makes it harder to compete for each and every lease. But if you are offering something unique, or offering it in a unique way, you immediately increase your chances of being at the top of the pile when a prospect is ready to start deciding.
Set yourself apart by offering as many of these amenities as possible and watch your traffic spike, your closing ratios rise, and your resident retention rate soar.
Here are the amenities every community should provide if they want to stand out in the marketplace:
People love their pets (even more than their family, in some cases). By spending time focusing on the needs/wants of your four-legged residents, you are earning the adoration of their humans. Nearly every apartment community touts similar breed and weight restrictions, fees, and basic amenities. But some are upping the game with elaborate “bark parks” and playrooms for cats.
Laura J., a community manager in Peru, Ind., says her community differentiated itself by lifting the normal dog breed and weight restrictions. The results have even allowed her community to raise rents and she has less “issues” than many communities with restrictions in place.
Another community manager, Tammee H. in Everett, Wash., loves talking about the community’s Dog Washing Spa Room, which boosted their pet fees by $50 a month. In both cases, pet owners are paying more to ensure their four-legged friends are living their best lives.
Helping residents by proving package management services continues to be a hot topic of discussion. Some communities are forcing delivery companies to continue with doorstep delivery, taking themselves completely out of the package game. But this does nothing to benefit the resident (and often leads to a larger number of parcel theft). Others are utilizing locker systems, package rooms, outsourced package relay services, and alert systems to provide a service and a way to make ancillary income. Many multifamily teams are seeing the benefits of providing package management, including increased resident communication and retention. It creates one more point of contact to help improve the connections we make to residents.
Some of the most popular items come from the simple desire to have more fun. Leading your apartment promotions talking about the “resort-style pool” and the “state-of-the-art fitness center” simply causes your community to blend in with the rest of your marketplace. But when you have unique entertainment options, you have something special to talk about and something that residents want to bring to others about.
Amanda B.’s community in Roanoke, Va., boasts a huge assortment of entertainment options, including a game room with wall Scrabble, pool table, shuffleboard, and other games along with a limited-seating move theater. These spaces bring people together to create a greater sense of community.
In a technology-driven age, it makes sense that many of the most talked-about apartment community features are the most high-tech. Cara C. of Columbus, Ohio loves to show off her community’s key-fobbed building entries and smart apartments. “I am always trying to stay on top of the new trends,” she says. And she is not alone. Nest systems, Google Home, Amazon Echo hubs, and even smart fridges are quickly becoming a staple of the multifamily industry, forcing established communities to retrofit in order to stay caught up with trends.
Some of the most significant tech perks that multifamily teams need to address with every prospective resident is WiFi connectivity and cellular signal reception. Imagine arriving at your new home to discover that you are now living with super slow internet speeds or the aggravation of continuously dropping calls. Have every future resident check their bars when touring their future apartment or, if they cannot be present for the tour, have it checked it for them. When you talk about how great your signal is and your competition does not even mention it, skepticism of what they will provide moves your community into the limelight.
As we move away from the economic uncertainty of the pandemic, it will become increasingly difficult to stand out in a crowded apartment landscape. It is only by showing the world how unique you are and how wonderful their lifestyle will be living there that you will come out on top of the mountain.
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 be found behind the scenes helping multifamily suppliers succeed in their digital media and marketing efforts.