Increased Competition, Cost of Turns Good Reasons to Focus on Renewals

According to a recent NMHC survey resident renewal intent dropped from 65% in the second quarter of 2010 to 54.9% in the fourth quarter of 2013. That number could drop further considering there are 240,300 units scheduled for delivery this year, and considering how expensive turns can be – between $1,500 and $2,000 per unit on average – it’s going to be increasingly important for property managers to focus on retention tactics.

Multifamily Executive recently ran a piece about renewals that had some tips and tactics for boosting renewals. Here’s a taste:

Making sure associates are communicating on a personal level with residents is part and parcel to the corporate culture, one of the most important ways the FSSR office touches base, Casio-Smith says.

“You’ve got to follow up with them every chance you get,” she says. “If you know something personal about them, if it’s their birthday or if you know their wife is in the hospital battling cancer, then you should acknowledge that. Or it could be just following up with them on something as basic as service request.”…

And then there are renewal incentives:

Some of the company’s most popular incentives include one-time complimentary house cleaning or valet laundry service. And it’s easy to develop a relationship with the companies offering the cleaning services since they may garner new business from the apartment community through the renewal gifts…

Kristin Stanton, senior vice president of operations at Greensboro, N.C.–based Bell Partners, saysupgrades to homes works in some markets while it doesn’t work in others.

Interior upgrades, such as accent wall paint, upgraded light fixtures or the addition of ceiling fans, seem to be the most popular kind of renovation that people prefer, Stanton says. And if that doesn’t convince someone to stay, there are other upgrade options as well.

Winston-Salem Commercial Real Estate Firm Launches Bike Share Program

Here’s an interesting idea that serves both a marketing and customer/employee service purpose:

Linville Team Partners, a commercial real estate company located on Trade Street in Winston-Salem has launched a free bike-share program for its employees, clients, colleagues and friends.

Taking advantage of a series of bike racks installed by the city in the central business district, the company assembled several cruiser-style bikes branded with the Linville Team Partners logo…

The program has been in place for about a month, and Whitener said the company just recently blasted information about it out through e-mail and social media. The program operates through a degree of trust.

This might be an interesting idea for urban apartment communities.

Let Them Eat Chocolate

Over at NAA’s Aptly blog there’s a nice piece about an independent rental owner (IRO) who gives his residents free chocolate. Lots of free chocolate:

Tarses, an independent rental owner, happily gives away 2,000 pounds of chocolate and cookies every year to his residents, vendors and industry friends, and has never accepted payment in return.

Tarses started his home-based company, the Berkeley Nut Company, in the mid 1980s as a way of creating goodwill with his residents. He began by making chocolate turtles for his residents during the holidays, but started using his chocolate to build positive relationships with them when he noticed his residents loved the treats and were coming back for more…

Although Tarses’ chocolate store—which is open by invitation only, due to people like me—features traditional dark and milk chocolate bars, he likes to experiment and make treats that are unique to the Berkeley Nut Company, which he says is the best free chocolate store in the area.

Currently, several of his residents are German, so he is making Schweineohren—also known as “pig’s ears”—a German puff pastry dipped in chocolate…

Because of the goodwill he extends to his residents, Tarses says he has never needed to serve a three-day notice to pay rent or evict a resident.