As the VIP SWAT Manager for Threshold I do quite a bit of work helping our clients achieve goals by working with the on-site teams at each property. Whether they need a boost in traffic, an improvement on closing ratios or just some general training, I help build programs that turn into success.
I love seeing a property team learning and helping the teams achieve more. One area I’ve seen a need in is renewals. Renewals really begin at move-in; it’s the first impression that can go a long way in ensuring your residents are happy and want to live with you the next year.
While there's no trick or mystery to earning your renewals, it always comes down to valuing and respecting your residents, and following up and showing them sincere concern and interest when they call or submit a request for service. In my opinion the old way of doing things has never let me down. Don't get me wrong, I always add in a bit of something new, but I always utilize what works. The key component has always been the delivery and tone of the message. Whether I'm asking for the commitment or offering an incentive, the delivery has to be sincere, believable and something they can't refuse.
Begin with the basics:
- Good old fashioned customer-centered service. Residents will always remember how they've been treated all year round when we come asking for the renewal. I still remember what I learned during my JPI days, and that is the renewal process starts the moment they sign their first lease with YOU. You can't get their business and then treat them like they don't matter after they move in. Even if you have a high maintenance resident or helicopter parents to deal with, at the end of the day you've just increased your property’s income.
- Email your residents AND their guarantors every time you're offering a new renewal incentive or a new rate. If your community has not met their renewal or leasing goals by that magic date, consider offering your renewals the same incentives you are offering new prospects. Don't assume they won't change their mind about staying. Sometimes residents are too busy with finals, getting involved with organizations and other important things like hanging by the pool and keeping up with their social life. The last thing they are thinking of is reading another one of our offers. But the parent who is usually their guarantor might notice and call you and their son or daughter to get them into your office to renew! I've seen it happen many times where teams give up on their renewals. A little extra effort can mean a jump in pre-leased occupancy that you weren’t expecting.
- Knock-A-Thons! They really work but you must be prepared and work smart by dividing and conquering the property. This is the only way to do it all in a day or two depending on the number of beds you have. Keep in mind, with student living, timing is everything. You want to plan Knock-A-Thons around your residents’ time and when you know they'll be home. A visit in person is better than a call.
- Feed them every chance you get — students love free food! Offer something better than breakfast on the go. Make them a good old-fashioned midnight pancake breakfast. Creating different food theme days are always a hit at the properties I’ve helped. It’s rare that we don’t walk away from those events with renewals or new leases. The residents look forward to them and are always thankful. Whatever you do, keep it real, keep them in know, keep them included and keep it free and fun!
— Patricia Moralez is a VIP SWAT Manager at Threshold Agency.