Are You Building Dreams, or Are You Erecting Roadblocks?

By: Shad Bookout

future 1We work in an amazing industry. Every day, apartment professionals help thousands of people across the nation find new homes.  For some, it will be the first place that they will call their own. For others, life has set forth a set of circumstances that make finding a new apartment a much needed facet of life. Families grow and shrink. People arrive from homes both domestic and abroad. Some seek luxury. For others, affordability is their only desire. Whatever our future resident’s story, it is our duty to assist them on this new voyage in life. But not everyone is helping their resident succeed. In fact, some are making it hard for them to rent and are most likely unaware that they are doing so.

Your Resident is Calling and They Need You

future 2All too often we are so overwhelmed in our daily activities that we see the ringing phone as just another distraction and something we wish we could avoid. When we do pick up the phone, many of us are subjugated by an imposing script of questions that we must answer or risk failing the dreaded “phone shop”. Furthermore, once we do engage our future resident, we overwhelm them with an onslaught of features, benefits, and industry jargon to a point that they are often left bewildered and exhausted.

We need to stop having the guest card be our only guide for procuring information and stop using the script as our sole means of guiding what we say. These people are relying on our guidance. Have an authentic conversation with them. Talk to them as someone who could be a friend. Take the time to listen – really listen – to what they have to say. Hear their story and allow them to actually talk (without interrupting, please). Not only will this help us lease more apartments; it will also make our residents to want to live at our communities longer.

Make it Easy to Stay; or Easier to Leave

future 3Once our residents have moved, a new harsh reality often takes over. They realize that we really wanted them to move in; but now that they are here – and we have their money and contract locked in – we don’t really care anymore. Sure, we are polite when they call with a maintenance request or stop by the office. We paint on a smile and summon up a laugh when we see them at a resident event. But do we hold them as special parts of our world or are we so blinded by the task at hand that we forgot the most important truth about our business: When a resident drives into our community, they are home.

Treat your resident as if they were part of your family. Don’t ignore them and don’t banish them to isolation. Make sure they are engaged by communicating to them in the way that is best for them. If we have not heard from a resident for awhile, we need to check in and say hi. We should celebrate special occasions – not just the same boring resident event – and show them the true value they have to us and that we truly want this to be their home. Remember, when they eventually leave us, we will have to work even harder to find someone to replace them (and we are already overwhelmed with busyness).

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