In the life of every multifamily community, there are seasons and cycles where the community will be looking for ways to increase occupancy. Filling units is critical to the success and profitability of the community. Not only do higher occupancy rates improve the community’s financial bottom line, but it also boosts reputation and gives a competitive advantage in terms of referrals and an overall easier leasing calendar not having to deal with a large volume of move-ins each month and being able to focus on leasing particular vacant units.
So, if your community is dealing with low occupancy rates, what can you do to spike things up and get new residents in? The good news is that this isn’t a new problem and plenty of communities have struggled getting from 80% to 95% or 0% to 90%. There are a number of ways to answer the call of how to increase occupancy in multifamily communities. And the better news is that here is a narrowed down list of quick and easy to implement favorites.
Create a Welcoming Environment
This may seem like a given; however, this is a concept occasionally overlooked in multifamily marketing. Creating an environment that is welcoming to both prospective and current residents will is where the importance lies. Resident retention is just as important to your occupancy numbers as wooing new residents.
To create the “feel” of the community, first think about the lobby and community center. Not only is it usually the first place people see (besides the drive up to the office), it’s also a place where residents gather. Keep it clean, offer hot beverages, have areas where people can rest, study, and gather, and make sure that the atmosphere / culture is open, welcoming, and inviting. Hosting events with residents or opening events up to prospective residents too is a great way of setting that vibe.
Partner with Local Businesses
Are there popular restaurants or shops in the area? Local businesses are always going to be looking for ways to get in front of your residents and garner their business. Finding ways to partner with those businesses is a great way to offer quality discounts or amenities to your residents. Thinking beyond the savings though, residents that build relationships with local restaurants or shops and become loyal patrons will be much less likely to move away from those spots.
Want to get really creative with the partnerships? Think beyond the walls of your community with these business partners. Have the local pub host a trivia night exclusive for your residents. Or have the local boutique host exclusive shopping events for your residents. Or get the businesses to all partner up for a fun spring shopping spree event with food, discounts, music, and more.
Go Digital With Your Marketing
Today’s prospective residents overwhelmingly are looking online before ever setting an foot in the apartments. And that’s if they ever even do make an appointment to see it. For some, that’s due to distance or time as a barrier and for others it’s simply not feeling like they really need to anymore. Because of that, digital marketing can be a key factor in helping you engage your audience and drive increased leads for your community. Three areas in particular to focus on are mobile, video, and social media. These all can play off of each other and can be inexpensive to implement. For mobile, ensure your community website is mobile friendly. Also, is the community audience one that would respond to an app or text notifications about community news and events? If so, build it!
For video, consider having a library of community video tours, staff introductions, move-in policies, resident testimonials, and more. Ensure these are cloud-based and Fair Housing compliant, then easily be able to send them, post them, and use them to engage both your prospective and existing residents. The perfect lead in to social media — it is a must have these days and is not only for sharing all of that great video content, but also to engage with your target audience. Answer questions, post ads or sponsored posts, and showcase those great parties you’re hosting with the local businesses 😉
Be Smart with Advertising
This may be a broad / obvious one, but is actually something that really needs to be said. You can spend a lot of money on advertising your community, but if the message is off, location is off, audience is off, or there’s no focus on conversion, that ad spend can fall flat on its face and leave you with nothing but a bill. Understanding your target audience, where they are, what they’re searching for, and what resonates with them is the foundation of success.
This point coincides with every single one of the above tips as well. While all of those ideas can work to increase apartment occupancy rates, the only way to see the most success is to ensure the right audiences are being targeted. Don’t waste time or money by partnering with a restaurant no one in the community frequents. Also, while social media is key, the way to approach it depends on who your community is trying to engage with and where they are to engage with. If none of your residents are on Twitter or converting from Twitter, then focus on the other channels that are converting.
Less than optimal occupancy is a pain point for many multifamily communities. Implementing any or all of these tactics could put you on the path to stabilization though. It takes some patience and lots of hard work, but getting the right people targeted, interested, leased, and retained is possible and can be achieved with some efficiencies with the right people and technology in place to help.
If you have questions or want to talk through any of the above strategies, feel free to message firstname.lastname@example.org — we’re here to help!
Until next time…keep it real!