What is the critical factor for the success of a multifamily community? Occupancy rates! Occupancy is always on the minds of today’s multifamily professionals and has such a constant focus because that really is the determining factor on how successful your community is, how quickly, and for how long. There are a myriad of measurable factors that go into determining apartment occupancy calculations but one is often left out – resident engagement.
Resident engagement can be easy to forget mostly because it’s difficult to track, but it is so critical to the calculation. If you’re having occupancy issues or if you’re looking at how to increase occupancy in apartments for your community, resident engagement may be the missing piece. How are you keeping the residents that you already have engaged or feeling like they are home? Are you working to keep them in the community? Are they engaged enough to be your unofficial brand ambassadors?
Here are a few ways you can look to increase engagement with your residents and, subsequently, increase apartment occupancy rates over the long haul.
Create a Sense of Community
Community is important. Period. In multifamily, creating that community can be difficult due to its somewhat transient nature. However, one way to get residents to stick around, bettering your long term occupancy, is making them feel at home. When asking yourself how you can increase occupancy in apartments through engagement, think about community.
Are residents coming in and out without interacting with each other or your team? Then they probably don’t feel like they live in a community. It’s just another apartment complex until they find a new one. When residents are engaged with staff, neighbors, and the community, retention becomes innate. The happier they are and the more friends they have living in the community, the more they will want to stick around. That means higher lease renewals and higher occupancy rates.
Creating a community creates an enhanced living experience. It also allows for better communication if something is wrong or there is an opportunity for improvement. Community events like seasonal get-togethers and potlucks, special gathering places for residents to meet and relax can all help to make people feel more at home. And don’t overlook the importance of the staff! Friendly and helpful leasing and property management teams can go a long way.
Know What is Important to the Residents
When it comes to solving the apartment occupancy dilemma, it’s important to know what residents want. And that goes beyond their wants for their unit. For example, according to a survey done by the National Apartment Association, apartment residents are more environmentally conscious compared to homeowners. That’s likely true of your residents. So what are you doing about it? How are you showing that you understand and agree with their environmental concerns? Creating a recycling program is a great start. Make sure you also have energy efficient products and programs readily available.
Do you have residents that want to give back to the community as well? Organizing volunteer events, food drives, service projects, etc. are incredible ways to not only check the boxes on things that a lot of your residents are likely very passionate about, but it’s also an incredible way to build community by getting your residents together to serve and volunteer.
Showing that you are listening to what matters to them helps engage residents. That engagement lets them know you care about them as more than just a monthly rent check. In turn, they are more likely to stick around long term, helping to keep occupancy rates right where you want them.
Empower Your Best Marketers
As we mentioned, there are many factors that go into calculating occupancy rates for apartments. But, leaving resident engagement out can be a huge mistake considering that residents can be your best advocates. Think of these happy residents as resident marketers. Giving them material and a platform to work with allows them to not only be happy themselves, but to share that happiness with their friends, online audience, and others. So many times, the negative reviews online are the ones that get all of the attention. Flood your social platforms, website, and listings with testimonials from happy residents and any negative ones will seemingly disappear or seem like a one-off.
This may seem like a no brainer, but happy residents stick around. When they see their face on the community website and see that they are being touted as an ambassador and representative of the community, that buy in will only deepen. They’ll likely find pride in being that advocate as well and will also share and post those testimonials, videos, photos and more on their own social channels and with people in their network. That’s the surest way to get their friends interested and the more friends that your residents have in the community, the stickier they will all be!
Start From the Beginning
If you’re really looking at how to increase occupancy rates in your community through resident engagement, you need to start at the beginning. From the second a prospective resident steps on the property, you and your team must start to engage them. Make them feel like this is the home for them. That means being friendly and available, helping them with easy-to-follow move in processes and procedures, and setting the proper tone throughout the entire leasing experience.
It’s not just leasing that needs to set the proper tone though. The first interaction a prospective resident will have with your community is likely going to be the property website, listing, or social media. Make sure that you’re keeping your community website and social media up to date and, most importantly, accurate. Showcasing all of the great things that your property, community, people, neighborhood, and team have to offer will attract the right people to the space.
It’s true that resident engagement may be a soft factor when you’re looking at how to calculate your occupancy and retentions rates. However, not giving it enough attention or any at all can be a costly mistake and a hard one to come back from. Make sure that you’re always focused on how to keep current residents happy and engaged, while also drawing in new ones, if you really want that apartment occupancy rate get up and to stay up.
Until next time…keep it real!