27 unexpected apartment leasing and operational tips and trends from the Apartment All Stars

From banana peels and automated messages to Insta-worthy backdrops and resident recruitment, these are the tips you probably haven’t heard before from Apartment All Stars Lisa Trosien, and Kate Good as presented from Apartmentalize 2021.  

By: Paul Bergeron

In only one hour, Apartment All-Stars, Lisa Trosien, ApartmentExpert, and Kate Good, Huntington Residential, shared best practices about what they see working for leasing and resident retention, during their session at National Apartment Association’s Apartmentalize Conference in Chicago. If you missed it, here’s a quick summary of the best takeaways on hiring, leasing, marketing, operations, amenities, and more! 

Tips for hiring top multifamily talent 

Whether it’s leasing agents, maintenance team members, or an operations professional, according to Lisa and Kate, the hiring crisis is in full force. Based on their research and experience, they suggest the following tips to hiring leasing professionals: 

  • Use captivating imagery or fun graphics in your job postings. Sares Regis is using its most beautiful property shots – showing the comforts of the pool area, palm trees, etc., with the words, “Welcome to Your New Office” to help lure the work-from-home crowd. In another example, Avenue5 says, “Working Here Goes Together Like Tacos and Tuesdays!”

  • Include employment recruitment messages on your website and general outreach communications. “Come Work With Us” is an attractive phrase if your residents like where they are living. Maybe they’ll tell their friends.
  • Posts job openings on Facebook. This gives your circle of friends a chance to see your openings and possibly even consider applying. 
  • Bake in extra time to fill open positions. It’s been so tough, that in one case Kate said she had a maintenance team member signed on and ready to start work for her. But, the day before his starting date, he said he wanted a $5,000 signing bonus. Since that was not part of the original agreement, the job remained open until a new employee was found. 

Easy resident event ideas and amenities upgrades 

As the pandemic shifted renters’ wants and needs for amenities, and the ability to create community through in-person events, Kate and Lisa shared resident events ideas and amenities upgrades that are easy to implement. 

  • “How-to” and DIY events. Millennials aren’t buying houses these days, but they are spending thousands on house plants. Host “do it yourself terrarium parties or “build-your-own-bouquet” flower events. A great resource for ideas is the video series on crafthappy.com which offers lessons in “how to.” Cocktail mixing workshops continue to be popular.
  • Move exercise outside. Outdoor fitness areas are scoring as one of the most popular amenities in some places – and it doesn’t have to cost anything. Start by moving some of your equipment outside, or host an outdoor Yoga session. 
  • Transition to pickleball courts. Pickleball is the fastest growing sport in America today, and it’s showing to have appeal for people of all ages. If your tennis courts aren’t being used, you can fit two pickleball courts in the space of one tennis court.
  • Fruity messages. Somewhat oddly, writing messages on unopened banana peels is popular. The ink won’t spoil the fruit, and they can become an interesting eye-opener for your common area. Pay attention to expiration dates, of course.

Spice up and update apartments

While many apartment owners and property management companies are assessing the impact of capital improvements or more capital-intensive projects, there are many creative ways to test the waters before going all in.

  • Create a clean and easy-to-book guest suite. Guest suites are getting a lot of love from residents today who want their friends and families to be able to stay close to them during their visits without needing to be in a hotel. 
  • Quick and cost-effective work-from-home updates. Work-from-home is certainly trendy, but communities that are purposefully redesigned their units to accommodate this might be overspending. Check wayfair.com for quick-and-easy, affordable portable desks and counters that can fill the need for existing apartment homes.
  • Custom move-in gifts. Etsy offers book stacks where you can print messages on the binding. Use them as move-in gifts by including positive, friendly messages.
  • Test video doorbells. For operators wanting to add a video doorbell for residents – but avoid some of the huge retrofit costs that can go with it – some are trying Doorbell Boa, a theft-proof camera device that attaches to the door. It’s $39 on Amazon.
  • In-unit customization options. One of Kate’s communities, The Vic at Interpose, includes 168 micro-units. And each has a one-foot-wide vertical strip on the wall next to the front doors where residents can bring their personalities to life and choose from 100 designs to make it more fun and vibrant.

Multifamily marketing magic 

With all the new focus on technology, it’s important to keep focused on the fundamentals

  • Show empathy with signs. “Even From A Distance, We’re Still Here For You” is a sign worth branding to your community.
  • Response times matter more than ever. A recent survey by J Turner Research showed that renter prospects are researching 14.32 apartment communities on average, but are touring only 4.2 on average. 
  • Sister property referrals. Sister property referrals are up 7 percent, and companies like Equity Residential are killing it with theirs. When residents set touring appointments, include links such as “add a second tour nearby” because this can double your chances of getting a signed lease.
  • Drones aren’t just for the outdoors. Indoor drone videos of apartment communities and individual units are fantastic. 
  • Celeb calls-to-action. Cameo is a company that allows you to hire a celebrity to record a message that can be for fun, or for marketing purposes. Recently, an apartment community hired Carol Baskin of “The Tiger King” to speak about the pet-friendly at a property.
  • QR codes are back. We already knew this, and still they are creating value. Use them liberally at your community, and you can have some fun with them too. One displayed its sign in a restroom with the phrase “Scan from the Can” atop the signage.
  • Do it for the ‘Gram. Apartment communities can create social media post-worthy situations by placing creative signage or other visual around their properties that almost begs their residents to take photos. A cool pet-based landmark at one property drew dozens of Instagram posts where residents showed how excited they were to be moving into that property. 

 

With all the new focus on technology, it’s important to keep focused on the fundamentals and the human elements of marketing. 

  • Show empathy with signs. “Even From A Distance, We’re Still Here For You” is a sign worth branding to your community.
  • Response times matter more than ever. A recent survey by J Turner Research showed that renter prospects are researching 14.32 apartment communities on average, but are touring only 4.2 on average. 
  • Sister property referrals. Sister property referrals are up 7 percent, and companies like Equity Residential are killing it with theirs. When residents set touring appointments, include links such as “add a second tour nearby” because this can double your chances of ge
    The Vic at Southwinds Insta-worthy backdrop.

    tting a signed lease.

  • Drones aren’t just for the outdoors. Indoor drone videos of apartment communities and individual units are fantastic. 
  • Celeb calls-to-action. Cameo is a company that allows you to hire a celebrity to record a message that can be for fun, or for marketing purposes. Recently, an apartment community hired Carol Baskin of “The Tiger King” to speak about the pet-friendly at a property.
  • QR codes are back. We already knew this, and still they are creating value. Use them liberally at your community, and you can have some fun with them too. One displayed its sign in a restroom with the phrase “Scan from the Can” atop the signage.
  • Do it for the ‘Gram. Apartment communities can create social media post-worthy situations by placing creative signage or other visual around their properties that almost begs their residents to take photos. A cool pet-based landmark at one property drew dozens of Instagram posts where residents showed how excited they were to be moving into that property. 

Online and peer reviews remain the source for renters  

People trust people, and reviews are one of the first places a potential renter looks for information about your communities. So your “first-mile” marketing remains one of the most important sources of information for renters and leads for your communities.  

  • Respond to reviews, generate leads. Properties that respond to reviews generate 31 percent more leads.
  • Build a pipeline for reviews. Online reviews have always been both a pain and a boon to apartment communities and their reputations. Communities that are able to maintain a fresh flow of reviews will perform better, given that many who are moving want to learn how living conditions and management are at the property. Renter prospects will scan them to see just how well the apartment company handled the COVID-19 challenges during the heart of the problem and how they are doing with the twisting and turning policies since Lisa said.
  • Bottom-up responses. Many apartment hunters go straight to the 1-star reviews just to find out what happened. It’s most important to respond to those and to see if that reviewer responds to the community’s reply because that’s what people look for.

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