If you were to look up the word “community” in the dictionary, surprisingly, you would not find an explanation about a group of physical buildings. Yet, many property developers and managers think of their actual property when they use the word. In fact, community refers to a group of people living in the same place, and while many in the multifamily industry refer to their properties as communities, building a multifamily community is more than building apartments.
Community may also refer to a feeling of fellowship with others, most often referred to as a “sense of community,” something all property managers should try and develop. So how does a property manager go about fostering a sense of community with his or her residents? All too often, property managers become so focused on the never-ending to-do list of maintaining the physical community that they forget about building relationships with staff and residents. While keeping a property looking nice and running smoothly of course leads to retaining residents, building relationships with residents will help them feel more attached. Check out our list of ideas to help build relationships with staff and residents so your community truly feels like home:
Before jumping into specific strategies to build relationships, property managers should consider who their residents are and how their residents view them. Any efforts to reach your community need to be tailored to the specific demands of the community.
- For example, are residents mostly business commuters? If so, offering free coffee in the clubhouse weekday mornings might be more enticing for them than a community of college students.
- If your community gives off a more young, carefree vibe and you want to host a “hot summer nights” pool party.
- Families with young children will probably be more appreciative of a family game or movie night.
- If your property is demographically mixed, be sure you are providing relationship-building opportunities for every type of resident.
No matter who they are and what type of personality they have, every resident wants to feel like their apartment complex is welcoming, friendly, and feels like home. Culture goes much further than just events or amenities. Read on…
Design a Multifamily Community Calendar of Events
Community events are a quick, easy way for residents to get to know you and each other. Residents who have friends and human connections inside a community are more likely to renew their leases and continue to feel like a part of a community. Happy hours, community cookouts and “food-centric” events tend to be the most popular. No matter what your political preferences or your past times, food is a universal language.
When planning any event, you should think about what you can do differently to stand out from other properties. For example, adding a theme to your event can be a fun way to set it apart from the average happy hour or barbecue. Or, you may consider bringing in outside vendors like a DJ or food truck to spice things up. Some properties like to make their events fundraisers for nonprofit organizations to draw an even larger crowd.
Either way, schedule regularly occurring events along with special ones. If residents know they can count on you every Thursday for a happy hour, for example, you will feel more like a friend instead of an apartment office.
In the Multifamily Community, Your Staff are People Too!
Getting your staff to implement relationship-building strategies is important, but you won’t have much buy-in from them if you’re not practicing what you’re preaching. Providing leadership through modeling positive interactions with people is one of the best strategies a property manager can utilize. You may plan events for your residents, making them feel like they belong in your community, but are you putting an equal amount of effort into making your staff feel connected to your community also? Small tokens of appreciation can go far. For example, organizing staff luncheons or happy hours, leaving notes of appreciation, or featuring a staff person of the month in your community newsletter can help employees feel attached. The more a part of your community your staff feels, the better work they will do for your property and residents.
The multifamily industry is, above all else, a service industry. Properties can have the best and newest amenities, but if managers are not investing in people and building a true sense of community, they are going to have more turn over each year. By focusing on building relationships instead of simply building apartments, property investors, developers and managers will ensure their properties convey a sense of community, keeping tenants renewing year after year.