“The customer’s perception is your reality,” says business consultant Kate Zabriskie. Great property managers know this is true since keeping residents happy is their ultimate goal. You can have the most beautiful property, best staff and great service, but what really matters is your residents’ perception of you. And while fair housing laws give rules about not discriminating against certain types of residents, sometimes it’s difficult to know how to provide the best service to specific groups. For example, to communicate with pregnant residents you can face some challenges, and if not done correctly, can lead to a poor perception of your property and staff.
Pregnant women have heard it all. “You’re glowing!” “Congratulations! You must be so excited!” “When are you due?” While these are some pretty safe comments to make to a pregnant woman, many people go too far in their conversations, most likely without even realizing it. All too often, pregnant women hear comments about their appearance or get unsolicited advice on child rearing. Many also get unwelcomed touching of their midsections. How to communicate with pregnant residents seems like common sense, but many people in the multifamily industry can unintentionally cross the line simply because their property feels like home and their residents feel like friends. However, it’s important to keep things professional while still trying to make your residents feel welcome and comfortable.
So what’s safe and what’s off limits when you need to communicate with pregnant residents?
Offering congratulations is always a straightforward and simple way to show you care. However, only offer congratulations on a pregnancy if you’re sure your resident is pregnant! You wouldn’t want to offend a resident who has maybe just put on a little weight.
- Offering help
If you see a pregnant resident struggling to open a door or carry her bags, by all means offer to help. This goes for any resident of course, but showing some empathy and offering help to a pregnant woman will give her a positive perception of you. Unless, of course, she declines your offer, then don’t push it. Many times people view pregnant women as helpless and will force help upon them even after they say they don’t need it.
- Giving advice
Want to give some advice to your pregnant residents? Then let them know about that cool new coffee shop that opened up in town or that the pool will be closed for maintenance on Thursday. Steer very clear of offering any health or parental advice. For some reason, people see a pregnant woman and want to tell her what she should be eating or that she should be sleeping since she won’t when the baby arrives. Most women find this annoying and invasive. Keep your conversations relevant to your property and offering good service, just like you would any resident, and you’ll leave a good impression.
- Promote family
If you really want to get in the good graces of your pregnant residents, show them how much you value children and families at your property. For example, does your property have “caution: children playing” traffic-slowing signs up around the drive and parking areas? Does your property feature a playground or other common areas where families can gather together? Perhaps one of your monthly resident events is geared toward families with young children with kid-friendly activities. Many times actions speak louder than words. So, you don’t always have to know what to say to a pregnant woman, but you can show them you value their growing family through your property’s amenities and service.
In the end, using good sense and treating pregnant residents the same as any other resident, maybe with just a little extra TLC, will help your customers keep a positive perception of your community. Do you have more ideas on communicating with residents who are expecting? Let us know in the comments.