customer centric multifamily

Is Your Community Using a Customer Centric Multifamily System?

As multifamily professionals, we all know that the overall goal of any community is to successfully fill all of their units not just with residents but with HAPPY residents.  We work hard, every day, to maintain a safe and happy community environment.  However, the multifamily industry, as a whole, must resist the traditional notions of push marketing.  Is your community using a customer centric multifamily system that will not only fulfill their needs inside the community but before they ever walk through your doors?

Today’s multifamily prospects are evolving. There has been a trend in the recent history of marketing multifamily that goes something like this: “if you brag about everything, they will come.”  I am sorry to say that this is no longer true.  The same expensive glossy 4 color marketing brochures that may have impressed residents 5 years ago, are not going to work in today’s climate.  What we are looking for today, in multifamily, is how to predict the client of tomorrow!

But who is the client of tomorrow and what do they want?

It’s the question of the year! To fully explore what the next residents want, you must embrace the fact that they want certain things and apply that to your marketing.

  1. Products/Services “ON DEMAND”

  2. Ultimate Convenience

  3. Personalized Experiences

  4. “Awesome” Companies

Now, to begin to fully integrate a customer centric approach, into your multifamily marketing, ask yourself every step of the way, “Does this fulfill one of the “wants” of our next residents?” According to RentPath, what is abundantly true about today’s resident is that their needs, dictate how you must sell to them.

Because we are illustrative kind of people… let’s show you this in action.

Customer Centric Multifamily EXAMPLE:

You are working on leasing a high end, top dollar high rise community full of young working professionals.  Your office is open 9-4:30 pm and closed for an hour at lunch.  Do you see a problem here?  While yes, it may be asking a lot of your staff to keep non-traditional hours, it may be a necessity, to bring in the residents you want, to ensure that they can interact with you in person, outside their own office hours. We can no longer employ the attitude “If they want us, they will make it work.” Because the sad fact is, they won’t.  They will just find another option that is more convenient for them.

How do we personalize the experience when everything is based in technology?

Yes, as an industry we are constantly pushing to improve and that is great!  At every convention and conference there is a seminar about “how to use XX media to gain clients”.

Generally speaking, that means a set of processes that prompt you to utilize said medium and brag about the amenities, renovations, upgrades etc. at your community. This is actually old fashioned thinking, push marketing.  Today, the power of choice is even more prevalent and consumers are embracing that power to say NO to push marketing.

PUSH based marketing is on its way out the door and fast.  Don’t let that door hit your marketing team! The best way that any multifamily community can handle reaching out to new potential residents is this… genuine human interaction.  Befriend them!

No we are not talking about actually making them your “friends” on social media, because that can get hairy.  (See more on that subject here).  We are talking about the fact that the savvy consumer can now smell a smoke screen of “friendly” a mile away. The scariest thing is, they would actually prefer programmed friendliness than faux human friendliness!

Customer Centric Multifamily EXAMPLE:

You are lucky enough to get a potential resident to come to your 9-4 office hours to view a unit.  During your property manager’s time with the resident, they should be engaged in conversation.  Ask questions that will lead to answers that can help fulfill the needs of this potential resident which optimally leads to the sale.

Let’s say that during a walkthrough this person comments about the walk up to the third floor unit would be hard as they have a medical condition.  This is the point at which a property manager needs to dig into their in depth knowledge of their community and offer an acceptable solution such as a ground floor unit, maybe with different amenities, maybe even smaller, yet still more appealing to the potential resident just because their pain point is a walk up. The only way you can learn about something like that is by LISTENING.

How does this apply to customer centric multifamily?

A recent CEI survey said: “86% of buyers will pay more for a better customer experience. But only 1% of customers feel that vendors consistently meet their expectations”. Wow that is a startling statistic!  This is a problem!

For the multifamily industry in particular, marketing is not just a job for the leasing agents!  Efforts must be made on the part of the entire team to ensure a seamless experience for potential residents.

Customer Centric Multifamily EXAMPLE:

You are on a tour with a potential resident and while they are very impressed with the units, and the leasing agent, they drive past a maintenance member who is talking on their phone and smoking.  They are standing on the edge of the property where there is clearly debris and trash.  Instead of picking the trash up, they take the time to walk past it.  Imagine what this looks like to the potential resident.

What do we need to do, as a staff, engrain this mindset?

Generally, a customer centric approach is less about what you are doing but HOW you are doing it.  Igniting empathy, passion and creativity in each team member is a good place to start! It’s not at all what you “say” your company is, but HOW and WHAT you do to show it.

It all goes back to the old adage “Actions speak louder than words.”  Re-aligning your every movement with the thought “How does this affect our residents?” is a great start.  This helps the bottom line of making your community AWESOME!  Awesome companies don’t struggle to think about “if” something is customer centric, they have well-honed instincts that guide them.  This will not happen overnight.  As with any major process change it will take time and effort.  Often, property managers feel like they do not have TIME to implement a process such as this.  But you cannot put aside genuine interest and substitute quicker processes or eventually your residents will feel the effects.

Don’t get left behind!

Gartner predicts that “by 2018, more than 50 percent of organizations will implement significant business model changes in their efforts to improve customer experience.”  When making key decisions inside your community you should always strive to make the residents the center of any decision making.  This may not always be the easiest, the cheapest or the fastest route but it will be the most advantageous!

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