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  Communication: The Foundation of Resident Retention -Click Here for More Articles-   

The basis for implementing a solid foundation for a successful resident retention program is to focus on communication. By exploring the actual definition of communication, it becomes obvious that you can equate communication with resident retention as almost meaning the same thing. One of the most profound and descriptive definitions of communication comes from the National Joint Committee for the Communicative Needs of Persons with Severe Disabilities. It basically outlines the purpose of a resident retention program.

"Any act by which one person gives to or receives from another person information about that person's needs, desires, perceptions, knowledge, or affective states. Communication may be intentional or unintentional, may involve conventional or unconventional signals, may take linguistic or nonlinguistic forms, and may occur through spoken or other modes."

The marketing of a rental is the process of making customers aware of the property and its services, attracting new customers, keeping existing customers interested, building and maintaining the customer base. The aspect to remember is to value the process itself, from beginning to end. An effective resident retention program is an ongoing line of communications that begins from the time the resident is a prospect to the time that this person leaves. The litmus test is whether or not the landlord can deliver, in the eyes or the tenant, on explicit and implicit promises made. It is the goal of a property manager, who wants to influence a resident to renew, is go beyond the expectations of a resident. Unfortunately, property managers have to combat the “grass is greener on the other side” complex that is so pervasive in today’s society. Therefore, forging a long-term relationship and developing a program, where residents are shown appreciation and worth, is of utmost concern.

The biggest reason for tenant dissatisfaction is the handling and execution the maintenance requests. Tenants expect a constant inspection, repair, and preservation of the general conditions of their rental home. This also includes a timely repair or replacement of parts for appliances. Everything has to be in working order and problems must be addressed quickly and courteously. To facilitate an efficient delivery of maintenance requests, the property manager’s best method of receiving these requests is actually answering the telephone. When the manager is too busy to actually answer the phone or the request comes at an odd hour, many properties utilize apartment call centers. This resource allows properties to always have a human responding to the needs of their tenants. The apartment call centers are industry specific and have a direct, open communication with the maintenance and property management. Maintenance requests should be supported by a shared calendar that documents the request cycle: creation, delivery, execution, completion and follow-up. Maintenance requests, if implemented properly, should be a team effort that will lessen and distribute workload through the property staff.


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