Even though the coronavirus is far from under control, states across the US have started to open and some residents may be feeling more encouraged while others are still on edge. Management teams are facing a new challenge, how to provide the right amount of information regarding changes community updates/changes due to COVID-19.
Renters are looking for details and transparency which includes solution focused messaging. We surveyed over 150,000 renters in our COVID-19 National Renter Study 21.1% of renters in Round 3 said they had not received any communication from management regarding COVID-19. In addition, for those that say they have received such communication, the amount and frequency is unsatisfactory. The amount was rated 3.87 out of 5 and frequency rated 3.69; renters have made it clear that their management teams should improve in these areas
Residents are still interested in hearing from management even if offices are closed. Through our research, we have found that communication during this time is directly correlated to the intent to renew. With much uncertainty in their day to day lives, residents are looking for stability wherever they can find it. By creating a consistent flow of information management teams can secure trust; as well as prove management is still available and what steps are being taken to keep residents protected. If management can continue to build trust and loyalty through communication residents will be more likely to renew.
Here are five ways to improve pandemic related communication.
- Email weekly updates – the more often management sends information to residents, the more they trust the team. Even if cleaning procedures haven’t changed or amenities are still closed residents still want an update on a weekly basis.
- Be responsive – even with limited office hours, residents want to know management is available. If staff is only available from 10 to 4, be sure to be in the office so when residents show up, they can depend on the staff. If residents are calling more, perhaps there is an opportunity to look at ways to increase the team’s availability to allow for each resident’s questions to be addressed. Residents do not want to be left to their own devices.
- Share cleaning procedures – cleaning procedures continue to change often. When management takes the time to communicate to residents the updated policy and procedures, renters are less likely to assume what is happening and more importantly shows the team genuinely cares
- Provide solution-based messaging – residents want to hear how they are being protected. Communicate the new ways team members are keeping residents safe. For example: masks are required in office, reservations for amenity usage, appointment based only in the office etc.
- Use Social Media – residents are using social media more often. Connect and share updates to increase communication and interaction with residents.
What does this mean for management?
One renter in our ongoing focus groups said it best, “My management company has maintained frequent communication. It’s been nice to receive texts from management team and it’s been nice that I can text the property manager and they respond quickly and they are willing to help. It’s been nice they have taken the initiative to clean the common areas. They have expectations set and followed through.” With COVID-19 news and health statistics fluctuating on a daily basis, residents are looking to management to provide transparency in community-related changes. Providing information to residents in a manner that conveys how important and valued residents are to the management team is crucial and will pay off at renewal time.