Here’s a hard truth; residents couldn’t care less about the jobs that we do. Residents have no clue what a day in the life of a multifamily professional entails. I should know – I used to be one of them. As a resident, I thought management teams had the easiest jobs in the world. Planning parties, answering the phone, maybe showing an apartment here and there, how hard could that be? You can only imagine how quickly and dramatically that theory was eviscerated the day I began working onsite.
Management teams are a special breed. At their cores, teams do their very best to make sure residents are happy where they live. Aside from putting in long hours, dealing with a multitude of different resident personalities and watching the bottom line to ensure owners are profiting from their investments, teams also have to contend with not-so-nice things being said about their performance in online forums.
Reputation: Management Teams Vs. Residents
Reputation management has become prominent and prevalent in recent years. Back in the day when I was leasing, very rarely would a prospect mention that our online reviews were the reason we were chosen over a competitor. Nowadays, it’s commonplace for a prospect to outright take a community out of contention or sign on the dotted line purely based on what they read online.
Just as a community’s reputation is vital to its success, a resident’s own reputation can determine where they call the next year “home”. Our 2019 Annual Survey Correlation Analysis, suggests that residents are becoming increasingly aware of how their community makes them look in the eyes of those closest to them. “Do people think I’m an idiot for living here? Am I proud to invite friends over to my apartment?” Questions such as these are being asked by residents – they believe what you do and don’t do impacts the way they are viewed by the world. So aside from all of the other tasks management teams must conquer on a daily basis, residents have added yet another to the list: manage my personal brand.
A parent of a successful offspring, let’s use a doctor for example, makes sure at every opportunity to drop that little bragging point into any conversation, even if it doesn’t pertain to the subject at hand. “My son John, the pediatrician, made the best lasagna the other evening.” Huh? What does lasagna have to do with taking care of sick children? To the parent, it doesn’t matter if the connection is nonexistent; they believe that the success of their child enhances others’ perception of them. People care about what others think of them. We all do.
Here are 5 things management teams can do to elevate the personal brand of its residents and improve the community’s reputation in the process.
1. Give them a story
Residents need a reason to talk about your community. Just make sure the story is a positive one that makes the listener wish they lived there too. “Hey, guess what my community is doing next month? They have a consultant coming in to talk to all of the residents about money management.” Sounds a lot better than “Let me tell you how badly they screwed up my dishwasher repair.
2. Make them famous
If you want them to brag, let it be about them. Ask residents to share their hobbies/expertise with others; that’ll get tongues wagging. “You won’t believe this – I was asked to share my homemade ice cream recipe in the next newsletter!” or “The manager asked me to conduct a class on balcony decorating because they said I have one of the nicest balconies in the community!”
3. Let them win
Why not? Put next season’s landscaping colors to a community wide vote. Those who helped choose the winning colors will post photos with captions like “Check out the new flowers – my choice was the winner!” Even those who voted for another option will talk about it too. “Yeah, the purple pansies are nice but I voted for the orange chrysanthemums.” Wait, you guys get to vote on that stuff? And so goes the conversation.
4. Make them laugh
Show them you’re human. A joke of the day or funny pic posted to social media will have them in a good mood; and sharing the content. Sharing your content means sharing your community’s page. You never know who is in the market or knows someone in the market for a new place to call home.
5. Ask them to help
If you build it, they will talk. Create an environment where residents are engaged, and willing to collaborate. A resident advisory panel is a great idea and those who participate will definitely share their experiences with friends and family. “Last week at our resident meeting, we decided to have a community team for the March of Dimes walk.” To keep things fair, rotate the panel every other month to allow multiple residents an opportunity to participate.
When residents are talking about where they live, the conversation is either positive or negative. The same is true for online reviews. Rarely is the story somewhere in between – it’s either one extreme or the other. If the story is negative, friends and family are sure to respond “Why are you still living there?” or “You are crazy for putting up with that”, detracting from the resident’s personal brand. No longer does the negative solely make the community look bad, it affects the resident. And the last thing a resident wants to do is pay good money for a tarnished reputation. But when residents are proud, like that parent of the pediatrician, they will make every effort to name drop the community as much as possible, whenever possible. Give them something good to talk about it!