"Ain't Too Proud To Beg"

"I know you want to leave me,
But I refuse to let you go,
If I have to beg, plead for your sympathy,
I don't mind because you mean that much to me"

The Temptations have the right attitude when it comes to Resident Retention.  We all know the story of the last ten years where we didn't have to really care about people leaving because bringing them in to re-lease the home meant more money for us with a higher rent.  I've been to two national conferences and three regional events in the last 6 months, and I will tell you for certain that the one theme every single one of them had in common: RETAIN YOUR RESIDENTS!  $4500 national average cost to turn a unit right now and this message still seems to not be getting through to folks.  You'll have to pardon me with this one.  I had the privilege of hearing Tami Siewruk of Multifamily Pro speak last week in Houston, and she lit a Bunsen burner under my bottom!

There's no way that we're going to retain your residents until we take a moment to remove that  rather large chip (the one made up of all the frustration from falling rents and budget numbers from the last 18 months) right off our shoulders.  We aren't willing to give our renewals those move in concessions, even though they will cost us much less than turning the unit.  We aren't willing to bend, budge or take three moments before answering to someone's problem, "That's our policy."  Guess what...they don't care about what your policy is.  They care about what their problems are, and if you haven't gotten the message yet then tune in as I quote another of my fellow multifamily bloggers: YOU ARE NOT YOUR RESIDENT.  To proceed in thought as such is not only arrogant, but unwise in the business arena. 

Maybe it's pride.  Have we had an upper hand in housing for so long that we've forgotten what it's like to be at the back of the line?  I don't know if that's really the reason, but from some comments I heard last week, it may be the case.  One thing for dang sure, Tami Siewruk was completely on the mark at Brainstorming when she said, "Going back to business as usual is never going to happen again!"  And you know what?  I welcome the search for a new baseline for business as usual. 

Resident retention isn't something that is complicated.  Return their calls.  Follow up on their work orders.  Ask them what they want, and when they answer, actually listen to what they have to say.  Deal with their problems in a manner that uses common sense, not just policy sense.  And above all else, it's time to check our pride, because it's not going to fit in the overhead bin as a carry on for this current economic flight.

To Tree or Not to Tree, That is the Question...

The choice between a hammer and a feather - Originally printed at Appfolio's www.propertymanager.com