I love involved parents. My own, for instance, read or watch every entry that I produce on my blog and consulting site, despite having much knowledge of the world of renting. I think the last time they lived in an apartment was 1971. However, my parents do have wide knowledge of the rest of the world, and after reading yesterday's post, my father offered me a suggestion that I thought was pretty smart. That's what you get when you talk to an Ex Fire Chief.
He mentioned how when he was on the fire department, sometimes there would be a fire, but the person calling for help (usually a babysitter) would send the fire trucks to the wrong address, because he or she didn't know what the address of the home was, or in panic, the person would blurt out their own home address. Scary thought.
Granted, this was before enhanced 911, but it's still a concern today, seeing as how according to the National Center for Health and Statistics, 1 in 5 American households are cell phone only, and I would wager a guess that number is even higher in metro tech areas. Not one of my friends here in Seattle has a land line in their home. It's an extra cost that they, and I, just don't see the point of. Even with enhanced 911, cell phone locations are tracked either using cellular tower triangulation or by using the phone's built in GPS. Both location systems take precious seconds in an emergency, and there is no guarantee that your metro area has the second tier of enhanced 911, as it has been costly to implement and a lot of municipalities are holding back on those big ticket upgrades to systems given the current economy.
Renters are often transient people. I know some residents who move every year, either to get a better deal on the rent or to try a new place out. If a fire were to start in their apartment 2 days after move in, how many of them do you think would remember their new address? I know I wouldn't have. Heck, I've lived at my current place for almost 3 years now, and I still flub the numbers on occasion.
So as apartment managers, what can we do to make the situation better?
You're gonna love this. It's cheap. It's easy. And it's one more touch to make your community stand out.
Solving this problem can be as simple as putting a name badge sized sticker on the back of the door, stating the address of the apartment, and the name of the community (since many community names sound very similar these days). I would suggest that on the sticker you include the number for the office, since sometimes around move in, that number can be a pain for residents to find. Also, you may want to write the address as:
1234 Renter's Way, Apartment P(as in Peter) 4
When you're speaking quickly or in a rush, enunciation tends to go right out the window, and the letters D, T, and P as well as M and N can all sound the same. This problem is multiplied if the person speaking has a thick accent. If you chose to do that on your stickers, use the universal letter call signs, which you can find here.
You can either print these stickers in house, or you can contract them out to a printing company. In house may be better for this particular project, since the input will change for each apartment. And remember, these will stay on the back of the door from resident to resident, so don't skimp on the quality of the paper ($13 dollars on average for a package of 5 sheets), and make sure they look nice. Using your company or property logo on them is a pretty good idea as well, since it will be helpful with your branding efforts.