At last November's Multifamily Pro Brainstorming conference in Houston, one of the trends that Tami found focusworthy for the upcoming year was "Localism," - being able to find what's important in the community around you. The trend is prevalent, as we even see it showing up in the current month's issue of UNITS, where on the in and out list marketing your location has gone IN and marketing your amenities has gone OUT. What are the special gem factors about where you live?
- Local Businesses- What can renters find in your neighborhood/town that they can't find other places? I currently rent in a suburb of Seattle called Issaquah. In this charming little hamlet you can find a Caffe Ladro (a regional chain that is usually only found in DT Seattle), the Issaquah Brewhouse (home of Rogue Ale and many meat dishes stuffed with Blu Cheese), Flying Pie Pizza (where the toppings pile high and the grease is plentiful), Alice's Beauty Shop (the first stylist in 15 years to not cut Alan's hair so that the final result was HORRID!) and you are less than 20 min from the beautiful Sahalish Lodge. And that's just the stuff I've Yelped recently.
- Local Festivals and Attractions - Knowing stuff to see and stuff to do is becoming more and more important for people as attention spans grow shorter and shorter. After all, you can only blow up people in Halo for so long before it all starts to get a little boring. Again, in Issaquah alone we have weekend farmer's markets, Salmon Days, Library book sales, tons of events at Lake Sammamish, and we're less than 20 minutes from both downtown Seattle or, heading the other direction, the beautiful Snoqualmie falls. Don't think there's anything special to see or do where you are? You're talking to a girl who grew up in a town with a population of 2000 people, and we still had a yearly "Riverless Festival" as well as playing host to "Kansas' Biggest Rodeo," and tons of other events. Every locality has it's own flavor, you just have to be willing to sell the taste. No matter how bad you think you have it, remember this: Kirwin, Kansas - 12 miles from where I grew up, population of 150 people in a good year- is PROUDLY known as, "The Goose Capital of Kansas." (And yes, I know western Kansas is a weird world. I've come to terms with it and so should you.)
- Local Little Knowns- Did you know that King County, Washington has the lowest rate of death by heart attack of anywhere in the United States? Our EMS response time is amazing out here due to great city planning and awesome training. The average time it takes from a 911 call to the response team arrival is less than 5 minutes. Will that sell you an apartment? Well, that depends on whether or not the person you're talking to has had a heart attack before, something that we don't ask as we fill out the guest card. Knowing trivia about your location might seem trivial, but people are fascinated by little known stuff. It makes us feel smart when we drop it in to a conversation later and amaze the people around us. Where movies were filmed, where famous people live, eat and shop, how many hiking trails there are on each mountain, etc. All of this stuff enders you to your potential resident.
One of the great uses for these things comes when it's newsletter creation time. Since I discourage ever printing filler articles (because your residents do not WANT another word search or recipe for zucchini bread!), it can be a little difficult to fill the pages sometimes. Focusing on your local community can have great effects on your resident retention as it always gives you something to talk about!
There is something special about every place, even if it's harder to find in some places. At your next staff meeting, try this exercise to help your sales team: Everyone gets a piece of paper and a pencil, and, in 5 minutes , they list every gem factor of your area that they can think of. At the end of five minutes, you go around the table and read your lists, everyone crossing off the things that other people listed. The person with the most points wins a prize, but the real prize is that your team has just created a master list of great community selling points to make your tours and connections with future renters far more memorable and MUCH stronger!