Calendar icon June 28, 2023

Property Management FAQs about Resident Experience

Resident expectations are changing. In today’s “experience economy,” residents and consumers alike are looking for experiences that make them feel taken care of, bring more ease into their lives, and set businesses apart. 

With these changes in mind, property management companies are developing innovative strategies to build better resident experiences – experiences residents will pay and stay for.

Today we’re sharing a Q&A about the resident experience with Melissa Gillispie, the Director of Leasing & Property Management at JWB Real Estate Capital. Here’s what you’ll find in the article. 

Key Learning Objectives:

  • Core tenants of resident experience
  • Steps to improve resident experience
  • How improving resident experience can save money for property managers
  • Resident experience examples that have worked
  • Resident experience examples that haven’t worked
  • How to monitor resident experience

Meet the Expert: 

Melissa Gillispie, Director of Leasing & Property Management at JWB Real Estate Capital

Melissa started her career with JWB in 2013 and is currently the Director of Property Management. She is the licensed real estate broker for JWB and plays an integral role that has led JWB to manage over 4,900 single-family homes in Jacksonville FL, being the largest local rental management company in Northeast FL. Under her purview, JWB has delivered over 26 million dollars in cash flow to its current clients through exceptional management services. Melissa also sits on the Board for NARPM Northeast FL as the Membership Co-Chair. She won the 2022 NARPM Rocky Maxwell award for dedicated service and contribution to NARPM. She is married to her husband of 14 years and has three sons aged 11, 9, and 6. When she is not working, she can be found at the football and soccer fields cheering her sons on! 

  New call-to-action  

Why should property managers pay attention to the resident experience? What steps can property managers take to improve the resident experience? 

Happy residents stay longer, take better care of the home, and provide better long-term stability and return on investment for clients. They also spread the good word locally and refer more renters to you. And happy residents are usually nicer, leading to happier staff! 

Residents (and customers in general) are increasingly driven by instant gratification. They expect immediate communication, results, and benefit. Due to this, we have to increase our speed to outcome for them and set great expectations so that we can "under promise and over deliver" – one of our JWB core values! 

Some key steps to improving resident experience include:

  • A great lease signing experience with impeccable expectation setting. If everyone knows from day one, who is responsible for what, we can avoid tough conversations down the road. 
  • Timely communication. Knowing the type of communication each resident prefers. We have a field in our system called "preferred contact method" – if it is via phone, pick up the phone. If it is text, text away. It helps the resident feel like you're willing to customize their experience. 
  • Answer the phone! Like any place open for business, you need to be reachable during office hours. 
  • Solve their maintenance issues. Make it easy for them to report those issues to you. 

If I had to give just one: Clear communication is EVERYTHING. Clear expectations, timely responses, and thoughtful and respectful interactions make us a professional industry vs. a mom-and-pop one. 

How can improving the resident experience save property managers money? Do you recommend hiring a dedicated resident experience specialist, resident manager, or separate team? 

Improved experience saves TIME. Time is money. Fewer tough conversations, supervisor calls, upset people impacting employee satisfaction, etc. Great experience leads to retention, which saves money and increases revenue for the business.

I think the idea of a dedicated specialist or team is great in theory, but many places want to scale back on staffing (employees are expensive!). I also think that putting the responsibility on one person/group of people in the organization is a mistake to some degree. This limits creativity and reach. 

At JWB, our approach is that it is every teammate’s responsibility to dedicate effort and time to a great client/resident experience. This allows a wide range of ideas to generate and gives the feeling of impact and satisfaction to every teammate for their contribution. 

 

download rental inspection checklist template

 

Do you recommend using software or tools to help improve resident retention? 

Here are some of the best tools we’ve used. 

  • Automation: Implementing things that don't require a ton of person-hours will allow you to scale your business at a lower cost. The automation/technology investment is worth it in the long run. 
  • The Resident Benefits Package (RBP) by Second Nature: DO IT! 
  • Find a mail fulfillment house in your city and rely on them to send mass communications via snail mail. 
  • Partner with local businesses for discount codes.
  • Text Magic and Call Fire are great automation tools for communication via phone and text.

What are examples of resident experience initiatives that have proved effective? On the flip side, what doesn’t work? 

Residents need to see the value in any initiative. Knowing your audience/clientele and what matters most to them is important. Is it time savings? Money saving? 

RBP from Second Nature has been a game-changer. It meets a real need and serves a purpose. We also do a monthly resident newsletter. We send out automatic happy birthday emails to every resident on their birthday (we have been able to automate this completely, so 0 time for staff and 100% feel-good for residents). 

We do "get to know your city" marketing for new residents with mural maps, restaurants and grocery stores near them, etc. We include a magnet at move-in on their fridge with our contact information and after-hours information. These all create moments that show care and concern, and we sprinkle in love for our city. 

When you miss the mark on providing value or miss the need the resident actually has, that experience moment may fall flat. So we constantly focus on who our residents are and what will fill their cups. 

How do you monitor or measure the resident experience? 

We love surveys! We have maintenance and resident net promoter score (NPS) surveys. Every time a work order closes, the resident receives a survey to give feedback on the experience. We review that weekly. For positive surveys, we ask for reviews. Supervisors reach out for low scores to see how we can improve. 

For the NPS surveys: If they leave a high score, we ask for a positive review on one of our online platforms (Google, Facebook, BBB). If they leave a low score, supervisors seek feedback to improve. 

The key is DOING SOMETHING with the information you receive; otherwise, there is no value. Don't just let a low score come through and then do nothing. Reaching out shows the resident you pay attention, value the feedback, and want to improve. 

Reviews online are also a good way to gauge experience. Take those with a grain of salt, however. People are much more likely to leave a bad review than a good one, so it is a lot of work to win here! 

We ask for positive reviews anytime we have a  great interaction with a resident – a phone call where we solve a problem, an email where they say thank you, or anytime someone pays on time or renews their lease – we ask. You don't get positive reviews you don't ask for!

How do you use the information you receive in resident feedback or surveys?

There is value to it. You can gather a lot of good information and start to identify trends in the data. 

We can pinpoint areas as a team to improve and celebrate the things we do well. I do think you have to take some of the responses with a grain of salt. You can't make everyone happy even when you try. View it as information to help make decisions vs. the end-all-be-all to measure your worth as a company.

We survey on maintenance every time a work order closes, and we get about a 3-5% completion rate. For the NPS surveys, we survey 60 days after move-in and then every six months. We get a 10% completion rate on those. 

What questions should you ask if you are considering a resident experience survey? What’s a good sample size for a survey? Are there other tips and tricks to keep in mind? 

For our NPS survey, it is one question: “How likely are you to refer your friends and family to rent from us?” They score us 1-10, and then we allow an open text response field that is optional if they have more to say. 

For the maintenance surveys, we ask: “On a scale of 1-5, how satisfied were you with 1. the work order submission process; 2. Your maintenance coordinator, 3. The vendor who performed the work, 4. The amount of time it took to complete the work; 5. The overall experience?” Each star scale also allows for open-text responses (again, not required). 

I think a good sample size is when at least ¼ of your customers have had the opportunity to review. Until that point, the results seem to be all over the place. We track results monthly, quarterly, and annually, as well as by the property manager and maintenance coordinator, work order category, and property type (multi-family, single-family, condo, townhome, etc.). 

All of this helps us put together a comprehensive picture of where we stack up against ourselves over time. I think it is important to benchmark against yourself. Each business runs in a unique way, so I get less caught up in how other people are doing compared to me and more caught up in how I am doing compared to myself/my business three, six, or 12 months prior.

Perspective is important when you are being vulnerable and asking for feedback! 

Easily Manage and Improving Resident Experience With Second Nature RBP 

As Melissa mentioned, the Resident Benefits Package (RBP) by Second Nature goes a long way to creating premier resident experiences. And as the country’s only fully managed RBP, it doesn’t take up your team’s time or bandwidth.

We designed the RBP to solve headaches for property managers and help them deliver world-class resident experiences that delight residents and build long-term retention. Happy residents = happy clients = happy PMC teams. A triple win! At Second Nature, we’re all about building experiences that residents will pay for and stay for.

Keep learning

Chambers Theory Endorses Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package

Chambers Theory is a world-renowned property management team with clients in more than 30 countries worldwide. They specialize in serving the U.S. military, State Department, and Foreign Services families. Their motto “Real Estate With Intelligence” is more than just a saying. It’s on full display through the introductory videos for landlords and residents on their website in seven languages (Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Vietnamese, French, Croatian, and English) - all spoken fluently by their own property management (PM) team. Since its founding in 2018, Chambers Theory has been achieving extraordinary performance benchmarks. They’ve led the marketplace in delivering the “Golden Triangle of Success” to their clients, which means the lowest vacancy, the highest average rents, and the highest quality of tenants of any property management firm in its same service area. They’ve also donated over $100,000 to local charities and community organizations, while also leading the way in promoting sustainability practices in real estate and property management services. Their outstanding team attributes their success to their ability to develop and utilize their emotional intelligence skills to capacity to care with all their interactions with both landlords and residents. That’s why they fully endorse the Resident Benefits Package at Second Nature! Find out more about what a Resident Benefits Package is, its benefits, and how it can help create a Triple Win for you, as well as your residents and investors. Related: The State of Resident Experience Report

Calendar icon July 18, 2024

Read more

Investor Experience Platform™️ IXP™️

An Investor Experience Platform™️ (IXP) in property management is a suite of products, services, and benefits offered by property management companies to property investors. Just like a resident benefits package is a way to drive value for residents, investors, and property managers, the IBP™️ is an innovative approach to property management that focuses on driving value for an investor's assets and turning that value into profit for the property management company. In this article, we’ll dig into the different features that an Investor Experience Platform™️ can include, and how those benefit not just investors, but property managers and residents, too. What Is an Investor Experience Platform™️ (IXP)? As stated above, an Investor Experience Platform™️ (IXP™️) is a comprehensive suite of services that offer property investors higher quality property management, stability, and profit. An IBP™️ typically includes concierge-level services beyond basic property management – such as property insurance policies, eviction guarantees, rent guarantees, maintenance plans, asset performance reports, etc. These services are aimed at maximizing the investor’s assets, stability and convenience, profitability, and peace of mind in managing their properties. They're commonly managed through an investor experience platform to securely manage and monitor the performance of these assets online, which we'll discuss later. The first step to outlining an IBP™️ is to define what your basic management fee means and covers. If the answer is, it’s collecting rent, handling maintenance, and general communication – does that include maintenance coordination or is that a separate fee? Does it include asset reporting or is that an additional service? In your management agreement, define what the management fee is, what it covers, and how much it is. An IBP™️ can be an effective tool for articulating the new and differentiated things that an investor wouldn’t be able to do on their own and that you are offering beyond basic property management. Articulate your unique and differentiated services (IBP™️) and use that as a tool for positioning and charging for what it’s worth. What’s Included in An Investor Experience Platform™️? An Investor Experience Platform™️ should include a range of solutions to help deliver consistency, insight, and asset protection to a property owner’s portfolio. After all, professional property managers don’t have to be functional managers of a home – they can be strategic partners in the management of financial assets. You might hear services similar to the IBP™️ called an “owner benefit package,” but at Second Nature, we believe that the “investor” term is useful in encouraging a longer-term mindset, and emphasizes the economic value professional property management can bring. According to Eric Wetherington, VP of Strategic Initiatives at PURE Property Management: “As property managers, we need to think more like asset managers. This client made an investment, and we should be guiding that client through managing that investment, not just collecting rent.” To build and manage a winning IBP™️, property managers need an Investor Experience Platform that unlocks scalable product and service customization, digitized onboarding, accounting policy automation, and more. In addition, Investor Experience Platforms provide transparency and convenience for your investors. Here are some of the most valuable services that property managers can offer through an innovative Investor Experience Platform™️. Property insurance program Similar to offering a renters insurance program through an RBP in the lease agreement, property management companies can offer an insurance plan to investors to cut costs and ensure the safety of their assets. Most management agreements will include the requirement that the investor carries insurance on the property and that the property manager is additionally insured. But what if you as the property manager could help manage that for the investor – at scale? Property Insurance for investors should have dynamic pricing based on individual investors’s property portfolio and needs. The benefit beyond flexibility is the savings they’ll see on their premiums while also getting insurance that’s tailored to the needs of their specific property class. At Second Nature, we work primarily with single-family rental properties and small multi-family residences. Property Insurance Programs can bring scale that will drive economic value for the investor over what they could get retail on their own. They’d still have the option to go get their own insurance that meets requirements, but they can pay you a small fee to manage it for them. Rent guarantee An IBP™️ can include a number of financial guarantees to protect property investors and drive ancillary revenue for PMCs. A rent guarantee, or rent protection, ensures a consistent rental income to investors by protecting them against resident defaults or non-payment of rent. If a resident fails to pay rent, the property management company covers the unpaid amount and takes necessary steps for eviction or collection, providing financial security and minimizing the risk for property owners. Rent guarantees work for professional property management companies that have enough properties to balance the loss of rent if a resident doesn’t pay. The risk is low and the additional profit from fees for this guarantee can have a very high ROI, while driving satisfaction and stability for the investor. Plus, if you’re using services in an RBP to help incentivize on-time rent payments, you’ll rarely find yourself out in the cold. Eviction protection guarantee An eviction protection guarantee also goes beyond the normal scope of property management services and can be used as a secondary source of revenue. Eviction Protection is a service provided by property management companies to property investors that offers additional security and financial protection in the event of an eviction. Under this guarantee, the property management company assumes the costs associated with the eviction process, including legal fees and court expenses. It helps alleviate the financial burden on property investors and provides peace of mind by ensuring that they are safeguarded against potential losses resulting from resident evictions. The eviction guarantee helps protect property owners from the complexities and potential costs associated with evictions, ensuring a smooth and efficient resolution to tenant-related issues. Pet guarantees & other guarantees A pet guarantee is a service offered by property management companies to property investors that aims to address any potential issues related to allowing pets in rental properties. It typically involves implementing policies and procedures to ensure responsible pet ownership, such as thorough pet screening, pet agreements, and collecting additional pet deposits or fees. The pet guarantee may also include services like pet damage insurance or assistance with pet-related issues during the lease term. It provides property investors with a framework to accommodate residents with pets while minimizing risks and maintaining the condition of the property. For many residents, finding a pet-friendly apartment increases retention and profitability. They’re willing to stay longer and pay more for a pet-friendly place. And–get this–pet damage is less likely to happen than damage from kids! It’s not a huge risk to the asset, but can provide a big benefit in terms of satisfied, longer-term residents. Maintenance plan Home warranties are a four-letter word for property managers. They’re a massive headache to deal with, and yet there’s high demand for them among property investors. Because of that, most property managers charge a fee for home warranties, for each they have to file. Imagine if there was a world where home warranties weren’t needed. Here’s the thing: Professional property managers already have the vendor network and the know-how to coordinate maintenance jobs. What they don’t usually have is a product that’s priced to give the investor the experience they want. Let’s say right now an investor is paying $50 a month for a cheap home warranty. The warranty only covers 40% of issues and it creates all these extra people and friction in the middle. For anything moderately significant that goes wrong with a property, PMCs generally must contact the investor for permission to get work done. It’s all a massive hassle and loses time in maintenance requests that leave residents frustrated. What if there was a product that costs, say, $150 to $200 a month but it actually covered everything? Instead of having sudden expenses and emergencies, this maintenance plan smooths out the experience and makes it more predictable for the investor. For PMs, it means taking the initiative on fixes without waiting for approval. Imagine a world where you didn’t have to get owner approvals for 95% of maintenance issues – because they’re already budgeted for and already paid for. For residents, it means better maintenance, and faster. Another Triple Win! Asset performance reports Another piece focuses on property managers as asset managers. Think about any investment app, like Robinhood, Acorns, etc. You can log in to these apps any time, 24/7, and see how your stock and investments are performing. In most investment classes, you can see in real time how your assets are performing. Why shouldn’t property investors have that as well? An IBP™️ can include exactly that: a dashboard or online portal that shows investors regular reports on how their property is doing. They could get updates on the value of their home over time, the home price appreciation, rent price over time, and project rent growth, typically maintenance costs and how they’re doing against that, and more. Resident Benefits Package Another piece to include in your IBP™️ is to highlight the benefits of your resident benefits package to your investors. Explain how features like a filter delivery program protect their assets and reduce HVAC repair costs. Show how a renters insurance program can ensure coverage and protection. Give numbers on how credit reporting incentivizes on-time rental payments and helps ensure financially stable renters. Explain how a movie-in concierge saves both time, headache, and money. Each of the pillars of an RBP is critical to encouraging better resident behavior, increasing renter retention and lease renewal rates, reducing vacancies, and more – all primary goals for a property investor. A note about Rent Advance Programs There’s been due buzz about “Rent Advance” offerings, though many advise caution when approaching this financial product. It works in some ways like cash advance programs, which can satisfy urgent needs, but not be more valuable for anyone long term. The way it works is PMs offer to send a year of rent upfront to the investor in a big chunk, and collect monthly from the resident. The investor typically pays a 5-10% premium on the advance, which can be their entire expected return. So the question becomes, where do they put that cash to get a better return instead? Another thing to think about is who would actually use this product. Investors who don’t have enough cash on hand? How does that benefit anyone in the long run? What happens when there’s a big maintenance bill later? Does this encourage better decisions and practices by the investor? To date, there’s been pretty low adoption of this program, which is another sign it may not be hugely beneficial to everyone involved. But plenty of innovations start that way, evolve, and find traction. One case where it might be a value generator is if an investor is looking to take a cash advance and put it toward a down payment for another house. That would benefit the property manager as well, promising more business, and the PM could offer a lower rate for getting more properties to make the financing more attractive than hard money loans or other alternatives. The jury is still out here, it’s an interesting one to track. How Can Investors and Property Managers Benefit From an Investor Experience Platform™️? Investors and property managers can benefit from an Investor Experience Platform™️ in several ways. They’re also great for residents in the sense they build more stability and quality into the renting process. Here are just some of the benefits of an IBP™️. Enhanced investor attraction An Investor Experience Platform™️ provides incentives and advantages that can attract more investors. Financial guarantees and protections against the risks associated with evictions or late payments can increase stability, while services like a maintenance plan can ensure premium care of their property assets without increasing their workload. By offering attractive perks, property managers can differentiate their offerings and generate greater investor interest. Increased investor retention Both IBP™️s and RBPs help build loyalty with residents and investors. By fostering a strong relationship and demonstrating ongoing value, property managers can build trust and loyalty among investors, and retain them over the long term. IBP™️s help establish the stability, transparency, and asset growth for a real estate investment that an investor hopes to achieve. Improved property performance An Investor Experience Platform™️ can also contribute to improved property performance. For example, by offering discounted property management fees or access to professional services at reduced rates, property managers can help investors optimize their returns and reduce costs. Additionally, incentives such as rent guarantees or eviction protection can mitigate risk for investors and attract more capital to the property. Streamlined communication and transparency A well-designed Investor Experience Platform™️ facilitates effective communication and promotes transparency between property managers and investors. This can involve regular reporting on financial performance, property updates, and the sharing of relevant market insights. Transparent and consistent communication builds trust and confidence among investors, fostering a positive and long-lasting relationship. Competitive advantage A comprehensive Investor Experience Platform™️ can give property managers a competitive edge in the market. When investors have access to exclusive benefits and advantages, they are more likely to choose a property managed by a company that offers a compelling package – and to recommend it to others. Say hello to increased investment inflow and a stronger market position for your PMC. Should You Make an Investor Experience Platform™️ Mandatory? The first thing most property managers ask us when we’re talking about an RBP or an IBP™️ is: Should I make this mandatory for all investors or do I make it a flexible opt-in/opt-out program? Unlike RBPs, where best practices are more proven and established, different PMs are taking different approaches with their IBP™️s. Some have a mandatory level of service set at a flat price. Others may say they’re fine offering a base level of service without these differentiated products, giving investors the choice to simply pay a baseline management fee and opt out of the IBP™️ premium service. Some may offer a baseline to all investors and then give them the chance to opt in for premium IBP™️ services. There are a lot of ways to do it. With the RBP, we’ve found that making it mandatory does not generate nearly as much pushback as people expect – and can be a strong value add overall. Final Thoughts About an Investor Experience Platform™️ The Investor Experience Platform™️ is an innovative way to generate ancillary income and create more value for investors and residents. Similar to Second Nature’s premier Resident Benefits Package, the IBP™️ can deliver high-quality service for investor experience – and help create a triple win for investors, residents, and property management companies. The IBP™️ reinforces the value of a professional property management company for investors and helps differentiate you from the crowd. Stay tuned to learn more about the latest in the IBP™️ space, or learn more about how a resident benefits package can launch a whole new level of value for your PMC.

Calendar icon July 17, 2024

Read more

Receive articles straight to your inbox

Deliver the ultimate resident experience

Our Resident Benefits Package gives residents everything they want without all the work.