Calendar icon May 18, 2023

Resident Experience Management Guide to Utilize PLatforms to Meet Expectations

Resident experience management is improving every resident touchpoint – from application to move-out – to drive an experience so good your residents never want to leave.

Today, the role of the property manager is to proactively identify and meet residents’ needs, often before the resident knows they need it. It’s a new world, but it’s exciting, allowing enterprising PMs to stand out in a crowded industry. Solutions that drive value, like a resident benefits package or an investor benefits package, are taking the lead.

At Second Nature, we build tools with those enterprising property managers leading the way, and we’ve put together a report on the latest trends and innovations in the space. 

In this article, we’re diving deep into how to improve the resident experience, why it matters, and the best practices in resident experience right now. For more details and insights from leading PMs, check out the 2024 State of Resident Experience Report.

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Why is Resident Experience Important? 

Related: State of Resident Experience Study

The “experience economy” has changed both customer and resident expectations. Particularly after the pandemic, the modern consumer is accustomed to the ease of apps like Uber, Airbnb, and Amazon, and they respond to ease and convenience.

The question that single-family and multifamily PMCs are asking now isn’t “What’s the most I can get out of residents for the least I can do?” Rather, it's: “How do I create an experience so good that residents never want to leave?” 

Property management companies are redefining resident experiences to improve occupancy rates and help residents, investors, and their companies get a win. Investing in resident experience management strategies is one of the most direct ways to yield a positive ROI and reduce turnover costs.

According to DD Lee, owner of Skyline Properties Group in Atlanta: 

“The number one thing (our residents) look for is ease and convenience. They don't want complicated instructions. They just want simple; they want right now. They want contact-free; they don't want to talk to people. So everything we do, from showings to moving into the experience after they move in is all revolved around design for that expectation.” 

How to Improve Resident Experience Management

Resident experience management is about identifying every unique touchpoint along the resident’s journey – from application to move-out. Property managers are now expected to make each touchpoint painless and convenient. 

Our 2024 State of Resident Experience Report discusses changing consumer expectations and the key steps to resident satisfaction. Here, let’s expand on each key resident touchpoint where PMs can focus on improvement.

Move-In

Move-in is the perfect opportunity to design experiences that make new residents say, “Wow” – to make them feel delighted, welcome, and truly at home. 

Our guide explores some of the best innovations for cultivating a unique move-in experience. One of the best is to offer a Resident Benefits Package (RBP) that folds in services like a move-in concierge, insurance, incentives, and more. 

Rent Payments

Second Nature’s RBP has a credit-building service that reports on-time payments to every credit bureau, giving value to residents and helping them become more financially stable. Another service is the resident rewards program, which incentivizes on-time payments and supports great residents.

Maintenance Requests

Using an online resident portal for real-time maintenance requests has become a baseline expectation. PMs are going beyond that to ensure they use preventative maintenance and deploying strategies to improve functionality.

One such resident experience strategy is an air filter delivery service. Changing filters on time can reduce HVAC requests by 38%, saving the property manager and investor hundreds of dollars a year.

Pet Registration

Property managers can proactively offer pet registrations or guarantees and even use that as a form of ancillary income. You get the extra pet fees to drive income, the investor gets an assurance that they won’t suffer because of pet damage, and the resident gets to keep their pet!

Resident Concierge Services

Concierge services are a top way to provide a VIP experience. Second Nature’s RBP includes a move-in concierge who can confidently guide multiple people daily to set up their utilities properly. Residents don’t have to deal with the headache of setting up new utilities – instead, in one phone call, they find out their best options and can even get help simplifying setup. 

Renewal Process

PMs can proactively set up the renewal process, so it’s as easy for the resident as a click of a button. Assuming each touchpoint along the way has anticipated and delivered on residents’ needs – and surpassed their expectations – lease renewal should be straightforward and quick.

Resident Communication

Property managers aiming to improve the resident experience have found creative ways to improve and streamline resident communication. Great communication is necessary, whether through digital apps and automation, social media, on-site messaging, proactive team members, etc.

Move Out

When a resident is moving out – whether they chose to move or are delinquent – property managers can help make the process as smooth as possible. Anticipating the resident’s needs, keeping communication open, and deploying motivated team members all help deliver the final touch for residents. The move-out experience is their last impression and can impact your referrals, reputation, etc.

 

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What Property Managers Can Do Using Resident Experience Platform

Resident retention is a key success metric in the current economic climate. Keeping residents engaged and happy can go a long way to delivering a triple win: hitting your goals, their goals, and your investor’s goals. 

Our State of Resident Experience Report explores how resident experience management can deliver ROI, company growth, and happier investors. We also talk to several experts in the property management field to hear their best and most successful ideas.

Here are a few key activities the resident experience platform enables you to improve the experience that residents will pay for and stay for.

  • Post-maintenance surveys and follow-ups
  • Quick complaint responses and preventive maintenance
  • Pet-friendly property management and insurance
  • Resident engagement programs like a recycling drive, helping minimize waste productions, sourcing local, etc.
  • Prioritizing safety and security and engaging residents in a proactive way to achieve that

Each of these strategies can be executed with the help of a resident experience management platform and helps deliver what “totally taken care of” feels like, which is exactly what residents are looking for.

Resident Experience Management Tips: How to Handle Difficult Residents

Every property manager we’ve talked to has dealt with difficult residents at some point in their career. The best property management strategies prevent many of these issues through better resident experiences. The right strategy can help incentivize residents to cooperate, keep a property well-maintained, and make on-time payments. 

When you are facing a difficult resident situation, here’s how leading property managers advise proceeding. 

Make sure service promises are fulfilled

One of the most important things that sets professional PMs apart from hobbyists or amateur landlords is the delivery of promises. Because you have a team and a plan, you can ensure that what you promise is what residents get. 

Being courteous, kind, and professional

A lot of this is about hiring the right people. Get your core values in place and ensure that anyone you hire is bought in on those values. Finding people that the rest of your team enjoys working with is also important. Cultivating an environment of courtesy and respect goes a long way to ensuring residents are treated fairly.

By not taking it personally

Improving the resident living experience is all about seeing the human at the other end. When unhappy or troublesome residents aren’t taken personally, it puts us in a better position to take reasonable, effective steps to deal with them. Professional PMs can approach challenging situations without judgment but with clear boundaries and proactive solutions.

Delegating 

This comes back to having the right team in place. If you trust your team, you can delegate specific complex tasks to them without spending all your time on every issue.

Peter Lohmann, CEO of RL Property Management, shared that he keeps a delegation cheat sheet printed out at his desk. The steps to successfully delegating are:

  1. Outline the vision - “Commander’s Intent.”
  2. Share resources.
  3. Describe your definition of done.
  4. Give a deadline or interval.
  5. Explain how and when they should keep you updated. 

Having paperwork to back your arguments

Ensuring you have documentation of each issue with the resident is critical. Documenting interactions along the way helps protect you and your team.

Setting and maintaining expectations 

Again, professional PMs know that setting and maintaining expectations is one of the top priorities for a happy and successful resident relationship. Knowing that today’s residents expect a certain level of convenience can put professional PMs ahead of the game.

Utilizing Resident Experience Platforms Like Second Nature to Meet Expectations

We’ve only scratched the surface of resident experience management and the innovative and exciting ways we’ve seen property managers change the game in that space. The next step might be to explore our Resident Benefits Package and why property managers love it.

Or, if you’d like to learn more about property management trends for 2024 – and the changing state of resident experience – you can download our free State of Resident Experience Report. The in-depth report includes advice and insights from some of the most innovative property managers in the biz, data on resident expectations, and key trends for 2024.

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

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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

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