Calendar icon July 18, 2023

9 Ways to Improve Your Resident Experience

Resident experience is the sum total of interactions and experiences a resident has with their property manager and the rental property itself – from the initial lease signing to the eventual move-out and all the day-to-day living moments in between. 

It encompasses everything from the quality of services provided, like timely maintenance and communication, to the overall livability and enjoyment of the property. In essence, it's how a resident perceives their rental journey in its entirety.

Excellent resident experience management is the mark of a top-tier property management company. It boosts resident retention, satisfaction, and outcomes.

In this article, we delve into nine actionable ways to enhance the resident experience in your single-family rental properties, fostering stronger relationships and, ultimately, achieving greater success in property management.

Read the full report! If you haven’t already heard, we recently published our first-ever State of Resident Experience Report, which explores resident experience management: the pivotal touchpoints between a resident and a property manager. The report draws fresh insights from the SFR property management industry and explores the three top factors impacting resident experience right now.

 

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1. A Seamless Move-In Experience 

Ah, the move-in process – the start of a beautiful friendship between the resident and the property manager. It's a bit like a first date – you're setting impressions that could make or break the relationship. 

A seamless move-in experience is your chance to roll out the red carpet for your new residents, showing them they've made the right choice (and have definitely swiped right on the best property around). 

And guess what? A resident who's had a great move-in experience is a happier one. Happier residents stay longer, pay on time, take care of the property, and make positive recommendations.

Resident experience examples: How to build a perfect resident move-in experience

Here's how to ensure your move-in experience hits all the right notes.

  • Clear Communication: Provide detailed information about the new home and move-in process, including key collection, utility setup, and property rules. Who's handling utilities? Where's the best pizza joint nearby? Share all the important details.
  • Welcome Packet: Roll out the resident red carpet with a welcome packet. Not only does it have all the must-know info, but it also says, "Hey, we're glad you're here." Include essential information such as garbage collection days, rules, important contact numbers, and a neighborhood guide.
  • Property Readiness: Nothing dampens spirits like a flickering light on the first day. Ensure the property is thoroughly cleaned, all appliances are working, and any previous damages are repaired before the move-in date.
  • Efficient Paperwork: Let's face it, nobody loves paperwork. Make it painless with easy online forms and digital sign-offs.  
  • Personal Touch: A little welcome gift can go a long way. It's like saying, "Welcome home, neighbor. We're going to rock this thing." Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package includes a Move-in Concierge to ensure the process is seamless and personal.

2. Responsive Communication  

In the symphony of successful property management, responsive communication is your melody. It's the backbone of a harmonious resident experience, and when done right, it can elevate your property management status from “forgettable” to “virtuoso.” The sooner you respond to your resident’s queries or concerns, the more they'll feel valued. And a valued resident is a happier resident.

Remember, good communication isn’t just about speed—it’s about clarity too. It's like being a great tour guide in the bustling city of property management—clear, informative, and always ready to help.

Ways to improve communication with your residents

Let's explore some best practices:

  • Multiple Channels: Embrace the digital age! Offer various communication channels like emails, text messages, phone calls, and even a resident portal. Variety is the spice of life, right?
  • Be Proactive: Don’t wait for your residents to reach out with issues. Regularly check in and ask if they need anything. 
  • Set Expectations: Be clear about your communication protocols. Let your residents know when and how they can reach you and when they can expect a response. No one likes to be left on read!
  • Listen Actively: When your residents speak, lend them your ears! Show understanding and work collaboratively towards solutions. It's a two-way street, after all.
  • Be Respectful: Always communicate with respect and professionalism. Treat your residents the way you’d want to be treated – it’s the golden rule, even in property management!

3. Better Maintenance Services with Quick Response Times  

Think of maintenance services as the superheroes of the property management world. When done right, they swoop in to save the day, ensuring minor issues don't escalate into supervillain-sized problems. 

Quick response times? That's your superhero's super speed. The quicker the response, the happier your resident, and the safer the day. 

How to improve maintenance services and response times

Here's how to get your property management cape (sorry) flapping in the wind:

  • 24/7 Maintenance Line: Offer a dedicated line for maintenance requests. To belabor our superhero analogy, it’s like having a bat signal for your tenants – they know help is just a call away.
  • Online Reporting: Make it easy for tenants to report issues. An online system can keep things organized and ensures no request gets lost in the shuffle.
  • Prompt Follow-up: Act swiftly on maintenance requests. Even if you can't fix the issue immediately, acknowledging the request and providing a timeline can ease the resident's mind.
  • Regular Inspections: Regular property inspections can help you catch potential issues before they become major headaches. It's all about that ounce of prevention!
  • Trusted Vendors: Work with reliable and professional vendors who provide quality work in a timely manner. They're your sidekicks in maintaining property harmony.

4. Resident Surveys and Active Feedback Gathering   

Resident surveys and feedback gathering are your property's annual check-up, a key health indicator for your relationship with residents. 

These invaluable tools allow you to take the pulse of resident satisfaction, uncover hidden issues, and celebrate what's working well. When residents see their feedback being valued and acted upon, it creates a sense of involvement and community, enhancing their overall living experience and driving resident retention

Importantly, active feedback gathering shows your residents that their voices matter. It instills a sense of ownership and care that can often lead to better property care and longer tenancies.

How to turn resident feedback into a better resident experience

Here are some ways to champion feedback in your property management:

  • Regular Surveys: Don't just wait for the annual survey. Keep the feedback coming in regularly, like a monthly check-in or a quick poll after a service call. It's like catching up over a virtual cup of coffee – relaxed and informative.
  • Feedback Boxes: Consider setting up a digital feedback box where residents can drop their thoughts, ideas, or concerns anonymously. Think of it as your modern suggestion box.
  • Act on Feedback: Here's the real deal – taking action. Show your residents that their feedback isn't just being heard, it's being actioned. 

 

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5. Resident Rewards 

Resident Rewards are a huge factor in resident retention and satisfaction. Rewards make residents feel appreciated and have proven to incentivize habits like on-time payments and better care for the property. Perks like this can significantly boost resident satisfaction, increase lease renewals, and even stimulate referrals. It's a win-win all around!

For multifamily and apartment community managers, that might look like community-focused programs. For single-family property managers, we’ve got some other tips. 

Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package includes a robust resident rewards program.

How to improve the resident experience with resident rewards

Here's how you can sprinkle some rewarding magic into your resident experience:

  • On-Time Rent Rewards: Create a system that rewards residents for consistently paying their rent on time. It could be a small discount or a gift card to a local coffee shop.
  • Longevity Rewards: Celebrate lease renewals or long-term residents. A gift, a discount, or even a personalized note can make your residents feel valued for their loyalty.
  • Referral Rewards: Turn your residents into ambassadors! Offer a discount or a bonus for any referral they make that signs a lease.
  • Surprise Rewards: Keep the excitement alive with occasional surprise rewards. It could be as simple as a movie ticket or a voucher for a free car wash.

6. Incentive Programs

Incentive programs are the next level of resident engagement that professional PMs offer. They can positively influence resident behavior, promote a sense of belonging, and even enhance your property's appeal to prospective residents.

When residents feel that their good habits (like timely rent payments) are being recognized or they're being offered valuable services (like credit reporting or identity protection), it builds loyalty and satisfaction. It's like saying, "We're in this together, and we've got your back!"

How incentive programs can boost the resident experience

Here's how to serve up a great menu of incentives for your residents:

  • Credit Reporting: Offer a program that reports timely rent payments to credit bureaus. It's a win-win: they pay their rent on time, and they build their credit!
  • Identity Protection: In a world where digital safety is paramount, offering identity protection services can be a powerful incentive. It's like providing an invisible, protective bubble around your residents.
  • Rent Discount for Referrals: Encourage residents to become your ambassadors. Offer a rent discount or a gift for successful referrals. It's like having your very own fan club.
  • Early Payment Incentives: Reward residents who pay their rent well before the due date. It could be a small discount or a token gift, but it makes them feel appreciated.
  • Rewards for Green Habits: Encourage residents to adopt environmentally friendly habits, like recycling or energy conservation, and offer incentives for their green efforts. This can really help in SFR when you don’t have the same level of control as PMs managing an apartment building.

7. Support Tools 

Support services work behind the scenes, often unnoticed, but they play a crucial role in streamlining the resident experience. From filter delivery subscriptions to online payments, these services add a layer of convenience and assurance for your residents. 

Integrating support services into your property management strategy can not only elevate resident satisfaction but also reduce your workload. It's like having a friendly assistant who's always ready to lend a hand, both to you and your residents.

How to create support services that add convenience to your resident experience

Here are a few ways you can amplify your resident experience through support services:

  • Filter Delivery Subscription: Offering a filter delivery service for your residents ensures their HVAC system is always protected. It reduces your maintenance issues and costs and ensures they have a safe living environment. Second Nature’s filter delivery reduces resident and PM costs by hundreds of dollars a year.
  • Online Rent Payment: Providing an easy-to-use online portal to process and automate rent payments and lease renewals adds a layer of convenience for you and your residents.
  • Maintenance Request Portal: An online system for maintenance requests helps keep track of issues and ensures timely response. It's like having a 24/7 maintenance desk at their fingertips.
  • Digital Notifications: Use email or SMS notifications to keep residents updated about important things like maintenance schedules, community events, or changes in property rules. Proptech solutions can help with digital support.
  • Resident Portal: A comprehensive resident portal where tenants can access services, find information, and connect with management can significantly enhance the overall resident experience.

8. Concierge Services

Concierge services are the above-and-beyond offerings that can truly set your property apart from the rest. This personalized attention can transform the often stressful processes into a smooth and enjoyable experience.

How concierge services help with resident experience

Here are some other examples of concierge services:

  • Move-in Concierge: Who doesn’t want a personal assistant during the often chaotic time of moving? A move-in concierge helps with utility setup and pricing comparisons and provides local area information. Learn more about Second Nature’s Move-in Concierge in our Resident Benefits Package.
  • Cleaning Services: Offering access to trusted cleaning services, whether for regular use or during the move-out process, can be a huge convenience.
  • Maintenance Scheduling: A service to help residents schedule routine maintenance can keep their homes running smoothly without them having to worry about coordination.

9. Insurance

While, as a property manager, you carry insurance for the physical property, it's equally important for your residents to have renter's insurance. Your coverage protects your owners' real estate investment. Renter’s insurance protects residents’ personal belongings and covers them for liability, and it's a small investment for significant protection. Plus, in case of a mishap, it can help the recovery process go much more smoothly.

Resident experience examples: How to leverage a renter’s insurance program

Here's how you can integrate insurance into your resident experience:

  • Educate Residents: Make sure your residents understand the importance of renter's insurance, what it covers, and what it doesn't. This is critical information that every renter should know.
  • Insurance Requirements in Lease: Include a clause about renter's insurance in your lease agreement. This helps to set the expectation right from the start.
  • Annual Reminders: Send out annual reminders for policy renewals. It's a small step, but it ensures continuous protection for your residents.
  • Renter’s Insurance Program: While most property managers require insurance, less than half of renters maintain coverage. Second Nature has developed a renter’s insurance program that has 100% compliance and leaves residents – and you – with the coverage they need.

How SecondNature Improves Resident Experience

Resident experience – those pivotal touchpoints between a resident and a property manager – can significantly shape the success of a single-family rental home. 

At Second Nature, we’ve built our entire company on the idea that resident experience can change the game in property management. Our Resident Benefits Package wraps up each of these strategies into an all-in-one resource for property management companies. It saves money for you and your residents and delivers the best in convenience and resident experience. 

Learn more about the Resident Benefits Package or read our State of Resident Experience Report.

Keep learning

How to Optimize Operational Frequency with Processes and Software

Property management software is currently helping property managers establish efficient and reliable processes at a higher rate than ever before in the PM industry. With that development in the proptech industry has come the development of tech for self-managers that has changed the capacity of the accidental landlord. Thus, the demand for efficiency at scale has risen in order to separate the professional from the amateur, and the establishment of processes that allow such a thing has become a critical topic for professional property managers. Optimizing property management processes Carter Fleck of Triton Property Management, a growth-oriented firm out of northern Virginia that is approaching 300 units with larger goals for 2024, joins us to share his expertise on process definition. Fleck is the General Manager responsible for operations and strategic growth, and he has been developing effective processes to ensure efficiency at Scale at Triton, and in the process, he has garnered an understanding of how to do so. “A lot of failing,” says Fleck. “In the early days, we were getting a lot of good and bad feedback, but typically the bad feedback is what you adjust off of.” Fleck believes that assumptions are the enemy when it comes to defining procedures and sourcing software for your PMC. “The image that we use is if you're going to build a sidewalk before people even start walking on a field, it's kind of dumb. You have to see where people will walk first, and then you'll build a gravel path. So number one, you see where they walk, see where their intentions are in the grass, then you build a gravel path. And then eventually, once that walkway is established, that's where you build your processes and procedures.” The analogy is a visualization of the concept that you have to see how people operate before you can establish processes to make how they operate more efficient. Fleck encourages the negative experiences of process breakdown and cites them as the only way to really nail down what your processes should look like. “Over time, between the tenants giving feedback and owners giving feedback, we adjusted our processes. It's a mix between figuring out where the owners walk and where the tenants walk, and then building paths that align.” Fleck details an example of how Triton adjusted its process after an assumption it made got challenged: "We had an assumption that payment plans were helpful for residents," says Fleck. "And so the way we handled delinquency is we would reach out to them and would be like, ‘you need to pay this. Do you have a payment plan option?’ And they would always say yes. Our process was we'll put you on a payment plan, we'll invite you to a payment plan, you'll accept the payment plan, and then we'll monitor the payment plan. That in itself was a lot of work, but we thought it was doing well. But some of the owners that we had managed for mentioned that another property manager doesn't allow any payment plans. And if you're not fully paid up by the end of the month, then the eviction process starts if you’re over $500 due. So we're like 'alright, well, we'll serve you in that we'll change our processes.' And we did, and our delinquency percentage shrunk significantly. So, consistently, by the end of every month, we're around 5% APR. Whereas with payment plans we're like 5 to 10%.” Fleck obviously credits seeing the assumptions in motion as what prompted the need for process iteration, and he firmly believes that making too many of these assumptions is one of the biggest mistakes growing property management companies make. Like any business experiencing growth, process definition is critical to achieve efficiency at larger volumes. What Fleck is essentially advocating for is processes based on what you know, not what you think, and there is a big distinction. Managing property management software Fleck has installed both general and tech-based processes, and cites that understanding of how people interact with processes as the key in both areas. "They don't focus on user experience. That's really important. Number one, how the tenants like the tech, but specifically how the people who are using the tech are gonna adopt it. So when we were choosing a rent inspection software, we had so many people recommend one, software and I, we almost pulled the trigger on it. But then I was like, let's do a trial run on both these two. And we chose the other one because it was way better user experience for property managers. So user experience, both for us and for residents." Tech is a tool that is ultimately as good as its users, and if it's not used correctly or at all, its potential is wasted. An over-reliance on technology can actually go hand-in-hand with an under-reliance, as both often spring up from a lack of understanding of how to choose, implement, and manage it. In this vein, Fleck can't recall many property managers who operate with too much tech. As long as you're not purchasing redundant software and you've done and continue to do your due diligence, tech-based process can make your business more efficient. "I more often find myself having that conversation," says Fleck. "When I'm talking to property managers in my sub-market, who aren't connected with like a NARPM, who aren't connected with like a Crane group, or who aren't connected with a Second Nature, aren't connected to the tune of what the property management industry is doing and the cutting edge of it, I'm just like, 'you could save so much of your time and you could scale this so much more if you only even if you just had tenant Turner, or if you had LeadSimple.'" No matter what your story is a property manager, if growth is in the cards, so is process and technology refinement. Hopefully, Fleck's experience in these areas can help you stay efficient and organized as door counts grow.

Calendar icon April 19, 2024

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Why offer a tenant benefits package?

In the residential real estate sector, like everywhere else, residents and property investors alike are getting younger – and with this generational shift comes expectations for a certain level of convenience and support. To put it bluntly, today’s residents want their needs proactively anticipated. It’s something they're willing to pay (and stay) for. That’s where a tenant benefits package comes in. In this article, we’ll explore what a tenant benefit package is, how it improves the experience for both property managers and tenants, and crucial mistakes to avoid. Before we get into the details, we want to give a shoutout to our very own “Resident Benefits Package” – which is how we refer to the benefits comprised in the “tenant benefits package.” “Tenant” is not yet a legacy term, but we here at Second Nature are trying to evolve it. That’s because, in our experience, property managers work hard to make renters feel like they’re not just parties to a contract – they’re residents. On one hand, this is just humans being humans, but on the other hand, it also encourages them to invest in care for their new home and add value to the property. Ready to get started now? Build your Resident Benefits Package today. What is a tenant benefits package? A tenant benefits package is typically a bundle of services, conveniences, and provisions offered by a property manager on top of the basic lease agreement. They represent a triple-win situation for property managers, residents, and property owners, as they enhance the overall rental experience, generate additional income, and protect the real estate investment. It might include conveniences such as online monthly rent payment options, or portals for submitting maintenance requests and tracking their status. It could also include various financial perks, such as credit rating improvements that are contingent on on-time rental payments, or discounts on nearby services such as fitness centers. It might also include amenities ranging from move-in concierge or utility set-up services, to identity protection services, to HVAC filter delivery. The cost for resident benefits packages is typically included in the lease and added as a monthly fee, with the fee being dependent on the specific benefits. Indeed, the benefits contained in a tenant benefits package will vary depending on the property manager and the type of rental property. The overall goal is to provide tenants with an enhanced quality of life while simplifying the experience of renting. At Second Nature, we pioneered the only fully managed resident benefits package, in response to PMs who wanted to make their business stand out. Our RBP includes an array of services and supports for residents, from filter delivery to credit building to maintenance. Why should property managers offer a tenant benefits package? Beyond the triple-win considerations mentioned just above, there are compelling and concrete reasons why property managers should offer tenant benefit packages. We'll turn to these now. Ancillary revenue Some tenant benefit packages include optional services or add-ons that can generate additional revenue streams for the property manager. This might include things like renter insurance or HVAC filter delivery. Resident experience Tenant benefit packages deliver numerous savings and value to tenants, beyond the value they would get if they were obtaining the same benefits "à la carte." Additionally, by offering additional services and conveniences, benefit packages can make tenants feel valued and more satisfied with their living experience. For instance, maintenance hotline requests, tenant portals, and air filter replacements all make life easier. Add-on services like identity theft protection can offer a sense of security. And discounted renters insurance coverage, utility concierge services, or other perks can save tenants money. Decrease tenant turnover and vacancy rates In a competitive rental market, tenant benefit packages can be a major differentiator toward boosting retention rates and reducing vacancy rates. Properties that offer these packages can also attract a wider pool of qualified tenants, and potentially command higher rents. Note that certain benefits in the package, like online rent payments and maintenance requests, can automate tasks and free up the property manager's time. This allows them to focus on more value-added initiatives. How does the tenant benefits package improve the tenant experience? Tenant benefit packages can significantly improve tenant satisfaction in several ways, by making life easier, more convenient, and potentially more affordable. For instance, if an online portal (a baseline feature for most property management software) is included for rent payments and maintenance issues and requests, this eliminates the hassle of writing checks or waiting on hold to speak with someone about a clogged drain. In other words, tenants have the peace of mind of knowing they can manage their tenancy 24/7 from the comfort of their own devices. Some packages might include features like filter delivery services or regularly scheduled HVAC maintenance. This frees tenants from having to remember these tasks – and ensures their apartment is well-maintained. Certain packages might also offer "verified vendor" services – in other words, a vetted vendor network that can help provide a more secure feeling to residents when service providers are on-site. On the financial side of things, a benefits package might offer discounts with local suppliers for various goods and services, or on a renters insurance policy obtained through the property manager (with applicable waivers for residents who have their own insurance). This can save tenants money on a necessary expense. Some packages also help residents with their credit scores via credit reporting and credit building services, so they can transition from renting to home buying when the time is right. The idea is that the credit reporting program reports on-time rent payments automatically to all credit bureaus, helping residents build their credit simply by paying their rent on time. Some benefit packages include resident rewards programs that represent a powerful and positive incentive for on-time rent payments, including gift cards or cash. As far as living perks go, packages sometimes include added benefits such as access to fitness centers or community events. This provides tenants with additional spaces to relax, socialize, or stay healthy. Packages can include security deposit alternatives that serve to provide a means for residents to be financially liable for damages without having to pay a significant lump sum upfront, such as pure insurance, surety bonds, and ACH authorization programs. Ultimately, tenant benefit packages create a more professional and responsive image for the property management company, which helps tenants feel valued and allows them to experience a smoother, more stress-free rental experience. What are the mistakes to avoid when offering tenant benefits packages? Property management companies should take care to avoid certain pitfalls when implementing tenant benefit packages to ensure they are providing true value to tenants as well as delivering profitability to the PM company itself. For instance, it's important to ensure that the services you're offering are actually relevant to your target renters. For example, young professionals might appreciate discounts on gym memberships, while families might prefer pet-sitting services. You should also take care to clearly communicate what's included and not included in the package to new residents. Don't oversell the benefits – focus on how they genuinely improve the living experience. It's also very important to set realistic expectations for response times on standard maintenance requests, emergency maintenance requests, or virtual concierge services. Likewise, be clear on all available payment methods, as well as rent due dates, late fee structures, and any associated payment processing fees. If your package includes services from third-party vendors, ensure that these vendors are reputable and reliable. Research their customer service record and responsiveness to ensure a smooth partnership and a positive experience for tenants. Above all, regularly monitor the usage of different benefits within your benefits package. This can help you refine your offerings and ensure you're not spending where spending is not required. Looking for a Resident Benefits Package? If you’re looking for a “plug and play” resident benefits package, Second Nature’s RBP is the way to go. Designed to be easy to implement and simple to use, all the services it includes are managed by Second Nature – which means there’s no day-to-day upkeep required from the property manager: Second Nature keeps it running. It’s a simple way to grow your business and create great experiences that residents will pay and stay for. Learn more about our fully-managed Resident Benefits Package.

Calendar icon April 2, 2024

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