Any organization can lose its focus on the people it serves. I've seen it happen to humanitarian organizations as well as financial giants. Certainly the multi-family industry isn't exempt. As we emerge once again from budget season, it's easy to forget that all those numbers and projections affect real, live people. In all that number crunching, we can end up losing our way.
According to Alliance Residential Marketing VP, Tina Mortera, our language and our measurements aren't helping. In a recent conversation she shared her observation that we are much more likely to use the term 'unit', than 'resident'. Understandable, since the people come and go, but the unit remains. Unfortunately, this can keep us from recognizing and rewarding some of our best resources--our very own residents. Mortera points out that, often, our systems and software have no way to follow a resident from one unit to another or one property to another--even if managed by the same company. There's often no easy query to discover the length of time a resident has lived on property. Wouldn't such information help us understand what we're doing well, who we're serving and how our strategies affect our residents?
Case in point, a friend recently renewed her lease at a property in Orange County. She's low maintenance and responsible. But she's quiet and likes to fly under the radar. After deliberating for a month or two, she decided it was easier to simply stay at her current location. It could have gone either way. Next year, she'll probably have the same internal discussion and it wouldn't take much to get her to move on. On paper, a renewal is a win. But a small gesture or acknowledgement would help ensure this highly desirable resident is cared for and exponentially increases her potential to renew again--even at higher rent levels.
Yes, we are responsible for units and occupancy and NOI, but let's not forget that units have people too. How do you show your residents you care?