As a landlord, one of the most important, if not THE most important quality to possess is communication skills. If you have had even the least bit of experience in property management, you know that, on a daily basis, you will encounter all sorts of people. Different jobs, different backgrounds, different schedules, different families, different interests, different beliefs, different visitors, etc. In order to make all your tenants feel comfortable and like an important part of your community, here are several things to keep in mind when communicating with them. This will make your job easier and their lives at your community better!
Write It Out!
Though it’s often much easier to discuss things in person, it’s always a good idea to have it in writing. Say you came to an agreement with a tenant that they later claim never happened. If you have your conversation in an email, that’s your proof – should you ever have to take legal action. Additionally, most people these days prefer “screen contact.” We’re all busy! By screen contact, we mean phone and computer screens. Email and text are super easy.
Speaking of text being super easy…who doesn’t text message these days? According to Pew Internet, texting is the most widely used and frequently used app on a smartphone, with 97% of Americans using it at least once a day. When you have a tenant move in, ask them how they feel about receiving texts. A lot of them may think it’s much easier! Now, we know what you’re thinking. I have to text all of my residents individually? No! There are a lot of apartment internet listing companies out there that offer text-messaging platforms where you can simply type one message and send it out to all residents and prospects. Did a huge snowstorm just hit? Send one text to let all residents know when the parking lots will be plowed. Did the electricity go out? Send one text to let all residents know when they can expect it to come back on. One example is Community Messenger from ForRent.com®. This tool eliminates the need for outdated communication methods like printed flyers. Regardless, sending texts will show your tenants that you run a tech-savvy community!
According to Statista, there are nearly 157 million Facebook users in the U.S., 77.5 million Instagram users, and 67 million Twitter users. What does this tell you? If your community isn’t on social media, you need to be! Your renters are there! Social media is a great (and free) platform with which to engage your renters and, best of all, communicate with them! Is the leasing office closing early? Post it on your Facebook page. Is there a move-in special happening next month? Tweet about it! Have a holiday party in the clubhouse? Post about it on Instagram! You can even ask your renters to share their own pictures of themselves, their friends and their family at the community. You know what people really love? Pets! Pictures of your renters and their pets at your community (or just solo pet pics) are pure gold! This is great branding (and again, it’s free!) for your community and a wonderful way to get your name out there. Say Bobby sees Sally posting about the awesome pool party that your community threw for its residents. Now Bobby knows Sally lives in an awesome place and is more inclined to check it out. Bottom line is – your community is more top-of-mind the more active it is on social media. Furthermore, if you really love some of the images your renters are tweeting, instagramming and facebooking and think they would be great promotional images, ask for their permission to use them in your advertising! It’s organic, original content that no one else is going to have. Plus, your tenant will be super flattered that you dig their photography skills! Reminder: it’s best to get their permission to use their photos IN WRITING – should any legal issues pop up later.
Yes, email and text is super convenient and, most of the time, renters prefer that method of communication. But, what about when there’s a problem? Maybe a resident left a nasty review on one of your social pages or your community’s review site. First and foremost, you should immediately respond! 1) You don’t want that negative review out there without a response and 2) you want that resident to know you care and will do anything to rectify the situation! Ask them to come into the rental office so that you can sort things out. They don’t want to? Give them your office line so that you can discuss the problem. Another time that meetings are a great idea is when residents first move in. Before your future resident puts their signature on that line, take the time to meet with them. The first impression of a personal interaction will set the tone for the rest of their time in your community. It allows them to get to know you and sets them on the path to more easily and comfortably reach out to you should they need anything. Meetings also give you the chance to answer any questions that renters or prospects may have – and it also gives YOU the chance to ask any questions that you may have about THEM!
All in all, there are many avenues of communication that can lead to a positive landlord-tenant relationship. These are just a few of them. As a property manager, you have to do a little bit of research and trial and error to see which methods work best with which types of renters. Regardless, keep in mind that the best type of communication is an OPEN one!