Let’s face it. It’s been one heck of a year; there’s no denying it. And the strange thing is, it doesn’t look like it’s going to get any less “interesting” anytime soon. Amid your own emotions about the year of “PPE” (pandemic, protests and elections), you may be finding yourself engulfed in a whirlwind of frequent changes on the homefront–be it new safety measures, software, policies or leasing strategies. Though it has likely been a little overwhelming, many in the industry have just done what they know to do best–dive right in.
We don’t necessarily know what tomorrow will bring for the industry, community or even country for that matter. But, one thing still holds true–no matter what comes next, it’s important that your residents know that you are all in this together. And that starts with quality communication. In today’s world of frequent communication, the majority of apartment dwellers actually want to hear from management. Throw in a crisis to the mix, and this need is quickly magnified.
For those who haven’t taken that leap, there is still time to get in front of your changes to ensure your residents are informed and protected and the property experience still remains a positive one. So, if you’re still wrestling with the idea of how to effectively communicate change to your tenants, here’s a starting point.
Explain the why.
Knowing the “what” and “why” are two essential pieces of your messaging when communicating change. You and your leasing team will need to firmly grasp and understand these pieces before you can spread the message broadly. When residents don’t fully understand why certain changes are happening, you’re less likely to score their approval. Depending on the extent of the particular change, you’ll want to paint a picture of how the change came to be, what options were considered prior to arriving at the final change, and how their best interests were considered throughout the entire process. Nowadays, many of the changes unfolding at properties can be attributed to resident safety, but in the event yours is not, you’ll still want to make this reasoning as clear as possible.
Detail the impact.
The next question your residents are going to want to know is, “how does this impact me?” Be it reduced convenience, taking an alternate route to their unit or the addition of new amenities, this is probably the most important piece your communication will need to specify. It’s important that you remain as transparent as possible so as not to damage the level of trust your tenants have already established with you. If the change has the potential to cause some level of heartache for them, show your empathy and relay how you knew the decision could be an unpopular one, but you stand firm in your duty to provide the most optimal resident experience possible, given the circumstances. Trust, you won’t be able to win them all, but many will appreciate your openness and involvement in the end.
Define success metrics.
Tell your residents how you’ll determine if the change has been successful. Will you track complaints? COVID cases? Utilization? Whichever method you decide, you should, if possible and available, be tracking the impacts of this change along the way. Not only will this help you to better gauge your own success, but you also have the opportunity to gain a greater handle on the temperament of your existing residents, which will help inform you when making decisions on changes in the future.
Finalize your communications plan.
This is the final aspect of your planning process. How will you circulate your messaging? How often will your residents be exposed? When drafting your communications plan, you’ll need to consider methods of distribution, key messaging, feedback opportunities and timelines. The good news is that in today’s world, there are so many different ways to connect to your tenants–from email to text messaging to automated phone calls. Depending on the magnitude of the change, you may want to consider enlisting more than one of these channels to ensure the message is received. At the end of the day, it is always better to over-communicate and have informed residents versus the opposing.
Rentbot can help.
In the multifamily world, change isn’t always easy–we know that first hand. That’s why Rentbot is committed to building and supporting property management websites specifically for small and mid-sized properties. We understand your day-to-day and remain committed to being your trusted partner when it comes to improving the resident experience. Our turnkey websites are strictly designed with you in mind, and we made sure to incorporate important and relevant features in each design–like online maintenance requests, easy and updatable content frames, online rent payments, real time availability and seamless integration with your existing property management platforms. And with multiple contact features like live chat and email forms, you can easily connect with your residents at any time.
Let us be a part of your change management plan. Check out some of the great website features we provide at https://www.rentbot.co/website-design/granite/, and we’ll let you give us a try for free!
About the Author
Jonsette Calloway joined the Rentbot team in 2015. With a background in public relations, advertising and copywriting, she has helped a multitude of clients achieve their marketing and communications goals within various fields, but she particularly enjoys working with the apartment industry.