Keeping your residents happy throughout their entire stay with you is key. You cannot simply offer incentives when renewal or leasing season approaches, because that is ingenuine and is proof of a community just focusing on the bottom line. Generation Z is looking for an authentic connection with others and wants to know the faces behind your brand; they want to buy from people and live with people, not buy from an asset.
The best part is, there is no need for a huge spend or multiple extravagant options throughout the term to keep them hooked for next year. Especially for Generation Z, small, consistent gestures to show you care will help your residents feel happier and more at home, and most importantly, a part of a community.
Here are some tips that we have gathered or used in the past to build a meaningful, lasting connection with Gen Z residents to encourage retention YOY.
Start off with a “Welcome Home” card
Have this card signed by all staff members and make it as personal as possible. This is a great start to happy residents, especially the ones that are living by themselves for the first time — this helps them to feel as though they have a family and another support system located right in your front office. And this can and SHOULD take place throughout the year. Don’t just give them a “Welcome Home” gesture in August/September, then never check on them again until you’re ready to sell to them.
Send out surveys
These should be completed every quarter to allow residents the opportunity to tell you about their experience within your community so far. We say every quarter, because their opinions or experience could have changed drastically (both favorably and unfavorably) over the span of 3 months! Make these anonymous so they can speak freely and allow you to truly know how they feel. Gen Z loves to be heard and feel empowered to make change, so give them the torch to light a fire under your community!
Meet the Staff
Sending letters that introduce the staff is another great way to help residents feel more at ease during their stay. Getting to know staff on a more personal level helps connections to be built and will help you retain residents in the long run. This also allows for connections to be cultivated throughout the year to increase participation in onsite events and overall trust in your community.
Thoughtful and Unexpected Gifts
Sending gifts once a month with a catchy phrase will make a huge difference in the resident’s happiness and overall experience. Some ideas for this are:
- “We just popped in to make your day” — Sending a package of popcorn with this saying attached would be great for the next movie night!
- “We’re BEAR-Y glad you’re here” — Attach a bag of gummy bears and this sweet note to let residents know you are thankful that they choose to stay with you.
- “We love you bunches!” — Include a packet of flower seeds with a small pot and dirt. This will help to decorate the inside of their apartment or the patio area and make it feel more personal to the residents.
- “Anyway you slice it” — Throw a pizza party and invite all the residents to come and hangout. It’s great to see all the residents together and to see all of the relationships they will build not only with the staff, but with other residents as well.
- “Life is sweeter with you” — Send out sweets and remind your residents that you want them to renew their lease. Remind them that you are appreciative.
Renewal Specials that Elicit Appreciation
Offering an “Early bird special” with strategic incentives to residents who renew their lease early is another great way to show your appreciation for those who are already a part of your community.
We’ve seen it all happen too many times where a community moves a group of residents in in August, then spends the next 12 months focusing on collecting new leads from the outside community for next year. While this is also extremely important, your leasing numbers for the upcoming year should reflect at least 25% of retention from your current pool of residents.
Residents are looking for a place to call home. Make their stay as much like “home” as you can. Don’t let them feel unappreciated or else they will not stay any longer than they have to. Always remember, the residents had many different options on places to sign their lease, but they chose to live with you. Remind them and yourself why they chose your community and build off of that all year long!
Keep them happy, keep them entertained, keep them feeling secure in their community, and keep them around for another year!