It is not a secret in the Property Management business that Tenant Retention is of utmost importance. Empty properties can translate to empty bank accounts and it is part of the overall Property Management team to employ tenant retention strategies. It is much easier to retain a good tenant than to find someone to replace them. Keep the ABC’s in mind when developing your tenant retention plan of action.
Through the leasing process and move-in is a good time to develop a relationship with your tenants that sets the tone for what they can expect throughout the term of their lease. Professionalism, kindness, and established protocol for move-in are all great beginnings to developing a trusting, working relationship. Keeping in contact with tenants on a semi-regular basis is important. Knowing or recognizing a move-in anniversary or some other significant date goes a long way in building a relationship with your tenants. This can pay off greatly when they move out if a good relationship has been built along the way.
At move-in, no matter how thorough your inspection team has been there are bound to be needs that the tenant has. Be responsive and establish the maintenance and work order expectations from day one. If you have a maintenance scheduling system, let your tenant know that they can expect to be first in line on maintenance if they have an emergent issue, such as a leaky pipe, or furnace malfunction. Also let them know that if they have a loose cabinet door or a broken door knob that isn’t an emergency, they can expect maintenance to address within the week (or whatever your guidelines are) Let them know who to contact and how they need to contact (phone versus online portal) to get a work order placed. Sending a follow-up survey also is a good idea if you have a large team and will give feedback on how to improve work flow and responsiveness rates.
When the tenant reaches out to you it is good protocol to have a time period of response that they can expect. (i.e. within 24 hours, or by the end of the next business day). This helps keep you both accountable and can prevent multiple calls for the same issue. It is also good practice to document all communication with a tenant; what was talked about, and needs addressed. If your property management software has a place to keep notes it is good practice to get in the habit of utilizing it and communicating in one place. Numerous sticky notes, notebook paper and files can be cumbersome and keeping detailed notes in a CRM or Property Management software can simplify things greatly. Once again, professional, kind and prompt communication can go a long way in keeping a tenant in place.
Remember that “life happens” and it is not always possible to keep your best tenants in place. If they have been great tenants, ask for their help in suggesting a new tenant to take their place. They might just know someone in their office or circle of friends that would fill their vacancy. It is always worth the effort to ask! If you have had a good working relationship then they can tell THEIR friends what a wonderful company YOU are to work with!