On the stage at NAA’s Apartmentalize, industry superstars Jacob Carter of Nurture Boss, Lindsay Duffy of Western Wealth, Tony Sousa of RPM, and Holli Beckman of WC Smith discussed how the intent of personalization can often get left behind among technology and evolving systems in place for onsite teams.
Why personalization matters – the driver behind longer lease residents
Early in the conversation, Holli Beckman shared how in the past, operators commonly prioritized the end result without considering the why. “A lease a day makes the regionals go away” chimed in Tony Sousa. Metrics including occupancy, collections, and a core focus on converting leads, have been a center focus.
While collections and new leases are quintessential, the long-term driver of making conversions the most impactful comes when you can retain your residents for the long-term, whether that be from renewal at your community, or within your brand family. When it comes down to drivers of retention, it often boils down to the customer experience. During a time where we are facing circumstances of a recession – whether you officially or unofficially label it as such – building a genuine relationship with your residents can be a secret weapon to helping them cultivate roots and a sense of community, leaving them less inclined to shop around outside of necessity.
Technology is only as effective as your follow through
“We tend to overthink personalization”, Holli shared. It’s really as simple as connecting the digital interactions with the in-person experiences. A resident getting an application email after they’ve already moved in is a prime example of common disconnect that occurs from disjointed operations. Tony Sousa added in other scenarios: The office doesn’t know a resident already signed a renewal, they didn’t see a maintenance request submitted that is now requiring an in-person follow-up.
Strong API’s matter, and 3rd party AI integrations can be an effective solution for short-staffed onsite teams, but in order for them to generate optimal ROI, they also must deliver the experience they are designed for. If a digital interaction contrasts with the experience they are having, the resident experience will be disjointed. Personalization can only work when teams are working with the technology they have access to and acting accordingly.
Similarly to the art of leveraging the technology at hand, is the significance of following through on your communications. If you can’t deliver a good resident experience after hooking residents with an email invite, they won’t be inclined to respond or read your next newsletter. Likewise, taking the time necessary to read and act upon resident sentiment surveys gives you a chance to learn where you have room to improve and continue to enhance your resident experience. If you can take the data you have and push the line of marketing deeper into operations, you can become more proactive instead of reactive in your approach.
Personalizing resident communications beyond mail merge fields
At one point, a first and last name mail merge felt special. Now, it’s the norm. Understand that prospects want to receive communications via multiple channels – not just email but text messaging at times, while others prefer traditional phone conversations. Being able to provide a mix of all communication channels and respond in the manner inquiries were received has proven successful for team’s at Western Wealth.
Another example of effective personalization comes with properly utilizing guest cards – whether it be your resident’s dog’s name, or an anniversary, any details that help guests and residents feel seen and recognized all layer in relationship building.
From a marketing perspective, every community has unique qualifying amenities. Look at the language being used in online reviews about each property, and note the competitive advantages people are talking about that you might not have considered. Take the time to highlight what makes each property unique – whether it be an amazing game room, or the fact that you are pet friendly and have an expansive dog park. Maybe the kitchen islands are huge and make for great parties, whatever features stand out to your property, they can be leveraged in online marketing channels to attract the right residents to your properties.
Takeaways from this session
Our recent session on personalization has broadened our outlook and reminded us of the criticality of aligning technology with intent. While we tirelessly pursue robust API’s and successful lease conversions, it’s essential not to lose sight of the broader picture that underpins long-term success. By bridging the gap between digital interactions and in-person experiences and leveraging data-driven insights, operators have the power to create a resident experience that transcends initial leases and increases likelihood of lease renewals while fostering loyalty to your brand.