Beating Resident Churn

Get Ahead Of The Vicious Cycle

By John Hall - January 17, 2019

When writing about resident retention last week, I kept coming back to something that I have heard from apartment professionals for a long time. Almost everyone I have met in multifamily will tell you that renewals are preferable to new leases. They save you a lot of money, require less work, and create a stronger sense of continuity.

[Here is another study demonstrating the value of renewals.]

However, just as there is agreement on the importance of renewals, there is an almost universal frustration with the ability to dedicate the time and resources necessary to improve retention rates. Empty units generate no income, so leasing staffs are encouraged to focus the bulk of their time on filling them.

And this leads to a nasty cycle. While there are things that you could do to improve retention rates, you have to spend most of your time getting all of your units filled, which gives you less time to improve resident satisfaction, which leads to more available units, and on, and on. Arrgh!!!

Now, imagine a world where the cycle works the other way. With leasing being just one manageable portion of your overall workload, you are able to put more time and energy into improving resident satisfaction. Then, all sorts of cool things start to happen:

  • Resident renewals increase, decreasing the time you spend on new leases
  • Current residents refer their friends, increasing the pool for units that are open
  • Current residents spread the word, through internet reviews, and word of mouth, and the prospect pool gets larger
  • Improvements you make for current residents become benefits for prospects
  • In the long run, your community is nicer, complaints decrease, and prospects are lined up to fill openings. Everyone is happy forever! The End!

OK, Shanrgi-La might not be in the cards, but it is possible to turn the cycle around. Happier residents, an unfrazzled leasing staff, and an improved bottom line are well within your reach.


Simple. Make resident satisfaction your priority.

Don’t just talk about it. Do it!

Operational changes need to occur that guarantee a heightened focus on resident satisfaction. Incentives for resident satisfaction should be in line with those for new leases. Leasing practices can be streamlined and modernized to free up time. Schedules can be created that dedicate time to current residents. Duties can be changed so that leasing and resident satisfaction become seperate jobs. Turnaround for resident requests can be actively reduced, through service guarantees.

However you decide to go about it, a change in priorities will be accompanied by some other changes:

1) Your focus shifts to the future
When a resident moves in, they immediately become a prospect again, potentially filling a unit that is due to be open a year away. Your already know your future prospects!

2) Your residents become your best lead generators
Happy residents refer friends, and residents who live with friends are happier residents. There is some good synergy that occurs when most of your residents are also friends.

3) You begin to create a true community
When your time and energy is focused on creating great living conditions for current residents, a truer sense of community is a result.

There is no better incentive to renew than that!



Resident Retention Matters

The New Year Is A TIme For Renewal(s)!

By John Hall - January 11, 2019

How is your resident renewal rate? It is easy to lose sight of resident retention as you work to fill open units, but improving your renewal stats is a great way to improve your bottom line.

Here are some of the best ideas we have heard for improving your resident renewal rates, for every step of the lease cycle.

1- Create realistic expectations
A common mistake in the leasing process is to try and tell residents everything you think they want to hear. It is much smarter to take an honest look at your community, and to target prospects that are the best fit. There is no surer way to create dissatisfied residents than to seem dishonest about what you offer, and you can be sure that you will be looking for their replacements sooner than later.

2- Move them in
Roll up those sleeves and grab the other end of that couch!

OK, don’t do that, but it is a great idea to make their move as painless as possible. Find out when they are coming, and show up to greet them! Let them know where switches, storage, and other important things can be found. Show them the best large item access to their unit, and, if you have enough, reserve an elevator for them with a sign for an hour or two. Place a mat in their doorway, and a few blankets to protect any delicate surfaces, and then come pick those items up later. Then, use that as an opportunity to ask how everything went.

Moving is no fun, but a personal touch to make it easier will go a long way toward making residents love their choice of apartment communities.

3- Market your amenities
You need great amenities to compete for new residents, but don’t forget to let your current residents know about new offerings or improvements. If you offer new services, consider giving your residents a free or discounted first use. If you make improvements to existing amenities, make sure your residents know that you do it all for them!

Also, find amenities that your residents won’t want to lose. Need some ideas? Try here.

4- Keep in touch
Many residents can’t help but notice that you seemed more interested in them before they signed on the dotted line. That is easy to change. A phone call to ask how things are going will do wonders for making residents feel valued. If you commit to making a few calls every day, you will get through all of your residents in no time. Then, start over!

[Some people avoid calls like these, because they don’t want to hear from dissatisfied residents. Don’t be some people - Be a Complaint Ninja!]

5- Throw a party
When done right, social events are a great way to build allegiance to your community. Make sure you think of something that people will actually be interested in, and then make sure that you extend invitations and multiple reminders. This is also a great opportunity to reach out to businesses in your area, allowing them to promote their businesses by providing food, drinks, or services that will make your function great.

6- Give a gift
It doesn’t have to be much, but an unexpected small gift will make anyone feel like a valued part of your community. Schedule something for six months after the lease is signed, and you will give your resident a great feeling at the time that they are starting to consider their next move. Individualize your gifts, so that recipients know there was some thought put into it. This is easy to do, if you make it a habit to log a note about your residents’ interests and save them in their files.

7- Notice your notices
Too many communities send out a generic notice reminding residents when their lease ends, and when they have to decide whether or not they are renewing. Want a better way? Why not personally deliver these notices, and include language about how much you value them as residents? For someone who is on the fence, how you perform this step is very likely to be the tie-breaker.

Also, this is a great time to...

8- Incent the renewal
Renewals are money in the bank, so why not spend some to make some? There are many ways to do this. Here’s just a few:
  • Preferred rental rates based on time of residency
  • VIP type benefits (like a reserved parking space)
  • An apartment “refresh”, with cleaning services offered to make the unit look like new
  • Upgraded appliances, technology, or surfaces

Do you have a resident retention strategy that has served you well? I would love to hear from you!

[Photo by Sylvie Tittel on Unsplash]



Pynwheel 2018 Year In Review

2018 Was Off The Hook!

By Jennifer Cyphers - December 20, 2018

As we close out 2018, I look back on the year with gratitude and appreciation. 2018 was a particularly good year for Pynwheel. We accomplished a lot, with our vision set on 2020 (double entendre intended). The Pynwheel team makes me proud every day. Here are the highlights:

1)  We rebuilt our entire application!
In June, we celebrated the release of our new software - Pynwheel 4.0. This new version of the application is truly amazing. It is slick and easy. It is also very simple to set up, update, and integrate anything. If you haven’t checked it out yet, you should.

2) We introduced FREE interactive map WebPages, iPad app, and iPhone app
As a token of appreciation for our customers, we decided to do an early rollout of our bundled product, slated for 2019. All Pynwheel orders now come with all of the following:

  • Pynwheel Touchscreen app
  • Windows app for tablet / desktop touchscreen
  • Pynwheel iPad app
  • Pynwheel iPhone app
  • Pynwheel WebPages

3) We reached our goal of 100% customer satisfaction
I am so proud of this one. We have a strong commitment to offering great customer service and in the past couple of years have really focused on providing a consistent experience for our customers, with quick response times and resolutions. This year we tested ourselves by gathering feedback from our customers, and I was thrilled that we receive such positive feedback.

4) We installed touchscreens in 40 new communities 
We have installed hundreds of touchscreens, modernizing the on-site tour one community at a time. This year, Pynwheel was brought into many situations where it served a particular importance:  

  • A lot of College Communities, renting on a per-bedroom basis
  • Many properties preleasing while under construction
  • An uber large community with 3000+ units
  • Neighboring properties that share a leasing office

5) We partnered with CleanDrink
In recent years we have run a holiday drive to “Pay it Forward.” This year Alex had the opportunity to join the board of a new organization called CleanDrink. He had a life-changing experience traveling to Nepal with CleanDrink to deliver clean water systems to remote villages in Nepal. We are thrilled and humbled to support this organization to help provide for the most basic needs of people who are out of reach of most humanitarian aid organizations.

6) We re-entered the world of education
I had the opportunity this year to get out of my office and get back up on stage once again to present about the technofile Gens Y and Z. (I used to travel around the country giving presentations about technology in the industry, but it had been a long time.) It was fun to get back out there to share some of the research that informs product development at Pynwheel. We also introduced the blog “Multifamily Insights”  to share some of our research and experience with our customers and the multifamily industry at large.

I am humbled by what a great year it has been, and feel like we’re entering 2019 on a tech wave. I have met a lot of other tech providers and tech-forward management companies this year. I am continually inspired by all of the ideas that are transforming multifamily and we’re grateful to be a part of bringing the industry into the future.


Ten Reasons TransitScreen is Perfect for Multifamily

Have you seen TransitScreen?

By John Hall - December 12, 2018

TransitScreen took a simple idea, and turned it into an incredibly useful application that you can offer as an exclusive benefit to your residents. 

Why do we think TransitScreen is perfect for the multifamily industry?

1) It saves your residents time and money.

When there are myriad ways to get from Point A to Point B, the biggest factor that keeps the typical rider from finding the best option is time. There simply is not time to look up everything when you want to get somewhere.

2) Did we say everything?

TransitScreen provides schedules and local availability for bike share, all public transportation, Uber, ZIP share, Car2Go, even electric scooter rentals.They put it all on one screen, so that your residents know the time and expense involved with every option.

3) It even includes your own transportation options.

If you offer shuttle service or other transportation options to residents, TransitScreen can display those as well - right alongside the other public offerings. You can also showcase nearby destinations, encouraging your residents to visit businesses and attractions that you choose.

4) There’s something for drivers too.

Residents that take their own cars can access real-time traffic information. If a resident is deciding between grabbing a bike, jumping on a train, or driving themselves, TransitScreen makes it easy to compare the time involved with each. It will even offer new alternatives that the commuter might not have considered.

5) It lets you offer sustainability as an amenity.

Your prospective residents are increasingly conscious of making choices with a smaller carbon footprint. TransitScreen makes it easy to balance that desire with the practical need to meet a schedule.

6) Your residents take it with them.

TransitScreen recently introduced CityMotion, which allows users to access the application from anywhere. An amenity that goes everywhere they go!

7) But it still comes from you.

Access to CityMotion is limited to users who have been granted access by TransitScreen clients. So, even when they are using the application to get from work to a restaurant, they know it is an amenity that you provided. In fact, their application is still branded with your community logo, and captures the messaging functionality of their core product.

8) Yeah, we said messaging.

Transit Screen lets you send messages to your residents, and CityMotion lets you send them right to their mobile devices. It will even send a notification whenever you post a new message!

9) It has great design.

TransitScreen provides a wealth of information, but makes it easy to read and use. It also looks really cool!

10) It works great with Pynwheel.

We can set up your Pynwheel application to offer access to TransitScreen with a single touch. (Integration is free for Pynwheel/TransitScreen customers!) Because Pynwheel is designed to be a leasing tool, and TransitScreen is designed for use by your residents, they work well together to maximize the functionality of your touchscreen.

Check out their website for more about this cool technology provider.

Note: Pynwheel’s Multifamily Insights Blog provides industry intelligence for apartment industry professionals. While we offer application integration with TransitScreen, we did not receive any consideration - monetary or otherwise - in exchange for this profile.

A Clean Drink Adventure

Take A Trip To Nepal

By John Hall - December 11, 2018

Pynwheel has partnered with Clean Drink Adventures to provide clean water to a village in Nepal! For every touchscreen order placed until the end of the year, we will donate a clean water system.

Pynwheel's COO, Alex Cyphers, was a participant on a Clean Drink Adventuress trip to Nepal in October. We asked him to tell us all about the organization, and his trip.

How did you hear about Clean Drink Adventures (CDA)?

Christophe Noel, the founder of CDA, was a college friend who I hadn’t seen for 24 years.  We had reconnected on Facebook a while back, and I read about his idea.

What is that idea?

It's pretty simple: CDA is a non-profit that provides clean water systems to remote villages in Nepal.

What made you decide to get involved?   

I had been searching to do more impactful things with my life, especially given current conditions in the world.  My kids are a little older and don’t require as much of my time.

When I learned about CDA, Chris had asked friends to join him in Nepal on motorcycles to help reach remote areas. I don’t ride one, so I mentioned that if there was ever a 4x4 option available, I would love to join. If I’m being honest, I probably didn’t think it all the way through!   He called me the next day to tell me they were adding a 4x4, so I no longer had an excuse not to go. Still, I was really nervous to make such a big commitment.

Describe your daily accommodations.

We stayed in a hotel in Katmandu. Otherwise, we mostly camped.  A team of Sherpas set up our tents and did the cooking, so, for camping, it was quite luxurious. It was little hard for me to accept at first, since I am used to doing things on my own, but once I got to know the crew and how much loved their jobs, it became a great thing. The income the Sherpas made from our trip amounts to a few months wages for them, so it was a win-win situation.

I can’t say it enough: the Nepalese people are among the most kind and genuine I have ever met in my life.

Besides your family, what did you miss the most?

A big cup of coffee!! I loved the tea they served, and we did have small amounts of espresso occasionally. But I really did miss my regular mug of light roast coffee.

Also, a good IPA.

Where did you travel?

Katmandu, the Terai region, Muktunath, and many small villages.  

What surprised you most about Nepal?

I was really fascinated by the religious tolerance and love. When you see a Hindu shrine, you likely to see a Buddhist Temple close by. There is a mutual respect for all religions that I had not experienced before.  

Also, life in Nepal can be a daily struggle, but the people I met seemed seemed to be much happier than we are.

What do you think you will remember the most?

First and foremost, the KIDS!  They were so funny and so cute. I am 6’5”, and many of them had never seen anyone like me. They were often a little scared, but would then end up touching me and climbing all over me. It was not unusual to have a little kid walk by and touch me, and then run away.  

Second, the roads. The road to Muktinath was absolutely nuts. Nothing like what we are used to here.

Third, hearing the roar of a Bengal tiger while out walking. A crazy and slightly terrifying experience!

How many systems did you install, and how many will that impact?

Our group installed five.  We left our partner in Nepal with seven more, which he is already working on implementing. Each system can provide water for up to 500 people, so if all twelve are used successfully, that’s over 5,000! We already have three more trips planned, so you can imagine the impact that will have.

Do you feel like the trip changed you?

It did. The main thing I came away with was realizing how much we take for granted on a daily basis.  Everytime I drink water out of a tap, or go grocery shopping, I am grateful. It also reaffirmed that happiness is not purchased. If people who have next nothing can be kind, generous, and grateful, I certainly should be able to live that way.     

What is the most valuable thing you took away from your trip?

I made friendships that I expect to have for the rest of my life.   

This was a massive adventure. Did you get your fill for now, or did it make you want to do more?

I certainly have my fill for now  Luckily, I am on the Board of Directors for CDA, so I can stay involved and have an impact without traveling all the way to Nepal. CDA will continue to deliver clean drinking water, while offering other people the opportunity to have experiences like the one I had. It’s off to a great start and I think will have an impact for years to come.  

Right now I am really enjoying being with my family, but I am pretty sure that I will get the itch to go back. It’s an amazing place.