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!


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