Insight #20: Prepare for Longer Unit Turns


By Jay Parsons, Tracy Saffos and Jonathan Breakstone

Tried shopping for appliances lately? If so, you probably saw most vendors have very limited stock on hand due to supply chain issues linked to the pandemic.

And if you haven’t experienced it firsthand, you’ve probably also heard about skyrocketing costs for construction materials, limited inventory levels for many replacement supplies, and labor shortages.

Manufacturing facilities in Asia haven’t fully caught up after COVID shutdowns. Once they get production back online, they’re likely to experience shipping delays going into coastal ports. At the same time, there’s a lot of demand for a limited supply of materials, supplies and labor coming from single-family and multifamily builders, as well as remodelers.  

These factors can wreak havoc on apartment property managers trying to turn units in the standard 3- to 5-day window. The turn process will likely take more time – and cost more money – throughout 2021.

How can you work around those challenges? Here are 5 tips to drive success in your unit turns post-pandemic:

1. Push (Gently) to Get as Much Move-Out Notice as Possible

The earlier you know about a move-out, the faster you can plan the turn. Consider sending out renewal letters earlier than usual. Specific time windows vary by property manager and location, but an extra couple of weeks may help minimize turn time.

2. Schedule Pre-Move-Out Inspections ASAP

Work with your residents to schedule a pre-move-out inspection as soon as reasonably possible. This will help you prepare and also help the resident fix what they can on their own – saving them some money, as well.

3. Stock Up on Inventory

Evaluate the maximum and minimum load limits set for standard turn supplies like flappers, faceplates, and blinds, and consider increasing both those minimums and maximums. This might be hard to do in a year when you are most likely under expense pressure. But the vacancy loss will cost your property so much more than having 10 or 12 extra sets of window blinds in stock. 

4. Consider Breaking the Cardinal Rule of Turns

Many property managers are taught to never cannibalize from another unit. That’s usually true. But if you have a broken refrigerator in a high-demand unit and no quick replacement … then taking the fridge from a stale unit is worth doing. Focus on the supplies that will turn your most popular and highest revenue-generating apartments first. Take urgently needed items from the least popular, lowest income-generating apartments, when necessary. 

5. Empower Your On-Site Teams With the Right Tools

The last thing you want to do right now is leave your on-site teams scrambling to chase down vendors and suppliers in order to turn an apartment. You want their time focused on leasing out that apartment or keeping that apartment occupied. Empower your teams with streamlined vendor management and spend management processes that ensure vendors are preapproved to expedite work. Online spend management and vendor catalogs are popular right now among property managers working from different locations and pushing to operate more efficiently.

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