Gain Retention and Referrals Through Resident Engagement

Staff Writer |

What does your typical day look like? Of course, you’ll have to take care of important items, first, and then make sure your deadlines are met. Once you’ve done that, what’s next?

No matter what size community you’re in or where you’re located, at least some part of every day should be devoted to marketing and sales – not in securing new rentals, working with prospects or even participating in neighborhood activities, but marketing to your current residents.

That’s right! Selling to current residents is a very important part of making sure your community is always at 100 percent capacity. No matter how loyal you think they may be to you and your community, you can’t take it for granted that your residents are going to stay for the long term. While there could be a number of external factors at play, such as a job relocation or purchasing a property of their own, there are a number of things you can do to retain your residents and even seek qualified referrals from them as well.

According to, 65 percent or two-thirds of a company’s business comes from existing customers and the probability of selling to an existing customer is 60 to 70 percent versus selling to a new prospect at only 5 to 20 percent. If you somehow were to lessen two-thirds of your renewals, the impact on your bottom line could be truly devastating.

Put yourself in your residents’ shoes and think about what would cause you to stay. How are you treating them – like VIPs or less than important? If you were to segment residents into three buckets – A, B and C – with A being your most loyal and interested group, how can you go about making A feel as if they are special? Remember: You’re not only securing continuous business; you’re also seeking referrals from their friends and family to ensure your pipeline is always full.

Here are some recommendations for your consideration:

  • Celebrate milestones. Send a card on special occasions such as their birthday, fun holidays like Halloween or even at the holidays.
  • Say “thanks” in various ways. How about a handwritten thank you note when they sign their lease, move in or renew? Hand deliver a plant for a housewarming. Find ways to say thanks without spending a lot of money or going overboard with gratification; it’s the little gestures they’ll remember.
  • Feed them. On moving-in day, arrange for lunch to be delivered or give them a gift card for a meal home delivery service. How about a gift card to the local grocery store?
  • Make them feel as if they are a part of the community. Most likely, you are already holding get-togethers for your residents with invitation signs posted at the elevators or bulletin boards. That’s great, but take the extra step to call each resident and invite them to the gatherings. You might even text to invite them, depending on their communications preferences - you can find those out when they sign their lease.
  • Ask their opinions. Even though you may already know the answers, ask residents for their opinion on various matters. What color to paint the clubhouse? What’s the next film to show on movie night? Is there a better way to pay their rent through, for example, an online banking app such as PayPal or Venmo

How to Secure Great Referrals

Another result that emanates from happy residents is their ability to provide referrals to friends, family and co-workers. It makes sense that if the resident thinks your community is a great place to live, then it must be good for others as well.

However, you can’t rely on them to automatically provide referrals; you have to ask for them, and you have to secure them without putting anyone on the spot or making residents feel subordinate if they don't respond.

Simply asking for a referral is a great way to start. In addition, include this phrase in your signature line: “We reward great referrals – ask us how!” For a reward, consider the Custom Incentives program through Community Rewards powered by Modern Message. In this program, you can opt in to the and deliver to your residents virtual Amazon or MasterCard rewards cards to any resident in denominations as low as $5 to as high as $4,999. Rewards can be delivered instantly online or sent by regular mail. You’ll also have the opportunity to monitor the status of any resident incentive. Find out more, today, on how Custom Incentives can be beneficial to your community. 

Come Up With Solutions That Work for You

These are just a few, simple ways to do a bit extra to retain your residents and seek referrals. Every community is different, so you need to come up with a list that makes sense to you. If you have recommendations for other communities, please leave a comment below and share your ideas with others.

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