Resident referrals are extremely important to an apartment community. We caught up with Brent Gratton to learn why they are important and what property managers can do to encourage residents to refer their friends, co-workers and relatives to live at their apartment community.
WPM: Why are resident referrals important to WPM's business?
Gratton: When reviewing the advertising sources that bring in the most leases for our apartment communities, ‘Resident Referral’ has consistently been the second highest lease-producing source over the past seven years. This statistic is important for a number of reasons. First, it’s a very inexpensive way of advertising, which means it boosts profitability as well as productivity. Next, it lets us know that we’re managing our properties well. If people are pleased with our services, they are more likely to recommend us to others. This also sends a positive message to our clients, investors and potential business partners: when they see that we have high referral rates, they know that people are pleased with our management.
WPM: What are some practical ways that property managers can encourage residents to refer their apartment community to their friends, co-workers, relatives, etc.?
Gratton: The best way to ask residents to refer us to others is to, well, ask them! In every email, flyer, and all resident-facing communications, property managers should always include a reminder to residents to refer their WPM apartment community to others. Managers should also keep this in mind during interactions with residents; if a resident is pleased with their apartment home and WPM’s management, follow up and ask if they will refer us to others who may be in the market for an apartment home.
Finally, resident events are a great opportunity for properties to encourage resident referrals. Managers can ask existing residents to invite their friends, co-workers, relatives, etc. These guests can take a tour of the property and see the sense of community that we create which will hopefully make them want to make a WPM-managed community their next home.
WPM: What are some helpful tips that property managers can use to improve residents' experience and overall satisfaction at their properties?
Gratton: In addition to the world-class service that WPM Associates provide to our residents, one of the most important ways to ensure that residents’ experiences remain positive is to ensure that there is a direct and open line of communication between property managers and residents. In today’s world, it is extremely important to provide multiple ways that residents can easily interact with the office. In addition to standard lines of communication such as email, text, online chat, and phone, we also offer an app that allows residents to submit work orders, pay rent, contact the manager and more. Streamlining the communication process allows residents to easily communicate any questions or issues they may have and it allows us as property managers to respond quickly and efficiently which contributes to our track record of satisfied residents.
Another way to ensure that residents are satisfied is to ask them. We regularly ask for feedback about residents’ experiences. If there is an issue, we then have the opportunity to address it. If a resident provides positive feedback, we encourage them to post it online, as 8 out of 10 prospective residents use online reviews when determining where they want to live.
Further, WPM works hard to foster a sense of community at its properties through social media and resident events. This also has a direct effect on a resident’s satisfaction: if they feel a sense of belonging, they are far less likely to seek a new home.
Brent Gratton is WPM’s Director of Multimedia Marketing and Communications, overseeing the organization’s marketing and communications initiatives. Brent is active with the Institute of Real Estate Management (IREM), the Maryland Multi-Housing Association (MMHA), and Toastmasters International. He is continuing his education with IREM and is currently a Certified Property Manager (CPM) candidate. Brent was honored with WPM Real Estate Management's Outstanding Achievement Award in 2014 and again in 2016.