“… And they never come back!” That’s exactly what you want to hear… if you are the Manager of the Cape Town Stadium in South Africa and you’re talking about the birds that have been plaguing your stadium for the past few months. It’s what you want to hear when you hired a trainer to fly his falcon around the stadium every few days to scare these birds. It’s exactly what you want to hear when you decided it was time to scale back to one flight every month. That’s what I was told during my tour of the stadium.
“…And they never came back!” That’s NOT what you want to hear when you are the property manager or a residential community and you are trying to attract prospective residents or keep resident retention up. It’s not what you want to hear when you are advertising on multiple platforms or if you’re offering renewal or referral incentives for residents. It’s definitely not what you want to hear when the success of your job is largely defined by occupancy. That’s what I’ve been told while working with property management software.
While stadiums and residential communities are as different as birds and residents, they also hold similarities. Birds are attracted to stadiums because the stadiums can fulfill their core needs. They have grass seeds for food, rafters for shelter and other like-minded birds for company. Residents are attracted to communities for very similar reasons: BBQs & cookies for food, shelter, and other like-minded residents for company (that’s always the simplest key for successful resident retention). Though this example is simple, the principles align. Attracting interest from birds or residents is not too difficult, as long as their needs can be met. So, why do you ever have vacancies?
Research has shown that, just like birds, residents are as as likely to be driven away from a community as they are to be attracted to another. Birds will flee from a location that is home to an intimidating predator like a falcon. Residents will flee from a community that has equally intimidating factors, such as unwelcoming tenants, poorly maintained assets, or poor customer service. Just one of those can drive down your resident retention! During college, I left one community for poor pool maintenance. I left another due to a non-responsive and unorganized staff. Then there was the one that didn’t have enough like-minded birds….
Do you have any falcons hovering around your community? What is driving your ‘birds’ to another location? Are there any risk factors that they are seeing that you are not seeing? How can you build sustainable processes to address these factors? They say “A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush,” but I say “Why not rent to all three?!”