I’ve never been especially proud or high spirited of any place I’ve lived or any school I’ve attended. Junior High and High School? Puh-lease. College? I had a great experience, but I wouldn’t necessarily say I was brimming with school spirit and I wouldn’t come to fisticuffs with anyone who insulted it (maybe I’m just a little too rational, but I can understand why people wouldn’t have like the school). Likewise, every place I lived in college was less than ideal (boys dorms are the figurative worst and for three years I had nine roommates), and post college hasn’t shown much improvement.
What can a property do to avoid this brand of apathy and disinterest? What can they do to really engage residents in Property Pride, Community Spirit, Resident Togetherness, and other capitalized noun combinations? I’ve put together the three “E’s” of garnering community spirit.
- Events: Never underestimate the power of a well-planned event. None of the communities I’ve lived in have ever had a get-to-know-you event, so I’m left not knowing any of the other people (except for the next door neighbors with the three kids under four who insist on trying to hold a conversation with me even I start off by saying I’m in a hurry). Now, I’ve written about this before, but making a deal out of random “holidays” like National Pizza Day and hosting events for them is an excellent, low-commitment way for your residents to know you care, meet and mingle with other residents, and most importantly, to get free pizza. There are so many wins in this scenario it’s unbelievable. (Chili cook-offs or any other sort of food based competition are also a huge win– there’s nothing quite like accepting a challenge to prove that your family’s recipe kicks everybody else’s family recipes in the crotch).
- Engagement: Social media engagement means being fun, creative, and interacting with your residents. Multifamily isn’t the sexiest business so you won’t often have to tweet at your residents, but through Instagram you can highlight features, amenities, or events for things like your National Pizza Day party. Blogging about events or places that are near to the property will inform your residents of what there is to do in the area, and you can get residents to contribute to the blog. Lots of people enjoy being involved.
- E….ffort: I ran out of words that start with “E” but I’m staying strong. For effort, I mean put some effort into making the community look nice. Curb appeal goes a long way in giving people pride in where they live. The community where I currently live is nothing special; there a nice little bridge over a really, really tiny creek that’s more a trickle of water that leads into a quaint gated koi pond. But the bridge is so tiny it’s hard to spot. The bushes around it need trimmed, and the bridge itself is past the point of rustic and needs some work. There’s no pathway leading to the bridge either, so at night after the lawn has been watered, I can’t get to the bridge unless I want to risk soaking my shoes. Fixing those little things would be a nice start in sprucing up an otherwise typical paint by numbers community.
Do you have any more ideas for how to stir up community pride? Tips for how I can be less apathetic? Leads on cool, affordable properties with awesome amenities I can move to? I’d love to hear them in the comments below.