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Resident retention ideas help reduce turnover in leased properties–which is, of course, a key element of any property manager’s job. 

But property managers we’ve spoken to have told us something interesting. Merely thinking about “resident retention” doesn’t capture the generative, behavior-changing work they do every day. 

Why? It’s too transactional and far too basic. Reframing the phrase “resident retention” is the first—and most important–step to brainstorming the type of resident retention ideas that will make an impact not only on your business but also on residents’ lives.

Here are some of the best trends we’ve seen for resident retention in the property management industry.

Related: State of Resident Experience Study

What is resident retention, and why is it important?

Resident retention is a key part of achieving a Triple Win in property management. In transactional terms, the ultimate goal of a resident retention strategy is to increase lease renewal and reduce resident turnover, which results in lower costs and less work for property management teams. 

However, a Triple Win mindset levels this up by asking, “How can we create experiences so good that residents never want to leave?” Resident satisfaction, in turn, maximizes the investor’s ROI and boosts the property manager’s success. A win for residents is a win for investors is a win for property managers. 

This mindset moves from approaching property management as a list of menial tasks into a more generative and entrepreneurial approach. You’re in the driver’s seat as the property manager, and you can create programs and solutions that residents will pay and stay for. 

What residents are saying about retention

In a recent survey by Buildium, only 32% of single-family rental (SFR) residents said they were certain they’d renew their lease this year, and an additional 36% were on the fence. This means that more residents have a desire to move than we’ve seen historically.

Why is that? A couple reasons…

  • 22% said they planned to move to a rental with more appealing amenities or benefits. 
  • 13% said they planned to move because they weren’t happy with the experience at their current rental. 

That’s a huge chunk of residents whose main reason to leave is a lack of the kind of benefits they want or need. 

Property Managers share their best resident retention strategies

These survey findings align with what many property managers are telling us, too. In fact, professional PMs tell us that a Resident Benefits Package is a powerful way to retain residents over the long term. A proactive, differentiating approach to resident retention means building experiences that people will pay and stay for. 

Here are the top strategies that professional PMs are talking about right now. These help with bringing in new residents and with retaining good residents.

Build easy communication with residents

Relationship building is an important part of resident retention, and the foundation of any good relationship is, as any dating advice will tell you, communication. 

The rise of digital apps, online portals, messaging services, and social media platforms has made it easier than ever to communicate. Studies show that text messaging is on the rise, and most single-family rental (SFR) residents prefer text to other communication channels. Here’s how one study found the breakdown of where residents are communicating the most.

  • 49% are using text
  • 43% are using email
  • 41% are using phone

PMs also know that convenience is key. If residents are attempting to contact you, they likely have an issue that needs resolution. That’s why strategic PMs meet residents where they’re at—and that’s probably online. More PMCs are using solutions like texting, ticketing/inbox, offshore or outsourced staffing, and automation to remain responsive. 

Another great communication channel is seeking feedback by sending surveys to current residents on a quarterly basis. Professional PMs ask what could be improved upon and use the data collected as a source for additional resident retention ideas. At Second Nature, we allow residents to survey and give feedback in their rewards app, and even incentivize it. When you are actively seeking feedback, you can more easily drive positive social reviews and reputation management.

Invest resources in property maintenance

Anyone can tell you that property maintenance management is critical to a positive resident experience

But sometimes newer property managers only know how to take a reactive approach. They might do an annual inspection or respond to complaints. But they may not be proactively developing strategies to improve the property for themselves and their residents. 

In contrast, excellent property management companies approach maintenance with a benefits-focused mindset. Instead of reacting to property problems, enterprising PMs tend to ask, “What habits and behaviors can I encourage in residents to help keep the property in tip-top shape?”

First, by creating care and value, PMs encourage residents to care for and value the property. But beyond that, PMs can implement strategies that make those behaviors easy. 

For example, a Resident Benefits Package can include air filter subscriptions, 24/7 maintenance support lines, and renter’s insurance – all of which help support residents in maintaining and nurturing the property. After all, it’s easy to change your air filters on time when they show up on your doorstep.

We’ve seen a trend of property managers developing proactive strategies that help residents take care of the property. It pays off in dividends. 

Provide a simple payment portal

Speaking of paying off, most property management companies now offer online payments to residents. It’s true: 73% of residents say they prefer a digital method for payment. That’s the first step. But PMs have told us that many of those legacy payment systems can be difficult to use or don’t actively support residents in making timely payments. 

The next step is to ensure you’ve set residents up for success in making on-time payments. Some PMs set up rewards systems or incentives for on-time payments. These programs can help reduce the amount of time you spend following up on rent. 

For example, Second Nature’s Resident Benefits Package has a built-in credit-building service that rewards residents for on-time rental payments. We’ve helped residents increase their scores by as much as 20-40+ points. You can bet that if residents have the option to boost their credit score, they’re more motivated to pay on time.

Focus on resident security

Creating safe spaces to live helps protect both the residents and the properties that you manage. Making it clear that safety is a priority is also an effective way to build a reputation as a property management company that cares. 

Property managers can emphasize the safety of single-family homes through standard practices like ensuring rental properties have flood lights, working smoke detectors, carbon monoxide alarms, and solid locks changed after each move-out or before move-in. Surveys can also help assess how safe residents feel in their homes and if your company can do anything to improve security. Regular inspections and good communication go a long way to maintaining excellent security. 

For a Triple Win, property management companies provide holistic, hassle-free insurance. This minimizes hassle for PMs, protects the investor’s assets, and gives holistic coverage to the resident. 

Adopt new technology

Technology brings ease and automation to every element of property management – and every individual involved. In fact, 79% of SFR residents prefer to complete at least some rental processes online. 

Technology helps you deliver competitive features without breaking the bank or slowing you down. And it gives ease and convenience to residents, too. These days, property managers have digital solutions for basically every part of their job, including:

  • Online payments
  • Maintenance request tracking
  • Online rental listings & applications
  • Text and email communication
  • Renters insurance
  • Resident screening
  • Document signing, sharing, and storage

Using SMS messaging platforms, online rent payment systems, and resident portals adds more efficiency for property managers while offering convenience to residents. 

The ability to pay rent, make a property maintenance request, or register a new pet or vehicle online creates a seamless experience that the resident can manage independently on their own time while also creating an organized system for leasing agents to respond to those requests. No more scribbling a repair request on a sticky note—now you can automate everything. It’s the best option for everyone involved.

Be proactive

The best PMs are always aggressive. They visit each property at least once each year, not just when something goes wrong. They have automated systems in place to alert them when new needs pop up. They design or invest in benefits packages and perks to serve their residents and stand out from the crowd.

In “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” Dr. Stephen Covey’s second habit is, “Begin with the end in mind.” Professional property managers who are ready for the future proactively identify opportunities to improve the resident experience. 

Ask things like: “What can I do this coming year to improve the living experience for my residents?” Maybe that’s new programs, new roles on the team, new technology, etc. 

Whatever creates value for residents is worth an investment because the payoff lasts. 

For all of the above, invest in a resident benefits package

As we’ve seen, resident benefits packages are the best way to build these experiences and perks that residents want. Benefits packages are bundled services that help drive revenue for your investor and drive satisfaction for your residents. 

At Second Nature, we offer services in a custom resident benefits package (RBP) designed by you and managed by us. We developed and designed each pillar of the RBP based on pain points that property managers shared with us – turning those pain points into benefits.

These services include supports like:

  • Routine air filter delivery: This is a cornerstone of our benefits package because one of the most common causes of HVAC maintenance requests is a failure to change air filters on time. We’ve seen a total reduction of 38% in HVAC requests.
  • $1 million identity theft protection: Our benefits package includes identity fraud alerts and protection. Your residents can rest easy knowing every adult on the lease has coverage.
  • Credit building: As we’ve mentioned, we report on-time payments to the credit bureaus so your residents can automatically boost their credit scores just by paying rent on time. 
  • Rental rewards: People love rewards! We include the cost of rental rewards in our total package, so PMs don’t pay more. We include perks like gift cards to local businesses, restaurant cards, cash rewards, and more.
  • Move-in concierge: The first thing most residents do on move-in is make several calls to set up utilities. With our move-in concierge service, residents turn four phone calls into one. They don’t have to contact utility companies; we do it for them and identify the best rates. 
  • Renters insurance: Our benefits package includes price-competitive insurance options to apply to all residents – at one group rate. 

A benefits package puts PMs ahead of the game, proactively building the environment residents pay and stay for.

How 1,000+ professional management companies create Triple Win experiences

Resident retention is far more than a transactional arrangement. We know that a high percentage of residents leave when they aren’t getting benefits they could get elsewhere. 

Forward-thinking property managers take a proactive approach to resident retention by developing experiences that residents are looking for. By creating a fantastic resident experience through offering benefits and support, property managers drive a triple win for residents, investors, and themselves.

Offering a resident benefits package that adds value to the leasing and living experience of your residents is as easy as Second Nature.