What is Your Community's "Potential Resident Experience"?

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A lot of property and asset managers like to talk about the "Resident Experience," but few dedicate the time to making sure the Potential Resident Experience is the best it can be. In some ways, the Potential Resident Experience is as significant as the resident experience, if not more so.

What is the Potential Resident Experience?

The Potential Resident Experience is the total experience a renter has from first seeing your community online to signing their lease. In essence, the sum of all their interactions with your community. The underlying logic is that the better overall experience your prospective resident has, the more inclined they are to remember your community, recommend your community to others and ultimately become a resident.

What affects the Potential Resident's Experience?

Numerous things can have a positive or negative effect on the Potential Resident's Experience. They can range from the obvious things such as the ease of use of your website, the cleanliness of your community and how friendly your staff is, to the subtle things like your signage and ease of your application process. Here is a list of the Top 10 things that can have a POSITIVE impact on a potential resident's experience (in no particular order):

  • Easy to Use Website
  • Prompt and Timely Communications
  • Professional Marketing
  • Accurate Pricing Information
  • Friendly Staff Interaction
  • Community Cleanliness
  • Proper Signage
  • Professionally Staged Unit(s)
  • Easy Application / Lease Process
  • Cleanliness of Vacant Units

Samples of Negative Potential Resident Experiences

There are many things that can give a potential resident a bad experience, but here are just a couple of areas that are often overlooked that can have a big impact on your potential resident's experience.

Unusable Mobile Website
One of the more frustrating things we see are the mobile websites of some communities. Many are outdated, are very hard to navigate and bury the most important parts of their sites behind lousy navigation. Not having an easy-to-use mobile site can be highly frustrating to a potential tenant and therefore, ultimately have a real impact on your lead generation efforts. 

Cheap Looking Staged Units
A critical part of the sales process is showing potential tenants what their apartment could look like. Nothing can have more impact than a unit that is supposed to be "staged" but looks like someone just moved out and left all their bad IKEA furniture behind.

Lousy Front Desk Attendant
We have all come across a situation where a front desk attendant has been dismissive or rude. While most of the time we shrug this off, this can have a substantial effect on how a resident views the community and staff.

Frustrating Leasing Office Signage
We can't tell you how many times we have visited communities that have either no signs or confusing ones on where the leasing office is and how to get there. Nothing is more frustrating than spending 5-10 minutes driving around looking for the leasing office. Merely putting a sign that says leasing office and an arrow does not cut it for specific communities.

In conclusion, we highly advise that every property manager or owner to take the time to "walk a mile" in their prospective resident's shoes to see how the experience is. It's paramount to make sure your prospective residents are having a great experience when interacting with your community.

Author: Justin Cleary is an almost 20 year veteran of the Multifamily Industry. He has owned and operated several multifamily focused businesses and startups including The Philly Apartment Company, The DC Apartment Company,  BlueSquare Real Estate & Property Management, and his latest venture, BreadBox (http://breadbox.consulting)