The end of one year and the beginning of a new one is a great time to consider new ideas for retaining employees and those vital folks who pay the rent every month: our valued property residents.
Recently I sat down with a 40-year property management superstar (in my humble opinion) to learn her latest views about retaining her many hundreds of rental residents and her key employees. First she wanted me to know that her personal management philosophy on this topic has grown stronger through the past four decades. “Treat people fairly and they’ll stick with you for a lifetime!”
She goes out of her way to take a personal interest in her employees and resident managers. During the holiday season and their birthdays she gives thoughtful gifts and/or one of their annual bonuses. “I do all that I can to reward outstanding performance yet at the same time I don’t want any of my people to think that I take them for granted,” she shared. “Most of my employees are very loyal.”
There’s a direct correlation between her successful method of retention and the results she aims for. “Most of what I do is simply common sense mixed with a blend of small courtesies that go a long way.”
This open, sincere and seasoned veteran of property management gave me some of her best retention ideas that have consistently worked well. The list includes:
1. Give an annual holiday gift like a gift card or certificate for a popular food store or restaurant.
2. Reward residents for following the rules and “staying in touch.” For example, she gave one resident a $30 gift card for coming up with a helpful idea about keeping the laundry room cleaner.
3. Send a note to all residents that you want to retain stating, “As a way of thanking you there won’t be an annual rent increase. Your rent will stay the same for the year ahead” or words to that effect.
4. Set up a dedicated email address for employees and residents to use so they can directly communicate with the property manager. It speaks volumes about management’s caring attitude.
5. As much as possible, be responsive to complaints. Let employees and residents know you’ve received their complaint and will investigate. Ignoring complaints can damage trust and good will.
6. If you have a meeting room, host an annual “celebration drop-by party” with simple refreshments. Encourage employees and residents who attend to leave comments in a decorative “suggestion box.”
7. Sponsor a best ideas and suggestions contest. Give everyone who enters a small prize so everyone feels like a winner. Receiving and promoting feedback will solve dilemmas and help avoid problems.
Outstanding property managers realize that the best way to keep their residents is to, in the words of my esteemed interviewee, “Never assume that someone knows that you truly value them.” Those words of wisdom apply to all relationships that we treasure and don’t want to lose. “Little acts of kindness and generosity are often deeply appreciated and remembered,” she concluded.