It’s no secret that communication is the key to any successful relationship, whether it’s with family members, a partner you’re romantically involved with or colleagues at work. Open and direct communication between tenants and property managers is no different. Establishing a strong foundation of communication is important from the start, even when someone is still a prospective renter, because it helps rental issues get solved quickly and mitigates future problems.
So how can property managers best communicate with their residents?
Use Tech To Communicate More Effectively
Luckily, technology advancements have made communication between property managers and tenants quicker and easier. Mobile usage is so much a part of our everyday lives that it has changed tenant expectations — including how they expect their property managers to get in touch with them. Text messaging is commonplace and allows property managers to quickly send important, personalized updates to tenants, including package delivery notifications, late rent reminders or community announcements.
Property managers are also utilizing software portals to set up and send emails and text messages to help streamline the maintenance process, which creates more proactive communication with tenants. Today, people tend to screen or ignore calls, but a text from their property manager that more information is required on their maintenance request will likely get their attention and prompt response.
In addition, many property managers are embracing social media to communicate with residents. Creating custom Facebook pages, Twitter accounts and building websites have supplemented, and in some cases replaced, the mailroom bulletin board as a way to share resident-related information. This method ultimately allows property managers to communicate to a broader reach of their residents with the click of a button so they get more done in less time and tenants get the benefit of enhanced updates.
Hone-In On Core Communication Skills: Listening
Technology has enabled property managers to build more open lines of communication with their tenants. However, without demonstrating core communication skills, the technology will just fall flat.
We learn one of the first (and most important!) rules of communication when we’re children: To be a good communicator, you must be a good listener. Property managers must ensure they’re actively listening to their tenants’ complaints, notifications and preferences — and then responding. This will foster trust with your residents and create an approachable relationship without tension, which is the engagement property managers are striving for.
Purposefully listening to tenants can also save property managers time if, for example, a tenant calls with a maintenance request or lease updates. Listening saves property managers unneeded follow up communication with tenants and, in some cases, can prevent costly litigation if details were discussed but not paid attention to.
Some maintenance issues can take a while to resolve. As a property manager, you have to clarify details and gather data that can take several calls, emails and follow up messages, especially if you’re working with an outside vendor to fix the problem. And, any missed calls and unanswered emails during this time will just add to the tenant’s wait time for the issue to be resolved.
Although a maintenance problem itself may take a while to get fixed, tenants will get even more frustrated if they feel like they aren’t being updated on where things stand. It’s the property manager’s responsibility to keep the tenant updated on all they’re doing to remedy the issue in a consistent manner. For instance, through text messaging, a property manager can reduce the need for tenant follow-up since they can receive steady maintenance updates.
Personalize Your Message
Using technology, property managers can now automate a number of the messages they send to residents but must be wary of form notes being seen as generic or coming off as inauthentic. A little personalization goes a long way.
For example, it’s important to add the first name of residents to email blasts instead of just the standard “Hello.” Note how your tenants like to be contacted, whether it be via phone, text or email, and stick to these preferences whenever possible. Does a tenant work the night shift and can only be reached via phone during certain hours? Does another travel a lot for work and want to be reached via text messaging due to the different time zones they’re in? Knowing these preferences creates a better customer experience.
Open Lines Of Communication = Resident Retention
Property managers need to be in regular contact with their tenants to build a trusting relationship, not only when there’s a maintenance issue or its lease renewal time. An open line of communication leads to an overall better customer experience, and this leads to residents who want to stay put at their properties, as well as recommend them to friends and family. And in a competitive market, this positive word-of-mouth can be the best marketing tool a property manager has.