FB Live: Apartment Renewals Start on Day One of the Lease

Watch the replay of the Live here:

Easy renewal conversations start from the first day a person becomes a resident. Too many times communities have little interaction with residents throughout the lease process and are surprised to get a notice to vacate from a resident.

Our rate of renewals is really a reflection of the sum of all our interactions with that resident.

After watching this video, you’ll walk away with:

  1. Ways to Prep Your Team for Renewal Conversations

  2. Get Inspired with our 12-Month Renewal Touchpoint Guide

And if you’re more the reading type, we’ve got the full transcript of the video below!

http://bit.ly/2GGojzY - Sprout Demo



Selling Home. Selling You.

Welcome to Facebook live. This is Selling Home, Selling You. The place for housing professionals that want to keep up with the latest in marketing and retention and technology and all around just building that life momentum that comes from just seeking improvement. So I'm very excited to have you guys here.

What's super exciting is last week our Facebook live on follow up ended up getting over 3,000 views, you guys. So it's really, really starting to pick up, which is exciting.

I wanted to shout out a testimonial to one of our members. This one is coming from Jody and I'm so excited because I actually get to show you guys a picture of them. So let me transition there. So this is a Jody and her team and they're at the Green at Plum Creek. And it's a long testimonial. But I'm only going to read this one sentence because literally this made my day.

“If there was an easy button for marketing, it would be Sprout.” And that's exactly what I want to think about when we built out this platform. We're like we want it to be the easy button of marketing.

If I've got my people on here that are Sprout members, share some love and maybe one of your testimonials will be featured on here. So that was the team and I'm so excited that I was able to able to show you guys that. So again, you want to know a little bit more check back in there.

Apartment Renewals Start the First Day of the Lease

Today we are talking about renewals and how they start on day one. The reason I am so passionate about talking about renewals is because the deal is when you think about renewals, it's so much easier to keep the clients that you already have than to go after new ones. We do tons of training on followup and on outreach. It is hugely important. But at the same time, if you didn't have to lose as many clients, you wouldn't have to do as much. So the transition is exhausting.

Because of that, we want to talk about how do we keep them? And one of the things that I mentioned in our promo is that our rate of renewal is really a reflection of the sum of all of our interactions. That's the biggest thing to remember. It's all of the interactions that we have with our residents, that's what is going to determine how great our renewal rates are.

I wanted to show you guys in an illustrative kind of way how this works. And so I've got two jars with me and I have a ton of gumballs, these little pink ones. (watch the video for the full effect) I don't know if we had a baby shower or what, but they were in the Sprout closet What we think about when we think about our client interaction, we think about how, what kind of equity we're putting in, what kind of relationship are we building?

This is community one. Community one has done everything right? So they had a great prospect. They show, showed them, they toured, they decided to become a resident and they leased. So they put a little equity in the bank. After that, they had a really great move in process. The apartment was just the way that it was promised, a little more equity. Throughout the journey they checked on the client regularly, not in an intrusive way, but in a way that made an impact. And then a little bit later, some things went wrong as they sometimes do, but they fixed it. They kept the client in the loop and again they kept filling. They had some great events, they interacted on social, they had great conversations. And all of these things, all the while this community is building equity. Now, when it comes time to renew, this community has this equity in the bank.

Now we're going to take community number two. This community, on the other hand, did not put a ton of equity in. They toured, they got them in. So the person committed. So they put a little bit of equity in the bank, but moving was not smooth. In fact, it was frustrating. So right from the beginning that resident was no longer happy. So their little jar of goodwill is now empty. And throughout the process they did a few things right. Maybe not stellar, but they did okay. Somebody actually showed an interest and here and there they built a little bit. They had a couple of events that spoke to that resident and so there was a little bit there. But then again, whenever things got tough, they had a maintenance request, not only did they drop the ball but they didn't communicate. And so in that resident's mind there was no equity left. All that goodwill that had built, the little bit that was there to begin with, was completely gone.

What you have is you have two residents, two different communities, and when the time comes to renew, and for many of us we're raising rents, you have community one that goes on to talk to that resident about raising their rents and renewing. But when the time comes for that resident to make a decision and they go back, there's nothing there, there's no value added, there's no relationship. So their bank is empty.

On the other hand, the first community that we talked about did so many good things. They had some hiccups along the way like mentioned. But the next move was always done well. And so because of that, when it came time to renew, guess what? They had a ton of equity that they could collect on. And it was easy to have that renewal conversation. They had built this goodwill, they had built this relationship.

Which community are we? Are we one that is building a ton of goodwill? Our rate of renewal is a reflection of the sum of all of our interactions. So to start it off, you just got to ask yourself which one are we? And we start from there. Acknowledging what we're doing well and what we need to work on is our very first step.

The Old Way of Approaching Renewals Doesn’t Work

Here's how the old way of doing things just doesn't work for us. I want to share with you guys have shared this before, but I visually want to show you this is a day in the life of your residents and for Instagram I'll talk it through. So we think about our residents, they are just people just like us. Like yesterday I had a crummy day and it took me some time to get out of it. They have crummy days to, like all of us. So this little representation shows they're stuck in traffic, they're late to work, they spill coffee on their desk, maybe they fry their laptop and then they get chewed out by their supervisor and it's frustrating. Then at home, on their way home, they're stuck in traffic, picking up the kids. The kids are in a bad mood. They go, they pick up bills from the mailbox. They walk in, they get to their home, their sanctuary, their place where they just want to put on their comfy clothes and guess what? A corporate renewal letter stuffed right in there and telling them, hey, not only do we have a renewal letter for you, but we have an increase. Can you guys see where the old way of doing renewals isn't working? And you guys see where when we renew in a way that loses the heart of relationships no longer works.


How would we change this? Well, that's what we want to focus on today is doing things different. And I think we had a little glitch, but hopefully everybody's back on on Facebook.

Approach Every Day Like Renewal Day

Every day we're building equity towards that renewal bank. And that's how we have to really, really look to renewals is a focus. And so I want to make sure that when you think about renewals, that's what you're doing.

Ask yourself would I personally recommend this community and if not many times, that's where we have to go back to that Client Journey Guide Book. And I want to show you guys that again because here are the three or the four questions that we ask ourselves in any phase. What are we currently doing that's working well? Where are there bottlenecks and frustrations? What basics do we need to do every time? And how can we add a little wow to the experience? Guys, when we focus on that and when we get the mindset of always renewing, we're once again changing the conversation of renewals.

Let’s talk a little bit about how we can make renewals a little bit personalized, but automated too. We're talking about those touch points. So what are some of the things that we can do?

We know that renewal start on day one and it's not enough just to talk about renewals when they're about to renew. So I want to show you guys another little deal that I put together and I'm going to give you an example. This is not something, you don't have to follow this exactly, but creating a 12 month of retention program that showcases different ideas for touch points that you can do with your residents. So you don't have to get lost in this. This is specific for our members. They can search and then find designs that they're looking for. But for those of you that are building this out on your own, I want to give you some ideas.

Think about post move in check in. Giving it a few days, maybe even a week or two after somebody got settled, how well are they? How happy are they with your community at that point? This is this golden opportunity where impressions are the most fragile. And when we think about that, it's like how can we make sure that it was good? Ask them again, how was the process? Was there anything we could've done that would've been smoother? If your lease was up, if you had to make this choice again, would you renew? Kind of a scary question to ask somebody two to three weeks after they move in. But it gives us a real pulse on are we having to add more equity or have we already really messed up? What do we have to do?

Work to Constantly Add Value to Your Residents

So when it comes to automating new members or on-boarding new residents, you can think about it in a way that says, how can I constantly add value to their life? So a series of check ins that maybe don't feel so intrusive. Things like an FAQ video that gets sent out. If you hear a lot of questions from move ins, put together a little series. I shared last week loom.com, a free video series. It's very personal. It's really quick and you can record your screen, your face, whatever, or just send audio. So that could be a touch point.

A welcome from the entire team or just from the manager. A welcome from the maintenance or a tip on how to maintain or keep energy costs low or whatever else. Make a note at move in what's important to that person. Did they come in with their kids, their dog, their parents, their elderly parents? Did they talk about a new job? Make a little note of that. Have a section already in your lease for follow up.

I know for us, we're in a similar situation. We're a membership type of a program and so for us it's important for us to kind of remember on our sales call what was important to them that's going to continue to be important in the future because renewals, that's what it's about. It's about saying, Hey, I heard you and not just today when I sold you, but further on, I'm listening. And I know that's hard to do when you're at a 500 unit plus community. So we're just talking about what you can do and what you can scale.

Take what you can from this and then modify to fit your circumstances. But add that note so that you can personalize that experience. Then at the six month mark or the seven month mark, if you want to be untraditional, send an anniversary gift to their job. And again, this is a two for one, it's an outreach, a marketing or retention, a referral. I mean you get a ton of value for that and try to have a little bit in your budget to do those kinds of things. Even if it's not a big thing, even if it's just sending a thank you card that has something fun, a balloon that they can blow up. I'm going to show you guys some photos here in just a bit.

Get Buy-In with Reviews from Happy Residents

Get comfortable asking for reviews when they're happy. A client that is bought into your community is more likely to renew because they've endorsed you. So these are all things, again, starting from day one that you can do and that's going to help you to renew again and again and to have that conversation when the time comes. Okay, so think through. I shared a few. Let me just remind you. A post move in check in. I like this one to be personal, if possible, two to three weeks after they've moved in. A series of video and email check ins. MailChimp is a great service for setting up some automations. Some of you might have that built into your own programs. Making a note of moving so that at the four month, six month or seven month mark, you can send something for their anniversary, but make it personal. Again, if they have a pet, do something for their pet. If they have a a child, even just a comment that says, hey, I hope Andy is loving it at X elementary school. The fact that you remembered super impressionable. So those anniversary reminders or anniversary cards or even a little gift. And then asking for reviews along the way and getting comfortable with questions like your lease was up, would you renew? And would you recommend our community to friends? If they wouldn't recommend, it's probably because they're not in love with the community.

Prepare Your Team to Have Renewal Conversations with Residents

Next up I want to talk about prepping your team in advance for those renewal conversations. So I've made a few notes. If you guys want to make some notes, go ahead. And then I'll also recap this in the blog.

What you want to think about when it comes to your renewal conversations is as a team discuss why price increases are necessary for the financial health of your community. So as managers, we're dealing in the budgets, we're in some of those corporate meetings, but our team doesn't hear a lot of that. And so when you think about that, it's like we have to sell as the leads we we have to raise rents. Because sometimes I've talked to least and professionals and they're like I don't know why we're raising these rents. This is crazy. So if they understand the backing, they're better able to sell it to then a resident.

Get familiar with current market rates and competitor pricing. A lot of times our perceived idea of what our rents are and how high they are in comparison may not be accurate. So the very first thing is to go on a fact finding mission. And then list out any improvements that have been made in the community. Remind yourself why people bought in the first place and how you stand out as different. Having those things gives you the confidence to talk about renewals even if a price increase is in place.

As a team to think about the cost of moving. So do a little research. What does it cost to move in your area? Not only that, but I want you to jump outside for a minute and think about what does it cost you to move emotionally? So in a recent study that was done, 61% out of 2000 said that moving was the number one stressor in life. It even was higher than death and divorce. That's how bad people hate moving.

Think about the emotional costs of moving. If your prospect has children, what is the cost of moving school districts and making new friends? Even our pets, they hate moving. It's like an environmental shock to them. So even having little prompts around your community that talk about that is going to be huge for having those conversations. Share those kinds of statistics on your Facebook page regularly. Because it reminds them do I really want to do this to myself? I'm in the process of moving right now myself, and it is a nightmare. I hate it. I can attest to the fact that it is super stressful. So think about that when you're having those conversations and do those little prompts along the way.

The next point goes back to your Multifamily Guide Book that we shared the link for earlier. Practice or familiarize yourself why you've lost renewals. Is it because of some of the things that you're doing along the way? Is maintenance maybe not where it needs to be? Or is the move in process really stressful? Or are you not getting good attendance at events and people just don't feel bought in? Or are you not listening and you really just have no idea why people are leaving? Again, that knowledge arms us with the ability to make corrections. So as a team talk about it and say how can we fix this moving forward?

And then the last little point that I want to say is practice. Nobody is just naturally born being good at having a conversation where you're asking people to give more money. It's not like it just comes natural. And if it does come natural, it might be a super sales-y feel. So as a team, have those conversations and as the manager take the lead, raise real objections when you're doing role play. When somebody says what, you're going to raise my rend $100? Why, what have y'all done? How would they respond? And do it until they get comfortable. Now I know most people hate role play, I role play, but the reality is is doing role play gets us comfortable and then we're more prepared for when we're in it in the real life moment.

So have those conversations and then offer constructive feedback. And then on your weekly meeting, ask the team, how did we focus on renewals this week? What objections did we face? How can we overcome them next week?

All right, next up, I want us to talk about actual fun things with renewals and I'll share my screen one more time. I want to show you guys, for the Sprout members, we're always trying to come up with fun ways, but you guys can recreate some of these yourself. So this is a helping hand after somebody moves in. This is one of our daily dose. And it's basically giving a helping hand to someone after they've moved in. It's a little note that you can do once they've moved in, let us know if we can give you a hand, leaving some nice soap or some lotion or something there. That's just a nice welcome. And this is always fun for starting that renewal conversation on day one. So we're following it from welcome all the way to renew.

And then just having some fun with things I love this one, this one we shared a few months back, but we're fond of you and it's this cute little renewal with these sweet deer. And you can just find matching envelopes that can make this really pop.

In addition to that, I wanted to talk about surprising and delighting. So we did a big photo shoot a couple of years back and we talked about how we could have some fun with our renewals. So I want to visually show you, and I thought this would be the easiest way. So this was the one where we left a bright yellow balloon that says pop me. And it was waiting for a resident when they got home. And then it had a little thing that said come in, we'd love to have a renewal conversation with you. And we've got a little goodie. Those conversations, they're always easier in person.

This other one is a little more extensive. We've got some helium balloons in a box. When a resident opens the box that says open me, these balloons come out. And again, the prompt is come in and let's have a conversation. Or these little guys where we do some sweet treats, blow up the balloon, leave it in a little baggie. Anyway, something that can be, instead of coming home to that renewal letter, that very corporate feel, surprising and delighting. It's just about having a little bit of fun with it.

Now I also wanted to talk about the idea of doing a renewal wall. And in a couple of weeks we're going to do a pet friendly themed live that hopefully you guys can join us for. So here's the deal. Whenever you can show social proof and you can show somebody doing these kind of things in person, it even helps with that social currency. So surprising and delighting. When you have those moments, try to snap pictures or do a campaign where you build this renewal wall, maybe out of craft paper and you ask a resident once they've renewed, could I take a picture of you or a picture of your pet? And it's a little card that you put up that says I renewed, moving is rough. And it just makes it a little bit fun. And if they're up for it, ask them to write what made you renew. So having this wall inside your community office that says I renewed with all these little testimonials so to speak, it gives that social proof that others are renewing.

And again, we're on a fact finding mission to make ourselves better. That's all we're trying to do. And so don't get overwhelmed by renewals, get really comfortable. Remember that every single day is really showtime. It's about making this the best that it possibly can be.

Guys, there you have, it 28 minutes all about renewals. I wanted to close with the little kind of a quote that I'm working on this week.

Insight leads to action. So today we took in a lot of insight. We learned. The point is we now take that insight and we put it into action. Action leads to refinement. Refinement means we try something today. We don't get discouraged if it didn't work as best as it as it could have. We don't get discouraged. We make adjustments. We were fine. Refinement and leads to clarity. It lets us know what is working, what can we do longterm? And clarity leads to momentum. And momentum is what we're looking for.

Friends, keep doing what you're doing. Remember, you're selling home, you're improving you, and we're just so excited to be a part of that journey. So tag your friends in the comments, make sure they watch this with us. We'll make sure that everybody gets the replay with all the cliff notes and grab all the freebies. And we are so happy to have you. We'll see you week. I'm coming to you guys from a different location, not from San Antonio, Texas. I will be somewhere in the country and we're talking about how to not lose steam when it comes to your career.

I hope you guys will join me next Wednesday, same time, 12:00, same place. So see you guys then. Bye.

Sprout Marketing