It's September and many landlords will have just rented their apartments for another year. New tenant-customers are ready to be wowed into becoming long-term residents. Here are four ways to impress your new tenants.
1. Respond Quickly to the First Call
Usually new tenants find something in the first week or two of tenancy that needs fixing. It could be a really dirty corner of the apartment they're having trouble getting clean. Or maybe something's loose or broken and you hadn't noticed it during the walk-through.
The best landlords load their tenants' phone numbers into their phone's contacts. When a tenant calls, these landlords can see right away that it's their new customer. They drop what they're doing to take the call. Yes, that can mean annoyance and interruption. But this call will be your tenant's first impression when it comes to maintenance and repairs.
A landlord who makes a good first impression when it comes to repairs can expect two key benefits.
The first benefit is a tenant's increased willingness to report issues. A leaking pipe needs to be dealt with before it rots out the floor. The best landlords encourage tenants to report all issues and decide together what the priority should be.
The second benefit is a tenant's fear of moving elsewhere to a worse landlord. Tenants who feel lucky to have such a responsive owner/manager will stay longer and leave only when necessary.
2. Collect the Rent with a Question
The most successful landlords use every rent check as an opportunity to ask, "Is everything to your liking?" This encourages open communication.
For instance, maybe your tenants are losing sleep because of a noisy neighbor. They hadn't thought to write you a letter with the rent check, because it wasn't that serious. But since you asked, you will learn about it. You might be able to talk to the noisy neighbor to eliminate the problem before it bubbles over into an unhappy tenant-customer.
Asking, "Is everything to your liking?" or similar can also ferret out repair issues and start broader conversations. You might learn that their jobs are not very secure, or they're thinking about moving, or something else is going on that will affect your business. No one wants bad news but it's better to find out sooner rather than later. It will impress your tenants and give you a chance to help them continue to pay the rent.
3. Give an Unexpected Gift
If a tenant pays you first, last and security, they just gave you thousands of dollars. Also, they have to move heavy boxes and furniture, change their address, start their utilities, and do a whole host of other unpleasant or stressful things. Sometimes moving is really no fun at all.
The best landlords use this stressful time to make a good impression with a small move-in gift. Some leave a case of water bottles and a snack platter of fresh fruit in the fridge. Others offer a flower pot with flowers in it or a holiday wreath, depending on the season. These latter ideas can be nice because they also can beautify your property.
Move-in gifts that aren't related to the house or moving can easily cross the line. Don't become a friend to your tenants, keep it businesslike. The one exception may be gifts for the children: age appropriate toys can help the parents distract the little ones while they move and/or unpack.
More good advice: apply the same gift policy to all tenants, lest the discrimination police feel you've been unfairly discerning.
4. Start a Minor Renovation Project
You might think that your new customers don't want construction noise or debris around their new home the week they move in. That's probably true. But there are small projects like painting, landscaping, or lighting that can beautify your property without making a big disturbance. This shows your new tenants that you care enough to be proactive.
Properties that are already "perfect" may have room for automation, risk reduction, or cost savings. Is the landscaping in need of more water? Set up a lawn irrigation system. Are there barbecue grills close to the siding? Install benches along the building to keep the grills a safe distance away. Are the common area lights incandescent or CFL? Switch to LED's.
Whatever you do, complete the picture for your tenants by letting them know in text or email that you're going to be making the improvements. This lets you take credit for the work you're doing, and also give them a chance to voice concerns or suggestions about the project.
So the next time you rent an apartment, remember these four easy ways to impress your new tenants. Maybe you'll be able to keep them longer and elevate your business above the competition.