Follow Move-In Procedures that Make Good First Impression on New Residents
As you know, first impressions are lasting ones. In the apartment industry, first impressions can mean the difference between high turnover and high renewal rates. Industry studies show that residents typically make their renewal decisions within the first 48 hours of residing at a community, say marketing experts Lisa Trosien and Tracey Hopkins. And in surveys conducted by some management companies, residents rated good move-in procedures as being very important to them.
That’s why it’s important to set move-in procedures for your staff members to follow that will make a good first impression on new residents. We list the recommended move-in procedures below. And we’ll give you a Model Letter: Welcome New Residents to Their New Home, that your staff members can adapt and use to tell new residents what they’ve done to prepare the unit for move-in.
Compile Move-in Procedures in Checklist Form
You should consider compiling the following move-in procedures into a checklist and distributing it to your staff so that all procedures occur before a new resident moves in:
[ ] Send thank you note. Most apartment communities send thank you notes to prospects who visit the community, but very few send thank you notes to the ones who actually sign leases, points out Trosien. So have your staff members send new residents a note thanking them for choosing your site, immediately after they commit to leasing at your site, she adds. And if your site offers new residents a move-in packet containing coupons or maps, have them send it with the thank you note, says Hopkins.
[ ] Schedule move-in date. If new residents have to call your leasing office to schedule a move-in date, they may get a bad impression of your site before they even move in, says Steve Matre, director of education, marketing, and development for Banner Property Management, Inc. The goal is to prove that your site is efficient, organized, and proactive, he says. So instruct your staff members to schedule a move-in date as soon as a new resident decides to lease at your site, says Matre.
[ ] Reserve parking space for moving truck. If a new resident comes to your site on move-in day and there’s no space near her unit for the moving truck, she’ll very likely get a bad feeling about your site. So tell your staff members to reserve a parking space—or two, if the moving truck will be large—as close as possible to the new resident’s unit.
[ ] Reserve elevator. If a new resident has to share an elevator with other residents while moving in, it could take her twice as long to move, which could leave her frustrated with your site. So instruct your staff members to reserve an elevator for new residents who need one to move belongings into their unit. Your current residents will also appreciate this because they won’t have to wait for elevators that are being held up by the movers, or squeeze into a crowded elevator with the new resident’s bulky boxes and furniture.
[ ] Leave move-in gift in unit. Leaving new residents a move-in gift, such as a bouquet of fresh flowers, will let them know that your staff thought about them even before they moved in, says Trosien. So have your staff members leave a move-in gift in new residents’ units prior to their move-in.
[ ] Leave a few essentials in unit. Leaving a few essentials, such as toilet paper, paper towels, and hand soap, in the new residents’ units, and filling the ice trays with fresh water are small gestures that will go a long way in forming a great first impression, says Trosien. So tell your staff members to leave a few essentials in new residents’ units and fill ice trays prior to their move-in.
[ ] Set thermostat to a comfortable temperature. There’s nothing worse than moving into a sweltering unit on a hot summer day or a freezing cold unit in the dead of winter, points out Trosien. So instruct your staff members to set the unit thermostat to a comfortable temperature on the morning of a new resident’s move-in.
[ ] Put runners in high-traffic areas of unit. Moving can take a toll on unit carpets and wood floors. An easy way to remedy this is to place plastic or paper runners in high-traffic areas, such as the path leading into the bedrooms and the path through the living room. Instruct staff members to put runners down in these places and in hallways leading to the unit prior to a new resident’s move-in.
[ ] Walk through unit with resident. A move-in walk-through with the resident benefits both you and the resident. It lets your staff members record the unit’s condition on move-in day so that they can accurately judge if the resident damages the unit over the course of the lease term. And it gives the resident an opportunity to inform the staff member right away of anything she thinks needs to be repaired or replaced. Move-in walk-throughs will give your staff members a chance to connect with new residents and show how service-oriented your community is right from the start, says Hopkins. And requiring staff members to do move-in walk-throughs will push them to make sure any problems are taken care of before residents move in so that they and your community aren’t embarrassed on move-in day, points out Hopkins.
It’s a great idea for staff members who do walk-throughs with residents to bring along a member of your maintenance staff. That way, any small problems can be fixed on the spot. Or if something requires further attention, the maintenance staff member can write up a maintenance request for future repairs. If you don’t have a maintenance staff member available to do this, require staff members who do walk-throughs to write up any maintenance requests right in front of the resident, suggests Matre. Doing this will make them look organized and on top of things and let the resident know that his request has been scheduled, he adds.
[ ] Leave letter saying what staff has done. Once your staff members have done all the above-listed things to make a new resident’s move as pleasant as possible, they should make sure they get credit for it, points out Trosien. She recommends having your staff members leave the new resident a short letter, like our Model Letter, that lists all the things they’ve gone out of their way to do to make the resident’s move go smoothly. Attach a sample letter that your staff members can adapt and use to the memo you give them on move-in procedures.
Tracey Hopkins: President, Jumpstart Marketing, 13004 Hermitage Ln., Frisco, TX 75035; www.jumpstartonline.net.
Steve Matre: Director–Education, Marketing, Development, Banner Property Mgmt., Inc., 500 Skokie Blvd., Ste. 600, Northbrook, IL 60062; www.bannerapartments.com.
Lisa Trosien: President, ApartmentExpert.com, 2355 Waterbury Cir., Aurora, IL 60504; www.apartmentexpert.com.
See The Model Tools For This Article
|Welcome New Residents to Their New Home|