You know firsthand that first impressions are important when a resident begins their relationship with their rental community. Move-in is already stressful, sweaty, and hectic, and one small thing off with the rental unit within the first week can create a lasting bad impression of the management company and staff. While you can certainly ‘kill them with kindness’, adding a resident gift as well ensures that you have happy residents (every time) and maintains your community’s good reputation.

I’ve lived in many, many rental apartments, and my recent move-in was probably one of the better experiences I’ve had. Like most renters on move-in day, I was cranky, hungry, and tired (but also excited) by the time our moving truck was loaded and we reached the leasing office. As we signed the move-in forms and got our tenant portal information, I was confused when the leasing agent brought over our file and a personal pizza box. What I begrudgingly thought was her lunch, turned out to be our move-in gift: a mini-pizza box filled with napkins, paper plates, forks, and a voucher for Papa Johns.

I can attest that 1) most renters don’t eat very well on move-in day and are in fact, starving by the time the move-in is complete and 2) most renters do not want to cook on the first day and usually turn to McDonalds or something similar. To say the least, we were ecstatic. As renters, this thoughtful gift instantly put the rental property and their staff in a positive light. Rather than just saying “welcome to the community”, it felt like we were welcomed as it was beyond what you’d expect.

Ultimately it set the tone for our relationship with the management, and when our toilet exploded and overflowed the night we moved in… we thought it was an unpleasant accident, rather than neglect on the staff’s part.

When you manage so many units, it’s inevitable that something will be broken. It’s natural for things to have some wear and tear. While everything in a unit might seem good to go during the move-in inspection, oftentimes your new residents will find within the first week that the dishwasher isn’t screwed in all the way, the window doesn’t open completely, or worse, the toilet is already clogged. No matter how big or small the breakage, through no fault of you own, things just naturally break. Providing a resident gift that covers what I call, “The 3 C’s”, leaves some margin of error and allows the property manager to let their staff’s customer service control how the property is perceived, not the exploding toilet experience.

So What are “The 3 C’s”?

The difference between a good resident gift (one that feels welcoming and boosts your reputation) and a neutral gift (one that simply exists and leaves no impression) is that good gifts cover all of “The 3 C’s”; gifts that are:

  1. Cute or Creative

Presentation-wise, you want your resident gift to look like a gift. It shouldn’t look like you slap this onto everyone’s door. It should look like you went out of your way to make, buy, or wrap it. If it doesn’t look homemade or luxurious, at the very least you should aim for some creative packaging.

  1. Clever

Obviously you want to promote the services your property offers (like online rental payments, your new gym, or a future resident event). If you’re opting for a gift basket – add a blow up beach ball to encourage renters to use your pool. 

  1. Considerate

There’s no such thing as a bad gift – it is a gift after all – but there is such a thing as a useless gift. Think about what your new resident would need or appreciate. Every community is different – some might like a bottle of wine while others might be excited over a free trial at the local gym. That being said, toilet paper (and potentially a toilet plunger) is always appreciated.

Whether you choose to wow your new residents with a helpful resident gift or aim to make the move-in experience a lot easier, you want to do whatever you can to give your renters a good community experience from the get go. You have 12 to 6 months with this resident – don’t let them think poorly of the property and your management team simply because their move-in had a leaky faucet. The better the experience, the greater your community’s reputation becomes, and the more residents you retain.

Do you have any resident gifts that follow the 3 C’s? Share with us what your community gives in the comment section below and be sure to subscribe.

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About the Author

Author Becky BowerBecky Bower is the Communications Executive here at the Resident Screening Blog. She holds a degree in English, with a focus in creative writing, from CSU Channel Islands. Her biggest weakness is cake and favorite superhero is Batman.