Is the Resident Ever Wrong?|
Creative Tips for Dealing with Residents
Resident retention is the fastest and most economical route to higher occupancy and greater Net Operating Income. To KEEP RESIDENTS LONGER, the on-site professional must acquire the people skills to effectively handle the customers - the residents. Even those Residents who are chronic "problems" for the on-site folks deserve professional and caring treatment. This is the second of three articles that address the dilema of "problem Residents" and how to deal with them in a way that will maximize the income of the property while maintaining the on-site staff's sanity!
Residents with problems and problem Residents are inevitable in apartment management. When there are people, expecially people living in close phyiscal proximity like your apartment community, there will be conflict. The astute on-site professional is actually delighted about these potential Resident problems and the people challenges. After all, it's the Residents - with their everyday concerns - that have created the opportunity for property management and for on-site management, leasing and maintenance positions. Frankly, we would not need the on-site professional.
Everyday more property professionals realize the statement above is not just a nice thought or a simple, frameable quote. It is truely the essence of what we do in our daily acitivities at the on-site level. In two previous articles, we concluded that while the Resident can be wrong when they prevent us from meeting our property management objective - To Increase the Value of the Property - most Residents are not problems. True problem Residents are rare. And even the angry, difficult Resident is usually bringing the on-site staff a legitimate problem that must be properly handled.
Flee or Attack?
Other on-site managers and their staffs dread the inevitable "situations" their Residents often hand then and choose to flee. They run from conflict and, frnakly, shirck their repsonsibilities when it comes to dealing with Resident problems. Rather than make a visit to a Resident's apartment or come out of their own back office to appropriately handle an angry or frustrated Resident face-to-face, these less equipped on-site professionals tuck their tails and disappear. The hide behind a note to the Resident when a personal meeting is more appropriate. They chicken out by forcing a young and inexperienced leasing consultant to deal with the Resident problem, or they make the service technician their messenger to the Resident to avoid personal confrontation.
On-site managers who do not like dealing with Resident problems and problem Residents are not necessarily poor operators. Most folks tend to avoid confrontation whenever possible; this is a natural human response. Yet, fleeing Resident problems does not promote positive goodwill nor effective Resident retention.
While some managers choose to flee Resident problems, others take an equally inappropriate approach to conflict - they attack! When this on-site professional begins to feel the heat and pressure from a Resident with a legitimate problem, they feel abused and begin attacking the customer - the Resident. For example, a Resident shows up Monday morning at the leasing office cussing up a storm because their air-conditioner was out for two days over a hot August weekend. Rather than realize the property failed to deliver what was promised to the Resdient - a cool, comfortable apartment home - and immediately apologize for the inconvenience, some managers choose to attack. They take the angry Resident's comments personally and respond like this:
"Say; this is the first I have heard of this problem!"
[Not the Resident's fault. He called the answering service all weekend!]
"I will not tolerate that kind of language in my office. Please leave until you can come back and communicate in a civilized manner!"
What a pathetic and lame way to deal with a real Resident problem. Any person would be angry if they were denied the air-conditioning they had been promised - especially in August! Attacking a Resident is rarely the way to solve their problem and leave them feeling good about living - and STAYING - at your community!
Remember Your Objective
By appropriately handling a Resident's problem and those rare problem Residents, we can create situations that make Residents want to STAY and renew their leases. Considering the fact that a turnover can cost your property up to $2000, keeping Residents longer by properly handling their problems is critical to meeting your #1 Objective!
Ten Creative Tips for Dealing with Resident Problems
The Irate Phone Call
Nothing you can do is more important than winning back an unhappy Resident and solving their problem so it will not happen again!Rick Ellis, one of multi-housing's foremost consultants & educational speakers.
Rick Ellis' Biography and Article List
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