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How to Improve Your Renewals and Referrals – By Mindy Williams

Posted on 12. Mar, 2012 by in all, Magazine Articles

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The most inexpensive way we have to increase occupancy is by increasing our renewals and referrals.  Here are some ways managers across the country are improving their renewals and referrals.

Renewals
The days of Dear Resident renewal letters are long over.  So why are we still sending them out?  (I just got one!)  Personalize the letter and remember that residents expect us to resell the apartment to them.  Highlight all improvements, new amenities and services in the letter.
Below are some fun ways to deliver a lease renewal:

Balloons
Time to Renew balloons.  Leave them on apartment doors inflated with helium and weighed down with a bag of candy with an attached, unsigned lease.

Don’t Moooove
The Container Store sells glass milk bottles.  Place a sticker with your community information on them with a note saying, Please don’t mooooooove!  We want you to stay another year!

Seems Like Yesterday
Take a picture of new residents at move-in, keep it in their files and send it with a card when it’s time renew.

Gifts
Inexpensive renewals gifts can be purchased from any of the below catalogs.  One example would be a packet of seeds for Forget-me-nots!

¢    Sally Distributors “ 800-472-5597
¢    Oriental Trading “ 800-228-2269
¢    M & N International “ 800-479-2043
¢    Burpee Seed Corporation “ 800-999-8552

Renewal Giveaways
Airline Miles for Renewals “ a community near Indianapolis decided to give residents an incentive to stay instead of a gift after renewing.  They chose to give away frequent flyer miles on American Airlines.
For American Airlines, you purchase a package of miles and distribute them to residents in whatever denomination you choose (5,000 miles cost $100).
Two communities in Florida are using frequent flyer files as incentives to lease.  Obviously, pick the major airline near your town, call their reservations number and ask for their Incentive Miles Program.

Birthday Chocolates
This company also has renewal and thank you chocolates.  Just fax a list to them each month and Birthday Chocolates will mail your residents chocolates in thank you wrapping paper.  Birthday Chocolates also helps recapture residents.  By accident, a community in Wichita, Kansas sent chocolates to a lady who had moved out.   Since the chocolates are mailed first class, the present was forwarded.  Imagine receiving chocolates from the apartment community where you had just moved from!  The resident was so touched that she moved back in as soon as her lease was up.  Birthday Chocolates’ phone number is 800-867-4438.

This Gift Means a Lot, Costs Little
Reserved parking for long-term residents is IN.  If parking is a problem at your community, reserve spots for residents who have lived there for an extended period of time, (five, ten, whatever years) to show your appreciation.  This is free!

Paint a Room
Offer to paint a room a color or add crown molding (usually under $100).  Improving the apartment packages are also popular (clean the carpet; add a ceiling fan, etc.).

Monthly Bills
Some communities in California bill their residents each month.  This increases more timely rent payments and allows you to include your own message to residents.  For example, you can promote your $200 referral bonus or that, Our apartments are the largest in the area, or Make FREE photocopies in our business center!
Suggestion:  To supplement postage, sell coupons (Domino’s renter’s insurance, dry cleaners) and include them with the bills.

Send Anniversary Gifts to Residents at Work
¦and increase referrals too.

Managers across the country have sent these gifts to residents at work:

¢    flowers
¢    t-shirts
¢    lunch or dinner for two
¢    cookies / fudge
¢    lottery tickets
¢    singing telegrams
¢    an ice cream truck

Develop a Most Wanted List
List your most wonderful residents.  Call them to let them know how much you appreciate them.   Ask them where you can find more residents just like them.

There are hundreds of ways you can improve your occupancy right now.  Good luck!

Mindy Williams is President of RentandRetain.com.  Visit her at www.rentandretain.com or call 619-437-6633 for more information.  Reprinted with permission of the Landlord Times.