There are a number of under utilised digital opportunities when it comes to bringing new tenants into a scheme, or effectively managing them.
“Studies show that people who know one other person in a building are 75% more likely to renew their tenancy. For people who know two other people, this rises to 90%.” – Tom Klingholz, Chapman Taylor December 2018
Digital solutions often reduce people down to statistics and data which can remove the element that makes a house a home. Most developments will create a website for marketing purposes aimed at bringing in new tenants, but will stop there. This is a missed opportunity to extend the scope of the site for longer term use, which can assist in encouraging tenants to stay as long as possible. It is much easier to keep a happy customer than to find a new one!
Here are a few examples of how digital can help connect tenants, help them to build relationships and make them feel more at home.
Events management through an online portal
The simplest means of getting like-minded tenants together is through events. Awareness is one of the largest challenges for this. Placing physical notices can often look messy and can be blocked or ignored as tenants enter and exit a building.
Hosting a calendar on a tenant-only website allows the tenants to sign up to events, making the events more accessible while also assisting block owners to manage their popularity. For example, say the building brings a trainer to host an event in the building’s gym, this will be an attractive offer to many in the building, bringing tenants with a shared passion together. And in addition, the block operator will have the tools to track the event’s capacity and success.
Central online community forum
Running alongside events, an online forum where the block’s community can engage with each other, will offer tenants the opportunity to turn a chance meeting into a longer relationship. Using the gym as an example again, communities could share workout programs, diets and share advice. Looking at a bigger picture, this allows the block to ask questions and share advice on simple life administration. Tenants could ask: does anyone know of a good baby sitter? Or where can I get a good haircut? These kinds of questions, in a forum setting, will bond tenants and allow them to form friendships with their neighbours.
If the forum allows tenants to create their own profile (i.e. including a picture, their name, flat/building number) then the chance meetings in a lift with a stranger, become chance meetings with someone who you helped or who helped you. This builds a sense of community and establishes a basis for relationships to grow.
A very easy alternative or an additional route to develop a sense of community is through utilising social media. Setting up a Twitter or Instagram account for a specific building – or creating a Facebook group – is a good option for block managers to have access to the tenants. It is easy to manage and allows block managers to update the community about events, changes or disruptions while also offering the chance for tenants to ask questions and have a direct line of communication with the administration.
Lifestyle services through an online portal
If you are looking to establish a five star living environment, adding some lifestyle services to a tenants-only website could be a good way to challenge your competitors. Utilising your doorman to help with little tasks, such as booking a table at a restaurant, ordering flowers or organising something special. This could all be managed through a website, app or social media account bringing an air of luxury to your building.
All of these opportunities need not break the bank, and there are ways to deliver them within a budget. It is important to try and plan for them at the beginning of a project to ensure that they can be smoothly integrated.
We feel particularly bullish about developing digital in the BTR market to encourage longer term tenancies. Ashurst in April 2018 also addressed the importance of community experience, saying: “There is an increased focus on employees who deliver a great tenant experience, rather than simply providing the basic service. Also, residents’ feedback shows that they really value developments where there is a sense of community – and that makes them more likely to stay in a development and recommend it to friends. Therefore, increasingly, designs include facilities which encourage residents to meet informally.”
If you would like the opportunity to discuss this in further detail, CHC Digital will be attending the Innovation Show 2019 on the 7th February at stand 37.