How to build a sense of community in your apartment building has become a more important job for many property managers in the multifamily industry. Here are 7 ways to potentially build a sense or community.
By Holly Welles
Running an apartment complex is a gift and a challenge all wrapped in one box. On one hand, you get to interact with different people every day. You provide them with a sense of home and safety in what may be an entirely new city. Tenants trust you and your skills to make your community the best in your area. It’s a big responsibility, and one every property manager should feel honored to provide.
On the other hand, property managers are responsible for the feeling of community in their apartment complex. People may live side by side, but that doesn’t mean they get the chance to know each other outside of regular work or school hours. It’s difficult for people to break their routine when they’re busy, which is where the property manager can step in.
Read on to learn some easy ways you can build a sense of community in your apartment building. Tenants will appreciate getting to know their neighbors while also being cared for by the management team. You can go all out or start with baby steps, depending on your budget, but there’s always something you can do to encourage a sense of community.
1. Designate an Outdoor Space
If your complex doesn’t have one already, find a way to designate an outdoor space for your tenants to use as a community center. This could look like a pool, a garden or even a plot of grass with some picnic tables. Many apartment communities are also building dog parks, if they have the infrastructure.
Consider the average life experiences of your tenants to determine what outdoor space they would enjoy best. You don’t want to spend your money on an amenity that tenants will likely ignore. It’s more important to build the right outdoor space than to jump to provide anything at all.
2. Set Up Regular Events
A great way to get tenants to interact with each other is to set up regular events that will make them want to step out of their possible comfort zones and meet new people. Events can be centered around fun holidays, like the Fourth of July or Halloween, so everyone can participate. Encourage tenants to come out and have fun at a cookout or networking event, for example.
When your tenants get to know each other, your business benefits. Not only will familiarity make them more considerate of each other’s space and quality of life, but you’re likely to reduce tenant turnover in the long run. Creating community events doesn’t have to be resource-intensive, and it results in connections that will help you and your tenants enjoy the rental experience more.
3. Host Contests
If you have the budget, you may want to try engaging with tenants through fun contests. Contests can range from food-drive competitions to costume contests to even who can get the most likes on a pet picture on social media.
Think about what your tenants might like and pitch ideas with the management team to come up with ideas. Your community will love the interactive side of contests without necessarily having to carve out time from their schedule to participate.
4. Create a Social-Network Page
Most businesses automatically get social-network profiles to represent themselves online. After all, people want the online experience of seeing 3D models, floor plans and pictures. In addition to your main profiles, create a unique community page where only residents are allowed into the group.
This is a great way to encourage residents to establish neighborly ties. If you manage a city rental, post local activities every week or so to see if your tenants want to form a get-together. For more suburban regions, where commutes are often 30 minutes or more, set up carpooling threads to help tenants save on driving costs. Social media is a powerful tool for helping residents feel like they have a community they can rely on.
5. Remember to Say Thanks
People need a place to live, so tenants may feel like they’re taken for granted by property managers. One way to get around this feeling and continue building a sense of community is to always remember to say thanks. Put notes on doors or in mailboxes that remind residents you care. Celebrate their six-month or one-year move-in anniversaries to show that you pay attention and value their choice to stay with you. Tenants will be pleasantly surprised to have an interactive and caring management team, leading to feelings of community and worth.
6. Communicate With Maintenance Workers
People will only admit so much to management staff. You may send out emails with surveys, asking for people to give their honest opinions about what they like and what they think should change. That doesn’t mean tenants will feel comfortable enough to be totally honest. That’s where the maintenance team comes in.
The maintenance crew has the advantage of getting one-on-one interactions with tenants. They get to hear what people like and don’t like about their apartment in very honest conversations. They’ll be able to feel out the mood of tenants regarding community upgrades or apartment changes more than office staff could. Meet with your maintenance workers and keep the line of communication open with them. They’ll provide valuable feedback you can use to keep your community tight-knit and happy.
7. Encourage Community Feedback
Whatever kind of community outreach you decide to do, make sure to encourage feedback from those who participate. A contest or event might seem like a fantastic idea to you, but would it really enjoyable for the tenants it was created for? The only way to know that is to be open to feedback.
At physical events, provide slips of paper that residents can fill out anonymously and drop in a locked box. Online events or emails can include a survey link that people can take online in just minutes. The key is to make these surveys quick and anonymous. You can always include a note that people are welcome to visit the management office during regular business hours to speak about an issue or concern more in-depth, too.
Summary: Build A Sense Of Community in Your Apartment Building
Never forget that the community is why you’re looking to do these things. Whatever event you put together, your tenants should be just as excited about it as you are. A younger generation won’t enjoy a potato-salad cookout as much as an older generation would, much like older tenants may not participate in social-media outreaches.
Consider your tenants, think about their needs and get feedback. Feedback may come from the tenants themselves or people like the maintenance crew, but it will all be valuable. You’ll quickly be able to find what your community enjoys and continue to build that sense of family between everyone in the future.
About the author:
Holly Welles writes about real estate market trends from a millennial perspective. She is the editor behind The Estate Update, a residential real estate blog, and keeps up with the industry over on Twitter @HollyAWelles