The Word of the Week: Sentiment
This seems to be the week where we’ve moved from reacting, and preparing, to listening and empathizing. We’re one month in, and it doesn’t appear that things are going to get easier anytime soon - just different.
The virus is spreading faster. The economy lost 7x the expected jobs. Our essential workers are exhausted out in the medical field and grocery industry. And our own employees are grateful to retain their work, passionate about helping their residents, yet also uncertain about their own safety, and mentally drained. Parents are balancing home school with work. And we’re all utilizing new online tools and resources to work remotely.
While the world binges Netflix and shows like Tiger King, I find myself binging news, data, resources, and information.
On Corporate Sentiment - I found this “All-In” post from Paul Sween at Dominium incredibly transparent, compassionate, and spot on. I appreciate that while the last three weeks have been related to prep, reaction, and holding some sense of business guidelines, this video and open letter conveys a deep sense of empathy across employees, owners, residents, and service providers.
On Employee Sentiment - Swift Bunny, a newly formed data-driven employee feedback company formed just last year by several very prominent industry experts, has designed a quick, easy, and FREE COVID-19 Employee Check-In Survey so that you can measure the well-being of your employees and identify areas where there may be more support needed.
On Resident Sentiment - J Turner, one of the industry leaders in resident surveys & satisfaction is offering a FREE survey to help you understand resident feedback on management’s handling of COVID-19. This isn’t going away anytime soon, so likely wise to provide your residents an open opportunity to help you guide your decisions and communications. You can learn more by emailing email@example.com.
On Leasing Sentiment - Prospect quantity is down considerably (25-40%), BUT, the quality is absolutely there! Common trends I have heard - relocating medical workers (consider a discount for the front line), grad students looking for May/June, job relocation due to realignment, lack of permanent residence (was staying with friends). Renters have adjusted to the new normal of needing to ask questions about virtual leasing and self-study more online. There’s no better time to adjust your auto-replies to lead to FAQ’s, virtual tours, photo galleries, and availability. Don’t assume it’s easy for renters to find on their own, give them direct links. After speaking to Brad Baar from Gramercy Group (they are responsible for leasing activity on over 600 units), the luxury lease-ups are performing well converting virtual leases with good marketing & tech tools in place. From chats with other local networks and clients, stabilized properties are seeing a fair amount of activity and fielding a lot of inquiries, but conversions aren’t quite as strong. Diligent follow-up with confidence is the name of the game. It is also quickly shifting to a renters market and prospects are wise enough to shop concessions.
On Retention Sentiment - Conditions are cause for current residents who may have been planning a summer move to stay in place. Those who are submitting notice are reporting higher rate of job relocation or moving closer to family.
On Referral Sentiment - Don’t underestimate the power of resident referrals right now. If your residents are going to be stuck at home for longer than we expected, they are more likely to be interested in referring friends/family. We all know someone who either was “crashing with a friend” and needs their own space, or who has elder family members they’d like closer right now.
On Lease Terms - Talk to your leasing teams about what they’re hearing. Short term leases (even 4-6 months) are being requested more often. Is it worth honoring these with hopes that either the lease extends, or when it returns to available inventory we’re back at market rates and "normal" conditions? Also common is the request for some sort of guarantee on satisfaction if leasing site-unseen. I have noted this previously in the creation of a “COVID Confidence Clause”.
Here are a few items I’ve been re-sharing. Kudos to those mentioned here on their creativity!
DIY Maintenance Videos - teams are finding ways to build a video library for common repairs residents could DIY. This will be incredibly valuable even after social distancing ends. Timberland Partners shared some on their Facebook Page. I love how they naturally capture the dedication by those team members to still be available for their residents. Check out their YouTube page. Many companies are doing the same!
Rent Payment Breakdown - Our onsite teams have got to be exhausted fielding questions about whether or not rent will or won’t be due in full. I have seen two visuals come across my feed that are excellent explanations about what those rent payments cover. Take a look. The pie chart credits go to Grant Collard, CEO at Redstone Residential in Utah. And the flow chart credits go to Multifamily NW Association in Oregon.
NMHC - COVID-19 Newsletter. Sign up and let all the goodness pour right into your email box.
If you need a leadership pick-me-up, I recommend following Simon Sinek on LinkedIn, and Patrick Lencioni. I have been listening to brief free webinars and have been grateful for the guidance and resources. My two favorite books right now - Simon Sinek, The Infinite Game; and Patrick Lencioni, The Motive - both highly relevant right now.
And just for all the good feels! If you haven’t taken a 15 minute break to watch this… Do so this weekend! Some Good News with John Krasinski.