“Resident experience is paramount above all else,” Alex Gooch, Head of Build to Rent, Inventory Hive.
Be it boosting resident satisfaction, cementing customer loyalty or improving brand advocacy, resident experience holds the keys to many revenue benefits for operators. Starting long before residents move in, you have the opportunity to enhance the resident experience from customers’ first touchpoint all the way through to check-out and beyond.
At our recent webinar jointly hosted by our integration partner Inventory Hive, our CEO at res:harmonics, Giles Horwitch-Smith, had an open discussion about the vital importance of resident experience and how coliving operators can improve the resident journey. Giles was joined by Alex Gooch, Head of Build to Rent at Inventory Hive, Rob Birch, Head of Operations at Gravity Co-living, and host Mitch Handley, Marketing Manager at Inventory Hive.
From chewing over the key benefits, challenges and misconceptions around coliving to weighing up the impact of seamless inventories and coliving management software, here are the five key takeaways from the insightful discussion.
1. Customer expectations
Inventories have an outsized impact on the entire resident experience, enabling operators to set and manage high customer expectations at the start and end of the resident journey (when customers are most likely to leave a review). Using coliving management software to send incoming residents an audited, digital inventory report shows that operators care about the building and its inhabitants. This not only makes incoming residents feel appreciated, but instils a sense of responsibility about the building too. Gravity Co-Living usually sends the inventory 1-2 days before move-in to give a great first impression to its coliving spaces. At check-out, a signed inventory also manages expectations. Operators can use their PMS to share time-stamped photos in advance of a resident’s departure, which gives them time to resolve any issues (i.e. clean carpet stains) or prepares them for a deposit reduction that means they don’t leave your property with any animosity.
‘Inventories have so much potential to affect the whole stay as you can start on the right foot and leave no bitter taste at the end. A slick inventory process helps us respect resident’s emotions, but also deal in facts, so there’s no issues,’ Rob Birch, Head of Operations at Gravity Co-Living.
2. Automated communication
Miscommunication is a one way ticket to resident frustration. On the flip side, great comms between guests and hosts from the beginning of the interaction creates a sense of community and trust.
Be it setting out the house rules through automated emails or providing live chat support when using an online booking portal, personalised correspondence at multiple touchpoints helps operators boost resident satisfaction and retention. What’s more, automated comms technology takes away the admin for operators, and frees up their time to focus on providing for the community. This means you can put more time and energy into community facilitation - a vital activity in coliving and long-stay hospitality. Using a property management system enables you to effectively manage small properties with off-site teams, so you can maintain great resident communication as you scale.
‘It’s been great using res:harmonics. The amount of time that res:harmonics saves us is unbelievable. We haven’t had to expand our team as much as we thought as this technology helps us be agile and we can spend that time hearing about our members,’ Rob Birch, Head of Operations at Gravity Co-Living.
3. Data collection
The key to personalising the resident experience? Data collection. Operators can use coliving management software not only to provide excellent features for residents, such as a guest app to report maintenance issues and see bills, but to also capture lots of information about their stay (i.e. the events they’re interested in) so operators can better segment and serve your customers.
For example, if you have more sports enthusiasts or foodies in one location, you can host more events tailored to those preferences. If someone has had multiple maintenance requests, you know why they're upset and can work to resolve that. As every property location is different and your resident community changes throughout the year, data enables you to understand the current tenants and treat them as individuals, as well as a collective.
‘We’re making data-driven decisions to make sure we’re offering what our tenants want. We listen, we adapt and we grow together,’ Rob Birch, Head of Operations at Gravity Co-Living.
4. Community adaptation
In coliving, community majorly influences the resident experience. But, just getting lots of people together doesn’t build a community. Operators need to think about who you’re looking after in each location and remain agile to a changing resident base. From setting up events, such as community dinners, to collaborating with local businesses, such as coffee shops, breweries and yoga studios, use resident feedback and data captured by a coliving management software to facilitate and improve the community experience.
For instance, there is a common misconception that coliving is just for students or young professionals, but even within those customer segments, there are many different types of communities. Spelkollektivet in Sweden, for example, is a coliving and coworking space dedicated to gamers and software developers.
‘It’s important to facilitate community as it won’t just happen organically. You need to get customers in, understand their needs, build that data and then guide that community as it starts growing,’ Rob Birch, Head of Operations at Gravity Co-Living.
5. Impeccable upkeep
At the end of the day, it doesn't matter what you do from a community perspective if you fail on the property management side. Pipes have leaks, buildings have breakages, carpets have stains, but it’s how you manage them that affects resident experience. In general, guests are dissatisfied when maintenance jobs takes a long time to resolve or they feel their requests are being ignored. Integrating coliving management software with digital inventories not only helps operators catch issues early, but also maintains great communication with the client as issues get sorted.
For instance, performing a mid-term inspection using res:harmonics and Inventory Hive will proactively address impending maintenance or housekeeping issues. This maintains building upkeep and resident wellbeing, as well as saving money in the long-term. What’s more, pre move-out inspections - i.e. 4-6 weeks before - can reduce end-of-stay void periods by enabling operators to pre order parts or contractors for a quick turnaround.
‘We used to have a 5-day guaranteed void period at check-out as we didn’t know the condition of the unit. With Inventory Hive’s pre move-out inspections, we can now do a two-day turnaround. We have saved about 700 days of additional revenue across our portfolio thanks to that,’ Rob Birch, Head of Operations at Gravity Co-Living.
Better resident experience = better operator experience
“Setting out the level of service to be expected is great for retention, great for satisfaction and creates a brand you can trust,” Giles Horwitch-Smith, CEO, res:harmonics
Whether it’s repeat custom, renewed contracts, easier operations or just bringing a smile to residents’ faces, improving the guest experience improves the operator experience too. It makes it easier to scale your business too - since launching in 2019, Gravity Co-Living now offers 200+ rooms across five locations. Reach your growth goals without enlarging your operations team, and make your job more satisfying along the way. Providing better resident experience is a win-win.
*Inventory Hive is integrated with res:harmonics and used by Gravity Co-Living.