According to the British Property Federation, there were over 70,000 Build to Rent (BTR) units in the UK at the end of 2021 after a record 14,600 completions in the preceding 12 months. With a further 140,000 units in the pipeline, the BTR market is seemingly in rude health, but as the supply continues to rise, so does the competition for tenants. It’s hard work attracting tenants, so operators need to provide stand-out resident experiences to retain them by focusing on technology, customer service and community.
Harnessing the power of technology
When it comes to enticing new residents, BTR amenities sit high on the podium. Offering state-of-the art gyms, cinema rooms, rooftop bars and office spaces at a similar price to traditional rental properties is a no-brainer for potential tenants. The problem, however, is that almost all BTR buildings offer a great range of facilities. The differentiator is how they’re run.
Using an app to reserve the cinema room to watch a sports event. Booking a spinning class in the gym on the way back from work. Registering for a cocktail-making course with the touch of a button. Seamless technology keeps residents hungry to stay. It’s the smart locks that avoid late night calls to the locksmiths. It’s the concierge portal that arranges dry-cleaning services and provides notifications when a parcel arrives. It’s simple clickable links to pay bills or extend leases. In our digital age, harnessing the power of technology to simplify the lives of residents is a surefire retention scheme.
Providing great customer service
Over the past two years, it’s safe to say that residents got to know the inside of their home better than ever before. The pandemic brought a marked appreciation of space, a preference for regularly-cleaned surfaces and an increasing need for comfort, which presents both challenges and opportunities for BTR operators.
Firstly, cleanliness is all about resident control. Enabling residents to arrange the frequency and thoroughness of their cleaning rota via an app ensures the level of housekeeping meets tenant preferences. Secondly, with more residents working from home, the need for swift resolutions to maintenance problems is paramount and an app that facilitates simple reporting and progress tracking is worth its weight in gold.
Overall, customer service revolves around responsiveness. Most guests appreciate that things go wrong - a faulty boiler, a temperamental microwave or an erratic shower, for instance - but irritation rises when they feel their request has gone unheard or even worse ignored. That’s why providing guests with direct lines of communication with both management and technicians (enabling them to converse in multiple languages with auto-translate), and addressing their request quickly, transforms maintenance from a potential tenant loser to a retention asset.
Fostering a vibrant community
Community matters. According to research by Apartment Life, tenants who have not made friends with others in their building have a 29% chance of renewing their lease, while those with more than seven friends have a 47% chance of signing again. Operators are not match-makers, but they can cultivate friendships by creating a dynamic community.
From arranging film nights in the cinema room and dance classes in the gym to hosting themed events in the lobby and supper clubs in the bar, the shared amenities in BTR properties offer operators a variety of opportunities to connect their tenants. Using a resident app keeps tenants informed of upcoming programmes and allows them to register online, chat to others and even organise their own events - which is community-building 101.
You can even leverage your channel management to bring like-minded individuals together and match profiles in the same part of the building.
Operators should not take tenant renewal for granted. With an increasing number of living choices, you should be actively working to retain residents. With an all-in-one property management system like res:harmonics - providing an easy-to-use resident app, remote operations management and streamlined comms in one unified platform - ‘active operations’ requires just a few clicks.