As Spike’s Community Manager, I’ve pulled together five simple things PRS operators, property managers, asset managers, developers and home builders should consider when putting together a resident engagement plan. These actions will boost engagement levels and ultimately help you nurture content, loyal residents who want to occupy your spaces for longer.
COVID-19 has disrupted every aspect of our lives. For many this change has provoked a priority shift and attitude change. In order to stay competitive, businesses must adapt to these changes and support their residents through these uncertain times.
Resident Engagement Tips
1. Think beyond traditional face-to-face events.
Six months ago events were likely a large part of your resident engagement strategy. Even with restrictions lifting, residents and staff will be cautious of mass gatherings. Despite restrictions we’ve seen some fantastic innovation with community engagement initiatives. These examples prove it’s still possible to rally together as a community, even from a safe social distance. Moda Living for example hosted a pizza night for their residents, which was launched through their Resident App, My Moda. Moda partnered with a local Italian restaurant to deliver a pizza to each resident who’d signed up, as a treat from Moda. This small act of kindness supported their local community and made residents feel less alone and supported. In the midst of lockdown this was a real boost for their community.
2. Establish open lines of communication between your staff and residents.
On-site teams play an important role in nurturing your residential community, even if they’re not onsite all the time. Residents need to feel comfortable in approaching staff about problems and/or worries, and feel issues are dealt with quickly and efficiently. After all, happy people make happy spaces and feelings of dissatisfaction can be very disruptive.
Some of our client’s have chosen to set up ‘I’m happy’ and ‘I’m not happy’ forums in their Resident Apps. Residents can then post issues or praise accordingly. Although this might sound risky it gives operators the right to reply to any complaints as a result, and keeps the problem contained. Moreover, it offers residents complete transparency which then translates into trust and loyalty.
3. Empower residents to socialise outside of organised activities.
Although organised activities and initiatives are important, there will be residents who prefer to socialise with neighbours on their own terms and in their own time. It’s important to give your resident’s choice in how they interact. Since the start of lockdown in March we’ve seen an incredible 700% rise in social interactions across our resident portals. These interactions include comments, likes and messages on social forums and clubs. We’re now seeing these digital interactions transforming into face-to-face friendships. What is even more encouraging, for instance, is that residents are now creating these forums themselves, creating micro-communities. We’ve seen everything from charity bake-sale forums to poker clubs being created as a result.
4. Listen to your residents.
Many make the mistake of assuming they know what their residents want, and create a strategy around these assumptions. As a result these efforts are often wasted. Invest in really getting to know your residents. This can be done in a number of ways; Fizzy Living created a service where residents can reach out to their buildings managers to book an hour slot to discuss their life at Fizzy. Building managers then come away with actionable insights to implement moving forward and residents feel heard. Another simple way to do this is by tracking and analysing data from your resident portal, identifying popular subjects, events, discussions and pain-points.
5. Plan, Track, Analyse, Plan
Despite the ever-changing landscape it’s still important to plan ahead when it comes to resident engagement. Our in-house Community Engagement Team put together a monthly engagement plan with our clients to map out key activities. Following this, the teams meet at the end of the month to analyse data, spot trends and make changes accordingly. This approach is instrumental in the success of portals. As a result this allows our client’s so stay one step ahead.