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4 ways to enhance communication within your building

Effective and transparent communication is an essential component in any successful relationship, and when it comes to property management, it’s no different. Having an easy way to communicate with residents ensures you are keeping them engaged and increasing the likelihood that they will renew their tenancy.

With this in mind, here’s four ways to enhance communication within your building.

1) Clubs and Forums

One of the easiest ways to ensure resident satisfaction and reduce resident turnover in your development is to provide opportunities for residents to engage by connecting them to their neighbours. Unlike traditional social media, Spike Living can only be accessed by residents, ensuring that they are talking with genuine residents in their building, without being at risk from scammers and strangers. 

Research by Apartment Life found that the more friends a resident has within their building, the more likely they are to renew their tenancy. Without any friends living in their community, residents only have a 29% chance of renewing. That number jumps to 38% if they have 1-3 friends, and if they have 7 or more friends, there’s a 47% likelihood that they’ll renew.

The Clubs feature in Spike Living gives residents the opportunity to meet others within their building who share similar interests. From book clubs, to gaming clubs or even cultural clubs, residents can find a sense of belonging – often leading to longer tenancies. Through Forums, residents are able to engage in community discussions, share recommendations and further promote a sense of community within the building.

 2) Events

A great way to encourage in-person communication in buildings is through organising events. Spike Living enables both staff and residents to organise their own events to encourage gatherings and social interaction between each other.

From icebreakers for university students to Christmas parties, organising events can bring residents together and further boost resident engagement, helping residents to feel truly part of the community.

Spike Living also allows events to be ticketed and chargeable, allowing staff to easily understand what events are getting the most engagement, and how many residents to expect, as well as providing an opportunity to raise additional revenue.

3) Staff Communication

According to NMHC and Kinglsey’s 2020 Apartment Resident Preferences Report, 31% of residents who do not choose to renew their tenancy are seeking better apartment management. 

Communication with residents can be enhanced through a variety of features within the Spike Living portal. From push notifications informing residents about important maintenance and safety announcements to enabling residents to directly message the concierge or reception staff, encouraging faster responses.

By offering residents a mobile portal, you are providing them with a central place to communicate with you. Rather than being constantly bombarded with phone calls or emails,  you can simply review and respond to all queries that have come through via the portal.

4) Maintenance Communication

Having an easy way to report issues was seen as a key contributor to resident satisfaction, as referenced in almost 1 in every 5 reviews according to HomeViews 2021 Build to Rent report.

One of the most time-consuming parts of a property manager’s job is the handling of maintenance issues, with minor issues turning into major ones if they aren’t dealt with quickly and efficiently. Without an easy and simple way for residents to report maintenance issues, they can often go unreported.

Resident portals like Spike Living speed up the communication in these instances and allow residents to quickly provide your maintenance staff with a clear picture of the task ahead, with residents even able to attach photos of the issue so maintenance staff can diagnose the fault ahead of time, increasing the likelihood of fixing the issue in their first visit.

Summary

As competition within the rental sector increases, communication and customer service will play an ever-important role. Developments that do not offer an easy way for residents to easily communicate with staff and each other run the risk of falling behind. Spike Living makes communication within developments much easier and more efficient than ever, ultimately improving resident satisfaction and reducing turnover.

Want to learn how our award-winning Spike Living resident engagement portal can enhance communication and resident satisfaction in your property? Request a one-to-one demo below!

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Changing residents’ behaviour is the key to meeting net zero targets

Latest research has revealed that encouraging residents to make more sustainable decisions in their accommodation can help to reduce a building’s carbon emissions by up to 35%. An independent study entitled Changing Behaviours, conducted in collaboration by ASK4, Utopi and Spike Global, investigates the behaviour of residents living across a range of residential housing to determine how their energy use can affect net zero targets. The research focuses on the barriers currently preventing residents making a switch to more sustainable behaviours, the importance of education, and the role behavioural science and technology can play in reducing energy consumption.

The research reveals that 65% of millennials and 70% of Gen-Z, would be prepared to make major changes to their own lifestyles to combat climate change. The report also looks into the challenges the wider residential sector faces when it comes to energy efficacy and examines the best methods to reduce excess energy consumption. Strategies that encourage residents to conform to the wider group can be used to promote sustainable behaviour too. Delivering energy usage statistics and data directly to the end user in comparison to their neighbours’ energy consumption can result in a more considered approach to the amount of energy they use, ultimately leading to a reduction in carbon emissions.

As part of the research, Utopi compared two identical electrically heated student flats, one of which was heated between 18-22 degrees Celsius, with the other heated between 25-30 degrees. At the end of a six-month period, data revealed that the overheated flat used 1670% more electricity – equivalent to an additional £1474, or 1.65 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide.

Ben Roberts, Co-Founder & CMO of Utopi comments: “Excess energy consumption is a longstanding source of frustration within the residential market, and in particular within the PBSA sector which is why it’s crucial to communicate residents’ own energy use in a way that is clear and easy to understand. For example, students will often open a window or turn on a fan before turning down the heating, leading to unnecessary waste. Our own research reveals a real need to balance student freedom of behaviour with the need to meet carbon emissions and energy costs targets, and it is clear that turning the heating down by just a few degrees can save hundreds of pounds and reduce our carbon footprint.”

Jonny Wootten, Marketing Director at Spike Global, comments: “Industry net zero targets are inextricably linked to residents’ own energy and water consumption. As we enter a cost of living and ecological crisis there is a real emphasis on how we begin the conversation to empower residents to take positive action and reduce their energy waste. Not everyone may fully understand all the jargon, such as what a kilowatt hour means. We use resident portals to engage and educate residents directly, in a way that’s easy to understand.”

The report found that turning the heating up by three points in an average apartment can double the amount of electricity consumed. This poses a serious challenge for the PBSA sector, which relies on the ‘all-inclusive bills’ model to attract students. While 70% of students found all-inclusive bills to be a key desirability factory in their property search, damning data shows that students use up to 35% more electricity than accommodation where utilities are billed separately.

Jess Glover, Head of Marketing at ASK4, comments: “Clearly there is an ‘out of sight, out of mind’ attitude. There is a stark need for education in the PBSA sector, and the solution begins with raising awareness of residents’ energy use via easy to access data.”

This data helps residents recognise and understand their patterns of energy and water usage, and crucially compare their results to others. As one resident cited in the research: “we can only know [how to reduce our consumption] if they make us aware of [it] and the operators don’t do that”.  The research found that this approach is most successful when data is presented in an empowering manner that is easy, attractive, timely and social. One resident added: “You need to compare with something or someone. Without comparison of how you are doing, you don’t know how to interpret your usage.”

Furthermore, there is mounting evidence to suggest that investing in developing a community not only enhances the resident experience – it can also lead to better outcomes. Research revealed that residents will behave in a way that benefits the collective if they feel attracted to where they live. If people feel like they are part of a wider community tackling climate change, they are more likely to join the movement. The use of resident portals offers an effective way to foster a sense of belonging within a building.

Jonny Wootten adds: “Resident portals can be customised to include handy tips such as location of recycling bins, alongside energy use messaging, making it easy for residents to make small sustainable changes to the way they live. Pair this with personalised messaging to motivate the end user, and timely prompts are provided when residents are most likely to be receptive, and residentially providers could make great strides to meet their own ESG targets”

                                                                   Download your free copy of the report below:
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What to look for in a Residents’ Portal?

With the Build to Rent sector expected to increase fivefold over the next decade, operators will need to ensure that they have the right technology in place to meet the growing expectations and demands of residents.

With 92% of residents preferring digital communications, it has become a necessity to provide an easy way to manage their tenancy. In fact, developments that already have a residents’ portal in place typically achieve higher ratings as referenced in HomeViews’ 2022 National Build to Rent Report.

It’s not only residents that benefit – The Samanage State of Workplace Survey found that workers spend an average of 520 hours a year on repetitive services and tasks that could easily be automated. Having effective property management software in place can help alleviate redundant tasks, reduce inefficiency, and put more productive hours into your property manager’s day.

With that in mind, here are the top five features your Residents’ Portal should have:

1. Maintenance Management

One of the most time-consuming parts of a property manager’s job is the handling of maintenance issues, and without an easy and simple way for residents to report them, maintenance problems can often go unreported, with seemingly small problems at risk of turning into serious repairs.

Having a residents’ portal like Spike Living in place can speed up the reporting of issues, with residents able to quickly provide maintenance staff with a clear picture of the task ahead, and even attach photos of the issue so maintenance staff can diagnose the fault ahead of time, increasing the likelihood of fixing the issue in their first visit.

Property managers can also benefit from Spike Living’s powerful reporting module, allowing them to spot any building-wide issues to do with material defectives or poor workmanship such as faulty taps or leaking showers.

2. Bookings Tool

With onsite gyms, games rooms, dining spaces, and a host of other amenities becoming the new norm in residential developments, having an easy way for residents to book and interact with these spaces without requiring staff interaction increases the probability of them being used. Feedback gained by HomeViews for their 2021 Build to Rent report gave examples where residents were frustrated about having to email reception to book onsite amenities, which makes accessing them a lot more laborious than it needs to be.

Having the ability to access a residents’ portal via a smartphone app allows a room to be booked with a few taps, turning what could be a cumbersome process into a seamless experience. Furthermore, these spaces can also be chargeable, with payments being taken at the time of booking, helping to increase additional revenue for an operator.

Finally, on-site staff are likely already running regular social events for residents. With Spike Living, community managers can communicate and promote the details of the event, and drive all bookings via the residents’ portal, providing an easy way to understand how many residents to expect and helping to understand what events are getting the most engagement.

3. Parcel Management Solution

Although often overlooked, parcel rooms and delivery management solutions play an important role in the resident experience, with 13% of reviews specifically talking about how useful this was in the 2022 HomeViews Report.

Having an easy and efficient way to manage deliveries is becoming increasingly important as global online retail sales are expected to reach £515 trillion by 2023, with the growing volume of packages now being delivered to homes.

With Spike Living, staff scan packages as they arrive which then sends a notification to the relevant resident informing them that a package is ready to be collected. This saves staff from having to manually message residents individually.

What’s more, Spike has formed a strategic alliance with Quadient, a major global parcel locker operator and leading customer communications technology provider. By integrating Parcel Pending by Quadient lockers into the Spike Living portal, there is no need for residents to have two separate apps if their building has lockers installed. Instead, residents will receive a notification through the Spike Living portal with a unique code to gain access to their parcel, giving them peace of mind that their package is secure.

4. Streamline Resident Communication

Great communication between residents and property managers is important to making everyone feel welcome. Property managers should consider the effectiveness of sending emails and physical flyers which can be easily ignored. Instead, having a residents’ portal that allows for push notifications to be sent directly to a resident’s mobile phone is a more effective way of keeping residents updated and engaged.

Feedback gained by HomeViews for their 2021 Build to Rent report found that residents that had previous experience using resident portals instantly recognised how useful they would be in their new buildings. Residents who did not have access to a portal also believed it would help issues be resolved quicker.

The benefits aren’t just in allowing residents to have instant access to property managers, resident portals also provide property managers with an opportunity to be proactive, such as notifying residents when a lift is out-of-service, promoting onsite events, or more importantly, sending out an urgent push notification informing tenants within minutes about an immediate danger, such as a fire in their block, so they can take the necessary action like evacuating the building.

Creating ongoing, positive touchpoints with your residents helps you to build a sense of belonging, improve resident satisfaction, and increase the likelihood of renewals.

5. Community Engagement

Research by Apartment Life found that the more friends a resident has within a building, the more likely they are to renew their tenancy. Without any friends living in their community, residents only have a 29% chance of renewing. That number jumps to 38% if they have 1-3 friends, and if they have 7 or more friends, there’s a 47% likelihood that they’ll renew.

Spike Living allows residents to create their own clubs and forums, allowing residents to find like-minded people who share similar interests. We’ve seen residents start their own book clubs, and even arrange communal BBQs and beer tasting classes, to questions being asked on utilities and hairdresser recommendations to where to find the best pint.

Unlike traditional social media, Spike Living can be building-specific, enabling residents to meet like-minded people in their building, without being at risk from scammers and strangers. By utilising the ‘around me’ feature, much-needed visibility can be provided to smaller businesses, encouraging residents to explore what’s on their doorsteps. Property Managers can also partner with local shops and restaurants to offer residents exclusive discounts and incentives, all via their residents’ portal.

Summary

As the Build to Rent sector continues to grow at pace, it has become imperative that operators have the right property management solutions in place. By providing a centralised platform to manage all residents’ needs whether that’s handling package deliveries, booking the onsite amenities, or raising maintenance issues, this ensures operators are providing a level of service that residents have become used to and now expect. With an average engagement rate of 87% across its portals, Spike Living is proven to help residents truly live their best lives.