Midsummer Multifamily Reflections: Securing Leases During COVID-19
by LCP360, on Jul 24, 2020 12:00:00 PM
A lot has happened since the beginning of 2020, and the multifamily industry has surely been on a rollercoaster ride. From sudden shifts in strategy, budget changes, and adapting to new technology to combat the challenges the coronavirus, multifamily professionals have seen their fair share of highs and lows.
As we reached the middle of summer, it's time to reflect and possibly adjust strategy in areas that may not have had a lot of attention due to COVID-19. It may also be time to reflect on new approaches as a result of the pandemic to see if those changes are working or if other areas need testing.
What follows is a breakdown of some areas where you can reflect on your multifamily marketing.
Analyze pre-COVID goals and adjust
Your marketing team’s pre-COVID goals were likely different than they are now. At this point, if you haven’t adjusted your marketing strategy and goals, analyze your plan from Q1 and adjust to the situation of the current market.
Here are a few things to consider when outlining your COVID marketing plan and goals:
- Unemployment in America: Toward the end of summer when unemployment benefits begin to run out for most Americans, you should prepare for less rent collections and growth to subside. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment sits at 11.1% (as of July 2020). This will likely reshape your marketing strategy through the rest of the summer and the year. Experts believe paying attention to past recessions can also help guide multifamily professionals in their budget decisions and overall marketing goals.
- Current renter needs and wants: The minds of renters are changing rapidly with the COVID-19 crisis. Renters now, more than ever, are looking for discounts, crave technology, want contactless delivery, but still desire social connections. Your marketing goals should be framed around the current wants and needs of incoming residents.
- Increased activity online: Internet activity has skyrocketed in recent months, simply because many of us are home more often, or spending our time a little differently. If you’ve cut back on your pre-covid marketing efforts or cut budgets in any way, it’s possible you may need to reevaluate. Best posting times have changed, activity has increased and popular topics have also shifted. Read more about how COVID has changed social media engagement.
Advertise your community’s best safety features
Now is the time more than ever to be highlighting features and practices in your community that set you apart.
Whether that’s keyless entry, security cameras, or perhaps even your disinfecting procedures. If you’ve recently changed or upgraded your cleaning procedures, inform prospects either of this on your website, or with a digital hand-out.
This kind of information may not have once been important to share, but prospects will appreciate knowing that their new home is clean and looking out of the health of residents and staff.
Promote your location (and the working from home lifestyle)
It was once about how close the subway or bus stop was, but now it’s about dog parks, bike trails and delivery proximity.
It has always been about location, location, location, but with novel coronavirus changing the way city dwellers and suburbanites live and work, it’s time to highlight what makes your location so special in the pandemic era.
There’s been a lot of talk lately that people are flocking to the suburbs in light of COVID-19. That thought here is that people want to spread out, but the data shows a different story.
According to Zillow, 64% of homebuyers are looking in the suburbs, which is a number that hasn't changed much in recent years. So, really not much is changing.
No matter where your multifamily community is located, the key here is to really start highlighting your location’s best features that align with current trends. Ask your team, what are people doing right now? While the national average of pet adoptions has decreased during the coronavirus, there has not been an increase in surrendering animals and some Tri-State areas are even reporting an uptick in adoptions. Meanwhile, more Americans than ever are working from home.
That means dog parks, walkable outdoor recreation areas and nearby coffee shops and stores are a must.
Perhaps for city communities, you should highlight the surrounding neighborhoods, dog parks, and trails, letting people know that they can still get outside (and get away) even in the city. For suburbs, highlight the nearest recreational spots and how close the nearest grocery store is.
Amenities will also slowly begin to open back up and in-apartment technology will soon take off with the increase in working from home. Be sure to put these topics at the top of your marketing list.
Create cost-saving incentives for prospects and current residents
COVID-19 has prevented a lot of tenants from moving to new apartments, leaving a lot of units unoccupied. Use this time to offer incentives to residents with a referral program and advertise to prospects on your website about cost-saving opportunities.
As unemployment continues to soar, renters are looking for deals right now and will turn away communities who aren’t offering some sort of discount. If you’re offering any discounts or a referral program, keep this front and center of your marketing and website to attract renters. Referral programs are also creative ways to keep your current residents happy by offering them referral incentives.
Go digital and stay digital
The reality is that COVID-19 is not going any time soon. In fact, it’s probably here to stay. We will learn to live with it and control it, but in order to do so, new practices will come into play.
Virtual tours for apartments, guided tours, and video conferencing are a few tools that only skim the surface of new technology needed to help renters feel safe and comfortable in their apartment decision.
Not to mention, these kinds of tools also help keep on-site residents and staff safe by mitigating the amount of foot traffic in a building.
Consider what kind of tools you’re currently using and analyze what’s working and what could use some adjusting as we head out of the summer months.
Lastly, reconsider your goals. If it's lead generation, look for technology that is framed around securing more leads. If it's simply to offer a better online experience, look for virtual tours that are high-quality, effective experiences for the end user.
The coronavirus will be around for the foreseeable future, and it's time to adapt and focus on initiatives that can help you move forward.
Download our latest Multifamily Coronavirus Response Survey to see how multifamily professionals are taking on the challenge of COVID-19 in their communities.