4 Ways to Promote Physical Distancing in Your Apartment Community

by LCP360, on Jun 1, 2020 8:45:00 AM

Contactless delivery. Touchless locks. Increased cleanings. The world as we know it has changed, and it’s time to adapt.

Apartment communities are in an especially vulnerable place. Apartments, unlike single family residences, are high-traffic zones with multiple families, pets and visitors. These buildings are sometimes connected to retail shops, restaurants and public spaces. What’s more, multifamily communities have elevators or narrow staircases that make physical distancing a challenge to residents.

This much we know, but how you adjust to these challenges ahead is what will set you apart and keep future residents interested in your community. The good news: solutions to these challenges have pretty much existed for a while, but they were more of a “nice-to-have” than a “need-to-have.”

As we ease into a new normal (at least for now) of physical distancing in apartment communities, we’ve outlined several ways to help you promote a safe and healthy apartment community for current residents and prospective renters.

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Make your apartment homes smarter

Smart home technology has been around for quite some time, but now it’s time to really buckle in and consider the benefits. Smart home technology isn’t just a fancy gimmick to entice future residents. More than ever, smart technology in apartment homes offer a sense of security and freedom.

Unlocking door with smart lock

Here are just a few smart home gadgets that promote physical distancing:

  1. Touchless smart locks: many smart home locks are available on the market these days. They allow residents to unlock their doors and other areas of your community with their smartphone device.
  2. Smart home surveillance: if your residents are expecting guests, give them some added security. Residents can tap into their smartphones when a guest calls from a call box outside and see the guest before allowing them in. Not only does this provide more security, it prevents your resident from having to travel to the lobby and interact with others.
  3. Touchless auto-lights: this seems like an easy one, but it’s often overlooked. Light switches are breeding grounds for germs. If we consider how many residents and guests touch light switches in community spaces, we’re simply inviting germs to spread. With automatic touchless lights that turn on or off with someone’s presence, you can easily fix a pretty common problem in your community areas.

Though there are many more smart home technology solutions on the market, these are just a few quick wins when combating the challenges of physical distancing.

Create designated contactless delivery zones

With apps like GrubHub, UberEats and Postmates (to name a few), we’ve entered an entirely new digital age for food delivery. Many restaurants are offering contactless delivery now, and this trend will probably be around indefinitely.

The challenge is that contactless delivery really only works for single family homes. In apartment communities, there aren’t always designated spots to leave a food order. This leaves delivery drivers confused, often wondering Do I leave the order on this bench? Or this table? Will the customer find their order? Do I need to stay and wait for them in the lobby?

You can argue that a resident can invite delivery drivers up to their apartment to leave the order outside the door, but that’s not always possible—or safe. Instead, having a designated delivery zone in your lobbies with signage that allows drivers to leave orders is a nice alternative that is simple, safe and easy for everyone.

Amenities closed? Offer virtual amenities instead

At home virtual workoutFitness centers, pools and clubhouses are major perks for your residents. However, many apartment communities have been forced to close their amenities temporarily.

You can still maintain a sense of community during these times by offering virtual amenities. Not only does this bring your community together, but coordinating virtual classes and online get-togethers for your residents is a nice perk (one that you can also promote to your prospects as an additional perk).

Here are just a few ideas to get you thinking about virtual amenities:

  1. Virtual wine classes: wine tasting is all the rage these days, and what better way to engage your community than host a wine tasting over a video call? There are many organizations that host wine tastings, so these events can also be sponsored.
  2. Online workout classes: fitness centers closing was probably the straw that broke the camel’s back for many residents. Consider hosting free regular online workout classes for your residents, like weekly yoga or cardio sessions. Bring in a personal trainer who can walk through fitness routines over a video call.
  3. Virtual cooking classes: with many restaurants closed, residents are at home cooking more than ever. If you have a clubhouse kitchen, you could bring in a professional chef to teach residents how to cook on a live call. Doing so on-site adds a sense of familiarity for your residents, though chefs could also video call from their own residence or business.
  4. Virtual art classes: lastly, promote a painting or DIY class for your residents. You can drop off free materials to promote attendance or encourage residents to use their own. This is a great way to engage your community in a safe and fun way.

If you’re worried about resident engagement with virtual amenities, consider ways to get more people to participate. This could be offering a giveaway during a class or event, providing the supplies needed to join, or even promoting “invite-a-friend” incentives to increase attendance.

Offer DIY maintenance alternatives

Maintenance is a nice perk to living in any apartment community. But it requires your staff to enter resident apartment homes, where germs live and spread.

While plumbing needs fixing and garbage disposals need to be repaired, not every maintenance request is an emergency. And not every request requires a professional. For requests that are battery changes, filter changes or light bulb replacements, offer DIY maintenance solutions instead.

Residents can request replacements and pick these up in a lock box or at your lobby by appointment. Or, maintenance can simply drop it off outside a resident’s door.

If maintenance must enter an apartment home, be sure to encourage residents to maintain six feet, wear a mask and sanitize the work area before work begins. The same should be done on the maintenance staff’s end.

Keep residents, prospects, and your staff safe with virtual tours

Prior to the repercussions of COVID-19, apartment communities tended to be high-traffic areas with future residents coming and going to tour and sign leases. That all has changed.

Now more than ever, multifamily professionals need to adapt to online tours. Virtual tours protect all parties involved: your residents, your staff and of course, your prospects. They also promote your multifamily marketing efforts on a grander scale, helping your reach more prospects virtually.

What’s important to note is that virtual tours should really do much more than show off your community spaces. Virtual tours should be tools that allow your leasing agents to engage with renters, take them on guided tours and analyze renter habits.

If you haven’t yet invested in apartment virtual tours, we can help. Our virtual tour software, Panoskin, is accessible and has received a 100% score from Google's Lighthouse Accessibility tool—not to mention its light-weight content viewers that showcase 360s, still photographs and video content on your apartment website. Learn more about our virtual tours available for apartments.

In our new normal, face your challenges head on

A new normal is setting one. A new normal for renters, a new way of life for those who live in apartments, and a take on business for multifamily professionals like yourself. A lot has changed in just a matter of 90 days, but now is not the time to recoil.

As we mentioned at the beginning of this article, there are solutions to the problems that lie ahead. Technology has advanced for many years, almost ominously preparing our lives for physical distancing measures. Virtual tours exist to help you market your properties. Smart home devices exist for you to promote safer, healthier habits for on-site staff and residents.

Start considering what makes sense for the size of your community. Think about how to retain residents and refine your leasing strategy for the months and years ahead.

Let us know how we can help. Contact us today to get in touch and learn more about our virtual tour technology.