Make Yourself Useful This Covid Season By Doing These 6 Things for Your Multifamily Community

I sit on the couch. A lot. Watching TV? Couch. Eating? Couch. Avoiding a workout? You guessed it. Couch. And just when I thought I couldn’t become more proficient in habitual couch sitting, a national coronavirus house arrest actually encouraged me to be a homebody. Challenge accepted? More like challenge welcomed

“Wow. Look at how pronounced Nick’s couch hole got. All this time, I thought he was just sitting here… he was making something.” 

-Jessica Day, New Girl

While I’m as supportive of couch potato tendencies as they come, I believe that there need not be a stereotype of laziness associated with frequent living room dwellers. In fact, a study of a California-based company revealed its staff was experiencing a 47% boost in collective productivity while working remotely. A two-year study of China’s largest travel agency likewise discovered a 13% increase in output amidst remote employees. See, productivity and working from home CAN fondly coexist. 

With that in mind, here’s what you need to know: 

  • Yes, the world looks different because we’re cooped up at home.
  • No, your duties in the multifamily industry have not stopped. 
  • So, if you wish to be a productive and useful person despite the weirdness of the world, you’ll want to explore the following suggestions. 

Create community networks

According to a recent webinar hosted by MultifamilyBiz, a neighborhood social network, NextDoor, has seen an 80% increase in daily activity over the last thirty or so days. Why? Despite the fact that in-person hangouts during a pandemic are icky, everyone— including your residents— is still looking to feel connected with their surrounding community. 

While I am encouraging you to be productive, I’m not telling you to go out and create a community platform on your own. People have already done that— LittleBird, Henri, and Livly have done it quite well actually. 

Tip: While navigating different residential community technologies, look for solutions that allow residents to communicate with each other, you to make property-wide announcements, and resident to connect with local businesses and stores.

Whip up some content marketing

On the note of wanting to feel connected, our current no-touch culture has caused a significant disturbance in the marketing force. Because everyone’s looking to be in the know, people are spending boatloads of time soaking up social media  *surprise*, mowing through news articles, and bombarding Google searches. Consequently, heaps of marketing strategists, according to Kerry Kirby, CEO of 365 Connect, are yanking dollars from ad budgets and instead putting cash behind content marketing. 

As a quick and dirty definition, content marketing revolves around creating and sharing useful content that’s not so much focused on pounding sales, but rather it works to kindle a lil’ spark of interest in your product and services. We’re talking blog posts, training videos, PDFs, etc. Creating and distributing useful content that’s relevant to your property allows you to control conversations about your brand as you increase customer interest and establish credibility. And here’s the kicker: by requiring viewers to offer their email addresses in order to access your content, you can use content marketing as a lead generator. By offering “gated content”, you create a way for customers to willingly offer their email addresses, which are “one of the most sacred, personal things people possess,” according to Donald Miller, author of Building a Story Brand.  

Groom your website

Equally connected to the oodles of time folks are spending wandering through Google and social media, now is the time to groom the heck out of your website. Before you get all hung up on wondering what it means to actually have a good website, consider what the aforementioned smart guy (Donald Miller) outlines in Building a Story Brand as the five components of an engaging, conversion-creating website:

  • An offer above the fold: Content above the fold of your website refers to the stuff a reader can see before they start scrolling. If I go to your site and don’t see a strong, deliberate statement of what you offer, such as “We offer a comfortable, affordable living community that works for your budget” or “Our apartments feature the top-tier amenities you deserve and desire”, you best fix that. Potential renters need to know what you offer from the get-go. 
  • Obvious calls to action: You’ll want to place an obvious call to action in two locations above the fold of your site: the top right corner and the center of the screen. Bold and obvious “Schedule a Tour” or “Apply Now”  buttons, for example, give viewers a crystal clear indication of their next steps. 
  • Images of Success: Images of your property are cool and all, but renters, like all consumers, want to know how their life would be transformed by choosing your over another option. While you can feature property pictures later on your site, the big and bold images above your site’s fold ought to be people enjoying your amazing dog park, engaging with your uber-friendly staff, or sharing a meal in one of your unit’s boujee kitchens. 
  • Bite-sized breakdowns of your revenue streams: You want to steer the audience directly to the way in which your property can serve them (and in turn, make you money). For you, this could look like a search filter tool, a categorization of the types of units you offer, etc. 
  • Very few words: Lord help us all if you have a paragraph above the fold of your website. While it’s totally okay to explain yourself further as a potential renter peruses your site, the beginning of it should only contain concise, on-script text. That’s it. No más.

“Why waste time say lot word when few word do trick”

-Kevin Malone, The Office

Not only do these things matter if you’re looking to bring on new renters, they’ll also help you out come 2021 when Google releases its new Page Experience algorithm. Upon its launch, your site will rank in search results according to UX factors such as interactivity, load time, intrusive ads, and mobile experience. 

Update outdoor amenities 

People don’t want to hang out together inside because germs. You don’t want people hanging out inside because you don’t need a Covid outbreak in your community. The solution? Outdoor amenities— have good ones, that is. Patios, balconies, dog parks, and courtyards open the door to good ol’ spread out, vitamin-D-filled socialization. 

Oh, and if you’re going to do the work of sprucing up your amenities, you may as well go the full nine yards by incorporating some kind of amenity scheduling plan. Doing so will allow you and your residents to feel comfortable with the number of people using your amenities. Again, please don’t do more work than you have to. LittleBird and Respage have already built out platforms that allow you to schedule amenity availability so you can block off cleaning time and limit occupancy to your heart’s content. 

Invest in z-wave smart tech

If you haven’t already, it’s time to ditch WiFi-dependent smart tech and opt for Z-Wave smart tech instead. Please. Allow me to begin with the biggest reason why you should care about this during Covid season: because so many stinkin’ people are working from home, the last thing you need is smart tech hogging all of your WiFi. Dumping WiFi-dependent smart tech does your residents a favor by getting rid of clutter that slows down and janks up the WiFi they depend on for their conference calls, Netflix bingeing, and everything in between. 

Simply put, Z-Wave tech avoids WiFi-cloggage because it operates using a secure mesh network that functions via low-energy radio waves that communicate between devices. In other words, Z-Wave uses an entirely different communication language, thus leaving your WiFi function unscathed. 

If that’s not convincing enough for you, consider these mildly frightening scenarios that could be prevented with the use of Z-Wave tech. 

Scenario 1: Because it’s a sensible and relatively easy way to uphold basic security measures, you decide one Friday afternoon to undergo a routine property WiFi password update. Now your Friday sucks because each and every WiFi-enabled smart device must be reprogrammed. Yikes. 

Z-wave tech continuously operates regardless of WiFi changes. 

Scenario 2: Because you use WiFi (a commonly hacked thing) to connect all of the smart devices in your property, the guy sitting in a basement who managed to break into your WiFi server just gained the ability to lock and unlock every resident’s front door as he pleases. Super fun. 

Z-wave, which already has stronger security proficiency, also allows devices within a unit to connect to each other while simultaneously keeping each unit separate from one another. 

“Hire” chatbots 

Last but not least, Covid season is a wonderful time to make an addition to your personnel: chatbots. Because so many people, likely yourself included, are somewhat disinterested in unnecessary human interactions, investing in a technology that can handle prospective resident thoughts, questions, and concerns makes a whole lot of sense. 

Kerry Kirby (reminder, he’s the 365 Connect CEO guy we talked about earlier) explains that these adaptable little things can be taught to answer prospects’ need-to-know questions. They can also guide prospects to their next actionable step (for example, by encouraging them to apply) and schedule tours. These benefits, of course, can all take place 24/7 because AI robots don’t sleep. Just thought I would clarify.  

My challenge to you

While I don’t know how long the coronavirus plans on camping out here, I do know that working through these worthwhile activities for your property will take a hot minute. Sure, I’m not a fan of the connotation generally implied by the phrase “the new normal”; however, just think about how much you could advance your property if you worked to make these six improvements part of your multifamily community’s new normal. That sounds like a pretty big brain move to me. 

And with that, allow me to offer you this motivational sendoff: Take heart, go work on these things, and be the productive couch potato I always knew you could be. 

P.S.- I wrote this while sitting on the couch. 

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