The holidays are a season of giving, a season of camaraderie, and a season of community!
When you’re the manager of a multi-family building, it can be challenging to infuse the spirit of the season throughout your property. Neighbors often begin as strangers, and cold weather doesn’t inspire chats at the mailbox or from across the hall. But as a professional, you understand the value of community building as a tool to reduce tenant turnover, stabilize rent, and achieve your target ROI. And as a human being, you also understand that community can be the difference between a house and a home. Especially at the holidays.
Luckily, there are distinct steps that community development professionals recommend to promote social engagement among neighbors. They’re known at the four T’s: Trust, Team, Transparency, and Time.
Here are the four easy steps for creating a sense of community among your renters this holiday season.
Before your tenants can buy into their community, they need to be able to trust the framework. As the cornerstone of the community, that begins with you. Reach out to your tenants directly. Stay visible throughout the year. And remind residents that you care. Celebrate anniversaries with them instead of leaving a cold note stating when their new lease should be signed. Say thank you when they’ve helped you mitigate an issue. Deliver holiday cards or small gifts to their door.
A great way to create trust among neighbors is to have spaces set up that are designed for socialization. Designate an indoor or outdoor space—or both, if possible!—as a community center. This could be a greenspace with a few picnic tables, a community pool, an indoor lending library, or whatever works best for your property. Consider the interests and needs of your tenants and offer a space that appeals to as many people as possible. Most importantly, offer both structured opportunities (see below) and spontaneous opportunities for social engagement.
The best way to bring people together is to set up regular events everyone will want to attend. This can be a casual program, like a monthly mixer or holiday potluck. Or it could be a more structured event. A few great examples include guided meditation class, trivia night, or mixology classes. Are pets allowed on your property? Consider a dog training seminar. Some events could even be held remotely, like a virtual fitness class. While not ideal for generating small talk, virtual events could still help residents become familiar with each other’s faces.
Are the young parents or professionals in your building too busy for structured events? Consider hosting a fun contest instead. (We’re big fans of pet costume contests.) You could also initiate community drives, like a food drive, book drive, or winter coat drive. These are win-wins because they assist the greater community while promoting community closer to home.
Now that you’ve brought the residents together as a community, it’s up to you to remain transparent about the future of the community moving forward. Create a social network group, such as a Facebook group, where you can share information that’s relevant to all. In addition to offering transparency, the group will also allow neighbors to reach out to and share with each other. And it’s a great place to publicly recognize onsite staff or neighbors who are going the extra mile.
Whether through the group or elsewhere, provide a way for tenants to reach out about maintenance needs. And be sure to keep an open line of communication with your maintenance team; in many cases, they become privy to information residents aren’t comfortable sharing with you directly. Lastly, encourage community feedback. If you’re open and honest about your capabilities and limitations, you’re more likely to get valuable and helpful feedback about what your tenants need or want to see from the building moving forward.
This last tip is the hardest, just because there’s no way to rush it. Friendships don’t blossom overnight. Trust doesn’t happen just because you will it. And communities don’t flourish at the drop of a hat. Give community development your best effort this holiday season, but don’t be discouraged if it’s not perfect. Ask for more feedback, and direct next year’s efforts more toward what your renters say they want to see. And we guarantee that by next Christmas, you’ll see a rich and vibrant community thriving among your tenants!
Succeed at Multi-family Commercial Real Estate
There are many advantages to owning multi-family properties. From ease of financing to the income they generate over time, multi-family CRE could be a great investment for you. And what’s more, it’s a great way to make a difference in the small community of renters under your care.
Are you ready to learn more? Reach out to an NAI Beverly-Hanks commercial real estate agent today.