Apartment Marketing:Bobby’s Value-Added Services Experiment

I received this message from one of our readers yesterday and wanted to share it with you because we’re big advocates of cooperating with local businesses ( think Local Trend from the Brainstorming Sessions) to make your community an even better place to live; and Bobby Turner did exactly that.  I’ve paraphrased Bobby’s original message a bit, but here’s what he shared:

My property is an A+ with tons of competition in an overbuilt market. I am not a big fan of rent concessions as they tell the prospect your true value is really less than market.
This makes it difficult to raise rates upon renewal, as most companies continually have some concession. My take is to sell value, and more specifically, a value-added amenity.

In reviewing the competition, we found that they offered a couple of amenities that we didn’t:  a gym and a tanning bed. While we could invest and add those amenities to our community, we decided on a more cost-effective approach.

We looked for local gyms and tanning salons that were high-quality enough to be in keeping with our community’s image. Gold’s Gym, the newest and closest, agreed to offer our residents membership at a reduced rate.  This relationship is great for both of us: it co-brands our community with a brand recognized for quality in fitness, and they have an opportunity to sell our residents on extras. We had similar success with a new and locally owned tanning salon!

The result is that we now offer our potential residents a choice of value added options with their lease.  They may choose a reduced deposit, or a year’s membership to the gym or tanning salon. We believe partnering with other businesses in the area will continue to make us unique and increase our value to prospects and residents, and we’re making partnering part of our marketing plan. Right now, we’re exploring the opportunity to work with a popular coffee bar, producing thermal travel mugs with both our logos that residents can present for discounted refills.  We also plan to work with local business partners for resident events, including an exclusive fashion show for “selected” guests where the partner can provide a discount for the attendees; working with a local grocery and a dietitian to provide a one time discount for particular items; an on site car wash and oil change; a golfing workshop with a local sporting goods store; and 20-minute chair massages once a week for $20.

These partnerships all have one thing in common: they’re low on cost and high on value! We’re doing all we can to foster cooperative relationships: we’re involved in the local apartment association, sporting events, chamber, and have even submitted a request to the city secretary to be on the Metro Transit Board so we can work towards a shuttle from the community… anything we can do to improve the value and resident retention.

We are excited about this concept, and though it may not be new everywhere, it’s new to our market, and we’ll use it until there is no place a resident would rather live than here.

And the benefits aren’t ONLY to the residents! Since we made partnership a key part of our image, we’ve seen improvement in the professional approach of all our team members, performance measurement standards, and accountability; the number of complaints have dropped to almost zero; and the number one reason prospects cite for visiting is “word of mouth.”

Bobby, you’re OUR inspiration!  Thanks so much for sharing your ideas and your awesome results!

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