How does an apartment syndicator earn back-to-back “Rental Owner of the Year” awards and obtain a 5-star Facebook review rating for their apartment portfolio?
The answer: foster a community.
You foster a community by implementing marketing strategies that will create an atmosphere in which people want to live. A place where residents are engaged in the community. Where neighbors know each, respect each other, and like each other.
The creation of this type of community is best accomplished by giving back to the residents.
At least this is the approach of Bruce Peterson, an apartment syndicator and property investor with a portfolio of over 800 units. By following this strategy, Bruce has won local and national apartment owner rewards and has achieved a 4.9 out of 5 star rating on Facebook. In our recent conversation on my podcast, he explained his exact marketing approach, which included these two creative and unique strategies.
Strategy #1 – Raffles
First, Bruce consistently hosts raffles and drawings at his apartment communities to boost the value of his rental investment and give back to residents. However, these are more than just putting the names of everyone at the community in a hat and randomly picking a winner. Because where’s the engagement in that?
Instead, Bruce, as the property investor, creates engaging activities in which residents are required to complete a task in order to be entered into the drawing.
For example, he hosts a food drive every November and a toy drive every December. Residents who drop-off an item and like the property Facebook page will be entered into a drawing. The winner will receive a turkey dinner!
Another funny, yet effective, example is a Garden Gnome Competition. Bruce purchases a garden gnome, gives it a name, and hides it on the property grounds. Residents will then search for the gnome. If they find it, take a selfie, post the selfie to their Facebook timeline and tag/mention the property Facebook page, they will be entered into a drawing. The winner receives a gift card (although, I recommend that if you replicate this strategy, you give them the gnome too!).
Strategy #2 – Demographic-Specific Events
Second is for the property investor to host demographic-specific events with the focus on adding value to their rental investment and/or fulfilling a need of their residents.
For example, after purchasing a new dog washing station at one of his properties, Bruce hosted a “Yappy Hour.” Residents could bring in their dogs for a free wash, as well as receive a token that could be used for another free wash in the future and are entered into a drawing to win gifts like doggy beds, treats, toys, and food/water bowls.
And speaking of the children, one of the most creative events Bruce hosts at another one of his properties is a “Free School Supply Giveaway” event. They reach out to the local elementary and middle schools, get the school supply lists for each grade and purchase school supplies for all of the children at the property. Then, they bring all of the school supplies into a vacant unit and purchase pizzas to giveaway. Each family comes in, grabs a piece of pizza and picks up a backpack full of their required school supplies for the year. Bruce said he’s never seen kids with bigger smiles on their faces! And he also said that this event was the main reason why he’s won “Rental Owner of the Year” awards for two years running.
Other events the 5-star property investor, the Bruce hosts at his apartment communities are:
- Cinco de Mayo: a party with a piñata, a band and an ice cream truck
- Annual Halloween costume party
- Breakfast at the Gate: a drive-through at the gate where residents are given free breakfast tacos and juice on their way to work
- Sip-N-Sweet Friday: offer free donut and coffee in the clubhouse Friday mornings
- Fiesta Party: a party with a DJ, face painter, food truck and – of course – a raffle.
For both of these marketing strategies, Bruce and his team are constantly taking pictures and videos and posting them to the respective property Facebook pages. I would recommend visiting Bruce’s website and look at the social media pages for his properties to see his company’s social media strategy.
By participating in these types of activities, events and raffles, the residents are engaged and having fun, which motivates them to not only like and leave reviews on the social media page but talk about the apartment community with their friends and colleagues.
From a financial perspective, this strategy will help you, the property investor, retain current residents and attract more leads, which directly impacts your bottom-line.
However, in order to achieve that 5-star status, you may need to rebrand the property after purchase. As a value-add apartment syndicator, we will often acquire deals that have a poor reputation (and therefore a low online rating). To move away from the previous reputation and start from scratch, we rebrand the property. That is, we change the name of the property, as well as the logo and signage.
What about you? Comment below: What types of events do you host in order to foster a community at your properties?
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this blog post are provided for informational purposes only, and should not be construed as an offer to buy or sell any securities or to make or consider any investment or course of action.