Amenity Experts Keep Developers From Wasting Money On Perks Tenants Don't Need
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In the hopes of winning the war for tenants, multifamily developers have begun shelling out for increasingly elaborate offerings in their buildings, from rooftop movie theaters to private bars and restaurants. But are luxury amenities actually a draw for residents, or just a waste of money?
“We see it all the time,” said Jean Potter, co-founder and CEO of NFC Amenity Management. “Property owners pour money into expensive, beautiful amenities only to discover that their residents have no interest in using them.”
When it comes to amenities, Potter’s mantra is “utilization drives value," and she believes that implementing innovative amenity programming is the key to driving utilization. A developer can build a gorgeous rooftop pool atop a multifamily building, but if residents are not using it, it has no value. Considering the cost of installing a rooftop pool can exceed $1M, that is a lot of money to be throwing away.
Encouraging utilization starts with choosing the right amenities for the right community. Potter said that developers may think that all tenants prioritize a rooftop lounge or a spa above all else, but that is not always the case. NFC has found that amenity preferences differ by geography, housing type and target demographic.
“All too often developers don’t realize that it’s not a one-size-fits-all system,” Potter said. “In New York, it might be about fitness centers and pools. In the Mid-Atlantic, they may want concierge and lifestyle services. The key is to work with a team that knows the trends in each area.”
NFC employs staff in each major U.S. market. The team meets weekly to share insights on what amenities residents are asking for in their markets, what works to engage tenants and which perks are proving to be flops. Then, they share this information with their developer clients to determine which amenities belong in their buildings.
“We handle the amenities, soup to nuts,” Potter said. “We take care of everything from operational design, to staffing, to designing and implementing programming that inspires residents to make the most out of everything a building has to offer — spa treatments, yoga classes, coworking spaces and beyond.”
As amenities have become more complex, they are working to create not just conveniences, but experiences, to encourage neighbors to get to know each other. From wine tastings and wellness lectures to viewing parties and Sunday brunches, the NFC team has helped property managers put together social events that foster a sense of community.
“It’s all about building lasting relationships,” Potter said. “If residents make friends in a building, they may be more likely to stay there. We create programs that foster the types of connections that drive retention.”
To determine whether certain amenity programming is driving value, NFC’s lifestyle managers keep tight statistics on attendance and the cost of each event per resident. If something is no longer engaging tenants, they move on to something that does.
The key, according to Potter, is to implement amenities that can change along with a neighborhood. What is popular now may not be popular a year from now. Rather than having to renovate to keep up with the latest trends, she explained, developers should be installing flexible spaces that can easily be transformed from a Pilates studio, to a spa, to a dog grooming salon to keep up with changing resident expectations.
This is why Potter recommends that developers involve NFC as early as possible in the building planning stages, before the foundation of any amenities have been laid.
“Developers and general contractors have a lot on their mind. We know amenities might not be their top priority from the beginning,” Potter said. “But we’re obsessed with amenities and we have the country-wide knowledge and expertise to make sure they are designing the right spaces and implementing the right programming.”
This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and NFC Amenity Management. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.