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4 Customer Service Tips Landlords Swear By


It is not a bad time to be a landlord. 

More people are choosing to rent today than at any point in the last 50 years, Pew Research Center reported. Landlords and property managers hold the keys to one of the country’s largest demographics: American renters. 

This responsibility comes with challenges. Due to the short-term nature of leases and higher flexibility of rental periods, some landlords struggle to retain tenants. Tenant turnover can be a source of stress for property management teams, and burn a hole in their pockets. The average cost of a vacant apartment during tenant turnover is $1,750/month, MySmartMove reported. 

Property managers and landlords have found that many of these frustrations can be prevented by improving customer service. From providing additional services and amenities to a heightened focus on the tenant experience, here are four customer service tips multifamily landlords swear by when it comes to tenant retention. 

1. Make It Easier To Communicate 

Tenant demands are constantly changing, and new technology is evolving with them. A number of emerging tech platforms have entered into the property management space to improve quality of life for tenants. In the multifamily sector, there has been a paradigm shift from phone calls and emails to digital platforms that streamline communication and building-related processes.

Bixby, a New York-based PropTech company, aims to do that by combining various tenant-related activities into a single web and mobile platform. The company was founded by Mark Smukler and Alex Ohebshalom in 2016, with the aim to address broken communication channels and protocols that were creating unnecessary tensions between tenants and property managers. Smukler, a software developer and renter since moving to New York City in 2008, felt that communicating with management teams too often resulted in missed calls and voicemails. Ohebshalom, taking over management responsibilities at his family’s real estate company, felt there wasn’t an easy way to communicate with his tenant base and maintenance team, resulting in uninformed tenants and inefficient maintenance operations.

One of the Bixby app’s many features is a message board, which enables landlords to send building announcements to a large group of tenants or have a one-on-one conversation with an individual tenant or unit. The platform also allows tenants to submit maintenance requests, enabling maintenance teams to track, prioritize and dispatch repairs. Tenants can also use the app to send rent and common-charge payments, reducing the need and cost of paper checks and envelopes, and the time spent processing them. This digitized approach creates simpler, more efficient processes for communicating with tenants and organizing tasks, saving managers time and money spent overseeing tenants and properties. 

2. Ask Tenants What They Want 

Thanks to the internet, property managers have access to several surveys and reports telling them what tenants want. While this information can be helpful for keeping tabs on overall renter trends, every building is different, and landlords can gain more specific data by asking their own tenants what they want. The best way for landlords and property management teams to learn about their tenants is to conduct surveys asking them what amenities they want but don’t have in the building, and whether or not they find the amenities they already have valuable. Bixby’s survey feature allows landlords to create questions that get distributed to tenants for responses. This strategy gives landlords an opportunity to tailor their building based on tenant preferences.  


3. Connect Tenants With Services

Many of today’s renters, especially in major cities like New York and San Francisco, are part of the instant gratification generation. They rely on fast services like Seamless for food orders and Uber and Lyft for ride-sharing. Landlords are getting in on the action by partnering with services providers to support this increasingly popular lifestyle. 

Landlords are beginning to rely on technology to access a local marketplace of amenities and services. Buildings that use Bixby, for example, have access to local service providers like Cleanly, through which tenants can send out their dirty laundry and get it back fresh and folded 24 hours later. Bixby also partnered with Moved to provide moving concierge services, Lemonade to provide renters insurance and Handy to offer home cleaning and handyman services.

The ability to choose from a marketplace of trusted providers makes it easier for tenants to access services when they need them, and acts as a virtual amenity that differentiates the building from its competition without requiring a large capital expenditure. 

4. Focus On The Tenant Experience

Property managers and landlords can increase retention by placing more focus on the overall tenant experience. This means helping renters take control of their space and alleviating anxiety associated with completing chores and engaging with the local community. Some of these services include providing tenants with information about public transportation, using smart technology for locks, thermostats and lightbulbs, and offering discounts and promotions to local businesses. 

Another way to effectively enhance the tenant experience is to build a sense of community by promoting community events. Trivia nights and pizza or ice cream socials, for example, can give residents a chance to get to know their neighbors. Landlords can also use these organized events as opportunities to inform tenants about new services and building updates. Bringing community to the center of the tenant experience can make an apartment building a place where people feel at home. 

This feature was produced in collaboration between Bisnow Branded Content and Bixby. Bisnow news staff was not involved in the production of this content.