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Keeping in Touch Through Good Communications

Stressing the importance of good communications with residents is a must in this fast-paced information world we live in. Keeping residents informed and responding to their needs is critical. It plays such a key part of maintaining a good property, that your communications efforts should not be taken lightly. In fact, it requires we plan and organize our approach as much as any other aspect of taking care of the property.
Personal involvement in ensuring great communications at all of our properties is a hallmark of FOURMIDABLE and guides us in our efforts to work closely with management, staff and residents.
There are several essential aspects to a solid communications game plan I would like to cover briefly.
Have a good response plan for resident requests
Sometimes we forget to prioritize our response to the needs and requests of residents. To make sure there’s a focus on great customer service, and to help protect a property, FOURMIDABLE uses a service that monitors phone calls around the clock, including emergency calls.
During closed business hours, residents who call the office will hear a recording that allows them to choose an option for emergencies. The calls are monitored, and appropriate responses are implemented, escalating, if necessary, directly to me.
How we respond to calls and requests from residents are always discussed with new residents during their move-ins. The communications policy is written into the lease as well as posted on our property website.
Respond to complaints or concerns
You must absolutely respond to concerns, questions, problems, and complaints in timely manner. This is not always a fun part of the job, but there are no excuses for not responding. If the issue is not an emergency, I highly recommend a one-day response for any residents’ concerns. How the response is made depends on what works best in the moment. This isn’t rocket science, there are multiple ways to reach out and respond - a phone call, an email, even a text sometimes, just to show you received the message and are working on a solution.
Often people just want to be heard and have a chance to explain an issue from their perspective. It’s our role to be gracious under fire and respond in a personal and non-confrontational way.
Try various ways of communicating
Good communications can take many forms, and often times I suggest using several approaches, through things like letters direct to residents, notices throughout the property (bulletin boards can be a big help) and even on a website or Facebook page. 
Most communities have monthly newsletters for residents that can be emailed, printed and distributed on the property or published on a website. Newsletters allow you to share important dates, updates to procedures or policies, news from the community, staff changes and anything else unique to your property. 
Another great venue for encouraging communication is during resident events and activities. Communities who host regular meetings or social parties, like game or movie nights, have a unique opportunity to let everyone connect and share information. It’s even a chance to respond personally if you are in attendance.
Be available and flexible
Ultimately, the goal is to respond in a timely fashion, communicate in a regular manner and ensure you’re available when residents are available. If you have to, adjust office hours to what works best for the most residents. Learn to be flexible and accommodate the needs of residents. It will pay off with residents who, in being well informed, also become highly-satisfied, long-