Beginning, then developing the process
In promoting positive, ongoing relationships with residents, we must remember to treat each of them as a valued customer. Expressing interest in their concerns and meeting their needs when problems arise can accomplish this. Contented residents create fewer problems than unhappy individuals, which in the long run affect the owner’s bottom line. Rent control is often a result of poor resident relations. Additionally, loss of your valuable time and expensive legal cost can be saved through positive resident relations.
Development of good resident relationships does not just happen, as it is an ongoing process that you have to continually work at. Sound communication skills are a necessity in dealing with residents.
The development of resident relations begins during your first meeting with the resident. We have all heard how important first impressions can be and in this case it is definitely true. It is important to start off courteous and have a positive attitude at all times. Residents want to be treated fairly and with respect. Positive first impressions also include how you are dressed and the professionalism displayed in your mannerisms.
There are three key aspects of communication to consider when dealing with your residents than can lead to positive relationships: verbal communication, nonverbal communications, and written communications.
Verbal communication comes down to controlling the tone of your voice and being a good listener. Often the most important factor is not what you say, but how you say it. For example, if you remain calm, with no anger in your voice, you probably can defuse an agitated resident. To help eliminate misunderstandings you must respect the compliant or the message given to you, then clarify it so that both sides understand what is being said. Let the resident know you are listening to them and make them aware that they are being heard.
Nonverbal communication can sometimes reveal more about what you are saying than words you actually speak. Gestures, postures, appearance and facial expressions are examples of nonverbal communication that you should be aware of. Also, it is important that you maintain eye contact with the resident while he or she is speaking. This indicates to them that you are paying attention to what they are saying and that you are interested.
Written communication will play an important role in developing good resident relations. This is an effective way to get across a message or make a point. Your correspondence should be in a short, concise manor and preferably no longer than one page. You should be direct and courteous; avoid being rude, negative or accusatory. Whenever possible, start and end your correspondence with a neutral or positive statement.
While written communication is necessary, it should be not substituted for face-to-face contact. We often see owners and managers try to avoid speaking directly with residents by sending them a written notice or violation letter. The problem with written communication like this is you cannot get all the facts and there may be a reasonable explanation of a violation of which you were unaware. This makes you look uninformed and leaves a negative impression on the resident. Giving residents positive feedback can also help in developing better relationships. If a resident maintains a nice clean space, you should tell them. This lets them know you care and encourages them to continue the positive behavior. After a resident complies with a request to clean up their space, let them know how great it looks and how much you appreciate their cooperation.
Good resident relations require a well thought-out plan and a commitment on your part to make it work. If you understand your residents and always show a caring, positive attitude when dealing with their concerns, you will see favorable results. Development, and use of good communication skills will make the process much easier and lead to a smoother running community with fewer problem.