How Multifamily Operators Can Still Succeed Despite Staffing Issues

October 10, 2022

Staffing is a pervasive problem affecting apartment communities across the United States, and multifamily operators are struggling to find answers.

It's not just a problem of finding the right people to staff critical management and on-site positions; it's a problem of keeping them. A study of 600 property management companies showed that staff turnover in one year was 50% for participants. They cite issues with employee burnout (or lack of engagement), early retirements, and increasing salary expectations as the obstacles preventing them from retaining their best personnel.

It's imperative that owners adopt innovative solutions that help their apartment communities rise up and sustain success without fully-staffed offices.

Believe In Automating Time-Consuming Tasks

 The most significant pain point in the multifamily industry's staffing crisis is that fewer people are stuck doing massively time-consuming (and sometimes menial) tasks.

Many operators fear not having a trained professional on the payroll to set rents or manage the advertising of an entire portfolio. But the evident success of automation should quell those concerns. The easiest solution is to believe in and adopt today's automation tools that complete those tasks faster (and better) than humans could.

One example worth noting is the team at RentVision's success in automating digital advertising for thousands of apartment communities. According to an internal study, their digital ads had an average cost per click of $0.76—well below the multifamily benchmark of $1.81 for PPC campaigns. Plus, their ads also achieved a 15% increase in user engagement, and those apartment communities were 5x more likely to have occupancy levels above market levels.

It's possible to free up your staff's time so they can prioritize valuable tasks like maintaining property appearance or accelerating leasing velocity, which are critical priorities that help communities thrive.

Eliminate Bad Leads By Investing In Better Apartment Marketing

Another issue with staffing shortages is that some personnel can get overwhelmed by the work they must do. (Hence why, burnout is increasingly becoming the top cause for talented employees leaving the multifamily industry.)

A specific but notable example of this occurs when leasing agents deal with a high volume of leads. On the surface, some may see that having multiple prospective residents reach out to their apartment communities is a good problem. The reality is, however, that not all leads are created equal.

Leasing agents know this because they deal with every lead. Some are much more ready to rent than others, and it takes away valuable time when dealing with the latter group of individuals. Plus, it can become demoralizing to schedule and conduct multiple fruitless showings with unqualified leads—another factor causing people to leave their jobs.

It would be best to know how each lead found your community to identify which marketing sources produce individuals most likely to sign a lease. Whether it may be the community's website, Google PPC campaigns, or local SEO, honing in on and investing in effective marketing channels eliminates bad leads. 

When your leasing staff works with more renters likely to sign a lease, they'll be more productive and more satisfied. Those are both critical elements in retaining valuable employees.

Maintenance Personnel Are Critical

Maintenance staffers are essential. They are there to provide excellent service to current tenants at your apartments and turn over recently vacated units to make them ready for new residents. 

Plus, the skills and knowledge they possess to do their job well are rare. 

While this is a purely philosophical approach, prioritize hiring and retaining your community's maintenance personnel first.

It's possible to sustain occupancy and leasing success without a fully-staffed front office. (In fact, here's a story about one apartment community that leased up all 200 units in less than ten months with only one person on the leasing team.)

It's exceedingly difficult to produce similar results with fewer or lesser trained maintenance personnel. They are indispensable, so it would be best to utilize the resources at your disposal to hire or retain them before worrying about filling other on-site positions.

Conclusion

It would help if you evolved for your apartment communities to overcome the pervasive staffing challenges hampering the multifamily industry. You need to help your leasing staff deal with fewer unqualified leads with better marketing performance. That also means automating time-consuming tasks, so you can free up your current personnel to focus on critical things. And of any new hires or current employees, emphasize your maintenance staff. They have an essential role, and their skill set is difficult to replace.

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