How to Balance Resident Satisfaction and Safety Around Amenity Usage During COVID-19

by Jul 29, 2020

Apartment community amenities can be a double-edged sword. Residents may decide to join a community because of its highly desirable amenities, but if those amenities are temporarily unavailable, the outcry can be overwhelming.

If left unchecked, this dissatisfaction has the potential to erode an apartment community’s online reputation, and it could impact its profitability as well. It’s impossible to make every resident happy all the time, and balancing safety with resident satisfaction can be tricky.

However, by following these guidelines around apartment amenity use during COVID-19, property managers can show residents that they care while keeping everyone safe and the apartment community’s reputation intact.

Transparency is Key

Property managers are bound to find themselves in a Catch 22: If they fully reopen community amenities too soon, residents may feel it’s reckless and it could lead to a community-wide outbreak. If they keep apartment amenities closed or limit their use, it could result in anger and frustration that could bubble over into negative apartment online reviews.

Apartment operators should fully explain to residents the reasoning behind their amenity usage policies. Let residents know which factors they considered when making the decisions, such as local and state mandates as well as guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Ensure that all of the information you’re sending out is factually accurate, too.

Even while being as transparent as possible, residents may still push back. For example, if residents disagree with the decision to put usage limits on the community fitness center, management should be able to explain why fully reopening is not feasible (i.e. not enough employees to handle disinfecting the gym equipment every hour, the virus has a greater chance of spreading indoors, and so on). Residents are more likely to accept a well-reasoned explanation backed by data, so think everything through first before putting it out there.

Communicate Clearly

Don’t leave your residents in the dark when it comes to amenity use or any policies around COVID-19. Residents want their property teams to communicate thoroughly and often, especially now, so do so across multiple platforms. Make sure residents know how to get in touch if they have any questions, and keep your team informed so they can give residents helpful responses.

In addition to sending out messages to residents, it’s also a good idea to post signs on the entrances of community amenities, such as the pool or fitness center, with the most up-to-date information in the event that the electronic messages were overlooked.

It’s to be expected that some residents will be unhappy about the apartment community amenity policies. But what you don’t want are residents who are unhappy in addition to being confused and uninformed, so take the extra time to keep all of your residents updated.

Demonstrate Value

Many apartment communities have amenity fees, and residents may complain if they can’t easily access the amenities they’re paying for. Some apartment operators are reimbursing or waiving these fees at the moment. Communities that aren’t doing so might want to step up their customer service in other ways by focusing on services they can still provide.

This could mean hosting virtual events like trivia, contests, offering online yoga classes, or organizing a book club. It could also mean adding personal touches to routine transactions, such as attaching a handwritten greeting to the lightbulbs or air filter you’re dropping off.

It might take more work, but acknowledging resident birthdays with small gestures like a gift card could be effective in creating a sense of value and loyalty as well as boosting your residents’ moods (and yours!)

Ask for Feedback

As your apartment community navigates its response to the pandemic, involve residents by soliciting their feedback. Doing so demonstrates that everyone is in this together and residents are playing a role in helping to contain the spread of the virus.

It’s also possible that providing an outlet for residents to express themselves could mean fewer negative apartment reviews, especially if the property teams are engaged in constructive dialog with residents about their thoughts and ideas.

Embrace Technology

In addition to the suggestions above, apartment communities could also benefit from our Resident Amenity Scheduler. Respage quickly built and deployed this amenity reservation tool at the dawn of the pandemic in the Spring, allowing communities to safely schedule and manage the utilization of amenities. Residents can book amenity appointments to use any number of amenities, such as the pool, fitness center, or dog wash station without involving a member of the property team.

Some notable features of this apartment amenity booking tool include: multiple points of access, customizable and unlimited amenities, custom waiver messaging for residents, full settings control and calendar visibility, intuitive interface with high-res images, a resident app, and waiting lists. If you’re interested in learning more, contact Respage for a demo!