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Speak Now C

Communication is a two-way street, and regu- lar interaction can provide your community with valuable insight into resident satisfaction.

By ALISON HALL, CAPS, CPM, Media Relations Committee Chair with AMY CARL, HAA Communications and Public Affairs Intern

Don’t wait for a problem to open communication with your residents.

ommunication with residents is always happening. Everything you say or don’t say conveys a message to the people living on your properties. Taking into account

your residents’ language and technology barriers and formulating a proactive communication strategy that reaches all of your resident demographics will encour- age awareness of community policies and events and increase the sense of belonging at your property. When composing messages to send to your resi-

dents, be careful not to use overly complex terminol- ogy or explanations. Jargon is confusing and can detract from the message you’re trying to convey. Instead, keep messages short and to the point. For example, when explaining community maintenance issues to residents, don’t let yourself get bogged down in the terms used by specialists – just be sure to give your residents a summary of the problem and an esti- mation of when it will be resolved.


Surveys have shown that residents prefer to be reached in multiple ways as opposed to one unilateral method. In a study conducted by Grace Hill and released by SatisFacts, apartment residents across a range of ages show a tendency to prefer not one but several modes of communication to interact with property management. The numbers varied across age groups, but residents vastly preferred the use of email (89.4 percent) and cellphone (73.1 percent) while landlines, snail mail and even face-to-face visits con- tinue to wane in popularity. When thinking about the channels (there should

be more than one) you’re going to use to deliver your message, it’s important to remember that not all resi-

dents ages 18-35 are tech-savvy. For residents who haven’t embraced technology, use traditional meth- ods to get their attention. Laminated fliers posted in high-traffic, communal areas such as laundry rooms and mailboxes will be seen by all residents, whether they have an iPhone or not.

BE PROACTIVE Establishing rapport with your residents builds a

sense of belonging and encourages renewals. Don’t wait until something negative happens to reach out to residents – communication is a two-way street, and regular interaction can provide your community with valuable insight into resident satisfaction. During holiday seasons, send general messages to

your residents with the season’s greetings and inform them of any policy changes or events that take place during that time. Send out general check-in cards or emails to give your residents a chance to voice any concerns they may have. Be proactive when it comes to future construction or improvement projects – resi- dents will be much more tolerant of noise if they are warned about it and understand the reasons behind the project. For properties in the Houston area, addressing minority populations can prove a formidable chal- lenge. Make sure that you understand the language demographics of your community and alter your sig- nage and publications accordingly – they won’t do any good if they can’t be understood by a large por- tion of your residents. If you need help translating a notice into another language, visit the Houston Interpreters and Translators Association website at and search their database for a translator that suits


• DO make sure your communications are easy to understand and free of jargon. • DO communicate regularly through multiple channels. • DON’T just reach out when something is wrong. • DO make communication personal when possible. • DO think about ALL of your residents, not just the tech-savvy crowd.


• DON’T forget about old-school methods. • DO take advantage of high-traffic areas. • DO allow for feedback. • DO send emails, but DON’T spam your residents. • DON’T ignore your community’s demographics. • DO seek help from translators, but DON’T rely on online translation tools.

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