When residential building occupancies are in the 90-95% range, it can feel like a time for property managers to shift down a gear and think “we’ve got this covered.” But when resident retention is hovering somewhere around a national average of 50-60% and newer, flashier, shinier buildings are going up all around you, there’s a very real risk of resident fall out as lease renewals come around again.
The truth is complacency breeds vacancy in real estate. After the initial tour and lease signing many residents forget what they have, lose interest in many of your building’s amenities that attracted them in the first pace and can become susceptible to the sales overtures of other developers. As we approach a new fiscal and rental year, it’s a good idea to re-educate your building tenants on how to get the most out of your amenities – and there’s no better place to start than your fitness facility, still one of the most attractive features for new home seekers.
Is it really worth the effort?
Short answer – yes. If half your residents could leave each year, it’s not a nice to have strategy, but rather a business imperative to keep residents engaged with your brand. Plus that hip residential building that just went up kitty corner to you, isn’t stopping their aggressive cross-channel marketing campaign – ever. And neither should you. By all means market your vacancies but do everything you can to lock in the sure thing tenant. Look to your fitness facility – a pricey but essential investment for any building – as a largely untapped asset, but one could that say a lot of things about where your residents choose to live. We’re a lifestyle oasis. We’re a tech-enabled environment of modern, luxury conveniences. And more. When deciding to market one of your most attractive amenities to tenants who may have forgotten your gym is even there, for the most part, start with three simple strategies.
Market fitness to everyone
There’s a common misperception that only younger people want to go to the gym. That’s a hangover from the 1990s and 2000s when club culture was about working out mostly to look good. Fitness today is, of course a little of that, but it’s far more focused on the desire to stay healthy, strong and fit to enjoy all kinds of lifestyle activities. Mental wellness is also a priority, with participants in mindfulness exercises, stretch and meditation increasingly sharply, especially in the last couple of years. As you consider the tenant targets in the building, make your outreach age-agnostic.
The empty nesters with more time on their hands are among the 55+ age group that represent one of the fastest growing demographics in the fitness industry today. Adjust your messaging in emails, building signage, your newsletter for different age group users, perhaps stressing convenient amenities on the doorstep to Gen Z residents, time saving and money saving fitness options to over stretched millennials, and an easy daily way to stay active to your older residents.
Showcase digital content for daily use
Residents can easily figure out what a stationary bike or a treadmill does. They’ve become standard operating procedure for gyms – but they’ve also become a bit boring. By all means promote equipment on site, but focus attention on the incredible diversity of daily and on-demand digital fitness content ready for residents to use. Most people are lazy with the unfamiliar and will dip their toe in the water versus a full exploration. Help engage visitors to your fitness space by demonstrating the variety of HIIT, specialty workouts, strength training and classes that they can try in the comfort of their own buildings as opposed to the highly visible floor of their local club. Try creating a weekly or daily playlist of workouts and exercises for residents to try at their own pace – morning yoga, an afternoon higher intensity, instructor led class to burn off stress of the day, a small group weekend class or maybe some wind down stretches. Promote these across your building’s social channels, website, app and also consider having fitness center open hours at convenient times to showcase and remind residents just what they have on their doorstep.
It’s plug and play easy
People are lazy and reticent with the unfamiliar. So it’s important for whoever is staffing to become familiar with your on-demand system and ensure any user recognizes it’s easy to use too. Many systems require little more daily maintenance than plugging in and booting up. Walk new users through how to use the system. Some are now touch screen and intuitively navigable like a TV app and easy for any resident from novice to the time-crunched to try for themselves. If you do decide to conduct open hours and demo’s make sure residents touch and feel and experience your on-demand platform for themselves. Within a few swipes and clicks, they’ll understand it’s no less accessible than their own smart phone.
Remember to include yourself and your staff in these ongoing educational and operational orientations and you’ll quickly be well versed to talk about and sell the many benefits of your modern, tech-led fitness experience to anyone in your building and beyond.