Category archive: Blog
If your community is taking advantage of the resident text alerts program through Rent Cafe, here’s a short video on how residents can opt-in and how to create and send a message!
This is a great program to easily and quickly get in contact with residents in regards to important building info, emergencies, events, or specials!
Halloween will be here before you know it! If you still need a unique event idea we’ve got you covered! Every event your community puts on should aim to be a unique and memorable experience and this event delivers. Below you’ll learn how to throw a zombie-themed laser tag at your community at a budget any and every community can afford!
To create this memorable experience we’ll need to set up an apocalyptic war zone for the laser tag event to take place. It is best to set this war zone up in an area that has clear boundaries so players know where the event takes place. The size of the space depends on the number of players you’ll have playing at once but in general, it shouldn’t be bigger than a football field. The location will also vary depending on what your community has to work with. Ideas include a level of a parking garage (cars should be removed to avoid potential damage), open or wooded area at the community, tennis or basketball court, or gymnasium.
Once you have selected your space clearly define where the play area will be. If you’re using a parking garage or fenced in basketball/tennis court this should be pretty easy. If you’re using an open area or wooded area you may want to buy something like caution tape to rope off the play area. Once the play area is defined you’ll want to set up obstacles and bases to give the space some dimension and avoid a bunch of people in an open space randomly shooting at each other. Because this is supposed to look like a war zone there are many items your community may already have that can be used as obstacles. Examples of great scene setting obstacles you may already have on-site are dumpsters, shuttle buses, pallets, large cardboard boxes, oil barrels, particle board, old fencing, large trash cans, folding tables propped on their sides, shopping cards, etc. In addition to things you find at the community you might want to buy additional things to set the scene like a fog machine, white sheets draped over a clothesline, body bags, strobe lights, blacklights, etc. The whole goal with your setup is to set the mood/scene as a zombie apocalyptic land and to give bases, bunkers, and objects to hide around. Use Pinterest as a resource to find DIY decorations ideas. You can also rent blow up bunkers HERE.
Now that the scene is set it is time to organize the games. In order to have an actual laser tag game, you’ll need laser guns! You can rent them HERE. This website has many different kinds of guns but we suggest the Battle Rifle ($35 per gun) but smaller budgets may only be able to afford Ultimate LTX ($16 per gun) or Hornet ($12 per gun). Depending on the size of the community and the size of the event you predict we’d suggest doing teams of 12 for 24 total guns. Setup the guns just outside of the play zone where the official will go over the rules and divide participants into teams. Rules will also depend on what type of game you want to play. There are several game types you can find outlined HERE.
That is a quick overview of the event. Below you’ll find more tips on how to create a better, more memorable experience.
- Rent 3-4 industrial strength black lights HERE. Mount them up high (8′ or so) so they cover the most area possible. Cover obstacles in blacklight tape, provide highlighters to participants to draw on their skin, purchase glow sticks from a dollar store, and include other glow decor.
- Source large cardboard boxes from retailers like furniture stores, appliance stores, etc. Or you can purchase cardboard boxes from Home Depot or ULine.com. You can stack and tape multiple boxes together to create a cheap and large obstacle/bunker. Go the extra mile and spray paint graffiti on the boxes to give it that apocalypse type feel.
- Hang a clothesline, rope, or string on a section of your battlefield. Drape a large white sheet over from a thrift store or Walmart over this line. Get some red paint, dip hands in red paint, and put bloody handprints all over the sheet.
- Head to a local tire shop and see if there are any completely used tires you can have for free.
- Hire a local makeup artist to do zombie makeup on attendees.
- Use CIs or hire local people to dress up in zombie garb and randomly scare people during the game.
- Create a Snapchat filter to run during the event.
- Encourage attendees to post via social media and a particular hashtag for a chance to win haunted house tickets.
- Partner with a local bar to sponsor a free keg at the community with an after party zombie crawl at their location.
Did you know there is an easy way you can call all of your leads in about 60 seconds? Just hire the Jimmy John’s radio voice and he’ll call everyone in under 60 seconds! Actually, there is an even easier way. It’s called “scheduled calls” and it’s a little-known feature in Entrata.
Scheduled calls allows you to pre-record an audio recording and automatically send it via a telephone call to any filtered group in Entrata. RentCafe has caught up and has recently introduced a similar feature. This allows you to send one call quickly to any lead or resident. This is a great feature for things like:
- Singing happy birthday to your residents on their birthdays.
- Quickly calling all of your prospects about a super limited time special.
- Calling all residents about an emergency.
- Inviting residents or prospects to an event.
While this is a very cool feature that lets you get in touch with a lot of people quickly it should not be overused. Nothing can take away the personal feel of a one on one phone call.
Ready to use “scheduled calls”? Talk to your PSM and they’ll get you the right resources!
When looking at social media marketing the best thing we can ever do is to get residents and prospects to post positive things about us on social media. Many times we focus too much on what we are posting on our business accounts and not enough on how to get others to post about us. A post of a resident enjoying an excellent event at our community is 10 times more powerful than us posting that same event. Why? Multiple reasons.
First, a resident has friends following their social channels that are likely in our target demographic but aren’t following our business social accounts. This distributes information (even if it is a small amount) about our community to a set of eyes we can’t reach on our accounts.
Second, people generally care a lot more about what their friends post than what our business posts.
Third, and most importantly, consumers are 92% more likely to trust their peers over advertising. So they are more likely to believe that your community is a great place to live by seeing their friends’ social media posts than our social media channels saying “we’re the best place to live”.
So how do you get residents and prospects to post about your community? While there are a lot of ways but one of the easiest and most relevant ways is using geo-location Snapchat filters! Create a Snapchat filter for your next event and you’re likely to see a bunch of uses on arguably the most important social medium. Not a graphic designer? That’s OK! Pepper Filters lets you create well designed and cool Snapchat filters for only $5! Every event budget can afford that!
Remember, your event needs to be a fantastic experience as well or you won’t have attendees or people wanting to document your event!
Need help uploading your super cool Pepper Filter? Ask your PSM and they can get you the resources to get your filter live! Just remember, the filter process can take a few days!
At Cardinal Group we call our apartment buildings “communities” for a reason. We strive to create an environment where neighbors not only know each other but spend time together. The entire reason we hold resident events is to bring residents together and create a true community vibe. By creating this community atmosphere residents are happier because they feel connected. This happiness ultimately translates to referrals and renewals making everyone’s jobs easier.
I challenge you when you think about your next MMP and what events to hold to think about how you can get residents interacting. If you do a monthly or weekly breakfast on the go I urge you to change that in favor of the idea below. Breakfast on the go (and other events like it) don’t bring residents together like our res life budgets should. I’d also urge you to try and create unique experiences during your events. Free pizza in the lobby, breakfast on the go, once a month trash valet, cookie decorating, etc. do not provide a unique experience. A blacklight pool party, concert, dining al fresco, beerlympics, and other similar events provide unique experiences that add more value to the overall event.
So how can you take what you saw in this video and create a great resident event? Well, it’s relatively simple and inexpensive.
- Setup tables in hallways, elevator lobbies on each floor, or other easily accessible common area. Hallways and elevator lobbies are likely your best bet as you’re more likely to get neighbors that are nearby to attend.
- Place table cloths on top of tables. Top table with a small flower arrangement, battery powered candles, and other small table decorations.
- Set out tables a few days ahead of the event and place a flyer that describes the event and a sign-up sheet for a potluck.
- On the day of the dinner in your hallway or elevator lobby bring by wine, bread, or a main dish for each table to enjoy during their potluck.
- Finally, add in a few table cards for ice breakers to help lead attendees into having conversations.
The first few times holding this event may start off slow. However, if you hold this event monthly, bi-weekly, or event weekly you’ll likely start to see attendance increase and have an event that becomes a staple at your community.
This is the first in a series of posts on how you can help amp up your housing fair marketing.
Housing fairs are often a large line item on the marketing budget each year. You probably stock up on a few thousand dollars of promo items and give away a few hundred dollars away in gift cards. While getting leads by giving away gift cards isn’t inherently bad there may be a more creative, more memorable, and better brand building way to do it. The idea below not only captures leads but extends the value past the one-day event where only 1-5% of the student population shows up. Oh and you’ve probably never seen something like it before.
So what is this magical idea? The answer is a user generated Snapchat filter competition. Housing fair attendees would use colored pencils, markers, and crayons to design their own Snapchat filter on a piece of paper. Below the area they would create their design they would enter in their guest card info. Once they are finished the community would hang the filters up in their booth as displays of art to attract other people. Once the housing fair is over the team would scan all of the designs and upload them to Facebook where a week long contest would be held to have people vote for their favorite filter via likes and shares. The top 3 filter designs will be submitted to Snapchat to run for one to five days on campus. The filter with the most uses during that time period would win a gift card and Snapchat Spectacles.
This concept has several advantages over the typical promo giveaways and gift ard prizes seen at most housing fair tables:
- It allows more time for the prospect to interact with your team and brand. Instead of grabbing free promo stuff and leaving they will stick around at your booth for a few minutes allowing your team to get to know them and talk more about the community.
- It still collects lead info but in a much more interactive and memorable manner.
- This concept has the possibility to reach more than just the 1-5% of students that go to the housing fair. Through the Facebook voting contest and then the three live filters it has the potential to reach a much wider audience.
Ready to ditch the expensive, outdated, and poor return on investment things known as promo items? Contact your PSM to help you pull off this idea!
This is the second in a series of posts on how you can help amp up your housing fair marketing.
Check out the other posts on how to amp up your housing fair below:
Snapchat Filter Competition
One of the most important things to do at a housing fair is to stand out. A cooler water bottle or Tshirt isn’t the way to do that. Every single community is going to have a branded tablecloth, promo items, candy, and flyers. Some communities think they can stand out with balloons or maybe a pull-up banner. Look at the photo of the housing fair below. Every table looks the same.
If you can standout from this you are more likely to get people to stop by your table. Ditch the branded table cloth, promo items, candy, and pull-up banners. Do something that doesn’t even resemble a housing fair table. Even better, something that doesn’t even look like you are trying to sell them an apartment. One idea is to hold a game show! And what better game show than the greatest of all-time, The Price Is Right.
One of the more popular Price Is Right games is “Punch A Bunch” where contestants get to punch through a hole for a chance to win cash. Check out an example here. You can replicate this game to not only standout but also create a fun interactive experience. Here is how you can pull it off.
- Ditch the table, table cloth, promo items, candy, and everything else that looks like it belongs at a housing fair.
- Have Fifty3 design you a booth backdrop that works with your brand and the Price is Right concept. This will help you literally set the stage.
- Purchase a giant connect four game as the Punch A Bunch frame. You can find one for sale here. Then on the backside of the connect four game tape colored tissue paper over all of the holes. After the tissue paper is affixed tape paper bags containing prizes over the paper tissued holes. This blog will help show you how. Prizes are up to you and your budget. Some holes may have no prizes, some small prizes like $5 gift cards, and a few might have big prizes like a $100 gift card.
- Choose a team member to be the host (think Drew Carrey/Bob Barker) and a few to be the Price Is Right Girls/Guys. Dress the part! The host should wear a suit and get a fake microphone. The Price Is Right girls can wear cocktail dresses and Price Is Right guys can wear a shirt and tie. The host should be very energetic and pull people from the crowd.
Okay, so you have your booth all setup. It looks like a game show studio. Now it’s time for the action. The team should start to yell things like “You’re the next contestant on the Price Is Right! Come on down!” This should draw attention and get participants. Once people begin to gather around have the Price Is Right girls/guys take a guest card on the Entrata Site Table app. Once they submit a guest card they get a chance to punch a hole. They may be a winner or they may not but now is your chance to drive them to the leasing office for a tour. Explain that you have another Punch A Bunch game setup at the leasing office where every single person is a winner. Plus, if they sign a lease during their tour they can punch 10 holes!
Considering the cost of the average promotional item order this housing fair campaign should come in well under budget. Below is a quick breakdown of costs you can expect.
- Booth backdrop (8′ x 10′) – $185
- Giant Connect Four (including shipping) – $220 – BONUS you can use this as a giant Connect Four game in your amenity space after the housing fair!
- Tissue Paper – $10
- Prizes – This is very flexible. You could give away a $50 gift card or a trip to Hawaii. We would suggest doing around 50 smaller $5 prizes, four $25 prizes, and one $250 prize. $600 total.
- TOTAL = $1,015
Ready to get this going for your housing fair? Talk to your PSM!
Your online reputation is a huge factor when prospects compare you against the competition. A recent JTurner Research study shows that 78% of renters utilize ratings and reviews in their apartment search. This means you could have a fantastic website, great marketing, a perfect CWoL tour, and still lose a lease because of your online reputation. In order to figure out how to increase your community’s online reputation we talked with Elise Barber who has helped Denizen become the #1 ranked community at Cardinal Group, top 5 ranked communities in Denver, and top 100 ranked communities in the nation.
Question: What is Denizen’s secret for keeping residents so happy?
Answer: The answer to this is very complex. There is no silver bullet to making residents happy. Ultimately, their feelings toward our community is the sum of every single interaction they have with our community. These interactions include things we have control over such as handling issues appropriately, keeping the grounds clean, and resident events as well as things we don’t have control over such as traffic, mail delivery, and interactions with other residents. If the sum of their interactions is overwhelmingly positive then they will have a positive view of our community. We think about how we can turn each interaction into a positive point. By doing so we believe the sum of all of our residents’ interactions end up in the positive.
Question: What are some of the things you do to create positive impressions with your community?Answer: There are tons of different things, I’m so passionate about this, I could go on forever. I’ll keep in short to a few of my favorites. One simple yet powerful thing we do is getting residents to interact with each other. We do this in several ways such as creating a Facebook Group that differs from a typical page in that it allows residents to interact with each other instead of just the business. We have residents ask if anyone wants to go hiking on the weekend, residents have started weekly poker games, others have started a residents only book club, things for sale, etc. An apartment community is much more of a “community” when residents get to know each other and become friends. This Facebook group has helped tremendously with that.
Another favorite way to create a positive impression is genuinely caring about our residents. We had a resident that was extremely sick and we wanted to help her. Her mother was flying in to take care of her but couldn’t get to Denver for 48 hours. Before she arrived we went out and bought some food, medicine, movies, and other comfort items. The resident and her mother were unbelievably grateful for our support. The key here is that we didn’t do it for Denizen we did it for her.
Question: If you could give your peers one tip on keeping residents happy what would it be?
Answer: Woof. That’s a tough one. I would say treat your residents as your friends. This is probably a bit controversial and some people say you need to maintain a professional boundary but I think removing that boundary leads to deeper relationships and ultimately happier residents. Our entire team gets to know residents on a personal level, just as we do with our own friends. We know about our residents’ triumphs, the issues going on in their life, and even the mundane day to day.
Getting to know our residents on a more personal level means that when we have to give them tough answers they are received with a much more positive reaction.
Again, we just try and treat them all as we would treat friends or people we care for on a personal level. By doing so we actually forge and create those personal relationships. This has produced some extremely powerful brand advocates.
Question: People are quick to post their negative experience online but a lot less to share their positive experience. How have you been able to get so many residents to post positive reviews online?
Answer: Well it all sort of starts with the relationship building mentality. Once we solidify those relationships with residents it becomes quite easy, we just ask them to review us. It sounds too simple to work but it does. Because we talk to our residents every day we know who loves us and who doesn’t (yes not everyone loves us). During our conversation we just tell them that it would help us out if they reviewed us online. Because we help them out on a daily basis they are willing to do the same for us. Often times we will send out emails as well giving them quick links to our review sites.
Question: You mentioned sending out an email to residents asking them to review you. What sort of program do you use for this?
Answer: We don’t want these emails to come off as a marketing function or spammy so we don’t use any software. We just use our Google emails to send personalized emails. By doing this we feel that the residents don’t think we are just using them but rather just asking for their support. We also add links in the emails to our review sites so they can quickly and easily find them.
Question: What sort of response rate do you get from these emails?
Answer: We see about 60-70% of residents leaving reviews after we send them a personalized email. The key is we only send this email out to people we know love living here. By targeting these emails to only those we know love living at our community and that we have a good relationship with we know the probability of getting a 5-star review is much higher than if we just sent it to every resident.