Exit Survey: Why Is Your Tenant Leaving?
Tenant exit survey can be an effective tool to improve tenant retention by addressing any issues that may be causing your renters to look for a new home.
Most tenants regularly move for a variety of reasons; it’s merely the nature of the business. The more doors you manage, the more times you have to say goodbye—for better or for worse. Let’s face it, sometimes you’re glad to see someone go, but most times, you would have liked to have retained a good tenant. Often, their personal circumstances are out of your control; however, there are times when their premature departure could’ve been prevented. How would you know if you don’t ask? Tenant exit surveys can be an effective tool to improve tenant retention by addressing any issues that may be causing your renters to look for a new home.
What to Ask
The goal of an exit survey is to get honest, candid responses to the tenant’s rental experience. Any feedback received should not be taken personally, but instead used to help improve the operation to stay competitive. Also, open-ended questions will give you more information than yes-or-no type questions. Some sample questions to consider:
· Why are you moving?
· How would you rate your overall leasing experience?
· What did you like/dislike most about living here?
· How would you rate the quality or condition of your home’s interior? Exterior?
· How easy/difficult was it to deal with management?
· How well were your maintenance issues addressed?
· If staying local, what was the main factor that contributed to your decision to move?
· What would it take to get you to renew your lease?
How to Ask
Online surveys are the simplest way to collect data. There are several online services, like SurveyMonkey, that can compile and analyze the data and present it to you in an efficient and easy-to-understand manner.
Timing your surveys for the highest effective response rate can be challenging. Generally, properties tend to present the exit survey at the end of the lease term, but there some sound arguments for using tenant surveys a month or two before the end of the lease. Since moving can be a hectic time, many tenants won’t take the time to fill out a survey when moving. Secondly, as tenants are already in the mindset of leaving, they may not see the point of filling out a questionnaire regarding their experience if they won’t be able to benefit from it. Because of this, some property managers have opted for an annual or mid-lease survey. Another benefit is that all surveys are filled out simultaneously, providing you with data all at once; instead, it trickling in as tenants move out.
Preparing a well-thought-out exit survey is fruitless if your tenant doesn’t cooperate. If you don’t get an acceptable response rate initially, you may want to try offering an incentive. Popular incentives can include gift cards, rent discounts, or enhanced amenities. Yes, you’re essentially buying their participation, but be careful to avoid projecting or implying that only positive answers will be rewarded.
You can also try making your exit surveys anonymous. If tenants have nothing to lose, they won’t refrain from expressing their honest opinions or complaints. Of course, this may make it difficult to address specific issues that may result in a tenant renewing their lease.
How to Use The Data
According to experts, the average person will tell 7 to 12 people about a bad experience but relate a positive experience to 1 or 2. So, for the information to be useful, you need to ask pertinent questions—and be ready for honest responses. Otherwise, it’s just garbage in/garbage out. You may need to take an introspective look at your overall business practices. But to stay competitive, listen to what your tenants are telling you. To improve, don’t take the responses personally, but use them to make changes where they’re needed.
Image Courtesy of: La Miko