They say necessity is the mother of invention, but perhaps they should say crisis is the mother of invention. For example, we might not have duct tape, or Spam, had it not been for a crisis. Who would’ve thought that we wouldn’t have chocolate chip cookies or fluorescent lights? Oh, and don’t forget about the zipper! All of these things were invented (some by accident) during times of great trial in our country (world war, economic depression). That didn’t stop the purveyors of said products from figuring out a way to make things better for their fellow man.
It’s essential to realize that invention isn’t always about a product, but also about a new way of doing something that, due to egregious external forces, it is hard to do the old way. It’s up to us to figure it out, so to speak. Make it work. Not to let our challenges get in the way of our success.
Fast-forward to 2020 and the COVID-19 outbreak.
Our multifamily industry is being challenged and pushed harder than it ever has before. With lock-downs in place, it’s more difficult than ever to engage with residents and provide the level of service they are generally used to. Creativity is a must, and thinking outside the box is an absolute necessity. Invention is necessary.
The Club at Fossil Creek, managed by Busboom Group, is one such example. They recently held an event designed to reach their residents while maintaining all local and state social-distancing and best practices guidelines.
They invited American Idol Season 16 contestant, Ron Bultongez, to do a live music gig. They also invited a food truck out to serve food. According to Jason Busboom, President of Busboom Group, the idea is to have them order their food and listen to the great music while they wait. Then they’ll head back to their apartments where they can listen to the music from their patios—all while maintaining social distancing guidelines.
“We do practice social distancing at the events, and our team is asked to wear masks as they help set up and support the performances. The same goes for food truck operators and the residents.” says Busboom. “Our residents do seem to be extremely thankful for the efforts to help them get through this situation with more comfort and even more fun, and we’ll continue to do so.”
Busboom Group engages with their residents in a number of ways beyond just this one event. “We have had a few virtual events, including an incredibly viewed Virtual Pictionary, several times, Virtual Happy Hour, Virtual Bingo, and Virtual Trivial Pursuit. We also started our DIY Virtual Maintenance Program (techs drop off supplies to residents and then walk them through simple work orders via an iPad), and that has been very helpful to keep our residents more comfortable in their homes.”
The property manager, Ana Jackson, was pleased with the turnout as well. “Given the circumstances that we are under, we had a great turn out! It was great hanging out with the residents while practicing social distancing. For a few hours there, we felt some type of normalcy. It was good seeing everyone smiling while enjoying themselves with great food and music,” she says.
The synergy between the office staff and the residents has never been more critical than right now. It’s important to build and keep that relationship intact but can be very challenging. Perception is everything, and that’s what The Club at Fossil Creek focuses on.
“We take pride in offering a great living experience. We’ve had several virtual events, contests, and giveaways on our social media platforms. Last week we began personally calling our residents to check-in and see how they are doing these difficult times. We’ve had a few residents surprised at this gesture,” says Jackson. “We’ve received excellent feedback, and it was nice to hear they feel like we genuinely care and are not just here to ‘collect money.'”
Not only was it a positive experience for residents, but it also turned into a fantastic marketing opportunity. According to Jackson, they did a live Facebook stream of the event, and the property’s Facebook page had exceptional engagement from not only the apartment community but also from the community at large. The more opportunities you have to engage with the public, the more future residents you may have access to.
So next time you hear the classic phrase from Winston Churchill, “Never let a good crisis go to waste,” take it to heart and let your creativity and passion for the multifamily industry let loose and invent something new. It’s when we’re under pressure to solve a problem is when we’re at our best.