When it comes to your community, your best advocates are your residents. As the people who experience all of the best of your community every day, they can vouch for the apartments, the amenities, and the overall living experience firsthand. As a result, resident testimonials and word of mouth are often the best ways to entice prospective residents to opt into your community. But instead of leaving it to chance, why not create a more formal resident referral program to incentive residents to help you lease-up?

The Benefits of a Resident Referral Program

Resident referral programs are a great way to create a thriving community that also positively impacts your bottom line. Resident referral programs can:

  • Lower resident acquisition costs. By encouraging your current residents to refer people they already know, you won’t have to spend as much time and money on marketing and advertising.
  • Minimize resident turnover. When residents encourage people they know to move in, they’re building a welcoming and thriving community. As a result, they’re less likely to move out, helping to increase resident retention and minimize turnover costs. 
  • Lease-up faster. When you do have vacancies, filling them becomes much easier with a referral program. Instead of your staff working tirelessly on marketing materials or coordinating with leasing agents, you have a built-in network that makes word-of-mouth marketing easy.
  • Foster a stronger community. When residents already know their neighbors, it’s simple to build a strong and engaged community. From attendance at resident events to positive interactions in amenity spaces, this helps bolster both participation in your community programming and overall resident happiness. 

How to Start a Resident Referral Program

Referral programs are incentive-based programs that reward your residents for referring friends, family, and acquaintances to your community. Because 92% of people trust word of mouth recommendations from friends and family over all other forms of advertising, a referral program is an effective way to encourage interest in your community. 

When a resident refers someone to the community, they receive some kind of bonus when that person signs a lease. The program bonuses could include everything from a cash bonus to discounts on rent, or gift cards to local restaurants and businesses. To maximize the benefits, consider creating a referral program with no limit offering tiered bonuses that increase with each referral. That way, the more people a resident refers to move-in, the more their reward, making it a win-win solution for both you and your residents.

How to Advertise the Referral Program

Once you’ve determined your program details and identified what incentives you’ll be offering, it’s time to generate interest in the program and your community itself. While traditional marketing methods like emails, flyers, and signage are a great way to engage your community, you can also think outside the box to drive interest in your referral program. 

Develop Program Positioning 

First, come up with campaign positioning or slogans that will make an impact on residents. Consider a catchy name like “Friends Make the Best Neighbors,” or “It Pays to Have Friends.” You can then use this catchphrase across different marketing materials like flyers, emails, and social media posts to promote the program more widely to your residents.

Host Resident & Prospective Resident Events

You can also host resident events and encourage them to invite their friends and family. That way, prospective residents get an inside look at what it’s like to be a member of your community and can witness all of the perks and benefits firsthand. From barbecues to cocktail hours, these events are the perfect opportunity to encourage prospects to view your community in a brand new way.

Develop Local Partnerships

Expand your community network by partnering with local businesses you love. Offer staff incentives to these partner businesses when their employees refer residents to your community. From cash bonuses to gift cards, you can create a compelling way to encourage other community members to direct residents to your property. You can also promote their businesses to your residents for a mutually beneficial relationship, making it a win-win option for everyone. 

Encourage Realtor Referrals

When it comes to referral bonuses, you can also think beyond just your residents and community partners. Opt to partner with local real estate agents to expand your reach and encourage additional referrals. While many realtors overlook multifamily because it’s not traditionally an avenue for commission, you can make it worth their while to refer their clients to your community. After all, the majority of real estate transactions come from referrals, so expanding your referral network is one of the easiest ways to lease-up faster. 

Ready to kick-start your resident referral program? Work with multifamily experts like zipcode creative to develop your advertising materials and any other assets you may need to get it off the ground! 

Get in touch today to get started.

Areum Flyer is ©Fairfield Residential  |  Work executed by Stacey Feeney, owner of zipcode creative, while under creative direction and employment at Fairfield Residential.