Mandy Doucet is executive vice president of Lloyd Jones Multifamily Management, which has 5,500 apartment units under management throughout Florida, Texas, and the Southeast. Throughout the pandemic, as other property management companies struggled with delinquent rent collection, Lloyd Jones has beaten the national collection averages—consistently collecting at least 95% of rents. Doucet shares a few strategies she and her leadership team implemented to maximize rent collection in the properties managed by Lloyd Jones.
As the pandemic unfolded and residents were faced with unemployment, reduced hours and furloughs, the financial impact was overwhelming. Many residents were embarrassed and anxious about their finances and hesitant to come forward. I met with our leadership team and had each community create a video from the property manager—sent via email—with the message that “We haven’t heard from you, and we want to work with you. We’re here to help.” It was a personal approach that resonated with residents and helped boost our rent collection percentages.
Offer flex payment options
We worked with residents by offering flexible payment options and updated our system to be able to accept partial payments. In addition, we paused any increases on renewals, offered shorter-term leases, if necessary, and didn’t require any break-lease fees. We also let people use part of their deposit as payment, and waived the minimal online processing fee. These measures demonstrated our compassion and empathy for our residents and helped keep people in their apartments.
Because of COVID-19, residents were apprehensive about letting maintenance crew into their apartments for small repairs, so we encouraged managers to create DIY guides to common repairs (accessible through the online resident portal). The guides provided instructions on basic maintenance issues such as the proper way to plunge a toilet, giving residents the option to make the repair themselves. Of course, maintenance was always available if the resident requested service. The residents appreciated our concern for their safety.
Share information about resources
Through their online resident portals, our communities let residents know about resources available to them, whether through local charities, or government agencies. We also had several properties conduct their own food drives, so residents could stop by the office for pantry essentials. And in some cases, where residents were intimidated by the complexity of applications for federal funds, we helped complete the paperwork for them.
Kindness goes a long way
Keeping our residents and our teams safe was one of our first priorities, and we were among the first property management firms to install plexiglass in managers’ offices, institute virtual tours, and make the investment in electrostatic sprayers to be able to sanitize quickly. These measures conveyed our care and concern and helped build a relationship of trust and good faith with our residents.
While there isn’t a single silver bullet to improve rent collection during a crisis, these strategies and tactics reflect our core values as a company: passion, compassion, and optimism. Our goal is always to make lives better and create communities where people feel truly at home.
Mandy Doucet has been in the real estate management business since 1995, and has a diverse background in marketing, training and resident services. In her role as EVP, she directs property operations and training development for Lloyd Jones Multifamily Management. Mandy is a CPM and holds CAPS, ARM, HCCP and C3p designations.