Euless, Tex.–Apartment Life is about to make a good thing even better. The organization has just brought in two industry veterans, Bobby Page and Colette Strange, to help expand its successful CARES onsite resident-retention program across the country.
Apartment Life, a 10-year-old nonprofit organization established to increase business value for customers by retaining residents through enhanced community living, launched CARES as its inaugural program in 2000. The program has proven successful in bolstering occupancy levels and reducing both resident and staff turnover through the establishment of CARES teams. The onsite teams, which can consist of a married couple, a family or two single adults, help property owners foster a sense of community for residents.
Property owners relying on the program have reported declines as high as 8 percent in annual turnover rates and the addition of an average of approximately $138,000 in annual cash flow. It is a success rate that Apartment Life is ready to achieve on a broader scale, and Page and Strange will spearhead the endeavor.
Page has taken on the title of president at Apartment Life, stepping into the shoes of founder and now-CEO Stan Dobbs, and he also serves as chief operating officer at the company. Page brings to the table over 30 years of experience, having kicked off his career at multifamily real estate company JPI, where he currently holds the position of managing partner. He believes the timing is just right to take Apartment Life’s CARES program to the next level.
“We’ve seen business value really increase over the last couple of years; the business community has really increased our demand,” Page tells MHN. “Today we have 320 apartment communities we serve with CARES teams, and we plan to grow that number to 2,000 over the next 10 years.”
The basis for the program and its resulting success, he says, is simple but important. “Half the people in apartments don’t know anybody in their community. The CARES teams help create relationships, and as a result, people want to stay longer. They get people to know each other, to connect with each other, and that produces resident-retention value. The apartment industry has done a good job of building better communities–better clubhouses, better pools, better fitness facilities–but it has a long way to go in community development, which we see as a huge economic benefit.”
CARES has yielded rewards beyond those originally anticipated. “When our CARES teams connect with people they are also helping staff at the apartment properties by, for example, talking to residents before their leases expire about what they like at the property, what changes they would like to see,” Page notes. “The teams serve as a third party that helps the staff grow retention and that has had a surprisingly positive impact on employee satisfaction scores. That was a windfall we weren’t planning on, but it’s a pleasant one”
Strange, as Apartment Life’s new chief people officer, will also play a large role in furthering and improving the CARES program, as well as enhancing the company’s value from the inside. She has just the right background to make it all work. With a 17-year history in human resources–nine years of which were spent at JPI–Strange is a veritable expert at luring top talent and cultivating a desirable and effective corporate culture. In her new position, she is leading the quest to increase the number of CARES teams with like-minded residents as the program expands nationally. “Collette is all things human resources,” Page says. “She will focus on how we attract and grow leadership and talent–and how we develop similar leadership at Apartment Life.”