Indianapolis—Barrington Group Inc. got rave reviews from residents soon after launching its Resident Rewards incentive program one year ago, and now the apartment property management company has garnered kudos from peers in the multifamily industry. The Indiana Apartment Association recently presented BGI with the 2011 Prodigy Award for the best corporate resident retention program.
BGI created Resident Rewards after recognizing a trend at its 14 properties in Georgia, Indiana, Michigan, Ohio and Texas: residents who are actively involved in their apartment community and interact with their neighbors tend to stay put and renew their leases over and over again. Utilizing Resident Rewards to forge that community spirit has proven to be a successful one, as the program has become all the rage at BGI’s apartment destinations. Tenants can accrue points for any number of accomplishments and each community has a great deal of freedom in determining point-worthy activities.
“The best part about the program is that it’s so flexible that everybody can be extremely creative, so it’s gone beyond just getting points for paying your rent on time or points for renewing your lease,” Kristi L. Dingess, social media marketing manager with BGI, tells MHN. “We’re doing things like residential points at resident functions where if you volunteer at the function you get points. And one of our communities, Horizons in Indianapolis, has gotten really creative with it. They have dumpster divas, light lieutenants, and salt captains. These people are responsible for picking up trash around dumpsters, letting us know if lights are out, and salting the locks in the colder months, and they get points for volunteering–and of course they love their titles. The dumpster divas just think they’re something else.”
The list of options for earning points goes on and on and varies from property to property. “At a couple of our other communities, now that we’re getting into the time when food donations are big, if you bring in 10 cans you get 30 points. Other communities are doing coat drives, you bring in a coat you get points. We pretty much cover everything. If you want to earn points you definitely can. That’s definitely my favorite part of it, that it’s not all set in stone and that we can be very creative and very different and very accommodating with it.”
In addition to welcoming new activities to the program, BGI has also made it easier for residents to see the fruits of their labor sooner rather than later. “Typically what we’ve been doing is increasing it to the point where you can immediately redeem those points for an item,” Dingess explains. “Most recently we’ve done an increase so that you can get, for example, a Target gift card, right away.”
And the Target gift cards have become the most coveted among the rewards. “You can get gift certificates to Target, Barnes & Noble or AMC, but the $100 Target gift card, people absolutely love it!” she notes. Of course, there are other items that are very popular among the residents. “People tend to be a little impatient and they go for the smaller ticket items because they can get more faster. So we haven’t had anybody cash in on stainless steel appliances or granite countertops, but we’ve done plenty of digital thermostats, pulsating showerheads and kitchen faucets with sprayers.”
BGI is enjoying the success of the Rewards Program and residents’ enthusiasm for it, and the Prodigy Award is icing on the cake. “We’re very, very excited about receiving the Prodigy Award from the IAA,” Dingess ays. “It’s definitely a huge honor for us. We’re on that list with some pretty big-name companies so to get the Best Corporate Resident Retention is absolutely huge.”