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  • Writer's pictureAndrew Miln

Building a Brand in Build to Rent

Good service pays

And nothing rings truer than when this is looked at in context of what all the biggest players in the Build to Rent (BTR) sphere are doing. Set against the backdrop of the rising costs of living, how can you ensure that tenants are prepared to invest in their lifestyle? Customer Rewards Platform Vaboo share their experience.

Brand Before Building

Brand in most peoples’ minds means a fancy logo. But if you consider it for a moment, you realise that logo conjures up a mental picture of what the product is, who it is created for, its quality, the service behind it and, ultimately, the price you will have to pay for it; all gleaned from that logo. So clearly, from the business operator’s perspective, the brand associated with the logo embraces the entire business philosophy and strategy of the company.

Put this into the BTR context and you can quickly see how the brand defines the target audience, the style of the building, the level of services, the provision of amenity and even the price point; all crucial factors for success.

How is BTR different?

But where BTR differs from a normal tenancy is clear. It focuses on the customer and places importance in their experience, rather than purely in letting the building. It is also the reason for its growing success. Although the best Letting Agents are also catching on top the benefits it creates for happy customers and long term relationships.

Part of the BTR experience is of course about amenity space and provision, such as a resident’s lounge/games room/club room, roof garden, private dining, dry leisure (gym and fitness facilities) and enhanced main entrance lobby areas. But this is not always enough.  The effects of the pandemic and the insecurities created by rising costs of living, mean that people need to feel understood and cared for.

CEO at Vaboo Jonathan Stein says “Resident experience should always be at the forefront of the offering. And you need to be doing something different from the competition to attract new customers.  There are very few BTR schemes that offer any financial support.  Vaboo adds value through regular positive engagement, real-time feedback, easy access to other products and services as well as the chance to save hundreds of pounds a year on everyday essentials from national brands.”

A survey by Vaboo revealed that over 83% of 10,000 tenants were concerned about ten rising costs of living.  Feeling safe and secure has become the biggest motivator for choosing a property – with 68% of respondents citing this as their top concern.

What do your customers value?

People are all different and want different things from their BTR schemes. The reasons for wanting to rent are diverse, so you have to be flexible to retain your customers. You need to understand and cater to the varied demographics – not everyone is a young professional! The schemes need to be attractive to different age groups, and people with different jobs and careers to make them work.

Data collection is a vital part of the property puzzle.  Partners like Vaboo can collect it for you. Did you know for example that 44% of tenants would like to see Home Insurance included in their rent?

Customer feedback can often be merely a snapshot of opinion. The relevance of issues can change quickly depending on the customers’ experience. In order to implement a successful change programme, measurement and monitoring of customer opinion should be conducted on an ongoing basis to ensure needs are constantly being met.

For modern businesses and modern residents alike, you should be engaging with customers to build a sense of community, ensure the highest levels of customer experience and a continuously evolving management of buildings and spaces. Feedback is at the centre of operating spaces for the benefit of the customer.

Top Tech

Technology is also starting to play a part in keeping customers happy who are living in Build to Rent schemes and developers should be future proofing their technology. Tech has a short life span so it’s important to get the basics right rather than focusing on gimmicks which will rapidly be out of date. But, you can add real value with technology. The happier the operators keep their customers the more likely their customers will remain loyal, and rental levels will become less of a priority.

Tools that engage with customers need to have a function and consistency of use that matches the high expectations of the user. These tools have quickly grown from being a 'nice to have' to a key component of experience.

Rewards Platform Vaboo provide a way to measure and track your customer experience.  Marketing Manager Emily Cooper said.  “Our customers wanted and needed to know the impact the platform had and we welcomed the opportunity to show our ROI.  We collect feedback from over 120,000 tenants. Within 12 months our customers see their NPS grow by an average of 40% – many by more. Our average customer NPS is 47 with many providers at levels above Amazon and Apple.  With the industry average at -8 (yes that is a minus) that is certainly a brandworthy brag for them!”

In Conclusion

“A brand for a company is like a reputation for a person. You earn reputation by trying to do hard things well” Jeff Bezos

Simply adding a roof terrace is no longer enough. Ultimately the message is that Build to Rent is very much a customer business rather than a Real Estate one, and we are seeing that operators are focusing on selling the experience rather than purely letting the building. Great service yields success – and that will not be changing anytime soon.

To find out how Vaboo can help you beef up your BTR customer proposition chat to our team

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