Millennials are growing up, getting jobs and achieving that hallmark of maturity, moving out on their own. But property managers note that these renters are not as independent as you might think—and they are much more demanding than previous generations.
I spoke with the owner and manager of a residential property management firm serving the Chicago market. Their appeal to unmarried, working Millennials in their twenties allows him to experience this high-touch trend first-hand:
“There has been a marked change over my nine years in the business. Twenty-somethings now don’t have the basic knowledge of how to change a light bulb, flip a breaker in the fuse box or light the pilot light on the stove.”
He also notes that with less basic knowledge, comes great expectations of what services the firm must provide to Millennials:
“Older tenants would call with a problem like a broken key in the lock, or locking themselves out of the apartment and ask if I had suggestions for locksmiths to call. Now, I get an emergency page with the demand that someone show up to fix the problem within 30 minutes.”
The Importance of Property Management
These expectations are important. The February 2014 landmark study by The Demand Institute of 10,000 US households found that having ‘good management or a landlord that is responsive to maintenance requests’ is highly important. In fact, over 60% of renters of all ages rated this characteristic as an 8, 9 or 10 on a ten-point importance scale. Louise Keely, President of The Demand Institute comments,
“Overall management responsiveness is much more important than other building features such as communal spaces for working or socializing.”
Where Did These Great Expectations Come From?
There are many possible reasons for this trend among Millennials. This generation grew up with more supervision and less independence, as thoroughly explored in Hanna Rosin’s excellent piece, “The Overprotected Kid.” The management representative related a story about a 25-year-old tenant whose mother called him to arrange utilities service for her son’s apartment.
Technology has given us all the mentality that “there’s an app for that,” with the understanding that solutions will be immediate. In fact, for the rental market, Gozent is a popular website that boasts, “Making the rental process hassle-free” and “making it fun, beautiful and exciting.”
How Brands Can Benefit
For brands, the reasons behind the trend matter less than the implications. For one, Millennials are quick to assert their power on social media if they aren’t accommodated. My source adds, “If I don’t come right out, they may threaten to write something bad on Yelp.” He also mentioned that some wish to complete the renting process entirely online and find it odd he would want to meet renters in person.
Despite any challenges, this market has ample opportunity for success. Millennials will reward brands that recognize their high-touch needs and cater to them. Brands that can solve problems immediately will win with these consumers. There’s also opportunity for engaging in a meaningful advisory role, instead of a simple transactional role. Great consumer expectations can also mean great competitive advantage for brands that figure out how to resonate with Millennials.