5 Tips for Building a Strong Renter Referral Program

By Alicia Geigel on March 27, 2023

Getting new tenants into your vacant property units can be an exhaustive process that sometimes yields no results. Between endless advertising and asking peers for recommendations, bringing in new tenants can be hard to do on your own. A helpful way to cut out this frustration is to build a renter referral program that your current tenants can participate in. Doing so can give you a pool of potential tenants to fill your property units with trustworthy recommendations from reliable tenants.

If you are new to the concept of a renter referral program but want to get started, here are five tips that will help you!

real estate, agent, landlord, property manager, renter

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What is a Renter Referral Program?

Put simply, a renter referral program is a type of plan in which a property manager or landlord offers current tenants monetary or gift incentives in exchange for them recommending friends, family, co-workers, acquaintances, etc. to your property and new listings. Kaycee Miller of Rentec Direct further explains, “The recommendation goes beyond just a property showing and should include an approved application, signed lease, and a paid security deposit.” Now that you have an idea of what a renter referral program is, let’s dive into some tips to help you build a strong one!

Tips for Building a Strong Renter Referral Program

1. Offer Appealing Incentives: The first step in any successful renter referral program is establishing incentives for current tenants that will help bring in new ones. Offering incentives is a useful way of gaining new tenants without the stress and hassle of seeking out new residents yourself. Incentives are essentially any prize or award given to current tenants for referring a potential tenant to your property units for renting purposes. These prizes and awards can include discounted rent, gift cards, sports or event tickets, special amenities, or even household appliances. The better your incentives are, the more likely your tenant will bring you a solid new renter.

2. Spread the News: A referral program is only as good as the people participating in it. If your tenants are unaware that there is a program, then all the time, effort, and even money you’ve spent are for nothing. As you are building your program, be sure to spread the word and properly inform your tenants of the program, its details, and the incentives. You can do this by posting advertisements throughout your property building, sharing informative posts on your professional social media pages like Facebook and Twitter, sending out newsletters/flyers to their mailbox, or even directing tenants to your own website with information. Spreading the news of your referral program ensures that your tenants have access to the details and can properly participate in the program.

3. Educate Your Staff: There is nothing worse than having an uninformed staff that lacks understanding and knowledge of basic company policies and programs. Another key part of building a strong and successful rental referral program is properly educating your staff on all the details of the program. Tiara Sutton of Butterfly MX notes, “Ensure that all staff members are on the same page about how the referral program works. Do this by hosting a meeting informing them on how to implement it. In addition, this will also empower your staff to accurately answer resident questions about how the referral process works.” Avoid simply sending out an email with the details, as this can often get lost among other emails or simply get brushed off.

4. Make the Process Simple: Once you have spread the word and educated your staff, create a landing page on your business website that makes the referral program easy to participate in. Include information like the incentives offered, eligibility rules, what the potential tenants need for an application, and how to submit a referral. If a tenant cannot figure out this information or determine how to submit a referral, they are likely to not ask about it or even submit one in the future. Making the information accessible and streamlining the referral program will make it easy for your tenant to follow the instructions, get their incentive, and submit a referral, which will make them as happy as you.

5. Say Thank You: Engaging with your renters on any level shows them you are dedicated to your business, always looking out for their satisfaction, and genuinely want to build meaningful relationships with them. Though you offered and provided incentives for their efforts, it is still important to show your appreciation by saying thank you. Justin Chaplin of Apartment List recommends, “Sending residents a thank you card for their referral, regardless of whether the prospect becomes a new tenant, is a great way to demonstrate your appreciation.  Keep tenants updated on the status of the referral. Sending a quick email or letter will ensure that the tenant feels heard.”

real estate, landlord, property manager, renter, tenant, couple

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Building a strong renter referral program can satisfy your tenants with incentives while also giving you solid, reliable prospects to fill your vacant property units- it’s a win/win for all involved!

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