By Lori Hammond

Opening lines of communication with local service providers can benefit your community in many ways.

Last month, we discussed the importance of a community outreach calendar. When planning that calendar, do not forget to add your local municipal services. It’s a chance for your apartment community to connect with the surrounding neighborhood and a visit to the local police or fire department creates personal contact with your community.

Here are three reasons to make these visits:

Recognition of Service

September 11 is an important reminder of the sacrifices made by so many first responders and their families. Our local heroes experience risks every day. September 11 is a perfect time to recognize local first responders and express your gratitude and appreciation for all that they do.

If your community experienced a major loss, fire or worse, recognition can be a very specific thank you from the households that were affected, as well as the individuals from the staff. Your team can acknowledge the service that was provided and how the event affected their lives.

Change the Perception of Apartment Communities

To many local service providers, apartment communities appear to be an anonymous collection of ever-changing families. Our ever-present “now leasing” signs support this perception.

The true demographic of our communities is so much different. We have long-term staff, which gives our community stability. Our resident population consists of many households that have resided with us for 5, 10 and even 15 years. In some cases, we have “lifers,” who are individuals that moved to our property when it opened and are the only person that has lived in their apartment.

The 80-20 rule often dominates the impression municipal service responders have of our community. They may be familiar with a few households (via positive or negative connections) and those experiences provide the underlying impression of the entire community.

To change that impression, introduce members of your team, or a small group of residents, to the responders. Allow these service providers to experience the appreciation that is truly held by the community.

An Opportunity to Help Out

In addition to expressions of thanks and gratitude, we can assist these service providers and they can help us. Here are some ways to open the lines of communication to make their jobs easier:

  • Offer a map showing the building addresses for the community and provide an explanation of the address logic.
  • Provide a tour of the property. A walk-through of the different building layouts and apartment floor plans can benefit first responders’ understanding of a community if and when they must visit in an emergency situation.
  • Schedule a resident education event for fire safety, fire prevention or CPR.
  • If your community uses a “Knox Box” for elevator and general access keys, have that inspected.
  • If the property has residents whose mobility is limited, provide a list with this information.
  • Schedule a time to review your community’s emergency plan with first responders and encourage them to provide advice or suggestions.

Never underestimate the chance to create a referral by sharing information about your community. Police Fire and EMT are people, too. They may need a place to live in the future. And their family and friends may also be looking for a place to live. Creating a connection based on appreciation might be a reason that they would send someone your way.

Lori Hammond is the author of Property Management Minutes, which is a blog focused on the multifamily industry.