Why Move-In Day Is Critical to Resident Experience and Retention


Angela Cravens

– VOL. 17

We all know what move-in day is about for new tenants, right? First-day jitters, takeout dinner on the floor, and enough bubble wrap to float a small raft.

For the industry, however, move-in day means a lot more. A good move-in day sets the tone for the overall resident experience and your ability to nurture a sense of belonging among the community, which in turn realizes retention. As the rise of prop tech innovation makes move-in more transactional and less human–increasingly, residents may not even interact with staff until the moving van pulls into the location, having organized a self-guided tour and signed a lease online–landlords are missing a vital element that translates into real dollars. After all, move-in day isn’t just the beginning of a lease period. It’s the start of a new relationship.

Your competitive edge = community

Image of Move In day resident experience

In Kansas City, Neighborhood Managers partneded with a local ice cream vendor to host a ice cream social to welcome new neighbors to the community.

That’s why the Venn process might look a little different than the industry standards. Sure, cleaning and walk-throughs are important to our community, but we’ve also leveraged the experience and insights of our Neighborhood Managers to make sure that our move-in day includes the critical element of community. As a result, our move-in day checklist has some key elements that may surprise you. For one thing, the action kicks off when residents download the Life At Venn app, their doorway to the vibrant community offerings in and around their building. Not only can they pay rent or request maintenance on the app, but they can also RSVP for a yoga event, or sign up to have fresh produce delivered to their door from a local farm. If they need a babysitter or handyman, they can ask neighbors right in the app. 

An unforgettable resident experience needs creativity

Free coffee? Discounts from the cool wine shop around the block? These are just a few of the perks available to our neighbors on day one, part of our investment in making it easy for them to develop relationships in the neighborhood, while giving back to the local businesses that make it an exciting place to live. Whereas key pick-up is traditionally a chore, we make it an event. In our Downtown LA community, for example, Neighborhood Managers are on hand to greet new residents with a bouquet handmade by a local florist and neighbor.  In Kansas City, Neighborhood Managers help new residents acclimate with a playful round of Neighborhood Bingo. And in all our communities, new move-ins are encouraged to introduce themselves via the app and if they’re open to it, even spotlighted on the app with a featured profile. Think of it as a seamless (ahem, read: faster) way to get to know folks. The modern equivalent of dropping off a basket of freshly baked cookies by way of introduction. Although if they’d like to do that too, we can help!

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Neighbors receive welcome kits stuffed with local goodies when at key pick up in Venn’s Kansas City community. The bags, pictured above, double as totes for the community pool.

Retention starts on day one

To us, these elements aren’t add-ons. They’re non-negotiables, majorly impacting our retention rates. At Venn, we’ve realized the importance of taking an experience-led approach to rentals, looking at our product as something that lives beyond the walls of the apartment itself. When we asked US renters about the top three considerations influencing their likelihood to renew, 57% mentioned at least one neighborhood factor, like the people they’ve built connections with, proximity to local businesses they frequent, or their overall sense of belonging in their neighborhood. The impact of this approach starts even earlier than the renter journey: When we started showcasing the neighborhood experience we offer, rather than just the living space, agents saw a 25% lift in renter inquiries, overnight. 

Renters who describe themselves as “highly satisfied” with the neighborhood are also more than 2x more likely to renew. So we look at move-in day as the start of a long and happy relationship. By taking an experience-led approach, we instill a sense of belonging on day one. 

So why not start thinking about how to make your own move-in journey a real experience by incorporating the people and places that make your neighborhood a great place to live? After all, it’s the neighborly thing to do.