So you’ve trimmed your operating costs to the bare bones. You’ve raised rents as high as you dare. You’ve done everything you can think of to lease those vacant units. Now, what do you do if your bottom line still needs a boost?
Maybe it’s time to pay more attention to non-rent income. You might be surprised at the amount of extra revenue you can generate — and at some of the clever ways you can go about it. To get you started, we’ve put together a list of ideas — from A to Z.
A: Appliance rental. Does your community have washer/dryer hookups? If so, why not rent the washers and dryers themselves for a monthly fee? Many apartment residents would love the convenience of having these appliances in their apartment, but aren’t willing to purchase them. According to Cathy LaPrade, H.H. Hunt Property Management rents its residents washers and dryers for $35 per month. The cost to the company is only $18 per month. You can also rent smaller appliances — such as vacuum cleaners, microwave ovens and televisions. Ambling Management Company, of Kent, Ohio, allows its residents to rent vacuum cleaners for a $5 fee.
Ads. Sell advertising space in your resident newsletter or community intranet to local restaurants and merchants. Many of them might be happy to pay reasonable rates for such geographically targeted coverage. You might also consider selling wall space in your laundry rooms to local advertisers.
B: Boat parking. Faye Morgan, of Benchmark Management, shared this great idea with us. One of her properties had a large, unused area where grass didn’t grow well — so the quick-thinking management decided to turn a problem area into an opportunity for revenue. They filled the area with white rock and designated it as a “recreational vehicle parking lot.” For $20 per month, residents can park their boats, trailers, campers, jet skies and so forth. Faye reports that the parking area currently brings in between $160 and $220 each month.
C: Cleaning. Use your housekeeping staff to boost your bottom line — offer your residents fee-based cleaning services.
Corporate suites. Many properties maintain fully furnished apartments that can be rented by the day for anywhere from $50 to $100. These can be marketed to local employers, who might need them for out-of-town employees who need to be onsite for several days or weeks. They can also be marketed to residents who are having guests from out of town.
D: DVD and video rentals. You can either maintain your own library or contract with one of the several vendors who specialize in this amenity. Don’t forget to establish a late fee policy to maximize earnings.
E: Equipment rental. Think of things your residents might do periodically, but not often enough that they want to maintain their own equipment for it — then put together rental packages of that equipment. For example, if outdoor recreation is big among your residents, consider renting sports and/or game equipment — hiking gear, camping gear, tennis racquets and balls, and lawn game sets such as croquet and badminton. Other kinds of “equipment packages” you might consider renting could include car-washing equipment (vacuum with attachments, bucket, hose, sponges, chamois), cleaning equipment (vacuum cleaner, broom, mop, feather dusters, cleaning supplies and rags) or barbecue equipment (grill, utensils, charcoal briquets, etc.).
F: Furniture. Furniture rental can be especially lucrative because it can pay twice. That is, you typically get a commission from the furniture rental company in addition to the rental income you make from the resident.
G: Garages. Garage or carport space is usually an easy sell, even at high prices — especially in regions that get lots of ice and snow in the winter. Monthly fees of $100 and more are not uncommon.
Guest amenity passes. Charge residents a small fee for a pass that allows their guests access to the property’s amenities — such as the pool or the fitness center. Fees might range from $5-$10 for a week-long pass to $3-$5 for a day pass.
H: High-speed Internet. Dial-up is quickly becoming a thing of the past, and residents are willing to pay extra for the convenience of a high-speed connection.
I: Increased fees. Take a look at what you are currently charging for applications, late rent, non-sufficient fund fees and so on, and see if you can raise them by a few dollars. It might not sound like much, but it adds up.
J: Jukebox. Put one in your clubhouse, with speakers both inside and outside, around your pool area. Fill it with good music, and let residents drop in quarters to listen to their favorites.
K: Kiosks. Do you have lots of unused space in your lobby or other common area? Why not install a kiosk, similar to those found in hotel lobbies? Rent the space to a vendor — like a newsstand, coffee shop, pastry cart, etc.
L: Location. A number of the folks we surveyed charge extra for more desirable apartments — those close to the pool or with especially good views. For example, Brookwood Apartments, of Archdale, North Carolina, charges an additional $20 per month for units with a poolside view.
Labor. Let residents “lease” one of your maintenance techs for an hour or so, to help with minor household work — like hanging pictures, moving furniture or wiring the electronic equipment.
M: Mortgage verification. According to Claire Moyers, there is ancillary income to be made even from those residents who leave us to buy homes. Her company, Focus Management, charges a $100 fee for mortgage verification. Claire says that residents are notified about the fee up front, in a lease addendum. She also notes that most residents don’t complain because their mortgage companies usually pay the fee.
Meeting facility rentals. Does your property have a good meeting facility? Does it often sit empty? If so, open it up to local groups who need a place to gather. Check rental prices for comparable spaces in your area to determine how much to charge.
Stay tuned next week for N-Z.
Tami Siewruk has held leasing, marketing, management, and business development positions up to and including Vice President of Property Management. As President of Siewruk Development, she has completed a 192-unit apartment community in Austin, Texas; and in partnership with Conine Residential Group & The Huizinga Group, developed 305 units in Dallas, Texas. She currently is working on a small resort in the Bahamas.