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Reimagining build-to-rent as a business of memberships

September 4, 2019

Ian Gibbs, Director of Neighbourhoods

Get Living was founded to not only challenge the norms of renting but also to challenge the entrenched mindset towards renting.

We wanted people living with us to see renting as a lifestyle choice rather than a second option to home ownership.

In the same way that we choose to rent, or subscribe, to our cars, phones, music, TV shows, even clothes, subscribing to a home should be no different. When choosing where to live, renters should expect an even better quality of service, choice of product, flexibility of contract, incentives and rewards.

I joined Get Living as Director of Neighbourhoods this summer coming from a background in health clubs and one of my key focuses has been on reinforcing that membership mindset.

The foundations of a membership business are built on customer loyalty and community – the same blueprint as the build-to-rent sector.

Any business can say it has a customer loyalty scheme – it’s a set of incentives and benefits – but a successful scheme must be relevant to your customers, therefore it must come from them.

Finding out what’s relevant to more than 6,000 residents requires gathering regular feedback and pulling out what they perceive to be of added value. We capture feedback in real-time allowing us to tweak our offering, for example the format of our resident events, so that we can create meaningful value.

Perceived value doesn’t necessarily mean discounts; continually discounting doesn’t build loyalty, it makes people loyal to a price and not to the brand.

So, having a more complete offering which focuses on experiences that are unique and relevant to customers is what will set build-to-rent operators apart from their competitors.

For us at Get Living this means creating more memorable experiences within the neighbourhoods we build and manage, bringing together the independent retailers, parks and open spaces to create places where people want to live.

From facilitating free outdoor exercise classes, to a year-round programme of community events in the public spaces – food festivals, Christmas markets, live music – to the free resident-exclusive events that we call our ‘Big Night’s In’ which offer anything from gin-tasting and pizza making, to ‘paint like Banksy’ art classes and speed-quizzing. Everything we curate is with the resident in mind.

These events are where people get the opportunity to meet their neighbours and build their own community, form their own clubs. Drawing on my experience in health clubs, seeing ‘clubs’ within ‘clubs’ is a sign that you’ve created a safe and social environment which supports retention.

Friendships give people a reason to come and a reason to stay. That’s the secret to loyalty.

We also know that people are more likely to stay loyal to a brand which has good social values and environmental credentials so it’s important that we demonstrate the work we’re doing to support local charities and organisations, as we do through our Inspiring Communities Fund as well as initiatives to minimise our carbon footprint, such as rainwater harvesting.

Through committing to delivering quality homes with exceptional customer service, longer and flexible tenancies and a relevant offering of incentives and rewards, we are building a brand and a lifestyle that people will choose to become a ‘member’ of, not just a tenant.

Where we’re headed next is developing membership packages for our different audiences. With a diverse range of retailers in our neighbourhoods, we have the opportunity to incorporate a range of services – from fitness to groceries – to appeal to our diverse resident demographic.

We will continue to listen to our residents as we grow across the UK to ensure we stay relevant and add meaningful value to their individual renting experience.

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