Landlording & Rental Properties

Millennials HATE Voicemails: Here’s How That Affects YOU As a Landlord

Expertise: Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate Investing Basics, Flipping Houses, Business Management, Personal Development, Mortgages & Creative Financing, Real Estate News & Commentary
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“Thanks, but I won’t return your call.”

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This message essentially sums up this article that was recently featured in the Baltimore Sun. What the author is trying to tell you is what will happen if you leave her a voicemail message. The article’s author is a millennial. And as a millennial, just like every previous generation, she has a different way of looking at the world and a different way of working in it.

For many millennials, voicemail is just something that should go away. And, in fact, voicemail does seem to be going away. Just recently JP Morgan stated they were going to start doing away with their voicemail systems because “hardly anyone uses voicemail anymore.”

A Shift in Communication

I have noticed this shift with our younger applicants and tenants for some time now. When they call, they will not leave a voicemail. When you call them back and leave them a voicemail, they will not listen to it, even if the voicemail contains instructions or answers to their questions. Voicemail is just not something they will deal with.

Related: Millennials Are Poised to Be the Wealthiest Generation Yet: Here’s Why

Why? I think mainly because they feel that the response is not quick enough. This is, after all, the generation that mastered texting. Why leave a voicemail when I can just text or email instead and usually get an instant answer?

To us older non-millennials, this trait can be really frustrating. Voicemail is still a great thing to us. We can remember when we did not have voicemail, much less a phone computer that we all carry in our pocket. We can remember when, if the person we were trying to call was not at home near their landline, you simply could not get in touch with them. We can even remember phone numbers from decades ago because we used them so much. How many phone numbers can you remember today?

Despite our potential dislike of this millennial trait regarding voicemail, I think it is something that we are going to have to get used to and deal with. Millennials are one of the largest customer bases we landlords have. And research tends to demonstrate that this trend will continue, as millennials are poised to be renters rather than homeowners.

If we as landlords want to successfully attract this group of young, up-and-coming tenants, we are going to have to keep up with the changing times and the changing technology and give our customers what they want, which is a different way to communicate.

So should you ditch your voicemail system like JP Morgan? No, I do not think so… not yet, anyway. It still serves a vital purpose to us, and many folks still use it. But you need to provide alternatives that will allow your millennial customers to communicate with you. Here are a couple of things you should consider.

How to Appeal to Millennial Customers

Have a presence on the web.

Build a website for your company, no matter how small. It is relatively easy and inexpensive to do these days. On that website, have a place for people to send you an email, and have that email sent directly to your phone so you can respond quickly.

As stated earlier, millennials expect a quick response, and if you do not provide it, someone else will. I know you may think it ridiculous to be at their beck and call, but that is what customer satisfaction is all about.

Have a place for tenants to contact you by email.

Many simply do not want the hassle of calling you and leaving a message, and do you really want to talk to them anyway? Communicate by email.

Take and accept text messages, especially with your current tenants.

Seems simple, but I know some folks who still resist texting. Stop resisting! Texting is quick and easy. A simple and quick response is usually all that is needed from you. Even if you just have to say, “I will call you shortly.”

Related: Housing Data Reveals: Millennials Flock to Markets With High Density & Walkability

Millennials out there, please help us landlords out, too. We realize you might not like voicemails, but if you are searching for apartments, you might want to give them a listen. After all, we are busy, and sometimes we cannot get back to you right away. If you will not listen to voicemails, please record a message on your voicemail greeting letting us know how to communicate with you. We are pretty good at following instructions, and if you ask us to email of text you, we can do it. If not, how else do we know how to contact you?

Trends will never stop changing, no matter how frustrating that may be to us. As a landlord, part of our job is customer service and responding to these trends, not resisting them. After all, you may just find out that you hate voicemail, too. And the funny thing is, millennials will likely one day in the future be writing a similar article about the next generation because they will not text them back.

Do you still use voicemail or are you getting farther and farther away from it? How do you communicate with potential customers and current tenants?

Please share with your comments.

Kevin Perk is co-founder of Kevron Properties, LLC with his wife Terron and has been involved in real estate investing for 10 years. Kevin invests in ...
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    Andrew Syrios Residential Real Estate Investor from Kansas City, MO
    Replied over 5 years ago
    You know, I have noticed that with text messages, I am becoming less tolerant of voicemails (even though I’m a generation Y’er). But when it comes to annoying, nothing beats those automated calls that is basically like answering your phone to get a message from some salesmen.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Andrew, I think I am with you on the texting and I am definitely with you on the automated call. Thanks for reading and commenting, Kevin
    Aaron Davis Investor from Mounds, Oklahoma
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I’m open to any form of communication with my tenants. As with many things in life communication is essential to keep things running smoothly and ruling out any kind of communication is short sighted. I also offer other convenience factors for my tenants such as online rent payments. They can pay manually or by auto draft. There are services that do that for you very inexpensively, or just make them pay the fee for the convenience.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Aaron, We do as well. Anything to make things easier and I am all for it. Thanks for reading and sharing, Kevin
    Terri B. from San Antonio, TX
    Replied over 5 years ago
    We have 3 ways for folks to get a hold of us – email address, website form, or office phone (which automatically forwards to my cell, then my husband’s if we aren’t in). We actually no longer accept ‘normal’ text messages – we had a hard time keeping records of our communications. BUT, we do have a way for folks to still ‘text’ us – they just put in our email address instead of our office number in the ‘to’ field of their text messaging system. We get it in our email’s inbox (which is also forwarded to our cell phones). We make sure to check frequently and instantly respond (you can just reply like a regular email) and they get a message back from us that is in their texting application; we get an email. We get our communications recorded & saved; they get to communicate using their favorite method; a ‘win-win’! Great post!
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Terri, Great idea! Keeping a record of communications can be vital in this business. So much can come down to a he said/she said scenario. Thanks for sharing and reading, Kevin
    Andrew Schultz Real Estate Broker from Buffalo, NY
    Replied over 5 years ago
    GREAT comment! I was just thinking about how to track the communication, and using the email address is probably the easiest way to handle it. I’d also considered a Google Voice number, but that may not work as well.
    Richard Henry Rental Property Investor from Tuscaloosa, AL
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I use a mass texting service to send rent due reminders on the 1st, 3rd, and 5th. I also include the link to the online rental portal. This has decreased my late list and increased my online payments to 55%. I am still trying to figure out how to have a 2 way conversation without giving out my cell number though.
    Kevin Perk Rental Property Investor from Memphis, TN
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Richard, When you figure it out, please write a blog post on it. We would all like to hear about it. 🙂 Thanks for reading and commenting, Kevin
    Jonna Weber Real Estate Agent from Boise, ID
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Interesting! Thanks for posting. Most of our tenants text these days….so I like the idea of sending texts to email for the record keeping aspect. The biggest challenge with texting for us tends to be whether to answer the texts that come in on nights and weekends. These days I typically respond but say something like “I’ll be happy to get back you on this during business hours.” I wonder if anyone in our business flat out ignores non-emergency texts until the next business day?
    Darren Sager Investor from Summit, NJ
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I think you’re spot on with this Kevin. I have to admit that I’m not the best at getting back to people with voicemail. Text is the best way to get a hold of me and usually the fastest way for me to respond if you can’t get me on the phone directly. As landlords we need to adjust to whatever technology comes along to make us the most efficient and effective to keep expenses down. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next 10 years but I think instant messaging of any sorts will dominate primary communication.
    Rob Beland Investor from Leominster, Massachusetts
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I use Google Voice. I receive the voicemail as a text message. I can then text the person back (assuming they call from a cell phone). I know Google Voice has many more features but Im still learning.
    Shaun Reilly Landlord and Rehabber from Newton, Massachusetts
    Replied over 5 years ago
    I hate voicemail generally. However IF you are going to call someone you should be willing to leave a message and if you ask someone to call you back and don’t pick up you damn well should listen to your messages. Actually I guess my hated is just more for the phone than voicemail specifically. I’d rather get a text 100x more than a call and I’d take an email 100x over a text (better record keeping and if I am at a computer can bang out a response in about 1/4 the time it takes to bumble around on my phone with 1 thumb, and I feel you still have to be considerate of when you text back someone. If I am working at midnight I will email you but I would not text you.) I never pick up a tenant call live so all the more reason to like the written communication. Why anyone would want to talk to a tenant cold is beyond me. It is never a good thing, just varying degrees of bad, so I like to know what I’m dealing with first. I suppose when I get that “Hey I was just thinking you haven’t raised the rent in a while. I was thinking we could go up at least $100/month, if you think it should be more we can probably work something out. I mean it’s your house and you can really do what ever you want and I’m really just happy to have a nice place to live!” message I might change my mind. 🙂
    Account Closed Investor from Camp Springs, Maryland
    Replied over 5 years ago
    Yep, I hate voicemails and I never ever check them!