Anyone that ever experienced moving to a new home knows the pain of unpacking. No matter how carefully you pack, how meticulously you label the boxes and stack them, the item you need will be at the back of the pile and at the bottom of the stack.
Earlier this year, one of our staff members, fresh from a move themselves, suggested reviving an old practice. Before Empire, Ed Waggoner was a small-time landlord with dreams and few units. He and his wife would compile a small gift basket to leave on the countertop of newly rented properties. It was very small, with just a few essentials to make the first day easier: soap, a dish towel, a scrubber, etc.
Once suggested, it was adopted with enthusiasm. The entire office sat down to debate what should go into the gift baskets, how big the basket should be, and what the note with it should say. We finally decided on the contents.
It’s simple. Bottled water, a small container of dish soap, a dish scrubber, dish towel, toilet paper – the small things you need soon after moving in, but can never find. After that, we picked out some basic food items to provide a light dinner that first night, when all of your dishes and pans are still buried in the boxes.
The next items were very carefully chosen. As every landlord knows, tenants have a strange knack for choosing the worst possible way to hang pictures. We’ve seen screws, duct tape, and worse. To encourage them to choose picture hanging methods that don’t require extensive patching, we included picture hanging nails. To prevent them from scuffing flooring, we included felt pads for their furniture. As a finishing touch, the business card for their property manager is slipped in along with the note
The new tenants always respond with a smile when they receive it. It isn’t much, but sometimes the simplest gesture goes a long way to starting off the tenancy right.