Couple on apartment tour

Four Common Mistakes Onsite Associates Make with Visiting Prospects

Karen Gladney Thought Leadership

To bring in new residents, leasing associates definitely have to bring their A-game to the prospect tour.

With the recent increase in new developments and the wave of renovated communities, apartment shoppers have no shortage of appealing and eye-catching properties to choose from. In this environment, providing a warm, informative, personalized and engaging touring experience is key to getting a prospect to choose your property.

In my experience, there are four common mistakes that leasing associates make with visiting prospects. These missteps might seem innocuous but they can easily lead to a potential future resident ending up at another community.

Here are those four mistakes:

1. Not explicitly inviting a prospect to apply for the apartment home.
I’ll talk to leasing associates about their interactions with a prospect, and they’ll say something like, “I let them know what the deposit is, how much the application fee is and I told them to let me know if they have any questions.” But they didn’t explicitly ask them to submit an application.

On the one hand, this is understandable. A lot of leasing associates are twentysomethings who are relatively inexperienced, and they’re afraid of getting “no” as an answer. Also, prospects, when they first arrive onsite, often will indicate that they’re not inclined to make a decision that day. But data from Power Apartment Leasing shows that, in 2018, 62 percent of prospects who visited one of our client communities leased the same day they visited.

Leasing associates too frequently make the assumption that a prospect is not ready to lease or that it would be rude for them to come out and ask a prospect to submit an application.

Leasing associates should assume that every prospect that walks through their doors is going to want to apply for a home. After all, that prospect has taken the time to visit the community. If you love your property and you know all the wonderful things about it, you certainly should assume that visiting prospects are going to want to lease.

2. Asking prospects to go home and submit an application online.
With the phasing out of paper applications, many leasing offices are not equipped to have prospects submit an application right there in the leasing office. An all-too-common scenario has associates telling prospects who want to apply to go home and do so online.

But that just gives the prospect an opportunity to leave and drive by your competition and become interested in one of those properties. A myriad of other things could happen after a prospect leaves, and the result is that they don’t end up applying.

Apartment communities have to do everything they can to create a frictionless experience for prospects, and part of that means making it as easy as possible for a prospect to apply the moment they are ready. At the very least, communities should have an in-office laptop or iPad that prospects can use to submit an application while onsite. If apartment shoppers encounter a disjointed and complicated application process, they are likely going to take their business elsewhere.

3. Not having ready inventory.
Prospects, no matter how much they might try to convince us otherwise, cannot see past unclean carpet or dirty walls. They just can’t. To convert more prospects into leases, ensure you have ready vacant apartment homes to show. And accentuate the best ones, not the hardest-to-lease homes. When you are trying to create momentum, focus on the low-hanging fruit. If you’re stabilized and all is well, then focus on the unit that’s been vacant the longest, or the one with the view of the dumpster. Until then, showcase the positive!

4. Not asking enough questions.
This relates to point No. 1 above. Leasing associates are frequently hesitant to ask visiting prospects a lot of questions. They’re scared of coming across as nosy and invasive. But this prevents associates from developing a real relationship and rapport with a prospect, which is so critical to bringing in new residents. It also limits the associate’s opportunity to discover the information they need to find the right apartment home for a prospect.

In a friendly, professional way, associates have to draw out information about all kinds of things, ranging from the types and names of pets the prospect has to which floor they would prefer to live on. When you only know the desired move-in date, apartment size and price range, you’re just not able to help them very effectively and you’re not nearly as likely to convert them into a new resident.