Every prospect who visits an apartment community is unique. Each of them has their own wants and needs, and they’re all looking for different things for their next home.
Unfortunately, the leasing and touring experience frequently doesn’t reflect this reality. Too often, apartment communities use a cookie-cutter approach to engaging with prospects, taking them on the exact same tours and following up with them in an identical manner.
To capture the hearts and minds of apartment shoppers, leasing associates need to provide a truly customized experience. Below are some tips on how they can do that.
Respect their communication preferences. I’ve been to a lot of apartment communities where leasing associates will only use the communication channel that they prefer. For example, I’ve seen situations where Leasing Associate A likes email, and so she emails all her prospects. Meanwhile, Leasing Associate B is huge on texting, and therefore he texts everyone.
But this is the opposite of how it should be. Each prospect has their preferred way of communicating, and leasing associates should honor the prospect’s preference, not impose their own. It may seem like a minor matter, but texting a prospect who prefers phone calls is a very good way to chase that lead away.
Customize property tours. Associates usually take each and every prospect on the exact same tour, showing them the same amenities in the same sequence.
But what if a prospect has no pet and no desire to see the dog park? What if they have absolutely no use for a fitness center? Seeing these features will do nothing to encourage their interest in a property and being forced to see them only stands to irritate and exhaust them.
Operators train associates to focus so much on just gathering data points – what size apartment is the person looking for? When are they looking to move in? – that associates end up interrogating prospects more than actually having a conversation with them. When associates build rapport and actually talk with their prospects, they will come to truly understand what the prospect wants out of their home and can design a tour that addresses their concerns and interests.
To truly customize the leasing experience, apartment communities need to give prospects the option to take self-guided tours. Many of today’s apartment shoppers want privacy in the apartment to think or even talk through this massive buying decision without the pressure of a sales agent breathing down their necks. Offering self-guided tours is a great way to provide exactly the kind of property visit they want.
Personalize your follow-up and marketing materials. Communities frequently give prospects the same generic promotional brochure and use formulaic follow-up messages. This doesn’t need to be the norm.
Technologies exist that allow associates to send customized follow-up materials, ones that touch upon the preferences and concerns expressed by prospects during their property tours.
Expand office hours. Leasing offices are traditionally open during normal business hours, which makes it incredibly difficult for many prospects to come and actually tour and view apartments when it’s convenient for them.
There’s really no reason why a community can’t extend its leasing office hours into the evening and adjust its staffing schedule so that prospects can visit a property when they want to. Communities don’t need three or four leasing associates working during the middle of the day when they can spread those associates out to have more coverage for longer hours, giving prospects more opportunity to tour.
In the final analysis, each prospect’s apartment-shopping experience should be uniquely tailored to that prospect. If we hope to win their business, we have to show them we can listen and that we will accommodate our processes to their needs.