Nurturing leads and getting them to sign a lease is no easy feat, and operators owe it to their hardworking associates – as well as to their prospects – to make the leasing process as simple and as efficient as possible.
To my eye, there are several ways to significantly improve the leasing process, and I’ve summarized a few of these recommendations below.
Make sure solutions and software programs integrate. The lack of integration between property management solutions, lead management programs, online leasing technologies and the universe of other ancillary products has long plagued multifamily.
It’s not uncommon for a prospect to go to a site like Apartments.com, provide some information and request to be contacted by a community. Then, when the prospect goes to the property and talks to a leasing agent, the agent has to ask most, if not all, the same questions again because the prospect’s information didn’t come into the community’s systems. This results in frustrations for both associates and leads.
Similar examples abound of how the lack of technological integration creates double work for agents and a slower, less efficient experience for prospects.
I’ve seen a lot of communities where associates will enter information into a guest card and then, when the prospect wants to apply, the leasing agent has to manually re-enter the guest card information into a different place to run the credit check.
In the end, suppliers need to be more diligent in creating products that play nice with other multifamily technologies, and operators should make a point of purchasing solutions that integrate with their other technologies.
Create an environment in which agents can make efficient use of a prospect’s time. More than ever, today’s prospects are busy and want to complete a property tour as quickly as possible.
There are now solutions that allow agents to gather information from prospects while touring the property instead of while sitting at a desk. This can significantly reduce the amount of time a prospect has to spend at a community.
Mobile leasing solutions also can allow agents to answer questions about pricing, floor plan availability and other topics while on the tour instead of having to return to the leasing office after the tour is over to look up the answers. Having this information at their fingertips can make agents feel more confident and results in a more satisfactory experience for prospects, who can get frustrated if an associate doesn’t have an immediate answer to their questions.
Along these same lines, multiple prospects sometimes descend on an office at once. In today’s booming job market, some communities have had difficulties staying fully staffed. Combine these two dynamics and this often means some prospects are left to wait – some will even have to walk away – before an agent can meet with them.
Communities might want to consider offering self-guided tours, which allow prospects to see a community without having to be accompanied by an agent. Some leads prefer to tour by themselves anyway, and self-guided tours can create real efficiencies for leasing agents. Still, it’s important for onsite associates to have at least some type of conversation with a potential resident, as prospects do value building a rapport with the community staff.
At the very least, properties should consider having some type of kiosk that allows a waiting prospect to provide information and answer questions before meeting with an agent. That way, the conversation isn’t starting at ground zero when the associate is finally available to talk.
Test your prospect pipeline. Not a lot of communities do this, but it’s a highly effective way to see exactly what your prospects go through and to optimize their experiences.
Someone from the management company should go to sites like Apartments.com or Zillow and request information about their community. From there, they should go through the entire lead experience and even tour the community as if they were a prospect.
Associates need to make sure they’ve made it easy for their prospects to get to the next stage in the process. If each step isn’t carefully thought through and doesn’t flow logically from the preceding step, prospects will grow frustrated and you’re going to lose them. Make the process easy!
Leasing agents across our industry work hard to close the deal and convert leads into prospects. By following the suggestions above, apartment communities can make leasing associates’ jobs easier, make the prospects’ experiences more enjoyable and boost conversion rates.