by Danny Soule – 2.28.12
It’s often difficult to run some sort of incentive for incoming prospects without having current residents feeling like they were left out, or upset that they are not able to reap the benefits of leasing an apartment now. It is almost guaranteed to happen where a new prospect will move in who received a move-in concession, they will talk to their neighbor about what great deal they took advantage of and the current resident will probably be the first person at your leasing door the next day trying to demand they receive the deal. Often times it is difficult to explain to residents how specials change and that they are not currently eligible for the move-in special, because they already live at the community!
With this being said there is in fact a great option that can appeal to both your incoming prospects as well as your current residents. Have a community raffle! Now this isn’t just another raffle where people come to the office and buy tickets to be entered into the drawing. The idea is for the community to be able to benefit from this raffle from both prospects and residents. Lauren Boston from NAA wrote an article in the most recent issue of Units magazine about how Nancy Wittenberg, owner of Claridge Apartments, implemented this concept at her Houston based property and it was a great success! Here’s how it can work:
-Everyone person, both prospect and current resident, is eligible to participate in the raffle
-The raffle needs to run at least a one to two month duration, but by all means can be offered over a longer period of time
-The raffle prize can be anything, but make it something worthwhile that doesn’t necessarily require the person that wins to be living at the community (i.e. TV; vacation; shopping card; etc.)
-Incoming prospects receive one ticket to be entered in the raffle just for taking a tour during the specified time
-Incoming prospects that apply receive two or three tickets, depending upon the lease length term. My recommendation would be to probably have a stipulation that the person must be approved to receive the additional tickets. This would be best in order to avoid a huge spike in applicants, but also a huge spike in potential cancellations and rejections.
-Current residents are eligible to receive one ticket for rent paid on time. This is why I would say the contest should at least go for a duration of two months to enable current residents to get potentially a minimum of two tickets. This contest could go a much longer length, which would be great if you are a community that is looking for a little boost in your percentage of residents potentially paying rent on time for a few months.
-This raffle could also be a great boost to your resident referral in that current residents could also receive a ticket if they referred anyone during the allotted time period that filled out an application
As you can see there is quite a bit of potential from not only an increased traffic standpoint, but also an increase in rent paid on time from this simple raffle idea. In addition running a promotion such as this can also increase marketing visibility, because this promotion can be advertised everywhere: social media outlets; flyers to businesses; resident referral flyers to your residents; new move-in packets for residents. This promotion would be great for a community looking to get their Facebook Page going as another stipulation of the entry could be that each individual, both prospect and resident, must like the Facebook Page to be officially eligible.
We have implemented this concept at numerous properties and it has always been a hit. It may end up bringing in quite the increase in traffic, but after all, that is a great problem to have!
Tags: Apartment Leasing
, Apartment Marketing
, Apartment Selling
, Community Raffle
, Facebook Page
, Lease Up
, Marketing 2012
, Marketing Ideas
, Resident Event
, Resident Referral
, Resident Retention
by Danny Soule – 2.27.12
A constant battle that property managers and on-site teams face at apartment communities is to keep the occupancy pendulum swinging in the positive direction each month. The goal is to always have more move-ins then move-outs via increased leasing coming in and reduced vacancies coming up at the end of the month. A leasing agent can be stockpiling new move-ins, but if nothing is being done on the backend to retain current residents, then a property can just be constantly spinning it’s wheels with nothing to show from the hard work being done on the front end.
Ashley Halligan from Software Advice put together a great list of collective strategies and tips to help properties decrease the chances of those current residents moving out each month. The entire blog can be seen here, but here are Ashley’s tips for successful retention of residents:
1. Start With Customer Service
2. Focus On Value
3. Perks: It’s All About Innovation
4. Keep It Simple
This is a great topic that Ashley covered, because resident retention applies to every single apartment community nationwide and is something that must be concentrated on monthly. With the apartment market currently being in a major prime, there are not as many concessions being offered by communities, so that is one thing definitely working in manager and on-site teams favors. In the end though, the on-site staff must be able to establish a relationship with residents to enable them to feel a sense of community and be able to know that they are looked at as more than just a rent payer. Ashely puts it best in her article in that, “when all is said and done, the smallest gestures may make or break a tenant’s decision to renew.”
by Danny Soule – 2.9.12
When it comes to showing an apartment and selling the features of each individual room, often times the bathroom does not receive the same amount of attention and specifics to detail as other parts of the apartment do. After all an apartment bathroom is just an apartment bathroom, right? How many people are basing their decision as to whether or not they lease an apartment on the bathrooms?
Despite the misconceptions about an apartment bathroom being an insignificant detail in apartment leasing, it is actually a very important part of the apartment and should be treated so from a sales standpoint. Leasing agents should still be able to point out at least three unique features about the bathroom in order to show the prospect what makes their bathroom standout. Just as with any other aspect of the apartment, when specific features are pointed out to a prospect, he or she will immediately begin to wonder if the previous apartments they shopped have those things. The apartment community we use for training our leasing specialists has a great bathroom setup and there are actually 7 features about each of the bathrooms in the two bedroom apartment that can be pointed out to the prospects. 7 features! If I’m a prospect and a leasing agent points out 7 things to me in a bathroom that makes the apartment unique, it is probably going to be pretty hard for me to come up with any sort of objections about the apartments bathroom area.
Multi-Housing News found out what features apartment residents valued most in their bathrooms and published the results in the most recent issue of their magazine. These results were tabulated after surveying over 1 million renters and here are some of the things that people either liked, or disliked about their apartment bathrooms:
-The master bath is very large, which is excellent, but the fact it has one electrical outlet is a major downfall and inconvenience
-The floor plan of our unit requires that people enter a bedroom in order to use a bathroom. We’d prefer for the bathroom to be accessible without entering a bedroom.
-I love the closet in the bathroom for towels and linens.
-Given environmental concerns, toilets and energy guzzling items should be replaced-especially the older toilets.
-Put air vents in the bathrooms. It gets so hot when you are trying to put on makeup or fix your hair.
-I’d love to see a dog bath area-it’s hard to wash my pup in the bathtub.
-I think a hot tub-steam room or sauna could be awesome.
-The counter tops are very nice, but the cabinets are very old. They seem out of place with this otherwise very nice apartment.
-The mold in my bathtub is a hazard for anyone involved, present or future residents.
-There are two things that we love most about our apartment-one is the size of the bathroom; the other is the size of the balcony.
-The shower water pressure is very low, yet our water bill is rather high.
-Toilets could be replaced with more efficient models. Big water heater tanks could probably be replaced with small on-demand heaters.
-I’d love a garden tub in the bathroom, and I think that will improve the look and attract more people.
-The bathroom is large, but it would be better if the bathroom were smaller and the space was given to the closet.
As you can see this is quite the mix of characteristics and features that people are looking for when it comes to their apartment bathrooms. Now, the demand for some of these features is easier to meet than for others, but overall, there are many specific things that people want in their bathrooms. If prospects are looking for newer cabinets and bigger bathtubs, then obviously these are examples of things that may not be feasible for an owner to instill. On the other hand if prospects are looking for a bathtub without mold and higher water pressure, then these are things that may be a little bit more reasonable to be able to provide without necessarily breaking the bank of the community.
No matter what prospects are looking for in an apartment bathroom the most important thing for leasing agents to accomplish is to sell the features of their apartment’s bathroom and be ready to overcome any potential objections to make the sale.
by Danny Soule – 2.8.12
I have written a few blogs about general ideas on how to use a Facebook Page for an apartment community. First off let me start by saying that I cannot harp on the fact enough that a Faceboook Page is only as useful as you make it. If a property page is created and you think that it going to lead to more leases just because you created it, then you are going to be heavily disappointed.
A Facebook Page needs to be designed with the initial purpose of getting residents involved and having a place where they can be connected to not only other residents, but also to management. In addition, a Facebook Page will also help to increase a property’s SEO, because it is another site that other property specific sites can be linked to, which therefore is offering another venue for property exposure online. Although, just because it is a property specific page does not mean that it needs to be updated daily with information trying to sell the community. Keep in mind that people that “like” the property page do not want to constantly see on their Facebook walls information about your apartments for rent, or what your great special being offered is. The community Facebook Page needs to be viewed the same way your personal Facebook Profile is viewed in that it would get pretty old seeing the same friend posting status updates about the same thing over and over.
There is a general rule that an apartment community page needs to have a balanced ratio of about 80/20 of general information to direct apartment community information. General information can consist of multitude of different things: anything relating to the city the community is in; helpful tips for apartment living; random tidbits of information that your readers may enjoy seeing. Tracey Lott Heitzman contributed a great article on Multifamily Insiders that outlines the importance of making a Facebook Page interactive. Below I have highlighted some of her great topics for Facebook Page status updates and you can find the full blog here.
•Have fun with your profile picture and change it up often
•Post your You Tube videos
•Notify residents of upcoming concerts and events in your area
•Post interesting new jobs. I’ve seen a property management company that has a Twitter feed on their website with job postings that fit their demographics
•Post new movies out on DVD or to the theatre
•Start a ‘Best of’ list and have residents to vote
•Offer green cleaning tips
•Plan a Yahoo Sports Pick Em’ Group for the playoffs
•Offer exclusive discounts, coupons, and content (40% of FB users “like” Pages that give them deals)
•Partner with restaurants in the area and offer exclusive deals (I live in a condo community and the new restaurant across the street gives us 10% off!)
•Post a photo of a local restaurants dish and have a contest to have residents guess the dish and where it came from (offer a gift card to same restaurant)
•Advertise a time and place at the community and host a “Sweets in the Streets” where you hand out candy bars
•Post an events calendar to share with sister communities. Allow residents to participate among the communities
•Have monthly Birthday Parties and post to Facebook
•Have a yearly ‘Birthday’ for your community
•Reward residents and fans by helping them give to charity
•Recognize fans and select a “Fan of the Month”
•Become “Fans” of local business and post on their walls
•Use the Question feature to offer polls (more on this below)
•Contests are one of the most effective ways of keeping your Fans interested and engaged
•Introduce various competitions with giveaways
•Watch the comments/likes pour in with these status updates from Funny Status (not all are appropriate)
•Post trivia questions- people love to show off their knowledge
•Ask for opinions
•Encourage your Fans to share personal stories on a particular topic, like “my first apartment”
•Upload lots of photos from Resident Appreciation Events and be sure to “tag” your Fans
These are just a few of the great things that you can utilize a property Facebook Page for. Keep in mind that people are not going to search for your apartment community by name on Facebook to like your page. Therefore, it is the community’s responsibility to make sure the Facebook Page URL is made known to every resident and should be on every single piece of marketing material that the community distributes. It takes sometime to establish a strong Facebook Page following, but when you do, take advantage of it and make sure to be proactive in posting quality information daily, because you want to keep your followers interested in your page.
by Danny Soule – 2.7.12
Generation Y currently accounts for about one fourth of the nations population and this generation consists of those individuals, including myself, that are between the ages of 16 to 33. In addition to making up a large portion of the nations population, Generation Y is also the fastest growing demographic in the work force. Therefore, Generation Y is a very important generation to be catered to when it comes to apartment living, because they are on the up and up and desire very specific attributes in their lifestyles.
Technology. Generation Y is always looking to have access to bandwidth and technology. This is a generation that has become completely reliant upon cell phones and needs to have ease of access to their phones, as well as Internet connection, at all times. Cell phone signal is a make or break deal with Generation Y, so if you are an apartment owner, or developer, this has got to be factored into the planning if you wish to have any leverage with Generation Y renters. NAA conducted a survey in that 64% of those Generation Y members polled said they would relocate if the Internet connection speeds were too slow at their current apartment community. 64%! Many individuals in this generation even rely upon the Internet for television now, as opposed to going with a local cable provider, so a slow Internet connection is a very big deal in this regard. With cable alternatives, such as Hulu and Netflix that allow a user to watch their favorite shows and movies for free, or for a lower premium than local television, an Internet connection has to be top speed for quicker download times. Generation Y prospects will absolutely not only look for Internet that is high speed, but also for Internet that is included as apart of the rental amount. This is a small price for an owner or developer to account for, but is almost a definite must if one is wishing to appeal to Generation Y renters.
Connectedness. Generation Y wants to be connected. Saying that a generation desires to be connected encompasses a realm of different aspects of life. Generation Y is going to be connected via means of social media as this is the generation that Facebook was designed for. This doesn’t necessarily mean that Generation Y residents require their apartment communities to have Facebook Pages, but it does mean that if there is a page, residents in this generation will absolutely use it as a forum for both accolades and more times than not, complaints. Therefore, a community Facebook Page must be monitored and engaged by onsite staff as these are the individuals that will be able to interact with the residents on a first person basis. In addition, this is a generation that prefers online communication in all facets in not only social connections, but also in online rent payments, online leasing, etc. These renters don’t want to be bombarded with reminders on their doors, or letters from management in their mailboxes. If you wish to communicate with Generation Y renters, send them an email. Generation Y is a technologically savvy group of individuals and are not too keen on the idea of changing this style of life.
Location. Generation Y wants to live where everything is within a reasonable distance and this doesn’t necessarily mean that all Gen Y’s want to live in an urban environment. As long as an apartment home is close to venues of entertainment, shopping, parks, etc., Generation Y renters are going to be attracted as they ultimately want to be where other people are. The apartment community location is going to be a huge appeal to Generation Y renters and I personally can attest to this detail as well. My community is located near grocery stores, restaurants, nightlife, shopping and interstate access, but another important detail is that my home is close to my office. The fact that my home is near places I visit most on a daily basis is more important than any bell and whistle amenity my community could have.
These are just a few of the things that Generation Y renters are looking for, but are very important to take into account if the majority of your potential prospects are included in this group of individuals. Ultimately this demographic has the desire to be connected, wants to live in a convenient location and will be heavily influenced by word of mouth. With this being said it is each community’s responsibility to cater to your clientele, because your occupancy numbers depend upon it.
by Danny Soule – 2.6.12
This past weekend I was eating at a restaurant in a brand new part of Atlanta where there is currently new developments popping up what seems like every week. The particular area I was at is something that can be found in all major cities, in which it is a development with retail shops/restaurants on the bottom floors of the buildings and residential living located on the upper floors with parking garages located in the center. Being in the industry I always like shopping apartment communities to see what the product looks like, as well as seeing the sales aptitude of the leasing agents and getting a gauge as to whether or not the sales ability is best benefiting the product.
I decided to call the apartment community located in this retail area to not only get an idea of the leasing agents ability they have staffed there, but I was also genuinely interested in seeing how much these particular apartments cost, since it is such an up and coming part of town. The price was what I expected with all that is offered in the area and the leasing agent definitely did her best to sell the apartment, only giving out information after obtaining my basic contact information. The call lasted roughly five minutes and I feel like I spent at least a quarter of the time explaining that I was in no way looking to lease an apartment and was only inquiring about the price, because the area of town was so nice. ”I am not looking to move anytime soon, as I am in a lease until next year” was easily stated four or five times. This detail is important to note.
Once the call was over, within the next hour I received a follow-up email from the leasing agent I spoke with thanking me for my inquiry. This was pretty surprising as all I did was call and I did not even visit the community in person. The following morning I received yet another email, but this time from the manager of the community thanking me for my call and roughly ten minutes after this email was received, the leasing agent I spoke with on the phone called to see if I needed anymore information. Therefore, within about 18 hours, I received two emails and one phone call. Two days later another email was in my inbox from the leasing agent and another call was received the evening of the second day. In forty-eight hours there had been three emails and two phone calls. Keep in mind I was a prospect that stated very clearly that I was not looking to move whatsoever and I was still treated as a prospect that was looking to move immediately.
My point in this story of my experience is that this community is a rare example of a place that is extremely proactive in follow-up. The worst thing about this is that we work with apartment communities everyday and it is almost an anomaly to see a community that does this much follow-up, because follow-up with prospects is probably one of the number one basic things that communities fail to do. It may be that most communities do not execute follow-up, because they are afraid to come across as pushy to a prospect, or it could be that follow-up is something that many communities do not view as important. Whatever the reason may be, follow-up is something that needs to be done religiously, such as in the case with the previously mentioned community, and it is something that we actively aim to have our leasing specialists execute each and every day. In not being proactive with follow-up, a community is only hindering itself from a leasing standpoint, because many prospects do not make decisions same day. With the continuous expansion of the industry as developers build more and more apartment communities, consumers are not only beginning to realize they have many apartment communities to choose from, but they are taking advantage of this realization. Therefore if you are a community that does not have an aggressive follow-up system implemented, it is time to make a change, or your occupancy percentage will drastically begin to reflect your ineptitude.
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