by Danny Soule – 4.24.13
Prior to picking up the phone, a prospect has most likely researched your community online and has determined it is a viable option for their next apartment home. So why do some leasing agents struggle to convert over 50% of their phone calls into walk-ins? A decade ago, people drove past your property and called the number on the sign in order to learn some important details about the community. But when the phone rings today, 90% of your prospects are simply confirming a rental rate, availability and making sure that you are open. If you are not convincing these prospects to walk-in the door, you are doing something wrong. Here are 5 keys to converting a phone call into a walk-in.
- Bring the enthusiasm: In sales, there is NOTHING more important than being excited about your product. Smile, be enthusiastic and let the tone of your voice convey the pride you have in your community. Act as if your property is the PERFECT place for your prospect to live and that they will NOT find a better value anywhere else in town.
- Listen: Most salespeople are known for having the gift of gab. But you should only be speaking 25% of the time. The rest of the time, you should be asking questions about your prospect’s lifestyle and listening to their answers. People buy from someone they like, and people like someone who listens.
- Get their information: This is more than just a phone number and move-in date. Get their pet’s name, what they do at their job, their favorite football team and where their spouse works. There is a direct correlation with the amount of information written on a guest card and the number of leases you can secure. The more you know about your prospect, the better chance you have of leasing to them
- Sell the property: Have you ever described your favorite restaurant to someone? Have you ever told them about an awesome vacation you took? The detail and enthusiasm in which you described these places should match the way you describe your property to a prospect. Don’t just list the amenities, but tell them how they are going to feel lounging around the pool and meeting their neighbors on a sunny Saturday afternoon.
- Build Rapport: The number one reason why someone moved in 2012 was not price, job transfer or the economy. It was because they were not satisfied with management or maintenance at their former community. Find a way to establish rapport with your prospect and they will associate their connection with you to the way they will be treated if they become a resident of your community. Find a connection, a similar hobby, a favorite band or just a way to make them laugh. If you connect with your prospect on the phone, they WILL come see your community before choosing to lease somewhere else.
Tags: Apartment Leasing
, Apartment Selling
, First Impression
, Lease Up
, Leasing Agent
, Leasing Calls
, leasing tips
, phone sales
, Positive Attitude
by Danny Soule – 1.22.13
What is the first thing that your prospects ask on the phone when they call your property? Chances are it is “how much are your apartments?”
I would venture to guess that over 80% of apartment inquiries start with that question. However, a majority of these same prospects have most likely searched for your property online, viewed your website or ILS ad and determined the price prior to calling. So why would they even bother to ask for pricing if they already know the answer? I have come up with 2 conclusions to this paradox.
1. They are looking for a move-in special
2. They have been conditioned by our industry to only ask for pricing since that is normally the only information given to the prospect during the call. In other words, when they call your competitors they are not getting sold on the value, amenities or sense of community at a property… only the price.
Leasing 101 tip: “People decide to lease based on value, and the rapport they develop with the Leasing Specialists.”
Price has almost nothing to do with your ability to lease. When we deflect the price question and focus on value selling and rapport building, we increase our chances of closing. Prospects ask for the price because they don’t know what else to ask for on the call. The truth is that most prospects already know the price, which makes sidestepping or deflecting the price question easier than you think.
Here are 3 steps to deflecting the price question on your phone calls.
1. Ask them “how soon do you need an apartment?” You should take control of the conversation and you should be the one asking the questions. You will often find that as you begin discussing the details of their lifestyle and move, they will become distracted and never ask for the price again until they come in to tour.
2. Ask them “what sort of price range are you looking for?” If they say a price that is within 20% of your range, then they are a qualified prospect. You should respond by saying “that is perfect, you are right about in our price range, how soon do you need an apartment?”
3. Value Sell, Value Sell, Value Sell. If they nail you down and make you divulge the price, start by quoting the market rent and be prepared to explain why it costs what it costs. If your property is $200 higher than the one across the street, explain why. Try saying something like: “our apartment homes are brand new with energy star appliances. They also include water, trash and sewer as well as a bundled cable and internet plan. When you add all of these features up, and throw in our state-of the art amenities, you will find that this is right about in your price range!”
Your prospects will pretend to care about price. But this is because our industry has conditioned them to do so. They most likely know the price before they even pick up the phone, so stop focusing on your rents and start focusing the conversation on value and rapport building. Save any specials or concessions for your closing table and get some leases!
by Danny Soule – 8.31.12
For the best sales people, it’s all about details. While first impressions, being on time and having a great attitude are all essential to a successful assignment, the best Leasing Specialists are the ones who focus on the entire sales process, including the details. They don’t just follow-up, they take the time to drop off lunch to a prospect at work. They don’t just respond to an email inquiry, they take the time to develop a professional template with pictures, reviews, video’s and a warm personal message.
Erin Whitlock is on an assignment in Kansas. She is doing such a great job that her client has asked her to handle the leasing duties at two properties. I love Erin because she has an attention to detail. The other week she took it upon herself to price out some drink koozies so she could market to local students and bars. The problem is that her client saw the quote and said that it was too expensive. Now most people would hit this road block and stop looking, but not Erin. Here is an email exchange between Erin and her client from last Saturday.
“Great news! I found a coupon for a site that makes koozies and got the total for 500 down to $161.50. What do you think? Also should I order the signs? I attached the screen shots of the order.”
“Yes on the signs and koozies. You did great on searching out the best price! Call me Monday and I will set up to pay by card for the orders.”
Many of you probably think this is pretty small and easy stuff. But I promise you that being detailed and pro-active is a very rare skill. I could go on and on about Erin’s sales aptitude and attitude, but the small things like this are what set her apart. Keep it up Erin!
Another example of attention to details is carefully examining the way you overcome and objection. Joi Portee is on an assignment in Chicago that is in a very transitional neighborhood. New developments are sprinkled amongst older buildings. While the area is nice, it can come off looking a little “urban” to someone moving from outside of the city. Joi repeatedly got this objection so she called me to discuss some ways to overcome it. Together we decided that she should mention the blighted buildings on the phone call so that prospects would be prepared for the neighborhood. Joi turned an objection into a white rabbit by saying: “Our neighborhood is really up and coming. When you get here you will notice that many of the older buildings have been renovated. It is fun to be a part of such a revitalizing neighborhood.” Preparing her prospects for the realities of the area shifts their focus from the blighted buildings to the rehabbed ones. You did a great job in re-evaluating an objection Joi!
The work of these Leasing Specialists has led to additional contracts for CLASS. This allows us to move other Leasing Specialists into more sales efficient properties and will benefit our entire organization. Great job ladies and give them some love on our Facebook page!
by Danny Soule – 6.5.12
It’s always interesting going into a new apartment community and seeing the model for the first time. There have been countless times where I have been blown away by the attentiveness to detail, the collaboration of colors and the clever placement of furniture. On the flip side, there have been times where the apartment has not been setup according to their target market.
A model apartment home should be designed, as Jeffrey Spanke put it, “with some reality and the feel of a real home”. There is a 30 second threshold once the prospect walks through the model apartment doors in which they will make their decision on whether or not they want to live at that community. Therefore, it is very important to take advantage of extraneous factors (use of space, decorative setup, etc.) to sway the prospect’s decision.
- If the living room looks like it is meant to only have one couch, then do not try to squeeze two couches inside of the apartment, because it’s going to make the room appear smaller and cramped. If a bedroom only has enough room for a queen size bed, do not put a king size bed in the room. Put the bed size that the room was intended for and just make sure your leasing agents are prepared with three solutions for each potential objection that may follow about the size of the room.
- When it comes to figuring out a decorative theme be careful not to over or under price your model. It is appropriate to have a model with all the “sizzle and sparkle” of a high end apartment if you are on an A to A+ property. However some of these items can appear very expensive on a B or C property and can make your prospect overly price sensitive. If your community is made for student living, then design the apartment in a way that a college student will feel as if the apartment was designed for students to live there.
- Some people like the look of fake food, but other like me are not a fan. Fake food can date an apartment and tend to weather poorly over time. Be careful as to the food you choose as it might not appear appetizing to the prospect. I shopped a property where they had plates of sushi in the bathroom. Personally, I love sushi but in the bathroom? Fake food can oftentimes take the prospects attention off the physical features of the apartment and lead to the leasing agent having to spend the remainder of the tour trying to regain the prospect’s focus on the actual apartment.
These are just a few key pointers to keep in mind when it comes to decorating a model apartment. The prospect needs to immediately think, “this is an apartment that I can see myself living in.” Consider size, target market and appeal to all 5 senses when decorating your model and you will create a great representation of the type of home your community can deliver.
by Danny Soule – 4.27.12
Why do people only ask about price when inquiring about an apartment? The most likely answer is that leasing consultants have conditioned them to do so. When someone is only giving out a price or special over the phone, we are telling our prospects that price is the most important factor in choosing an apartment. But studies show this is not the case. In most cases location, maintenance, amenities and floor plans are more important than a price point.
What makes this condition even more puzzling is the fact that an apartment is the most personal purchase a person will make all year. It is where they will spend 14 hours of their day. It is more personal then the clothes they wear or the car they drive. But we never hear of people calling a car dealership and asking “how much are your cars?”
One of the many unfortunate side effects of the recession is that people became much more price conscious in their shopping habits. The result is a complete disappearance of the value sell.
Now we find ourselves in the golden years of multifamily. With a recovering economy, job market and millions of potential renters shunning home ownership, it is time for apartment owners to strike while the iron is hot. Three years from now when the housing market recovers and tens of thousands of additional multifamily units come online, apartment owners are going to look back at 2012 and 2013 and say “why was I afraid to push my rents?”
Start by reselling your leasing teams on the feasibility of such rent increases. While market analysis and research is widely studied on the corporate level, on the front lines of the leasing battle our people have yet to grasp the leverage they now have on potential renters. The other night I was watching the movie Ocean’s Eleven and I couldn’t help but think of the current leasing landscape when George Clooney said to Brad Pitt “the house always wins, except when you have that perfect hand and you bet the house.” It doesn’t get much better than this my friends. It’s time to go all in!
Tags: apartment amenities
, Apartment Leasing
, Apartment Marketing
, Apartment Selling
, First Impression
, Lease Up
, Leasing Agent
, Positive Attitude
, Price Objection
by Danny Soule – 4.19.12
We live in a world of mass marketing. With the constant flow of information that we provide social networks and websites about our likes, shopping habits and contact information, we have become easy targets for marketers. But lost in the e-blasts and banner ads are the personal touches that truly build relationships. And it is our relationships with our potential customers that drive business.
There are many ways to measure the success of digital marketing campaigns, and one way is click through rate. If you take an average e-blast, the CTR will be dependent on variables such as target market, size of the blast, content etc. Most marketers will tell you that a CTR over 20% is fantastic. More so then open rates, CTR’s measure the prospective customer’s interaction with the email.
Last month, Student Housing Business ran a list of the 30 under 30 for the Student Housing Industry. So we reached out to all 30 of these individuals to congratulate them on their nomination. We sent a simple email saying how impressive it is to be listed among the 30 best young professionals in such a vibrant industry. We congratulated them on their success, wished them luck in the future and told them we hoped to partner with them on future projects.
The response has been over whelming. At this point, over 70% of the 30 under 30 have not only responded to our email, but many have written lengthy letters of thanks for the recognition of their accomplishment. The emails have been sincere and have invited further communication and partnership in future ventures. Everything we hoped to accomplish in past massive e-blasts has been dwarfed by 30 personalized and sincere emails.
Why have we seen such an impressive response? It’s because we got personal. The sincerity of a personalized email is a unique and valuable tool for connecting with potential customers. It shows them that they are not just another email address in a giant database, but rather they are a person whom you know by name and whose business and partnership you greatly value. While this technique can be more time consuming then utilizing other mass marketing strategies, the results are the building blocks upon which great partnerships can be formed. The constant advertising bombardment to our cell phones, emails and social media sites only magnifies the up-side of getting personal with your prospects.
Tags: Apartment Marketing
, First Impression
, Guerrilla Marketing
, Lease Up
, Marketing 2012
, Marketing Ideas
, Marketing Trends
, Social Media
by Danny Soule – 10.14.11
It takes just a quick glance, maybe three seconds, for someone to evaluate you when you meet for the first time. In this short time, the other person forms an opinion about you based on your appearance, your body language, your demeanor, your mannerisms, and how you are dressed.
With every new encounter, you are evaluated and yet another person’s impression of you is formed. These first impressions can be nearly impossible to reverse or undo, making these initial encounters extremely important, for they set the tone for all the
relationships that follow.
Just like individuals have first impressions about people, prospects have first impressions about properties before they even walk in the leasing office door. Therefore it is so important to have a property that is well kept, especially the pathway leading from the front entrance of the property to the leasing office. Any unsightly things can cause a prospect to do an immediate 180 before they even see the actual product. It only takes two seconds to take a walk outside the office to see if there is anything extraneous in the entry way or parking lot that can be caught prior to any prospects visiting the community.
The leasing office is going to be interpreted by the prospect as something that is similar to the actual apartments available, so keeping a tidy office is of great importance. It’s the little things that mean the most in the office: have the office staff professionally dressed; keep the office clean and orderly at all times; make sure the office smells good.
First impressions are such a critical part of the apartment industry, because once that first impression is made by the prospect, it’s nearly impossible to reverse their opinion. After all you only have one opportunity to make a good first impression, so make the best of it!
Enjoy and have a great weekend!
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