by Danny Soule – 5.10.13
Now that you are beginning to lease-up your new community, it will basically sell itself since it’s new…right?
Gone are the days when a community leased-up on its’ own simply because it was the newest kid on the block. The main reason for this is whereas there used to maybe be only one new kid on the block at a time, now there may be five or six new communities that could all potentially be pre-leasing at the same time. The newness of your community can still be sold, but when there is new product surrounding you that your prospects will surely be visiting, it’s time to figure out how you can stand out from the pack.
It’s a fact that, as a leasing agent, you cannot control how your community was built and what amenities were or were not included in the development of the community. You are required to sell whatever the make-up of your community may be. If your community has very nice features, but the newer community just down the road has even nicer features, there is nothing you can do about that. You cannot change the dynamic of your property. Therefore, since you cannot alter your apartment’s features, you have to concentrate on controlling something you can do better than your competitors, no matter what their product is like, and that is customer service.
There are many ways to “out” customer service a competitor and it’s the little things that go into this that can make you and your community memorable to a prospect:
-Always go out of your way to properly greet a prospect. Properly greeting a prospect is accomplished by meeting the prospect as they walk into your community’s doors, welcoming them to your community by name, introducing yourself and then asking them if they are looking for a new apartment home today. If it is an appointment that is walking through the front doors, assume the person walking in is your appointment and greet them by their first name.
-Ask questions about what a prospect is specifically looking for in their new home and show true genuine interest in determining which apartment home you have available will be perfect based on their needs.
-Cater your tour to exactly what the prospect is looking for based upon the questions that you ask. This will show the prospect that you truly listened to what was important to them. If the prospect says that they enjoy to cook and you know you have tons of amenities in your kitchens, then spend the extra time to point out each amenity, as the prospect that is interested in these features will truly see the value in them.
-After the tour is over, take the prospect to a quiet place in your office to discuss the application process. If they are still on the fence on whether they want the apartment or not, figure out exactly what may be holding them back to ensure that there is nothing you missed they may be looking for.
-Regardless of whether or not the prospect fills out an application, treat them as if they did and thank them for stopping by. To go the extra mile, stand up when the prospect is ready to leave, walk them out the front doors of your community to their car and shake their hand and thank them once again for coming by. This may be the most important customer service act, because prospects will always remember the last thing that occurred on their tour.
Going above and beyond of what is asked of you from a customer service aspect is the most inexpensive way to make your community stand out…it’s free! It is on the leasing staff to ensure they are always prepared to wow each and every prospect that walks through the front doors. I promise you if you are able to implement these basic customer service pointers, you will have a buzz generated by people talking about the service they received at your community, as well as more leases!
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 – 12.6.12
When leasing apartments it is important to give some thought into the buying behavior of our potential residents. In most cases, a decision to lease an apartment is not made entirely by the prospect who tours the apartment. When there are other occupants living in the unit, their feedback becomes essential. Even when the apartment is for only one person, most prospects will consult a friend or relative for advice on where to live.
Buying behavior tells us that the person who first finds the apartment will become a proponent of leasing the unit. The other party who was absent at first contact becomes the opponent of the purchase and immediately assumes the role of devil’s advocate. For example, if you show an apartment to a guy and he returns later with his girlfriend, the guy will assume to role the proponent while the girlfriend will be the party that still needs to be sold.
That is why it is so important to get the contact information of everyone who will be living at the property. In most relationships, whether it be a companion or roommate situation, the two parties will choose different stances on the purchasing decision. Therefore we need to focus on not just the party who inquires about the apartment but also the party who is absent during the initial inquiry.
The next time someone views an apartment without their roommate, get the address of the roommate and send them a quick note letting them know you can’t wait to meet them. You should also shoot them an email saying how much they will love the community and attach a gift card or coupon for a local restaurant that you have teamed with for cross marketing. The roommate who is absent will be blown away that they received the note and email prior to even viewing the property. They will come in with a “softer opposition” to buying and you will certainly set yourself apart from the competition.
This same technique can be used for first time renters who will be consulting with their parents prior to leasing. See if you can get the email address of the parents and drop them a line explaining why their son or daughter will be comfortable and happy living at your community. You will immediately get the seal of approval from mom and dad.
When speaking with a prospect, try to determine EVERY person in their life that will be an influencer in the decision. Then target those influencers with thank you notes, emails and phone calls. Your prospect will trust the opinion of their family and peers so go the extra mile to make sure they will be an advocate for your community!
Tags: Apartment Leasing
, Apartment Selling
, buying habits
, Lease Up
, Leasing Agent
, Leasing Calls
, Marketing Ideas
, Positive Attitude
, Resident Referral
, sales techniques
, Word Of Mouth
by Danny Soule – 9.7.12
Why does an apartment owner call CLASS? While there are many answers to this question, one common theme surrounds a majority of our assignments. They are difficult. If it was easy our company would not be in business.
As many of you have noticed, the degree of difficulty of our assignments may vary. Sometimes we find ourselves on properties that produced tons of leases, while other times we find ourselves in a soft market, toxic office environment or challenging property. Because of this, we go to great lengths to ensure our scheduling offers an equal leasing opportunity for all of our Leasing Specialists. High traffic assignments are routinely followed by heavy marketing properties.
For our top earning Leasing Specialist, a trend has emerged. From a commission standpoint, our top earners do not separate themselves from the rest of the company on the high traffic assignments, but rather on the heavy marketing properties. In other words, when faced with a challenging property, they dig in and find a way to make it work. They find a way to get some commissions on the tough properties and they never give up when faced with a slow start.
Heather Adams is one such Leasing Specialists. I love working with Heather because I trust her. I know that even when she is on a challenging assignment, her attitude and work ethic will never waiver. She trusts herself and the process and she routinely turns around properties that start slowly because they lack traffic. This is happening on her current assignment where she did not get a single lease until her 2nd week on the property. She now has 5 leases in the past 7 days and the traffic is continuing to improve. I don’t have to lose sleep over worrying about Heather’s attitude because she knows that after the marketing is in place, the leases will come. Heather you are awesome!
JoAnne Mendenhall is also on a very challenging senior tax credit property in a secondary market. (Secondary markets are smaller cities and towns that typically have less traffic). CLASS has been off and on this property for a number of months and we have averaged about 3-4 leases/week. Joanne has blown that number out of the water. She has gotten 5 leases/week almost every week of the assignment. She has handled the challenges of the property like a seasoned pro and raised the bar for anyone who follows. She has shown us what is possible on her property and she deserves some recognition for her effort and results. Great job JoAnne!
Both of these ladies are directly responsible for securing more contracts for CLASS and demonstrating to their clients why our company is so respected in the industry. We ALL benefit from having them on our team. If you have some time today, give them the thanks they deserve on our Facebook Page.
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 – 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 – 11.23.11
Having a positive mental attitude in the office is by far one of the most important ingredients that every office needs in order to be successful. Being positive not only brings the office staff together as a whole, but it rubs off on prospects as well. Prospects coming into a positive office feel more welcome as a result of the inviting persona the office will have. When prospects step into the warm feeling of a happy office, they are more inclined to envision themselves living at the community and most importantly, more inclined to lease! We take such a strong stance on the effects and importance of having a positive mental attitude that it is practically one of the foundations our company is based upon. If your office staff needs a pick-me-up, here is a great compilation of office morale boosters from participants in a webinar through Multifamily Insiders last year:
•“Our team meets every Tuesday at 3:00 to compile a list of associates who have gone above and beyond the prior week. They are recognized through a company sponsored program and are rewarded with 30 minutes of time off!” Allison Clark – Tempe, AZ
•“Paying 5 dollars to charity to wear jeans on Fridays” Courtney Eias – Trumbull, CT •“Put cow bells on leasing desk and “Ring” when new lease or renewal is signed! Even the manager rings her bell in response, so everyone celebrates the achievement!” Jeanne Marie Zublin – Houston, TX
•“When someone on our team is having a bad moment we sing our team song which happens to be “Hello, Good Morning” LeShannon Jefferson – Lewisville, TX
•“Morning coffee runs for the office” Natalie Lozon – Santa Monica, CA
•“Let off early on pay-day Friday. After all quality control issues are addressed – allow them to leave early by an hour or two.” Lori Schultz – Dallas, TX
•“At closing time, play some music loudly that all like.” Catherine Williams – San Ramon, CA
•“We have recently instituted “Fun Friday” & this Friday is “Bead Day”! ” Stacy Dueker – Stockton, CA
•“Constantly smile and laugh…it’s contagious!” Jason Hilyard – Aberdeen, NC
•“Funky fun glasses for prospects & team member when we ride out on golf cart” and “Football jerseys on Fri, Sat & Sun” Sandra Williams – Tampa, FL
•“Flip Flop Friday!” Lauren Pettit – Port Richey, FL
•“Goodie Bags filled with small inexpensive gifts for my staff members to “grab” something from when they get a rental, save a renewal, etc!” Amanda Hall – Vallejo, CA
•“Have an ice cream social for the staff and residents. Grab buckets of ice cream, whip ccream, cherries, etc. and have fun! Include it with a pool party on a hot day.” Diane Christy – Cleveland, OH
•“I get doughnuts for my team every other week” and “After every lease my team gets we have a “happy dance” Tanisha Young – New Carrollton, MD
• “I like to buy goodies a couple times a month, for example, today I bought the staff ice cream! They loved it!” Shannon Lorenzen – Wilder, KY
•“Something positive or a compliment every morning to all of your staff” Jennifer Moreno – Houston, TX
•“Once in a while have the team go out for lunch together to be able to communicate outside the work environment and share ideas.” Jackie Cruz – Plant City, FL
•“Our office does a Youtube video challenge where each week we look for the funniest or most bizarre youtube video we’ve seen and then watch them on Fridays.” Brad Randall – Salt Lake City, UT
•“Pizza Party” Philip Nieman – Roslindale, MA
•“Secret Pal – Change it up once a month” Helene Konneman – Humble, TX
•“Small gifts such such as candy or new office supplies left on team members desk!” Leah Shay Hartley – Newnan, GA
•“Morning staff meetings for 15 minutes prior to the office opening” Katrina Avila – Richmond, TX
•“We applause each other in the mornings for motivation even on Mondays!!” Robert Torres – Houston, TX
•“We have a wall of fame where residents and co-workers can post kudos to the team.” Lia Smith – Birmingham, AL
•“We ring a bell any time a sales person gets the sale. Of course, after the prospect leaves.” Sherre Helmer – Indianapolis, IN
•“We start the morning stating two things that were uplifting yesterday one personal and one professional.” Karen McLelland – Plant City, FL
•“Manager cooks breakfast for staff 1xm and cooincides with a monthly safety meeting,” and “Pedicures/manicurs for great shop reports and super leasing results,” and “Randomly give out freeze pops to residents at the pool,” and “Big basket of crackers, candy bars, granola bars and drinks for the office staff on the busy days when you can’t get out to get a bite to eat.” Christina Chalifour – Grand Prairie, TX
•“We share recipes with each other for that nights dinner, we give each other good advice and pump each other up… We love our team.” Erica Spence – Fort Worth, TX
This are just a few ways to boost the morale in your leasing office, but there’s an endless amount of ways to keep that positive atmosphere. What does your property do to ensure all prospects are walking into an inviting atmosphere?
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