In-person tours of multifamily properties have likely slowed to a trickle or stopped due to the COVID-19 pandemic. But, that doesn’t mean leasing has to grind to a halt. Now is the time to beef up your virtual tour options and use live video, pre-recorded and self-guided tours to your advantage.
Virtual tours can create additional complexity for leasing teams in communicating options, scheduling and managing the process in an easy and professional manner. But, virtual tours may be the best way to lease units during these historic times of social distancing, stay-at-home orders and shelter-in-place mandates.
You need to update your website now to outline your property’s current visit protocol and touring solutions. That way prospects don’t show up if you have stopped giving in-person tours. Make it clear what options are currently available for those planning their next move.
If you haven’t implemented video tours, now’s the time to start.
“I think, from the sales team’s standpoint, video tours are hugely beneficial,” says Marcella Eppsteiner, Vice President of Marketing at Mission Rock Residential, which oversees more than 105 apartment communities across the U.S.
Eppsteiner calls the virtual tours on Mission Rock’s property websites “a game changer” for leasing teams, because consultants can digitally provide the highest quality customer service; however, she advises it takes a top-notch leasing agent to maximize the marketing impact of the videos.
“When you utilize and leverage a virtual tour in the sales process, you have to have a strong sales person who is incredibly dedicated to customer service,” Eppsteiner says. “They can walk the prospect through where their new home would be. From a prospect standpoint, virtual tours are equally important by aiding in their search. They can actually see the community, and then engage with a higher caliber sales team.”
Sheehan Property Management was ready for the changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Virtual tours or video footage of the unit allow us to be more effective with our prospects,” said Sheehan Senior Regional Manager Katrina Greene. “They can make a confident buying decision without physically being on-site because they have seen the amenities, neighborhood and the unit via video.”
As part of their lead follow-up process, Sheehan property managers email prospects personalized videos to highlight property features like the fitness center and pool, and to do walk-throughs of individual units a prospect shows interest in.
While physically showing up at a property used to be the only way to sign a lease, much of that process has migrated to a digital platform. Prospects can pre-qualify and apply for a lease on many property websites after using online technologies to gather all of the details they need to make a decision.
Just because leasing agents can’t actually shake a prospect’s hand doesn’t mean the personal touch has to stop.
Drive real-time conversations through Facetime, Skype or the Virtual Tour partner of your choice. Answer their questions on the spot and make them feel special during this difficult time. Use these same tools to enable live video tours, as well.
Be sure to deploy personalized email follow ups with clear instructions to all scheduled tours.
Don’t forget about text messaging. Allow visitors to chat with your leasing team via text to get their questions answered and move the process along. Your team can be at home practicing social distancing and still be fielding texts.
Even if renters are not ready to lease until after the pandemic is under control, these personal touches will leave them with a great impression of your team and help them sign on the dotted line.