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Creating a Great Leasing Experience for Prospects

Creating a Great Leasing Experience for Prospects

It's a scene that regularly plays out at apartment communities across the country. A prospect who's excited about seeing a property walks into a leasing office and … it goes all downhill from there.

The leasing agents fail to stand up and greet the customer. The prospect is forced to sit at an agent's desk while the agent robotically gathers information. The community tour feels perfunctory, and the follow-up, if completed, is done through impersonal automation.  

The prospect visit has got to change. While talked about, it’s still an afterthought for too many communities. Expectations are shaped by experiences, and prospects often are receiving a more inviting experience at their local bank - look at Capital One Cafes, for example - than when looking for their new home.

Every prospect that walks through your doors should be treated to a warm, authentic and engaging experience. How a community visit goes can literally make all the difference in whether a prospect decides to lease or not.

Ready to commit to creating a great onsite experience for your prospects? Follow the five recommendations below.

  1. Have ample and accurate signage. A prospect's arrival experience begins before they set foot in the leasing office. Make sure your community has set out clear and sufficient signage to easily guide prospects onto your property and into the leasing office. A visitor should never have any doubt about where to park and where to go.

  2. Be ready to welcome visitors. Leasing agents should be positioned within a line of sight to the front door of the office. This will both allow the prospect to see someone when they first enter the building and will enable agents to easily know when it's time to greet a visitor. However, make sure you plan your greetings so that not all of the agents are converging on a prospect at once – that can be a little intimidating and off-putting to a lead.

  3. Create a warm and inviting atmosphere in the leasing office. Few things are less appealing to a prospect than having to sit at a leasing desk, with their backs to the action, the windows and the views of the property, while being interrogated by a leasing agent.

    A prospect's initial in-person contact with an agent should take place in a much more inviting atmosphere than that. Technology now allows agents to go through the discovery conversation with prospects and enter information into guest cards while they're away from their desks.

    Design your leasing office so that it has an abundance of social areas where agents and prospects can sit in a relaxed setting and have a real conversation. Work with designers to buy furniture and implement a seating arrangement that facilitates conversation. Couches opposite one another and separated by a huge coffee table won't do it. Furthermore, couches that are too low and soft may look cool but aren’t comfortable for the leasing team or prospects.

    Make sure there are refreshments offered in multiple places along the tour path. The leasing office needs to have a pleasant scent, nice music playing and inviting items to touch and see. You want the office and the entire tour path to offer a welcoming sensory experience that targets all five senses.

  4. Focus on having actual, transparent conversations. Leasing agents don't need to start their conversations with prospects by asking for their phone number and email, but many of them do. Begin by asking prospects bigger-picture questions about what they're looking for in their next apartment home. Encourage leasing agents to collaborate and facilitate rather than block and tackle. Often the leasing agent can end up being the biggest roadblock due to lack of knowledge and/or poor customer service.

  5. Customize your follow-up. One of the biggest mistakes a leasing agent can make after a prospect leaves their community is to send out automated, templated follow-up messages. That's the quickest way to destroy any genuine relationship you've established with a customer.

    Imagine if a prospect tells you they're waiting on a job offer before making a decision, and you send them a templated email that says, "Thank you so much for visiting our community. It was a pleasure to meet you. I look forward to you renting from us." The prospect is bound to think, "Did they even listen to anything we talked about?"

    Make sure your follow-up communication is focused on the specific floorplans the prospect has interest in. Send them customized brochures that detail the amenities and features most important to them.

    In every possible way, show them you listened and understand exactly what they're looking for and what they need out of their next home.

These five tips just scratch the surface in creating an engaging leasing experience. I could go on for awhile on this topic – and I probably will in subsequent blogs. There's so much ground to cover, and I'm passionate about this issue.

Today's apartment renter won't settle for the way onsite visits have traditionally taken place. They're craving a genuine, comfortable experience. To keep pace, leasing agents and leasing environments have to be ready to provide it.

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