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Brent Williams' Apartment Blog

Thoughts, comments, and ideas about the overall multifamily industry, as well as a property-specific focus on resident retention and apartment marketing.

For Leasing Consultants Who Sell Value, Fluctuating Rental Rates Can Cause Massive Headaches

For Leasing Consultants Who Sell Value, Fluctuating Rental Rates Can Cause Massive Headaches

I have always been a value seller, in that I justify the cost of an item by showing all the value that the person will get out of it.  So when I was leasing apartments, if the rent was $1,000, then there must be $1,000 (or more) of value that we are providing in order for me to be confident in my sales approach.  However, as different pricing strategies came into play which resulted in constantly fluctuating rental rates, it really threw me for a loop.  I’m guessing that there are others who struggle with this same issue, so hopefully this helps!

Let’s say that a certain 1 bedroom floor plan two months ago rented at $1,000/mo, but since then, the supply of 1 bedrooms has gone down, and also the market rates in the area have turned up, so now that same apartment rents at $1,100.  The challenge for me was that nothing had fundamentally changed in my idea of “value”.  The amenities hadn’t changed.  The level of customer service, although great, hadn’t really changed.  It was essentially the same apartment and living experience as it was two months ago, and yet it was more expensive.  From a practical perspective, I understood what was driving the price up, but I was having trouble being as confident in an apartment that was more expensive even though nothing had really changed with its “value”.  Now, not everyone will have issues with this value conundrum, as people sell in different ways, but for those who happen to see the world through a similar lens as I do, here is what helped me:  I imagined my property as a boat.

Ultimately, I had to break the bond between price and value because that connection was too rigid.  So what I did was start imagining my property as a boat on the waves of the ocean, along with all the our comps in similar boats, floating up and down in the water.  We have absolutely no control over the ocean and waves, and those waves were now our rental rates.  Our rents rise and fall, along with the market around us, and it is a force of nature that we simply must accept.  However, that doesn’t mean that we are not still value selling!  A prospect can just as easily row over to the next boat and climb aboard if we are not able to show the value that we can bring to their life, so I was still value selling, but just not a value relative to a set price.

In the end, that is how I reconciled always-changing rental rates with my value selling.  I had to completely disengage the price with what value we were providing, accepting that the price was something that we simply couldn’t control, but we could still showcase our value relative to the other communities that prospect was looking at.  Sales is all about confidence in what you are providing, and I needed a new perspective to retain that confidence in my product.

Again, I’m sure many of you have never had this problem as everybody sells in different ways.  But if you are like me, I hope this helps, and Happy Leasing!

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  • Rick Ellis CPM

    Good point, Brent. The value is still the "same" relative to the price changes in the market. From a practical standpoint, I like a policy that allows rents to be set in the morning and held through the day...or two. It is unnerving to be constantly checking what the latest rental rate is or having to fish for the lease terms with the better deal or price. It is also helpful to be able to "guarantee" the rate for at least 24 hours. Regardless, when a rental rate is needed in your presentation strategy, it should be easy and evident.

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