The apartment industry has a very consistent career path: Leasing Consultants get promoted to assistant property managers, who then get promoted to property managers and beyond. Essentially, we take someone with strong sales skill sets and then push them into a role that is highly administrative. And then we take that administrative employee and give them a management and leadership role. But does that really make sense?
A few weeks ago, I was fortunate to sit down with Lauren Curley of Bonaventure Realty Group, which has 26 properties across 3 states, and she shared some interesting things they are testing at four communities, with plans to expand to the rest of their portfolio in the coming months.
Leasing Consultants Are Promoted Along a Leasing Track
In the end, we often promote leasing consultants because they are good at what they do, but that pushes them into positions that may not match their skill sets. So Bonaventure has transitioned to a system where leasing positions have their own track. So leasing consultants are promoted to higher level leasing positions that receive better leasing commissions, without necessarily forcing them into an administrative or management role if it doesn't fit. Bonaventure keeps the best leasing consultants actually leasing apartments, the function that they thrive in.
Goodbye "Jack of all Trades", and Hello Focused Skill Sets
Our industry has long been proud that its onsite team members are a "jack of all trades", but there are significant drawbacks. Our team members often feel scattered, hopping from task to task, which is exacerbated by the fact that prospects and residents can walk through the door at any time, interrupting any process. Therefore, Bonaventure is taking a different approach. They want their leasing consultants focused on leasing, leaving administrative functions to employees with that job type. This allows the administrative functions to get done more efficiently, as well as making training more focused and effective. Rather than teaching all things to all employees, each team member can be better trained on a smaller number of skills and processes.
Renewal Commissions Exceed New Lease Commissions
Bonaventure is also tackling the issue of incentives relating to new leases versus renewals. Often, leasing consultants get a full commission for new leases, but split renewal commissions, leaving more incentive to focus on new leases and not be too concerned with a lost renewal. But Bonaventure has changed their strategy, offering 0.5% commissions for new leases and 0.75% for renewals, creating a positive incentive to focus on our most profitable segment: existing residents.