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Apartment Leasing Tips Learned From George W. Bush at #NAA10 - Education Conference

At the NAA 2010 Education Conference last week in New Orleans, the keynote speaker was George W. Bush. I didn’t know what to expect and was a little leery how this would fit into the rest of the week. When I walked out from the session, not only did I have a little crush on George W., I had a new-found appreciation for him. As I reflected on his session, I realized, there were many things we can apply from George W.’s speaking techniques that could help us lease apartments! How did he turn me from “a little leery” to a “fan with newfound appreciation?” Here are some of my observations: 1. George talked about his family. He openly appreciated his wife, talked about his struggles with his children regarding his work, and how much he loved his parents. In the first few minutes of his speech, he became immediately human to me - I quickly identified with him. Looking around the audience, I saw that almost everyone could identify with appreciating a spouse, struggles with family-work balance, and love of parents. As apartment leasing agents, sales professionals, or in any business interactions, identifying with your prospect/client/ business associate sets the stage for transition to the next stage of the sale – your pitch. 2. Next, George W. spoke about his beliefs and his values. In this portion, he was passionate and moving. Whatever my position was, I found myself understanding his point of view. In the leasing of apartments, this would......
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Brainstorming iPad Innovations For Apartment Tours

ipad for apartment community tourThe iPad has the potential to bring in significantly more information and visual aids to the apartment tour process, with obvious benefits of furnished pictures and videos, on-demand information about the unit, and ability to fill out guest card-type information on the go. But what about other ideas?  Here are a few features I would include in an iPad application: The application would be designed for both the leasing consultant and prospect to use during the tour.  The leasing consultant enters the apartment number into the iPad on the way to the apartment and then hands the iPad to the prospect.  The prospect can then see pictures and videos of the apartment if it were furnished, place their furniture into a floor plan, and see testimonial videos from current and past residents.   For each apartment toured, the prospect can then click on a “like” button, which will then be consolidated and emailed back to them if they choose to keep looking rather than lease at that moment.  Embed the Facebook Connect feature into the app, and hitting the “like” button will then post it on their Facebook wall with a link back to your community.  The “like” button will also be consolidated among all prospects to show relative interest on your website for different floor plans.  For example, if you have online availability, this like data could be incorporated into the listing to show how “hot” that particular floor plan was.  What would be some killer features you would include......
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Maximize Marketing Dollars: Part II – Evaluating Your Apartment Marketing Programs

[This is Part II of the Maximize Marketing Dollars series.  The first part reviewed the “Power of the P’s” in marketing: Price, Product, Promotion, People, Position, Process and Passion.  Part II discusses how to evaluate your marketing programs and making any changes!] Solution Two: Honest Evaluation Endless amounts of resources are at your fingertips to assist in evaluating marketing efforts. The key is to develop a system of evaluation that becomes a part of your routine. By looking at the reports and other key indicators, ask yourself, “What does this say about this marketing source or what about this effort was successful?” When you come to conclusions, record and track them for future reference. When evaluating whether the P’s and other marketing efforts are really paying off for you, it is essential that you have the correct information. Assuming you are stellar trackers of all marketing sources—where are you getting the biggest bang for your buck? If you are not seeing a substantial Return on Investment (ROI), then pull that money and place it where it is working. Also evaluate if the rent rates are set appropriately, or are you under-valuing your property by offering concessions or offering deals when they are not needed? Look closely if a particular apartment home type is highly desirable then raise the rates. It is a simple supply and demand philosophy. Property reports are one of the available resources that can help track the amount of qualified traffic from each source, and the corresponding phone......
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ASKING FOR IT. "Bring it." Nuggets are out there.

Litmus Test - Ric Campo, CEO of Camden, national REIT based in Houston, BELIEVES in litmus tests. Camden is awaiting waves and raves. Multifamily Executives are asking for it. They're sticking their toes into the water...they just want Reviews and Communication through Social Media done RIGHT. They are seeking new ways to bridge the Consumer & Community Gap. Check out these recent Tweets; A national Apartment Management Company sent out this St. Paddy's Tweet..."My Lucky Day! I just turned my first negative Resident Tweet into a Positive!" And this one during March 19th's weekly Friday afternoon Twitter #AptChat. "Rented on of our apts recently? If so, let other renters know how you like it by rating it at http:..." In an ironic twist and despite the ever-growing frustration with various apartment ratings sites, several Multifamily executives are not only willing to put their properties up for review, but they are actually asking for it. “Regarding apartment reviews, it’s not that somebody has to do it, it’s that somebody has to do it right,” said Mark Juleen, VP of marketing for the JC Hart Company based in Carmel, Indiana. “Ratings and reviews have been out there for a long time in the form of ApartmentRatings.com and now Yelp.com. The problem is, these companies aren’t fostering open communication between the renting community and the apartment community.”  Companies eager to engage in the two-way dialogue taking action today include Camden, Mission Residential, Mills Properties, Gables Residential, Urbane Apartments, and the JC Hart Company.“We believe in......
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Your Conversion Rate is 30%, But Your Solution Rate Should Be 100%

When leasing apartments, there are plenty of challenges with maintaining a high conversion rate that are completely out of the leasing consultants hands.  For example, there might be a lack of availability, the prospect might not need an apartment immediately, the prospect's credit is poor, or the available apartments may just be too expensive for the apartment hunter.  These situations can be horribly frustrating to a leasing consultant, as it impacts his or her supposed effectiveness.  This can hurt morale and even lead to lying to maintain a fake bloated conversion rate.   Even more important, many communities do not have any strategy to handle these types of rejections.  I've seen countless times where the leasing consultant simply told the prospect that they did not have any two bedrooms in their time frame and let the prospect walk out the door.    So instead of focusing on conversion rate, try implementing a 100% Solution Rate.  This means that no matter the situation, the community is prepared to offer some sort of option to the apartment prospect.  Of course, this does not mean the leasing consultant does not try to overcome objections during the leasing process.  But what it does mean is that providing a solution may or may not actually mean an immediate move-in.   First, take a week or two and document every reason why a prospect did not lease at the community.  Then, create a strategy for each particular situation.  Here are some examples:   Objection Solution Your community......
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THE COST OF A REPLACING A RESIDENT? WHAT’S THAT NUMBER?

  As I was reading some old blogs I ran across one where the conversation revolved around the value of retaining existing residents. One of the points that was in the center of that conversation was the cost of loosing and replacing a resident.   Here are my questions: Is it accurate that it costs about $4,500 more to replace a lease than to renew? Is it accurate that the average turnover is 60% in an apartment community?   Both these numbers seem high to me (as an outsider) and they certainly show a tremendous opportunity for apartment communities to improve NOI by either lowering acquisition cost of a new resident or increasing the renewal rate. Even a 1% or 2% improvement can be a huge impact to the net profitability of a community....
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Take It From Me: Don't Ever Be Afraid to Ask for the Sale

Please. Don't ever be afraid to ask for the sale.So many Leasing Professionals and salespeople don't ask for the sale because they are afraid of rejection. And I truly understand that; I do. And to show you how much I understand it, I am going to share a very personal story with all of you that taught me a wonderful lesson.Years ago, before I realized I had a bit of a 'gift' for sales (ask anyone; I'm a really good salesperson), I was dating a man whom I adored. We had been going out for about three months and ladies, I decided I was going to spring 'the L word' on him. I had been at a cookout at his home and he had walked me to my car. As we stood there, my arms around his neck, his arms around my waist, on a warm summer night, I took a deep breath and said 'it' to him. Here's how it went:Me: "I love you".Him: (silence)Me: (stressing out a little bit, wondering if I should repeat myself)Him: (slowly and with great hesitation)..."I love my Mom. And I love my dog. But, I don't love you."Me: (amazingly enough) I laughed out loud. Here it was: a moment in my life where I thought I'd found 'the guy' and I'd done the unthinkable and used 'the L word' first and he basically tells me I come after his Mom (I can accept that) and the dog (say what?). All I could do was laugh. I......
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A Different Kind of Phone Shop in Ten Quick Steps

Please, don't get me wrong - I think shopping services are great and necessary. I would never run a property without them. They do a wonderful service and give you a 'scorecard' that tells you how your team is doing at your property. But there's one thing YOU need to do every week that sadly, only typically takes about 30 seconds per property in most cases. And you don't need a shopping service to do it. It will immediately tell you how good your leasing team is on the telephone.Ask a friend, business associate, sister, brother, aunt, mother - ANYONE can do this (I'm sure your shopping service would do this for you as well if you ask them) to phone shop your sites. Give them a list of property phone numbers. Tell them  here is all they have to do:1. Get a timer that can be started and stopped to show seconds elapsed. (Your computer's analog clock option is fine.)2. Dial the number for the property, preferably the local number so you don't mess up your 'call log' for your toll free numbers. 3. Count the number of rings before the phone is answered.4. Start the timer, in seconds, when the call is picked up by the site.5. Ask one simple question: "How much are your...insert size of apartment here)?6.  Write down the answer you get. 7. IF the property simply gives you the price, say thank you, note the elapsed amount of seconds and hang up.8. If the property entices you to......
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Still Selling "Free Rent"?

Drive any city these days in search of an apartment home and you'll see the banners: "FREE RENT!"  or "ONE MONTH FREE" or even "2 MONTHS FREE RENT!" So I ask you, what value does 'free' have? I say it's got little to virtually no value when used as a concession in our industry. Let me try to prove my point:  As I drive down 'apartment row' I see the signs. But one property has a sign that's different. Instead of saying simply 'One Month Free Rent', it says '$1,000 FREE RENT WITH NEW LEASE". Which banner is going to catch my eye? Which property will potentially get my business? Now, this isn't a discussion on 'free rent'. The purpose of this blog entry is to make sure you stop using the word 'free' altogether, because 'free' doesn't have a dollar value. "Free" application fee? Ask ten properties what their application fee is and you'll probably get ten different answers. "Free" administrative fee? Ask ten properties and you'll probably get ten different answers there, too. If you're going to give something away, make sure you are providing your potential customers with the value of your giveaway. Stop saying 'free' and give the value. Instead of saying you'll waive an application fee, say "We can waive your application fee; you'll save $50 with that offer today." Always give a dollar value when you are offering something for 'free'.   You'll have better results - I'm sure of it. Lisa Trosien is an award winning multifamily educator, speaker and strategist.......
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Check The Expiration Date On Your Amenities

Empty GymOlympic-Size Pool? CheckState of the Art Gym? Check Car Detail Center? Check Boy, prospects are going to love these things! Residents, not so much. Here's a little story that is all too common with apartment prospects and residents: You have a brand-new shiny prospect walk in the door and boy are you relieved! Traffic has been slow, so you really take the time with the grand tour, showing off the big "closers" throughout the property. And your prospect eats it up, grinning as you move from the pool to the gym to the putting green. You've sold them and now they move in almost immediately. Fast forward 10 months and your former prospect, now resident, hasn't swam in the pool since she moved in, worked out only once after setting her New Year's resolution, and doesn't even golf at all! And now, she's put in her notice to vacate. But didn't she love the amenities and property? And here's the kicker! Your soon-to-be former resident visits your rival community, "oohing" and "ahhing" as they show off their luxurious pool, top-notch gym, and car detail center. This is the same girl who didn't swim at all at your community and barely lifted a dumbbell, right? So what is going on?? Unfortunately, for most communities and most residents, the grand amenities that you sell to prospects have declining value and actually tend to "expire" as residents live in your community! But we really need to look at the supposed benefit our amenity offered to the prospect to......
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