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The Property Partner

Insights on training, coaching, and new ideas in multifamily.

The Cost of Untrained Leasing Consultants

The Cost of Untrained Leasing Consultants

Most of us have published an ad looking for “experienced leasing consultants” and received an array of resumes that may have included a rookie or two. Sometimes, we try our luck with first-timers; maybe because something sparked our eye, or maybe we’re just desperately in need of new talent. Sometimes, we find people with experience, and sometimes an impressionable candidate finds their way onto the top of the pile, regardless of their experience in multifamily.

I’ve had the pleasure of training diamonds-in-the-rough a few times, but more often than not, due to time constraints and manager obligations, consultants are thrown into the fire, head first, and told to take an online leasing class or wait until a company trainer comes in. So smile, answer the phone, and lease.

The number of leasing consultants that are on the front line that lack proper training is surprising. This is often because companies either don’t accurately assess the legal and financial ramifications of untrained staff, or they have not allocated the time or resources necessary.

I preach an old saying that multifamily vets know all too well, “It costs money to make the phone ring.” And how much does it cost? Usually quite a bit. Even with a minimal marketing budget, you’re ideally still allocating funds for “curb appeal” i.e. flags, banners, signage. With larger budgets, allocation for ILS services for lead generation, SEO, answering services, chat bot, websites, and tracking systems are standard. Not to mention the presence of any outreach marketing, resident and employee events. Even your drive-by has probably cost you money. The list goes on and on!

So, you’ve spent a lot to make the phone ring, and by now it should be ringing quite a bit. Let’s look at where issues arise when we have untrained employees answering those highly-valued, very expensive calls:

 

·     Liability under Fair Housing laws, legal protections

 

·     Sales revenue

 

·     Resident retention

 

·     Reputation management

 

These aspects are all vital pieces of what makes a property successful, and more broadly, operational. If you have agents that aren’t comfortable with their closing techniques, they will lose rentals to their competition solely based on the inability schedule a tour. If agents are not working within a healthy environment due to disorganization of roles, lack of training, and lack of responsibility, that negative morale will seep into their daily interactions with prospects and residents and effect your company’s reputation as a whole.

Not to mention the reason we’re all here: revenue. Your company’s revenue is generated by sales and account retention. Where do these sales come from? Hopefully, they’re coming from your consultants. Yet, oftentimes, management pulls the weight from lack of a strong, skilled leasing staff. I’ve seen this happen all too often, and it seems to be ignored by many companies. The focus is on numbers: not typically on their source. This must change! To run a property effectively, duties and responsibilities should be upheld and constantly improved upon by each team member. This is the reason properties either succeed or fall short. And because success is driven by focus and achievement on all levels, leasing consultants should be not only held accountable for generating sales effectively, but should be properly trained in order to do so.

Your properties can spend money on advertising, marketing, and retention, but sales rely solely on the quality and competency of their leasing consultants. I recently taught a class in my multi-series leasing course, where multiple leasing consultants told me they’d been working in the industry for years. 

Yet, being as seasoned as they were, not one of them were confident in their ability to close a deal or “ask for the money” (I teach an entire sales course on that concept alone). They simply didn’t know how to ask for the commitment. They were never properly trained, and as a result, had been struggling to define their roles and areas of improvement. They were bogged down in the same routine. They weren’t confident in themselves or their capabilities, which are the basic necessities of successful salespeople. Having a background not only in property management but in advertising sales, I can tell you that no matter how much you spend on making that phone ring, if your agents can’t close the deal, it won’t make much of a difference.

You don’t need to lower your prices to increase rentals when you can train your sales team and give them the techniques they need to succeed. Selling value and not savings is a strong technique and a value in itself when it comes to generating real revenue. Next time you’re looking for a solution, consider investing in your front line. Your leasing consultants can make or break a property, so invest in the most important marketing technique you have: them. Not only will you increase the strength of your company’s foundation, but you will increase revenue, occupancy, and retention.

 

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