It’s vital that apartment communities regularly sign new residents, and forward-thinking operators are always looking for ways to make it easier for their properties to do so.
Self-guided tours are emerging on the multifamily scene, and smart managers are seeing that the technology allows communities to serve more prospects and to provide prospects with a better onsite experience. The solution also enables onsite associates to be more available to their current residents.
Now, understandably, some leasing agents might be a little leery of this technology, fearing it could put them out of work, while others in the industry might be somewhat dubious about its impact. To those who might not be greeting the solution with open arms, I would like to offer these three benefits of giving prospects the option to take self-guided tours.
- Self-guided tours will help associates do their jobs more effectively - they will not overtake the jobs of leasing associates.
Onsite agents have many responsibilities other than leading tours, but visits by prospects can take up a disproportionate amount of an associate's day. Consider this entirely realistic scenario: a leasing agent takes eight prospective residents on a tour in a single day. Considering that each tour probably lasts between 30 minutes to an hour, that leaves little to no time to follow up with and manage other prospects or leads, handle service requests from current residents and tend to any additional needs current renters may have.
Leasing associates are so much more than tour guides, and giving prospects the ability to take self-guided tours will free up agents to tend to their many other responsibilities.
Also, when making a decision this big, prospects want to buy from people, and even those prospects who take self-guided tours want some level of in-person interaction. Associates are critical to establishing rapport with these prospects. At the same time, reducing the number of tours agents have to lead will give them more bandwidth to develop and maintain warm relationships with prospects in all the other stages of the demand funnel. They will have more time and energy to sell and promote the value of a community when following up with prospects.
All this to say: leasing agents aren't going away – and self-guided tours will allow them to do their jobs better.
- Self-guided tours create a better experience for prospects. Many of today's leads, particularly millennials and members of Gen Z, prefer to tour communities by themselves. According to HRC Retail Advisory, 95 percent of consumers want some time to themselves during their shopping experience.
The more you think about it, this makes perfect sense. When I'm shopping for an apartment home and touring a community with my wife, I don't want the leasing agent to be in the unit with us. I want to be able to talk frankly and say to my wife, "I dislike this. I love this." Prospects often don't feel comfortable reacting candidly to a community when there's a leasing associate with them. In the end, self-guided tours are likely to lead to more same-day leases because prospects are able to work through their decision-making discussions while onsite.
Additionally, giving prospects the option to take self-guided tours can reduce the waiting times they sometimes experience when visiting a community. If several prospective residents arrive at the same time and want to tour a property, some of them will have to wait until a leasing agent is available to show them around – and that can take a long time. Communities typically don’t track the number of prospects who leave before touring because of long wait times and don’t ever come back - but these numbers are surely larger than most think. When leads can take their own tours, they can get in and out of a community faster, and this improves the way they feel about a property.
- Self-guided tours produce actionable data. Another benefit of this technology is that it allows operators to closely track the floor plans and amenities that prospects are visiting as they tour a property. This provides invaluable insight and can help operators understand which features are really driving purchasing decisions.
Overall, it makes a ton of sense for operators to embrace self-guided tours. The benefits are just too significant.