This article was posted on Monday, Aug 01, 2016

Ah … guest cards.  For all the good they do – documenting contact information, ensuring consistency for fair housing, keeping track of follow- up attempts – they don’t provide much in the way of helping to establish an emotional connection with a prospect.   There is a two-part strategy to securing more leases:

  • The prospect has to like you
  • The prospect has to like what they see

No one is going to give money to someONE they don’t like for someTHING they don’t like.  The questions asked should be well thought out and delivered with genuine interest.  Here are five questions beyond the standard guest card to help ease the way to leasing success.

1.  So, are we your first stop?

This question gets right to the point and provides a bit of insight regarding the prospect’s experience with the touring process.  If the prospect has visited other communities, then you know s/he understands the drill.  That means you’ll have to switch it up – think about showing the apartment home FIRST, then the other features of the community.  If an experienced prospect is given a generic, cookie cutter tour, they might lose interest.  Been there, done that … this place is nothing special.  Notice the question is different than asking “What other communities have you visited?”  – a loaded question which could conjure up a positive memory of a competitor.

2. What do you like most about apartment living?

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Good one – let’s say the prospect goes on and on about worry-free maintenance.  If that’s the case, be sure to emphasize how your community provides just that and more.  Instead of the usual, “we have 24-hour emergency maintenance” or “same day service requests”, provide hardcore facts.  “Our goal is to complete service requests the same day whenever possible … in fact, 82% of all service requests last week we completed within four hours – yeah, we like to outdo ourselves around here.”  Sounds like heaven to someone who places a high priority on maintenance.  Most property management systems are able to calculate actual completion time, provided you are inputting the correct start/end times on the service requests.

3. What do you like least about apartment living?

Another good one – I’d bet my money most answers will have something to do with neighbors, safety or rent increases.  Whatever the response, your prospect has just told you their number one objection and you must be prepared for whatever is thrown your way.  A confident, ready answer that addresses the objection head on and showcases the best of what  you have to offer is the way to go.  And whatever you do, please do not respond to safety concerns by saying “crime has no address”.  If you do, you might as well drive your prospect Uber-style to your nearest competitor.

4.  What makes YOU a good resident?

Getting the prospect to talk about themselves will leave a lasting impression.  So after they tell you all about how quiet they are, how clean they keep their home,  or even how they try not to bug management with every little issue, respond by saying, “You sound like you’d make an awesome addition to our community.  There’s no way we’re going to let you leave today without filling out and application!”

5. What do WE need to do to prove we are the right community for you?

Go ahead, put it out there.  Ask the question and act on the answer.  Prospects will not be expecting this one; you have to repeat it.  But, this is an important question to ask.  It speaks to your confidence in your team’s abilities and your focus is squarely on resident satisfaction.  Your wish is our command, Mr. Prospect … bring it!

Remember, the prospect is not interviewing for the position of resident, you are interviewing for the position of apartment community.  Asking the right questions and being prepared for the answers shows a prospect you are the most qualified candidate for the job.

Reprinted from The KEY Magazine, Apartment Association of Greater Orlando.