While market conditions continue to fluctuate, there may be times when you find yourself in a situation where you have no apartments to show.  Maybe you don’t have a model or the one you have is “out of commission” or you are in a “make ready” process with the vacant apartments that are available.  Recently, I was asked the following question:

Question:  I know I shouldn’t show an apartment that isn’t ready, but I hate to ask someone to come back.  I’m concerned they won’t make the time to come out a second time.  What can I do?
Answer:  First of all, you do not have to show an apartment in order to rent one.  While many people are “visual” and having a model or vacant apartment to show is a tremendous tool, it is not the only tool.  Following are some comments from a shopping report in which the leasing consultant did not have anything to show.

With a diagram of the two bedroom, the consultant “walked me through” the apartment as though we were inside.  She used the terms “you” and “yours” during the entire “virtual” tour.  She pointed out the various storage areas, using the floor plan and she even showed me the shelf and cabinet over the washer and dryer.  The consultant used descriptive words like “oak cabinetry” and “counter with breakfast bar.”  She mentioned the wood-burning fireplace and also the vaulted ceilings.  She then pointed where the fireplace is located and indicated where the ceiling begins to get higher.  The consultant made sure I understood the lay out of each room and helped me visualize what type of furniture would fit in each area.  When I questioned her about the location of the electrical outlets and phone jacks, she was able to help me pick out the best place for my computer.

When the apartment “presentation” was completed, the consultant walked me over to the location of the upcoming apartment.  She pointed out and described the amenities we saw along the way and discussed the proximity of each one to the location of my apartment.  She made sure I understood where I could park as well as my guests.  When we were outside the apartment, the consultant pointed out the other advantages of this particular location.  She drew my attention to the private patio, nearby fountain and lush landscaping.  She also mentioned the quiet, friendly neighbors who live upstairs and next door.

Once the leasing consultant confirmed that I was pleased with what I had learned about the apartment and community, she asked if I would like to put a hold on the apartment until it was ready for me to view.  When I declined, she told me that she understood my hesitation since I had not actually seen the apartment.  However, she reminded me that it was the only one she had coming available and that without a deposit, she would not hold it for me.

When I continued to hesitate, the consultant told me that my deposit would be fully refundable if I did not like the apartment once I saw it.

As you can see from the example above, having no apartments to show did not hamper that leasing consultant’s ability to sell AND close the sale!  In fact, it was quite the opposite – with no apartment to show, this leasing person became even more creative in selling her product as she was forced to describe the apartment in order for her prospect to visualize what she was talking about.  Sometimes a client will get MORE detailed information in these situations, not less.

Remember:  You only get ONE chance to make a good first impression.  Selling what you have to offer, even if you can’t show it will increase your leasing ratio.  Rather than demonstrating a dirty apartment or asking prospective renters to come back, put your product knowledge to the test – give a thorough presentation with whatever sales tools you have at your disposal and then close the sale.  

Joyce Kirby is with Shoptalk Service Evaluations, “Ask the Secret Shopper” and may be reached at joyce@shoptalkservice.com  or by visiting www.shoptalkservice.com.   Reprinted with permission.

 

 

 

 

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