The most important function in property management is leasing. With no rentals, no residents; no rental income; no revenue; expenses can’t be paid, property failure results in foreclosure.
Leasing is the life blood of our industry. Unfortunately, leasing positions at a property are viewed as the entry level and experience the highest volume of turnover. Hopefully, the employee turnover is a result of a promotion to a manager/management role.
Successful managers will continue to participate in the leasing process, not isolate themselves in an office with their reports, computer and purchase orders. This allows the manager to mentor new hires, as well as keeping active in the leasing responsibilities, reinforcing the importance of leasing, EVERYONE leases.
Leasing teams should be empowered with the importance of their role. Their energy and enthusiasm will be the determining factor when a prospect chooses to lease or continue their search. Within the property management environment, too many individuals would respond to an inquiry of “What do you do?” with a response of “I work for XYZ Management Company.”
Leasing is Finding Homes
As leaders and supervisors, how can the philosophy of “I lease apartments, I help families with one of the most important decisions they face; providing housing for their family,” become the driving force and daily focus.
At the end of the day, can we determine success as “I leased two apartments today,” as opposed to; its 6 o’clock time to go home.
Every person that calls the leasing office or comes through the door is interested in renting an apartment. Successful leasing teams will ask enough questions, and show enough interest to identify needs and wants of the prospect. The goal is to provide a solution for future housing – much more effective and useful than simply providing information and answering questions regarding pricing and availability. Without the closure of suggesting how the property meets the needs for the prospect, the prospect leaves the property drowning with information overload.
In our “need it now society,” few individuals are looking for housing six months from now, or later. The “just looking” response is an easy out for a leasing person that isn’t confident in selling their product.
Leasing staff should start every conversation with the assumption the prospect will make their decision today, and the move in date is a matter of scheduling, not IF but WHEN. With a friendly knowledgeable leasing team, the prospect will be anxious to commit to the apartment, reserving their apartment before it’s leased to someone else.
There should be time each day to review the leasing traffic, creating accountability for the results for each phone call and each visit. Emphasis placed on closing every piece, not allowing a “maybe the next one” philosophy to develop. The job description for leasing should include an expectation for closing. Individuals hired to lease must understand to be successful, is measured in terms of leases, not attendance. Too many prospective renters leave the property without ever being asked, “Can I start the reservation process for you today?” Every lease represents thousands of dollars in rent revenue, why wouldn’t every effort be made to close the deal while the prospect is in the office, or in a model home?
The First Impression
Leasing apartments involves a series of “first impressions.” What does the prospect think:
- on their first drive through of the property.
- meeting with the leasing team
- touring a furnished or unfurnished model
- lastly, their first visit to their new apartment home.
Anyone with much property management experience will tell you; the memory of a bad move-in never goes away. At the time of their fifth year lease renewal, you’ll still have the resident saying
“Remember how my carpet hadn’t been cleaned before I moved in and I had to clean it myself?”
It doesn’t matter that a concession was given for this inconvenience; or that you’ve walked her dog on days the resident had to work late, or that you’ve helped maintenance carry furniture upstairs when the delivery team from the store dropped the furniture at the front door to the apartment.
The First Impression is The Lasting Memory
Most management companies train with a policy, “NEVER show an apartment that isn’t 100% ready.” Newly hired leasing staff attempts to rationalize a variety of scenarios to justify reasons to show an apartment before its ready …out of town prospect, one of a kind floor plan…
Remember, the first impression is the lasting memory.
A prospect that tours an apartment that’s not ready will not forget the stain in the carpet or the musty odor in the bathroom.
Have you ever been eating in a restaurant and noticed a spot of dried food on your plate? NOT YOUR FOOD? The staff at the restaurant will quickly remove the plate, bring you another order, but the rest of that meal … and maybe future visits to that restaurant will probably have you closely looking at the plates and silverware to make sure it’s really, really clean.
Planning for a move-in, focusing on detail will create the environment for a move-in with no deficiencies. A perfect move-in, can give you a perfect first impression – a perfect foundation for a relationship with your new resident.
Lori Hammond is the author at Property Management Minutes. Thirty plus years experience in an industry best characterized as “no two days are the same” provides the foundation for Lori Hammond’s experience in Property Management. For more information, visit www.propertymanagmentminutes.com.