In strong rental markets, many leasing employees are faced with the wonderful challenge of being 100% leased.  Some apartments are being rented “sight unseen,” and perhaps there are only a few days in any given month where vacant apartments are available to look at before the new residents move in.  For communities that have rented and done away with their model apartments, many leasing consultants are now in situations where they have nothing to show.  The following question expresses this dilemma and the leasing consultant’s frustrations.

Question: Our property consistently stays full and we typically rent our units almost as soon as they come in.  When people call to inquire about an apartment and I don’t have anything available to show, I will usually refer them to our web site or recommend that they call back at a later date.  I don’t want to waste their time if I don’t have anything available.  However, lately some callers have been pretty insistent about wanting to come by even when I don’t have an apartment they can see.  Should I really be trying to set appointments when all I can do is hand out a floor plan and give a property tour?

Answer: This is a challenge and yet a unique and incredible opportunity for you to highlight and sell many other aspects of your community that you might not normally focus on during an apartment tour.  EVERY caller should be extended an invitation to visit your community, whether you have an apartment to show or not.  While a web site is just one of many “sales tools” at your disposal, it is not the only tool you have.  What about your property and the many community benefits you have to offer?  Even if you work at a smaller community, you still have numerous benefits to sell.
Perhaps it’s the location of your building and the many area conveniences, which no one will truly appreciate unless they make a visit and drive through the neighborhood.  Maybe you have an outstanding maintenance staff that is highly visible that a prospective resident would observe hard at work when visiting your community.  What about your friendly residents who are out and about?  The ones who smile and cheerfully say “Hello” to everyone they meet.  Have you ever considered your existing residents as a sales tool?
Then, last, but certainly not least, there is YOU!!  No web site or other form of “inanimate” advertising can take the place of a warm, friendly and VERY enthusiastic person who is excited about their product and what they are doing.

Of course it’s much “easier” to just refer someone to a web site or encourage them to check back with you when you have no apartments to show.  After all, it does “appear” that you are trying to be helpful.  What if you extended an invitation to visit instead?  You would definitely have to expend some extra time and energy and get creative to sell your product in a new and exciting way without a “visual.”   Perhaps your enthusiastic personality could describe and demonstrate with such animation that you could create your own “visual?”
Of course you want to be honest about your apartment availability and not get your prospects so “worked up” that you sell them on renting an apartment that is not available for their time frame.  On the other hand, maybe there is some flexibility with their move date.  Remember, part of your job as a sales person is to convince the customer that what you have to offer is worth waiting for.

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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