“Did you hear what our competitor is doing?”  This question has caused many property management professionals to freeze in their tracks.  What about you?  Does your leasing team know what your neighboring apartment communities are doing?  And if a future resident was to ask them, “give me 10 unique reasons why I should lease an apartment from you and your company,” could they answer this question without a pause?  “Knowing thy competitor” is critical, and this article will outline three easy ways to know more about them, than they know about you! Let’s get started!

Their People

Begin by shopping on the telephone and in-person, your neighborhood competitors and also any nearby competitors who offer similar pricing and product.  Notice their leasing staff and look for the way they dress, the tone in their voice, the organization of their rental office, the ease they display when presenting their property, and what questions they ask during the property tour.  By observing closely, you will see and hear the quality of person hired by your competitors and the time they invest in their training programs.  Then ask yourself, “how do these standards, compare to ours?”

Tip From The Coach:  Whenever possible, interview everyone who has worked for your competitors.  You can learn volumes about how each company hires and trains their people and you will be able to identify their unique management style.  Also, ask questions about this person’s previous work experience, as it may give you new ideas for recruiting key people.  And isn’t finding a great team player for your property management company always a hot topic?

Their Product

Shop your competitors by telephone, by E-mail and at their website at least quarterly, listening closely for any new services or amenities they offer.  Pay close attention to the quality of their landscaping, the appearance of their model apartments, the information on their website and any special ways they add “unique” value to living at their apartment community. Use a consistent shopping report so you can easily summarize the unique features and amenities at each property.  Now, how does your property compare to the rest? And more importantly, how does your property compare to the best?

Tip From The Coach:  Every Monday morning, have your leasing team spend 15 minutes reviewing the shopping reports done the previous week.  When your team has this type of timely and detailed information, they should be able to easily respond to a prospect who says, “why should I lease from you and not your competitor?”  Have your leasing team practice handling this type of standard question, as practice does make perfect!

Their Rental Prices

Once you know the specific details about your competitor’s people and their product, your on-site leasing teams will have much more confidence when they explain why your properties are “special” compared to the rest.  And when you focus on the strengths of your property, so will your future residents.  Lastly, people buy from people!  A small price difference can easily be overlooked, when your leasing team is courteous and professional! Remember, each prospect is looking to find a perfect place…called home!

Tip From The Coach:  If price is the only issue, work with your on-site teams to prepare in advance, a checklist of the specific features and amenities unique to their property, when compared to your competitors.  Have each leasing person practice presenting this checklist with confidence and accuracy as this part of their presentation will usually be enough for a future resident to say, “OK, how can we get started leasing this apartment.”

So, follow these three easy steps and see how much easier it is to serve your future residents when you know more about your competitors, than they know about you! If you would like to receive a free report to use when you are shopping your competitors please E-mail a request to ernest@powerhour.com and The Coach will send you a sample report in ten minutes! Want to hear more about this important topic or ask some additional questions? Send an E-mail to ernest@powerhour.com and The Coach will E-mail you a free invitation to his monthly PowerHour conference calls for property management professionals.

Ernest F. Oriente is a business coach since 1995, a property management industry professional since 1988, the author of SmartMatch Alliances and the founder of PowerHour -[ www.powerhour.com and www.powerhourseo.com and www.pirmg.com].  To subscribe to his free property management newsletter go to: www.powerhour.com.

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