Tired of pouring endless money into advertising?  Do you wonder which ads are “REALLY” working for the properties you manage?  Would you like a bullet-proof system for capturing the results from your advertising?  Below are three concepts that will enable you to track your advertising like a hawk!  Really, it’s that simple!

Developing a Tracking System

As a property management company you must have an efficient way to record and evaluate the results from your advertising program.  Certainly, you should have a guest card which includes all your advertising/marketing sources.  If your guest card is not current and complete, your on-site team will not be able to accurately track the results from each advertising source.  Each property should also be required to have a phone log, a summary of their daily and weekly traffic/rentals and a report to summarize their entire month.  Be certain each advertising source you are using has its own column for each report.  Often, advertising sources are bunched together in the same category or column on the weekly and monthly recap, making it impossible to track the performance of each ad. Of course, a tracking system can also be computerized, but the steps/tips outlined in this paragraph are still the same.

Tip From The Coach:  When asking your on-site manager to provide a summary of traffic and leasing results for each advertising source, have this person sign and date the form.  This is a reminder that they are accountable for the timely and accurate “source” information which is reflected on each report.

Each apartment that you lease, which comes from a particular advertising or marketing source, makes it easy to justify which advertising/marketing you will continue to use. 

Identifying the Source

To accurately evaluate the performance of your advertising program, begin by deleting “drive-by” as a source on your guest card and computerized tracking systems.  In most cases, the prospect read or heard something about your property before simply driving by.  Next, have each of your properties design a marketing easel which has a sample of each ad you are running and the name of the media source above it.  Then, ask your leasing team to begin each property tour at this marketing easel so they can ask each prospective resident if they have seen your current advertising.  Now, this is the time to mark the prospect’s guest card as your leasing agent can accurately identify the advertising which brought this prospect to your property.  And by using this technique, your weekly and monthly reports will now reflect a more accurate picture of which advertising source is most effective.

Tip From The Coach:  Remember, drive-by is not a source of traffic.  Want a simple test…if drive-by is over 25 percent of your total traffic, you are probably not getting the accuracy you need from your tracking system.  Also, shop your own properties monthly and compare the advertising source that was given to the shopper, to the source listed on the tracking reports at your property.

 Creating a File for Return Prospects

Wow! Isn’t it great when a return-prospect becomes a new resident?  Such fun! Unfortunately, identifying the original advertising source which brought this prospect to your property the first time is a major problem at most properties.  Often, your leasing team will hear from a return-prospect, “I was just here a few weeks ago and decided to come back.” Certainly, leasing an apartment to a new resident is the primary goal of your advertising. But each apartment that you lease, which comes from a particular advertising or marketing source, makes it easy to justify which advertising/marketing you will continue to use.  And since advertising is such a large monthly expenditure at each of your properties, isn’t it important to be able to validate which ad is working and which one is not?

Tip From The Coach:  Create a master file of guest cards for all prospects and have your leasing team file the guest cards from each day into a small box by last name, sorted A-Z. Now, when “Peter Smith” returns in three months after his first visit and says he wants to lease apartment 3B, your leasing agent can simply go to this small box and behind “S” the original guest card is right there!  This is an instant way for your properties to source their advertising and marketing. More importantly, they will have in their hand the background of this prospect and can create instant rapport.  Instant rapport equals higher closing ratios, a double win! Of course, a follow-up system can also be computerized, but the steps/tips outlined in this paragraph are still the same.  Once you have these systems in place, you can then calculate your: cost-per-phone-call, cost for bringing each prospect to your property and your cost-per-lease!  For a free analysis of your advertising tracking forms or to discuss the results you are receiving, fax your system/results to The Coach at 435-615-8670 and receive 20 minutes of complimentary coaching!

Ernest F. Oriente, a business coach since 1995, the author of SmartMatch Alliances and the founder of PowerHour has a passion for coaching his clients on executive leadership, hiring and motivating property management SuperStars.  He provides private and group coaching for property management companies around North America, investment banking services and executive recruiting services.  To subscribe to his FREE property management newsletter go to www.powerhour.com,  call 435-615-8486 or  E-mail ernest@powerhour.com.

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