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Pre Selling Your Vacancies

January 12, 2021

Sign More Apartment Leases with Pre-Suasion

Given how difficult it is for apartment managers to fill apartment vacancies during the pandemic, especially in downtown regions, you might enjoy a little lift in leasing success.

A recent article from NAA offers an interesting angle to increase apartment lease signings. They’ve dubbed it pre-suasion — the conditioning of your audience so leads are higher quality and easier to convert to signed long term leases.

There’s little doubt you’ve been practicing some pre-conditioning of renter prospects, and engaging them in your rental offering online or by phone.  Improving your techniques might improve your fill rate and attract the best tenant prospects.

From the NAAHQ article: “Walk-in traffic is all but nullified. So you really need to be able to correspond with prospects through multiple online channels, with content that gives them an experience. We want our prospects to come away from interactions with our online content not only informed, but connected to the community as well.” — Andre Washington of BH Companies in interview with Joe Bousquin of NAAHQ.

When Cities Empty

Apartment managers struggle with more than huge vacancy rates today.  Connections to and rapport with apartment hunters has been weakened. Walk-in traffic is gone, renters left town or are feeling uneasy, and suite showings have been reduced due to Covid 19 guidelines. The usual, familiar process of meet and greet and getting to know the prospect has been eroded thus making lease closings difficult.

While leasing pros are familiar with sales psychology and the conversion funnel, many landlords aren’t as sophisticated nor skilled in online tenant acquisition. Small business landlords are learning the ropes.

Conditioning the Prospect Before the Meeting

The term pre-suasion refers to the process of informing, engaging and educating renter prospects before they arrive for a rental apartment viewing. When the prospect arrives for the interview/showing, they should already feel the building, amenities, neighborhood and suite are right for them.

And the prospect should be ready with their tenant screening report, credit report, documents, references and be ready to sign the lease.

This pre-conditioning process includes website or social media content or telephone conversations. These mediums allow you to ask them about what they like or dislike about their current situation and other insights – helping you learn quickly and then position the vacancy to them and prepare them to sign the lease.

And if your rent price is considered too high, this preconditioning content may help you overcome price objections. If you know more, you can understand what they value and therefore would be willing to pay for your suite. It contributes to your ability to make prospects more confident of your value proposition to them.

Tools to Speed up the Tenant Search Process

Renters are using smartphones and social media in increasing numbers. They are great sales tools for tenant lead generation and learning about your audience’s attitude toward your rentals.  Homes.com’s study found that 44% of renters searched 2 to 5 months before deciding to move.  Almost 30% of renters took a month to
make the decision, and 15% of them took over 6 months before finally deciding it was the right move.

Accelerating that process could be very profitable for you.

The Renter Profile Insights Survey. Screencapture courtesy of Homes.com

More inquiries from tenant prospects are arriving via online channels now (apartment listing sites, ppc ads, social media, marketing website). Inquiries from social media are convenient so you should encourage direct FB messenger inquiries. It’s important to plan and write rental ads well and advertise in the right places to the right audience.

Yet this pre-suasion process begins right away with advertisements and web pages. The ads might encourage exploration, question asking, and other prequalifying and information gathering activities.

This isn’t the usual passive, traditional approach to leasing. Pre-suasion is a conversation with renters that helps move them through your sales conversion funnel.

11 Types of Content that Preconditions Renter Prospects

  1. property and suite videos focusing on spaciousness, fixtures, bathrooms and kitchen
  2. page devoted to Covid 19 prevention and disinfection practices carried out
  3. suite features page that includes digital amenities available
  4. testimonial page with tenant comments on how their apartment works for them
  5. recorded virtual tours (asking for comments)
  6. live real-time online showings (get feedback about features and listen to responses)
  7. high-quality photographs of most relevant features – showing suites in the best light possible
  8. creative descriptions in your listings on your marketing website
  9. social media posts about local take out restaurants, parks, coffee shops, walkability, grocery supermarkets, attractions, and transportation convenience
  10. social media posts that ask questions to prospects such as surveys that ask about enjoyment and disappointments
  11. creative blogs that make tenants imagine and want to open up about themselves and their experiences (comments)

When your pre-conditioning strategy actually works, you’ll see an increase in inquiries, leads, and showings. And these leads will be easier to nurture and close.

Added benefit:  rental property owners and investors see how good you are at tenant acquisition.

Questions to Discover Key Wants and Desires

Owners and property managers are focusing on improved online content to attract and persuade, but they’re also asking more questions when possible. By learning more specifically about tenant desires of an apartment, you can pre-condition their online content experience to ready them to be persuaded to commit to signing a long term lease.

Ask open-ended questions to gather key info. The questions are a means to an end.

  • what did you like about your previous rentals?
  • how much square footage do you have now?
  • what kind of appliance features are most important to you?
  • do you dine out a lot?
  • do you need parking or storage space?
  • how much sports equipment do you need storage for?
  • what price range are you hoping for?
  • will you be working at home and need something extra?
  • how did you hear about this rental?

The point with open-ended questions is to help reveal their lifestyle profile and to respond to them as a unique person.

Please do share this post with your associates and owner connections on Facebook

Covid 19 Remains the Single Biggest Issue

In the era of Covid 19, tenants are more concerned with safety such as indoor air quality, elevator and hallway cleanliness, and crowding. Sincere and detailed descriptions of your Covid prevention program can ease their fears before they contact you or arrive for a showing.

If you can convince them you’ve been proficient in Covid prevention, they might overcome their reluctance. Remember, there are two key problems: rent price and worries about contracting Covid 19.

It’s important for landlords or leasing staff to minimize face to face situations and in-person showings. The new Covid 19 variants are spreading faster. Adopting online tools such as virtual showing apps (Facetime, Zoom, Tour24) can reduce risk for everyone, and make exploration easier for the tenant.

With wide exposure online via ads, social media or SEO, and good targeting, the best tenant prospects can be reached. It’s up to your content strategy to keep them interested and push them through your sales funnel.

If the prospect liked what they saw, they’re now looking to put the finishing touches on their viewing and leasing decision.

And aren’t lifestyle renters are much-preferred prospect than economic renters? In the end, you get the exact type of renter your marketing strategy is designed to deliver.

Take a closer look at ManageCasa’s customer marketing website for marketing for property managers.

ManageCasa:  An easy to use, all in one property management platform for progressive landlords and property managers.

 

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