Sunday, April 19, 2015

Renter's Remorse

Have you ever had a Prospect walk into your Leasing Office, take a tour, submit an application and once he walks out of the office your Consultant jumps for joy. Oh, Boy! Another Lease! All right, all right, all right!

Unfortunately, the very next day, he either calls or emails you to tell you he has changed his mind and decided not to sign a lease. Or, worse, he signed the lease and paid the deposit and fees and calls a week or so later to say he “can’t move in” and wants to cancel the lease and get the deposit back. What?

We call that Buyer’s Remorse (or Renter’s Remorse.)

Is there a way to counter that, or prevent that from ever happening, or even save the Lease that is quickly slipping through the Leasing Consultant’s fingers? Yes and No. The short of it is, no, if you have trained your Leasing Team to push people to make a quick, on-the-spot decision, you may not be able to save it (unless you want to play hard ball.) If you have encouraged your Team to not ask appropriate questions and make a solid connection with their Prospects, then you may have to let it go, especially if they haven’t signed a lease and paid the deposit.

The best leasing decisions are made thoughtfully, from the Prospect’s gut, with plenty of communication between the person and the consultant. That is in a perfect world. But we don’t live in a perfect world. This is the one situation that annoys me to no end when a Leasing Consultant tells me “we lost one.” Why? I always want to understand the why of this situation. Here's the long of it.

Ask the Prospect WHEN he wants to move.

Ask the Prospect WHICH floor plan is best for his lifestyle and which one he PREFERS. Just because you have a lot of two bedrooms available SHOULD NOT dictate where the Prospect should be taken on tour. If you have a Consultant on your team who gets pissed off because someone asks to be shown three different units, then shame on that Consultant – get rid of that person. No one should be told by your staff where he has to live. If you push them into accepting the decision of the team, then forget about getting the renewal.

Ask the Prospect HOW MUCH HE WANTS TO SPEND on rent. Seems like a simple question, but oftentimes, a Leasing Consultant just tells the Prospect how much the apartment is without deducing the optimal payment he can afford. After all, he might be able and more than willing to spend a few more dollars to get the apartment of his dreams. Or, during the conversation, the Consultant may learn the Prospect is in seasonal employment, or has plans to go back to school and will have less money to spend on rent. It pays to listen.

Finally, again, it PAYS TO LISTEN. Ask WHERE ELSE the Prospect is considering living. This may help the Consultant gain a competitive advantage and can guide him to present the best features of his property compared to the other one being considered. Leasing Consultants have to be able to get the Prospect excited about moving, moving to your community, and about spending money to live in that community (value!). If he does that, I doubt seriously, there will be many times you will be told, “We lost one.”

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Direct Solicitation On Other Properties

Targeting other apartment communities with your Flyers and Door Hangers is just plain crass, in my opinion. I don’t understand why property management companies, even well-known companies with what appears to be a bottomless budget, continue to send their employees over to properties after hours to litter the neighboring property. 

Reasons to NOT ENGAGE in this type of “Marketing”:

1.      Hello? Ever pay attention to the posted NO SOLICITATION Signs? Your entire staff can be visited by local law enforcement and issued Orders of Banishment. Do you want to post bail for your Leasing Consultant who is arrested for trespassing?
2.      Safety – Nothing can ensure your safety. Attacks occur anywhere and do. Is sending your Leasing Consultant out to paper the neighboring comp worth THAT?
3.      Think this is great Guerrilla Marketing? Think again! It’s a nuisance and sets your community up to garner a BAD REPUTATION. At the comp you just crammed with litter, your apartment community is becoming known as DESPERATE.

Marketing Directors who feel this is the best use of their monetary resources and salary budget, should get out of apartment marketing then. I know – you stress that, even if you get only ONE NEW LEASE, it is worth it, I feel you are wrong. And if you, as a Marketing Director find out that one of your managers has sanctioned the use of this outdated, classless type of advertising, tell that Manager to just Cut.It.Out. Otherwise, attorneys out there will send you their lovely Cease and Desist letters and a bill for the time and trouble of paying someone to clean up the litter.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Do We Reduce Our Residents to Being A Unit Number?

Our lives revolve around numbers, especially those of us who are a part of the multifamily industry. We obsess over occupancy numbers, rental rates, market rates, competitive analysis of what our competition is charging and how they are faring in comparison to our properties. We worry over square footage, cash flow, budget adherence, maintenance costs, how much that recent snow fall will cost to remove and whether or not it will add excessively to our Overtime budget (if we even budgeted for any overtime!) We worry about the number of move outs each month, whether or not we can cover that number with an equal number of move ins and how much traffic we need to cover any other upcoming move outs. We obsess about everything.

Every January, someone usually gives us, or we buy a calendar, planner, or date book and update our Outlook calendars. We try to re-train ourselves to remember to write the correct current calendar year. However, until recently, I never realized how annoying numbers can be, especially when we are, as a person, reduced to being known only as a number.

Having the unfortunate experience of facing a somber medical crisis, I began the journey of visiting first, my family doctor, then a myriad of specialists, hospitals, outpatient clinics and so on. I never realized how much medicine has changed until then. It used to be I could call my physician’s office and the receptionist would say, “Yes, Mindy, sure, let me see when we can get you in today,” She would proceed to take my information as to my symptoms and simply tell me my appointment time. Those were the days when I might have had a strep throat, or bronchitis or simply a sinus infection. In fact, those were the days when they would often just call in an antibiotic, thus bypassing an office visit completely. It wasn’t that I called a lot for myself, but as a busy teacher raising two children, the people who worked in the office usually got to know the family pretty well since when your child gets sick, usually the whole family does.

After the first phone call to my doctor’s new office (he is now not a solo practitioner – Egads! I suppose no one is anymore!), I was greeted by a Call Center first responder whose first remark was, “Date of birth, please.”

Oh? Okay, well it’s 11/24/----.


I answer that I have moved from the previous address and provide the new information so she can update their system.

It is then that she asks my name. Really? That is the third question???? The kicker is that she tells me the name I provide is not the one she has in her system since they must now only use the Formal Given Name as Listed on one’s Birth Certificate. What???? But nobody knows me by that name and I refuse to even acknowledge my parents were stupid enough to name me that in the first place. Doesn’t matter. You must allow them to use that name, though you may prefer your middle, nick or whatever other name you always use. In the end, it turns out, that doesn’t even matter anyway, as the only thing they ask me each time I call (and it can be three times every week right now) is “What is your DOB?”

The pharmacy is exactly the same way, too. Nobody cares that you like your nickname and hate your “given legal first name” as they continue to ignore your requests to call you be your preferred name. Everyone in the medical profession, at every single stage of your treatment will ask you FIRST what your date of birth is.

I wonder, is this how Residents feel when they send you emails, call on the phone, or come into the office? Do we only know them by their apartment (or worse – UNIT NUMBER)? I usually recognize Residents by name; however, after experiencing the trauma of the medical profession, I will strive to never refer to anyone ever again by only his or her unit number. How impersonal can you be in one of the most PERSONAL BUSINESSES there is?