I Love Leasing Blog

"Where Have All The First Visit Leases Gone?" by Lia Nichole Smith


Leasing apartments is a tricky game to play.  Most prospects tour 4 to 6 apartment communities before selecting the one they feel deserves their commitment and most importantly, their money.  So who wins the lease?  The community that strikes the most even balance will most likely get the lease.  Let me explain.  Imagine your prospect walking through the door carrying a balance scale.  There are two sides that must balance in order for the prospect to consider you a serious contender.  One side is the emotional connection between you and the prospect and the other side is all of the physical features about the community itself.

Creating an emotional connection

Prospects need to like you.  They need to feel some kind of a connection.  And most importantly, they need to trust you.  So how do you manage that when you have never met this person before?  It all starts with a conversation.  Never laundry-list the items on your guest card.  Remember, prospects are not interviewing for the job of resident, you are interviewing for the job of apartment community.  Why should they hire you?  Are you worth the twelve months of rent they are going to be paying you?  A prospect isn’t going to spend money for something they don’t like and they’re not going to give their hard earned money to someone they don’t like.
Keep the conversation easy, make small talk.  If it’s all business, you’re missing the point.  Get the “need to know” information upfront, and leave the other information for later.  Questions like “How did you hear about us?” or “Do you work in the area?” are better saved for times when you’re walking to and from the apartment home.  And as prospects answer these questions, have a comment ready to show acknowledgement and to identify you two have something in common.
Trust comes with ready answers.  The more ready answers you have for your prospects, the more trustworthy you will appear.  “Wow, this person really knows their stuff” is the impression you want to make on your future resident.  If you can’t answer the simplest of questions, how are you going to handle the more complex issues once they become an actual resident?

The eyes have it

Now that you’re on your way to establishing an emotional connection with the prospect, you have to balance that out with the physical features of the community.  Make sure the “yellow brick road” or tour route is comprehensive enough to best demonstrate what the community has to offer.  Consult with your porter or service team in the morning to ensure your amenities, landscaping and show units are ready for viewing.  And if ever on a tour and you notice something is amiss, immediately notify them to correct the issue before your next tour.

Upon entering the show unit, what is your first impression?  Would you live there?  If the answer is no, the apartment home needs a little work.  Prospects need to feel comfortable with what could potentially be their new home.  At the end of a long workday, after fighting through traffic and who knows what else, will they breathe a sigh of relief when they open their front door?  Point out all of the comforts of home and emphasize why what their seeing will work for them.

Out of order signs, inoperable amenities and eyesores around the community will have a negative impact on the prospect's perception of value; which happens to be the #1 factor in the decision making process.  As I mentioned in a previous post, if residents are supposed to pay 100% of their rent, it's important they have 100% access to everything they pay for whenever possible.
Striking a balance
Once the tour is over and you’ve asked for the deposit (hopefully more than once), your prospect has a decision to make.  If the answer is “still looking”, the scale may be off balance.  The community that strikes an even balance will more readily get the first visit lease.  A prospect connects with you but isn’t thrilled about the community?  Still looking.  A prospect loves the community, but you - not so much?  Still looking.

 An out of balance scale can force the prospect to visit more communities in order to do a little comparison shopping.  The goal here is not to win out by comparison - your community should be the clear choice for every prospect.

First visit leases are getting harder to come by.  The competition is getting tougher and housing options are more varied than ever before.  Prospects need to like you and the community – it really is that simple.  Prospects need to like you and like what they see.  Strike a balance…get the lease.  Game over. READ ARTICLE