Let’s Talk Training: Building a Winning Training Program for Leasing Teams

Let’s Talk Training: Building a Winning Training Program for Leasing Teams

For every job in every industry, training is always important for onboarding and maintaining the quality of work expected. Training can include how to use new tech tools, a refresh on providing excellent customer service, or anything in between.

Angie Lombardi, VP of Marketing at The Franklin Johnston Group breaks down how she tackles training her own teams and the success and pitfalls she’s come across during a recent Sofa Seminar with our host and EVP of Marketing at PERQ, Muhammad Yasin.

 

During their almost hour long discussion, Angie had a few overarching themes in the way she handles training at The Franklin Johnston Group’s properties. These include:

  • How to give great customer service
  • The importance of adaptability
  • Being kind to one another
  • Clear expectations

She went into how great customer service needs to be personable but not too intrusive. Angie talked about one of the servers at a restaurant that impressed The Franklin Johnston Group’s founders with how he mastered being personable but not too over the top and aggressive. She notes in her training program they talk about how team members need to mirror the prospect.

 

She also discussed how training doesn’t only happen with new team members, but is something that should be done over again with everyone so that the entire team knows exactly what is expected and are up to date on how to use their different tech tools. Angie also emphasized how kindness is important in the workplace. Encouraging team members to compliment each other and say something positive about someone is how she creates a work environment where everyone feels welcome and important.

 

She highlighted this to point out how toxic and bad managers will trickle down and turn even the most robust team members into giving the most average service. The point behind the kindness and constant training of everyone at every level is to combat bad management and create a welcoming atmosphere at all their properties. This atmosphere can be felt by prospects and residents as they interact with the onsite team and building staff.

 

To hear more about the specifics of Angie’s training process, you can catch up by watching the full Sofa Seminar below:

 

RESOURCES

5 Tips to Increase Resident Retention

5 Tips to Increase Resident Retention

Empty units are bittersweet. For starters, the possibility of new tenants could be exciting. They could be tenants who refer your property and continue to renew but depending on external factors like time of year, moving patterns, that unit could stay empty for a little too long. The longer a unit is vacant, the more money your multifamily property is losing out on.

 

42.1% of apartments were not renewed last year according to a US Multifamily Research Brief conducted by CBRE, a commercial real estate services and investment firm. While that does mean there is a slight majority of those who renewed, the possibility of nearly 40% of your units staying vacant is pretty scary. So what can you do at your apartment communities to help increase resident retention?

 

Maintenance Requests

 

This is the number one reason residents leave negative reviews on multifamily properties online. Personally as a renter, when a maintenance request is handled slowly with little communication and done improperly so you have to wait even longer for the problem to be fixed, I will be frustrated with the property and consider leaving too. As a renter there are some things you can’t really fix yourself and it’s frustrating when something in your apartment isn’t working right.

 

Handling maintenance requests quickly and keeping in communication with the resident about what is happening and the timeline of things should be how it’s done. This is a simple but crucial step to keeping residents satisfied and your online ratings high.

 

Amenities

 

Know what renters in your region want and renters in general want (link to Field Guide). The most wanted and most important features to today’s renters are in-unit laundry, modern appliances, and walk-in closets according to PERQ data. This means that it’s time to start upgrading and renovating where you can.

 

Now renovating would mean the unit has to be vacant, but to keep your current residents happy, replacing their appliances with new, modern ones is a great place to start since you can’t exactly do much else to the unit while they are living in it. When building a new property, keep these features in mind as you design out the different floor plans.

 

Clean Up

 

Make sure your property is clean inside and outside. Stay up to date with landscaping, snow removal, vacuuming, wiping windows, taking out trash, etc. Clean common areas make a huge difference. You want residents to feel at home and you want them to recommend your property to others. No one wants to live in a dirty or messy building and they definitely won’t recommend it to their friends or family either.

 

Resident Events

 

Throwing events monthly is a great way to get to know residents better and encourage neighbors to get to know each other as well. Creating a community in your apartment property can be overlooked sometimes. From game nights to happy hour, there are lots of resident event ideas out there.Don’t forget about the furry residents either! Having events centered around pets is a great way to keep pet owners happy. After all, your property is home to their animals too.

 

Lease Lengths

 

Offer multiple lease length options. This one might seem a little weird, but offering residents the ability to pick a specific lease length does satisfy them. It gives them some control and they know that they won’t have to deal with their rent increasing if they choose longer leases. Some places only offer 12 months, or 9 months in college towns.

 

Where I live, we have the option of any month between 12 to 24 months. A lot of my neighbors and myself agree that the ability to pick how long our lease is was something that made the property we live at more appealing. It meant that we could lock in a price for longer and when we renew, well we can do the same again.

 

Increasing resident retention is key to keeping occupancy high and means less empty units that are losing money every day. Putting time and effort towards keeping residents happy will pay off in renewals, referrals, and positive reviews.

 

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Will an AI Leasing Assistant Really Help?

Will an AI Leasing Assistant Really Help?

It’s all anyone can talk about in multifamily these days. There’s a few different leasing AI out there and some of them promise things that seem too good to be true. As we come into budget season, multifamily properties are starting to figure out which AI Leasing Assistant, if any, they want to invest in for the upcoming year. Let’s dive into how an AI Leasing Agent can help and what criteria you should keep in mind when trying to pick one.

 

NATURAL LANGUAGEpeople standing with chat bubbles above them | AI Leasing Assistant

Some AI Leasing Assistants, not all, have natural language chatbots while others have rule based chatbots. The big difference is that one is more conversational and can answer the prospect’s questions directly through a texting format and get them serviced quicker while the other makes the prospect follow prompts that hopefully answer their questions. Leasing AI that continues to learn from the data and questions that prospects ask will only make your multifamily property stand out more and that kind of AI Leasing Agent will give customer service you can trust.

 

Rule-based leasing AI takes a longer time to answer prospect’s questions and has more of a chance of not being able to answer all of them. This is why a natural language AI Leasing Agent is a better investment and more convenient for prospects. This kind of AI Leasing Assistant can give the onsite teams better and more personalized data for online prospects which will only help the team be more prepared and give better service to prospects who are ready to talk.

 

While we are accustomed to talking to robots on sites, natural language multifamily chatbots have the ability to answer more questions and are less frustrating for prospects as they are able to have their questions answered 24/7. They won’t have to wait for the leasing office to be open and the AI Leasing Assistant won’t hand off the lead until they are ready to talk, tour, or lease. This saves leasing specialists so much time as they won’t be stuck answering every question a prospect has and focus on qualified leads who are ready to continue onward in the leasing journey.

 

AUTOMATION

An AI Leasing Assistant can also help with automating the leasing journey. We’ve already mentioned how they can answer prospects’ questions 24/7 but they can also handle the follow-up conversations and even help connect other marketing channels, like an ILS, with your site for a more connected experience.

 

PERQ bot icon | AI Leasing AssistantAI Leasing Agents, like the one at PERQ, follows-up with prospects through their preferred mode of communication and sends messages based on their move-in timeline. Too many messages can be off putting to prospects, especially when those messages sound robotic and almost like spam. A unique part of leasing AI, is that it also knows when to pull back and not send a message so the prospect is not annoyed by having their inbox blow up with constant messages.

 

This also is great for leasing specialists as an AI Leasing Assistant can help them manage their pipeline and take care of responding to prospects throughout their move-in time frame and will hand them off to the leasing team once they are ready to speak to a person. The leasing team will also have access to the personalized data the AI Leasing Agent has kept track of in the prospect’s guest card so they know exactly what the prospect is looking for and when. A unique feature of PERQ’s leasing AI is that it also personalizes follow-up messages from a brand perspective. Using that multifamily property’s brand colors and voice, follow-up messages from PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant feel more human, less spam. Using your own brand voice, leasing AI helps make your automated follow-up sound like it is coming from the leasing office and not an AI Leasing Agent.

 

AI Leasing Assistants make your leasing team stronger and more knowledgable by giving them the time to focus on qualified leads, knowing that they aren’t forgetting about follow-up because the AI Leasing Agent has it covered, and gives them all the details they need to know about a prospect before the first initial conversation or tour. With automated follow-up and connected channel experiences, leasing AI is the way forward in leasing and will only help your onsite and marketing teams evolve and work more efficiently.

 

Interested in learning more about how leasing AI and AI Leasing Assistants can help your multifamily team and property? Schedule time to talk to one of our specialists.

 

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Preparing for a Busy Leasing Season

Preparing for a Busy Leasing Season

It’s that time of year where a lot of leases are ending, and renters are beginning to debate whether they should renew or look elsewhere. This time last year, leasing season looked a little different. The push to go virtual was a no-brainer and leasing teams had to work with more prospects that were making their decisions before stepping foot onto the property.

To prepare for this busy time of year, there are some tips and tools that can help take the load off your leasing team. Let’s start with current residents.

 

 

RENEWALS

Contract Signed

Now is crunch time when it comes to putting in the work to get a resident to renew. Throughout the year, resident events and any service-related conversations or maintenance requests are all factors into a resident’s satisfaction with your property. What can you do in the last leg of their lease for those residents who are still unsure?

For starters, if there were any negative experiences they had, address those with them. If it was how a maintenance request was handled or something with the unit, you can set some time with the resident to talk through what can go better. This will make the resident feel more heard and show to them that your team does care about their time there.

You can also offer discounts on rent or other amenities for renewing. If you can figure out where else they are looking to move to, see what those properties are offering. If it’s possible, offer similar pricing or even less. You can also highlight how the resident gets more at your property for your pricing versus your competitors.

 

 

PROSPECTS

 

To help with the high influx of leads on your website, using tools that help automate the leasing process will help your leasing team work more efficiently and help them manage leads that are further down the pipeline.

AI Leasing Assistants can help with this. Using AI technology, these Assistants can collect prospect data and send follow-up messages based on their timeline so the leasing team can focus on prospects with more immediate move-in dates. With AI, onsite teams will only get qualified teams that are ready to talk to a leasing specialist on their desks and any other leads will be handled with the AI Assistant.

The new generation of renters have grown up in a digital world where they expect the kind of service automation gives while also expecting to talk to a person when that automation no longer meets their needs. Adding an AI Assistant to your website meets the expectations of new buying behaviors of renters. Without it, your property will feel outdated to these renters and the leasing team won’t be equipped with the best data before talking to a prospect.

It’s time to open the doors and get to leasing. Preparing your onsite team with competitor knowledge and automating the process will help them manage the workload and give qualified leads the attention they deserve.

 

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Engaging with Residents: From Move-in to Renewals

Engaging with Residents: From Move-in to Renewals

 

Properties spend a lot of time focusing on prospects and new residents, but often forget that current residents are also going to become prospects again and they could possibly renew their lease and refer your multifamily community to their friends. Kristi Bender, Social Media and Marketing Manager at The Barrington Group, joins our host Muhammad Yasin on the latest Sofa Seminar to chat about the entire resident lifecycle and how it’s changed.

Muhammad Yasin and Kristi Bender Chatting

During their chat, Kristi went through all the different stages of the resident lifecycle:

  • Attracting New Renters
  • Move-in Journey
  • Relationships with Residents
  • Renewal/Separation Process

 

Kristi and Muhammad talked about how the online experience has really shaped the new generations of renters. Millennials and Gen Z not only shop differently, but they have different values. With the rise of ESA’s and the number one reason for homeownership being room for dogs, Kristi discussed how her property updated pet policies to be more accommodating and made their property more pet-friendly. This is a big sell when it comes to renewals and to grabbing the interest of new renters.

 

They also went into how to engage with residents during the move in process. Kristi explains that she likes to keep the applicant involved in the whole process so they know everything that is happening with the unit and what to expect when they move in. She continues to check in on them in the first few weeks of moving in, from asking how their commute to work is and if they’ve found the grocery store around. Kristi makes sure that new residents know they are kept top of mind and that the onsite team is there to help them out.

 

Dive deeper into Kristi and Muhammad’s conversation about the resident lifecycle, from tips to how to keep residents happy to how to make that renewal/separation process easier for everyone, you won’t want to miss out on this.

 

 

Resources

The State of Millennial Homeownership and What it Means for Multifamily

The State of Millennial Homeownership and What it Means for Multifamily

 

Homeownership is part of the American Dream, but over generations, homeownership has gone down. This is great news for multifamily communities because it means that there is high demand but it also means that there will be higher expectations.

Using data from the Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey and their own survey results, Apartment List released a homeownership report that shows how low homeownership rates are with millennials when compared to other generations. This report also showed that 18% of millennials say they are going to rent for their entire lives, a number that has only increased in the last few years. So, what should multifamily communities do now that many renters will have lived in a lot of different multifamily properties?

 

Amenities

For starters, you need to take a look at your amenities, both in-unit and in the community. If you have a property that’s pretty outdated, it’s time to start thinking about when you’ll be able to bring it up to date. PERQ’s solutions, while helping leasing teams save time and increase lead conversion, also collect data on the prospect’s journey on multifamily websites. With this data, we have found that the top 3 most important features to renters are in-unit laundry, walk-in closets, and modern appliances. If you don’t have any of these currently, it’s time to plan how to add them to your units.

As for the community, many renters are either working or learning from home these days. Adding private office spaces that you can rent out or adding large tables in a common room like your clubhouse is a great way to attract these renters. The private rooms will be great for the person who is permanently remote, but offering a communal space where the occasional, once or twice a week work/learn from home renters can have a space to go to too.

 

Pets

Millennial homeownership is low due to a lot of reasons listed in the Apartment List report, but they still want that dream of owning a house, but not for the reason you think. 33% of millennials want to buy a home because of their dogs. Dogs outranked marriage and kids in the reasons for homeownership.

Let’s be real for a second, multifamily communities aren’t always the most pet-friendly. From high pet rents to restrictions to not enough green spaces, it’s not ideal for today’s renters. Our data shows that 1 in 3 renters have a pet, a number that only increases each year. That means you have to make sure your property is also a good home for furry residents.

Jamin Harkness, EVP at The Management Group, has made a lot of effort in recent years to make his properties more pet friendly by eliminating pet rent and breed restrictions. He made up any lost revenue from pet rent through higher turnover rates. 80% of his renters who owned pets renewed their leases. From making sure that there are enough well-lit grass areas around your building to dog waste trash cans with bags provided, making your apartments more attractive to pet owners can’t be overlooked. Speaking from personal experience as a current pet owner who rents, not enough grass around the property is enough to write a negative review to warn other renters to look elsewhere.

It’s time to update your property to meet the needs of today’s renters because if you haven’t, your competitors definitely have. These renters have been through it all and they will go elsewhere if your property doesn’t hold up. Whether it’s thinking about renovating or adding more amenities, there is some work that you can do today to help meet the needs of tomorrow’s renter.