There are lots of ways to generate apartment rental leads. The most important way is having an engaging website that is set up to collect insightful data on the prospect as they click through your website. Recent trends have resulted in more casual, online shoppers on property websites.
This has led to a dramatic increase in leads, but many of these “leads” aren’t serious prospects or are going to move 3+ months out. There are two main things to keep in mind when trying to generate better quality leads for your multifamily community — SEO and an interactive website.
Search engine optimization, or SEO for short, is an important part of any marketing strategy in the digital age. Prospects aren’t looking for their next home on community boards or Yellow Pages. They look at an ILS or search online and typically don’t go past the second page of results. Getting your apartment website ranked higher up in organic searches is a great way to capture more people’s attention and have them go directly to your website.
How can you rank higher up? You need to know the keywords that prospects are using to search for apartments. There are tools and even agencies out there that can help you with this. Knowing if they are looking for “apartments near me” or “apartments for rent” is important.Once you know which keywords you need to hit, you can add those into your website copy so it can be easier to find.
While this helps your multifamily property website become easier to find, it still doesn’t help that there’s a huge amount of casual online visitors clogging up your system. Unified Residential is one of many multifamily property companies facing this issue. The way they solved it was with leasing AI.
How does that work? Since many people begin their searches months in advance, the AI Leasing Assistant knows this and tailors the follow-up to meet their timeline. This way when it is time for them to talk to a leasing specialist or go on a tour, the Assistant will have kept your property top of mind and give the leasing team detailed information on what that lead is looking for.
Generating more leads doesn’t mean to clog up your system and have leasing teams spend their time sifting through the clutter. Having a tool that helps identify which leads are important, which ones it can nurture for a bit, and which ones are just “looky-loos” will improve your operational efficiency and increase your website conversions.
There was a time when touring an apartment had to be done in person and with a leasing specialist. There was no platform or way to have multiple tour types, schedule them, and make sure they’re all effective and a tailored experience to the prospect. The more personalized a tour can be, the more likely the rental prospect will sign a lease.
In the last few years virtual leasing and leasing AI really have taken off in the multifamily industry. While the pandemic sped things up, the trajectory has always been going towards virtual. Consumer buying habits have changed over the last decade and more major life purchases are being done completely online. Purchases, like a new car, that we never thought could be done online.
Leasing and apartment renting were bound to come this way eventually. The new generation of renters, Gen Z, have grown up with a digital world and expect automation and instant gratification. This generation wants the ability to do it all from their couch on their laptop or phone. Before we get to the checklist, we need to talk about the tech you need in order to meet these needs.
With platforms like Realync, it makes it so much easier to host virtual tours on your site or with prospects. From pre-recorded videos to live tours, the options for video tours give prospects the ability to tour an apartment even if they live out of town or are feeling ill. This kind of accommodation is a must have in a post 2020 world.
With pre-recorded and live videos, leasing teams can point out specific amenities and areas of the unit that they know the prospect is looking for. AI Leasing Assistants do a great job of collecting more insightful data so leasing teams can be equipped with this knowledge in order to personalize the tour more. If the prospect has told the chatbot it’s looking for a unit with a lot of natural light, highlighting that during a video tour is important.
APARTMENT TOUR CHECKLIST
Some things that need to be included before, during, and after the tour are:
Study up on specific prospect’s data
Make notes of things to highlight during the tour
Ask if they have any apartment tour questions
Go over next steps post touring
Talk them through the move in journey
Follow-up through email or text with the info for next steps
Having the tech to support leasing teams in touring will make going through the checklist easier and more efficient. An AI Leasing Assistant will give you access to more insightful data that is easily put into the guest card or CRM so leasing teams can study up before the tour and really tailor the experience. Apartment viewing etiquette hasn’t really changed, it’s just the way one can view an apartment has.
Another fun perk of an AI Leasing Assistant is the follow-up capabilities. PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant allows you to personalize the follow-up in your brand colors and voice. This kind of personalization also makes your property look more polished and put together to prospects. While they expect automation, it doesn’t mean you still can’t wow them with automated nurture.
Virtual touring shouldn’t just be an option you have to fall back on during difficult times, it should be a solution to how you meet this new generation of renters’ needs. We get wrapped up in that 2020 mindset, but virtual touring and leasing has proven to be effective post 2020 and for more than just rental prospects who want to sit at home and tour. Many people are working remotely and have the ability to move wherever they want. Out of state prospects, even before 2020, tended to not be able to view an apartment in person before signing the lease. Virtual leasing has allowed multifamily communities to be more accessible to rental prospects who are moving from farther away.
Consumers have changed and in order to meet up with today’s demand, your multifamily property needs to be up to their standards. Since 2015, over a million new multifamily properties have been developed in the US. The market is becoming more saturated and in order to keep up you need to invest in tech that can support virtual touring and that personalized automation and instant gratification that Gen Z demands.
Unified Residential, like most multifamily companies, saw a dramatic increase in online leads while having limited onsite team members because of the pandemic. Dalia Kalgreen, Director of Marketing, knew she needed to find a solution that would increase their operational efficiency while still maintaining a personalized, high-touch experience for prospects. Kalgreen decided to hire PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant to her leasing team to help with lead management and follow-up. The results speak for themselves
Unified increased website conversion by 3x, lead-to-tour to 83.84%.
Before hiring the AI Assistant, Kalgreen estimates that Unified Residential property websites were converting about 2% of traffic. With PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant working to convert online traffic on Unified’s property websites, rental prospects now have more ways to get their questions answered while being able to interact with the property 24/7. They aren’t forced to wait for business hours to get the information they are looking for. After 60 days with the AI Leasing Assistant, Unified’s property websites were converting traffic to records at 6.26%.
Keeping online visitors engaged and nurturing casual website visitors over text message and email, Unified is seeing more qualified leads and tours, with less distractions. “It takes a lot of time for your leasing team to sift through what we call ‘looky-loos,’ when they could be working on more serious leads,” says Kalgreen. Across Unified’s portfolio, the AI Leasing Assistant sends an average of 325 leads per month to Unified properties; of that, 83.84% had already scheduled a tour.
Cecilia Smoyer, Assistant Property Manager at Unified’s Karric Place of Dublin says, “PERQ leads are more reliable since they screen people beforehand and write down exactly what they want. PERQ leads are the ones where the people are interested in setting up a tour and talking to us.”
Improved closing rates across channels
Along with turning their websites into more engaging ones and converting prospects, PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant works on multiple marketing channels, such as ILS, with direct experience links and the ability to text the AI Assistant 24/7
With an AI leasing Assistant available across multiple channels Dalia is able to ensure that her entire pipeline of prospects, no matter the move-in timeline, are getting their questions answered in less time and in the easiest way possible. What they’re finding is; “everybody loves texting.” Once prospects find out they don’t have to talk to a person to get the answers they need, prospects are saying “ ‘if I can just text you and do this, we’re doing it that way.’ ”
Better data proves efficiency for Kalgreen
Real-time reporting makes it easy for Dalia to review the performance of her AI Leasing Assistant, just like any other member of her team. “The data and performance I’m seeing from the PERQ Assistant is profoundly valuable, my team is working more effectively and I get easy reporting to prove it.”
Budget season can be nerve racking for marketing and onsite teams. It’s the time where they found out what tools they will continue to use, what tools get cut, and what tools will be added to their daily work routine. There can be a multifamily budget template that your property follows to get the discussion started, presentations from vendors about their products, and more can happen during this season. However, following a template won’t give you a more detailed view of what is going on with your property. To get the best out of your investments, we’ve got 3 ways that can help prepare your property for multifamily budget season.
Budgeting affects a lot of people at your property. It affects how they can do their work responsibilities and depending on what tools they use it could make their lives easier or it could make it harder. Gathering everyone that is involved or has touch points with what is being discussed during budgeting is a simple, yet effective way of getting different perspectives across departments.
Assigning roles to different people, like the property manager and regional manager, for specific parts of the budget to analyze and look at not only spreads the responsibility around but it gives them ownership of specific areas of the multifamily operations. There are a lot of multifamily controllable expenses that can be overlooked during this time but assigning a person will help make sure you have all your bases covered.
Gather all of your KPI’s and other notable metrics and compare them to your region’s market data. How well are you performing when compared to your competition? Gather all the data from each individual tool as well. Compile it all together so you can analyze which multifamily expenses are helping you and what is a waste of money.
If you aren’t measuring up to the competition, multifamily budget season is the time to figure out a game plan to make sure you increase your occupancy or renewals in the upcoming year. Data doesn’t lie and will show you the truth about the different tools in your tech stack.
Also looking at the data of multiple years and not just the last two years will help give you a broader view of what is going on in your region and with your property. 2020 was an abnormal year, comparing the last five years will show you how you’ve been trending and what multifamily expenses you typically have but may not have had because of the pandemic. This is how some important things/tools can get cut when in reality they shouldn’t. Looking at multiple years will give you a better idea of how to go forward.
There has been a lot of innovation in the multifamily tech side of the industry. Virtual leasing really took off and has shown how important virtual options are to the new generation of prospects. Virtual leasing platforms are a great investment and this season is a great time to seriously consider adding virtual touring software as a long-term need and not just something you have to have to combat market challenges of 2020.
On top of virtual leasing, leasing AI has really started to make its mark in multifamily. AI Leasing Assistant’s help save onsite teams time by only handing off the qualified leads that are ready to talk, tour or lease and handling the rest. Budget season lines up with a busy leasing season, talking to onsite team members about AI Leasing Assistants is a must this year.
AI Assistants, like the one at PERQ, gather better data from online prospects, make the online experience more engaging, and provide branded follow-up in your brand’s voice in the preferred method of communication — email, SMS. Virtual leasing and AI Leasing Assistants need to be heavily considered in your multifamily budget for the upcoming years. Both of these kinds of software meet today’s consumer’s needs. How? Consumer buying habits have changed. With places like Carvana, major life purchases and financial investments are happening online and with the help of AI.
Collaborating, using market data, and looking at the new tools in multifamily that are making a huge impact with their performance and the prospect experience are all ways to help prepare your property for this budget season. A big point that we’ve hit on a few times is getting a detailed and big picture of how your property is doing by looking at a lot of data and including a lot of different people in your budget discussions.
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 and AI property management can help and what criteria you should keep in mind when trying to pick one.
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.
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. The impact of AI on property management speaks for itself. Read about how Unified Residential increased their lead-to-tour conversion and overall operational efficiency after hiring PERQ’s AI Leasing Assistant.
AI 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.
Leasing agent blogs aren’t joking when they say leasing AI is here to help with the massive workload. 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.
PERQ interfaces with your Yardi® database to offer operational efficiencies and reporting for your property. Features include inserting and updating leads and appointments in the property’s CRM, updating unit availability in PERQ experiences, reporting for tours and leases.