You will find dozens of articles and blogs about how amazing CRM, or customer relationship management, software is for any business. These articles aren’t wrong, a CRM can do wonders for any business when it comes to centralizing their leads and sales activity. The multifamily world is fairly new to adopting this kind of tech, and while it has helped the leasing funnel modernize from using paper contact cards, it doesn’t offer a complete solution to managing multifamily leads.
THE TECH GAP
So where is the disconnect? CRM is a database of all the data collected on every lead. As they get worked by the onsite leasing teams, the lead’s contact record is updated by your team with activity. Most people will tell you their CRM is full of dirty data and needs to be cleaned up. As a database, it will keep everything that comes in. The net result of a dirty CRM is weakened operational efficiency and difficulty with reporting. Leasing teams must sift through all of the junk to find their work and data.
While CRMs typically purge leads that are marked dead after a short period, CRMs are still challenging to keep organized. When you plug multiple data sources into your CRM, you are at risk of making the problem even worse.
The answer lies in B2B marketing history. In the late 1990s, a marketing automation revolution began in B2B.
An investment banking researcher at Bain Capital named Mark Organ conducted research that showed that the most successful salespeople were in companies that figured out how to give the team really good leads. This gave birth to a startup called Eloqua.
Originally envisioned as a technology for sellers to chat with prospects on the company’s website and an engine for marketers to send bulk email, Eloqua carried some big hype. But their team learned quickly that the chat product wasn’t being used by the salespeople. Instead, the sellers would cherry pick out the leads that had clicked through to the website from marketing emails that had been sent by the marketing team through Eloqua.
The “cherry picking” scenario is pretty similar to the challenges that multifamily is seeing today; leads don’t get followed up on, onsite teams don’t have time to chat with tire kickers, and marketing dollars get wasted. Maybe multifamily doesn’t need more leads, but rather better leads for the onsite team?
So going back to our multifamily CRM, the problem isn’t necessarily the CRM technology. It’s the way this technology is being used. Let me explain.
Today, CRM treats every lead like it’s equal. Whether it is someone very early in their leasing process, a person PERQ calls “low intent”, or someone who is more ready to sign a lease, aka “high intent,” records are added to CRM as a “lead”. At PERQ, we believe this concept is largely flawed. Leasing CRM should be reserved for REAL leads, people who are ready to talk to someone on the onsite team. PERQ believes people who are low intent aren’t yet a “lead,” even though they are valuable records that deserve attention.
Returning to our Eloqua story, the smart people at Eloqua realized they were onto something with the leads being cherry picked out by the salespeople, and they made a change. They stopped using CRM as a catchall and began getting more sophisticated around lead strategy for the valuable contacts that were not quite ready to speak to a salesperson:
Leads were only put into the hands of salespeople when they were ready to talk to salespeople
Lead records only entered the CRM when they were ready for sales activity (otherwise they stayed in Eloqua), and
Marketing took on the early engagement with the customer to get them ready for sales and it was all tracked in the lead nurturing automation system to be passed into the CRM when the person was ready to speak with a salesperson.
What this new strategy did was free up salespeople from having to treat every lead like it needed equal attention to focusing on only the leads that were really ready to engage in a sales conversation, or “high intent.” The people that had not demonstrated high intent remained as marketing contacts in the Eloqua system for marketing to “nurture”.
A lot of good things came from this “nurture” approach and it ushered in a new era of marketing sophistication that was desperately needed to ensure that the customer experience and the buyers’ journey was providing prospects the engagement then needed before they were ready for a conversation.
As a result of this approach, the consumer experience was consistent and always to brand standards from first touch to signed agreement. Conversions at every stage of the funnel improved. Salespeople got better at closing deals due to their increased focus. Marketing became experts in why people buy and tuned their marketing messages and marketing spend so that it was exactly what was needed to get results.
I’m sure you’re saying to yourself “this all sounds good, but I don’t have a multifamily technology whose purpose is built to address this.” And, chances are, you don’t have people on your team that can write and send this kind of volume of nurturing communication messages to your low intent marketing contacts.
Both true, and both changeable.
POWERING A MULTIFAMILY MARKETING REVOLUTION
PERQ was developed to address this specific problem. We have the benefit of being able to look back at the history of marketing technologies like Eloqua and their competitors through today’s more sophisticated technology lens.
PERQ has cracked the code on the consumer experience for leasing, automating your engagement with consumers on your website, SMS and email. PERQ complements your CRM and, reduces the CRM mess by engaging and nurturing low intent contacts until they are ready to speak to a person, but we do it better than it was done in the 1990s. We leverage today’s technology to improve the consumer experience using built-in nurture science and AI. With this technology, low intent contacts receive cross-channel engagement that is personalized to them. Once they’re ready to speak to someone live, the lead is passed to CRM and the leasing team. And, PERQ is always on the lookout for capturing more contacts to nurture, offering communications and experiences across channels to convert unknown visitors to known.
CRM is not your funnel’s savior and it was never meant to be. If you are frustrated by your current marketing approach or want to see first hand how PERQ’s platform is revolutionizing lead capture and automation, schedule a demo.
It has been a year for everyone, including the multifamily industry. Properties and management companies had to shift in how they operate and communicate in order to meet health guidelines and ensure that they are working towards getting leases signed.
Jamin Harkness, EVP at The Management Group (TMG), sat down with our EVP of Marketing, Muhammad Yasin, to look back at 2020 and discuss how to keep moving forward. From diversity and company culture, updated pet and mental health policies, to resident retention, Jamin has a lot of insight on how to help multifamily companies and teams evolve with the times.
Self-Guided Tours Reimagined
Prospects typically want to see the floorplan in person before making a decision. Not everyone is comfortable with an in-person tour still, but a self-guided tour is a great compromise. Jamin has redefined what a self-guided tour can be.
By installing a Ring camera and stocking up the fridge of staged units with snacks, the onsite teams at TMG properties can keep an eye on what prospects are doing inside the unit and offer a more immersive experience.
Jamin explains, “they grab Cheetos and a Coke, take a seat on the couch, and really see themselves living there.” While staging a unit helps prospects picture in their head what it would be like to live in the unit, by offering snacks and the leisure to relax in the unit, Jamin has created an experience that is more impactful to the prospect.
Company Culture and CRM
Jamin and TMG came into this year knowing that diversity and equity within their company is an initiative that needs life past 2020. From shutting down the company early last February to allow everyone the time and space to learn about diverse topics and coming back to discuss them in a more casual setting as a team, these initiatives are great for creating a company culture where everyone feels heard and included. He also began sending employees fun company shirts, branded items, and other fun inexpensive fun gifts every month.
When it comes to the technical aspect, Jamin notes that working from home has really improved performance from the onsite teams. While they only have one, at most two, people in the office for package handling, Jamin expects to always have at least one person working from home when the world opens up again.
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“There’s less distractions and they can focus on the CRM,” he says. Jamin also started implementing multiple weekly meetings to get everyone from onsite teams to board members on the same page and to communicate openly and clearly. Along with work from home, Jamin highlighted many times how important maintenance has been during all of this. While there are more work orders because more people are at home, they are spending more time on preventative work as well to help keep their property up to date and working efficiently.
On top of maintenance work everyday, he makes sure they are provided with and are using personal protective equipment (PPE) and given a monthly bonus to show how much these workers are appreciated and valued by the properties.
Throughout the chat, Jamin provided many resources —from daily logs related to COVID symptoms to internal communication on health guidelines similar to OSHA except for multifamily companies. You can find all the resources that were shared below along with similar articles.
One of the best things to come out of 2020 was having multiple tour scheduling options. From self-guided to virtual to pre-recorded videos, the ways prospects could tour a unit adapted to a less physical and socially distanced world.
With all of these options, in-person tours still rank as the most popular tour option according to PERQ data. How do we go back to in-person tours in a way that is healthy for both prospects and the leasing team? We’ve got 3 tips to help your leasing team meet prospects expectations with health guidelines and quality of the tour.
Know the Guidelines
It is so important to know what your state’s health guidelines are. While they typically aren’t more than 2 people who show up to tour an apartment, there are states that are hit much harder than others when it comes to COVID cases.
Be sure to stand the recommended 6 feet apart from prospects as they walk around the unit. For a smaller unit where this might not be possible, consider leaving the door open during the tour and standing near it.
Masks and Sanitizer
Requiring prospects to wear a mask during the entire time they are at your property and on the tour is a highly effective way of keeping the leasing agent and the prospects safe. Offer hand sanitizer to them when they first show up and offer it again when they leave.
Some prospects might forget to bring their masks with them. Having some disposable masks on hand to give them is a great way to show how your property is taking safety seriously and allows the prospect to still go on the tour and not have to reschedule.
Clean Common Surfaces
After each tour, be sure to clean the surfaces that prospects touched. Most common surfaces are door handles, cabinet knobs and pulls, and appliances. This seems like it can be a lot of extra work but it keeps the touring unit clean and reduces the chances of spread.
This will make it much safer on days where there are a lot of tours stacked up. Give yourself 10 – 15 minutes between tours to disinfect these common surfaces to ensure that everyone is safe. We have a whole list of resources for multifamily communities centered on COVID-19. You can check them out here.
You can buy anything and everything online. From cars to houses, apartments to furniture, there isn’t much that can only be bought in-store. When a customer comes in to browse, they don’t expect you to know what they are looking for until you ask them but that’s not the case online.
David Kain, founder of Kain, a digital sales training company, has been in the business since the early days of the Internet. He sat down with PERQ’s Co-Founder, Andy Medley, and EVP of Marketing, Muhammid Yasin, on The Bridge Podcast to discuss how he has mastered the art of digital sales.
Know the Journey
One of the most important parts of any sales conversation is knowing where the customer is. That starts by meeting them where they are online. “Knowing the customer’s journey on your website and being able to relay the exact information they are searching for — through email, phone call or text message — is important in winning the initial conversation,” Kain explains.
Using artificial and business intelligence tools will help you understand all the touch points of your customer’s journeys and make for a more prepared and qualified conversation later. What Kain has seen over the years is that the more convenient the conversations online are for the customer, the more likely they will come to your physical store or meet in person. The customer sees it as great customer service and will have an overall positive experience shopping with you but when is it appropriate to reach out for an online lead?
The Open Window
Cold calling is a pretty old sales technique that overtime has become slightly more irritating to customers. Kain explains that the reason is customers aren’t expecting the call and it could come through while they’re with family or busy.
This is where AI and BI tools come in handy. There’s a five minute window of opportunity after the customer shows interest or requests details. “That’s primetime,” according to Kain. The product is fresh on their minds and in that small window sending an email or text, whatever the preference is, with the details of what they are looking for is key. Be sure to let them know when you’re able to call or talk in person. A quick response at the right time will start the process on the right foot.
The main takeaways are to know your customer’s journey and all the exact details that an AI or BI tool can provide and respond quickly with the data you have. Digital sales is an art and it takes practice. Working on these skills and having the tools to do them will help you have more winning conversations and more deals closed.
This has been a transformative year for multifamily properties and renters. More of the leasing process is becoming automated and the way people tour continues to evolve. This year, what renters use their apartments for has changed a lot. A 1-bedroom apartment is no longer just where a renter sleeps and relaxes after work. It’s their home, classroom, office, gym, vacation destination, and a place to do hobbies or crafts.
Listening to your renter’s individual preferences and tailoring the leasing journey to meet their expectations will help you stand out from your competition. But how do you find out what renters really want?
This year, PERQ’s Multifamily software collected over 6 million consumer responses from renters across the country. Get your copy of our latest Field Guide for over 100 pages of national and regional trends we saw including the most popular alternative tour types, floor plans, top desired features, and more.
Here’s a sneak peak of what the national data shows us.
When asked how to describe their ideal apartment, nearly half of renters wanted something that is comfortable yet economical with simple and budget friendly coming in at second place. Renters typically are not looking for apartments that are high end and luxurious. This doesn’t mean that renters aren’t also looking for modern appliances, in fact modern appliances are one of the top three most important features that renters are looking for.
In addition to how renters described their ideal apartment, we asked if budget or square footage was more important and how many bedrooms they wanted. 72% of renters chose budget and 45% chose 1-bedroom. When building or renovating a property, it’s important to keep in mind that renters want something affordable and don’t necessarily prioritize needing a whole lot of space.
The neighborhood a property is located in also plays a role in a renter’s decision. Social activities, shopping, and outdoor activities rank as the top three activities renters enjoy the most. These can all be incorporated in resident events. Partnering up with local businesses is also a great way to promote the neighborhood and create unique events that a resident could only experience in your community.
Food and Fitness
When it comes to businesses residents want close by, grocery, dining and fitness all come out on top. Prospects want to be able to imagine what life at your property will be like. Mentioning the businesses that are close by on tours or your website is a great way to help create that image for them especially if they are touring virtually or will be signing a lease without visiting the property in person.
Get Access to the Full Guide
PERQ’s latest edition of the Multifamily Field Guide goes into more detail about what residents want when it comes to amenities, specific appliances, pets, and more. The Field Guide breaks it down nationally and regionally so multifamily properties can have the insight on what renters want in their specific area. Along with data about what renters look for there is also data about the state of touring in the multifamily world.
To get access to over a hundred pages of renter data and insights, click on the robot icon on the right corner of the page.
Budget season is coming to a close and we are still in the midst of a pandemic. In March, the world shut down and everything was at a stand still. Many communities had to act quickly in order to survive. This year has been full of surprises and challenges that old budgeting strategies don’t have room for. So what are some ways to help you in creating an annual operating budget for your multifamily property?
1. Invest in what you need
Focus less on what you want and more on what you need. It’s time to invest in tools and products that help you reach your customers where they are – online. More prospects are opting for virtual tours/virtual leasing and ways to schedule viewings from a safer distance. Towards the end of summer, as some properties began allowing for in person tours to happen again, we see that many prospects are still choosing to look virtually instead. Virtual options are still important because it helps out of town prospects tour your property and it keeps the casual online visitor more engaged.
Angie Lombardi, VP of Marketing at The Franklin Johnston Group, said “Video gets more interactions and engagement than a static photo and we have the metrics to show it!” Adding virtual leasing was a must in 2020 in order to have some sort of business. In 2021, virtual leasing is here to stay. Along with virtual touring softwares, leasing AI needs to be considered in your multifamily budget for the upcoming years.
AI Leasing Assistants help save onsite teams time by handling all the leads that come through your website and only handing off qualified prospects who are ready to tour or speak to a leasing specialist. AI Assistants collect better data so the onsite team can be more prepared for that first initial conversation. On top of that, leasing AI automates the follow-up and lead nurture process with branded messaging in your company’s voice and stays on top of all the follow-up no matter how far down the pipeline. AI Leasing Agents make sure that no lead is missed and that all leads are being taken care of.
Collaborating across all departments is key to making sure your budget works for everyone. Pandemic or not, you will get the best ROI when every department is taken into consideration and is part of the strategizing. From property managers to regional managers, having people in the room who work with your tech stack on a day to day basis will have great input on whether or not to keep certain tools or vendors.
They can report on the data and KPI’s that they’ve been seeing for the property and how the tools have contributed or gotten in the way. Having multiple perspectives will make your budgeting mindful of everyone and it will help create a multifamily budget that is working for your property. When people are left out of the conversation, that is when things get overlooked and money either gets cut where it shouldn’t or added where it’s not needed.
3. Expanding Your View
Instead of looking at 2020’s budget up against 2019’s budget, Marcella Eppsteiner, VP of Marketing for Mission Rock Residential, says that it’s important to look at more years to better understand just how out of the norm 2020 is. By looking at a broader viewpoint, you can use the data to your advantage and see what needs to be prioritized and what can take a back seat. It also helps to see if the investments you’ve made have done any good long term or if they produce stagnant results.
When we think about budget property management companies that don’t look at their multifamily operations from the last five or so years are getting a very narrow view of what their multifamily expenses should look like for the coming year. This year has brought a lot of challenges but it has given us the opportunity to adapt and grow. The things we learn from this year will make us better equipped in the years to come.
Budgeting can be a lot. It’s not easy to make everyone happy, but making cuts where cuts don’t need to be made will only hurt your properties and how they perform. Taking advice from marketing teams and onsite teams on where they think the property should invest more or less into will make it a lot easier to enter budget discussions with a concrete idea of what direction to go.