Well, he’s done it. PERQ CEO Scott Hill finally went over the edge. To be clear, it was for a good cause.
Each year, the United Way of Central Indiana sends 80 local leaders to rappel down the Keystone Group building in downtown Indianapolis. Aptly named “Over the Edge,” the event funds food, housing, healthcare, and transportation for Central Indiana residents struggling to meet basic needs. To that end, each participant raises a minimum of $1,000. The PERQ team raised $3,875 this year.
“A key part of our purpose at PERQ is making a difference in the community, so when I was asked to participate as part of a fundraising effort, it was easy to say ‘yes,’” Scott shares. “Without the philanthropy aspect, it would have been easy to say ‘no’!” — he jests.
It’s the first time PERQ has participated. Rappellers are organized in groups who head to the roof of the 23-story building at scheduled times so their family, friends, and coworkers can watch their descent. (Catch the video below!)
The experience was a memorable one, for sure. “When we showed up and saw people coming down the wall and the crowd cheering, it helped calm the nerves a bit, both for me and especially my children. It made it seem like an amusement park ride of sorts, where I just had to get in line and eventually I’d be one of those people coming down,” Scott recalls. Organizers also provided training, both to ensure safety and to alleviate fears.
Though the moments before the jump were unnerving, the descent itself was exhilarating, says Scott: “Once I got over the edge, it was awesome! I was able to relax. I felt very secure and was able to look around, find family down below, and take in an experience I didn’t expect to have, and probably won’t again.”
Would he do it again? “PERQ will! I am very thankful to have been given this experience that wouldn’t have happened without the PERQ team,” Scott shares: “But, I have now done it and it’s someone else’s turn!” To make that possible, Scott has committed to donating $1,500, locking down the commitment for a PERQ team member to go Over the Edge next year.
Who will it be? Scott envisions some fun fundraising competition among departments to determine the next PERQ rappeller and to see if we can beat 2022 donations.
Community service is nothing new to PERQ. Blood drives, back-to-school donations, and year-end giving are some of the events the team undertakes throughout the year. “It feels good to do good,” Scott concludes. “We look forward to more opportunities to bring relief and hope to our Central Indiana neighbors.”
Each month, we continue to host multifamily industry leaders in our “Sofa Seminar” series, gleaning from their experiences and success in multifamily marketing. In this month’s seminar, we learned how two seasoned multifamily marketers are using AI to enhance the rental experience, generate high-intent leads, and ease the load on leasing agents so they can focus on higher-impact work.
Joining us this month are:
Lindsey Kuhn, CMO at The Champion Companies, an Ohio-based multifamily real estate firm that owns and manages nearly 5,000 apartments
Liz Bogue, Director of Marketing at Bonaventure, a property management firm managing nearly 5,900 apartments across 29 communities in South Carolina and Virginia
Below you’ll find a sampling of topics covered in our discussion, which dove into the what, why and how Lindsey and Liz balance AI and human strengths in their marketing programs.
Adapting to new renter preferences and behaviors
As you’re well aware, renter perceptions and decision-making have changed dramatically. “Renters are now renting by choice. They’re staying longer. They’re more demanding,” says Lindsey. Catering to those needs means onsite teams are taking on more responsibilities. “Any chance we can offer our agents or residents technology to make their lives better, that has been met with open arms,” she adds.
Lindsey also notes that renters are touring fewer properties and even renting sight-unseen. She reasons that those behaviors are natural outgrowths of renters doing more online research and narrowing their choices before they engage leasing agents. That makes it vital for property websites to inspire trust and deliver support without requiring prospects to call an agent each time they have a question.
Improving website engagement and conversions
To improve website experiences leading to conversions, Lindsey advises studying your renters’ journey. “Start with the basics, look at your analytics. Where are people coming from? What pages are they interacting with? Ask prospective renters about their shopping experience, if you can,” she explains. Once you understand what prospects are going through and the touchpoints in their search, use technology to make that journey easier.
Liz agrees with that approach, adding that visitors spend considerably more time on the property websites she manages after her team added an AI chatbot. “Prospective renters want instant gratification. We’re seeing data that they’re interacting with the bot longer. They’re scheduling tours. They’re asking a lot of questions and those questions are being answered. In the last three months, our AI chatbot was able to answer 93% of prospect questions, which is very impressive,” she shares.
Automating lead nurture
If someone visits your property website, it’s safe to conclude they’re looking for an apartment. Given how much effort and dollars you’ve invested in getting these prospects there, you need to know who they are. The only way to do that is to provide conversion tools.
Once you identify who your visitors are, lead nurture automations can take over to (a) deliver high-intent leads to leasing agents, and (b) nurture lower-priority leads, warming them up, capturing intel and nudging them closer to a “yes” — at which point agents step in. Having those automations in place has been a tremendous time-saver so agents can deliver superior customer service without getting bogged down by unqualified leads, says Liz.
Beta testing new technologies
Both Liz and Lindsey have well-defined processes for testing new technologies and capturing feedback from leasing agents before they fully deploy new systems. This not only ensures the technology investment will product results, but it also helps them secure buy-in from end users. To that end, both of our guest speakers follow a 90-day-minimum testing period, and have specific ideas about the properties they select to test new technologies,. (Watch the discussion below for details!)
Instant polls: How do you compare with seminar attendees?
During each seminar, we ask attendees to share their own marketing practices. Here’s what they told us in flash polls:
25% personalize marketing messages with basic info like names or job titles
75% personalize marketing messages with information that best suits the prospect (e.g., tour info, names, family info, move-in timelines or other criteria).
75% currently track attribution for their lead sources. 25% aren’t sure.
Altogether, most attendees seem to prioritize source attribution and personalization in some capacity.
Other subtopics and audience questions
Finally, our guest speakers expanded on other key aspects of multifamily marketing performance, including:
Balancing AI automations with human touchpoints
Testing and training team members on new technology
Tripling visitor time spent on property websites to increase conversions
Managing lead source performance (using source attributions to discern what to change, prioritize, where to increase or reduce spend)
Lessons learned and what they’d do differently knowing what they know today
We invite you to watch the full discussion below and here’s to a profitable 3rd quarter.
PERQ integrates with your existing website and lead sources to engage, nurture and convert every lead, improving the multifamily leasing journey for everyone. Learn how it works or request a demo.
The fastest growing segment in the U.S. renter market, Gen Z renters now lead multifamily market trends — particularly as their habits and priorities differ sharply from earlier generations. How do you sway these modern renters to click, interact, book a tour, and lease a multifamily unit?
Brian Ericson, Senior Vice President of Marketing, and Kira Brown, Senior Marketing Manager at Phoenix-based Wood Residential recently shared the trends they’re seeing and how they’re attracting today’s generation of renters.
Following are some highlights of our discussion, and you can catch the full Sofa Seminar presentation at the bottom of this post.
Instant gratification, just a tapor click away
Gen Z craves instant answers, expecting the sameease, immediacy, and anytime/anywhere access theyenjoy from online retailers, media platforms, and AI assistants like Siri or Alexa. Fail to provide thatlickety-split experience at fleeting moments when you have their attention and they’ll jump ship to a competing website that can satisfy their need for ease and speed.
“Either a leasing agent or automated tool needs to get back to them really fast, because if we don’t, we’ll lose them,” cautions Kira. “If someone else answers their questions right away and we respond 24-36 hours later, that prospect may very well have made their decision by then, even if they’re not planning to move in for a while.”
“The bar we’re being held to isn’t just the competitors down the street. It’s the Amazons of the world,” Brian adds.
Longer, self-led searches
Based on their data, Brian and Kira note younger renters are beginning their search months in advance. The tendency is for prospects to do heavy research as “stealth shoppers,” then narrow top choices before they’re comfortable interacting with a leasing agent.
That’s also true for folks moving to new markets, says Kira. Out-of-towners might come check the neighborhood and location, then return home to complete their leasing decision online. When they’re ready to talk, decisions tend to be quick, leaving agents with a short window to respond.
Altogether, those behaviors require multifamily marketers to ensure the right technologies are in place to empower prospects in their research, and deliver lightning-fast support when prospects are ready to engage.
Automations as experience enhancers and staff relief
Aside from delivering the anytime/anywhere support Gen Z renters crave, automations also free up staff time to focus on what they do best and what delivers the greatest impact, such as hosting a high-intent prospect tour versus answering the same question about pet policy 30 times a week, for example.
Using the PERQ AI leasing agent on their websites, Wood Residential’s chatbot (aptly called “Woody”) has answered 1,800 prospect questions in just three months. “That’s 1,800 straightforward questions that prospects got real-time answers to. They didn’t have to pick up the phone or send an email,” says Brian.
Staff, in turn, gets more time and headspace to devote to higher-impact activities and things they actually enjoy like getting creative, building relationships, and refining strategies. “Automation can make our jobs more interesting and compelling because we’re freeing our teams to focus on what’s hopefully the fun stuff,” shares Brian. “We’re taking a lot of the boring routine stuff like sending copy-paste emails on basic inquiries.”
Optimizing cross-channel experiences
Optimizing user experiences on website and mobile, using data to fine-tune what’s working (or isn’t), and leveraging captured data to personalize interactions are some of the ways Wood Residential is evolving their marketing efforts.
PERQ EVP of Marketing, Muhammad Yasin, played host to another insightful lunch and learn which explored the challenges multifamily properties faced while trying to market to shifting consumer behavior during the pandemic. Guests Liv Gabrielsen, Director of Marketing for Bainbridge, and Scott Papenfus, Director of Strategic Partnerships for LCP360, chatted about the creative ways they’ve adapted efforts and the true impact of the pandemic with an in-depth conversation on:
When asked about big shifts in general as a result of the pandemic, Liv began by acknowledging what most businesses experienced, consumers embracing the digital experience.
“For multifamily, what it did is forced our industry to embrace all things digital as we saw stay-at-home orders. The COVID pandemic made us shift what we’re doing to ensure we can meet consumer demands in a 100% digital environment.”
She added that the industry knew they would need to embrace consumers’ digital demands eventually. The pandemic just accelerated the process.
“We’ve known this for years; it’s been moving in this direction,” Liv says. “For me, it was still a little bit of a shock of sorts — how fast we had to lean into some of the things or behaviors we were already thinking about, then suddenly over the course of a couple of weeks went from ‘Yeah, we’re going that way’ to ‘Now this is it.’”
Scott shared that, from a technology company’s perspective, they saw a huge increase in the number of virtual tours.
“You can literally look at a graph and just see this huge spike in virtual tours when the pandemic hit,” he says. “One of the key things we’re seeing is more and more people on-site are using our guided virtual tour or mirrored virtual tour.”
He explains consumers are not touring alone, instead doing so virtually with a leasing agent on-site who shares their knowledge and expertise about the property while customizing the tour for the prospect.
“I’ve really seen an uptick in interest is people wanting to perform kind of a hybrid — it’s a virtual tour, but it’s actually led by somebody on-site,” says Scott.
“For multifamily, we want that face-to-face interaction because our communities are more than just four walls,” Liv says. “It’s the community, the environment and the lifestyle. So, how do we communicate that in a digital way when we are removing these on-site visits? That was the challenge — we knew we had to provide a full picture of what it’s like to live in a Bainbridge community.”
Watch the full video to learn more about what Liv and Scott implemented to better serve and market to their customers during the pandemic.
Our EVP of Marketing, Muhammad Yasin, had a chance to hang out with Katrina Greene (CAM, Senior Regional Property Manager, and NALP Instructor) in a virtual chat on leasing agent training to find out why she views training as an ongoing process, not a one-time event. She had strong opinions on how training itself serves as an introduction or launch of behavior that will then require practice. She also stressed that you must be brave to succeed as a leasing agent, understand your value, and appreciate having a conversation, rather than taking orders.
During her chat with Muhammad, Katrina conveyed the importance of:
Human interaction in the leasing process
The benefit of listening to calls to identify training opportunities
Using positive affirmations with prospects
Demonstrating knowledge to earn the right to sell
She also shared tools and tips to make the communication effective and the experience memorable for prospective renters.
Much of the conversation with Katrina centered on reviewing phone conversations between leasing agents and prospects. She uses these calls to reinforce what’s working and identify opportunities for improvement — not only for the leasing agents but also for the properties as a whole. She says it’s important to give your team permission to fail and permission to succeed while demonstrating ways to improve — not just telling them what to do.
After listening to Katrina, it is obvious why the oath she keeps for every interaction works:
“I did everything I know to do using my knowledge, personality and skills to help this person understand my community is a great place for them.”