Remember when prospects could only choose to do an in-person tour or look at gallery photos of a staged unit? The multifamily industry has evolved so much since then. From online applications to interactive floor plans, pre-recorded video tours to live video tours, the way prospects are shopping for their next home has also changed.
In-person activities with people outside of your circle are still not a viable option for 2021. A lot of prospects still want to see the unit in-person before deciding whether or not they are going to make the financial and emotional commitment to make your property home.
The idea of self-guided tours before last year spooked a lot of people. There are security concerns as well as the anxiety of not knowing what is going on and how to answer questions in real time during the tour.
Jamin Harkness, EVP at The Management Group (TMG), ran into this problem like many other multifamily professionals. Harkness has kept all his employees in remote work since March 2020 with only one or two people at most in the office for package handling. He didn’t want to risk the health of his employees and prospects with in-person tours but had to find a way to make self-guided tours work.
Not having a member of the leasing team during the tour can be stressful in terms of making sure the unit is not being vandalized in any way. Harkness recommended setting up a Ring camera so the onsite team can watch the prospects during the tour. He also had his team put up a visible sign letting prospects know that they are on camera and putting them in places where they can see.
The camera allows them to see what is going on and in case there is a security issue they can be more prepared to handle it.
Home Sweet Home
At TMG properties, Harkness came up with a unique way to make self-guided tours stand out to prospects by offering snacks. In the staged units where self-guided tours take place, he had the onsite teams stock up the fridge with cold drinks and the pantry with small bags of chips and other non-perishable snacks.
Using grocery delivery services helped his properties be able to do this while minimizing their exposure to people outside of their circle. There is signage letting prospects know they can open the fridge and grab a drink, have a snack, and relax.
“They go sit on my couch and have Cheetos and a Coke and they’re like ‘wow, I can see myself living here.’ It’s just like a scripted interaction I’ve always wanted,” Harkness explains. These prospects enjoyed being able to actually see what it would be like to sit down in this unit and eat. It made it easier for them to imagine living in this space and signing a lease.
Self-guided tours are a great way to make your property stand out to prospects and make it easier for them to see their life there. When in-person tours can come back, Harkness is still going to keep self-guided tours as an option because they’ve seen for themselves how successful it is with getting that lease signed.