[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]We all have that friend, co-worker or family member you call and email without success. Yet, text them and they answer right away. You’ve most likely figured out the best method and time to reach the important people in your life, and it’s probably not the same scenario for each one. This holds true for very important property rental leads in the multifamily space.
Technology allows us to bank, buy and browse at any hour every day of the week. Your prospects are looking for their next home when and how it is most convenient for them. Meeting your customers on their terms and timeline will build the trust necessary to close the deal. Sounds like you may be working around the clock? Not with the right technology, process and product.
What Technology Tells You About Customer Preferences
With the right technology, your prospect will leave a digital footprint. You know what area they are looking in, what size of living space they are looking for, and what amenities interest them. Most importantly, the way they engage with you indicates their preferred communication style, the time and day their search is top of mind, and it provides insight into how close they are to making a decision.
“With social media, chatbots and artificial intelligence, prospects don’t want to wait for office hours or phone calls anymore,” says Catherine Azar, Director of Property Management with Barratt Asset Management, headquartered in Indianapolis and specializing in the acquisition and management of multifamily apartment communities. “They can immediately go onto your site and start selecting what they want. What’s important to our leads is that instant gratification and personalization tailored exactly to what they are looking for. Have an apartment home pop up for them that fits their needs and they are immediately engaged. They’re spending more time on your website and you become top of their list very quickly.”
Offering a wide range of communication and viewing options for your prospects keeps those high-priority leads engaged. “We make so many buying decisions using research tools online and consumers appreciate the convenience of not having to come into the office to fill out forms,” says Katrina Greene, Senior Regional Manager at Sheehan Property Management. “Virtual tours or video footage of the unit allow us to be more effective with our prospects who are out of state or even out of the country. They can make a confident buying decision without physically being on-site because they have seen the amenities, neighborhood and the unit via video.”
Matt Weirich, Co-Founder and CEO of Realync, a video-leasing platform company, believes prospects who view videos of the property will be closer to making a leasing decision by the time they come to visit the community. “After they watch the videos and go through the PERQ experience, they’ll be more qualified and more buy-ready,” Weirich says. “The leasing agent is still an important part of the process, because they instill trust in the property where the prospect will live.”
Barratt Asset Management embraces whatever platform the customer prefers. “The new communication channels have vastly impacted lead nurturing,” Azar says. ”We can do FaceTime calls and tours, and it’s really a game-changer. People from out of state can see your face and it provides comfortability and starts building that trust.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Variety of Follow Up and the Lead Nurturing Process
Did you know that almost half of rental prospects prefer you reach out to them in the morning? PERQ analyzed national, regional and benchmark data from nearly 320 properties across the U.S., along with 93,000 consumer responses with 328,000 data points, and captured the latest renter insights in their Multifamily Field Guide.
“We are definitely seeing the same dynamics as what was found in PERQ’s prospect survey,” says Lisa Harris, Regional Manager for W3 Luxury Living, a property management company based in Colleyville, Texas. “Of course, you have to find out what they are looking for, which locations and what spaces are reflective of who they are and fits their budget.”
Azar finds that Thursdays are a good time to hit prospects who are close to making a decision. “The weekend is coming and they have a little more free time. You want to follow up at a time the prospect won’t be extremely busy.” Azar schedules her communications with prospects during their preferred time, even when it may be after regular hours.
Her lead nurturing process includes implementing a customized system to track their rental prospects. “Being consistent is paramount. It’s where we continue to build a professional relationship,” Azar says. She adds that prospect documentation is key to connecting with customers. “We work with a lot of people and it is important for us to remember everything specific to that prospect.”
Prioritizing your prospects helps when allocating time and deciding who to reach out to first. Prospects who have taken virtual or in-person tours, filled out an online pre-qualification application or utilized an expense calculator feature on the property website provide valuable information about where they are in the customer journey. Take advantage of automated lead nurture emails that include information personalized to the prospect based on their previous engagements on your website. Lead nurture emails will not only drive customers back to your website, but they will also help them connect with your company.
In addition to technology, Azar stresses the value of emotional intelligence. “You have to be able to handle interpersonal relationships with knowledge and care, while understanding that each prospect has different moving circumstances — there’s never a one size fits all.”[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Additional Multifamily Resources
[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]Every market varies slightly when it comes to the type of renter seeking an apartment, how much they’re willing to pay, and what amenities mean the most to them. How well do you know the prospective renters for each multifamily property you manage or oversee at a regional level?
Properties in your portfolio can leverage these market variables to edge out the local competition by analyzing all of the online data prospects provide during their search for an apartment community to call home.
More than 80% of rental prospects start their apartment search online, according to the newly published PERQ Multifamily Field Guide, which analyzes 193,000 consumer responses from nearly 320 multifamily property websites.
With so many renters starting their research of apartment communities online, staying a step ahead of the local competition means constantly improving the property’s website experience, and successfully using the lead information you gather online to nurture prospects until they’re ready to sign a lease.
“We use both the individual data and aggregate data to help us make sound decisions during the leasing process, but also to be sure we’re catering to our current resident base as well,” says Katrina Greene, Senior Regional Manager at Sheehan Property Management, which utilizes PERQ’s web technology to collect leads and their personal preferences, while guiding prospects in the rental process.
Add AI Technology to Property Website to Gather More, Detailed Leads
It’s a challenge to capture the attention of prospective renters with so many other property websites vying for it. Busy consumers want websites to be responsive, intuitive, informative and helpful — or they move on to the next site in a quick click.
By adding AI-driven technology to a property website, visitors enjoy an interactive and personalized shopping experience similar to what giant e-commerce retailers like Amazon deliver, and what savvy consumers say they’ve come to expect from brands competing for their money and attention. Provide that experience on a local level to make your property stand out in a crowded multifamily market.
“At one property, we know as many as 40% of our current residents engaged in a PERQ experience,” Greene says of how well the interactive software converts online leads. The information gathered on those now-residents comes in handy when planning new community perks that appeal to current renters, and when it’s time to encourage those residents to renew their leases.
Engaging visitors with a hub of useful planning tools and assessments designed to help renters find their ideal apartment boosts the time spent on the site, which in turn increases brand awareness and how much information the property managers receive in real-time from interested renters.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Highlight In-Demand Apartment Amenities: Online & During Property Tour
With the assistance of AI technology, leasing teams receive lead information on everything from a prospect’s preferred floor plan and move-in timeframe to how many kids or pets they have, what they like to do in their free time, and types of businesses they want in their new neighborhood. It gives properties both a granular view of a specific renter’s journey and a holistic look at what renters in that market value most.
Renters rank in-unit laundry as the most-desired feature in an apartment, followed by modern appliances and walk-in closets, according to the Multifamily Field Guide. It also showed 81% of prospects are a month to 90 days out from wanting to move in — a 13% increase in the number of renters looking at apartments while at least three months away from signing a lease since PERQ’s previous insights report in 2018.
Property management can use that online intel to personalize their lead follow-up approach through automated lead nurture email and text messages sent to website leads, keeping the property top of mind as they finalize their decision.
During tours, leasing specialists should strive to highlight that particular property’s most popular amenities as well as any must-haves the prospect revealed while researching online. Properties can also prominently feature a property’s top-ranked assets on the website, in digital advertisements and on social media, based on the new data streaming in from the website’s interactive experiences.
Target Prospects: Use Marketing Cloud Insights to Meet Local Demand
By tracking leads from all of those various online platforms and linking them to individual website visitors in a cloud-based CRM database, properties can finally account for multi-touch attribution and easily view a prospect’s entire online journey.
That comprehensive profile data, when stored and analyzed within an AI-driven Marketing Cloud, delivers in-depth insights into which featured amenities drive the most traffic, what online platforms convert the best, and the ROI of all of a property’s digital marketing campaign, including the cost per lead and for each lease converted.
When powered by AI technology, a marketing cloud offers machine learning capabilities to identify the ideal prospect and continuously tweak a property’s connected digital marketing accounts automatically. Based on the property’s own data and millions of other data points stored in the cloud, the centralized analytics predict the type of renters most likely to lease there, along with the common attributes and actions taken by those prospects and where to successfully target them.
Pouring over the online consumer data helps property managers identify what nearby activities and amenities attract local renters, so they can focus on building relationships with those types of businesses in the area and plan events that best cater to renters’ interests.
“The ‘Explore the Area’ assessment provides data regarding their preferences on favorite activities,” Greene says. “Our reporting may show that a prospect, for example, is interested in sporting activities and shopping. We are sure to highlight proximity to these preferred places, and with residents, it helps us to determine what social functions will appeal most to them.
“We may organize a viewing party for a big football game at our clubhouse, or post coupons for the outlet mall on social media as a result of the data.”
Across the nation, 20% of renters picked “social activities” as their top priority, according to the PERQ multifamily data. Shopping and outdoor activities tied for second place at 17%, and family activities (12%) and pets (11%) rounded out the list of favorite activities prospects enjoy most, giving property managers at those surveyed properties a good idea of their residents’ main priorities and lifestyle.
“We have found the questions we ask online helps us tremendously on centering in on the prospects’ likes in reference to social activities,” says Trent Jones, Regional Marketing & Training Director at The Worthing Companies based in Atlanta. “This gives us a great opportunity to cross-market with restaurants, shopping, outdoor activities, etc.”
Coupons Convert Leads: Pricing Ranks Top Priority Among Renters
Incentives drive impressive lead-to-lease conversion results because two-thirds of renters put pricing above all else when picking an apartment. The PERQ data discovered multifamily properties that presented online prospects with a coupon or offer, such as free month’s rent for signing a 12-month lease, increased lead conversions by 73%.
Of the prospective renters surveyed, 67% said pricing was the biggest factor in their decision on where to sign a lease. Play up the community benefits and utilities included in the rent price, and offer creative budget incentives like discounted dog walking services for residents arranged through a local provider.
At one apartment community managed by The Worthing Companies, Jones says 60% of the prospects clicked restaurants as a favorite place to visit in the neighborhood. “This gives us the knowledge to do a perks program for discounts with restaurants nearby, and even host events at different restaurants for the residents,” Jones says.
The PERQ Multifamily Field Guide contains multifamily insights, regional trends, renter profiles, and self-proclaimed pain points others in the industry face and how to solve those common challenges using AI-driven technology. Click below to request your copy of the full Multifamily Field Guide.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row][vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Additional Multifamily Resources
[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]In the opening scenes of The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy runs away from her Kansas home and promptly encounters Professor Marvel, a seedy, itinerant con artist whose tacky traveling wagon advertises him as “Acclaimed by The Crown Heads of Europe,” and offers his services to “Read Your Past, Present, and Future in His Crystal Ball.”
Professor Marvel, played marvelously by Frank Morgan, takes one look at the naive girl, glances down at her suitcase and says, “You’re running away!”
Having missed his glance, Dorothy asks wondrously, “How did you guess?”
The Professor replies, “Now, why are you running away? No, no, don’t tell me!” He looks off pensively, as if conjuring some magical power and then, as if having divined a vision, says conclusively, “They don’t understand you at home!”
The wide-eyed girl smiles and says, “Why it’s just like you could read what was inside me!”
The Professor then offers Dorothy a crystal ball reading and asks her to close her eyes and concentrate. As she does, the Professor quickly rummages around in her basket. He then proceeds to describe what he pretends to see in the crystal ball, referencing the items in the basket.
Clearly, Professor Marvel is a charlatan, but there is a positive lesson to be learned from his trickery. He was able to connect with Dorothy and establish her trust by referencing relevant facts about her.
The lesson: apartment property managers can connect with their market by observing their prospects and residents’ behavior.
With no sleight of hand or trickery involved, prospect data collected on a multifamily property website can reveal personal insights on what lifestyle factors drive that renter’s decisions and what’s most important to them when choosing an apartment. Leveraging this kind of in-depth online data also helps management teams forecast future market changes and predict which types of renters are most likely to sign a lease at that property.
“If companies were to really dig into the online data and use it to the fullest extent—which, from our experience at this point, most properties don’t do or just rely on us to do it for them—the data is actually quite helpful,” says Bob Romine, owner of R.C. Romine & Associates in Chicago, who primarily provides marketing and advertising services to multifamily properties.
“If you track the consumer journey, each little piece gives you more information about the customer and where they’re at in their thinking,” Romine says. “Because you have gathered those clues, you’re able to say, ‘OK, here’s when they might move; here’s the kind of apartment they are looking for; here are some of the things in the area they would like to experience as part of their home neighborhood.’”
Gaze into your own crystal ball when a prospect comes in for a tour or when you follow up on a promising lead by collecting this kind of detailed information from website visitors as they research apartments online. More lead data grants your leasing team the superhuman power to conjure up the perfect place for the renter to call home and create an instant connection with them.[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”29445″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
Which apartment amenities matter most to your renters?
If a property website acts like a glorified online catalog, only collecting a prospect’s name and contact information from those who fill out the guest card, a property management company misses out on a wealth of lead data opportunities. Consider it the kryptonite to your website’s potential to be your no. 1 leasing tool and to capture more quality online leads.
Advanced technologies like artificial intelligence and AI-driven marketing clouds make it possible for multifamily property companies to add interactive experiences on an existing property website. The AI technology collects a consumer’s personal information as they engage with the online tools and shopping resources customized to showcase that property, while also helping to guide consumers along in the leasing process.
“Our website analytics and online experiences provide us with that data to help us understand trends of what’s important to our renters,” says Jenny Richard, Director of Marketing at Gene B. Glick Company, a multifamily rental property company in 13 states. “We believe our customers choose their home based on their lifestyle desires. Capturing this information allows our leasing team to receive information about what’s important to each prospective renter, which allows them to build relationships.”
Glick property managers can easily see what lifestyle factors a renter prioritizes when finding an apartment, whether it’s a convenient work commute or social interactions with neighbors, by looking at the answers the prospect provides online. When they engage with the “Explore the Area” experience and various other tools available on the property websites, like the floorplan assessment or pre-qualify application, renters divulge important information about themselves.
“The data we receive through the PERQ online experiences allows us to make better decisions about the future,” Richard says. “Collecting what amenities are important from one property to another, where they like to spend time outside the community, understanding our customer’s journey and how far in advance of their move date they are looking at apartments are some examples of what we focus on.”
Atlanta-based The Worthing Companies, which manages apartment communities throughout Georgia, Texas and North Carolina, also uses PERQ’s AI-powered Website Conversion Software to capture more online leads and prospect data. Online leads increased by 813 percent in the first six months of adding the interactive AI experiences to their property websites, delivering their leasing teams with infinitely more information about each prospect than a static guest card form.
“We have found that the questions asked during the process helps us tremendously in centering on the prospects’ likes in reference to social activities,” says Trent Jones, Regional Marketing & Training Director at TWC. “This gives us a great opportunity to cross-market with restaurants, shopping, outdoor activities, etc.
“We have one property where 60 percent of the prospects clicked restaurants as a top priority, so this gives us the knowledge to do a perks program for discounts with nearby restaurants and even host events at different restaurants for the residents.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_single_image image=”31089″ img_size=”full” alignment=”center” qode_css_animation=””][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]
What’s driving a renter’s decisions?
To inspire a person to do something, you must first know what motivates that individual. Figuring out what factors are motivating a prospect’s decision to move into a new apartment helps leasing specialists find the best fit for their current situation, speeding along lead conversion and resulting in satisfied renters in the long run. That data also gives property management a way to spot rental trends in the market and target specific types of renters with the right incentives.
“It’s helping us learn more about our customers without them even being there,” says Chris Berry, Senior Regional Manager at First Communities Management, also based in Atlanta. Four properties in his regional portfolio utilize PERQ’s website technology. Since adding the AI software, prospects spend on average 200 percent more time on their websites, giving the property a plethora of personal information while engaging with the property’s brand.
The consumer journey profiles properties receive for each website lead details every visit a prospect makes to the website, including which computer device they used to log on, where they came from before landing on the website, how long they searched the site, which experiences they engaged with and their responses.
“It’s prompting those same questions we would’ve asked on the tour,” Berry says. “Now we’ve got those things ahead of time, so that when they do show up for the tour, we have the opportunity to dig a little deeper. You see what’s important to them.”
Richard says the online data helps the Glick management team better understand how prospective renters are making decisions in regard to floor plans and number of bedrooms. Lately, they’ve noticed a shift in the type of people renting two-bedroom apartments as well as an increased demand for smaller spaces.
“As rental rates continue going up and the need for apartments continues to grow, the demand for two bedrooms remain on the rise. We know this is occurring because prospective renters continue to ‘double-up’ and find a roommate to afford the rent,” Richard says. “Studios and micro-units continue to rise in popularity, especially amongst the Gen. Z and Millennial generations, as a result of keeping monthly rent costs down while ensuring convenience to their job.”
Get to know your renter demographic better
Berry points out the high degree of turnover experienced at most on-site leasing offices. By receiving prospect profile data in real time, newer leasing team members can quickly learn about the type of renters most commonly interested in that property and eliminate any misconceptions about the target demographic.
“As far as that prospect data, I really like looking at it to confirm who we think our demographic is and it’s very useful for training,” Berry says. “You want to be able to show your team that back-end data that you’re gathering on what your residents or prospects are interested in. A lot of times, you walk onto a new property with a lot of three-bedroom apartments and you think it’s families. You find out, no it’s not, they’re roommates.”
If a prospect researching a predominantly family-oriented property lists nightlife and breweries as top attractions they like to regularly visit, the leasing team can reach out and let them know about the other apartment community your company manages across the street that better caters to their demographic. The same goes for prospects looking at places close to daycares and children activities who show interest in a property more targeted to young professionals with roommates.
“The leasing team needs to know who their prospects are primarily, because it’s only going to help them when giving tours and responding to people,” says Berry, who shares the same frustrating experience as Bob Romine when it comes to properties not using the valuable lead data to its fullest extent. “It’s all about finding a good fit for the renter and getting that edge over the competition. But the data has to be shared with your team and they have to actually use it.”
Point prospects down the right path on the metaphorical yellow brick road and show them a property that matches exactly what they’re seeking on their personal quest to find the ideal apartment. As Dorothy says while tapping her ruby red slippers together, “There’s no place like home.”[/vc_column_text][vc_empty_space][vc_column_text]This article was originally published on MultiHousing Pro.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]
[vc_row css_animation=”” row_type=”row” use_row_as_full_screen_section=”no” type=”full_width” angled_section=”no” text_align=”left” background_image_as_pattern=”without_pattern”][vc_column][vc_column_text]When it comes to leasing more units at your properties, it takes more than simply generating leads. In order to turn those leads into signed leases, Property Management companies and leasing teams need to have a quality prospect experience on their website and a lead follow-up strategy. Follow these tips and best practices for managing and closing PERQ leads.
The internet has revolutionized the way prospective renters look for apartments. Prospects today conduct the majority of their apartment research online before narrowing it down to a select few properties that they would actually visit in person. In fact, an article in the August 2017 edition of Units Magazine found that 80% of apartment residents lease with the first property they visit. Because of this, it’s essential that your property website provides the best experience for prospects and that your leasing team has a plan for following up with leads.
All of this starts with the prospect experience on your website. Having interactive experiences on your website helps to guide apartment shoppers through your site and turn website visitors into known leads. Not only that, but it also gives prospects the opportunity to engage on your site and start to build a prospect profile.
When a PERQ prospect profile is generated from website visitors engaging with our Online Guided Leasing solution, your leasing team now has, on average, 5x more lead data to start the conversation with potential renters. The prospect’s profile information allows the leasing specialist to then pick up the conversation where the prospect left off. It references the answers to their engagement on the website rather than starting the conversation over. This helps build trust and allows the leasing team to be consultative with the goal of turning a prospect into a resident.
In this prospect profile example, the potential renter went through a few PERQ interactive experiences on the property website and the leasing team was able to find out detailed information like:
- Unit preferences to provide a floorplan match
- Floor preference
- Desired lease term
- Whether or not the prospect has pets
- Prospect’s budget information
- Preferred activities and places of interest
Using this information to follow up with leads will make your property stand out. To better utilize prospect profile data, a property should use the data the as a whole to get insights, and prioritize follow-up according to how hot the lead is.
When a prospect answers questions within the PERQ experiences and starts to build a prospect profile, this helps the leasing team determine where the potential renter is in the leasing funnel.
The Discovery phase (or the top of the funnel) encompasses the consumer that has just started looking at different communities. They’re probably not sure what property is right for them or when they’d like to move. Our New Visitor Welcome & Assessment experiences capture this type of traffic.
Next, the Research phase is broken down into two sections: lead vs. hot lead. This phase is catching a prospect who might know what area they want to live in but they’re unsure which property is best. They’re more likely to bounce from site to site, and we try to capture this type of consumer by engaging them with incentives, and matching them to your location and surrounding community. They’re considered a hotter Research lead once they’ve gone through the floor plan assessment and scheduled a time to visit your property.
Finally, there’s the lease phase. These are going to be your most serious and hottest leads. These prospects have confirmed with you on their scheduled tour and have started the process for pre-approval (before they even step foot in the office). We encourage properties to focus on leads at the bottom of the funnel first, since those are the leads most likely to lease right away.
Creative Ways to Follow Up
In addition to having a lead follow-up strategy based on prioritization, following up with leads in creative ways is also an important part of every lead management strategy. Here are a few creative ways you can follow up with leads to help your property stand out from the competition:
Personalize each lead follow up
Make sure to use personalization when following up in order to really grab a prospect’s attention. For example: if someone says they’re interested in a one bedroom unit and a city view is the most important thing to them, be sure to talk about a specific unit with the best view you have to offer
Offer personalized promotions
Include personalized incentives when following up with a lead who’s ready to move. Gear the offers toward the exact things the prospect is interested in.
Build a prospect database for lead follow up
Keep a database or use a CRM for all potential prospects and track where they’re at in the leasing funnel. Follow up periodically to see if they want any assistance as they draw closer to confirming an actual move-in date. Showing that you haven’t forgotten about them after such a long time will really impress them!
Help prospects do more research
Include reference links in your follow-up email to assist with a prospect’s research, not just links back to your property website. For example: if they say they have children, send them a list of parks and playgrounds within walking distance or talk about the school systems.
Try photos or videos for engaging lead follow up
Send personalized photos and videos to add personality and really connect with potential prospects. Record a personal message to the lead on your smartphone and hit send.
Thank you notes
Never underestimate the value of customer service and a good, old-fashioned thank you note. Connecting on a personal level is the touchstone of any creative lead follow-up strategy.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]