Better Balance Closes More Apartment Leases on First Visit


Leasing apartments is a tricky game to play. Most prospects tour four to six apartment communities before selecting the one they feel deserves their commitment and, most importantly, their money. So who wins the lease? The community that strikes the most even balance will most likely get the lease.

Let me explain what I mean by balance.

Imagine your prospect walking through the door carrying a balance scale. There are two sides that must balance in order for the prospect to consider you a serious contender. One side is the emotional connection between you and the prospect and the other side is all of the physical features about the apartment community itself.

Emotional Connections Establish Prospect Trust

Prospects need to like you. They need to feel some kind of a connection. And most importantly, they need to trust you. So how do you manage that when this is your first time meeting? It all starts with a conversation.

Remember, prospects are not interviewing for the job of resident, you are interviewing for the job of apartment community. Why should they hire you? Are you worth the twelve months of rent they are going to be paying you? Prospects aren’t going to give their hard earned money to someone they don’t like.

Keep the conversation easy, make small talk. If it’s all business, you’re missing the point. Get the “need to know” information upfront, and leave the other information for later–never laundry-list the items on your guest card. Questions like “How did you hear about us?” or “Do you work in the area?” are better saved for times when you’re walking to and from the apartment home. And as prospects answer these questions, have a comment ready to show acknowledgement and to identify you two have something in common.

Trust comes with ready answers. The more ready answers you have for your prospects, the more trustworthy you will appear. “Wow, this person really knows their stuff” is the impression you want to make on your future resident. If you can’t answer the simplest of questions, how are you going to handle the more complex issues once they become an actual resident?

Physically Connecting Prospects to Your Apartment Community

Now that you’re on your way to establishing an emotional connection with the prospect, you have to balance it out with the physical features of the community. Make sure the “yellow brick road” or tour route is comprehensive enough to best demonstrate what the community has to offer. Consult with your porter or service team in the morning to ensure your amenities, landscaping and show units are ready for viewing. And if ever on a tour and you notice something is amiss, immediately notify them to correct the issue before your next tour.

Upon entering the show unit, what is your first impression? Would you live there? If the answer is no, the apartment home needs a little work. Prospects need to feel comfortable with what could potentially be their new home. At the end of a long workday, after fighting through traffic and who knows what else, will they breathe a sigh of relief when they open their front door? Point out all of the comforts of home and emphasize why what they’re seeing will work for them.

Strike a Balance. Close the Lease. Game Over.

Once the apartment tour is over and you’ve asked for the deposit (hopefully more than once), your prospect has a decision to make. If the answer is “still looking,” the scale may be off balance. The community that strikes an even balance will more readily get the first-visit lease.

A prospect connects with you but isn’t thrilled about the community? Still looking. A prospect loves the community, but you – not so much? Still looking.

An out of balance scale can force the prospect to visit more communities in order to do a little comparison shopping. The goal here is not to win out by comparison – your community should be the clear choice for every prospect.

First-visit leases are getting harder to come by. The competition is more competitive and housing options are more varied than ever before. Prospects need to like you and the community – it really is that simple.

Strike a balance. Close the lease. Game over.

How do you train your on-site employees to strike a balance between emotional and physical connections? What works best for your property management teams?


Image source: iStock



Vice President of Education and Consulting, SatisFacts Research

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Lia Smith career in training, property management and marketing began in the mid 1990′s. Lia began her training career at Nextel Communications, where she was responsible for training over 1,000 Customer Care Representatives. She then embarked on a new career in property management as a Leasing Associate with Lincoln Property Company, and steadily moved up the ranks. Lia was able to merge the worlds of training and property management when in 2006 she became Director of Training and Marketing at SPM Property Management, a 14,000+ unit portfolio; this included creating SPM Academy and a Learning Management System. She also developed and managed SPM’s resident feedback program, and was responsible for providing post-survey action planning support for property teams and management. Lia has proven experience in solving training and resident retention challenges for market, affordable, senior, tax credit and student communities. These experiences have helped Lia relate to both onsite and corporate associates. Lastly, Lia has presented at key industry events such as MultifamilyPro Brainstorming on topics related to developing the operational and service skills of onsite and executive level teams. Lia Joined the SatisFacts team in 2011 as VP of Education and Consulting.

One response to “Better Balance Closes More Apartment Leases on First Visit”

  1. Matt Miller says:

    What is the average rate for first-visit leases?

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