Four Multifamily Lessons You Can Learn from Swimmers About Leasing Apartments


Michael Phelps swims to victory
Image Source: (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)


Recently, I was watching my daughter’s first swim meet of the summer season. Meets like this one are hosted by area swim clubs and give boys and girls ages six to 18 the opportunity to qualify for the regional meet with the ultimate goal of making it to the Games of Texas state swim meet.

Given the wide range of swimming abilities and ages, it’s pretty difficult to tell if the next Michael Phelps or Dara Torres was swimming that day, but these swim meets are certainly plenty of fun to watch.

Unless the meet takes place at an outdoor pool. During the summer. In Texas.

So as my brain began to bake in the slowly rising temperature, I began to see parallels between leasing apartments and racing in a swim meet. I’m serious.

Here are four apartment leasing lessons I learned from my daughter’s swim meet.

The Quality of Your Start Will Make or Break Your Race

A good start in a swim meet can mean the difference between a great performance and getting your butt kicked. I saw several decent swimmers lose valuable time by diving too deeply off the starting block and spending too much time underwater. By the time they broke the surface, they were too far behind to compete for the win.

This is similar to the start of the leasing process when prospects search for a new apartment home. Is your apartment community web site SEO optimized so you’re easier to find on Google and Bing? Is it built for show or for conducting business? An apartment community web site built for business enables prospects to lease apartments how they want and when they want by offering online leasing.

Make sure the leasing process has a great start by building community web sites that can be more easily found online by renters and then give prospects tools conduct any part of or the entire leasing process online.

Don’t Underestimate the Value of the Turn

My daughter has not yet perfected her flip turn. During her race not only did she not do a flip turn but actually paused before swimming again, costing her precious time. As in a swim meet, turning over an apartment is an important part of the leasing process. SatisFacts reports that the average cost of turnover is approximately $3,900 per move-out, so it’s important to get it right the first time. By this I mean are your move-in surveys coming back perfect or do you have to fix anything after move in? If you have to perform extra work on a unit after somebody moves in, what message are you sending about the kind of facilities maintenance residents can expect? Don’t underestimate the value of the turn in both dollars and impressions.

Reach Out and Touch the Wall for a Strong Finish

The timer doesn’t stop until the swimmer touches the wall. But there is a right way and a wrong way to finish a race—swimmers must finish strong by touching the wall while maintaining their speed rather than gliding to the wall and lazily stretching out their arm.

In the same way, the leasing process doesn’t really stop when residents sign a lease. There are additional touch points you can add to the leasing process to ensure a strong finish. Let me give you a couple of examples from when I stayed at a Hampton Inn. Touch point number one occurred when I got to my room, where I found a TV tray on my bed with a bottle of water and a bag of CheezIts. The next touch point came a few minutes later when the manager called to ask me not only about my room, but about my satisfaction with check-in process as well. These two human touches left such a lasting impression on me that I’ll certainly look up that hotel if I’m ever in Memphis again. Do you have any human touches that occur after the lease is signed?

Accurate Measurements are Essential

For my daughter’s swim meet, there were no electronic timers attached to the pool walls. Timing was done manually. Each lane had two timers with stopwatches, with the fastest of the two used for the official time. While official, these results are not as accurate as electronic timers. It’s the same thing for measuring the performance of your marketing and advertising sources. If you’re not using a lead management system to monitor and improve the performance of each marketing source, you’re simply treading water.

In fact, I would argue that you should monitor and measure every step in the leasing process: From your marketing sources and web sites to the performances of leasing agents and facilities maintenance professionals. If you’re not tracking and measuring the performance of all the elements in the leasing process, you can’t improve it.

Improve the Process to Improve Results

At the end of the day, my daughter managed to qualify for the regional meet despite having only a week of practice to prepare. After the race, she evaluated her performance and made a list of things to work on prior to the next meet.

Do you approach the leasing apartments as a single process where the number of leads and/or leases is the performance measurement? Or do you evaluate the various steps of the process and work to improve shortcomings in any one area, much like my daughter is doing to improve her swim time?


Contributor, Property Management Insider

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Michael Cunningham is Content Marketing Manager at ProofHQ, and the former Managing Editor of He worked as a social media manager for RealPage, Inc., a provider of on-demand software solutions that integrate and streamline single-family and a wide variety of multifamily rental property management business functions. He is responsible for promoting the company through various media channels, including editorial, print and online advertising, and social media. Michael received his education at Indiana University where he majored in English.

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