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  Ellis Consulting Group Offers a Blog by Rick Ellis-Our Apartment Consultant

What to Do While You Are in Quarantine...                                                                                         Don't waste this time while your office may be closed!

So much is flying around the internet about preparing for the Coronavirus and how to minimize the risk of contaminating others.  I don't feel compelled to address that important issue.  I will leave that topic to the health experts.

What I can speak to is your productivity and your professional obligations during this challenging time.  Many of us have been banned from the office (or work with the doors locked) or have chosen to self-quarantine while our cities and country wrestle with COVID-19.  Does this mean a temporary hiatus?  Are we done with work for now?



To Shake or Not to Shake...                                                                                                           THAT is the question!

Shaking hands is the quintessential way to greet your rental prospect, right?  Th handshake is the classic sign of professionalism and confidence in the business environment, true?  For many years I have taught the handshake is the sound strategy in welcoming your visitors into your leasing office. 

So why am I suddenly questioning this preferred professional and trust-building practice? 

Coronavirus!  (Oh my!)                                                                                                                 Whether this COVID-19 scare is truly serious or just a mild but massive outbreak, cornavirus has the whole world's attention.  Including our residents and our rental prospects.  Do we refuse to shake hands and possibly come across as rude or ignorant?  Maybe there is an option.

This type of sign is already in use at UCLA Health Center with little issue or concern.  I love the graphic that communicates the message quick and clear.



Handling the Prospect "Put-off"                                                                                                    What to do when the prospect says, "Let me think about it."

So you come to the end of what is a very persuasive leasing presentation.  Everything seems to be clicking.  You and your prospect are communicating well and she is showing buying signals.  There seems to be considerable interest in leasing.  But when you invite this VP - Very Important Prospect - to lwase and move in, you get this response:

"Well, let me think about it." 





"I'm in this with you, Mr./Mrs. Prospect!  You are not on your own."

The rental prospect is NOT a "piece of traffic" as we sometimes refer to them.  Rather, they are a human being seeking one of life's basic needs; shelter.  Last KWIK Tip I introduced the idea of bringing your heart to every leasing presentation.  That is, truly connecting with the people who email, call, and visit your office seeking a new home.

Connecting with heart means recognizing the prospect is involved in an emotional and often stressful decision.  They are trying to find the right place to live.  You want to communicate to your prospect, "You are not alone in this lease trasaction.  I am here for you, too!"


Bring Your Heart to Your Leasing Presentation!                                                                           "I'm in this with you, Mr. & Ms. Prospect!  You are not on your own."

How do you refer to that person to whom you are leasing an apartment?  What do you call them?  Are you leasing to a prospect?  A "piece of traffic"?  An internet lead?  Your next leasing commission?  Those are terms we use to describe that person who we hope to convert from interested party to happy neighbor.  But those words do a poor job defining this individual.

Bring a little heart - make that a LOT of heart - to your leasing presentation by remembering who your prospect is.  They are a human being, coming to you with all of life's joys, challenges, fears, and failures.  And they are looking for one of life's most basic human needs: shelter.  While you may lease several apartments each day, this is a major life decision for this person.  And rent is usually their biggest life expense. 


Do We Target Our Market, Our Potential Renters...  Or Does Our Market Target Us!

Most developers build an apartment community with an idea, usually a definite idea, about a target market.  That is, the community is designed to appeal to a certain type of renter that will most likely lease at the projected rental rates.

This is a best practice and even in our current high demand rental market, it would be foolish to build a product that is purely speculative with no renter in mind. 


Best Strategies for "Outside Marketing"                                                                                        Turning your happy residents into your "outside marketing" team.  And it costs you $0!

Your best outside marketing force may be the very residents who are your biggest fans.  You just need a strategy to utilize their efforts and influence with other potential renters.

Read on to see the four ways you can do this, and the KWIK Tips for using this strategy... 


The Problem with "Outside Marketing"                                                                                         Why advertising flyers at retail business locations Don't work...

Many markets experience a significant downturn in potential rental clients this time of year.  People seem to be less willing to move due to weather, school, schedules, and maybe even lease terms.  In an effort to supplement the drive by, online, and referral traffic, many onsite professionals arm themselves with flyers and posters and hit the street.  We used to call it guerrilla marketing.

The idea is that we canvas  the major employers and other places where out target renters work and play.  If we get out enough, distribute enough flyers, shake enough hands, create enough relationships, surely we will find people that are interested in renting one of our apartments.  Right?


2020 Action List                                                                                                                           Rick's Random Resolutions...for the apartment onsite professional.

I hate New Year Resolutions.  Being a "Monday Lover", I prefer to practice New WEEK Resolutions.  Why wait for a whole year?  You get a do-over to start fresh every week...on Monday.  

Yet, everyone expects a New Year list of suggestions and recommendations to ensure a great next 365 days.  Lest I disappoint, here are Rick's Random Resolutions.. for the apartment onsite professional.  Drum roll please: 


How Do You Answer the Phone?                                                                                                    Record the information on a comprehensive guest card.

Every prospect call is important.  It can coist hundreds of dollars for each telephone rental inquiry.  Take it seriously by asking qiestions about the prospect's real needs and wants, not just their credit-worthiness. 

What if you go on a first date and all that person you meet wants to know is "how much money do you make?" and "what kind of car you drive?"  That's not a good way to start a meaningful relationship. 



How Do You Answer the Phone #3                                                                                                   The converted phone prospect is your BEST prospect!

Some leasing professionals would love to have a dozen walk in prospects a day.  They prefer to have the live and in person interaction with interested prospects.  They feel their physical sales presence is their strength.  Others, typically younger leasing pros, would be delighted to do all their sales business online.  Who needs this face-to-face stuff, anyway?

No doubt that the first contact with apartment rental prospects will continue to be online.  That method of connection will only increase.  Yet, I contend that when the online contact is combined with an engaging phone call, the result is lots more leases!  Why?  Because the onsite prospect you have first spoken to on the phone is pre-qualified to the highest level.  They are practically a sure lease!  Check this out. 


How Do You Answer the Phone in the Office?                                                                               Never give your name in the telephone greeting!

The way you answer the phone sets the tone for your entire telephone presentation.  Unfortunately, too many apartment leasing pros make their greeting sound like an SOS call from a sinking ship!

"Thankoofacallin'                                                                                                                              Sunshinepartments,                                                                                                                        Thisssssuzy,                                                                                                                                     Howkinlhelpya?" 



How Do You Answer the Phone?                                                                                                    Maybe your phone greeting is a bit too much...too fast...too harsh!

So, what do callers first hear when you answer your office phone?  How does your greeting impact the caller, especially a rental prospect?  Does it enhance your sales presentation?  Before you answer that question, does the phone greeting below sound familiar?


Leasing is...Kinda Like Online Dating                                                                                           Enticing your prospect to a commitment

Most of apartment searches begin online, just like a lot of dating pursuits.  Hey, isn't apartments.com our multifamily industry's version of match.com?  Our online prospect is searching for an apartment hookup, right?  We put ourselves out there hoping that the apartment prospect is searching for a "meaningful relationship" that will lead to a long-term commitment. 


Everyone Has a Story...You Better Be Listening                                                                            Leasing is more than   just telling and selling

Every time a prospect emails, calls, or walks into your leasing center, they bring a lifetime of experiences.  Joys, sorrows, health, job histories, adventures, childhood memories, relationships, good stuff and some not so good.  It's kinda complicated.  It's their story.  You need to listen. 




Tone it Down!                                                                                                                                 Controlling the volume in the leasing office...

Leasing is a talent and task that is best practiced with high energy and genuine enthusiasm.  The classic sales personality, typically the best of the best leasers, tends to have a very strong and LOUD delivery.  Is that you?

Avoid creating unneeded chaos and confusion in the leasing office by watching your volume...your voice level. 


Working the Internet Prospect.                                                                                                   The Internet Prospect isa telephone wannabe! 

Studies indicate that up to 80% of apartment prospects use the internet during their search.

Our ILS indusrty friends might have us believe that 100% of apartment seekers go to the internet first and use it exclusively.  I would debate that stat simply from my many years of onsite experience in contract leasing.  I would agree that internet leads are a serious and dominant source of traffic.

While the number of inernet leads is substantial, many still see internet prospects as a lesser type of lead and have to sort through a lot of online submissions to get an onsite visit, much less a move in. 

I think I can Help... 


What Kind of People Live Here?                                                                                                       Innocent inquiry or loaded question?

How often do you get this question: "What kind of people live here?"

It might be an innocent inquiry, but don't be naive.  Often this is code.  The prospect is fishing for information about the color, race, national origin or religion of the people who call your property home.  Information you are not to share according to FHA - Fair Housing Act. 


Daily Self-Evaluation For You & Your Team... Do you deliver? Do others enjoy working with you? 

Working together with your onsite team can be the best part of your job.  There is nothing more rewarding to your property staff than achieving your work goals as a focused and productive team.



I Love Monday's
MONDAY! I sincerely LOVE this day! You can embrace the day as a new beginning; an opportunity to enjoy the challenges of the week; and you choose life. Or you can dread it and start a potentially fulfilling week like a whipped pup; something of a continuation of your slow death. It's your decision. As for me, I choose life. I know it will be a great week!
LEASEMAKERS is a comprehensive leasing and sales seminar that is jam-packed full of the fundamentals that will make your on-site team successful. From telephone skills to securing the lease, LEASEMAKERS highlights the critical components of an effective and productive leasing presentation. Best of all, the seminar promotes Relationship Leasing, a sales style that respects each rental prospect as a person with unique needs and wants; not simply a piece of traffic.
The Resident is NOT the Problem!
Sure the customer is always right...but what about when the customer is not right? The interaction with Residents is one of the biggest stress inducers of many apartment personnel. Demanding residents cause much grief and sometimes burnout of our on-site teams.  Learn how to discern the differences between Resident "problems" and "Problem Residents".  You will learn creative and effective techniques for dealing with both.  Proper response to all Residents not only increase retention but also enhances the on-site professional's effectiveness while reducing employee turnover due to so called "Resident abuse."  
When You Answer The Phone

When you answer the phone....

"STOP . . . What You Are Doing - Be ready to give the caller your full attention.  Stop talking, stop typing on the computer, stop eating, stop laughing.  Give this VIP - Very Important Prospect - your 100% focus and concentration.  As if filming a movie, when the telephone rings, everything else stops.  The director yells "Ready, Set, ACTION!" The clacker comes down with a resounding "crack,” and the camera is rolling!  You're "on," and the telephone prospect is getting all your attention, effort, and concern.

Don't forget the high cost of getting this telephone prospect to call. Considering what you must pay for advertising, the cost to generate a single prospect call can be as much as $300!  This alone warrants your full attention.  More important, the prospect can "feel" when the leasing consultant is not 100% "there."  It’s obvious to the caller when the leasing professional is not giving their all!


“Internet Marketing and Leasing Philosophy” - The Internet is the fastest growing source of new rental prospects for the apartment industry.  It is not a passing fad that will be considered outdated in a few years.  Rather, it will continue to grow as two million new users log on to the Internet every month!  With over 550 million Internet users worldwide, the Internet has become a considerable force in the marketing and sales of products and services of ALL kinds! 



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