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Renter Behavior is Changing, is your leasing office?

In fall of 2017, Apartminty surveyed over 1100 renters between the ages of 18-40. The results speak to a significant shift in customer behavior, and we are thrilled to be diving into the data! One of the most astounding facts, Sixty-three percent of renters know the exact apartment number they are interested in and the price. They aren’t coming into the leasing office for square footage and pricing information. They come to tour to make sure the apartment online matches reality. And they want to be sure that the service they will receive is up to their expectations.

We also learned how leasing offices are losing customers

“My worst experience was due to a long wait to speak to a leasing consultant.
While waiting no one acknowledged me.”

Victoria J.
Renter Survey Respondent

“I had appointments with leasing offices, and they ran very late – I was left waiting in the lobby of the building for up to 30 minutes with no explanation, and a meager apology once I was finally seen. It was especially frustrating since I made an appointment in the first place. My thought is, if they treat you like this when they should be trying to impress you, how badly will they treat you once you commit to a 12-month lease and they have you locked in?”

Joe A.
Renter Survey Respondent

Far and above, the most frequent complaint was that the office made them wait even when the prospect had an appointment. What does that mean for the typical leasing office? We all know in property management nothing is predictable and Murphy’s Law seems to rule our sites. So more often than not, there will be a fire {sometimes literally} five minutes before your scheduled appointment. We need to have the equipment in place to keep the waiting prospect comfortable and feeling productive. If you are lucky enough to have a concierge or an admin, they should be trained to have a pleasant conversation. Seriously…there are very few things more uncomfortable than sitting in a room with another human that is ignoring you.

It goes further than just the wait time. Our renters are indeed looking to connect with the building staff where they are choosing to live for the next 12-48 months. A lack of interest from your team will not go unnoticed.

“They seemed completely disinterested in working with us or showing us anything. They didn’t explain their process well and didn’t take the time to look to see if they had more options in our price range. We looked at one apartment ‘kind of like’ what we were interested in and then left.”

Bethany F.
Renter Survey Respondent

Forty-six percent will choose not to rent if they have a lousy leasing experience. Again, price and location are important, but chances are, you aren’t the only building on the block. And our informed prospect can get that information if they didn’t have it already. In fact, one-in-three renters said, after price and location, the treatment by the leasing office staff is the most critical deciding factor for their leasing decision.

While we all know that Centennials and Millennials are far too broad of an audience to be an actual target segment, it is essential to acknowledge the shift in behavior that is driven by their use of technology.   And the younger generations are far more adept with the technology since they’ve never known the world without it. We understand millennials to be digital natives. But it’s not just that they are tech natives, it’s that they are tech dependent. They are not going to take a sales person’s word for it. They do their research before they show up and will double-check any information you give them. And if your leasing agents’ answers don’t match, or worse, they don’t know the answer at all; your leasing agent will lose the sale.

“The man touring us at another building was great but didn’t know much about the building or application process and his boss wasn’t available. Thus we didn’t rent an apartment even though we paid a fee for background checks.”

Kyoko F.
Renter Survey Respondent

Centennials were born both digital and global. They are no longer just shopping what’s in their local stores; they can get anything they want from anywhere in the world. And typically it’s delivered to their door in two days hours. It’s going to take a lot of style, uniqueness, and service to catch their eye and capture their loyalty.

Forty percent went to five or more websites before setting foot in the apartment leasing office. They already have all the information to make their renting decision at their fingertips. As a sales professional, what you need to provide them with is an incredible experience. They already know your ApartmentRatings.com score, the average price of your apartments, what amenities you have and how far you are from the closest metro. What they don’t know is how you will make them feel.

And while how you will make them feel is extremely important, how they will feel showing their friends, family, and significant others their new home is doubly as important. And by ‘show’ we mean through a series of Snapchat or Instagram stories. Your job as a salesperson is to demonstrate how many opportunities there are to connect with their neighbors. And how your community will elevate their lifestyle and their status.

Lest we forget, the tour and leasing experience doesn’t end when the prospect exits the building. If you want to stay competitive, your follow-up policies and marketing automation absolutely have to continue to deliver on the experience you’ve promised.

“Worst apartment experience – lease agent seemed friendly but ignored all follow-up requests (phone calls, emails, etc.) Finally just gave up and moved to a different building.”

Michael D.
Renter Survey Respondent

If you want to keep up in a crowded market, it’s time to make sure you are evaluating your leasing offices and your leasing team for the experience they deliver, not just the information they present.

Also published on Medium.

About The Author

Holli

Not one to settle for status quo, Holli has spent her 15 year career shaking up the multifamily industry. From creating unheard of building amenities to designing lounge-like leasing centers, to major Pinterest fails in the kitchen, she is ever experimenting. It’s no surprise that she created a new way to match apartment renters with their perfect home. Holli is a featured speaker and session facilitator at regional and national industry conferences. When she’s not brainstorming the next marketing campaign, you can find Holli testing the limits of bottomless brunch or beating her boyfriend at Jeopardy.

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