Teams That Follow Up Win

Through the 19 years I have been active in the multifamily industry, on both the property management and supplier side, I have been fortunate to be part of organizations which challenged me often with changing roles and markets. My growth as a leader has been based on finding ways to overcome the challenges.

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On this journey, I discovered that the key to leadership success is the teams we build:

Surround yourself with a team of talented, self-motivated individuals who are creative and possess the drive to be the very best.

Empower them to make it happen.

Make sure the objectives and goals are clearly communicated to the whole team.

Hold them accountable to achieve the goals.

No matter what business we are in, there will always be obstacles to success. Successful people understand that their job is to work around them. The most successful see an obstacle as an opportunity, not as a threat. Often, they capitalize on a situation by creatively overcoming what’s in their way.. Our success as leaders depends on building teams of these talented people and motivating them to overcome all obstacles.

For the past eleven years I’ve been with For Rent Magazine, a company whose passions and philosophies for success I share. As marketing partners to multifamily, we understand the obstacles to our customer’s success and provide the tools and services to help them overcome. Our customers, both the advertisers and the prospective resident, are sophisticated and expect the very best service and tools to help them lease apartments.

Since 2001 we’ve seen drastic changes in Apartment Market conditions nationwide. The boom of high occupancies has come to an abrupt halt. The years Apartment professionals enjoyed low vacancies, substantial rental increases and even had paid waiting lists to lease apartments are over. The job of the property manager and leasing professional is much more challenging in 2003.

Declining occupancies is the now issue and now is the time for the true Apartment Professional to standup, get back to basics and deliver value. Now is the time, because while local markets do vary, economists are predicting the current occupancy levels will not begin to recover until late 2004. Current market conditions require us to be more competitive and get back to the basics.

A knee jerk reaction by some to a soft market is to offset the fall in revenue by cutting back on their marketing and advertising investment. This is a reaction that was presented to William Wrigley, the Chewing Gum Baron, during the bleakest days of the great depression. Wrigley and his accountant were riding in his private railroad car at the back of a train roaring from Chicago to Los Angeles. The accountant told Wrigley he could offset his drop in revenue by cutting back on his advertising.

“If you stop advertising today, people will still buy,” the accountant explained.

“Get the Conductor!” Wrigley told the accountant, “I want him to uncouple us from the train.”

“Why would you do that?” asked the accountant.

“Don’t worry we’ll keep moving after we’ve uncoupled,” explained Wrigley.

“Not for long!” exclaimed the accountant.

“You mean we need something to pull us?” asked Wrigley.

“Yes!” the worried accountant shouted.

“Like the train, our chewing gum needs our advertising to pull it too!” Wrigley explained.

It’s an old story that asks a vital question: How will you keep prospects coming through the door if you disconnect the drive that gets them there?

The current market conditions inevitably cause property managers to reevaluate marketing and advertising strategies. It’s simply smart business to do so. Just like everything else, we need to make advertising and marketing work harder in rough times. For Rent Magazine recognized this as our call to step up to the plate, be creative and make our customers job easier. How could we help you drive more traffic and leases?

For apartment professionals the goal of advertising is to produce traffic. Unfortunately, this is not as easy as prospects walking in the door with a checkbook in hand ready to lease. Only one fifth of all foot traffic just shows up at your leasing center. The fact is 80% of prospects that visit your community call first. Today’s average prospect calls twelve communities and visits five. The initial phone contact is what will make them chose to consider your community over your competition. To get the most out of your advertising today, you have to get the most out of the phone leads your advertising generates.

Telephone to foot traffic conversion requires basic phone conversation skills and follow up from the leasing professionals. The national average telephone to foot traffic conversion is 38%. The winning leasing teams, those who do not settle for average, will sell the value of their community and follow up on phone leads striving for a 50% conversion rate.

In today’s market, with today’s technology, everyone who responds to your advertising deserves a follow up call. That is why For Rent Magazine introduced Current Audio Tracking System (C.A.T.S.) to the industry in early 2002. C.A.T.S. is the state of the art lead management system. As the market softened, we recognized that our advertisers needed a tool to make the most of their leads and help them generate more leases.

Every For Rent Magazine advertiser is provided with a unique toll free number that directly connects to the leasing office. There are several features of C.A.T.S. that make the property manger’s life easier. First, when the leasing professional answers the call they hear a prompt or whisper feature, “Another lead from For Rent Magazine” telling them that this is their opportunity to sell their community and get that appointment. Second, the phone number is tracked for every lead and we are able to capture the name and address of the prospect from more than 50% of the leads. Finally, this information can be accessed on the Internet for tracking and follow-up purposes.

These tools can help make your leasing and management team overcome the soft market and continue winning. Leasing teams and management companies who take the time to follow-up on phone leads by calling prospects from the C.A.T.S. leads out perform their competitors. The most successful teams schedule an hour at the end of the day for their leasing professionals to call the missed calls, no shows and confirm appointments.

Winners won’t settle for market averages. Winners seek to beat the odds, overcome the obstacles, and use soft markets as an opportunity to show off their skills. We’ve provided the tools for your team to follow up on phone leads and jump right over the vacancy hurdle. Clearly, in this market the team that follows up wins.

Author: Judy Gogol