With apartment occupancy rates at the highest level in 20 years, averaging more than 96 percent across the country, prospective renters often struggle to find a readily available unit at their preferred property that meets their needs. They end up languishing on a waitlist while they hunt online for other options.
Don’t let those valuable leads go to waste. With the right technology and approach, your property leasing teams can leverage quality online lead information to find another great property for the prospect to consider, or nurture the lead in a personalized way so they remain engaged and interested in your brand while they wait on standby.
“We focus on providing the best experience for our customers when we do not have the availability they are in search of,” says Jenny Richard, director of marketing at Gene B. Glick Company, one of the largest privately held U.S. real estate management and development firms. “This allows us to better understand their wants and needs, and creates a warm connection to a sister community or we can add them to the waitlist, depending on their needs.”
Get to know waitlist prospects
Keep occupancy rates up and steady across your multifamily property portfolio by proactively targeting those prospects who want to live at your apartment communities but can’t get in right away. Steer interested renters toward comparable properties that still check all of their “top priority” boxes. If they still choose to wait, keep them engaged with an automated lead nurturing solution and targeted digital marketing strategies. The trick is identifying what’s most important to each individual renter on the list.
Your website should deliver insights into what factors rank as most important in a prospect’s apartment search, such as location or certain amenities, how far into the future they’re looking to lease, and what’s motivating the move. As website visitors engage with interactive quizzes and online leasing tools, they volunteer valuable personal information that leasing specialists can use to the property’s advantage.
“Our website provides us with what’s important to our customers to help better engage with their upcoming and future desires, such as preferred neighborhood, budget, floor plan layout, and hobbies or activities they enjoy,” Richard says.
Understand the various moving circumstances of the prospects on your property’s waitlist and you’re likely to discover a segment of renters motivated to move quickly, who will be much more open to alternative apartment communities your leasing team suggests. If they’re on a tight deadline and must sign a lease soon, show them other options at your nearby communities that offer the same favorite features as their top apartment pick.
“There’s never a one-size-fits-all solution,” says Catherine Azar, director of property management at Barratt Asset Management, based in Indianapolis. “We want to provide them with the information they want and answers they need—finding out things about them, like ‘Why are you moving?’ and in a conversational way, so that we can get all of this data.”
Leverage automation, video tours
As an AI-driven website collects details on consumers that leasing specialists can rely on later when following up with those interested renters, the smart software also helps the prospects narrow down the apartments that meet their main requirements. If a popular apartment community in your portfolio reaches high occupancy levels, property managers can adjust the website’s algorithm to direct more prospects toward a different yet similar sister property through their search results.
“That’s one great thing that’s just been a huge success for us,” Azar says of adding AI technology to the property website. “People are able to immediately log on and say ‘I want this, I want that, and I want to be close to here. This is what’s important. I have a dog, so I need to be close to a dog park.’ Then they’re able to see an apartment home pop up that would work best.”
Videos and personalized virtual tours are another way to get wait-listed prospects interested in another property you manage. Using the online lead data, leasing specialists can determine a prospect’s top priorities and reasons for moving, and then create customized, quick videos with a personal voiceover to highlight those aspects at another apartment community.
Sometimes, they have to see it to believe it; otherwise, renters may ignore your gentle push toward a secondary option with lower occupancy. They’ll also know your team truly cares enough to make a video just for them and understands what’s driving their decision. Azar says such personalized interaction provides prospects some comfortability when handing over private life details and begins to build trust in the property.
“We can send pictures and videos to the customer. It’s a game changer,” says Azar, who also utilizes FaceTime and Facebook to have more personal two-way conversations with leasing applicants. “If they were wanting a specific unit, send them a video to show them ‘Look what else I have.’ It’s completely tailored to what they’re looking for.”
For those adamant prospects who have the time to wait on their preferred apartment unit, an automated lead nurture campaign can ensure your brand stays at the top of their list. Leads in your CRM can automatically filter into the property’s email drip campaign and be personalized based on the data they provided while on the website.
Automated, scheduled-out emails or text messages build value by sending prospects additional information related to their goals, including other properties they might consider. Such communication can also drive prospects back to the website for helpful online leasing tools as they prepare to move.
Richard says Gene B. Glick Company uses the prospect profile data and detailed analytics they receive through their marketing cloud to optimize all of their digital marketing assets. The marketing team can identify market-specific trends in amenities and commonly searched keywords, and adjust digital advertising campaigns to drive more traffic to a property where they want to increase occupancy. They use the prospect data to retarget leads through a variety of online channels.
“We leverage email drip campaigns, PPC ads, text, and retargeting to keep our customers engaged for future availability,” Richard says.
Author Kristy Esch is a marketing director at PERQ