July 08, 2020
When meeting the prospective resident for the first time, leasing professionals face (get it?) big challenges when wearing Covid-19 protective masks.
Initial impressions with these residents are crucial for communities trying to win over new prospects and gain that lease.
Toni Blake is a popular speaker, consultant, author and comedienne inspiring thousands of apartment industry professionals. She spoke about how to overcome those challenges during a Webinar Wednesday presentation in June hosted by MultifamilyInsiders.com.
Humanity is defined as a person’s “humanness” or “benevolence,” she says.
“Your humanity is your No. 1 amenity,” Blake says. “Let’s not forget: These days, human contact is a luxury good.”
If prospects are looking for an apartment, and you are on their short list of places to visit, for them, this becomes a process of elimination.
“So, when they first reach out to you, you need to win them over in order to survive and go to the next round,” she says.
“With everyone being required to wear masks because of the pandemic, leasing staff need to find ways to make that personal connection, but it’s hard, because your smile is covered up,” Blake says. “One way to convey warmth and trust is by using a pleasant tone of voice. Use more sign language. Get ready to express yourself with jazz hands when you can."
Even better, Blake says, record some 10-second videos of yourself with your smartphone, expressing thanks for them stopping by or asking them if they need anything else. Include these later that day as a follow-up and it will make a good impression. “This way, again, they can see your face and pleasant personality,” she says.
One easy way to create personal videos is by using a service like Vidyard, which allows anyone (even the technically challenged) to create a share a personalized video with prospective residents.
When following up through email, Blake says to make sure to include an image of your smiling face on the signature line. “Remember: They never got to see the real you,” Blake says.
The community’s website is a great way to enable prospects to get to know the staff by name and by face, whether during Covid-19 or not. Include personal bios (and photos) of all of your onsite staff on your website, she says.
“This way, when prospects come to the community, they will recognize the people who greet them or who enter the leasing office, and they might even know something personal about your team members. This creates a connection on a more personal level.”
Build Trust Through Transparency
Another way to build trust is through transparency about rents and move-out charges, according to a 2020 resident study.
Among the most common complaints prospective residents share about their search process is a lack of transparency in what they will pay for their new apartment home.
One resident surveyed for this report said, “I’d like to get some sense of whether or not the landlord is fair. The security deposit information would help me gauge how fair the landlord is. It’s not make-or-break, but it would help me know.”
Said another, “If all other things were equal, this could be a deciding factor.”