When it comes to leasing apartments, it is an understood fact that there are going to be circumstances that will keep your prospects from being able to lease the first time they come into your community. They may be the type of consumer that truly does their research before they make any financial decisions, they might like to discuss things over with a friend first, or maybe they just are not looking to move until well in the future. Once it is identified a prospect is not going to lease the same day, at that point the leasing agent should begin plotting how they are going to utilize follow-up in their favor to get that prospect to lease in the future.
Follow-up is just as, if not even more so, important than generating new traffic for your community. Someone that has toured your community is essentially your hottest lead at the point they walk out of your community and should receive close attention from that point forward. You may or may not have done anything directly to get the prospect to your community, but after you have had the opportunity to meet with them, it is your job to make sure they do not forget you. I am still blown away by the fact that there are still leasing agents in the industry that do not do follow-up at all! If you are not doing follow-up, you are literally letting potential residents slip through the cracks. In fact, as an industry average, nearly 40% of prospects are still not receiving any form of follow-up after their first visit! This is a statistic that should be drastically lower and in order to ensure your prospects are not included in this percentage, here are five routes you can use for follow-up:
1. Phone Call- Every single prospect you deal with should receive a follow-up phone call within 24 hours of their visit, regardless of when they are looking to move. If the prospect is looking to move very soon, then you should get straight to the point in the call and ask them if they are still interested in the apartment you showed them. We want the prospect to understand the urgency at hand and that the apartment could potentially be leased if they do not make their decision soon. If the prospect is looking to move a little further down the road, then the call can proceed with the leasing agent simply thanking them for visiting and the agent would be in touch to keep the prospect updated on availability as it gets closer to their desired move-in date. If you are unable to get the prospect on the phone the first time you call, re-calendar the next call based upon their move-in date and attempt to call at a different time of day than you did the first call.
2. Email- Each prospect you work with should receive their first follow-up email immediately after their tour concludes. Most people receive email on their phones now, so there is no better time to send your email then right when the prospect walks out the door. Just think how great of an impression this would make if your prospect receives your follow-up email when they are touring your closest competitor. The email should be brief, ideally not a copy and pasted email and should mention a few things specifically about their tour. It does not take a long time to write an email, so personalize it and PLEASE proofread your email before sending.
3. Thank You Note- Sending your prospect a HAND-WRITTEN thank you note is something that will truly make your community stand out and memorable. This method of follow-up is often viewed as outdated, but can be very effective, because more than likely none of your competitors will be doing this. Plus, this form of follow-up is something the prospect will receive a few days down the road after they have potentially shopped your competitors, so this will simply remind them of your community as they are potentially making their decision. A hand-written thank you note should be a few lines, should be personalized and you should send this out the same day, if possible, as the prospect’s tour.
4. Text Message- Utilizing text message as a form of follow-up is something that has come about as one of the more effective means to reach out to your prospect solely due in part to the open success rate of a text message. An email open rate is typically hovering around 20%, whereas the open rate of a text message is usually around 98%! If you plan on utilizing text message for follow-up, make sure you have either specifically asked your prospect if you can follow-up with them via this method, or make sure you have it posted on information you provide to prospects that you may text them in the future. I would recommend specifically asking them, because you definitely do not want to make a prospect accrue an increase in their phone bill due to your texting follow-up.
5. Visit- When it comes to a personalized follow-up, there is nothing that needs to be used more carefully than visiting a prospect at work. This is oftentimes viewed as a means of follow-up that can be intrusive, or awkward, which it definitely can be, unless the rapport was built with the prospect. If you have a prospect you built a great relationship with that also just so happens to work at one of the larger businesses in the area, then visiting the business to drop-off lunch courtesy of your community can be a great door opener to potentially getting numerous leases on top of getting the original prospect to lease. The idea behind this form of follow-up is showing you are a community that goes above and beyond of what should be expected and you are also a community that wants to take care of its residents and future residents.
Follow-up should be incorporated into the daily routine of a leasing agent. Any periods of down time where the phones are not ringing and there are not a lot of appointments scheduled, should be filled with proactive follow-up. In executing follow-up we are not just trying to get the prospect back into our community doors, but we are also doing everything possible to secure a connection with these individuals we have worked with before. We want these prospects to see that we are a community that goes the extra mile to show our future residents we are genuinely interested in finding them their new home and that we would love for that new home to be at our community.