It’s tough to keep a 35 year old property looking great and leased up. But that’s exactly what the property manager for one of our apartment clients in Orlando has been able to do. I’ve been consistently impressed by the quality of her marketing, the overall maintenance of her apartment community, and her high retention rates.
She was kind enough to share 10 of her top apartment leasing ideas with me…
1. Concentrate on customer service. I know that everyone says that they concentrate on customer service, but we really do. That’s the difference.
2. Name a “Resident of the Month.” Each month, we pick a “Resident of the Month” at random. We visit them at work with balloons and a big cake. The cake has the person’s name and a massive logo on it. In addition to making the resident feel really special, it’s also a great marketing opportunity for us. Who do you think helps to eat the cake? Lots of prospective residents!
3. Keep track of birthdays. We use our database to pull a report of birthdays. You’d be surprised at the reaction we get from some of our residents when they come home to find a birthday card on their door. One resident once told me that he “didn’t get a single phone call from [his] friends, but you guys remembered.”
4. Take your preferred employer program a level smaller. Most communities have large employers that they target for traffic. We take it a step smaller… we reach out to the small business community surrounding our property. We offer to flyers for them in our move in packets, and in return, we ask that they distribute our flyers to their employees and customers.
5. Don’t miss a holiday. Holidays put people in a good mood, and decorating for them is a great way to break the ice with residents that walk into your office. Decorate for Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, you name it. We put out candles and candies that match the holiday. We even make sure that the colors of our annuals are in the theme.
6. Use air fresheners. It’s great to hear a prospective resident say “it smells so good in here” when she walks into our clubhouse, model, or her apartment.
7. Stock the kitchen in your model. The first thing that a prospective renter does when they walk into the model’s kitchen is open the refrigerator and the cabinets. Put some bottles of water in the refrigerator, some ice cream in the freezer, and some cookies in the cabinets.
8. Show a vacant unit. After your prospects have seen the model, take them to see the actual unit that they would be renting. You’ll definitely want to make sure that you or your maintenance supervisor has walked the unit ahead of time. This is not something that most apartment managers would be comfortable doing, but it’s a great way to show your prospects how well you keep your community.
9. Work with your owner to keep the property well maintained. Make your pitch during budgeting time. If you wait, you’re just going to hear “it’s not in the budget.” Make sure to gather resident complaints in writing so you have something tangible to present when you’re questioned whether the upgrades are really needed. Also, be prepared when you pitch your ideas for upgrading your apartment community… Gather photos, drawings, and bids ahead of time. Lastly, if you suggest 5 upgrades, you’re only going to get 2. So suggest 50… You’ll get 10.
10. Put together the puzzle pieces. At the end of the day, it’s like a big puzzle. You have to have the right attitude with your residents, your prospective residents, your staff, and even your vendors.