You've Been Shopped, Gainesville Apartments!

Guest post by Jessica Keys, University of Florida Advertising Senior.

So you’ve used various media tactics to get qualified traffic through your door, but now what?  Are your CAs really making the right impression of your community?  Six SwampRentals interns went deep undercover posing as potential student renters at seven apartment communities throughout Gainesville.  We toured the communities, and now we are offering feedback.  We gauged the value of each tour based on eight criteria.

The first half of the criteria had to do with how CAs engaged us throughout the tours.  Overall, we were asked good, relevant questions such as the number of rooms we were looking for, but almost 50% of the communities neglected to ask simple questions such as budget.  Budget is a key influencer for students, especially if they are not relying on their parents to pay the bill.  A good strategy that can be used to remedy this problem is to ask potential leasees what the three most important things are to them in their next apartment.  Throughout the tour, then address the ways in which your community can fulfill theses needs.

Creating a sense of community is an aspect that nearly every property got right, whether it was by having event sign-ups for residents at the front desk or highlighting the media room as a hang out spot.  While creating a sense of community is important, trying to achieve this by taking leasees on group tours is impersonal.  One of our shoppers was clumped into a group, and consequently he did not receive any personal connection.  At the end of the tour, he was pushed aside because others were interested in signing a lease that day.  It is important to remember that all prospects are important regardless of when they are signing.

On the other hand, some CAs got a bit too friendly right off the bat.  For example, when I shopped a community, I asked why they needed my I.D. before I could tour.  The CA said, “We take your I.D. in case you kill me.”  Another CA was quoted as saying, “That s##t is hard,” when talking about the curriculum at the University of Florida.  While these things may be true, saying them to someone who is still formulating an opinion about your community is ill-advised.

The second set of criteria had to do with the actual sale—trying to turn your traffic into leases.  Let’s face it, the terms sale and salesperson have a bad rap.  But “sales” doesn’t have to be a bad word.  By focusing more on how your community can solve problems, you are providing solutions.  Doing this throughout tours, after you have asked the potential renter their priorities can serve as a great way to test-close.  For example, say your potential renter said that having a place outside to relax is important to them.  When you pass your amazing pool say something to the effect of, “You know this is a great place to relax on the weekend.  Plenty of residents take advantage of this area to tan and read.  Do you think you could see yourself relaxing here?”  None of us saw any test-close techniques on our tours, which makes it difficult to actually gauge our interest in your property.  This could also be the reason why none of us were asked to sign a lease after our tours.

Tours are a great way to make people feel like they are right at home.  Overall, on our tours we felt as though we were the audience at a presentation rather than a participant in a conversation about our future.  By recognizing the potential leasees’ priorities immediately, you can address how your community will fulfill those needs.  This creates a great environment for both the CA and the potential renter.  The CA can test close to gauge how the potential leasee feels and more importantly, the renter can ask questions that they may feel uncomfortable about such as smoking habits or disabilities.  Creating a teammate relationship with the goal of fulfilling the potential renters’ needs will help turn your traffic into leases.

See other posts from "Insights from the Inside - A renter's perspective on finding your apartment":

    1. Insights from the Inside – Introduction to our work
    2. Word of Mouth & Social Media for Apartments
    3. Best Practices for Apartments Using an Internet Listing Service (ILS)
    4. Apartment Websites, Apartment Guides & Craigslist
    5. Apartment Reviews & the Upside to Uncertainty
    6. You’ve Been Shopped, Gainesville Apartments!
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