This past weekend I was eating at a restaurant in a brand new part of Atlanta where there is currently new developments popping up what seems like every week. The particular area I was at is something that can be found in all major cities, in which it is a development with retail shops/restaurants on the bottom floors of the buildings and residential living located on the upper floors with parking garages located in the center. Being in the industry I always like shopping apartment communities to see what the product looks like, as well as seeing the sales aptitude of the leasing agents and getting a gauge as to whether or not the sales ability is best benefiting the product.
I decided to call the apartment community located in this retail area to not only get an idea of the leasing agents ability they have staffed there, but I was also genuinely interested in seeing how much these particular apartments cost, since it is such an up and coming part of town. The price was what I expected with all that is offered in the area and the leasing agent definitely did her best to sell the apartment, only giving out information after obtaining my basic contact information. The call lasted roughly five minutes and I feel like I spent at least a quarter of the time explaining that I was in no way looking to lease an apartment and was only inquiring about the price, because the area of town was so nice. “I am not looking to move anytime soon, as I am in a lease until next year” was easily stated four or five times. This detail is important to note.
Once the call was over, within the next hour I received a follow-up email from the leasing agent I spoke with thanking me for my inquiry. This was pretty surprising as all I did was call and I did not even visit the community in person. The following morning I received yet another email, but this time from the manager of the community thanking me for my call and roughly ten minutes after this email was received, the leasing agent I spoke with on the phone called to see if I needed anymore information. Therefore, within about 18 hours, I received two emails and one phone call. Two days later another email was in my inbox from the leasing agent and another call was received the evening of the second day. In forty-eight hours there had been three emails and two phone calls. Keep in mind I was a prospect that stated very clearly that I was not looking to move whatsoever and I was still treated as a prospect that was looking to move immediately.
My point in this story of my experience is that this community is a rare example of a place that is extremely proactive in follow-up. The worst thing about this is that we work with apartment communities everyday and it is almost an anomaly to see a community that does this much follow-up, because follow-up with prospects is probably one of the number one basic things that communities fail to do. It may be that most communities do not execute follow-up, because they are afraid to come across as pushy to a prospect, or it could be that follow-up is something that many communities do not view as important. Whatever the reason may be, follow-up is something that needs to be done religiously, such as in the case with the previously mentioned community, and it is something that we actively aim to have our leasing specialists execute each and every day. In not being proactive with follow-up, a community is only hindering itself from a leasing standpoint, because many prospects do not make decisions same day. With the continuous expansion of the industry as developers build more and more apartment communities, consumers are not only beginning to realize they have many apartment communities to choose from, but they are taking advantage of this realization. Therefore if you are a community that does not have an aggressive follow-up system implemented, it is time to make a change, or your occupancy percentage will drastically begin to reflect your ineptitude.