Have you stopped and asked yourself lately, what do my prospects feel when they tour my community? The Multi-family Housing Industry never stops, and most days are hectic. However, we can never forget the true purpose of the industry: helping prospects find the right apartment home they need.
You may have heard of the famous American psychologist, Abraham Maslow, and his Hierarchy of Needs theory. In short, this theory is based on certain needs that must be met by an individual in order to motivate them to do something. Day in and day out we see prospects come into our communities. We know these prospects are all different, but they are also alike in many ways. Many times, prospects ask the same questions about price, reputation, safety, amenities, etc. Have you ever stopped to think in-depth about why they may be asking these questions? The Hierarchy of Needs could certainly be the answer to that question. Let’s start with the first tier on the pyramid:
1. Psychological Needs
“Food, Water, Warmth Rest” (McLeod). Don’t think of these needs in a literal sense. We will be changing the meaning of Maslow’s original theory to a system that better fits the apartment industry.
- Food and water- Yes, people need these things, but where will they go to get them? It is going to be up to the leasing professional to know the surrounding area of their site. Restaurants, bars, and entertainment are all great to know for prospects visiting from other cities. Think of the local places that your team and residents like to frequent! Familiarize yourself with locally-owned places and those that cater to vegans, GF, etc.
- Most leasing professionals focus solely on the apartments but don’t provide information on the surrounding area. Prospects may love the apartments; now get them to love the area. Instead of saying we are close to here and here, give specifics – we are .5 miles from the grocery store (name) and .8 miles to the neighborhood shops and restaurants.
- Warmth and rest- One way to ensure the warmth and rest need is achieved is by handling all maintenance requests promptly (if possible). Empower your maintenance team to meet the residents and engage in conversations. People tend to be more understanding and patient with people they know and like.
- Countless times we see comments like, “I have waited (insert time here) for my (insert request here) to be fixed and still haven’t seen or heard anything from the maintenance staff at my site.” Easy way to solve this? Communication! Let your residents know what’s going on. Don’t leave them in the dark!
- Set a time out each day to reach out to all residents with maintenance issues. Give them live updates. Let them know you have things under control. Residents will appreciate these simple gestures.
- Last but not least, make your tour route spotless! Prospects will make up their minds quickly about the community. Don’t let that small piece of trash, dog dropping, or dead tree limb misrepresent your property. Keep it clean!
“Achieving one’s full potential” (McLeod). The first big step in the process for prospects is making the decision to lease somewhere.
- For this need, think of “The best bang for your buck!”
- You have to make your apartments better than the other 20 million apartments out in the industry. If they have too many options, they won’t be nearly as inclined to make a decision. Get them to commit when they are at your site!
- We have a responsibility to help aid them in the apartment search. You have to bring them to their own conclusion of “Wow, this is the perfect apartment for me!” They ultimately have to make the decision, but you have to help them get there.
- Knowledge is power and power is key. Know your community and the competitors, and you can easily achieve this need for all prospects.
3. Love Belonging
“Intimate Relationships, Friendships” (McLeod). Do you even know your prospects? Do you know their names and address them by their names?
- Build trust and rapport with all prospects as soon as they walk into the community. Trust is built through listening, eye contact, and positive verbal and nonverbal cues. If they don’t trust you or don’t feel close to you, why would they lease there?
- You HAVE TO find out your prospect’s interests. It’s hard to sell an apartment if you don’t know who you are selling to or what they like. It is IMPOSSIBLE!
- Resident events are great for residents, but what about your prospects? If they don’t feel welcomed or they don’t feel like they belong, they won’t lease. Invite them to community events. Plan things specifically for your prospects. Make them feel welcomed from the second they gain interest in your community (i.e. write their names on a chalk board when they come in for a tour, invite them to community events to mingle with residents and staff, take pictures with them in the community and post to your social media accounts, etc.)
- Building rapport with prospects can also help eliminate those negative management reviews.
“Security, Safety” (McLeod). We have all heard the “Sooooo is it safe here?” question. More importantly, how do you answer that?
- You cannot guarantee anyone’s safety. Crime has no boundaries. However, listing the things you do have in place for safety can make them feel a little more comfortable (i.e. key fob entry, controlled access gates, courtesy officers, well-lit hallways, etc.)
- Here are a few phrases we like to use – “We don’t keep crime statistics on file, but the local police station can answer any questions you may have.” or “Everyone who lives here is qualified to live here and goes through the same application process.”
- Know where the local hospitals, police stations, and fire houses are located. Prospects may not ask, but you still need to know these details.
- Don’t ignore their concerns. If you do, they may not bring them up again, but they will continue to think about their concerns.
The big picture here is to stop and think about your prospect. So many leasing professionals see prospects as dollar signs or just another lease they need to get to reach occupancy. Instead, challenge yourself to see the prospect as who they really are – someone looking for a place to live. It is your duty to find the right place for them. Take your apartments from being good for everyone to perfect for one person!
McLeod, S. A. (2018, May 21). Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. Retrieved from https://www.simplypsychology.org/maslow.html
Walter, Caitlin S. “Quick Facts: Apartment Stock.” NMHC, National Multifamily Housing Council, Oct. 2018, www.nmhc.org/research-insight/quick-facts-figures/quick-facts-apartment-stock/.