Leasing agents have the most important role in the multifamily industry. They're the only point of contact for prospective residents, and are responsible for converting prospects into residents at your community.
For leasing agents to thrive, they need to have the trust of their superiors. Managers need to serve as their mentors, and find opportunities to offer the guidance and encouragement they need to help them close more leads. Establishing this rapport is needed now more than ever, especially considering that 1 out of every 3 leasing agents resign each year. Their expectations are burdensome.
Property managers can see for themselves how their agents are performing on a day-to-day basis. Regional managers, who aren't on-site, have to rely on numbers to gauge an agent's performance—but that data may not tell the whole story.
A great way for managers to begin mentoring leasing agents is to learn more about their strengths and weaknesses, and assess areas where slight adjustments can make a significant difference. This can be done by maximizing these four leasing metrics:
- Average Call Duration
- Lead-to-Lease Conversion Rate
- Time Span From Move-Out to Rental Application Received
- Time Span from Rental Application Received to Move-In
We'll explain how each of these metrics accurately measure a leasing agent's performance, and reveal the areas in which managers can help them improve.
Average Call Duration
It's really important that your company utilizes call tracking software. We use Twilio for our clients, who can see all the data from each phone call a property receives in the RentVision Platform. This software allows you to count the number of calls received, call duration, and even listen to recordings of conversations—all great ways to gain insight to how your agent's are handling these critical interactions.
Keep in mind that while a phone call may signal the first official interaction a prospect has with a member of your leasing staff, it is often not their first impression of your apartments—they've done enough research ahead of time before officially declaring their interest. This is why evaluating phone conversations is key, as you're dealing with highly qualified leads.
Average Call Duration, in particular, can help you learn a lot about how these interactions fare. Longer conversations are indicative of a successful call. (However, if your occupancy is good, phone calls may be shorter in duration because there's little availability). If you feel that most of your leasing agent's conversations are too short, however, they may inadvertently be causing these great leads to slip. This presents a good opportunity to continue training your staff for how to properly handle phone calls.
Listen to these conversations, and ask yourself the following questions:
- Did your agent attain vital contact information?
- Did your agent engage and ask follow-up questions?
- Did your agent initiate and schedule an in-person showing?
- Did your agent create urgency?
You should be saying yes to all four. Unfortunately, it's common for leasing agents to stop the call from going any further once they've gotten contact information. What is the value of having a person's contact info if there's no further action planned with it? Remember, if someone is calling your office, they're usually ready to tour or possibly sign. Great phone conversations drive this process.
Lead-to-Lease Conversion Rate
Simply put, good leasing agents convert a higher percentage of leads to leases.
So if you don't feel like your agents are converting as frequently as you need them to, start with evaluating their phone conversations because they'll bring most shortcomings to the light. If phone calls aren't moving prospects towards taking the next step, you know there's one area you can begin to coach and improve them on.
The next thing to look at, especially if you're an on-site manager, is the method of communication your agents are using the most. Email conversations not only slow leasing velocity, but they also convert at a much lower rate. The teaching point here is to encourage the prioritization of phone conversations over email or instant messaging.
Finally, take a holistic view at your lead-generating marketing channels (community website, digital advertisements, listings, etc). If you're getting a lot of leads but very few leases, you have a leasing problem. Now, that's not necessarily an 'agent' problem as you could have other issues such as too high of rental prices. But, again, great leasing agents close more than others. If they're not closing enough, it's worth further evaluating leasing performance. The Lead-to-Lease Conversion Rate metric is helpful in discovering the existence of a problem.
Time Span From Move-Out to Rental Application Received
The next two metrics—Time Span From Move-Out to Rental Application Received, and Time Span From Application Received to Move-In—are most influenced by your leasing agents. Ideally, property management companies want these two time spans to be as short as possible to meet and sustain occupancy targets, which requires your agents to operate at their peak, too.
Your latest leasing data will show the average amount of days that transpired between when somebody moved out of a unit, and a rental application was received for it. If you feel yours is too high, set a goal for a shorter time span that you believe your leasing staff can achieve—and then make that the only goal your leasing agents focus on.
Why is this? Remember, leasing agents have a lot of pressure on them. If the only performance metric you're evaluating leasing agents by is whether or not they're hitting your annual target occupancy, they will consistently fail because there's not a daily actionable attached to such a number.
By telling a leasing agent you want them to get an application for a unit within 'x' days of a move-out, you're providing them a tangible goal they can attack now. Narrowing their focus towards quickening the amount of time it takes for them to get an application after a move-out will increase your leasing velocity (and build their confidence, too).
Time Span from Rental Application Received to Move-In
Leasing agents can work hard to shorten the time span it takes to receive an application for a newly-available unit, but if it takes awhile for that applicant to actually sign a lease and become a resident, that effort is all for naught. The higher you want your occupancy to be, the quicker you'll need residents to actually move-in to those vacant units.
That's why shortening these two time spans, again, should be stressed as your leasing agents top priorities. Managers need to be performance enablers rather than performance judgers—especially when it comes to shortening the time span between when an application is received and move-in day. By mentoring agents and coaching them on how to properly handle phone conversations or in-person tours, you're helping them improve on all the critical points that occur leading up to move-in day.
That's just the first step. Here's two other ways managers can assist their leasing agents in decreasing that amount of time:
1. If a resident isn't going to be able to move-in right away after signing their lease, instruct leasing agents to rent them an occupied on notice unit that won't move-out for awhile.
This tactic is a win-win for both leasing agents and the company overall. The agent doesn't have to worry about the time span because it's essentially been eliminated, plus your revenue won't take a hit.
2. Set a policy for how long a unit can be held.
You're hamstringing your leasing agents by letting prospects influence the time span between sending in an application, signing a lease, and their move-in date. Setting a policy for how long a unit can be held gives the leverage back to your team, allowing them to reach their peak leasing velocity and improve their overall performance, too.