Did you know the average prospective renter requires 12-18 interactions with your apartment community before signing a lease?
An interaction may include visiting your community website, seeing an advertisement, or calling your leasing office.
Oftentimes, the interactions that make or break a resident's leasing experience are the human-to-human interactions with your leasing staff.
That's why the efforts of your on-site leasing teams are still so critical to your entire operation. They must be excellent communicators at every interaction point during the typical apartment search process.
Follow along for insights on how leasing agents should handle phone conversations, showings, and follow-up—to help them nurture more prospective residents from "love it" to "lease it."
How to talk to renters over the phone in a leasing call
Answer the call!
Everyone knows that when a prospective resident goes out of their way to call your leasing office, they represent your most qualified lead! But for some reason, leasing teams still struggle to answer phone calls to the office. When last checked, our own clients' data showed leasing teams were only answering 61% of phone calls during business hours!
So the first and obvious step is to answer the phone, and from there, take that opportunity to provide excellent customer service while laying out the steps that lead to the prospect ultimately signing a lease. Here's how you should start the conversation after answering the call:
🚫 Don't Say
✅ Do Say
Thank you for calling "your community name," this is "your name." How can I help you?
You: Thank you for calling "your community name," this is "your name." Who am I speaking with?"
Them: Hi, this is Bob.
You: Great, Bob, what can I help you with today?
This is a simple way to get a first and possibly last name without jogging the conversation.
Usually, the next part of the conversation revolves around answering questions the prospect may have about your apartments, specifically about the floorplan they're most interested in.
Of course, it would be best if your community website was the first place prospects could get key information, such as price and availability, and see photos and videos of the floorplan they want.
But when they request information over the phone, you should use that as a chance to create urgency.
✅ Do Say
"This is one of our most popular floorplans."
"We only have a few of those units left."
Phrases like those build up the value of the floorplan and prompt prospects forward through the leasing process.
Gather the prospect's contact information.
After answering questions considerately and driving urgency, focus on gathering their contact information to enter into your CRM (customer resource management) and then follow up with the prospect as required.
🚫 Don't Say
You: Is there anything else that I can help you with today?
Phrases like these unintentionally close the conversation. If you reach this point, it'll be hard to regain control and continue to move the prospect through the leasing process.
✅ Do Say
You: Bob, how do you spell your last name
Them: (Spells last name for you)
You: Great, and your number is?
Them: (gives you their number)
You: And the best email to reach you at is?
Phrasing is important here. It is much harder for someone to refuse to give you their number when asked, "And your number is?" as opposed to "Can I have your number?" Also, ask for the "best" email to reach them to get their most used email.
Set the appointment.
Setting the appointment to show a prospect a unit is the number one objective of any leasing phone conversation.
A great tactic at this stage of the phone call is asking "either/or" questions. By giving someone an either/or question, it is pressing them to choose one of two options that you provide. In this way, you can steer the conversation in a direction that you desire.
🚫 Don't Say
✅ Do Say
You: What time were you thinking of coming in?
You: Were you thinking about coming in sometime later today,
When you ask an open-ended question like the one above, you have no control over what the other person says. They can say things like "I'm not really sure; I'll have to get back to you," or "We are just looking right now."
But when you ask an either/or question, it steers the prospect toward two options that both include a plan for touring your community.
Now some people may say, "I am not available today or tomorrow." That's okay. Continue to ask either/or questions until there's a day that works for the prospect to visit. Then, start to narrow down the time with the same technique.
Video: How to Handle a Leasing Call
How to communicate to renters during in-person tours
Non-verbal communication matters.
It's not just about how good of a 'talking' salesperson a leasing agent can be. Excellent communication with a prospective renter is non-verbal, too, and one of the best ways to send a message to a prospective resident is to be fully prepared for their appointment.
What does preparation from a leasing agent's standpoint look like?
- It's making sure you know every detail of the unit—and not just the standard information. Every unit has features, updates, and other unique details, so you can't just focus on the floorplan-level information when talking to prospects. You need to know the unit-level details.
- Not just ensuring that the unit is ready for showing, but also that you're ready, too—that you're standing by for the prospect to arrive so you can greet them warmly and with a smile in the leasing office at the time of their appointment.
These non-verbal cues are a meaningful way of communicating to prospective residents visiting your community for the first time that their apartment search is as important to you as it is to them, and that they will likely have a positive experience living at your community as a result.
Do less talking.
Speaking of non-verbal communication...
Doing less talking during the in-person showing is an excellent tactic for improving your closing rate.
Let the prospects explore the space for themselves. In most cases, they have seen some visual content of the unit, floorplan, and property already online, and their intent for taking a tour is to confirm they liked what they saw.
When the prospect guides the tour and asks questions, they're more likely to sign a lease.
Call out unit amenities and upgrades.
As stated earlier, no two units are the same, even if they're in the same floorplan type. Each has unique amenities (or differentiators) that prospects are only aware of if you call them out.
One scenario where this can play out is if the unit has had recent renovations. Imagine how a prospect might react if you called out that the unit just had new, top-of-the-line wood flooring installed—details like those matter.
How to communicate to renters after tours
The most critical interaction in the leasing process occurs after a tour (or appointment). If everything goes well, the prospect may sign that day.
But, understandably, they may need more time to consider their decision because it's such a life-changing, financially impactful choice to rent an apartment. When this happens, leasing agents can keep their apartments in an advantageous position by promptly sending a follow-up email to the prospect after the showing.
If you're using a CRM, you can create email templates ready to send to the prospect with crucial details, including price, availability, and visual content (more on that next) so they have a reminder of the apartment features that led them to your property in the first place.
Leverage the visual content of your apartments.
In follow-up communication with prospective residents, using your community's photo and video content is vital. You want to use this critical touchpoint to remind the prospect of what your apartments offer and, more importantly, allow them to share that content with other stakeholders (roommates, parents, friends, etc.).
The more you can get those other stakeholders to trust that your apartments are the right fit, the more likely you'll close the deal.
Continue to drive action.
Handle the messaging in your post-tour communication like a phone call—drive action by moving prospects closer to signing a lease. Make it easy for them to take the next step. Include the link for your online application, if you have one, or attach a pdf of your paper application that they can print.
Phone Communication Tips:
- Answering leasing calls promptly is crucial, as it represents your most qualified lead.
- Create urgency by highlighting the popularity of floorplans and limited availability.
- Gather prospect's contact information to maintain control and facilitate follow-ups.
- Use "either/or" questions to set appointments effectively, ensuring prospects commit to visiting.
In-Person Tour Communication Tips:
- Non-verbal communication is essential for leasing agents; being fully prepared and attentive sends a positive message to prospective residents.
- Let prospects explore during the tour and minimize talking, allowing them to confirm their interest.
- Highlight unique unit amenities and upgrades to make each unit stand out.
Post-Tour Communication Tips:
- Respond promptly with follow-up emails, providing crucial details like price, availability, and visual content.
- Leverage visual content to remind prospects of your apartment's features and allow them to share it with others.
- Continue to drive action in post-tour communication, moving prospects closer to signing a lease through effective messaging.
Unlock the secrets to optimizing your leasing team's performance and achieving higher occupancy rates by reading our blog on How to Evaluate and Improve Leasing Agent Performance.