Many multifamily marketing solutions treat apartment communities like a machine.
The machine runs on this fuel called “occupancy,” and a good marketing solution is one that figures out how to keep the tank full.
In this understanding, “keeping the tank full,” requires finding the right techniques and executing on those tasks.
Unfortunately, this is not how the industry actually works.
In reality, apartment communities are home to a large number of people and they are a business, career path, and more to others. Plus, people behave in non-mechanical ways.
This means that the work of helping apartment communities thrive is not simply discovering a few “hacks” or tricks to boost occupancy or improve revenue—the process is more complex. You need a thorough understanding of the specific challenges facing a community, how their rental rates have fluctuated over time, how their leasing team performs, what their competitors are doing, and so on.
Due to the complexity of running a successful apartment community, RentVision’s solutions include a marketing advisor. Every client we partner with has a marketing advisor working with their specific community to combat vacancy and improve revenue.
What do marketing advisors do?
When a property management company begins working with RentVision, a marketing advisor is assigned to their communities and is their main point of contact moving forward.
Before we jump into talking specifics, we want to discuss how our marketing advisors are trained and what their day-to-day looks like. To begin, marketing advisors are the main point of contact for any questions a client may have about how to increase their demand, how they can optimize their marketing strategy, how to drive more traffic to a struggling floorplan, and so much more. Our marketing advisors' solutions to problems and questions are always based on what's best for each specific community. We understand that we're not in a one size fits all industry, so that's why all of our solutions are dynamic.
All of our marketing advisors work closely with the rest of our team of experts, which includes business advisors, developers, SEO professionals, our marketing team, and videographers. One of our company’s core values is to cultivate curiosity, so our team members attend marketing conferences, trade shows, webinars, and so much more. This promotes continued education and helps all of our departments stay up-to-date on the industry’s latest online marketing technologies and strategies. As part of our marketing advisors’ training, they also complete courses and exams on Google Ads and display advertising.
How do marketing advisors help solve vacancy problems?
First, let’s discuss vacancy issues on a big picture level. In our experience, there are multiple drivers steering vacancy and these drivers aren't mutually exclusive.
You can have more than one of these problems:
- Marketing Issues: This covers different areas such as: how visible your community is either online or from prominent streets, how much traffic you're getting to your website, how many calls to your leasing office, what your reputation is, and so on. Usually, marketing problems are volume problems: You aren't getting enough leads, so you aren't getting enough residents.
- Leasing Staff: This covers how the onsite team is handling leads and sometimes it boils down to your leasing staff not being well-trained on how to effectively close deals. Or perhaps they struggle with following up with leads and not knowing how to talk to prospects over the phone. They may be getting plenty of leads, but their conversion rate is so poor that they’re still not getting enough residents.
- Floorplans: Finally, what often happens is that the issue isn't with anyone on staff or with the broader marketing strategy, but with one specific floorplan. One important practice we recommend to all communities is that they evaluate vacancy, not only by the community but by floorplan. When you break down vacancy numbers you may notice that most floorplans tend to stay occupied, and you're in fact, struggling with one specific floorplan that you weren’t aware of.
Let’s talk about how marketing advisors partner with you and help to improve the overall health, particularly the vacancy, of your community.
First Strategy: Identify gaps in your marketing.
Figuring out why a community has a vacancy problem can be difficult.
Marketing advisors work with partner communities to study all aspects of their marketing and identify the causes and solutions to whatever issues the community is facing.
Anyone who wants to accurately identify a community’s leasing problem will need a number of different skills:
- They need to understand how to read reports in Google Analytics and whichever phone tracking system the community uses to monitor marketing performance.
- If the community records phone calls (and they should), then the person will need to understand what to listen for on the phone to see how the leasing team handles incoming calls.
- It will also require an understanding of seasonal trends, which can differ not only from city to city, but even from community to community.
- Finally, they will need to understand the complex relationship between rental rates, demand, and occupancy.
Some of this knowledge will be more generalized and apply to anyone who has multifamily experience. But some of it is much more niche and will only apply to your community.
- Perhaps you are located in a unique area that creates both some unique opportunities and challenges for your team, such as being located near a major university or a major employer in your area.
- Maybe your seasonality trends are unusual because many residents use tax refunds to help with move-in costs or because of a local industry that has a busy season and an off-season.
- Maybe you have some particularly desirable floorplans or even individual units that can be leased more easily or even at a higher rental rate.
Whatever your situation, you will most likely benefit from a multifamily expert who also knows enough about your community to translate their knowledge into specific proposals to help your community thrive.
Second Strategy: Draw together all your assets to address the problem.
Identify your community’s unique assets and use them to your advantage. Does your community have an established website that generates a large amount of traffic. Perhaps your location is visible from a major street or highway, or you’ve got the greatest leasing team in the area. Utilize your strengths! Drive more digital traffic to your already converting website, create tracking phone numbers for a banner alongside the major road, or implement referral specials to your residents for recommending your community. Whatever your situation may be, your solution will be just as unique.
Your marketing advisor will help your community by coming alongside you to identify what assets you have to help you build a strong and healthy community.
Marketing advisors will take the time to understand your community and get to know your strengths and weaknesses. By combining their industry expertise with more specific knowledge of your community, our marketing advisors will help you identify your primary assets and work from them as you seek to hit revenue goals and maintain occupancy at the desired level.
Third Strategy: Monitor and adjust as conditions change.
Marketing should be dynamic, not static.
Because the problem marketing addresses—vacancy—is highly volatile. Many communities will see half of their units flip every year. During those 12 months, they will also see a large discrepancy in the number of units that vacate month-to-month. Some months will see only a couple go vacant. Others will see far more residents move out, which means the community has much more work to do in order to fill those units.
If you've been working in multifamily for a while, you've heard (or seen) the stories of horrible vacancy at the worst time. Lots of money was wasted, people lost their jobs, and so on. But we're here to tell you that this story doesn't have to happen again.
Unexpected vacancy is going to happen, of course, but you can respond to it proactively rather than reactively. You just need a dynamic marketing plan that anticipates problems and allows you to make targeted adjustments to address them.
Sadly, we see communities burdened with lengthy contracts that lock them into static marketing solutions. You don’t need traffic all the time. Sound a little strange? The correct way to look at it is: you need traffic at the right time.
When you work with a marketing advisor, you have a partner that monitors how things are going at your community. They help you see problems coming before your occupancy decreases. And they help you roll with the punches and make the kind of proactive adjustments needed to ensure for a thriving a community.
Controlling vacancy is difficult. There are multiple factors that influence vacancy, which will sometimes cause you to face a problem you’ve never encountered before. But if you are working with a marketing advisor, you’ll have a partner who not only knows the multifamily industry, but who take the time to learn and understand the unique strengths and weaknesses of your community. With a partner at your side, you can face challenges with confidence knowing that you’ll find a way to handle each vacancy problem in a way that limits the damage and positions you for a stronger future.