One of the many things that makes winter leasing so challenging is the weather. It’s not just that you have fewer leads, it’s that those leads are less motivated to shop around because going out during the winter months, particularly in colder states, is quite unpleasant.
In terms of leasing and marketing, this is a problem because their primary job—leasing apartments—is made more difficult. But when you also think about it from a revenue standpoint, the problem can become even greater. What if you have an unexpected spike in vacancy during the winter? What if a small vacancy problem in January is never resolved and carries over into your peak leasing season? A bad winter leasing season can continue to linger even after winter is over.
How can you make leasing easier during the long winter months? Here are a few thoughts.
Renting Without a Car
The primary issue that most prospects will have is simple: It’s cold out, roads are slick, and nobody wants to go outside.
So don’t make them.
Build an online marketing platform that allows them to apartment shop from their own home, wrapped up in a blanket with a mug of hot chocolate in hand. In today’s digital world, there’s no reason that prospects should have to get in their car to rent an apartment.
Many prospects want to tour units before making a leasing decision, which can now be done online thanks to walkthrough video tours.
As for seeing the rest of the community, prospects can get a great sense of the property through professionally shot digital photography.
Rental rates, amenities, pet policy, and so on, should all be listed on the website too. Utilizing an amenities page on your website provides a great place to list out all of this important information.
To take it a step further, you could also include a map of the area that shows nearby coffee shops, grocery stores, schools, etc. This helps them get a great understanding of the area and helps better qualify them as leads.
With today’s technology, you can allow prospects to schedule an in-person tour or even apply to live in your community on your website. Anything you can do to make the leasing process as frictionless as possible will help people rent your units no matter the situation.
Leasing and Trust
Having such a robust online marketing platform has one huge benefit: It makes it really easy for people to rent an apartment from you. But there are other benefits as well.
First, when you have a website that gives prospects everything they need to make an informed leasing decision, you’re implicitly sending a message: We believe in the product we’re selling, and want to make the buying process as easy as possible for you. That kind of transparency builds trust and when you are providing your customers with a place to live, that trust is vital.
There are few decisions a person will make in a year that have a greater impact on their quality of life than choosing where to live. So if you can build trust through your marketing methods, that’s a huge win for your community and your team.
Second, when you have a website that helps prospects make a leasing decision without having to leave their house, particularly during those nasty winter months, you’re also communicating something else: consideration. You’re telling the prospect, “It is more important to us that you have a convenient shopping experience than that we are guaranteed a chance to have one of our leasing agents try to ‘sell’ you.”
You are, in other words, seemingly taking a risk in order to give them an experience more to their liking. This isn’t actually a risk, because this kind of digital marketing produces higher qualified leads over time, such that your leasing agents don’t really miss out on anything.
But it can feel that way to a prospect at the beginning of the shopping process. They know they don’t like talking to salespeople and now, you’re marketing yourselves to them in such a way that they don’t have to talk to a salesperson. This is always nice, but it is especially appreciated when simply going outside can be an ordeal, as it often is during the winter months.