Ms. Management Sept 2018
Q. I’m a leasing agent at a large local apartment property. So far, I like this industry and enjoy my company though I’m beginning to re-consider after a recent encounter with my regional manager. She stops by the property frequently but rarely do I get personal attention. She wanted to review my lease showings and move-ins. Did I walk the apartment with each new resident upon move-in? I indicated no, and I couldn’t imagine why and when I’d find the time to do so. Then she wanted to confirm that I had been inside each floorplan available at our property and upon daily opening I checked the condition of vacant apartments and staged those that I thought I would show that day. Again, I indicated that I was not aware that I had either the time or the assignment to do so. She indicated that property leasing numbers were slipping, and my candid answers gave her clues as to why.
Now I’ve received a memo directing me to set appointments for showing each apartment floorplan that every inquiry might consider. Further, that I prepare for each appointment by checking the condition of each apartment that might be toured that day. I am expected to follow-up with each potential resident to confirm their impression of their tour and attempt to meet any objections. If possible, I’m to solicit another visit to re-interest them in our property as their future home.
Finally, it was made clear that I was expected to schedule and conduct a walkthrough prior to move-in and again with each resident upon their actual move-in.
My experience so far has been that people shopping for a place to live usually check us and our available floorplans on the internet. They mostly make application online subject to their tour of the property and their floorplan. We arrange a convenient time for them to do this. They have been shopping so they know what works for their lifestyle and budget. I’m not going to “sell them on something” that doesn’t work for them. Besides, they still must qualify, right? And when they are ready to move-in and have questions or concerns we have management or maintenance for these issues. I am efficient and a good leasing representative. I’m concerned that if I’m spending time unnecessarily on things that maybe used to matter I might not get my job done. What do you think?
A. Thank you for your detailed description of the situation and your thoughts. Like your regional manager I appreciate your candor. I’m sure many leasing professionals locally and across the country are tired after a busy summer and really question what more they could have done. So, when your leadership seems to criticize your efforts and wants more from you let me point out that you are not alone in how you feel.
Having said this, may I add that perhaps you could consider the frequent visits to your property, a working knowledge of past and current leasing numbers, coming to you for frontline real-time input and a timely written follow-up. These are all indications of a strong leader; someone who has been in your shoes, willing to confront legitimate concerns in real-time with a respected frontline person. I also sense a leadership desire to coach you in the basics of professional leasing.
What I think is that leasing is the heart and purpose of our industry. Current technologies allow communication efficiencies for our potential and existing residents that can translate into important customer benefits.
When leasing specialists are more efficient they can concentrate on effectiveness. This is where you add value: providing complete knowledge of floorplans and furniture placement alternatives. How each customer might best utilize common areas, neighborhood conveniences and community services. A leasing expert understands that each resident is a “customer by choice” and there are plenty of choices. We utilize our expertise to educate and compare throughout the entire process; bringing each customer to trust their best choice. Understanding that it is one of their most expensive and legally binding decisions we personally walk them through each step from our first encounter until moving them into their new home.
Reminding ourselves of these basics will bring us to this reality: the leasing specialist ensures that each apartment is ready at showing(s) and at move-in. The customer can only trust what you say and that the entire team is on that same page when they initially see their new home and upon move-in.
Your company and our industry need people like you that speak their mind, then learn from reports and experienced people, return to basics and understand their importance as an effective professional in a dynamic career.