It can be hard to differentiate your apartment communities in an over-saturated market. Many prospective renters begin their search online, and often times their search criteria will return hundreds of options. So how do you set your community apart from the rest?
“Same is lame, we need to differentiate,” said Lisa Trosien, president of ApartmentExpert.com, during her session at the National Apartment Association’s Apartmentalize conference in Denver. And what does she say is the best differentiator? People.
According to Trosien, the salesperson is the most important element in creating loyalty with residents, so they shouldn’t be following scripts, as many often do. “Authenticity is key,” she continued, because when we talk about things we care about, we engage others. Don’t be afraid to show your personality, because that is what the resident will remember. “Leasing has become generic, and it shouldn’t be. Leasing should be fun,” Trosien noted.
“Start by focusing on the customer, not your community,” she recommended, and ask high-value questions to make sure you are making the best use of everyone’s time. For example, asking the prospective residents what three things are most important to them in their new home will let you know what you should highlight during your tour and what you can potentially skip over.
With most communities featuring a handful of impressive amenities, asking prospective residents what they would like to see will ensure you are only touring amenities that are relevant to them. For example, a person with no children shouldn’t be forced to see the stroller room the building offers, noted Trosien speaking from her own prior experience during an apartment tour in Chicago.
According to Trosien, 80 percent of your customers visit your website before they even contact you. Knowing this can be a great opportunity for you to further differentiate yourself from your competitors. Most reviews of communities are written by residents after they have moved out; however, it is more meaningful for people to see reviews from current residents who are enjoying their apartment and community. Don’t be afraid to ask your residents to leave reviews while they are still with you, because those can be a great selling point for prospects.
There are many creative ways you can differentiate yourself in a saturated market, but you need to make a conscious effort to find new ways to do things. Just because you’ve only done something one way doesn’t mean it’s still the right thing to do, and it can be difficult to break a routine. “Challenge yourself to be better, take a leap of faith,” Trosien concluded.