Case Study: Archstone Online Leasing Stations Provide Prospects, Residents with Convenience and Choices

By Robin Wilson Carrier, ASID, CID, Robin Wilson Interior Design With our lifestyles based on an ever-increasing demand for immediate gratification, online leasing caters to the expectations of a 24/7 clientele well adapted to the computer. Apartment residents are using the internet to make hotel and restaurant reservations, do banking, and purchase clothing, movie tickets, and electronics—it just makes good business sense for property management companies to provide the technology that enables residents to lease apartments online as well.Properties that offer online leasing technology are no longer restricted by leasing office hours because online leasing is available 24/7. A prospective resident can find an apartment, lease that apartment, and coordinate move-in all with the click of mouse. “Leasing online [has become] an attractive alternative to traditional apartment leasing, offering convenience and an ideal environment,” explains Sharon Woodring, vice president of national marketing for Archstone.However, while the idea of leasing from home is appealing to many prospective residents, some people do prefer to be on site and in person. An online leasing station located near the entry can provide a less threatening option for a prospective resident to gather information, according to Patrice Goldberg, vice president of development marketing for Archstone. Having an online leasing station in the leasing office offers an approachable option for researching property information, and one that requires less of a commitment. Just as shoppers like to be welcomed into a store and then be left to browse on their own for a while, the prospective tenant can spend some time discovering the property and its features.  Leasing agents are on hand when the prospective resident is ready to move forward with the leasing process. Archstone’s walk up stations are designed to be approachable with both the prospective tenant and leasing agent in mind. For example, while maintaining accessibility standards, the computer screen and mouse are located on the station’s countertop. It is important to house the keyboard and CPU in a locked cabinet in the base of the station for the leasing agent’s use. A printer is included in the design so that prospective tenants can print the various unit floor plans and views.(Pictured from top to bottom: the Archstone Warner Center online leasing station at standing height offers prospective renters a seating option; Archstone Gateway’s online leasing station reflects the designer’s modern twist on Art Deco design and the Archstone Presidio View online leasing station draws prospective residents in as it is designed to be the focal point of the room. Designed at an angle, it directs the traffic flow.Interior Design of all three by Robin Wilson Interior Design.)  While design goals are to be functional and accessible, another goal is to integrate this piece into the ambience of the leasing office. Thoughtfully selected finishes and details reflect the décor of the leasing office, allowing this functional station to be a beautiful piece of furniture that is designed to be used by prospective residents. “Whether our future resident is sitting in one of our communities where we feature online leasing stations or they are in the comfort of their own home in front of their own computer, we make doing business with us easy,” explains Sharon Woodring, Vice President of National Marketing for Archstone.“Unlike other apartment companies that offer the ability to ‘reserve’ an apartment online, Archstone provides a means to fully transact a lease through,” says Woodring. “Customers can search for their perfect apartment home, select the terms of their lease, add additional options such as parking or storage and then fully complete the lease transaction by paying application costs and deposits with a Visa or MasterCard. This automatic and instant process is fast, it’s easy, and most importantly, it’s secure. There are no long forms to fill out.  Residents simply show up on move-in day and begin to enjoy their new home.” Mary Hollingshed, Community Manager at Archstone Warner Center, adds, “Offering the option of leasing online has really taken us to the next level. Our customers appreciate the prompt approval process and enjoy the ease they experience when utilizing our Online Leasing station. They also value the other perks they receive when paying by credit card such as earning frequent flyer miles on their lease transaction.”“By eliminating the traditional paper method we are helping the environment and it doesn’t stop after the leasing experience,”says Woodring. “We carry this through to even more services such as online service requests and online rent payments. With green living in mind, we continue to expand e-processes with our residents and prospects to reduce the use of paper. We want living with us to be just as easy as leasing with us.”Robin Wilson Carrier, ASID, CID, is a principal of Robin Wilson Interior Design in San Diego.