Leasing by Example

By Wendy WalkerIn the multifamily industry, we work hard to make sure that our leasing professionals are prepared to sell our community to the prospect or “future resident.” But what about our community managers? By the time a community manager reaches that position, this person has spent a lot time in a room posting rent as an assistant manager. When promoted to manager, he or she is then bombarded with budgets, expense control, leadership, etc. We forget that they have not had leasing training in a very long time and yet it is imperative that people lease by example.There are many horror stories out there that convince me that some of our managers are not leasing by example. For instance, a leasing professional once told me that when she was out or busy, her manager would greet the prospect and begin the information-gathering process, but as soon as the leasing professional was free, the manager passed the prospect over to her. This is not how we want our Very Important Prospect or VIP to be treated. The person who greeted the VIP initially should go through the entire leasing process with the prospect, even if that person is the manager.Remember the saying, “You never get a second chance to make a first impression.” This statement rings true in the apartment industry. Greeting the VIP is important, so when a leasing professional is busy or out on property, the manager should move from his or her office to the front to make sure that every VIP is greeted in a friendly and timely fashion. This is a great way for the manager to illustrate to the leasing professionals that greeting is a vital part of the leasing process.The presentation is an aspect of leasing that most managers have mastered. However, they have often learned to lease on a different community than they are currently managing. Meetings can help the manager learn more about the leasing of the specific property and also give the leasing professionals new ideas. The leasing meeting should be conducted once monthly, involving the entire office staff. This is an interactive meeting where the tour route and show units are utilized. The meeting could begin in the office and proceed to the community amenities and then show units. Each associate would have the opportunity to talk about the way they conduct their presentation and what their VIPs have stated about each community amenity and show unit. This is a great opportunity to discuss objections that have come up with former VIPs and how they were overcome. After the meeting, the manager as well as the rest of the office staff will be more in touch with the features and benefits they are selling and they will come away with some new ideas for their future tours.   We have been taught to “close” our prospects from the start of the presentation. However, our VIPs do not want to be “closed.” Instead, it is important for our managers to identify the personality type of the VIP and utilize the closing techniques conversationally to help the VIP realize that they must live at the community…This should be their home! For example, an analytical person would not identify with the “personal invitation” close. A better way to handle this type of personality would be to use the “Summary” close. Hence, it is crucial that managers know the four personality types: Analytical, Expressive, Amiable and Driver. Furthermore, it is important to familiarize people with which closing techniques will work for each personality. This will help them not only lease more apartments, but lease by example.Finally, what happens when the VIP walks out the door without leasing the apartment?  It is regrettable that sometimes managers cannot find the time to complete their own follow-up. These VIPs then get either pushed off to a leasing professional or worse, forgotten about entirely. Follow-up is vital in leasing by example. When leasing professionals see the manager following up on their VIPs, they will jump on the follow-up bandwagon.  Leasing Professionals are on the front line, but their managers lead them. In order for leasing professionals to excel, they must follow a strong leader. Therefore, all mangers MUST lease by example.Wendy Walker is president of Wendy Rae Walker Associates, a multifamily training company based in Dallas. Walker has worked in the multifamily industry for over 20 years, with the last seven years being focused on public speaking and training. Walker offers many dynamic training sessions from leasing to budgeting and expense control. For additional information, please visit her at www.WendyRaeWalker.com.