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May 2017

What Does Industry Experience Offer?

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“Welcome to our complex, let me show you around the facilities.”  Hearing the word “complex” and “facilities” is like nails on a chalkboard to seasoned apartment professionals.

Why is it so important to us that “apartment community” or “apartment home” is used instead of “complex”?  Why do we refer to renters as residents vs. tenants?  Or refer to maintenance requests instead of work orders?  The list goes on…

It comes down to industry experience, knowledge, and understanding what is best for prospects, residents, our management company and us as individuals.

When developing a training program, it is not just about teaching a skill or behavior but it also sends a message about company culture and industry awareness.

The apartment industry can be aligned with other industries such as hospitality and retail, but the relationships with our customers are much longer and therefore, different.  That’s where industry experience plays a key role when creating a successful training program that prepares your team for what lies ahead.

While terminology is the obvious industry knowledge give away, there are many other subtle, equally important considerations.

Consideration #1:  Apartment prospects are warm leads!  They come to you.

When a prospect walks in the leasing office, they are letting you know they have a need.   You aren’t convincing them that they need to find a place to live but rather persuading them that they need to lease ‘your’ apartment home.

Relying on an apartment industry expert to equip your team with the best ways to make a great first impression, identify customer needs, personalize the presentation, ask for the sale and/or even provide ideas to overcome objections, is a great additional training resource.

Consideration #2:  An apartment is a product sale!  But it is also a customer service type of sale too!

Although an apartment may be thought of as a product (aka commodity) – 4 walls and what’s inside, it’s someone’s place they call home.  And that is where your service, everything else and in-between, is the key.  How the community is maintained, how quickly and thoroughly service requests are handled and how politely residents and guests are treated are top of mind for prospects and residents when they rate our service.

Training a leasing “agent” to sell is important, but understanding the best way to transform a Leasing Agent to Leasing Consultant  is critical in selling to today’s renter.

Consideration #3:  Building rapport includes professional and engaging conversations.

Sales professionals in all industries are taught the importance of creating rapport, building a relationship and being genuine to build trust in the relationship.  However, an apartment industry expert knows that it can be a bit of a slippery slope knowing what and how to say things when talking with prospects, residents and even each other.

We all have people we know who are super-sharers of information, and our prospects and residents are no different.  For that new leasing consultant, it can be a little surprising and unnerving as they understand the best way to address these situations, sensitive subjects (i.e. What type of people live here?  I only want to live near other adults.) or even fill the time with conversation on an apartment tour which may range from 20 to 45 minutes.  That’s where an industry expert comes into play, educating you on the best way to engage in conversation and address topics that can lead to violations such as Fair Housing, which can result in costly fines for you and your company.

Consideration #4:  A sale does not end once the lease is signed.  The impression continues!

When converting the prospect to a resident and the lease is signed, the conversation is not over.  This is just the beginning.  A great team continues to ‘sell’ their apartment community each day, working to gain the respect and trust from the resident, all of which can lead to a renewal and positive word of mouth (online reviews).

An apartment industry expert understands the value of customer service and how to create a great customer experience for our prospects and residents.  Unhappy customers cost us time and resources not to mention the impact they can have on our reputation.

The great thing about an apartment industry expert is that they understand the value of being a partner, not just a vendor.  They are committed to you and passionate about driving change and innovation in our industry.  They provide the expertise you need to take your business to the next level, and when you reach your goals, they feel like they’ve reached theirs as well.

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