Sensory Metrics in An Apartment Tour
Identify the metrics for your apartment tour, these measurable factors that include the amount of time spent touring the model apartments and the community, which defines the number of apartments that should be toured. This indicates that individuals who continue to tour more than two apartments and commit more than 30 minutes to the tour process are the most likely to actually rent. A tour that wraps up in under 20 minutes suggests little is being done to demonstrate the features of the apartment and the community. Regardless of the number of vacant apartments, a property a tour should not include more than three apartment homes. Apply the same touring techniques used by single-family home realtors in the multifamily housing industry. This shows that the leasing professionals prepared a tailored tour for the prospect.
Measuring the effectiveness of an apartment tour is largely a sensory experience. The apartment tour needs to create opportunities for the prospect to experience their future home through each of the five senses.
The Visual impression
Typically, the visual is the first impression a prospect gets of a property. It’s all about appearance—the impact of the property’s appearance creates the first impression. The philosophy here is you only get one chance to make a great first impression. This could not be more true. If the visual impression is less than perfect, the opportunity to convince the prospect that this is the perfect home will deteriorate faster than the property!
Let’s talk curb appeal, the industry buzzword that simply means the appearance of the buildings plus the landscaping and general maintenance of community areas, all of which leads to the main question in prospective renters’ minds, “Is this where I want to call home?” The visual impression continues with the tour of the leasing center, including all the community amenities such as a fitness center, laundry area, or meeting room. These are experiences that add or subtract from the prospect’s mental scoreboard, which will ultimately determine the decision to lease or not. The tour should create the backdrop for the prospect as he or she imagines their life in these new surroundings.
The Olfactory Impression
Of course, there are other senses that come into play during the property tour. The leasing center will, again, be the first experience—clean and neutral is the key. (The leasing center should not evoke any strong odors such as the staff’s lunch or forgotten morning coffee on the warming tray.) This clean and neutral theme should continue through the hallways. The laundry areas should also smell clean and fresh. However, many individuals have a sensitivity to strong scents or they will suspect that you’re trying to mask something unpleasant. When it comes to scents, stronger is not better.
Continue the theme throughout the property and the model. Seasonal scents can be used to match a season, but remember, “Less is best.” Once in the apartment model, the scents should match the prospect’s perception; for example, the scent of fresh-baked apple pie wafting from the kitchen area, or perhaps a hint of lavender in the bathrooms. The walking tour of the property also needs to be aware of the scents in the air, so plan accordingly. If it were trash collection day, you know the odor will be overwhelming and unpleasant to your prospects, so you’d plan a route that directs the tour through another section of the community.
The Tactile Impression
Always encourage prospects to get a literal “feel” for the place. Have them open doors or turn on the vent fan. Turn on lights. Let them play with any amenities. The incorporation of the tactile sense makes it all the more real to prospects. It’s in their hands. It’s tangible. Rather than showing them how to do something, give direction or suggestions to open windows, cabinets, and closets. This creates a lasting impression of the tour experience. It’s been said that ‘to touch is to experience.” To provide more tactile experiences within a tour, study floor plans, make notes and strategically arrange the model’s furnishings for optimal effect.
Many leasing centers include a sign that indicates refreshments are available, but with the uncertainty of how traffic will progress, the offer of refreshments is seldom available. By offering refreshments at the appropriate time, you won’t disappoint any prospects with a false promise of refreshment. This will satisfy the taste impression. It’s important to think about the tour process, but it’s impractical to offer coffee or bottled water before trekking across the property. Let them work up a thirst on the tour, then supply of refreshments in the model. Create an opportunity to have an extended casual conversation inside the new home, sitting at a table, over some drinks and snacks, to discuss how the apartment will meet the needs of the prospects.
The Audible Impression
The audible impression can be challenging if there are concerns about street noise or neighbors, but generally some music playing softly in the background in the apartment can prevent echoing and fill the apartment with audible ambience. (Try to glean a prospect’s musical tastes in casual conversation during your initial meeting, then have a playlist prepared for that prospect’s tour.) Be prepared to overcome objections that might arise from any exterior noises.
The Unspoken Impressions
In addition to the five senses, a prospects also look for a sense of confidence in the management team and staff. If they’re going to be committing thousands of dollars in rent to live here, they deserve to have a staff that is knowledgeable, accurate, and professional.
That expectation of confidence in the management team is earned by providing timely repairs and responding to tenants’ inquiries. The leasing staff can win a prospect’s trust by being prepared for each meeting. Be sure to always have your documents prepared and accurate, and any files containing the prospects personal information carefully filed in a secure area, not stacked in with some miscellaneous debris or laying open on a desk revealing sensitive information.
The prospect needs to know the apartment home is going to increase their sense of convenience. A closer commute. Social activities. The children’s school. Scheduled repairs are promptly taken care of. The leasing staff must be able to answer inquiries relating to the vicinity of the apartment. In large cities, the leasing staff often moves around from area to area, and having the ability to respond to questions about each neighborhood with a quick smile and rapid-fire knowledge will make the prospect feel right at home. A tour is the only opportunity to show a prospect how this apartment and community will truly benefit them. If you do admit your lack of knowledge about a particular area, offer to find out the answer, then do some impromptu research online (hello, Google?), and be sure to involve the prospect as well. The more at-ease they are, the more likely they will be to sign a lease. Don’t squander a potential opportunity.
When a prospect tours an apartment, and responds with the comment, “This feels like home!”, it foreshadows the signing of a lease. We want prospects to always experience that feeling. It’s that sense of comfort—knowing that once their personal belongings are moved in and they get settled, the apartment will be their home. Shelter is a primary human need that is indicative of who we are personally, so finding the “perfect” apartment is important to prospects, and us. This is our job. We want our residents to stay for many years to come.
Finally, there’s a “sense” that ultimately rounds out a successful leasing tour. It’s the sense of ownership. Moving is a rigorous process. Prospects wade through a sea of apartments for the right place for them and their loved ones. Once the application is completed and processed, deposits and fees must be paid in full. Now, all that hard work has paid off, and the prospect is now a resident! That sense of ownership that comes with a home also gives him or her a sense of accomplishment. They will soon be enjoying a new life in their new apartment home.