by Brent Steiner
The global pandemic drastically altered the way people live their lives virtually overnight. But after everyone got past the immediate shock and exasperation of staying home, society began to adjust.
While many newfound processes have been spurred entirely by necessity and will be considered a temporary adjustment due to the odd dynamic of 2020, others are infused with innovation and have undeniable staying power.
Most notably, self-service appears to be here to stay. The consumer world is embracing a remote lifestyle, and that includes the multifamily industry. While the apartment world’s hastened transition to virtual and remote leasing options is well documented, the self-service component is weaving its way into the leasing process in many different ways.
A new expectation
A few years ago when smart-home devices and capabilities were being introduced to the industry, they were considered a luxury. Fast-forward to 2020 and smart-home is essentially an expectation among renters. Self-service is fast following suit. Formerly considered something of an exclusive feature, self-serve options—such as self-tours—are increasingly sought after among prospective residents who want to remain socially distant as they search for their next home. While traditional tours are bound to make a post-pandemic comeback in some form, the desire for self-tours and additional self-service features is likely to remain.
Morphing role for leasing associates
Leasing has always been thought of as a person-to-person activity, and that won’t change. However, the personal touch might be less about building relationships and more about providing information specific to the renter. Rather than making a personal connection through charm and wit during a live tour, a leasing agent can best make an impression by supplying the prospect with personalized self-tour capabilities. That includes utilizing technology that empowers leasing teams and prospects to find exactly the right information at exactly the right time. Essentially, leasing agents are now facilitators of curated information, customized to every prospect.
More content, less filler
A common prospect complaint is that in-person tours often consist of a lot of information that does not pertain to their desired living experience. With the built-in distance of the pandemic-era leasing process, onsite teams have been more pointed in the information they pass along to prospects. It’s less filler and more catered to the precise needs of the prospect. This is a good thing and something that should be considered with all prospect connections moving forward. As such, all tech and marketing materials should be customizable to what each prospect wants to see. This ties to the above notion that leasing agents can be less salesperson and more facilitator.
While the pandemic has done its best to wreak havoc on traditional processes, some of the newfound procedures are setting a blueprint for a more efficient future. In the multifamily world, that largely consists of the evolving ways leasing teams can better connect with prospects.