by Jacob Carter
Automation has become a hot topic within multifamily. As its functionality has proven to be an asset to modern leasing strategies, its use is only going to ramp up. After all, automation technology simplifies and maximizes the leasing process for both customers and onsite teams. It has not only enhanced, but future-proofed apartment leasing and is now a key integration within CRMs.
As more and more consumers have been making big-ticket purchases online, like new cars and homes, virtual content and automated communication with customers has helped apartment operators streamline the entire leasing process from the very first touchpoint. This has also made a customer’s decision to sign a lease easier than ever before. In the age of virtual and self-service leasing, operators have been trying to utilize multiple tools and technologies to efficiently convert an influx in online leads to leases.
Automation coupled with CRMs has been one of the most influential tech combinations when it comes to attracting, engaging and retaining new residents. Using CRMs with an integrated automation solution allows onsite teams to leverage valuable customer information and preferences to develop specific, personalized follow ups. Automating time-consuming tasks, like initial requests for information on pricing, availability and tour scheduling, engages customers earlier in the leasing process, alleviates onsite burden and helps convert more leads to leases.
Leasing teams can get the most out of a CRM by operationalizing it with automation. Automation performs tasks that provide necessary information for customers and responds to their requests for more information. It also supplies customers with essential touch points to help make a decision. It takes eight to 10 touchpoints to convert a lead to a lease, but using automation with a CRM converts leads to leases with a six-touchpoint average. By the time these customers interact with a leasing associate, they already have all the vital information they need and are at a stage where they’re ready to sign a lease.
Customers look at multiple apartment communities online, but don’t necessarily hear back from every community they reach out to. Renters almost always go with the first property to get back to them. Leveraging automation to quickly and consistently get information to customers about your community is key to keeping them engaged and staying top of mind throughout their search. CRM data also lets leasing teams know if a customer is simply looking for a home 60 days out or needs to move in a few weeks so they can prioritize leads.
In addition to effortlessly integrating with a CRM, automation aggregates guest card information and uses that to send targeted information to customers aligning with their unique needs in an apartment home. Automated communication then keeps all customers engaged with those particulars via their preferred method of communication at any time, including after hours. When customers receive the exact information they’re seeking in a timely manner, they are guided through the funnel by the automation.
The automation process not only maximizes the chances of the customer taking a tour of the property, but it also increases the likelihood they will convert to a lease, especially when the content is personalized. Customers are more likely to engage with something that feels personally made for them. Personalized automation receives eight times more engagement via email and two to four times more via text when compared to automated communication that is not personalized.
When a customer decides they like the community and wants to move forward with signing a lease, the automation tool keeps the new resident on track for a seamless move-in experience. New residents receive a customized move-in checklist one week prior to their arrival. Automation provides the consistency and personalization modern customers want, and offering this experience during move in is critical to resident retention. After all, resident retention starts the day a lease is signed, not 90 days before it’s up for renewal.
The automated communication doesn’t stop once the resident moves in. It continues to send important information, like community events, rent reminders, surveys, maintenance request follow ups and more to make sure the resident is having a good experience. The automation tool will check in with residents periodically throughout their first 180 days to establish a deeper relationship and provide better, more consistent customer service. When there is a meaningful, personal connection between residents and onsite teams, residents are more likely to renew their lease, refer others to the community and even leave more positive reviews of the community.
Once lease expiration approaches, a renewal workflow is generated and sent to the resident, which helps to increase renewal rates. According to internal data, incorporating automated communication in a lease renewal strategy increases renewal rates by 6% or more.
Integrating automated communication within the leasing process allows customers to have a more personalized journey based on what’s important to them. It also frees up valuable time for onsite teams to focus on other crucial tasks, like providing a higher caliber of customer service and building relationships with residents.
Automation has proven to be an essential tool, supercharging existing CRMs and complementing onsite teams across the country. It plays a key role in facilitating better, more personalized experiences for customers while moving them through the entire leasing process faster and more efficiently. Nurture Boss reported lead-to-lease conversions of 30% and tour-to-application conversions of 46% compared to the industry average of 19% and 37%, respectively.
Automation also supports onsite teams in cultivating better relationships and increasing customer service. Across the entire resident lifecycle, automation is a powerful way to improve lease and renewal conversions and will continue to evolve as the way of the future.