by Jacob Carter
It’s no secret the multifamily industry has been reluctant to embrace leasing automation in the past. As the industry was catapulted into a predominantly digital leasing environment due to a pandemic, technology advancements, thinner onsite teams and modern customer preferences, more and more operators are turning to automation tools to accelerate centralized leasing efforts.
Automation within a centralized leasing model creates onsite efficiencies, better assists leasing teams in fielding leads and frees up time for them to establish meaningful relationships with prospective renters and residents. It also creates better customer experiences and facilitates more robust self-service methods. Technology is supplementing crucial aspects of the leasing process in centralized leasing and doing a lot of heavy lifting that leasing associates were once responsible for, but not always able to achieve.
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems have long held the reins as the top customer communication system within multifamily. In recent years, more operators are opting to integrate additional provisions into their CRMs – like leasing automation tools – that ensure no lead is ever missed with downsized onsite teams, and those teams can focus on the customers who want human interaction before moving forward with a lease. Automation within centralized leasing provides options for customers; some people prefer self-service while others would like to speak to someone. These options provide better experiences because each person can choose how they’d like to proceed.
With an influx of renters searching for apartment homes online via multiple platforms, leads are pouring in faster than leasing associates can keep up with. According to internal data from Knock, there are six times more leads now than in 2019. Nearly half of all inquiries to a community go unanswered even with a CRM in place, and with sixty percent of potential residents conducting their apartment search after regular business hours, following up with every lead in a timely fashion has become almost impossible. Automation is not only following up with every single lead, but helping leasing associates better prioritize the leads that are most likely to convert to a lease or need an element of human interaction.
Automation allows prospects to experience the ideal eight to 12 touchpoints that are required to convert during their apartment search, reaching their first touchpoint within minutes of expressing interest in a community. Leasing automation also produces three times more engagement from prospective residents, leading to an increase of 15% more applications. Technology like automation really operates on the frontline of leasing while leasing associates can step in to close the deal with prospects who are ready to sign a lease.
Beginning at the earliest stages of the apartment search, automation aggregates vital information from multiple touch points which is used to craft hyper-personalized messaging unique to each customer at pivotal times. Customers are more likely to engage with and respond to something that feels personally made for them. Our internal data shows that personalized messaging receives eight times more engagement via email and nearly four times more via text than non-personalized content.
Reaching prospective residents early and often throughout their journey with hyper-personalized messaging to them not only optimizes the chances they will sign a lease, but it increases the likelihood a resident will renew their lease when the time comes. This can happen without a leasing associate ever intervening, and more and more modern customers are becoming comfortable with a completely self-service leasing experience.
Technology powers centralized leasing strategies, but automation is the magic ingredient that ties technology, leasing associates and renters together, truly centralizing the entire process. It allows for comprehensive analytics based on individual customer interests that are used to engage prospective residents in a personalized way and increase lease conversions. Customized marketing is extremely difficult when left up to associates who are already spread thin. Automation carries that burden and saves eight hours per leasing agent per week so they can provide the crucial component that truly keeps communities running – human interaction.
Streamlining the centralized leasing process with automation and combining human touch when needed is a recipe for success in the new era of digital leasing. It increases lease and renewal rates, as well as provides an enhanced customer experience. Centralized leasing with automation not only fields more leads, but it supports leasing associates in executing their jobs better and leads to higher occupancy and renewal rates.