SENDING THE RIGHT SIGNALS
Sometimes sending the right signals is as simple as stopping ourselves from sending the wrong ones. How can they tell when we’re not completely sold on the value we’re offering, ourselves? The most glaring signal is that an uncertain Leasing Professional will avoid discussion of the rental rate itself. Changing the subject, avoiding the subject, coughing, choking, stuttering, stammering, not making eye contact, in any other way clumsily or unprofessionally avoiding the issue are all signals to the resident or prospective resident that the Leasing Professional is not entirely comfortable with the community’s rental rates—and if the Leasing Professional isn’t, why should the resident or prospective resident be?
Only when a Leasing Professional can comfortably, confidently, and credibly (those three crucial Cs) tell the resident or prospective resident, “The rental rate for this apartment is $000.00, and given all that life in our community has to offer, we have very limited availability at this rate” will their confidence in that value truly shine through in such a way that the resident or prospective resident will feel assured enough to lease or renew. Successful Leasing Professionals respond to the question of the rental rate with the same confidence they give to conveying the time of day. “Our two-bedrooms range from $000 to $000,” should be delivered with the same factual confidence as you’d answer “It’s 2:15” when someone asked you for the time.
Avoiding the response, when asked, isn’t the only common signal that a Leasing Professional isn’t comfortable or confident with the rental rate. Another common problem is to slip in sneaky adverbs or adjectives that weaken our stance and stand in the way of delivering an answer with full confidence, as in, “Our usual rental rates are $000″ or “This apartment typically leases for $000,” instead of the more confident, “Our rental rates are $000 to $000.” Can you see how those words open the door for negotiation? Everyone wants to think of themselves as exceptional, so what you’re saying when you allow those words to sabotage your value stance is, “Most people have to pay this much, but of course, you’re special and will no doubt be able to talk me into letting you have it for less,” when nothing should be farther from the truth. It’s going to be your job to make that resident or prospective resident feel special in a million ways throughout the life cycle of their residency; but the rental rate that you offer them is not a favor. It’s a fact. And I’m not saying that you have to deliver it coldly and without a smile, but you do have to deliver it confidently in every way.
Eye contact and eye movement are other ways that Leasing Professionals betray a lack of confidence in the value that the rental rate represents, opening the door for residents or prospective residents to pursue concessions. When a Leasing Professional quotes a rental rate and doesn’t really believe the rate is a solid value, they will almost always break off eye contact and cast their eyes downward. There has been a lot of research on the topic of non-verbal communication and it’s certainly not a new phenomenon. People have known about it and used it since the beginning of time. Before people developed language as a communications tool, they used body language to make their needs and desires known to other people. Also known as kinesics, the interpretation of body language involves the study of human interaction outside of the use of written and spoken words. This broad definition encompasses everything from the subtle raising of an eyebrow to the sophisticated gestures of sign language. I’m not going to delve too deeply into body language here, but I do recommend that you read further on the topic, and I especially recommend that you read Body Language Essentials by Joe Navarro.
Other factors that signal to residents or prospective residents that we lack confidence or that the rental rate is negotiable include:
- Appearing to be overly eager to get the lease signed
- Volunteering a concession
- Stressing issues that aren’t concerned with the rental rate in order to avoid discussion of the rental rate, itself
- Acting surprised by the rental rate (saying things like “wow” or “hmmm…”) or otherwise indicating that the rate is exceptionally high
- Offering options that would lower the overall rental rate
The way that we convey the rental rate has a huge influence over whether or not we close the lease or renewal; and until we can convey them credibly, confidently, and comfortably, we’ll always be at a disadvantage, whether we’re merely disadvantaging ourselves by leasing at a rate that’s lower than we should be getting, or giving our business away to a more confident competitor. A great self-training tip is to practice saying it out loud to other teammates, or in front of a mirror—and above all to your residents and prospective residents—until you can smile and say “Our rental rates are $000 to $000,” without an apology evident anywhere in your words, tone, body language, demeanor, or voice. But of course, all the training in the world won’t be enough until you can not only say it, but believe it.
Join us next week for Part Three of RENT INCREASES & CONCESSIONS
FACTORS THAT SUPPORT VALUE—AND THEREFORE, HIGHER RENTAL RATES
Read More Now The Leasing Professionals Guide to Eliminating Concessions, Raising Rents and Selling Rent Increases Every Time