Essential Steps of the Leasing Process
1. Effectively handle all requests for information about your community, including telephone,email, Internet and regular mail inquiries, with the goal of developing a relationship in order to persuade the future resident to visit the community personally and ultimately lease.
2. Meet and greet future residents (at the front door if possible). Offer your hand, start building a relationship if this is the first contact, offer your help, and offer a comfortable chair and refreshment.
3. Learn to develop rapport and build a relationship. The basics are fairly simple and include smiling, using the future resident’s name, saying please and thank you when asking for information, showing interest in the future resident’s needs and wants, and letting the future resident know what his or her options are. Focus all your attention on the person or persons in front of you!
4. Qualify future residents without interrogating. Determine their needs and wants before you start asking for the information that you need to complete the guest card.
5. Complete the welcome/ guest card for each future resident without making them feel like they are being interrogated; while collecting the information you need to stay in touch and satisfy the leasing criteria for your community, and track the marketing source.
6. Present/show/demonstrate the model (if the community has one) and an available apartment. Demonstrate to the future resident the amenities that they are interested in such as the fitness center, pool area, tennis courts, business center and so on. Discuss the community, Management Company, service department, special services, location and so on. Maintain a focus on those features and benefits they are most interested in.
7. Develop complete product knowledge of every floor-plan within your community! Show all closets and added storage spaces, present square footage of both living areas and storage space, furniture placement possibilities and options, and special extras like how many hangers can be hung in each closet, views, and added functions of all included appliances. If your community offers custom home upgrade options or other extras such as special telephone systems or additional lines, Internet access, renters insurance, etc., explain the programs and possibilities. Be alert for objections and be prepared to overcome them while you continue to build the relationship.
8. Learn and apply the finer points of closing by invitation and persuading the future resident to become a resident in your community.
9. Invite the future resident to complete the rental application or offer to fill it out for them. Introduce the future resident to other team members if possible, or at least offer the business card of the manager or community concierge (if your community has one) and complete any additional paperwork necessary. Once the future resident has filled out the rental application and has signed it, collect the application fee and security deposit.
10. Verify the information on the application and check the applicant’s credit, then present it to the Community Manager for approval or denial of occupancy.
11. Follow up with the future resident by sending a thank you or welcome card or letter. Once the application has been verified and approved, provide the future resident with the numbers to call for water, cable, Internet access, newspaper, electric, gas and telephone services; their new address; and the amount of rent that will be due upon move-in. Many communities today offer to make utility and service connection calls for the resident as an added value service. Keep in mind that the relationship leasing process includes making certain that the new resident understands every detail of the move in process and has no surprises from the signing of the lease on.
12. Complete all move-in paperwork. Make certain that the apartment door locks have been re-keyed and the appropriate keys to the apartment and mailbox are ready for move-in day. File all paperwork in appropriate files. If the future resident did not lease, follow up by writing a thank you note, sending post cards, mailing or e-mailing further community information…and always make at least two follow-up telephone calls. Continue the follow up process until the future resident has leased in your community or in a competing community. If the future resident chooses a competitor, determine why they selected that community rather than yours, and especially how the other community better satisfied their needs and wants. Keep a record of this information.
13. Be intimately familiar with other local communities – this includes both competitors and those owned or managed by your own company. If you can’t help a future resident, always refer them to another community that can. By keeping a set of brochures on these communities close at hand, you can then offer the future resident the information they need, and even call the community to set up an appointment. This will go a long way in establishing a rapport with these other communities that will, in time, lead them to do the same for you.
14. Recognize that knowledge is your key to success in each of the steps and areas addressed above. This includes knowledge of the relationship leasing process as well as product knowledge. The more you know, the more you’ll grow. Remember also that knowledge isn’t a static entity. It’s the product of learning, which needs to be a life-long and career-long process. The more you continue to learn, the more you’ll continue to grow as a professional.
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