These questions must be asked as if the future resident is indeed moving in to the community. In short, assume they have already leased. This technique is called assumptive qualifying. Yes you guessed it! We need to use the same kinds of questions that we used on the telephone in Chapter Three of my Relationship Leasing Book. Be careful to use a friendly, conversational manner and tone of voice, or your future resident will feel that you are being unduly presumptive, and may respond defensively. It’s also important that you view this method not as a “slam dunk” close, but as a means of making the future resident feel comfortable with the idea of saying yes. The goal is to suggest a positive response to best knife sharpener, not to overtly extract one. Let’s examine the seven classic qualifying questions used by most successful Leasing Professionals, from both passive and assumptive perspectives so that you’ll have a better idea of how the assumptive technique works:
#1 Passive: How did you hear about us?
Assumptive: Before we talk about your new home, may I ask how you heard about our community?
#2 Passive: When do you need the apartment?
Assumptive: How soon will you be moving into our community?
#3 Passive: Who is going to occupy the apartment? Pets?
Assumptive: Who will be moving in to our community with you? Our community is pet friendly; will you be bringing a pet with you?
#4 Passive: What size apartment?
Assumptive: Our community offers 11 different floor plans with 1-, 2-, or 3-bedrooms, which size will best suit your needs?
#5 Passive: Is there are price range you’d like to stay within?
Assumptive: So that I can show you the apartment that best fits your needs, may I ask how much have you budgeted for your new home here?
Note: Bear in mind that when you ask this question, you may be asked a question in return, like “How much is the rent here?” Respond by quoting ranges that cover all the floor plans you have available within their move-in time frame. Also, avoid the words “hundred” and “dollars” when quoting rental rates (i.e. say “from seven forty five…” instead of “between seven hundred and forty five dollars…” These are words associated with expense, and your goal is to associate your rental rate with value. For the same reason, I also recommend never writing the dollar sign or cents along with a rental rate (i.e. 745 vice $745.00) when marking a floor plan or brochure for the future resident’s reference.
#6 Passive: Do you work in the area?
Assumptive: Why are you moving here from your present address?
Note: This question gives you an idea of what they are really looking for in their new home. You will be able to use this information to make certain that you are fulfilling their needs, and it may clue you in to problems they may have had with their previous apartment. If I sense that the question makes the future resident uncomfortable, I always take a minute to explain why I’m asking (i.e. “Sally, often people move because their current home no longer meets their needs, and knowing why you’re leaving your current home will help me be certain that we can completely satisfy your needs here!). They always appreciate my reasons and respond positively.
# 7: Tami’s Favorite Question – If I show you an apartment today that you like, and that completely meets your needs, are you prepared to leave a deposit?
We used this question at Johnstown Properties way back in the 70’s and I still like it! The secret to using it effectively is to simply ask then don’t say another word! They won’t think twice about answering the question since you’ve shown a genuine concern for their wishes, and a desire to satisfy their needs and wants. A positive answer from your future resident means you’ll lease the apartment that very day — if you effectively meet their needs and wants and overcome any objections posed along the way. If they say no, after you’ve given them the full tour and asked for the deposit, you’ll know that there are hidden objections to be uncovered and overcome. Perhaps a husband or wife has to approve the final decision, or maybe they simply don’t need the apartment right away. In either case, and in many other circumstances, you can move closer to the lease by asking for a refundable deposit to hold the apartment for an agreed upon length of time.
I love asking this question because it works. I will admit that it was very uncomfortable for me to ask the fist time. In fact, I recall that it took me several demonstrations to work up enough nerve to ask. If you want to increase your closing ratio, try it on your next ten future residents. You’ll find that it gets a little easier to ask each time, and your increasing level of confidence will also positively influence your results.
There will naturally be additional qualifying factors to address, based on your community’s needs. Following the summary below, I’ve included a copy of the qualifying criteria that I use for my own communities. We use this form to review our criteria carefully with each future resident not only to ensure their complete understanding, but also to demonstrate the value of our community as one that expects our residents to meet certain criteria. We’ve found that our future residents greatly appreciate that we strive for excellence, especially when they realize that their neighbors have been held to the same fair but discerning standards that we expect of them. The ultimate result is a community that our future residents desire to become residents of, and our residents are proud to call home.
- A community presentation should never be made without first determining the needs and wants of the future resident. This enables the Leasing Professional to develop rapport with the future resident and determine his/her hot buttons. The conversation and presentation can then be planned around those hot buttons.
B. Qualifying is necessary in order to determine if the future resident fits within the leasing criteria and requirements of the community.
C. Qualifying the future resident’s specific needs allows the available apartments to be narrowed down to one or two.
D. Leasing Professional’s must determine if the future resident is qualified or unqualified. Unqualified future residents should be handled courteously. If possible, unqualified future residents should be referred to another community where they might meet qualifying standards.
E. Always ask qualifying questions in an assumptive manner as if there is no doubt whatsoever that the future resident will indeed be moving in to the community. Use the words “May I” and “thank you” often.
F. Qualifying questions should always be asked in a conversational manner. This helps to establish a rapport with the future resident.
- A Welcome/Guest Card must be completed for every future resident. If the future resident calls before coming in, then the Welcome/Guest Card may have been completed prior to the visit and can be completed in person when he/she visits the community.
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101 Secrets of Relationship Leasing (Item 373)