Strong market conditions continue to prevail in the Pacific Northwest. Many apartment communities have been maintaining high occupancy numbers and some are even full and working off a waiting list. Conditions are optimum for raising rents and increasing property values. Residents of these communities are getting an education in the high cost of relocating and are opting to stay put, even if they receive a significant rent increase.
What all this means is that the leasing people are now in the driver’s seat: It is a seller’s market! - However, just because you are full does not mean you quit selling or stop providing quality customer service. Unfortunately, after several years of tough market conditions, some leasing people are ready for a break and they are taking it during regular business hours!
Based on some disturbing trends that started showing up a couple of years ago and that are still going strong, the Secret Shopper is wondering if some leasing consultants have the following questions:
Q: When I have no vacancies or unrented notices, is it really necessary for me to answer the phone, return calls or set appointments?
Q: When I have no apartments available to rent, do I really have to keep appointments that conflict with my lunch break?
Q: When my community is full and I’m having a slow day, do I really need to stay open until closing?
While all of these are “imaginary” questions, I can’t help but wonder how many of these are real, unspoken thoughts in the minds of some leasing consultants.
It may be true that the “leasing” side of the rental office becomes less challenging when your community is 100% occupied. However, even without apartments to rent, you have an existing customer base. Your residents still must be able to conduct their business with you in order to renew leases, pick up packages, request maintenance service, etc. If you choose not to answer your phone, return calls or keep your office open, then you are not providing the level of customer service you promised when they were prospective renters.
Regarding your 100% occupancy . . . Congratulations! - It took a lot of hard work to get there. Of course, depending on how you treat your residents will determine if you STAY there. Oh, and one last thing: How are you coming along with your waiting list? Are you keeping in touch with those prospects who are interested or did you just take their name and number to “humor them?” Remember: The future is unpredictable, but a current, updated waiting list is a “sure thing.” Instead of “closing up shop” early on a slow day, how about making some follow up calls. You and your prospects will be glad you did!
If you have a question or concern that you would like to see addressed next month, please ASK THE SECRET SHOPPER by making contact via e-mail or fax. Your questions, comments and suggestions are ALWAYS welcome!
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