Demonstrating the property

The tour. Step by step, you will show them the path to their future home…

Step by step, you will show them the path to their future home…

Take the opportunity to engage with your prospect as you walk or drive them to the property, building on your initial introduction at the leasing center. Direct the conversation with a focus on the prospect. Encourage him or her to share their wants and needs; what are some “must-haves”? Find out if they have they rented before. Try to identify the “buying” signals. What do they like about their current living accommodations? Have they visited the property on another occasion? What do they enjoy doing at home?  Perhaps it’s cooking, going to the gym, working out, or studying. Maybe they are simply looking for a place to crash because their professional life is so demanding.

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Take what you learn from this conversation, and get to researching. An effective leasing presentation incorporates each fact into the planned tour, describing every feature of the apartment and how each one can personally benefit the prospect. This is not a generic list of features and benefits. Prospects are quite aware of the information they choose to share about themselves. Without any effort to know them better, there’s little reason for them to share additional information, and the personability of the tour starts to slip away.

Create the visual impression of the prospect coming home from work at the end of the day, or with a vehicle full of groceries, kids, etc.

Try building a mental image for the prospect: “This is where you’ll park when you come home each day,” or “This section reserved for our residents,” or “The entry to the building has conveniently located mailboxes.” If the property offers a locked entry and/or intercom system between the apartment and the building entry, describe its functionality to ensure the prospect understands each of the features in detail. Create the visual impression of the prospect coming home from work at the end of the day, or with a vehicle full of groceries, kids, etc. The entrance and approach to the property should say “Welcome Home” in the prospect’s mind.

Include a description of the locks and safety devices at the apartment’s entry. Be careful not to imply a dangerous environment, but demonstrate the deadbolt lock, peep-hole, and intercom with the entry area. While many prospects do not have the time or interest in these features, these are truly important to prospective residents. By pointing out these features, prospects will begin questioning why these details were overlooked by other previously visited apartments. Explain fire safety systems and fire extinguishers in the hallways and apartments, such as any fire suppression sprinkler heads in each bedroom. While it may satisfy the local municipal code, an explanation creates awareness and appreciation of the feature.

Try to evoke feedback from the prospect regarding each feature explanation; without any feedback, objections cannot be identified or resolved. If the prospect doesn’t offer feedback or indicate their level of satisfaction, the leasing agent must be prepared to ask open ended questions to encourage conversation. This allows you to identify the possibility of another apartment that will better meet the prospect’s needs.

As the leasing agent, you will take the lead. Use the prospect’s information gleaned from earlier conversations to personalize the features and functionality of each room. For example: an 18 cubic-foot refrigerator with ice-maker that produces 50 ice cubes per hour; three shelves in each kitchen cabinets for 33% more storage space; an extra deep chef-style kitchen sink; a walk-in closet with 47 linear-feet of hanging storage space; a furnace with a bi-annual filter; or a water heater set at 102 degrees. Have the prospect open the door and step out onto the balcony to sit in a bistro chair and imagine having their morning coffee or relaxing with a glass of wine at the end of the day. Turn on the water in the kitchen or bathroom to create additional sensory experiences. The tour transforms the model apartment into the prospect’s future home.

Have the prospect actively think about and describe their furniture and room layout: “A sectional would fit here,” or “This is a perfect spot for a desk; lots of electrical outlets, even an outlet with USB connections to charge cellphones or other devices,” or “Televisions are perfect on this wall, which has convenient power source and cable connections.”

You may even ask the prospect, “Do you place your shoes on shelves or on the floor?” Associating the prospect’s personal effects with the property, further cements the idea that this apartment is the prospect’s perfect future home.

The tour is a mental transformation of the model apartment into a future home.

The tour is a mental transformation of the model apartment into a future home.

All too often, tours are rushed through—nothing more than a quick walkthrough with obvious observations and a lack of information or demonstration, before heading back to the leasing center. While in the model, use a tablet or paper copies to process the application and offer greater privacy to the prospect. Any additional questions prospects may have — “What is that window?” or “How wide is that doorway?” — should be quickly and easily answered. Also, by completing the application during the tour builds the emotional attachment the prospect has to the property.

Helping the prospect summarize their preferences and priorities builds a picture showing how this apartment meets each of the criteria on their “must-have list” or how it will be accommodated. A “must-have” that isn’t available, say, an in-unit washing machine or a third bedroom, should not be ignored in the leasing presentation. Meet these issues head-on and determine whether or not it’s a deal breaker for the prospect, and if so, Is there anything that can be accommodated?

During the return trip to the leasing center, focus the conversation on discussing plans to sign the lease, and continue to describe how their life will be once they move in. “Here’s where you’ll pick up your mail,” and “Our office accepts packages delivered by UPS or FedEx, and you’ll have a notice like this on your door.”

Every minute of the tour is about building the relationship with the prospect.

Every minute of the tour is about building the relationship with the prospect. When it’s show time, demonstrate the product with descriptive terms and personalize each feature to meet the prospect’s criteria. Provide a summary that resolves each objection, and list how each were achieved. This allows for an easier application process as well as reserves an apartment for immediate move-in.