This week, we wanted to go on-site and explore one of the more time-honored traditions of apartment marketing — the property tour. Let’s get right to the recap, shall we?

What is the one mistake that you see too many leasing pros make when giving a property tour?

  • Jennifer Kennedy: I have heard leasing consultants talk prospects out of an apartment by showing them the things that they may not like.
  • Rory Ellis: Number one mistake … the premature hard close!
  • Joe Foster: The notion that if the agent conveys to the prospects that time is short, they are more likely to lease.
  • Mike Brewer: Giving up price at first request.
  • Kim Cory: Sounding robotic … like they are reading off cue cards. Emotionless.
  • Janet Rosseth: Big mistake = Forgetting the discovery phase and selling their own favorite features instead.
  • Eric at Buildium: Sometimes apartment hunters don’t know exactly what they want. During the showing, continue to uncover their needs.
  • Sara Goberdhansingh: When I’ve gone on apartment tours, nothing is worse than getting stuck with a tour guide who clearly wants to be doing something else.

Consumers know what they want, they’ve done their homework. How can we more effectively focus on their interests/needs/wants?

  • Rory Ellis: Learn to ask leading questions, not simply give a pitch. Think consultant, not used car salesman.
  • Ask them what about the property brought them in to see it. Then you can focus on their needs.
  • Eric at Buildium: 80/20 rule. Listen 80% of the conversation and speak only 20% of the conversation. Listening is key to finding the right match!
  • Eric at Buildium: Learn from what prospects say. i.e. If a prospect mentions that she loves to bbq, then a ground level unit may be preferable.
  • Kim Cory: If they are informed, have done homework & made it to your office, then it’s time ask what can you provide to help them commit & move in!
  • Tami Siewruk: It’s about understanding inbound leads today & how they differ from years ago. People are different today & training hasn’t caught up.

What’s the one trend you’ve noticed while giving tours recently? How have you adjusted your strategy?

  • Tami Siewruk: Trend: I just want to see the apartment. I don’t want to take the time to give you all that information.
  • Tami Siewruk: Strategy: Walk & talk. Have the conversation on the way to the apartment.
  • Tami Siewruk: Trend: They come educated and they already “think” they know more than you do.
  • Tami Siewruk: Strategy: Find out — “ask” — what they already know about the apartment … gives you a starting place!
  • Kim Cory: Strategy: Let them show you around! I bet you they have already been through most of your property before walking in the door.
  • Jennifer Kennedy: Talk up the value of your community and build trust. People still buy from people.
  • Kim Cory: When asked is this your first time to visit, we hear not in person, but yes online. They just want to put the images they have to reality.

What are some of the more creative ideas you’ve seen/tried on a recent tour? How did they work?

  • Brian Owen: I know some communities that are giving prospects flip videos to record tours and then emailing them the video after! Brilliant!
  • Tami Siewruk: We used motion-activated vids, music, lights … we had all the tech built in.
  • Mark Juleen: You need to offer testimonials and stories of other residents and how they have decorated or enjoyed features of the community.
  • Tami Siewruk: Has anyone used barcodes yet?

Should we even call it a tour? What can we do to make it more of a demo of the property, get the prospect more involved?
(Submitted by Mark Juleen)

  • Eric at Buildium: Call it a “simulation” and paint the picture of the prospect living there.
  • Mark Juleen: Screw fancy ideas. people just want to have an enjoyable experience. be consistent, ask questions, and build trust.
  • Brian Owen: Give them the keys to the guest suite for a night and call it a “test drive”! Anyone done that?

What’s your best property tour secret? What the one thing that seems to work for you every time?

  • Tami Siewruk: Infotainment is what they want in a tour! Make it interesting and you score!
  • Jory Rozner Strosberg: You don’t need to be “sales-y” to lease apts. Create trust & comfort. My PM leased one this week. No sales exp.
  • Kim Cory: How about NO secret. If they were informed before showing up & now confirmed they like what they see … ask for the CLOSE.
  • Tami Siewruk: People demand more. They insist you be interesting, informative, & entertaining; it’s what potentially makes your tour memorable.

One of the more interesting side conversations that came up in this week’s discussion revolved around the Go Solo program that Urbane Apartments is using, allowing prospects to tour apartment communities by themselves. Some were for the idea, some were against it, some were just curious about it. Here are some of the highlights:

  • Eric Brown: Our Tours and Rentals increased exponentially when we got out of the way.
  • Sara Goberdhansingh: That’s important, too. If someone wants to wander, let them. Tour guides need to know when to talk & when to let people look.
  • Eric Brown: It is the only way we do tours.
  • Mark Juleen: Just like anything, it won’t work for everyone. Happy you guys are successful with it.
  • Tami Siewruk: A combination is Excellent Guided & Solo gives people the control they want & the control you need.

Eric even posted the marketing collateral his company gives to each prospect to guide them on their “Go Solo” tour. You can view that collateral here.

Here’s the link to the full transcript for those who want to dig in a little deeper.

So what’s your take? What strategies for property tours are working well for you? What consumer trends do you see affecting how you do property tours moving forward? And what do you think about the Go Solo idea — is it something you’d try at your property? Let us know what you think in the comments.

Our top contributor this week was Jennifer Kennedy from Property Counselors Management Group in Florida. Jennifer will receive a iTunes gift card, sponsored by TurnSocial. Congrats, Jennifer!