Sales and Customer Service Tips for Success Working in the Apartment Industry
As I travel around the country and talk with students about working in the apartment industry, I am often asked what it takes to be successful in this industry. The fact is that many of the traits—hard work, dedication, creative thinking, self-motivation—that lead people to success in other industries are the same traits prized by apartment industry employers.
I talked last month about how people often move into the apartment industry from other careers, such as working in the hospitality industry. We also see quite a few people come to us with backgrounds in sales and marketing.
When you think about it, that makes sense.
Part of our job is to sell prospective residents on our apartment community and persuade them to sign a lease with our communities as opposed to a competing community down the block. That’s the main job of our industry’s leasing consultants, and that’s where many people get their first taste of working in the apartment industry. In fact, some apartment management companies require that entry-level employees start as leasing consultants.
Many of the skills critical for success as a leasing consultant also can be applied to other jobs that focus on sales and customer service.
Sue Weston, CAM, CAPS, teaches many of our National Apartment Leasing Professional (NALP) designation courses. She has worked in the apartment industry for more than 30 years and knows what it takes to succeed as a leasing consultant.
She offers the following sales and customer service tips:
- Tip #1 — It’s a Home! Just like in real estate home sales, think about how this person/family will LIVE in this home. It’s not a unit or even an apartment – it will be the base of somebody’s life. Connect to their sense of home.
- Tip #2 — Know Your Product. You’re the pro. You’re the one with the answers. Be the resource your client needs you to be. Where’s the nearest UPS drop box? A place for a great brunch? Creative use of space in the apartment home? You’ve got the answer!
- Tip #3 — The Product is NOT Just Your Four Walls. See #2 above. The broader your knowledge of your own property, the neighborhood around it and your competitors, the more successfully you will be able to put people into homes.
- Tip #4 — Put on Your Customer’s Shoes. Even if they are moving to your apartment community from nearby, they are basically going to live their lives in a new neighborhood. A child’s day care may change, and they may have to find a new favorite Starbucks. This is a BIG DEAL. Be thoughtful, be pre-emptive.
- Tip #5 — Listen Carefully! Don’t just hear with your ears, but also listen for needs or desires or urgency. Ask, “how can we help you get comfortable with this decision?”
- Tip #6 — Get Contact Information. No matter what happens, whether you lease on the spot or you have to follow up, get contact information, such as phone numbers, email addresses, preferred method of communication and permission to contact. After your customer leaves, the conversation about your property will go on, so be sure you have a chance to be a part of that!
- Tip #7— Follow-Up is Conversation. See #6. Just do it! Follow up in any form is so seldom done, so you will stand out in a sea of competitors. And it’s not an automated response or a script. It’s the continuation of the personal sales experience you had with the customers.
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