What COVID-19 Means for Multifamily: How to Adapt
Coronavirus. COVID-19. Flattening the curve. Fox News.
By now, you’ve heard it all. Unfortunately, there are thousands of new cases across the country every day, with no sign that the virus is slowing down anytime soon.
Some businesses are being forced to close, some are suffering, and some are even thriving.
So, what does this mean for multifamily?
Before we dive into what you should do, let’s cover what you absolutely should NOT do.
Don’t ignore the situation
One of the most important rules in marketing is: take part in the conversation your prospects are ALREADY having.
Currently, your prospects are at home. They’re likely watching the news and worried about the spread of this virus and how it will continue to affect them. Their minds are racing and they’re deeply concerned.
Don’t be thoughtless and carry on as if nothing is happening. This will not be well-received by your residents or prospects.
If you don’t change anything on your website or make any mention of how you’re adapting, you destroy your chances of making your prospect feel understood or cared for.
This leads into the next item on our list:
Don’t fail to communicate
Your residents are trusting you to keep them safe. This typically means through your security procedures, but in this case, we’re talking about how you’re going to keep your property virus-free and effectively implement social distancing.
Although we’re all getting emails from many companies we could care less about (like that online store you bought a doormat from one time), communication, or even over-communication from the place we live will be well-received. Talk to your property management software rep to see which communication tools you could be using, whether that be text messaging residents, sending out email blasts, or simply adding a new page to your website.
Adapt your business operations and make those changes known. Show your residents you are there for them.
Don’t stop leasing
There is a lot of bad advice circulating right now, and the idea that you should stop leasing is up there. How could you just stop leasing? People still need places to live, and your business still needs to be profitable if possible. Keep pushing through these hard times and explain how you’re changing your leasing process to adapt to the times and you’ll make it through.
Finally, here are a few things you SHOULD do:
Assign someone on your team to post announcements
By dedicating someone to relaying information to residents, you’ll be sure no important announcements are missed. Also, make sure you use multiple methods of communication, as sometimes emails get sent to spam or residents mistype their SMS number. Sending your message through multiple channels ensures it will get through.
Acknowledge what your prospect is going through
More importantly, speak in their language. If your prospect would say “All hell’s breaking loose,” don’t be shy to use the same wording. Show them you’re on the same team, that you have empathy for what they’re going through, and that you’re not going to thoughtlessly follow-up with them without acknowledging what’s happening in the world.
Change your follow-up strategy
Instead of mindlessly following-up with prospects via email, give them some information that you think will help them during this tough time. End your emails with something that shows you care, such as, “Let me know if there’s anything I can do to make things easier, given the current climate.”
Understand how impactful your decisions are
Right now, every decision you make has the potential to go viral—for good or bad. Every business is under a microscope, with every move being analyzed and blown up by media outlets eager for fresh news. Thus, the choices you make can either be your best branding opportunity or your worst PR failure yet.
Set up virtual tours
Social distancing means no more in-person tours; however, that doesn’t mean you can’t engage prospects, you just need to use different tools. Everyone else is going virtual, so why not apartment hunting? Virtual tours are an excellent way for you to keep prospects in your pipeline. Use them!
Everyone thought the Great Financial Crisis in 2008 would be the end of the world, yet our economy bounced back even stronger. In these trying times, it’s important to stay level-headed, exercise social-distancing, and adapt to the best of your ability.
Please remember, we will get through this. This is not a time to panic—it’s the time for you to double-down on your marketing and establish with your residents and prospects that you care just as much about their wellbeing as you do about making a profit.