Virtual Renting During a Pandemic: The Ultimate Guide
Social distancing is a term that you’ve likely heard a million times by now. This “new normal” has landlords and property managers across the world reconsidering their leasing programs.
At Generation Marketing, we’ve heard from countless multifamily professionals in the past few months to discuss the best virtual options this industry has available.
But never fear, this article will teach you everything you need to know about renting apartments in the current climate.
1) Reduce the information gap
Uber came out on top against a heavily entrenched taxi-cab industry because they were able to disrupt business as usual with a simple idea: you shouldn’t have to make a phone call to get a ride – all you should need to do is click a button.
People LOVED this simple, hassle-free approach to ridesharing, and Uber quickly dominated the competition.
Anytime you can reduce the number of steps it takes to do something, you will win. Consider how easy it is to lease one of your apartments, are there any steps that you should eliminate? (For example, when comparing scheduling a virtual FaceTime tour versus adding Matterport tours, the latter has fewer steps.)
One thing that has remained true, pandemic or no pandemic, is that consumer-oriented companies always stay on top. If you can create a killer user experience (i.e., answering as many of your prospect’s questions as possible before they contact you), you will save time and money while also increasing your conversion rate.
2) Address the conversation your prospects are already having
Your prospects are already talking about COVID-19. Address the conversation they’re already having and ask yourself, “What are my prospect’s specific concerns? What would they like to hear from me?”
One of the worst things companies can do is ignore the circumstances and move on as if nothing is happening, which can easily come off as insensitive.
If you can become a part of the conversation, you will win with the added bonus that your prospects aren’t perceiving you as insensitive. Dedicate a page on your website to COVID-19 and tell your prospects how you’re changing your operations in response to the virus, or, better yet, gear your specials towards COVID-19 (i.e., “Now offering 1 month free due to COVID-19!”) to show your prospect that you care about how this virus is affecting them.
3)Take advantage of some of our favorite tools
So, what kind of tools can you use to make your virtual renting experience spectacular? Below you’ll find some of our favorite programs and strategies that we like to use at Generation Marketing to create a fully immersive online experience.
a) Matterport tours
Matterport tours are one of the absolute BEST ways to engage renters without requiring them to visit in person. One thing many people underestimate about adding Matterport tours is how much time it can save your leasing agents.
Prospects who come in after seeing a virtual Matterport tour are some of the most qualified prospects you can get. They’ve already experienced the apartment from their computer and are only coming in to get a feel for your property and confirm what they saw online.
Matterport tours can be added to most rental websites and your property website, and you can share tour links directly with any prospect. See an example below:
Self-guided tours are a great way to save your leasing agents time and give you an edge by not only eliminating the need for leasing agents but allowing you to extend your tour availability. This can give your property a huge advantage, as people will feel much more comfortable touring your property.
The ability to advertise truly “contactless” tours is a big advantage, as yours will be one of the few properties to do so.
c) Online application process
You might think this practice is already standard, but there are still many properties out there that haven’t made their application process virtual!
Stepping into the twenty-first century will not only support your business during the pandemic, it will continue to serve dividends once things have been restored as your prospects will appreciate that you’re offering the contemporary customer experience they’ve come to expect
Rhino is a licensed insurance agency that gives renters the option to forego their security deposit. They simply pay Rhino a monthly fee and the agency covers the security deposit on their behalf.
It’s no secret that cash can be tight during difficult times; however, pandemic or not, we’ve seen properties dramatically increase their application-resident conversion ratio simply by adding Rhino as an option. See this infographic from their website explaining the process:
e) Virtual staging
Now is the time for you to expand your digital content and sell the potential of your apartments in as many ways as possible.
If you can offer prospects multiple ways of experiencing your community, you increase the likelihood of them reaching out and moving forward!
f) 3D floor plans
As we’ve said, again and again, digital content has become more important than ever! The more information you can provide, the more time you save your agents and the better experience you provide your prospects.
Adding renderings to your listings will give your prospects a complete idea of the layout they’re applying for. Invest in your content once and improve your conversions across the board!
Succeeding in this era of virtual renting requires that you act quickly, have empathy for your prospects, and become more flexible with company policies.
The quicker you adapt, the greater your edge against your competitors who are slow to keep up with the times (think Netflix vs. Blockbuster).
Good luck and happy leasing!