Which method is best in the leasing presentation? BOTH!
The good ‘ole “Guest Card”…or “Welcome Card” as some call it. I’m referring to the paper or digital record you create to document the information you get from an online, telephone or walk-in rental prospect. This article is to remind you the detail you gather in your initial contact is not as important as the manner you get it. The goal is to use this initial meeting to begin connecting with this new prospect.
It is NOT an Interrogation – Remember that the process of information gathering must be FEP. Friendly, Enthusiastic, and Professional. While there is some critical prospect information you must determine upfront to help your prospect, don’t just focus on your rental criteria. Though we often call this process “qualifying”, your initial contact is not primarily to “screen” the prospect to determine if they are creditworthy. That comes later.
Conversation, not a Monologue – Ask questions that show genuine interest in the person’s needs and want. Today one of the critical questions is, “When are you moving?”. That impacts what specific apartments might be available. Other questions identify the prospect’s motivation to find a new home. This allows you to tailor your presentation to their specific needs.
The Guest Card as a Leasing Tool – Whether you use paper or complete a form in your software CRM, it is best to have a guide or format you use with each prospect. Not only does this make every initial contact more complete and genuine, but it also helps to keep the exchange “fair housing friendly”. Every prospect gets the same fair and equal treatment.
Paper or Digital Guest Card? – I am a Boomer so I prefer the paper guest card. After finishing the conversation with the prospect, you must transfer that information to your property software CRM. Sure, this is an extra step, but it takes just a moment if you do it immediately. Combining the paper with the digital record also gives you the opportunity to send a customized follow-up text or email. (Here is a link to the Welcome Guest Card we currently use on our ELLIS contract lease-ups.)
The digital or electronic guest card is just as effective as long as you don’t get bogged down in the data entry. If the prospect completed an online inquiry as most do, you already have some information. Use that information to ask additional questions that further identify their “housing story”. If you want to input the information as you interview the prospect, make sure you are a proficient typist and they cannot hear you keyboarding. Comments during the initial interview like “sorry, my computer is slow today” or “hold on, I need to get that again from you” are not good form!
Qualifying or “information gathering” is the most important part of the leasing presentation. This is the time when you get to share a conversation with the prospect about their specific rental needs. As you complete the Guest Card by asking some key questions, your interest in their needs and wants creates a trusting relationship. And TRUST IS A MUST in your effort to gain the commitment.