The 7 Secrets to Successful Apartment Leasing

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By: Eric Cumley

Rating: A

This author was inspiring to me. Not 100% because of the subject matter but because of his obvious passion and his incredible clarity and organization of his message. Great communicator!

Read the summary below. The takeaways that struck me. Take the nuggets and add them to your arsenal!


Secret Number 1: The Telephone Is Your Lifeline to Leasing Success

Raise your phone presentation skills to extraordinary levels by:

  • Prepare, prepare, prepare! Before making a phone call make sure you have all the tools you’ll need. Obtain as much info about the different aspects of your apartments, your community, the neighborhood, and your competition as possible. In addition, prepare for objections you know are likely to come up. There’s no better way to instill confidence in your caller than to be completely familiar with your apartments and at ease with your knowledge of them.
  • The manner in which you answer your telephone has a significant impact on how callers ultimately perceive you and the community you represent. 

When the phone rings:  If serving another customer, excuse yourself. Stop whatever you’re doing at your desk. Answer on the first or second ring. Look upward, and smile. Remember the incredible power of enthusiasm.

Placing callers on hold: Ask the caller on line one if they will please hold for a moment. Don’t apologize but rather thank them for waiting.

  • To build a great conversation, ask the Magic Questions. 

Magic Questions:

Please describe for me…

Please tell me about…

When the caller asks,”How much are your two bedrooms?” try responding with a similar approach to:

“You know, it really depends on what you’re looking for. Would it be okay if we started with just a couple of quick questions?”

Then ask the magic questions:

Could you please describe for me some of the things you’d like to have in a new apartment?

Could you please tell me about where you’re living now, and why you’ve decided to move?

  • Then establish your caller’s qualifications in relation to the size/type of apartment they want, their desired move-in date, the number of intended occupants, whether or not they have pets, and their gross monthly income.
  • Study the secrets to scheduling appointments, and use them in varying combinations to increase the number of callers who actually show up in person. By getting more prospects off the phone and into your office, your overall number of leases will dramatically increase.

Appointment Setting Strategies

Will you be making the decision yourself, or will you be making it along with someone else?

Can you come out and see me today?

Give me just a minute while I write this down.

Just in case…let me get a number where you can be reached.

Why don’t I call you on Saturday to confirm?

If something should happen to come up…give me a call.

Be sure to bring your checkbook.

Secret Number 2: Warm and Friendly Greetings Build the Foundation for Success

Before greeting a prospect for the first time, remember to:

  • Build an atmosphere of acceptance and trust. Do this by working to put distrustful people at ease, and by recognizing the fragile nature of trust.
  • Relax and be yourself. People want to see the real you before they show you the real them.
  • Recognize that your prospect has already formed a perception of your community before ever meeting you face to face, as a result of experiencing moments of truth.
  • Before your prospect arrives, thoroughly inspect and prepare all exterior and interior areas yourself. Don’t rely solely on maintenance or groundskeeping staff; you probably know what your prospects will notice better than anyone else.
  • Consider the impact your appearance has on people’s attitudes toward you and your community. What you wear and how you look speaks volumes not only about who you are, but also about the company you represent.
  • Keep in mind the secrets to warm and friendly greetings:
    • Let your enthusiasm shine
    • Stand and move from behind desks or tables
    • Introduce yourself by name
    • Obtain your prospect’s name
    • Be aware of what you say with your eyes
    • Smile
    • Think about your handshake
    • Acknowledge those who must wait
    • Use a “Message Board”
  • Lay the foundation for future success. Make people feel so warm, so welcome, and so important when they enter your office that their decision to lease is virtually assured.

Secret Number 3: Stop “Qualifying” Your Prospects and Start Interviewing Them

The leasing interview should be a comfortable, two-way process that allows both you and your prospect to determine how well your apartments fit what they’re looking for. In the beginning stages of the leasing interview.

  • Expect indifference from your prospects.
  • Keep your personal agenda out of sight.
  • Take the lead.
  • Be seated and establish a cordial atmosphere.

When gathering information from your prospects:

  • Use guest cards. While there may be exceptions, it’s generally best to complete guest cards for your prospects. Recognize that the guest card is an extremely important component of the leasing interview process.
  • Use domino questioning – primary, secondary, and exploratory questions – to obtain additional information in the leasing interview. Good primary questions are the Magic Questions. Secondary questions typically begin with why. Exploratory questions often begin with what.
  • Achieve a better understanding of the emotions driving your prospect’s decision by using Jim Eeckhoudt’s “why times three” technique. Remember that when you reach people’s emotions, you reach the real person.

When presenting information to your prospects:

  • Talk in terms of your prospect – not yourself.
  • Respect your prospect’s time as if it were your own.
  • Hold off on reviewing brochures in the leasing interview. Keep your prospect focused on you.
  • Finally, begin dramatizing your ideas. Present everything you say with as much flair and creativity as you can. Ask yourself, “If I were my prospect, would I be interested in listening to me?”

Secret Number 4: Involvement Is the Key to Dynamic Demonstrations

Strategies that will help us make effective and memorable demonstrations.

  • Assemble a community information notebook, and carry it with you each time you demonstrate an apartment. Create sections labeled Community Maps, Apartment Specifications, Neighborhood Information, information For New Residents, and Comparables. Strive for quality and readability throughout.
  • Study your competitors thoroughly and regularly.
  • Before opening your leasing office, inspect the routes to model and target vacant apartments for things that might “turn off” future residents.
  • Next, conduct detailed inspections of all vacant and furnished model interiors. Make absolutely certain that the apartments you intend to show are market-ready – completely ready for occupancy! Do not show dirty apartments!
  • Creatively accessorize market-ready apartments. The more fun you and your prospect have in the demonstration, the more likely they’ll be to remember your apartment over others.
  • Finally, make sure you’re carrying keys that work.

As you finished the leasing interview and leave the office:

  • Offer your prospect a choice of apartments to see.
  • Make personal safety a priority.
  • Keep the dialogue moving. Initiate conversation with open-ended questions, and remember the importance of honesty.
  • Stay in step. Remain near to your prospect so that trust can continue to build.
  • Unless low vacancy prevents you from doing otherwise, demonstrate vacant apartments before showing models.

Create a meaningful, benefit-oriented opening line. Avoid obvious comments like, “This is our two bedroom, one bath…”

Let the demonstration begin:

  • Present apartment features in terms of their benefits to your prospect. People don’t lease features, which are factual in nature. They lease benefits, which have emotional appeal.
  • Put your prospect’s preferences first. Create a vision that places their stuff and their ideas in the spotlight.
  • Get your prospect involved by giving them “minor orders.” Minor orders help people discover benefits on their own and establish the foundation for gaining a financial commitment.
  • Make sure that the orders you give result in the discovery of key benefits to your prospect. Don’t ask people to do things merely for the sake of doing them.
  • When demonstrating lifestyle amenities (pool, exercise facilities, etc.) highlight the ones you feel are most likely to interest your prospect. Remember this rule of thumb: If they don’t care about it, don’t sell it.
  • Getting your prospects involved in the demonstration sets the stage for success. If they cooperate with your minor orders along each step of the way, inviting them to lease will be a comfortable and natural thing to do.

Secret Number 5: Overcoming Objections Doesn’t Work – Resolving Them Does

  • Overcoming objections doesn’t work. Instead, you must strive for favorable outcomes by resolving the objections you encounter.
  • The Golden Rules of Resolving Objections are to avoid conflict and to seek agreement.
  • There are 6 common causes behind most of the objections you face: procrastination, price, 3rd-party approval, fear/mistrust, courtesy, Uncertainty/confusion
  • The are 2 different forms of objections:
  • Deflections, which are vague comments people use either to evade you or to mask their true objections 
  • True objections, which are more specific and can relate to a variety of things, including carpet color/quality, room size, parking, and so forth.
  • Deflections are best resolved through patient, assertive questioning.
  • True objections can be resolved by solving problems for the potential resident.
  • When competing with concessions, boldly present what you have to offer in terms of the value it represents for you customer’s leasing dollar. Many prospects will lease first-rate quality and exceptional service before they’ll chase after a low price.

Secret Number 6: Invite Your Prospects To Lease

What is the result of a mistimed sale? A lost sale, every time.

Giving your prospect an application, then instructing them to fill it out and bring it back with their deposit is not closing!

Perhaps the most important factor in the apartment leasing equation is inviting your prospects to lease. It is your responsibility to see that every qualified prospect you meet receives an invitation to lease. You can lease more apartments than ever before by keeping these important considerations in mind:

  • Recognize the various strengths and weaknesses of the apartment industry’s traditional closing techniques: trial closing, ABC (Always Be Closing), Assumptive Closing, Urgency Closing, Gimmicks

Study and apply the principles in each of the 5 steps to closing success:

  • Recognize verbal and nonverbal leasing signals.
  • Positively reinforce leasing signals when they appear.
  • Periodically measure the extent of your prospect’s interest.
  • Offer reassurance that your prospect is making a good decision.
  • Give your prospect the opportunity to say yes – invite them to lease.

After you’ve extended the invitation:

  • Tell your prospects that they are wanted
  • Be quiet
  • Offer a little privacy

When your prospect says “yes”:

  • Ask, “Are you sure?”
  • Remain composed
  • Make yourself available
  • Show you appreciation
  • When your prospect says “no,” by all means, try again!
  • When your prospect says, “I’ll be back,” remember that you cannot make a person do something they are not yet willing to do themselves. Commit to helping them as they continue their search, and by all means, stay in touch.
  • When you must say no, instead of informing people that they’ve been denied, tell them that their application has been denied. Never discuss the contents of a credit report with a denied applicant. If they request information, refer them to the service that generated their report.
  • Remember that the greatest leasing secret of all is that you don’t have to worry about talking people into anything. The secret to success in leasing doesn’t lie in your ability to persuade. It lies in your ability to serve.

Secret Number 7: Follow-Up Is the Extra Mile of Apartment Leasing

Follow-up is the process by which we continue contacting prospects who have not yet leased in an ongoing attempt to earn their business. There are 5 important reasons for maintaining a consistent follow-up program.

  1. Helps generate higher returns on advertising investments
  2. Effectively neutralizes prospect procrastination
  3. Increases awareness of your apartments – and you
  4. Reveals additional objections
  5. Gives those who do it consistently a tremendous competitive edge.

There are 3 essential rules of follow-up:

  1. Obtain guest card information from qualified prospects
  2. Communicate specifically in terms of your prospect
  3. Ask for a commitment.

Popular methods of follow-up include:

  • Written correspondence
  • Telephone calls
  • Combining the 2 for maximum effect

Starting today, begin using a 6 step plan for effective follow-up:

  1. Obtain completed guest cards from qualified prospects
  2. Create an efficient filing system
  3. Write a thank you card
  4. Follow the card with a telephone call
  5. Follow the telephone call with a letter
  6. Continue with telephone contacts until your prospect decides to lease from you, or until they lease from someone else.

In your follow-up efforts, when all else fails:

  • Know when to move on
  • Maintain your reputation
  • Examine what didn’t work – and learn from it
  • Keep the door open to future opportunities
  • Remember: Some will. Some won’t. So what? Next!

Finally, failure doesn’t happen when you fall down. Failure happens when you stay down.

Next Actions:

Get feedback from our team! Ask what they’d add, cut, or change slightly! Get just a little better!

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