Why Texting Is Your Leasing Agents Secret Weapon
Three years ago while I was working in property management I did a little experiment with the goal of finding the most effective method for following up with a prospect after an apartment showing. My team was required to call every prospect who viewed an apartment and I was having a lot of trouble getting someone on the phone. After going on 30 showings, making 30 follow up calls and crunching the numbers, here’s what I learned. 90% of the follow up phone calls after a showing went to voicemail. The remaining 10% were answered by a prospect who told me to text them or email them back. The simple insight that I gained was that apartment hunters are changing the way they communicate.
Here’s what a typical follow up looked like at my property: An apartment hunter toured units the previous day and is sitting in a meeting at work. Their phone vibrates and they see an unfamiliar number. This is what happens next:
The call gets screened the leasing agent gets sent to voicemail where they say something like “Hi, this is Sarah from BriarRidge Apartments. I just wanted to thank you for stopping by to tour our beautiful apartments yesterday and wondered if you have any questions. You can call me back at 555–555–5555.” According to a survey by evoice, Only 18% of these voicemails get listened to.
The apartment hunter steps out of their meeting and answers the call.
Leasing Agent: Hi! This is Sarah from BriarRidge Apartments. How are you?
Apartment Hunter: Wait…which apartment community is this?
Leasing Agent: This is Sarah from BriarRidge. We looked at a one bedroom apartment yesterday?
Apartment Hunter: Oh yeah, hi Sarah. I’m in a meeting, can I call you back?
The leasing agent isn’t providing much value in either scenario. In fact, the phone call follow up is more of an interruption than anything else. After looking at 4 different communities in a day prospects will most likely be followed up with the same way with the same message by all four leasing agents.
There’s another way to follow up and it’s starting to help leasing agents engage effectively with prospects.
According to a recent survey by Open Market, 75% of millennials prefer to text over having a conversation on the phone. Voicemail has been on the decline for years and businesses are slowly catching up. In 2012 Vonage reported that year over year voicemails delivered fell by 8%. Even more interesting is that voicemails retrieved by Vonage users fell by 14%.
Text message follow ups are an unobtrusive way to connect with customers and allows them to respond when it’s convenient.
Just changing the medium through which you communicate is not enough. The primary goal of the follow up is to provide value. If someone sends me a text for no reason, it can be irritating. Here’s an example of a text that provides your prospects value:
Instead of trying to pitch your product or close the sale, show value by answering a question the prospect had, or try to learn more about what the prospect needs. Text messaging is a highly personal medium for communication so be careful not to ask for a sale too soon or be pushy. With the right combination of tact and patience, you’ll be surprised at how much more engagement you’ll get from apartment hunters.
My team and I recently launched a software startup for leasing agents and apartment marketers called “Hookline”. So far we’re seeing a 98% open rate on automated text messages after a showing and an 80% engagement rate (prospect clicks a link in the text message). The key insight that we’re gaining is that where you connect with your prospects is a significant factor in how much engagement you’ll have with them.
Where you connect with your prospects is a significant factor in how much engagement you have with them.
Former Property Manager, current Co-founder at Hookline, software that helps sales people lease more apartments.