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Renting Units Can Be Challenging… Here’s a Good Way to Think About It. | International Residential Real Estate Investors Association
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Renting Units Can Be Challenging… Here’s a Good Way to Think About It.

I’ve experienced challenges in this area as many of our readers probably have at one time or another.  This piece is a good reminder of the right way to fill up units.

Jan 04 2011

GONE FISHING: using the right bait for your apartment prospect

Posted by: Jim Baumgartner on Jan 4, 2011 21:36 Tagged in: Apartment Marketing , Apartment Leasing

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I recently had lunch with my friend and professional peer, Laurel Zacher.  We were discussing the key to understanding psychographics when working with site marketing or training of leasing staff.  I have been frustrated by multi housing professionals assuming that every customer shares their likes and dislikes.  I was floundering trying to explain how we have to put our feet in our customers’ shoes. 

She responded by saying, ‘you have to use the bait your fish likes!’ 

I so wish I had said that.

Since I didn’t create the line, I told Laurel that I was going to steal it (she very graciously said it was okay).

Some thoughts on fishing:

1)  What fish are you going after?  Take the time to research who your current customers are.  Early in my career I was asked to fill a building that was less than two years old and had never surpassed 83% occupancy.  The owner was frustrated!  I drove to the site and thought, “You know, this building is 83% full–not 17% vacant!”  (Yes, I know it was 17% vacant–but that wasn’t the important part.)  The key was that 83% of the homes were occupied by people who chose to be there.  I wanted to know why.  We discovered that the vast majority of the residents were from outside of a metro area.  They had to live in the city for economic opportunities; however, they did not want to live in a city.  We immediately began using different bait–’enjoy serenity’ was our theme.  We talked up the natural setting:  wooded hills overlooking a pond.  We pointed out that the buildings were small and you would get to know your neighbors.  It worked. 

2)  Use the right bait!  If you are dealing with seniors, remember that relationship is key.  They want to know and trust you.  Trying to rush them through the selling process will not work.  They really do want to slow down and smell the roses with you.  On the flip side, if you are working with students they don’t care about the roses–tell them where they can find beer and dates (in that order!) On my latest new construction project, we correctly predicted that our customers would be young professionals.  Sadly, my young professional days are behind me so when reviewing marketing materials and ads, I passed them in front of staff members who are in that demographic.  Invariably they chose what I didn’t like; however, that’s what we went with–because we used the bait our fish liked!  (And, by the way, it worked!)  Using the wrong bait is frustrating, a waste of time and can be financially disasterous.

3)  If you don’t understand which bait your customer is hungry for, ask.  It’s okay to pull together a team of up-and-comers together to be your advisory panel.  Tap into their wants and desires.  In the process, you will learn some amazing things and you will develop loyalty and excitement from your posse! 

And lastly–the fish are biting.  Have fun!

Jim Baumgartner is Senior Vice President of RentSoda, a consulting company offering apartment marketing, business & operations consulting as well as industry-specific training.

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