The Hangover: Rental Edition

Although all indicators exist for a healthy year of rent increases, it does not make our job as Leasing Consultants and Property Managers any easier. Simply put, our Residents are not prepared for increased rent when they are still nursing their recession hangover. For most Americans, the recession was a tough time filled with learning how to live with less, reprioritizing needs vs. wants and living in fear of the unknown. We became a nation of bargain hunters eagerly checking our Groupon email first thing in the morning and exploring options for a “staycation”. A few good job reports and a strong uptick in the stock market is not enough to erase memories or change our bargain hunting instincts.

People still want a deal and they are expecting you to give it to them. Here are a few strategies to help you meet the goals of your owners and your residents.

1. Flat rate pricing is a dead end street. Many communities tried this during the recession to fill up fast and now have a community where people think that most pay the same amount in rent. The price was typically based on the lowest rent we could offer even though more than half the apartments had higher value. Price the apartment based on the attributes which make the apartment unique. Why should a person rent the subject apartment over another? The answer to that question will help you see the individual opportunity for this apartment price. Once you move to this type of price structure it is easier to sell a new price on an apartment.

2. Give residents options and you give them control. The customer now has a decision to make rather than just accept what you are asking of them. Psychologically this will help you get to yes. The options could be the length of lease or apartment upgrade. Now the customer has control of the decision through choice.

3. Monthly market surveys are worthless. Study your market on a daily basis. When you do so, you will notice incremental changes in the market by companies who are truly committed to managing for a high yield. Tracking these changes will help you understand what is available in the market and how the market is accepting the inventory. You now have data you need to price accordingly.

4. Prepare your team for this question “Why are rents going up?”. Have a response that everyone understands and is comfortable delivering. Educate your team as to why rents are increasing and prepare them for this conversation with residents. Remember, every member of your team should understand this strategy and what to say to a resident. Your service team spends more time with residents compared to us. Do they know why rents are increasing and how to discuss this with customers?

5. Apartment All Star, Michael Benton, reminds us that competitors don’t steal happy residents. Great point! Above everything, a good customer service program should be part of your rent increase strategy.

6. Moving is the worst day of your life. At least we think so! You will always have the advantage of knowing that no one really wants to move. It’s just not fun and there are a million better things to do on a Saturday. Coming to an agreement means that the customer will not have to move. This makes everyone happy.

7. A waitlist is motivating. Start one and get every prospect on it.

8. Be a Revenue Rockstar. 2012 is the time to turn up the volume and make it happen.