Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Episode 7: Best Food Forward

Magazine article Journal of Property Management

Episode 7: Best Food Forward

Article excerpt

In which Lynda learns that a welcome prospect is a presold resident...

You've probably heard the old adage: "The first impression is a lasting impression."

In real estate leasing, that could not be truer. Your leasing center's appearance and how a prospect is greeted when entering often will determine whether or not he or she decides to live in your community.

Nothing creates a bad first impression quite as effectively as complacency. Conversely, nothing goes farther toward creating a fantastic first impression than putting forth just a little bit of effort to make your prospect feel wanted - from meeting, greeting, and qualifying all the way through to signing the lease!

Building Basics

How inviting your leasing center seems to your prospects can either make or break the sale. First check the physical appearance of the center - inside and out. There should be no trash in the parking area or walkways; if trash containers are present, be sure that they are not crammed full. Are flowers watered regularly so they seem lush and inviting? Are walkways cleared of leaves or snow at least daily, and again at mid-day if necessary?

Inside, be sure that everything is clean and neat - including desktop surfaces and bulletin boards. If you have a notice board for residents, consider sectioning it off with straight pieces of construction paper and labeling each section. This not only makes it easier for residents to use, but creates a sense of order in what can be a messy eyesore.

Be sure that the center is vacuumed and dusted daily - and that doors and other areas are washed to eliminate handprints and smudges. Just as at home, a welcome mat provides a subtle greeting and helps keep floors clean. You might also consider investing in a small "Dustbuster" or nonelectric sweeper to use as a quick way to clean up debris that is tracked in.

Next be sure that all the supplies and materials you need to make an effective presentation are properly positioned. Rummaging through messy drawers to find a floor plan hardly creates the impression you want. Check the closing room to ensure that there are plenty of guest cards; property brochures; and newsletters, applications, and pens.

Finally, go that extra step and "set the stage for success" by adding those little subtle touches that subconsciously say "home." Every morning at one community, we light the candles, put a log in the fireplace, make certain the candy dishes are full, fill the ice buckets, make sure that sodas are ready, fill the cream pitcher and make a fresh pot of coffee, and put out a few snacks. Next we turn on some soothing music, adjust the temperature, and place fresh flowers outside the front door. We know it works because we can see it in the eyes and sense it in the attitudes of prospects as soon as they walk in the door.

It may seem like a lot of work, but to anyone who walks in our door, it's obvious that we've been waiting just for them!

A BIG Hello

Whether you are on the telephone, in the middle of paperwork, or speaking to a prospect or resident, you must always acknowledge a person who walks through your door. If you are on the telephone, stand up, smile, and motion for the person to have a seat. Conclude your conversation as quickly as possible, and then introduce yourself.

As a leasing professional, you should always stand up (this means walking around from behind the desk) to greet a prospect, introduce yourself, establish eye contact, and SMILE!

Once the prospect has given you his or her name, don't rush to write it down on a welcome card. Repeat the name back to the prospect to help yourself remember it and ensure that you're using the correct pronunciation. Then use it throughout your conversation.

One very important point: if you shake the prospect's hand, don't give a wimpy one. A handshake is just what the word implies. …

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