We were really impressed with the level of content provided by the Zumper team in a panel webinar titled, “The Future of Leasing in 2022 and Beyond”, moderated by Lisa Trosien, Certified Trainer, Speaker, Author, and Consultant in the multifamily industry.
With year end celebrations and the close of Q4, we are all busy. But who doesn’t love to soak in some insights from some of the brightest minds in the industry? We figured you might like to walk away with those insights too, so we’ve summarized the talking points and our key takeaways below. Hope you enjoy it as much as we enjoyed this webinar!
Lisa asked the first question everyone wants to know: “What innovation/pivot did you make this year that made your teams’ jobs easier?”
Everyone agreed that many changes were made and new processes have been implemented since the start of the Covid pandemic.
Bobbi reminded us that while self-guided touring needs an overall re-do, they are here to stay.
Consumers are simply used to a new, easier way of doing things and don’t want to tour apartments the same way they used to. Windell also emphasized this but stressed the importance of still connecting with people, despite all the technology we have at our fingertips.
Robert mentioned the importance of not throwing away the leads you think are uninterested. We couldn’t agree more!
It’s important to redesign the process and be able to re-engage those leads when someone is ready. This is true lead nurturing at it’s finest.
We’re staying on top of this need with our Automated Communications tool to ensure that automated follow-ups are happening to even the “lost” leads who are interested in an apartment that isn’t available at that time, or have pricing needs they want met, etc.
Key Takeaway: We are still human at the end of the day. It’s important to connect both on the human level and also meet prospects where they are in their buying journey (even if it’s 6 months later)! This certainly requires a collaboration between humans and technology.
Next, Lisa asked, “Are your leasing teams having a hard time adjusting to live tours after being virtual for so long?”
The response across the group was there has been a mix of both excitement and nervousness for some recent hires who haven’t experienced anything besides virtual leasing.
Bobbi reminded us of the nuances of virtual leasing and how it can be a more complex buying cycle and more difficult to qualify prospects.
Generating high quality recorded video tours are invaluable so people can explore the property on their own time. They are a great tool to add to the leasing consultant’s tool belt.
Windell trusts his training teams to create the appropriate training that their teams need… What’s tricky is training someone how to do an in person tour – they can’t do that over zoom, and you “can’t mute yourself in real life”. 🙂
Key Takeaway: Tools like high-quality pre-recorded video tours that are made available to consumers at any given moment of interest, can help your team tremendously!
Lisa then asked “How has technology helped us?”
Robert responded that in-person tours are still the most in-demand across all asset classes, even despite the pandemic.
The next question is another hot topic today: “How is artificial intelligence (AI) changing the game for MF marketing and leasing?”
Windell eloquently explained that AI has come a long way in the multifamily industry, and saves their team HOURS on menial tasks like lead qualification. We don’t fully realize how much AI is happening behind the scenes all around us and how it already affects our daily lives whether we know it or not.
*Queue Siri doing a search query talking about AI* No, literally – Lisa’s Siri responded during this portion of the panel discussion!
Bobbi then laid down the coolest AI-driven technology solution that we’ve heard in a long time.
At BH, they have built a program in house that leverages a media buying platform, with robotic processes using real-time local weather data, to power their Google and Facebook campaigns. If it’s 85 degrees and sunny, the tool will show an image of a pool in the ad. If it’s snowing in Oregon, it will show an image of a fireplace in the ad. How cool is that?!
Key Takeaway: Technology has come such a long way and is here to stay. It’s foolish to completely ignore it, better to find common ground to utilize both human interaction and replace menial tasks with technology (it can even help you optimize your ad spend).
Another zinger everyone wants to know – Lisa asked, “What is a common misconception around technology?”
Robert revealed that the burden of new tech on teams isn’t as bad as it seems. When you are bringing in a tech that is quick to implement with little burden on training, benefits teams, and saves time, then it’s worth the investment!
All multifamily technology providers are wondering the next question Lisa asked: “How do they roll out technology at their companies?”
Bobbi explained that Change Management is one hardest part of everything they do. BH has put together “tiger teams” to focus on the boots on the ground approach to generate more cohesion (top-down and bottom-up) when it comes to change management, and found success with centralizing those processes, so they can help their teams be more efficient. BH has done this with payment plans, rental assistance, renewals, etc.
Windell shared that at The REMM Group, they have rolled out more technology in the past year than they have rolled out in years. He recommended piloting a solution first at a couple key communities to gather direct, customer insight.
You need to be asking your teams “do you like this?”, “do you need this?”, “does this save you time?”. Site teams should find out the most tedious parts of their job and find technology to make those parts less tedious.
Key Takeaway: Centralized processes can be extremely helpful but it’s important to gather feedback from those who are using the technology too!
Lisa framed the next question perfectly. So if technology is so great, the next burning question becomes “What pain points aren’t fixed yet?”
Like the rest of us, Windell and The REMM Group is finding it hard to find talent amidst the labor shortages this year.
Bobbi then dropped a *spicy* point that yes, while the multifamily industry has the reputation of being behind the times, the reason is because we have such specialized systems, operating and marketing on a property-first paradigm for years, which is not the way consumers buy today.
For example, Amazon won’t let you leave until you buy something!
We need to get to that place in multifamily. Even though one property doesn’t work out for someone, what about the 4 nearby?
No one else is doing sister-community selling well.
Key Takeaway: Multifamily needs to make key shifts to catch up with the way consumers buy – implement technology solutions that don’t let your prospects walk away so easily!
When asked if leasing professionals are still relevant in 2022, everyone unanimously agreed, yes! Leasing professionals are as valuable as ever and companies need to implement technology and automation to make their jobs easier.
Windell reminded us that if you are getting applications WITHOUT talking to leasing consultants, then your rent is too low, and that their job is to build value!
Predictions for 2022
Windell predicts Google will announce “Google Apartments”, which will change the leasing game… oh, and the ability to rent properties with new-age currencies like NFTs or Bitcoin.
We can’t wait to see that prediction play out!
Bobbi thinks consumer tolerance for complicated buying structures will reach an all time low, and operators and vendors will be forced to pivot. She also mentioned single family and built-to-rent solutions gaining prominence in the coming years and centralized leasing will allow properties to work more efficiently in 2022.
Robert thinks hyper-personalization will positively impact the customer journey, with the importance of marketers needing to be agile to keep up with privacy requirements. He added that it’s important to build your own data systems, not just rely on third parties.
Sharing insights on Concessions
Windell said concessions are necessary, but not like they were back in 2019… long gone are the days of 3+ month concessions. There is an opportunity to use them to capture leases and avoid vacancy loss.
Bobbi said in certain markets/lease-ups, there is always going to be a need for concessions, but by centralizing their processes, BH has been able to get ahead of that need.
Robert added that he is still seeing concessions at a higher density in lease-ups.
Lisa asked “What is the best technological advance you saw post-pandemic?”
Windell shared that SheetGo has helped them consolidate all the spreadsheets in their business, and SmartSheets for project management.
Bobbi said that doing business 100% virtually has changed the game for them, with the ability to hire talent wherever they are. She also gave kudos to their reputation management tool for the ability to solicit feedback via SMS in a way that’s totally automated and integrated with their back-end PMS.
Robert said he and the Hy.ly team are loving Loom video recordings to get across important messages that can sometimes get lost in chat or email.
We really loved this panel and were thankful for the opportunity to listen in.
For questions about how Rent Dynamics CRM can improve your leasing processes in 2022, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule a demo to talk with an expert!