Past Issues | Advertise | | Multifamily FLORIDA archive November 2012

The Seven Deadly Sins of Apartment Marketing

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By Pete Zimek

Sometimes itís important to take a step back from marketing tactics and evaluate the strategies weíre employing.  Here are seven of the most common strategic mistakes that Iíve seen committed by apartment communities.

1. We stop marketing when weíre at 100 percent.  Guilty as charged.  For 10 years, one of the first questions I would ask an apartment manager was centered on their occupancy.  If they were full, I would reply, "Well, I guess I canít help you."  I was naive and dead wrong.  I was forgetting why we market in the first place.  Our goal shouldnít be "to fill up."  Our goal should be to increase demand.  And according to the laws of supply and demand, when we increase demand, the price we can charge increases as well.  Now, when a manager tells me that she is full, my response is "How can I help you raise your rates?"

2. We choose a particular marketing tactic because "everyone else is doing it."  At some point, people stop thinking critically about a potential ad source.  Instead, they let the presence of comps influence their decision making.  Maybe they donít want the feeling of being left out?  Or perhaps they like the security of following the group and not going out on the proverbial limb?  Or maybe they simply donít trust their own decision making?  Whatever the reason for following the group, the result is a one way ticket to mediocrity.  If everyone is doing it, then everyone is getting the same results.  The goal is to be better than your comps, not the same.

3. We rely on incorrect data.  The vast majority of managers rely on guest card data to determine what advertising mediums theyíll keep and which ones theyíll drop. The irony is that the vast majority of the data they are relying on is completely inaccurate. This isnít just my opinion.  A couple of years ago, I asked a group from the University of Florida to survey leasing consultants in Gainesville to find out how reliable "marketing source" data was on guest cards.  The group found that 73 percent of leasing consultants knowingly submitted inaccurate guest cards.  Digging deeper, we discovered that prospects had a hard time remembering the ad source they used, and leasing consultants didnít want to push the issue Ė they just wanted to close the lease and receive their commission. The solution to this dilemma will be different for everyone, but it will invariably rest in scrutinizing your data more and finding more sources of data to compare. Try to find sources that donít rely on client feedback like Google Analytics and call tracking services.

4. We forget the role our maintenance teams play.  It doesnít matter how many resident activities our office staffs arrange if our maintenance teams donít leave a good impression on our residents.  The vast majority of maintenance teams receive continuing education.  But is all of the training centered on tools?  Or should some of it be centered on customer service and communication?

5. We donít study and teach sales.  Leasing is selling, and there are time-tested processes for selling.  If youíre not teaching your team ethical and effective sales techniques, then theyíll invent their own.  The new result might not be so ethical or effective.

6. We have incomplete systems for capturing and following up on our leads.  Leasing staffs are being asked to do more with less. This is OK. But we have to create and use systems to ensure that nothing gets through the cracks. Use an Excel spreadsheet or sign up for a service like OneSite. It doesnít matter. The key is to make sure that your follow up process is completely contained within the system. If you see your staff using Post-it Notes, then your system is not fully contained.

7. We donít follow up on commitments. Recently I was shopping for a new car for my wife. I spoke to a salesperson at a particular dealership. I explained that I was ready to make the purchase within the next day or so, and he promised that he would send me a quote within a half hour. Ten hours later, I received an email from him literally five minutes after signing the paperwork for a car at another dealership.

Pete Zimek is the Founder and President of the iLS network, a network of internet listing service websites across the state of Florida. Peteís Orlando ILS, was named "Supplier Company of the Year" for 2012 by the Apartment Association of Greater Orlando (AAGO). Personally, he was named AAGOís "Social Media Person of the Year" for 2011 and the North Central Florida Apartment Associationís (NCFAA) "Associate Volunteer of the Year" for 2012. He is a volunteer instructor for both NCFAA and AAGO.

Cardillo Law Firm
Naylor, LLC
FAA is a federation of 11 local affiliates, representing over 490,000 apartment homes in Florida. Both community and associate members in good standing of a local affiliate are automatically memebers of FAA and NAA.