Managing a Large or Dispersed Leasing Team: Essential Strategies for Peak Season Success

Last modified on April 1st, 2024

Managing a large or dispersed leasing team brings unique challenges and opportunities. Strong leadership and effective communication are the bedrock of keeping your team aligned with the company’s goals, even when distance separates you. In a geographically dispersed setting, your ability to establish a cohesive team spirit and maintain coherent operational strategies determines your team’s efficiency. Implementing best practices tailored for dispersed teams, such as setting clear expectations and leveraging technology for seamless collaboration, can significantly enhance performance and productivity. Your role in fostering an environment that supports agile decision-making and responsiveness is vital in ensuring that all members of your leasing team feel connected and valued regardless of their location. This approach boosts morale and translates into superior service for clients and a strong, united team ready to tackle the market’s demands.

Here are five tips for managing a large or dispersed team this leasing season. 

1) Implement a CRM Strategy

For large-scale property management and leasing teams, a CRM strategy is essential for handling the countless incoming leads. Your CRM serves as the backbone of customer interactions, streamlining processes and ensuring that your team can track the full lifecycle of a renter from initial contact to move out. This is even more vital for managing a large or dispersed leasing team successfully. Your primary property management system should ideally have a CRM integrated directly into it.

With your CRM in place, it’s vital to make sure everyone on the team is trained on how to use it. Do you have clearly documented standards to ensure consistency? Your property management solution should offer self-serve training resources such as live sessions, self-directed guides, recorded webinars, a user community, help articles and videos, support, and product coaching. Consider tying bonuses to the successful completion of CRM-specific training courses or consistent usage of CRM technology and adherence to team standards. 

2) Focus on Lead Management

What are your expectations for lead follow-up? Do you have best practices in place and accountability for leasing agents to nurture those leads effectively? Consider this statistic from a study by Zillow: 71% of prospective renters who ask about a listing expect to hear back within 24 hours. Really, you should aim to respond to leads within an hour, as this can show prospective clients that your team is attentive and values their business. 

The language and problem-solving aspects of artificial intelligence (AI) can remove this requirement from your team’s plate. Consider an AI-enabled leasing assistant. These can respond at any time, including nights, weekends, and holidays — even after your staff has left for the day. 

3) Reconsider Your Staffing Model

In managing your leasing team, evaluating the optimal staffing models is critical for operational efficiency. 

Centralization vs. Property-Specific

Centralization involves consolidating various tasks, often — but not necessarily— at a single, corporate location. Instead of having one leasing agent at each property, a centralized leasing team is trained to lease across several properties or even your entire portfolio. Centralizing roles and expanding your team’s scope of responsibility can increase flexibility, reduce stress, and create more dynamic career paths. It can result in more consistent practices and potential cost savings by increasing your unit-to-employee ratio. 

In contrast, property-specific staffing means having a dedicated team at each of your properties and limiting their scope of responsibilities to just that property. This approach can offer a more personalized experience for residents and can be more responsive to on-site issues. However, it may lead to higher staffing costs and possible inefficiencies with duplicated efforts across multiple locations. Alternatively, a centralized model can still consist of a property manager and/or assistant property manager on-site at each property, albeit with a more focused scope of responsibilities.  

Audit your leasing team’s performance and consider whether more centralization might help your team operate more efficiently. Do all leasing roles need to be property-specific? Are there leasing tasks that can be centralized for a region to take more leasing work off your property managers’ plates?

4) Emphasize Cross-Selling 

When managing a large or dispersed leasing team, cross-selling can be a decisive growth strategy. Are leasing agents familiar with all the properties in your portfolio that they can refer renters to if the initial property they inquire about is not the right fit? 

Education is key here. Train your leasing agents on all the properties within your portfolio, and regularly update them as new properties in a specific market are added. A well-informed team can effectively communicate the benefits, increasing the likelihood of successful cross-selling.

Also, ensure your team is rewarded for successful cross-sells, which will incentivize them to seek out these opportunities. Recognition can come in the form of bonuses, commissions, or public acknowledgment within the team.

5) Always Keep Fair Housing Compliance in Mind

Managing a large or dispersed leasing team requires strict adherence to fair housing laws to ensure uniform and fair treatment in all your leasing operations. Your team must operate in full compliance, upholding local and federal fair housing regulations to avoid legal risks and promote equitable housing opportunities. Compliance ensures that all interactions with renters and potential renters are conducted in a manner that is fair, equitable, and free of discrimination. Here’s how to encourage and promote compliance among your leasing team.

Please note that this is not legal advice. You should consult a qualified legal professional to ensure fair housing compliance.

Fair Housing Compliance Refresher Training

Before the leasing season kicks off, it’s essential to conduct fair housing compliance refresher training for the entire leasing team. This training should cover all aspects of the Fair Housing Act, emphasizing the importance of treating all applicants and residents equally regardless of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, disability, or familial status. It’s also a good opportunity to discuss any recent changes in fair housing laws or guidelines. Here are tips for implementing fair housing practices

Standardize Procedures

Ensure that your leasing processes, from advertising vacancies to selecting residents, are standardized to prevent discrimination. This includes using consistent language in advertisements, offering equal opportunities for all applicants to view properties, and applying uniform criteria in renter selection processes. Technology can help in several ways:

  • Property management software can automate and standardize workflows for various processes, including applicant screening, lease renewals, and complaint handling. The right technology partner can help ensure that every step is executed according to predefined standards that comply with fair housing laws, reducing the risk of accidental discrimination.
  • Screening tools can help property management teams set and adhere to consistent, objective criteria for resident selection. This minimizes the risk of making biased decisions, ensuring that applications are evaluated fairly based on quantifiable metrics such as credit scores, rental history, and income verification.
  • Storing digital records in the cloud, including all communications with applicants and renters, can help leasing teams remain accountable and, as a result, confident that all interactions are professional, respectful, and compliant with fair housing laws. 
  • Technology can also improve accessibility for people with disabilities, another key aspect of the Fair Housing Act. Online applications, virtual tours, and other digital tools can make the rental process more accessible to a wider range of applicants.
Accommodations and Modifications 

Train your team on how to handle requests for reasonable accommodations or modifications from applicants or renters with disabilities. This includes understanding the types of requests that might be made and the company’s procedures for responding to these requests promptly and appropriately.

Documentation and Record-Keeping 

Maintain detailed records of all interactions with applicants and tenants, including notes on why applicants were rejected or accepted. This documentation can be invaluable in demonstrating compliance with fair housing laws if your practices are ever questioned.

Complaint Handling

Develop a clear process for handling complaints related to fair housing. Ensure that all team members know how to report complaints and that there is a system in place for investigating and resolving these complaints efficiently and fairly.

Regular Audits and Assessments

Conduct regular audits of your leasing practices and procedures to ensure they comply with fair housing laws. This might include reviewing your advertising materials, assessing your application and screening processes, and ensuring that all team members are consistently applying your policies.

In managing large or dispersed leasing teams, especially during the peak leasing season, multifamily leasing teams in particular face a unique set of challenges that require careful planning, strategic thinking, and consistent execution. From ensuring all team members are proficient in using the CRM and understand the documented standards for consistency to establishing clear expectations for lead follow-up and implementing best practices for nurturing leads effectively, each aspect plays a crucial role in the smooth operation of leasing activities. 

As multifamily rental companies gear up for a busy leasing season, revisiting core areas such as training, staffing models, cross-selling, response times, and compliance provides a roadmap for success. Each element not only contributes to the operational efficiency of the leasing team but also enhances the overall renter experience. By focusing on these critical areas, property management companies can navigate the complexities of managing a large or dispersed leasing team, ensuring they are well prepared to meet the demands of the leasing season and achieve their occupancy and revenue goals. This comprehensive approach fosters a productive and motivated leasing team and positions the company for sustainable growth and success in the competitive multifamily housing market.


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