Last modified on January 21st, 2020
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For many property managers, one of their biggest pain points is scheduling showings. Back-and-forth communication with prospective renters and traveling to and from different properties can eat up a lot of your team’s time and resources. Not to mention, even once a showing is booked, there’s no guarantee the renter will show up. All in all, this cumbersome process isn’t convenient for anyone. Self-guided showings can solve many of these problems, but they’re not merely convenient — they can actually create a better experience for your employees and prospective residents. 

Today’s consumers prefer to have access to instant, self-service options. Self-guided showings not only give residents the opportunity to take control of their own leasing process, they also provide the space and relaxed environment they need to make a decision. In fact, based on research from the HRC Retail Advisory, 95% of consumers want some time to themselves during the shopping experience. 

Naturally, some property managers worry that allowing self-guided showings could diminish the customer experience or slow down the leasing process. However, the time saved from not having to schedule and conduct showings can be used to provide higher levels of customer service to serious leads later in the leasing flow. In addition, self-guided showings can fill vacancies faster, which in turn boosts ROI.

Ready to add self-guided showings to your businesses’ capabilities? Here are three tips for making them a win-win for you and your prospects:

Tip 1: Speed up the Lead-to-Lease Process

According to a Zillow Group Report on Consumer Housing Trends, 71% of renters expect a response to their initial rental inquiry in 24 hours, and 31% expect a response within just a few hours. These expectations are hard to meet, especially if you’re running your leasing process offline. Here are some ideas on how you can leverage the latest technology to improve your lead-to-lease process:

  • Avoid spending valuable time and resources on a lead who isn’t the right fit by setting pre-qualification criteria for all renters.
  • Eliminate the back-and-forth of scheduling by allowing prospects to self-book showings through a listings widget on your website.
  • Give renters the option to apply and pay the application fee online — before they arrive for their showing.

Tip 2: Improve the Self-Guided Showing Experience

Once the prospective renter has scheduled a showing, now is your opportunity to make the self-guided experience as seamless as possible. Here are a several ways you can improve it from the start to finish:

  • Incorporate digital lockboxes — like CodeBox which is available with AppFolio — to automatically generate and send a unique code to each prospect to obtain entry during their specified showing time.
  • Provide a one-sheet page with a recap of specific details on the unit, along with any community amenities, like a gym, pool, or dog park.
  • Offer a take-home floor plan and community map that renters can reference after they leave. 

Tip 3: Maintain Communication

Based on a report by Zillow, 30% of property managers follow-up with would-be residents just once and never again after the initial point of contact. Findings have revealed the most effective number of times to follow-up with a prospective resident is five times over four days. Following up multiple times not only makes the renter feel valued, but also gives you a chance to answer any additional questions they may have. Here are a few ways you can maintain communication after a self-guided showing:

  • After the customer has seen the unit, send a series of follow-up emails. To prevent missing a follow-up, you can automate the emails, so they are sent out at a regular cadence.
  • Provide the renter with helpful information about the area, like where to find grocery stores, pharmacies, hospitals, or pet clinics.
  • If the prospect isn’t interested in renting the property, see if they would be a better fit for a different unit. 
  • If the renter is interested, then empower them to take the next step by giving them the ability to sign their lease online. 

The traditional process of coordinating in-person showings is time-consuming and inconvenient for all parties involved. By allowing prospective renters to take a self-guided tour of your property, you’ll be able to improve your lead-to-lease conversion and enhance your customer experience. Make the most of these tips and it will be a win-win for your team and your future residents.

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