5 Steps to Bring Your Lead-to-Lease Process Online and Boost Your Competitive Advantage
There are so many benefits to improving and streamlining your lead-to-lease experience. By doing so, you can expand your tenant pool, shorten vacancy times, and provide a better experience for your residents and owners. And when you provide excellent customer service through your lead-to-lease process, you build your own reputation as a reliable property management company.
One big way to get the most out of your lead-to-lease process is to move as much of it online as possible. In fact, with the right tech stack, you can move the entire process online, making it quicker, more convenient, and safer for your owners and tenants.
There is another reason to move to digital: the demand for contactless transactions. Even when the pandemic wanes the sheer convenience and efficiency of moving online will remain.
According to the Buildium/NARPM 2021 State of the Industry Report:
The renters we surveyed told us that they’ve appreciated their property managers’ efforts to allow them to communicate, pay rent, sign documents, and take care of other rental processes from their homes. At the same time, property managers have unlocked new efficiencies and found ways to offer the same level of service as they did in person, convincing many of the benefits of leasing technologies even in a post-COVID-19 world.
In this post, we’ll discuss the steps you can take to boost your lead-to-lease process by adding digital solutions to every step of your plan.
Step 1: Expand Your Lead Generation Methods
To generate leads, you typically list a property, put up signage in the yard or outside the building, and then set up open houses and showings for prospective tenants. Of course, some of those practices have changed drastically in the last year, namely open houses and showings.
But with the onset of digital tools such as listing widgets and social media management systems, the entire concept of lead generation has been turned on its head.
According to Buildium’s industry report, 77 percent of property managers surveyed were already using online listings. Imagine if you could streamline the process of posting online. Instead of logging into separate online listing sites, consider using https://www.propertyware.com/rental-property-listings/ to distribute branded listings across multiple sites.
Pro Tip: A good listing widget will allow you to edit and use filters for your listings to get them in front of your target audience. It will also create responsive listings that automatically format for mobile and desktop.
Virtual and Self Showings
Showing properties in person aren’t impossible at the moment, but it’s pretty difficult to do while following safety protocols and maintaining social distance.
The solution for many property management companies has been to provide virtual and self-showings through businesses such as Tenant Turner and Showing Hero.
By allowing tenants to tour properties on their own and at their convenience or view them online, you increase the number of leads, which could lower your vacancy rates.
Social Media Marketing
The first step to creating a great marketing strategy to generate leads is to know your target audience. Who are your tenants, typically, and who are you targeting to fill your vacancies? Are they older? Younger? Professionals? Families?
Once you know that, you know where to focus your social media marketing efforts. Moms tend to gather on Pinterest, while younger tenants are more likely to use Instagram, Snapchat, and TikTok. And they’re more likely to view all their social on mobile.
There are software tools out there that can help you set up, schedule, and track the engagement on your posts across your channels. Take a look at Hootesuite or Hubspot to help you organize your social media content.
Pro Tip: You could simply post your listings on social, but there’s so much more you can do to draw in your audience. Consider sharing local events, tips for renters, or even fun, shareable memes. Your audience will be more likely to follow and engage with you.
When the leads start coming in, it can be tough to keep track of them, particularly for multiple properties at once. An online lead tracking system will follow each lead from the first moment they get on your radar all the way through to lease signing.
Step 2: Improving the Tenant Application Experience
According to Buildium’s 2021 industry report, 63 percent of the property managers they surveyed were already using online applications, a valuable service to tenants. Of the tenants Buildium talked to, 32 percent want to be able to search for and apply to units online.
The ability to apply via mobile is particularly valuable. They can apply from anywhere, anytime, reducing the risk of losing a prospective tenant who has to wait until they’re sitting at a computer. And once they submit their application, they can check their status online.
An online application is valuable for property managers, too, who can check applications and start the screening process on the go. And online status updates reduce the number of phone calls they have to field.
You can also retain leads you would have normally lost if they didn’t fit a particular property. Instead of passing it up, keep that lead and reach out when something that does meet their needs comes up.
Step 3: Streamline the Tenant Screening Process
We don’t have to tell you how time-consuming tenant screening is. Running background and credit checks and calling references sucks up a lot of your time, resources, and money.
What if we told you there’s a way to screen a tenant using artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning? Can you imagine how much time and money that would save you?
An AI screening tool will handle credit and background screenings, but it doesn’t stop there. It will actually analyze a prospective tenant’s debt-to-income ratio and predict their ability to pay in the future based on previous payment habits.
It allows you to base your leasing decision on more than just a credit score, which doesn’t always give you the whole picture.
Step 4: The Lease-Signing Experience
Just over half of surveyed property managers were using online lease signing. And tenants voiced their appreciation. One tenant told Buildium, “When I renewed my lease, she just emailed me the electronic lease to sign and we talked on the phone. It was a much better way to stay in contact.”
Pro Tip: Save lease templates via your property management software solution, so all you have to fill in is the owner and tenant information. Then, send it off to be signed electronically by all parties. It never has to be printed, emailed, or faxed.
Step 5: Enable Online Payment
According to Buildium’s report, 57 percent of residents said that the ability to pay rent online is important. By giving tenants an online payment system, they can pay their rent and fees via mobile, reducing the risk of late payments (and late fees). You can also pay owners more quickly, as the rent comes in.
And think of all the money you’ll save on check-processing fees, savings you can pass on to your tenants and owners.
Moving your lead-to-lease process online has so many benefits. It saves you time, resources, and money. It helps you provide a higher level of customer service to your tenants and owners, and gives you an edge over your competitors.
And while you can choose a number of single-use apps to meet your digital needs, you might want to consider a full-service property software solution that includes tools for lead generation, online applications, tenant screening, lease signing, and online payment. It may also include document storage.
You can even take it to the next level with a tool that provides an open API, so if you’re already working with other digital solutions, you can integrate them into one workflow via your property management software solution.
Whatever you choose for your lead-to-lease needs, make sure it gives you that competitive advantage and helps you provide the kind of service your owners and prospective tenants are looking for.