1. Start with Staffing. Having the right property manager and team in place can make or break your lease-up. Find and keep community managers who understand the complicated nature of a lease-up and can empower a team to handle the challenge.
2. Work, Work, Work. There’s no way around it: Lease-ups require a small ton of time at the office. It’s tremendously rewarding of course, but executing a successful lease-up means your next Netflix binge-watching session will have to wait.
3. Manage Expectations. Don’t promise your investment partners the moon. Study the market rigorously, learn what is realistically possible during lease-up and keep your partners firmly in the loop every step of the way.
4. Communicate. Open and regular communication among all players during the lease-up from the construction team to the investors and the marketing team is vital to success. It will ensure the team is nimble and able to adjust quickly to changing market conditions, and that prospects are being matched with the right apartment homes at the right time and at the right price.
5. Connect Community. Try some grassroots marketing and work with retailers nearby to cross promote your community and their businesses. This will not only improve the word-of-mouth advertising of your community, but also build positive relationships.
6. Engage the Media. Offering a local business or lifestyle reporter exclusive access to your property for a personal tour before it is completed can generate coverage that excites readers and drives them to learn more. Plus, it is always good to have a strong relationship with local media.
7. Promote “Wow Features.” There is common marketing language the industry uses such as luxury, modern, etc., to promote its properties. But those generic terms don’t create differentiation. Instead, focus on what sets your community apart from the competition and promote it as your “wow feature.”
8. Create an Experience. What do you want prospects to feel when they walk your property? Every aspect of your property, including marketing signage, interior design, temperature and your customer service, should feed the feel of the experience. Make sure every team member is creating the same experience.
9. Get Social. Before even considering preleasing, make sure your online marketing channels are complete. The community website should feature an image gallery, access to available floor plans and pricing. Nothing frustrates a prospective resident more than not being able to access details about a community. Also, depending on your property, its location and target audience, consider engaging in a fun social media campaign. Anything from a photo contest on Instagram to a referral campaign on Facebook can engage prospects and create excitement about the community.
10. Demonstrate Integrity. Act honestly with the utmost regard for the interests of all parties involved, including team members, partners, community stakeholders and, most importantly, future residents. Nothing creates a more warm and inviting place to live than consistently demonstrating the highest quality of customer service and a genuine interest in the success of the community and the local market.
Caroline Forehand, Vice President of Marketing and Training at the Bainbridge Companies, Bethesda, Md.