Melissa D. White, National Director of Marketing & Training
Often times when telling someone that I work in the apartment industry, they immediately reference their interaction with a leasing agent at their apartment community, or they only associate apartment professionals as the person in the office who collects the rent at the first of each month. Contrary to the imagery the public has on what goes on at their apartment leasing office, this is actually the training ground for some of the most respected leaders and industry influencers I know. After all, convincing a perfect stranger to buy into why they should choose your community, get them to like you and all your community has to offer, quietly combat an angry resident and turn them into your advocate while keeping your owners happy goes far beyond multitasking and forms leadership fundamentals that can carry you through your sales career and beyond. Over my brief decade in the multifamily industry and earning my stripes working through the ranks of property management, I’ve gathered a few leadership qualities to learn from effective leasing professionals.
1. The ability to instantly make a connection
Effective leasing professionals are challenged with the task of helping a perfect stranger make a life decision on a new home within a 3 minute phone call and/or 30-45 minute tour. Imagine the amount of skill it takes to garner that much trust to effectively connect and build rapport. Those who truly develop a relationship with prospects while displaying proficient salesmanship have mastered two disciplines that even many leaders have yet to conquer, being genuine and serving others. This requires a leadership trait of making an instant connection by sincerely wanting to meet the customers’ needs. People respect and open up to those they feel truly have a desire to help and that they are confident in their ability to assist.
2. Asking the right questions
When is the last time leaders of your organization asked how can they help you, or what are you looking for (and truly stopped to listen and take action on feedback)? Consider that these are two key questions of many that are asked during the exploratory phase of our first contact with prospective residents. If these questions are transitioned to how we approach people as leaders, we gain a lot of insight on how to enter the relationship by meeting their needs according to what we just inquired. This takes particular skill to ask the right questions at the right time and use the answers in offering solutions, not just asking for the sake of a good shop score or appearing interested. Asking and delivering on a promise is the of servant leadership.
3. Follow Up/ Follow Through
It is Leasing 101 for every leasing professional to follow up on all unclosed traffic, and we even have parameters set on how often to follow up and scripts to assist teams in guiding our prospects towards decision making. Have you considered how often leaders are required to follow up with the teams they serve? Are leaders equally effective at checking in to make sure the team’s needs are met, that they have all necessary resources and the proper morale required to be on the front line of leasing? Follow up takes the conversation beyond rapport into building a relationship with your customer, and it creates continuous dialogue to keep the line of communication open in sales and leadership.
Leasing is an invaluable role on the front lines of property management, and there is great deal of leadership that we can glean from observing proficient leasing professionals in action. The key to career development of the leasing role in multifamily is to identify these qualities and carry them through every phase of promotion in being an equally effective leader.