I have previously stated on other panels and webinars that all of our data and analytics are pointing to online presence being key to our community’s success. We see our prospects and guarantors spending more and more of their time on our websites after-hours than during, making our virtual experience just as important as our in-person one. But are we actually paying attention to everything we should? And what all does that mean? Below are a few key items that I check for with every client and portfolio to ensure that they are “leasing ready.”
If a prospective resident doesn’t know your site by name – their search begins with Google. Never assume that your Marketing team is filled with SEO experts. This science is a serious undertaking that is in a state of constant flux – if you don’t have an SEO specialist on your team, hire one to ensure that your web site meets all the criteria necessary to compete in the market you’re in. You can’t succeed if you aren’t actually even showing up as a player in the game.
Here is the only question I want to know the answer to: Can your prospective resident tour and lease your community without ever visiting? I ask this with a little reminder – we have always had to lease from a distance. Transfer, international and out-of-state students have been looking and leasing with us for a long time. If we are not creating the same experience for those that cannot visit us in-person as those that visit online, we are losing leases.
This area tends to be one that gets utilized as a place to post about specials and floor plans – as opposed to what could be its true potential – showing the essence, culture and lifestyle of each community to its target market. Facebook can be focused a bit more towards what parents and guarantors ask about and want to see at our communities, while Instagram should focus on what the prospective resident is curious about; what will their life look like at your community and campus? What will they do with their free time? Does it match the life that they imagine in their head when they dream about going away to college? Expand on that dream through your Instagram account.
This last one is about the integrity of it all. Do not post fake reviews. Do not pay for positive ones. Respond to your residents in a timely manner, be kind and courteous in the response and listen to the feedback that they provide – it can be quite insightful. But truly, know that this is where the generations we are all reaching out to are getting their decisions from. Keep it honest.
These four areas are key to leasing success – not only this Spring, but year-round. Hopefully this list inspires some thoughts and ideas on how you and your team can have an incredibly successful second half of the year! And don’t forget to reach out to my favorite virtual real estate company if you need that virtual tour completed on your website (and social media)!
If you’d like to learn more about uForis virtual tours – for lease-ups or stabilized – let us know!