Survey Reveals Multifamily Industry Has Room to Improve Approach to Sales
by Donald Davidoff | August 31, 2015
I was recently reviewing a leasing survey conducted by Multifamily Insiders and saw some really interesting statistics worth pointing out. Multifamily Insiders conducts these kinds of surveys regularly. While not entirely scientific due to sample size (in this case 166 respondents) and possible response bias since all respondents a) are members of Multifamily Insiders which may or may not be representative of the entire industry and b) chose to respond which may or may not represent the entire industry, I do think these surveys give important insights into key issues. I’m glad they do these and encourage them to continue to do more.
- Only 25% of respondents use a call center. Several years ago, Steve Lefkovits wrote a whitepaper using data from a test of a call center that proved the value of call centers. A substantial portion of the industry is leaving money on the table by not taking advantage of these services.
- Very few are using kiosks, hand-held tablets or other forms of on-site digital engagement. This doesn’t surprise me given that most of these digital engagement options are used in urban and/or luxury environments and thus represent a small portion of the entire industry. Vendors in this space have a huge upside opportunity if they can build a business case for a B or C class suburban garden community.
- The average closing ratio reported was 49% (median 43%), yet I know from multiple other data sources that the growth of online leads has driven the lease-to-lead ratio down into the 8-12% range overall. So either respondents are not counting all leads, or they’re deluding themselves—remember, 70% of people think they’re above average. This ties in with the results of research D2 Demand Solutions did and released in a whitepaper showing that site associates rated their sales skills much higher than any other cohort in their company.
- The good news is that most people (78%) report they’ve been taught closing techniques, but the TERRIBLE news is that they’ve been taught the wrong ones. 60% responded that they are expected to ask every prospect for a deposit or to fill out an application no matter the situation (my emphasis). That is such an old school attitude and is the antithesis of the prospect-centered approach needed in a post-ZMOT world. It’s so unauthentic and simply doesn’t work anymore—if it ever did. Associates taught to lease this way get their leases despite this tactic, not because of it.
- I was surprised to see 21% say they negotiate for leases, but that’s probably from my large REIT background where fears over fair housing violation accusations prevented us from being comfortable negotiating new leases. As a large player, we felt we were more of a target.
- Almost half offer online leasing—almost literally a “glass half full” situation. I couldn’t imagine personally running a leasing operation that doesn’t offer that “ease of use” option to prospects.
Overall, I’m not surprised by the results. I’m encouraged people are thinking about sales and discussing different approaches. I continue to be discouraged that our industry is stuck years behind others in our methodology. Of course as a provider of sales systems and marketing solutions, I guess I should be glad there’s still so much opportunity for improvement!