Last week was National Letter of Intent Day for college football. Top recruits around the country committed to schools by signing their acceptance of scholarship offers. As a big college football fan, I’m always curious to see which players my school has signed and to get a sneak peek at who I’ll be cheering for over the next few years.
Football recruiting is a time-consuming process that involves creating interest, pitching benefits, fending off competition and finally securing a commitment. In a lot of ways, it’s very similar to the process leasing professionals undertake as they try to reach qualified prospective renters.
Let’s take a look at some of the tactics used by effective football recruiters and see how they can be applied to find and commit the best residents for your communities.
Play by the rules
Football coaches are expected to comply with a lengthy NCAA rule book that outlines the things they can and cannot do in recruiting. Failure to closely follow these rules may result in recruiting violations that can cost schools scholarships or even postseason eligibility.
For leasing professionals, the rule book is the Fair Housing Act. It’s crucial to have a solid understanding of the Fair Housing Act and the considerations that need to be made throughout the leasing process. You can ensure that your staff is prepared by taking advantage of training offerings from NAA or other industry sources. It may also be a good idea to have a designated on-site or corporate contact who acts as an expert reference point for any fair housing questions.
Identify the right groups to target
Identifying and then planning for your specific needs is a key part of any recruiting strategy. A football team with All-American linebackers, but glaring holes on the offensive line isn’t going to waste their time pursuing more linebacker talent.
Apartment communities need to determine who their ideal types of tenants are. Are you seeking students? Young families? Senior renters? Your approach and tactics should vary greatly depending on who you are trying to reach. By understanding who you would specifically like to talk to you can make smart marketing decisions, based on demographics and the media consumption trends of your target audience.
Keep communication open
When marketing efforts do succeed in reaching a desired audience, it’s imperative to capitalize on these opportunities with prompt and clear follow-up communication. The days of staying in touch simply by phone call or in-person visits are long gone.
Over the past decade, football coaches have had to adapt to find better ways of connecting with recruits who are constantly glued to their phones. They’re now seeing the value of using texting and social media to follow up and to deliver the right message at the right time.
In working to convert leads to leases, continual communication is every bit as important. Is the content of your messages helping to communicate value and reinforce benefits? Are these messages being sent via channels that your prospects will actually pay attention to? Multifamily messaging tools can help to take the guess work out of communicating by making it simple for properties to send custom, automated messages at key moments like when a guest card is filled out or after a site visit.
It’s also important to be available to answer any questions that prospects may have throughout the process. Companies need to have a response plan, not only for their on-site communication, but also for their social media pages. The timeliness and tone of your responses will greatly affect the way that potential renters feel about your property.
Create a unique experience
Football recruits are allowed to take up to five official visits to schools. These visits give universities a chance to roll out the red carpet and help recruits see the whole picture. The most successful recruiters understand how to create memorable experiences that uniquely highlight the benefits of their school.
A site tour is the leasing equivalent of an official recruiting trip. It’s your one chance to give a prospect a peek at what their life as a resident could be like. Using a leasing tablet app during the guest tour is an interesting way to make the experience more engaging. As you’re walking around the property, pull up Google maps and point out local schools, restaurants or attractions. After the tour, look at availability and pricing in lounge chairs by the pool, instead of behind the leasing desk. Take opportunities to let the prospect interact with current residents who are playing at the park or hanging out at the clubhouse. By giving prospects the chance to truly experience the community, you’ll be creating more memorable tours that help them to feel an actual connection.
Finding new residents can be a tedious process, but implementing some of these recruiting tactics into your strategy will get you on the fast track to celebrating many successful (lease) signing days.