The multifamily industry is facing some unprecedented challenges right now. The COVID-19 pandemic has the whole country thinking about life in terms of “social-distancing.” Stay-at-home orders and even full lockdowns are being issued by local and state governments across the country. Businesses are being forced to close up shop and many are struggling to find a way to weather the storm. We’re fortunate that multifamily is one of the more stable business sectors in a situation like this. After all, people can’t #stayhome unless they have a place to call home.
That’s not to say that we, as an industry, are in the clear. We are going to have to be very smart if we want to come out the other side of this in good shape. To that end, we wanted to share some tips that will help us all get through these challenging times.
People are exceptionally stressed, scared, and uncertain about the future right now. This goes for your residents as well as your prospects. In situations like this, it’s always best to err on the side of communicating too much rather than not enough. The old adage “no news is good news” doesn’t apply in a crisis. Lack of information is scary to a lot of people. They start to wonder what you’re not saying and why you’re not talking. Relieve their anxiety by using every tool at your disposal to ensure your residents and prospects know what’s going on with you and your properties. You can’t be there to interact with them in person so you have to leverage other channels. Be available on the phone. Send out emails. Text updates. Use your website for notifications and news. Put up fliers at your properties. Do everything you can to be as present and available as possible given the circumstances. They need to hear that you are on top of things and thinking about them and their needs.
Leverage Your Website Add-Ons
If you’re a Jonah customer, you have some pretty powerful add-ons at your fingertips. Use them to communicate with your customers and prospects quickly and direct them to the right CTAs (Calls to Action) for right now.
One of the highest value add-ons at the moment (and the one we’re getting the most calls about) is the Virtual Tour Manager. It allows you to curate a collection of virtual tours that show off your apartments, amenities, and neighborhood. This is a great way to help your prospect feel almost as if they were there in person, giving them the information and emotional bump that they need to pick up the phone and talk to you about a lease. If you combine your virtual tours with smart messaging and tools like PopDown™ to get people there, you can create an experience that seamlessly and easily channels people to the information they need and the actions you want them to take.
Move Your Tours Online
In a time when “social distancing” is the norm, it’s a no-brainer that you need to be offering virtual tours. There are a bunch of great companies out there that can help you create slick, interactive property walk-throughs. Chances are, you’re already working with them. If you’re not, however, you may not have time to get the virtual tours built out and live before your leasing takes a hit. You need to get some sort of tours online now. Get your phone out and do a quick walkthrough video with it. You can send us the videos and we’ll help you get them on your website. You can also use the same system you’re currently using for booking tours to do live virtual tours using Facetime, Skype, Google Duo, Zoom, or any number of video chat programs. This lets you keep the personality in the tour and lets you respond to your potential residents' questions in real time.
We’ve spent a lot of time getting our marketing plans in place. We’ve put so much thought and effort into making sure that we use all the right value propositions to incentivize our target audiences to take the actions we desire. And then, COVID-19 became our reality. The leasing environment has changed. Prospects have different priorities. Value statements that worked two weeks ago may not provoke the same reactions now. Some CTAs aren’t even possible anymore. We can’t pretend that everything is the same. Our marketing plans have to adapt to a situation that’s constantly changing, sometimes on an hourly basis. If we can stay flexible and change with the situation, we’ll come out the other side strong.
If you only take one thing away from this article, it should be this one. It’s easy to get lost in numbers, news, budgets, and fear, but it’s critical to keep your eyes on what’s most important: your people. Find joy in taking care of your residents and employees. You have the power to relieve stress and fear with acts of kindness, compassionate policies, and—wherever possible—a personal touch. In this unprecedented time, these small moments of humanity stand out like a bonfire in the dark and will be remembered.
Nobody knows how long this situation will be our reality. All we can do is adapt to things as they are and take it day by day. But take comfort in the fact that you aren’t alone. Jonah is here and we’re working hard to make sure that you have everything you need whether that’s a new website, updates to your current website, or just someone friendly to talk to.