The COVID-19 global pandemic has sent the world into never before traversed rough waters. In an unprecedented turn of events, citizens have been asked to self – isolate or quarantine themselves and their families, with some countries even enforcing strict lockdowns in localized areas. Schools closed, then public areas, and then a lot of businesses. Most employers have opted for flexible work arrangements, sending their employees to work from home. This arrangement works for about half of the businesses in the US. However, industries that rely on face to face interaction (and there are a lot…entertainment, retail, food service, sports, etc. ) have been forced to sit it out while social distancing orders are in place.
In an industry such as property management, most of the workflows involve face to face interaction. One such workflow is leasing. An industry-wide survey reports leasing as one of the biggest challenges for property management companies to complete remotely.
In this sample leasing workflow (see figure 1 to the left), all of the stages of the lease cycle have at least one face to face interaction involved. Social distancing is very much the norm these days. But with the threat of a pandemic still looming and with social distancing practices in place, how can the industry safely carry out leasing processes?
The answer lies in making use of the powers of digital technology.
What is digital technology and how can it help property managers fill vacancies?
Digital technologies are electronic tools, systems, devices, and resources that generate, store, or process data. Well known examples include social media, online games, multimedia, and mobile phones. Other examples are websites, eBooks, blogs, online buying and selling platforms, video streaming, and even robotics.
Digital technology can help property managers reduce the need for face to face meetings because it can facilitate remote interactions. It is especially useful for viewings and showing the property to potential tenants.
How digital technology can facilitate virtual showings and property viewings
We’re halfway into 2020 and there is still no end in sight for this COVID-19 global pandemic. With the threat of the virus still looming over our heads, people all over the world are still practicing safety and social distancing measures. This is why it is of utmost importance for property managers to find safe ways to show vacant units to would-be tenants. One of the ways to do this is to arrange a virtual walkthrough of the available property. Virtual showing can be done 2 ways: recorded in advance or live virtual showing. A pre-recorded showing involves having a short video of the available property that simulates however a property manager would do an actual walkthrough of the property. Potential tenants can go over these pre-recorded shows on their own time or view them again when needed and send their questions to a property manager later. While a live virtual showing would involve actual live streaming of a walkthrough of the available property. Potential tenants can ask to go through areas again or look more closely into facilities and amenities during live stream property viewings. Both ways use digital technology (digital cams, live streams, internet, etc.) in order to show the available property remotely. Aside from keeping both parties socially distant and safe, it also saves time, reduces the instances of no-shows, and improves efficiency.
How digital technology can help property managers start the leasing process
The first step to acquiring potential tenants is to have a catchy listing. Digital technology can help property managers maximize their listing so that it reaches more potential tenants. In this global climate, it is imperative that property managers target serious prospects. These are clients who will want to know more about your online listing. Create a detailed listing that includes the best photos of the property outputted in superior quality (a tip: JPEGs or PNGs are both excellent choices for image formats to use for your website, but stick to one over the other for consistency), videos of a mini viewing of the inside and outside of the available property, and preferably a 360 map image of the immediate area. Property managers must also make sure that there are no copy errors, there are no broken links, and that all images display properly. Property managers must take extra care to get this right as errors and broken links can lead to poor customer experience and ultimately a loss in interest on the side of the prospective client. Make the listing visually appealing with a good and detailed description. Check that the price is competitive and comparable. Once they are happy with the listing, property managers can now enlist the help of third-party listing sites aside from publishing on their own websites.
Another example of digital technology is utilizing an AI leasing assistant. An AI leasing assistant can be a chatbot programmed to help property managers fill operational gaps while reducing face to face interactions. All interactions done with an AI leasing assistant is done online. An AI can help property managers by scheduling property viewings, collecting client information, responding to basic inquiries, pre-qualifying potential clients, and screening leads.
The process of leasing can be completed online. Property managers can empathize to prospective clients how easy it is to fill out an online application and sign their lease online as well. There are a few platforms that can help property managers create customizable forms and lease agreements as well as help property managers collect and merge renter information into legal forms and documents.
Here at Davis Property Management, client safety is our utmost concern. We can help clients through the whole leasing process while still practicing social distancing. If our clients prefer a self-guided tour, protective gear like masks and gloves are provided and show units are cleaned and disinfected after each viewing to prioritize their safety. Call us today at 425-658-7471 or email [email protected] to schedule a consultation with us.
Davis Property Management
At Davis Property Management, we provide fast, friendly, and professional service tailored to your individual property management needs.