Every year from May through September, apartment leasing offices are hectic as the summer leasing season takes shape. And answering the phone becomes tiring. Prospects want to make their moves when the weather is warm, with July and August typically seeing the most volume. It’s make-or-break time for many apartment communities—if they don’t generate enough leases to replace the residents who are moving out, it will be even more difficult to do so when leasing slows down.
So, it’s crucial to keep up with the phone calls that pour in from prospects. Leasing offices have three options to help answer apartment leads: Continue answering the phone yourself, get help from a call center, or install a leasing assistant powered by artificial intelligence. In this post, we will examine the pros and cons of each for you to decide which option is best for your community.
Option 1: Answering the phone in-house.
Keeping pace with the volume of calls that come into a leasing office on any given day can be challenging, and it’s even harder during the busy summer season. Research shows that about 49 percent of phone calls placed to apartment leasing offices go unanswered.
Pros of answering the phone yourself
- Personalized service. Prospects want to speak to a leasing office representative in order to get answers to specific questions, and connecting with a leasing agent can leave a positive impression and help to build trust.
- Saving money. You won’t have to hire additional staff or pay for a service to help you with the phones.
Cons of answering the phone yourself
- It’s difficult to answer every call personally. As we mentioned above, nearly half of calls made to leasing offices aren’t answered. Further, more than 80 percent of callers will not leave a voicemail if they have the option to do so, meaning your community could be losing prospects.
- Many calls come in after hours. One Respage client reported that 615 of 839 inquiries—or 73 percent—came in outside of regular business hours. If 80 percent of those inquiries don’t leave a voicemail as stated above, that means you may be losing a majority of your leads after you head home for the night.
- Inconsistent service. Leasing agents have many responsibilities, and when the onus falls on them to also answer the phones, other tasks may fall through the cracks. Your online reputation could take a hit as a result.
Option 2: Get help from a call center.
Some apartment communities have enlisted the help of call centers to manage the high volume of calls during and after regular business hours.
Pros of using a call center
- 24/7 availability. When you have a call center shouldering a huge chunk of calls that come into your leasing office, missing calls become a thing of the past. The more prospects you connect with, the more leases you’ll generate.
- Frees up leasing agents’ time. With the help of a call center answering apartment leads, the leasing team can focus on giving tours and other leasing tasks without being chained to the phone.
- Call center staffers are trained to be effective. Rather than simply answering calls, they can add value by knowing how to answer the most commonly asked inquiries.
Cons of using a call center
- It’s expensive. Call centers can be cost prohibitive, especially if your apartment community is a smaller one. The cost can outweigh the benefits once all of the fees are taken into consideration.
- They don’t align with the needs of many renters. People searching for apartments have done their research and often have two primary questions: Pricing and availability. While call center reps are trained in how to reply to common questions, pricing and availability fluctuate constantly, making it a challenge to get a definitive answer from someone outside the company.
- Callers may experience inconsistent service. Call center reps aren’t employees, so the quality of the calls can suffer if they’re not monitored regularly. Further, call centers usually have multiple clients, so the staff isn’t focused solely on your apartment community.
Option 3: Installing an AI leasing assistant.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic two years ago, apartment communities across the country have turned to AI leasing agents to help answer phones for potential apartment leads and respond to emails from prospects.
Pros of using an AI leasing assistant
- It can increase staffers’ productivity. It’s time-consuming to nurture a prospect from initial contact to a signed lease, but an AI leasing agent doesn’t mind. It not only answers phones, it can send automated text or email reminders throughout the rental process as well as respond to prospects’ questions without human help. Leaving these tasks to an AI agent means humans can focus on work that requires a human touch.
- It gives prospects a better user experience. A quick, easy leasing process is what all renters want, and AI has the power to make that happen. AI agents can smoothly move prospects from inquiry to tour, and then from tour to lease. Multifamily is competitive, and the community that can give prospects a seamless experience has an edge.
- It’s meeting prospects where they are. A huge portion of today’s renters are Millennials and Gen Z, who have been raised with technology and embrace it. They’re more likely to view interacting with AI as a normal activity and some might even prefer it to human interaction. Further, COVID-19 made AI customer service much more commonplace, so people expect it.
Cons of using an AI leasing assistant
- Not every question can be answered. Thanks to machine learning, AI leasing agents are constantly gaining knowledge and becoming better, but they still can’t answer those one-off questions like “can we raise our goldfish in the swimming pool?” The best AI leasing agents have a human handoff component for when they get stuck.
- There are still prospects who don’t like talking to a robot. Some people simply prefer to speak to a human. That said, that segment is shrinking fast, and most prospects are happy to engage with an AI leasing agent. When it comes to speedy leasing, AI leasing is unmatched compared to human agents, where small talk and agent availability can slow down the process.
AI leasing assistants save time and sign more leases
It’s more important than ever to answer every call, sign as many leases as possible, and keep the cash flowing, so choosing the right platform to help answer apartment leads can make all the difference. While answering the phone in-house and using a call center are both reasonable options, an AI leasing agent will give you the edge you need to maintain a healthy bottom line all year round.
If you’re interested in learning more about our AI leasing assistant, ResMate, click the button below.