Those wise words are courtesy of Chris Scroggin, general manager at Park La Brea. I spoke to Chris and other users for an article in Units magazine (from the NAA on internet marketing.
In Virtual Leads, Real Leases, I wrote:
To gain more control of their Internet images, apartment companies increasingly are creating their own websites and making it more convenient for prospects and current residents to learn about and interact with their communities. Functionality, such as the ability to apply for apartments online, has become the new “must have” feature for apartment industry websites.
It’s true! And we’ve led the way, urging landlords to add Apply Now! links to their sites. In their own words:
Scroggin, Park La Brea:
“Most communities have a website – and we all look great in our website pictures – but most do not have the ability to apply online.”
“Today’s apartment shoppers have a level of comfort with online transactions. They expect the application process to be convenient.”
“When a prospect looks at a community website that doesn’t have these sorts of features, whether it’s fair or not, he thinks, ‘What else are they not able to do?’”
In 2006, 19 percent of Park La Brea’s application traffic came via the web.
Andrew Till, regional manager at Garden Homes:
“In a busy office, you want the procedure to be as seamless and paperless as possible. Prospects can apply from home, or use the laptop kiosks we set up in our rental center. The information all ends up in the same place, and nothing falls through the cracks. This technology gives us a competitive edge.”
Applicants were able to pre-lease units at 37wall.com, and then when the rental office opened, applicants used kiosks that used the same interface. Garden even charges application fees on applicants’ credit cards using On-Site.
Richard Snyder, president of R.A. Snyder Properties Inc.:
“One of the things that I’ve come to understand is that technology is very important. Successful adaptation makes the difference. From my standpoint, it is important to use the owners’, employees’ and residents’ time efficiently. This technology delivers.”
In 2006, one out of every five applications applied to R.A. Snyder’s communities online. The acceptance rate for online applications is lower than the overall pool by 14 percent. However, that difference in quality is eclipsed by the operating efficiency that stems from screening prospects before an in-person meeting and tour.