5 Ways Automation Can Set Your Leasing Team Up for Success

Written by Apartment Management Magazine on . Posted in Blog

By Rae Parker

Today’s renters expect a seamless leasing experience, whether that happens virtually or in person. However, with recent changes happening in the property management industry — from “The Great Resignation” to challenges with filling open positions — your team may be stretched too thin trying to keep up with the high volume or increasing demands of day-to-day tasks. Effectively marketing your properties to fill vacancies is the most critical aspect of owning and managing rental properties. But what happens when your efforts aren’t producing the desired results? It could be due to a shortage in staff — or you could have the wrong technology in place. 

Earlier this year, we surveyed over 500 property management employees in our Hiring and Retention Report and asked the following: “In a typical week, roughly how much of your time at work do you feel is spent on busywork or meaningful work?” Of the employees we surveyed, 40% answered that their time is spent on busywork and that 14 hours — nearly 2 days’ worth of work — could be optimized or streamlined through technology.

Now think about what your marketing and leasing workflow looks like. Are there any areas for improvement? Answer the questions below to see what could be causing challenges in your workflow, and learn how you can overcome them by incorporating automated, digital tools to optimize your leasing operations. 

Note: While this article contains helpful information, we are not providing legal advice. 

1. ) Is your website mobile-friendly and responsive to a range of devices (mobile phones, desktops, tablets, etc.)? Is your website fully integrated with your property management software?

With many people spending their time glued to their phones, your website is their first impression of your property and what you have to offer. In fact, according to a 2021 Zillow Consumer Housing Trends Report, nearly 25% of renters found their new rental home without visiting the property, while 63% of renters stated that viewing pictures of the home is very/extremely important. 

With these facts in mind, how does your website compare? Aspects to look for when auditing your website are making sure it is accessible for all, isn’t slow to load, and contains content that can be recognized by search engines. When choosing a website provider, look for one that offers integration with your current property management software, making updating and reporting seamless. Consider using software like AppFolio Professional Websites to enhance your brand, engage prospects, and fit the needs of your business.

2.) Do prospective renters receive a response within a timely manner?

Your leasing staff has one of the most important jobs when it comes to running your business. When you consider how many calls or emails your leasing team receives in a week, do you think they’re able to handle the volume on top of their day-to-day tasks? On average, 71% of renters expect a response within a day, and about 40% of those leads go unanswered. It may be time to consider using artificial intelligence (AI) to create a more efficient leasing experience. 

With the help of AI, you can utilize a virtual assistant to automate this process and provide faster response times. Virtual assistants can respond at any hour of the day, including nights, weekends, and holidays — even after your staff has left for the day. An example of how AI can take the burden of an instant follow-up off your team so they can focus on more meaningful work is our AI leasing assistant, Lisa. Fully automated, Lisa* can help fill vacancies faster, is available 24/7, and continually learns how to improve her responses to questions to maximize conversions.

*Lisa is available for AppFolio Property Manager customers who manage 500 multifamily units or more.

3.) Are you screening potential renters manually?

Although tenant screening can be one of the most time-consuming processes, it’s best to have one in order for your business to stay compliant, mitigate potential risk, and to streamline your leasing operations. What does your current tenant screening process look like? Is it manual, inconsistent, and susceptible to human error or fraud?

Verifying documents and analyzing information to make decisions can take up a lot of your team’s time and lead to inaccuracies. By adopting property management software that includes the automation of your tenant screening, you can feel confident that your screening criteria applied is helping you stay compliant with fair housing and local legislation, enabling your team to make more informed decisions and removing the chance of bias or human error so that your business can minimize risk. Solutions like AppFolio Property Manager Tenant Screening can check an applicant’s credit score, criminal history, and eviction history, verify their income and rental history with the push of a button, and provide you with an easy-to-read report.

4.) Are renters able to easily access their online portal from your website (or mobile app) to pay rent, submit maintenance requests, and renew their lease?

In this on-demand environment, renters are looking for convenience and speed in all aspects of their lives. To understand certain renter expectations, we conducted our 2022 U.S. Resident Motivations report and found that 28% of respondents think it’s very important that their property manager offers digital tools to manage their rental, with an emphasis on communication, maintenance, and flexibility. 

Knowing that renters are drawn to digital tools, providing them with a way to pay rent, submit maintenance requests, and communicate online can go a long way. Look for a property management software that also offers a mobile app and online portal solution. An online portal can be a one-stop-shop for your residents to access all the information and tools they need. The online portal in AppFolio Property Manager provides renters with convenience at their fingertips, allowing them to easily make payments, submit maintenance requests, and access shared documents from any mobile device. 

5.) Are you having trouble with managing the renewal process?

With lease renewals happening throughout the year, your team might be overwhelmed with keeping it all tracked. It’s important to have a straightforward strategy to keep important tasks from falling through the cracks. Because we know that residents prefer to carry out most of their tasks online, renewing their lease should also be included. 

Choose a property management software that allows you to track, monitor, and analyze your entire leasing renewal process. Using tools like renewal automation within AppFolio allows you to streamline your renewals by setting a default offer to automatically update lease dates, rental amounts, and statuses upon expiration of the current lease. This article provides some helpful tips for creating your lease renewal strategy.

For more resources and insights on how to improve your marketing and leasing workflow, accounting, and maintenance, download the Leveraging automation: How to boost efficiency and create better experiences guide. This guide provides valuable information that can help you identify possible challenges within workflows, such as marketing and leasing, accounting, and maintenance, provide you with ways to incorporate automation in your everyday tasks, and allow your team to focus on more meaningful work.

The relationship you have with your software provider plays a key role when it comes to growing your business, adapting to change, and staying successful. It’s important to look for a solution that is easy and intuitive to use, provides you with dedicated support, and keeps up with the latest trends by innovating.

When it comes to automating your workflows, AppFolio Property Manager is the software provider that gives you the clarity to focus on what matters to you. Our automation technology solutions for your marketing and leasing workflows can improve your team’s performance, help you standardize processes quickly and efficiently, enhance your residents’ experience, and help you grow your business.