Self-guided tours for single-family rentals have been evolving and providing landlords with good productivity and satisfied residents.
With all the buzz surrounding self-guided tours in the apartment sector since the start of the pandemic, it’s easy to forget that they’ve long been an important part of the professionally managed single-family rental space.
Single-family operators have been leaving keys in drop boxes for residents to independently peruse homes for several years.
The argument can be made that self-guided tours are even more crucial in the single-family space, where professional operators may have hundreds of homes in a single metro area, each of which can be a considerable distance from another. It simply places too big of a burden on leasing associates to crisscross a city all day giving tours of homes, and prospects often don’t have the patience or flexibility to accommodate a leasing agent’s schedule.
But just because single-family has such extensive experience with self-guided tours, it doesn’t mean operators should rest on their laurels and not work to refine the offering for the modern-day prospects. Forward-thinking single-family operators have been deploying increasingly cutting-edge self-guided tour options and are reaping the benefits—both in the satisfaction level of prospective residents and the productivity of associates.
Here are some of the specific benefits of sophisticated self-guided tours for single-family rentals:
Seamless prospect experience
When marketing a home to modern-day prospective renters, convenience is nearly as important as the home itself. If they have difficulty scheduling a tour, they’ll quickly move along to the next option.
Prospects were already gravitating toward self-service experiences prior to the pandemic. That tendency—while at first a necessity in a temporarily touchless world—appears poised to persist in the post-pandemic landscape. Self-guided tours allow single-family operators to extend their tour availability to seven days a week and enable prospects to have a no-pressure tour experience.
Quick-scan QR codes are quickly becoming a key component of the modernized self-guided tour process, as they allow prospects to apply on the spot and view multiple homes with one registration.
When a significant sample size of prospects opts for self-guided tours, it benefits the operator as well. Leasing specialists can spend more time on the crucial follow-up process rather than driving from site to site. They can analyze lead details in a more data-centric way when they receive instant feedback from tours delivered via API from the software provider.
Operators can also delegate staff members to other key duties within the company rather than deploy an overabundance of leasing agents for tours on a daily basis.
Granted, this doesn’t eliminate the need to fully prep homes for visitors prior to tours. At Progress Residential, our teams aim to set the stage with a fully branded self-showing experience. From the branded doormat and wall decals to the brand’s fresh signature scent, the company cultivates an in-person experience that is unique to our homes. We have worked closely with our smart-access partner to ensure the ease-of-use of the self-guided tour system, from the registration process to accessing entry codes.
Over the past year, self-guided tours have evolved quickly. These tours became more than a prospective resident visiting a single-family home on his or her own—they became an experience.
The aforementioned QR codes have become perhaps the biggest convenience enhancer. For instance, Progress Residential offers a QR code to its Spotify playlist so the prospect can access a playlist developed by the operator while touring the home. Likewise, prospective residents are prompted to use voice activation by asking Google for information about the management company. Prospects are also more frequently encouraged to take a survey immediately after the tour so the leasing team can immediately address feedback.
By providing prospects with the self-showing experience, leasing teams can be centralized and agents are afforded the opportunity to focus on the crucial follow-up process with prospective residents. Naturally, this means teams must inspect and prep vacant homes more frequently due to the lack of an onsite leasing agent at every tour.
While the benefits are clear, operators aiming to implement a self-guided tour platform should understand that it’s not an instantaneous process. It requires due diligence and a thorough vetting process when selecting a provider. Done too hastily, self-guided tours won’t have the desired impact. By necessity, some were rolled out rapidly during the pandemic, and some lacked an easy registration process, an easy-to-use app to gain access to homes, and did not feature an API integration for notifications. This made it difficult for teams to follow up in a timely fashion.
When implemented properly, however, self-guided tours modernize the single-family leasing process—and their potential impact can even be greater down the road. In the near future, smart-home hubs and locks will remove the need for “hang-on” boxes to create an even more seamless journey for the renter. The smart-home hub, used in tandem with the self-guided tour platform, will also create the potential for prospects to instantly connect to a leasing specialist while inside a vacant home.
Simply put, self-guided tours are about convenience while providing a differentiated brand experience. And when today’s prospects are met with that combination, they are more likely to lease one of your homes.
About the author:
Mickey Cummings is the Executive Vice President of Market Operations for Progress Residential.