Leads or Leases?

Ineedtime to think I just completed my third conversation with a client since July concerning the fact that they want more leads. As we looked at their lead numbers from last year versus this year, we found we actually had delivered more phone calls, emails, and click-thrus to their website then we had last year. I asked my client what made them change their expectations as they had been very satisfied with the lead volume and number of leases we brought them last year.

Their reply was, “Well, we have another marketing source that is delivering more leads than you are now.” I asked them, “So, I am to assume that means you are also getting more leases from them now than us?” They said, “NO.” I then said, “So, are you telling me that Leads are now more important to you than Leases?” “Well the more leads I have, then I should get more leases” was the reply I received. Which one would assume to be true, however, notice above the customer had already stated that they were not receiving more leases.

You probably know what happened next. Don’t you? The customer came to the realization that more leads don’t always mean more leases. It took them a moment as I took them back through what they had stated but then it was like a light suddenly popped on for them.

In fact, if you overload your leasing and management team with leads from people who aren’t really ready to make a rental decision, then when the lead comes along from the person who really is ready, your team is worn out from the mountain of what I like to refer to as Faux Leads.

What is a Faux Lead? A Faux Lead is a lead that has been generated by the consumer thinking they are going to get additional information if they simply click a button to get specials or availability. They are required to fill in their name and email address. A lead is then generated to the community asking for a specials or availability. The apartment shopper was expecting the website to generate the information as soon as they enter their name and email. They did not anticipate they would have to wait for a response from the community. The apartment shopper could have been simply curious if the community had a special because the community is out of their price range or they were wondering if there was something available before they continued to investigate the community. Had the consumer only looked a little further down the page, oh look, what do you know? The community’s special was right there all along, there was no need to send a lead to the property. They could have also seen the availability if it hadn’t been hid behind a button called “reserve now.” They weren’t ready to reserve they just wanted to know if there was anything available.

There are many ways that a website or publication can increase the number of leads you receive. They can leave out pertinent information such as prices, direction, move in fees, pet fees, etc. However, is that what you really want – a bunch of phone calls and email leads, or would you rather put all the pertinent information on your webpage/print ad and drive the most qualified leads to your community?

Todd Dubner recently made a post on his blog (www.tdnyc.wordpress.com) referring to increased lead conversation vs. quality of lead I thought the following except was very interesting:

An aside: A few careers ago I worked with a leading internet travel site. We had call centers and we took orders online. For a while, we had our phone number plastered everywhere. It was on the home page, on all of the interior pages, on our banners, on our pop-unders, in our emails, etc. We figured that more calls (leads) meant more sales (leases). When we tried testing some our marketing we found that more calls did not always mean more revenue. In fact, we took our telephone number and started putting it deep within the site – reserved for people who either were about to book travel as they had done all of their research and were ready to transact or had a real customer service need like re-ticketing or cancelling. Revenue stayed about the same, calls went down, expense went down and profit went up. It worked well enough that we tried a forced on-hold time before we would pick up the call. The idea was that if you really wanted to book travel you would wait a little bit to speak to an agent, if you were just asking flight times – you would drop. Essentially, we were trying every way possible to improve the quality of a call (lead). Where is the lead quality conversation in the multi-family industry?

OK, so what’s really more important to you? A Lead or a Lease?