How has your company responded to the shift to virtual leasing? How are your leasing professionals and managers being supported with guidelines and training, and what are your plans to evaluate and adjust to ensure success in virtual leasing? These questions address the fundamentals of a change management strategy, which is critical to achieving success across your portfolios.
Changes are happening quickly. In this unique situation, leasing professionals and managers are being forced to practice virtual leasing now without the proper procedures and training in place. This is putting the company at risk, causing confusion and stress for employees, and possibly creating negative customer experiences.
Grace Hill has developed immediate resources for virtual leasing help, including the Virtual Leasing Webinar Series available to Vision clients in their content library. That training can be a big help while the organization evaluates what virtual leasing and the customer experience looks like today and what accommodations need to be made.
Determine Your Virtual Leasing Policies
First, many decisions need to be made:
- Will employees work from home or from the leasing office?
- What technologies do your teams need to conduct virtual leasing, including hardware, apps and access to software, and what will your policies be around that technology?
- Will you allow people onsite for tours or do online tours only?
- What training do your associates need and how will you train them?
- What do you need to be auditing, and how quickly will you address issues with risk, customer experience, and adjustments to policy and training?
Next, put the decisions above in writing for your teams in the form of policies. This removes uncertainty for onsite teams and the managers trying to support their employees. The policies give guidance for decision-making, build efficiencies, and streamline processes, as well as help ensure compliance with laws and regulations. Virtual leasing policies will cover a range of topics including Fair Housing requirements, brand standards, storing and sharing virtual content, approved technologies and softwares, and more.
Provide Training Specific to Virtual Leasing
Training on these policies and techniques may follow or be happening simultaneously with this rapid pace of change. While the traditional elements of leasing, like identifying needs, building value, and closing, are the same, virtual leasing requires specific training on topics like how to create an effective video, making the experience “real” for the customer, scripts for live tours, and more. Many leasing professionals are also unaware of the potential of virtual leasing, are hesitant to use video, and are confused on the difference between online marketing and virtual leasing. Educating your employees on these subjects in addition to your organization’s policies will lead your organization toward achieving your virtual leasing objectives.
Know What’s Happening
Change management strategies include stages to identify changes that need to be made, as well as stages to assess how the changes are being applied to look for opportunities for improvement. In both stages, visibility into what virtual leasing looks like is essential. This becomes a bigger challenge when many managers are working remotely from their teams and not over-hearing customer interactions, and when regional managers aren’t able to drop in to oversee operations.
“Since virtual leasing is already happening, possibly without policies and training, and with limited oversight, the likelihood of inconsistency is high.”
This leads to Fair Housing issues, poor customer experience and confused employees. Knowing what the experience is like today with virtual leasing will be very helpful in addressing what issues need to be tackled first and where the biggest gaps and vulnerabilities are.
Complete the Virtual Leasing Change Management Loop
Grace Hill has introduced virtual leasing mystery shops to the Validate program. Virtual leasing shops provide audio and video recording of the virtual leasing experience and third-party shopper feedback on the experience. Many consider mystery shopping only for evaluating employee performance; however, that significantly limits the potential for this solution. The information gathered from a mystery shop is extremely useful for quickly identifying the biggest risk exposure, gaps in policies and training, and even best practices from which to model behavior. This knowledge can pinpoint vital needs at the beginning of the change management process, and throughout, as it uncovers areas for coaching, adjustments, and further refinement, completing the change management loop.
For more help with virtual leasing, download our Virtual Leasing Tour Library Checklist.