6 Ways to Improve Your Lease Closing Ratio

By Jennifer Ninedorf, Author of The Fixer: How to Turn Around a Failing Property In 90 Days 

We all want higher occupancy. When you break it down, there are three controllable factors that influence any property’s occupancy: closing ratio, traffic, and renewal percentage. Today let’s look at closing ratio. Here are 6 things you can do right away to see improvement.

#1. Get staffed

When you are short-staffed you end up trying to complete all the other jobs of your team in addition to your own. Getting staffed must be a priority to have that super-star leasing agent to improve your closing ratio, and it is a priority to get that amazing maintenance team that can provide move-in-ready units. A few tips on getting staffed:

    • Start with networking. Contact the best people you have worked with in the past.  

    • Talk to your vendors. Your vendors know everyone in the industry, they know who is looking for a change and they will spread the word.  
    • Tour your competitors, and if there is someone who really shines, don’t be afraid to let them know you are hiring. 
    • If your company allows it, post ads on Indeed, ZipRecruiter, Craigslist, or your local apartment association job board.  
    • Host a job fair to attract a larger talent pool. 
    • Don’t rush to make a hiring decision. Wait for the candidate with the experience and credentials you need. 
    • Make a competitive offer. It is a different job market now than it was a few years ago, and candidates are asking for (and getting) higher compensation.  

#2. Inspire your team

Inspiring your team is the single most important thing you can do to improve your closing ratio. Your team needs to know the goal in order to reach it. Build a sense of urgency and group direction. Some essential ways to inspire and direct your team are:

    • Create a Hot Sheet for your leasing team outlining which units will be ready and when.  
    • Sell your leasing team on the potential commissions they will earn. Do the commission math so it’s a tangible number. 
    • Create a goal board. Display it somewhere everyone on the team will see daily. 
    • Develop a bonus program. Make it attainable but also make sure it aligns with the number of leases you need to meet your occupancy goals.  
    • Get creative with incentives. If your budget for bonuses is limited, consider team lunches, plaques or certificates, gift cards, good quality tool bags, electronics or trendy items, decorative office supplies, movie tickets and more!

#3. Build an inventory of ready units

Leasing agents need supply. Whether you have 20 vacant units or 100, the steps to get those units ready are the same. 

    • Walk every unit.  
    • Focus on turning the leased units and the easiest units first. Your team can’t turn 100 units in a week, but they can turn 7-10, particularly if they are easy turns.  
    • Update your make-ready board with the priority units clearly indicated. Turning these initial units as soon as possible is critical to begin increasing in occupancy. 
    • Listen to your team and make sure any challenges are being addressed. Is the property cut off from vendors for non-payment? Get those invoices processed and current. Is the property short-staffed? You should be actively seeking to fill those positions.  
    • Monitor the process. It is up to you to follow up on the progress of your team and vendors each day to ensure scheduled items are being completed.  

#4. Make your ready units appealing

There are a variety of ways to make your units appealing that will work at every price point.  

    • Use a sparkle kit. Your ready units need to be walked and touched up every day. Create a sparkle kit for you and your team to freshen up the ready units each morning. 
    • Add move-in gifts. They don’t have to be expensive, but they draw the attention of your prospect and can create an instant positive reaction on a tour.  
    • Create a mini model. Mini models are a great way to showcase a floorplan that doesn’t have a model or to help move a unit that is challenging to lease. Highlight the unit’s best features and choose items for your mini model that add value while avoiding clutter.  

#5. Freshen up your curb appeal

Your curb appeal is the first thing your prospect sees, and it makes a big impression. 

    • Keep it clean. Team members should look at the entire tour path with a sharp eye and pick up any visible litter. 
    • Remove anything that is broken or frayed. If your flags are tattered, remove them and order new ones.  
    • If your property has balloons, replace with fresh ones daily. If you have a permanent balloon set, consider changing the colors. New colors signal that something has changed and attract interest. 
    • Remove dead flowers. If your seasonal color needs attention, get a bid to replace it. 
    • Evaluate your entry. Remove flyers from the front door unless they are absolutely necessary.  
    • Clean up the leasing office. Clear clutter off the desks, replace burned out lightbulbs, and make sure the restrooms and refreshment areas are stocked. 

#6. Shop your comps

It is important to know what your competitors have to offer, both in terms of price and specials, but also in their amenities and the finish of their units. Split up the work amongst your team, shop your competitors and compare notes. In this way you will be able to sell your own property’s strong points more confidently. 

These 6 steps will have your closing ratio improving in no time. For more in-depth tips, as well as information on improving your occupancy with the other two controllable factors—traffic and renewal percentage-check out The Fixer: How to Turn Around a Failing Property In 90 Days now available in eBook or paperback on Amazon. Happy leasing! 

About the Author 

Jennifer Ninedorf has been in the property management industry in San Antonio, Texas for over 17 years. She has earned her CAM designation through NAA and has been a property manager, multi-site manager, regional manager and floating manager over the course of her career. She has used the process described in The Fixer to turn around multiple struggling assets for several management companies.