3 Lessons from 6,000 Miles Away

by Drew DeMasters

During the holidays, we traveled to Japan and stayed in a fantastic weekly hotel in Tokyo near a huge train station called Ueno. And during our stay there as renters, I was struck by 3 lessons.

But first I should tell you what our hotel did NOT have:

no concierge or bellhop
no free breakfast
no soap
no shampoo
no razor
no housekeeping
no trash service

So, why was it fantastic? Because it did have what was most important to us: location, price and space. No more and no less. And thats the 1st lesson for us as landlords and property owners.

Lesson #1: Give your customers what is most important to them. No more and no less.

Why no more? Because if its not important to them, it wont matter anyway. And it wont help keep your residents longer. If you are meeting their 2 or 3 biggest needs, that can be enough to set you apart from other landlords. Think about it; even if you have the best service and all kinds of incredible benefits for residents but your properties are in an undesirable part of town, it can still be difficult to fill vacancies.

And no less? Well, obviously if youre not meeting their most important needs you will have a very hard time keeping current residents and an even harder one attracting new residents to your property.

Lesson #2: Be where your customer is.

So, how did we find this ideal place? Online. Several days and nights of searching and reading reviews, maps and comparison-shopping narrowed it down for us. More and more that means having an online presence. For example, a simple website with all of the important info that will get visitors to pick up the phone or shoot you an email to set an appointment for a showing.

So if youre thinking about creating a website for your units, here are some MUST-HAVES:

Some high-resolution color photos
The price displayed prominently
A map of your location and surrounding neighborhood
Benefits that make your place unique
And your contact info: name, email and phone number

And if you have already have a website, consider adding some NICE-TO-HAVES:

A free offer to visitors who give you their contact info

2 or 3 short videos of reviews from current residents and walk-through tours of your property, maybe neighborhood highlights

SEO (search engine optimization)

Targeted landing pages for specific keywords searches like new Rosewood apartment or 2BR Lakeview apartment

But a website is just one example. The broader point: wherever your target audience is spending a lot of time, you need to be there too!

So ask yourself: where does my next (qualified) new resident shop? what is he reading? where or in what part of town does he work? where does he spend free time? Then, zero in on only the places that matter to reach your audience.

Lesson #3: Be grateful.

While in Tokyo, I had an unusual experience! At one of the big train stations, there is literally a neighborhood of makeshift cardboard boxes with homeless people living inside. Of course, it’s not unusual to see homeless people on busy street corners of major cities here in the US. But in Japan for whatever reason, I rarely see them (maybe because they all stay at this station!)

And as I stood there waiting, one homeless man called out to me from his box. But not for money. Instead, he offered me some fruit. Not sure if I looked lost or hungry but I was struck by his kindness and generosity. And by this juxtaposition: not 10 feet above his cardboard home I could see a window with a happy couple sipping champagne at an upscale dining place inside the station.

Though I didn’t take the fruit, I did take a lesson from that man as I walked away: be grateful. For your health, your family, your friends, good residents in your properties, whatever success you’ve had, and what you’ve accomplished so far. Because you have it so good compared to so many others.

Drew DeMasters is a landlord, author and award-winning marketing strategist with 15+ years in the rental business. Download your FREE report 30 Ways to Fill Vacancies FAST at www.landlordmarketingsecrets.com

His book is also available on the Kindle, iPad and Nook.

Winner of a 2009 Echo Award from the Direct Marketing Association, DeMasters holds an MBA in Marketing from the University of Missouri ” Kansas City. He can be reached at [email protected].

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