There are certainly a lot of opinions out there about how to keep vacancy rates low. And, depending on other factors you need to consider, we understand that no one option is always the right answer. But, at ShowMojo, we do believe there is one time-tested option that usually is the best:
Showing occupied homes or apartment units with your own team is the most reliable way to eliminate vacancies.
Most importantly, the return on investment is huge. That’s because your inventory never goes vacant and thus continuously brings in rental income. Full disclosure: we do not plan on discussing anything magical here. This really is about taking the right steps in the right order. It is about being organized, and it is about following through on the plan you have put in place.
Do the Pre-Work to Show Occupied Listings
This first step starts before the property is even on the market — it starts with the current tenant. Specifically, you want to set the guidelines between you and the tenant, so you each know what to expect from one another.
The showing schedule will be the biggest thing. If you are using ShowMojo, creating and maintaining a showing schedule is almost effortless — and so is notifying current tenants about upcoming showings.
If you are not using ShowMojo, a pre-set showing schedule greatly reduces your effort, because you’ve given the tenant all the notice they need about upcoming showings. You won’t need to call the tenant after each showing is set, or to beg for last-minute access.
Next, have a standard notification for the tenant about showings. Remind them that it is their obligation in the lease to keep the place presentable. Remind them about their option to be there for the showing or not. Remind them that the more helpful they are in this process, the faster the place will rent and the sooner the whole activity will be over.
Finally, find out about the pet situation. Are there cats or dogs? Where are they kept? Are cats allowed to leave the unit? Knowing details like this upfront is going to remove a lot of stress from showing an occupied space.
Pre-Market and Work the Schedule
You probably already know how long it takes to rent a place in your market. Six weeks, two months, whatever that amount of time is. With that in mind…
Start marketing a week before you plan to start any showings, with your showing schedule already in place. You can then spend the week simply pre-filling the schedule, so you can start showing with a full schedule. ShowMojo has specific pre-marketing features built in, but this is also something you can do on your own.
Of course there will be the people who call and say they have to see the place right now and they can’t wait a week. They’ve found another place that they’ll settle for it instead, but they really like your place. It is inevitable this will happen. But, in this case, remember that you have chosen to pre-market. You’ve put the place on the market before you need to, specifically to drum up interest. In a case like this, if you take the statements at face value, you never would have even stumbled across this prospect.
Next, be sure to confirm with prospects prior to the showing. ShowMojo automatically confirms showings for you. But if you are not using ShowMojo, you can collect cell phone numbers when you schedule showings. Then text messaging becomes a quick-and-easy confirmation tool. You can send out confirmation (or reminder) text messages the afternoon before the next day’s showings.
Whatever approach you take, you want to make sure you’re making the most of your time if you are headed out to do in-person showings.
When we titled this article we were very careful to state “almost” zero vacancies. An occasional vacancy is going to happen. And you just need to focus on the silver lining and make the best of it. One bright spot just might be how much you were able to learn when showing the place while rent was still coming in!
Interested in diving into the “almost” zero vacancy process even more? Check out the full, unabbreviated version of Delight Your Owners with Almost Zero Vacancies. While this article was originally written for 3rd-party property managers, we hope you’ll find some additional value!
About the Author:
Abi Wasserman, Sales Manager, ShowMojo
My entire professional career has revolved around the property management industry. Starting in the advertising side of the business and working my way up through the ranks, I even gained the unforgettable experience working of in a property management office. After more than a decade, I’m back on the vendor side of an industry I love, as an advocate for property management professionals. I’ve been there and I know that with each new day in property management, there’s a chance the game changes. I have a passion for working to help property managers identify areas for process improvement in their business while helping them implement new solutions for growth strategies, all the while helping them strengthen their business. Since joining the team at ShowMojo, I’ve been working with PM businesses to help them focus on automating the residential leasing process, delivering significant cost and time efficiencies for everyone involved.