Staying Productive at Home: Tips for Real Estate Professionals
by McKenna Hogan, on May 4, 2020 8:30:00 AM
In a matter of 45 days, the majority of Americans have pivoted to a new lifestyle: working from home. For real estate professionals, whether you’re a property manager, marketer, or agent, this sudden shift has shaken up the industry in ways none of us could have predicted.
Working from home has its perks - but it also poses many challenges, especially in the multifamily and senior living sectors.
We know that there are virtual leasing tools available for property teams and virtual tours are being leveraged across real estate more than ever, but the next steps require learning to function virtually and maintain that productive spirit as a team from home.
And because we all work differently, incorporating check ins and training sessions to WFH life will be fundamental to a successful and safe real estate season.
Below are 5 working from home tips real estate professionals can use to stay productive and stay safe.
1. Hold virtual training sessions
Turning completely to online efforts amidst COVID-19 can be quite the transition—and with all of the new digital tools incorporated into your online strategy, it will be best practice to ensure your entire team knows how they operate.
It’s understandable that going completely digital right before peak real estate season may be, well, chaotic, but training sessions are an absolute must for multifamily professionals to overcome these new challenges.
Training sessions could include everything from a company webinar to guided virtual tour testing. Perhaps you’ve had a 360 apartment tour for quite some time, but you haven’t had to use it much until recently. Reach out to your virtual tour provider and ask if they offer any specific virtual tour training or webinars.
However your business opts to prep, be sure every team member is on the same page and is comfortable with new practices before jumping in.
2. Adjust to entirely digital lead generation
As of right now, your property’s website is the sole resource for engaging with potential prospects, and therefore must be optimized to do so.
In order to seamlessly take leads through the sales funnel, your team must provide valuable resources for your property, beginning with awareness.
One place to start is Google. With billions of searches happening on Google daily, it’s time to get your properties listed there, and if you already have listings, take this time at home to focus on cleaning them up and optimizing them.
Because of COVID-19, the Google team has made some changes to Google My Business. In turn, there are temporary limitations to which you can contribute to your Google My Business listings.
Still, there are many things you can do as operations at Google slowly return to normal.
- Updating business hours
- Editing and refining your business description
- Posting regularly to your listing
- Adding a Google virtual tour and updating any photos
Focusing on these areas amidst temporary delays and limitations will ensure clients have all the information necessary for inquiring about your business.
In addition to GMB updates, another way to prepare property teams for this online transition will be to create a solid workflow for those leads funneling into your website.
Chatbots are an extremely beneficial virtual leasing tool and a great way to digitally streamline lead flows. By having this 24/7 resource for client inquiries, property teams can track and lead prospects to the overall goal: conversion.
Setting up your chatbot to direct leads to your virtual leasing tools, resource pages, property listings, etc., will ensure the success of your virtual leasing tools living on your website.
3. CRM software training
Apartment leasing often requires a lot of paperwork—setting up CRM software for virtual leasing efforts can be a convenient way to track any kind of documentation.
Since in-person opportunities aren’t currently available, integrating CRM software onto your website will streamline virtual leasing and any sales efforts.
Depending on the type of software, you’ll be able to:
- Track engagement
- Plan tasks
- Conduct lead management
- Track listing analytics
- Bill and invoice
- Streamline the sales cycle
Leveraging this software will only make it easier on your team to successfully run your website and convert leads. For property managers, this is the perfect time to clean up your CRM in time for peak rental season.
Many available softwares actually have their own training courses, but if not, integrating a training session on your businesses meeting software will be best practice for ensuring every team member can use it to the best of its ability.
4. Team building
With every aspect of work becoming digital, keeping constant communication with team members will be increasingly important.
Whether it’s the communication barrier, effects of social distancing, or settling into the new WFH lifestyle, property teams should prioritize some type of team building to maintain a healthy and well-functioning system, while avoiding property manager burnout.
A few ways to do this are listed below.
- Hold regular check-in meetings with each department
- Do virtual happy hours on Fridays so everyone can catch up
- Host a virtual team building game at the beginning/end of the week for some light-hearted fun
- Continue to hold contests, such as employee of the month to boost morale
Overall, keep in mind that the best way to succeed at virtually leasing or selling property is to make sure every team player is functioning at their best.
5. Prioritize while you work from home
During these times, the best thing you can do is prioritize. Many of us have shifted our priorities to problem solve during COVID-19.
One of those key priorities is preparing for what’s next.
If you’re selling commercial real estate, focus on ramping up digital content efforts while spaces are empty. If you work in multifamily, work on a contingency plan for your on-site amenities.
According to a webinar with Marcus and Millichamp, it could take months for apartment amenities to return to their original state, or longer. Commercial real estate has also been hit incredibly hard.
When the economy starts to reopen and leasing offices begin to offer on-site tours again, renters will wonder if “social” amenities will still exist.
“The first line of defense will be to encourage or mandate social distancing around certain share-space amenities, such as a property’s pool, and in the gym,” states president of LMC investments, John W. Gray during the webinar.
Although you’re working remotely, prioritizing a strategy for your properties' shared spaces during and after COVID-19 safety regulations lift should be at the forefront of your agenda.
This means updating amenities to follow guidelines, adjusting rent to fit new changes, ramping up virtual leasing efforts, and adding a clause to leases addressing the purpose of these precautions.
Since there’s no concrete end to the effects of COVID-19, beginning to strategize problem solving while working from home will ensure all bases are covered when the time comes.
As times change, so should your business practices
With COVID-19 causing much uncertainty about when, or if, life will go back to normal, right now is the best time for real estate professionals to equip themselves and their team with all of the necessary tools to successfully work from home in the meantime.
Remember not to overlook the small things, as not everyone is adjusting the same to these new business practices—just remember to stay informed and stay in touch for a successful and healthy approach to your digital marketing efforts.