These days, many people are so busy that if your application process takes too long or is too complex, they'll just move on to considering a different apartment community rather than wading through your process. Thus, if you want to attract more tenants and fill your units more quickly, it's essential to make your application process as streamlined and convenient as possible. Here are four tips to help you achieve that goal.
Allow applicants to submit the application online.
If you're still having applicants print off and mail in an application, or even worse, if you're requiring that they stop by your office for a paper application, you're probably missing out on a lot of potential tenants who prefer the more modern process of submitting an application online. Talk to your web developer and have this option worked into your site as soon as possible. There are several possible ways to set it up, which your developer should go over when you suggest this change. You can have the application information delivered directly to your main email address as soon as an applicant submits it, or you can have it sent to a separate online file folder, which you can check regularly to go over whatever applications have come in.
Do not allow forms to be submitted if they are not complete.
This is easy to set up if you're using an online application. Your developer can set the application up so that the system does not accept it until each blank has been filled in. This way, you won't have to figure out how to get in touch with tenants to ask for additional information if they forget to add a phone number or check a box. You'll have all of the information up-front, which should speed up the process and eliminate the inconvenience of having to play phone tag with someone who has turned in an incomplete application. This tip makes things more convenient for you and your potential tenants.
Explain how applicants who don't have the requested information should proceed.
Suppose your application asks the applicant to list their employer. Someone who is self-employed may stop filling out the application at this point because they're not sure how to respond to this question. Adding the statement "If self-employed, what industry are you in?" or even just a box to check if they are self-employed will ensure these people know how to respond.
Follow through with this strategy for other questions, too. If you ask for a prior landlord reference, for instance, indicate that applicants who do not have one should explain why. (You may be willing to rent to someone who has owned a home up until this point and thus has no landlord reference, whereas you may not be willing to rent to someone who has never lived outside of their parents' home before.) If you ask for monthly income, indicate what type of answer you're looking for from someone whose income varies seasonally.
Make sure tenants know how long it will take you to get back to them.
If applicants fill out the application, submit it, and then don't hear anything back for a week, they might assume they've been denied and will start looking into other properties. This is why it's important to let tenants know how long they can expect to wait for a response from you. If you do put your application online, indicate this on the screen that pops up once the applicant is done entering their information. Then, make good on your promise and make sure you get back to applicants within your specified time frame. Even if they are denied, let them know, as they will appreciate this gesture and it will bode well for your reputation.
If you follow the tips above, prospective tenants should have an easier time completing your application process, and thus, you'll find that you have an easier time filling your units. If you're looking for more ways to streamline your unique process, try surveying your tenants after they complete the application. Ask them what they think you could do to make the experience easier and more efficient. You're likely to get some very useful feedback.
If you would rather delegate this responsibility, consider reaching out to a local property management company, such as Harland Property Management.Share