Why do you advertise? The answer’s obvious, you say. Not really. Phrased differently, what do you hope to accomplish by advertising? Still kind of obvious, but more to the point. The automatic answer is “to rent the unit.” But nothing, anywhere was ever rented by an ad. The renting takes place after the applicant comes over, looks at the unit, fills out a rental application, you check it out, and he pays you money. All the ad does is get the phone to ring.
An ad can be the ad in the paper, a flyer in front of the property, a notice on a bulletin board, or just about anything else that is designed to get people to contact you about the property for rent. Obviously you want lots of people to see your ad, you just don’t want all of them to call you. That’s a waste of their time and yours. So you write the ad to attract attention but also to keep some from calling you. How many you want to not call you depends on your situation.
Let’s say, for example, that you live next door to the property or you have an onsite manager. Your ads might be directed toward getting as many people to call you as possible. After all, it’s no trouble to show the unit, you just walk out the door. If the prospect stands you up, you’re a little irritated, but not out much of anything except a few minutes of watching for them.
In that case your ads would be designed to get lots of people to call you. On the other hand, let’s say that you live 30 miles from your rental property. It is a big imposition to drive to show a unit to someone who is not really interested in the property, and not qualified to rent it. In that case you would write your ad to get the prospect to eliminate himself. I had never thought about that until one of my seminar attendees said he lived 30 miles from town and didn’t want to be writing ads to attract applicants driving in to town, especially in the winter, just to show property to somebody he wouldn’t rent to anyway. So he wanted techniques to keep the unqualified, uninterested applicants from calling him to see the property.
How do you do that? Understand to begin with what people do when they look at classified ads in the newspaper. Studies have shown that they go through and circle or highlight the ones that might be of interest. The next step is eliminating those properties that will not work for them. They do that by calling you and finding out about the properties or by getting you to show it to them. When potential tenants look at newspaper ads their first interest is the amount of rent. If they can’t afford it, they go to another ad. If the rent’s okay, they go on to the second item: features that they are looking for. Or they look for basic needs, then see if the rent fits their budget. If they need three bedrooms, they won’t call on one-bedroom units (usually). After that, they will look for features that would make the unit a nice place for them to live, or for features they don’t want to try to eliminate it.
In order to get the phone to ring, then, you put less information in the ad. You don’t want to tell them anything that would discourage them from calling you. In that case your best ad would be something such as PRIME PROPERTY 3 BR duplex close to bus. $695. Call 123-4567.
If the applicant wants more information, he has to call you. Then you can use a variety of phone techniques to get him to come over. Once you’ve got him personally in your clutches, you can use even more techniques to get him to rent from you (assuming he’s qualified).
Trying to avoid a 30-mile (each way) drive is something else again. Now you want them to eliminate themselves. Give more information.
PRIME PROPERTY 3 BR duplex with large, immaculate, fenced yard, across from school, off street parking, on bus line. Nopets or smokers. $695. 1st & last + deposit. Call 123-4567.
Right away you have eliminated people who don’t want to do yard work, who don’t want to live next to a school, who don’t want buses going by all times of the day and night, and who don’t have a last month’s rent and deposit. Plus, most of the smokers and pet owners will leave you alone— not all, of course, some don’t read that far, or think maybe they can sneak by.
One of the best ways to get bad tenants not to call you is putting the following wording in your ad: “So that our properties remain great places to live, we screen applicants carefully.” Bad tenants stay away in droves. An important point to remember is that good tenants tend to be picky. They first judge you by the advertising they see and then by how they are treated on the phone. Second they judge by the property. Good tenants are hard to get into a property and easy to get out.
Bad tenants will accept just about anything and consider themselves as having put one over on another landlord when they get to rent. But they feel especially comfortable with landlords who write unprofessional ads, who are unprofessional on the phone, and who don’t seem to care much about the property. The better your ad, the fewer bad tenants will call.