Today’s service member and their family are high speed and low drag. They demand expediency and efficiency – especially when it comes to the highest stress task they have in their military move… finding a new AWESOME place to live across the state, country or world.
Most members of the military strive for a door-to-door move and that requires a great deal of digital communication. If your business isn’t set up to address long distance client needs, you might miss out on some great opportunities to fill your vacancies quickly!
A little digital organization will eliminate having to repeatedly send additional photos or other assets — and the time of going back and forth. Capitalize on all opportunities to rent/sell your property as quickly as possible with the right renter/buyer with these strategies!
Leverage the Cloud
Have you ever had a bounce email because the photos / attachments you sent exceeded the file size of the recipient email inbox? Even if you send 4-5 iPhone photos in an email, the email can get quite large. You can resize all of them, but why do that when there are even better solutions? You can maximize efficiency by providing ALL the necessary digital assets in one link and in one communication vs. several that can last over days that might be too late.
Solution: Use Cloud based services to upload your assets and then share links vs. attachments.
Checklist of 6 Must Have Digital Assets
Before we dig into the how, it’s important to inventory what digital assets people who are searching from afar want.
1. Photos – at least 20 photos of the rental / home for sale and possibly community/neighborhood shots.
I’ve rented to people who are coming from all over the world. They want to get a good picture of the home and the area so they know what they are getting themselves into. These 20 photos DO NOT INCLUDE duplicates of the same shot/area. The photos should tell a story and be ordered in number from front door and most important areas to the least important. See our Photo Checklist so you don’t miss out on important shots and leads.
2. Floor plans
Most all of our active duty military have lived in military housing at some point during their career. 30% of the U.S. military live on post/base. The #1 & 2 items they ask for from the housing office are photos AND floor plans. They have come to expect this information, and it’s a great selling tool. You want happy tenants; If they can get a floor plan from you, they can see if their belongings will fit into your rental / home for sale. It’s cheap to do and will set you apart. Get started with Floorplanonline.com for amazing tools, tours and room planners.
3. Rental / Home Flyer PDF
Photos paint a picture and floor plans help fill in the story, but your sales flyer brings it all together with a narrative. You might be thinking, “I already have that on my listing, why do I need to have a flyer?”
Because… it’s easily shareable. You might start connecting with an AHRN.com prospect outside of AHRN.com and they are talking with many landlords / realtors about homes. Pretty soon, they may have forgotten the details of your rental and why they liked it MORE than the last one they were talking about.
It’s also important that you share something about you as a landlord / realtor – especially if you are a veteran or a military spouse. It’s scary to commit to a new lease with a landlord you’ve never met. This helps to round out the overall picture and forge a personal connection.
To create flyers, there are a couple of tools we recommend:
- Snapflyers – slick and easy click and drag PDF (one time fee)
- Floorplanonline.com – a flyer function is built into the floor plan tour (pay per listing)
Most likely you have a smart phone– so put it to good use! Take a 5 minute walk around the house (make sure all the blinds are open, lights are all on) and talk to the camera (like a friend you’re showing around the place). Point out the features that you can’t see in photos. Start from the sidewalk, walk into place and end up in the back yard or outdoor patio. People may only watch for 20% of the video, so make sure you get to all the good stuff early.
5. Applications to Get Started
During the moving process military member are often using their mobile phone for the bulk of their communications and internet use. Using an application that is able to be completed online or digitally signed will smooth the rental process.
One powerful application available to property managers is HelloSign. This service provides you the ability to securely upload your PDF and mark the places that need to be filled out or signed. It’s a fast and easy way to get the information and documents you need in a secure method.
6. TIP: SCRA
In your communications, it’s important that you are up front about the military clause. Our military personnel want to know you understand the challenges they face and that they are not always in control of relocation orders. This is a big selling piece as well and worth including in your military rental flyer.
Organize, store and share your digital real estate assets
1. Sign up with Dropbox or similar cloud storage service (Google has similar ability to store and share).
2. Create two main folders entitled Active and Inactive
a. You can easily move folders from one parent folder to another
b. The benefit of doing it this way is that if you send two links to share 1) the interested rental / home for sale and 2) the link for all active, the interested party may peruse all your other vacancies. One of your other vacancies just might do the trick!
3. Let’s just start with the active listings
a. Open the ACTIVE folder on Dropbox and create sub folders for each address
b. Gather all the assets for a particular asset and open the correct sub folder and click and drag all the assets into the folder.
4. Hopefully you have already named the photos appropriately in order that you would like the user to peruse them. Examples of how to name files
- Living Room 1
- Living Room 2
- Kitchen 1
- Kitchen 2
- MasterBedroom1 with bath and walk in closet
- Bedroom2 with walk-in closet
- Addressofplace-rental $1700-video.mp4
- Addressofplace-rental $1700-flyer.pdf
- Addressofplace-rental $1700-application.pdf
While the convenience of digital communications is an essential component of serving the high tech military population, nothing replaces being able to talk to someone. Include a personal connection in your tenant work flow – perhaps a Skype call to chat face to face or a real time property walk through via Skype/Google Hangout/Facetime.
WARNING ABOUT SENSITIVE Information
Do not email or digitally transfer documents that contain personal or sensitive information – this includes many of the military documents like PCS orders, leave and earning statements and leave forms. Use HelloSign or another digitally secure method to transfer application information and contract signatures. Looks like HelloSign integrated with Google docs so you can have your application and contracts as templates!
Here’s to hoping your 2015 busy season is efficient and abundant!