The Power of the Waiting List: Advertising Beyond Occupancy

High occupancy? Build a waitlist

Your communities have reached their occupancy goals and leasing season is a few months away, so why not taper the advertising efforts for a while?

If occupancy is your key metric and there’s no chance you’re going to start revenue managing your portfolio, you might think it’s best to save the money and stop advertising when you hit 100 percent.

But that approach can put you in a bind down the road.

Sure, you have no availability at the moment, but what happens when you suddenly do? Your residents might be locked into leases, but life situations come up. Maybe they get transferred to another state, lose their job or endure another life-changing event.

If you’re unprepared, all of a sudden you have a vacancy and no leads. With a waiting list in place, you’ll be prepared for this uncertainty. You can handpick your next resident and not lose out on that month’s rent.

But that particular situation is not the only reason why continuing to advertise and having a waiting list in place is a good idea. Here are some other benefits:

  • A waiting list will hedge your bets against a market downturn. Houston, for example, was a high occupancy market until the price of oil plummeted due to high production. Suddenly, people aren’t able to stay in Houston, depressing rents. If a fair percentage of your resident base begins to flee, it’s important to have potential replacements in the funnel.
  • Nationwide, the market is beginning to soften as well. If you have a waiting list of people interested, you’re ahead of the game. If not, you’re falling behind and you don’t even know it. Playing catch-up in a softening market is much harder than in the sizzling market of the past few years.
  • Waiting lists empower your leasing agents to nurture leads. When there is no availability, it’s easy to just ignore that lead that came in. But that hurts your community’s brand and its ability to lease in the future. A waiting list empowers leasing agents to follow up with cold leads when availability hits. It’s easier to follow up with someone you know is interested than it is to start from scratch.
  • Continuing to advertise helps maintain brand awareness. Being fully occupied doesn’t mean you don’t want to keep your name out there. You still want to drive home the point that you’re one of the best options in the submarket, and you can’t do that by remaining silent. Some communities might be so popular that the name sells itself. For the other 95-plus percent, it’s best to continue to boost the brand.

Even when the market is hot with no downturn in sight, continuing to advertise and building waiting lists are recommended practices. But with a softening market in the forecast, it’s even more important to put yourself in a favorable position.