Untapped Potential: Examining the New Wave of CRM Capabilities
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By Andrew Ruhland |

5 minute read

In an increasingly data-driven world, operators are finding new ways to optimize their customer relationship management systems. 

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) systems are the keeper of data in the rental housing industry. In an increasingly data-driven industry, CRMs are invaluable, but there remains considerable untapped potential. Most multifamily companies have a CRM in place, but some operators are now experimenting with new tools that enhance and optimize its capabilities.

CRMs are already critical to customer service, but operators can benefit even further by utilizing some key integrations that will be the difference between employing a good leasing strategy and an exceptional leasing strategy. 

The following are some of the ways operators are experimenting with operationalizing and optimizing their CRMs.

Automated Communication

A CRM gathers data about a customer from just a few touchpoints, but many communication opportunities can still be missed. If operators aren’t using the data properly or are failing to gather an adequate amount of information from more touchpoints, the number of potential residents left on the table can be staggering. 

While there are several ways to improve the leasing process from end-to-end, one of the most valuable options is to implement an automation tool that seamlessly integrates with existing CRMs. Automation helps onsite teams follow through on every lead and better prioritize the leads indicating a customer has the real intent to move. Automation increases lead-to-lease conversion rates, improves communication with customers throughout their entire journey and provides an optimal eight to 12 touchpoints. 

According to internal data from Nurture Boss, lease conversion automation increases lead-to-lease conversion rates by more than 10% compared to communities without lease conversion automation.

“A CRM is our core system and truly a sales tool that allows us to measure and gather data from various touchpoints throughout the entire prospect journey,” says Claudia Giannetta, National Director of Marketing at Fore Property Company. “It’s essential to measure and track the sales journey in its entirety from the first point of contact, through the application process, and ultimately through their short-term or long-term stay as a resident. For us, all communication is hosted inside the CRM system via a lease conversion automation tool.” 

Personalized Messaging

Removing the task of consistent, timely communication from onsite team members’ plates frees them up to cultivate and maintain deeper, more personal relationships with customers and residents alike.

Even with a CRM, 45% of customers never hear back from a community they inquired about. By adding automation ability to a CRM, operators can be certain that no lead goes unanswered. When a CRM is equipped with lease conversion automation, the average time that it takes to respond to all customers is just one hour. 

Adding an automation tool to complement existing CRMs will establish nearly immediate communication with a customer who has expressed interest in a particular community. When certain touchpoints are reached and the appropriate information is acquired, the automation tool crafts personalized messaging that’s sent to the customer via their preferred method of communication. 

Responding with the right message at the right time not only maximizes open rates of personalized messaging, it also eliminates any missed leads, which boosts lease conversions. 

According to data from Nurture Boss, 89% of consumers say they prefer texting over any other mode of communication. The non-personalized text open rate is 98% with a click-through rate of 19%, but when texting is personalized, the click-through rate is nearly twice as high. 

As modern prospects have many options for apartment communities, personalized messaging can set a community apart from the rest. Customers are more likely to engage with something they feel was personally made for them. According to a survey conducted by Accenture, “Making It Personal,” 91% of respondents said they are more likely to shop with businesses and brands that offer better personalization. McKinsey & Company’s “Next in Personalization 2021 Report” found that companies generate 40% more revenue from personalization than competitors.

“We continue to be an ever-evolving industry,” Giannetta says. “Being able to communicate quickly, efficiently and effectively with current and future residents in the way that they want us to communicate with them is more crucial today than ever before.” 

Continuous Messaging

Additionally, automation tools coupled with existing CRMs don’t cease to communicate once the lease is signed. Prior to moving into a community, automation tools provide new residents with personalized checklists pertaining to their move-in, as well as continued and customized communication throughout the first 180 days of their lease. This creates a better experience for residents that yields more referrals, reviews and survey results. As the end of the lease approaches, personalized renewal reminders can be sent to residents, and data shows lease conversion automation can increase renewals by 6% or more. 

It is that customized, continuous messaging that boosts resident satisfaction, resulting in longer stays. Without enhancing CRMs by introducing the necessary tools, operators are doing a disservice to themselves, leasing agents and even customers. It provides the chance to strategically separate the customers who are truly interested in moving into a community from the window shoppers.

Operators that have the proper requisites in place that optimize current CRMs have reported a tremendous increase in lead-to-tour rates at those communities. 

“The lead-to-tour rate in our industry is usually about 24 to 37 percent on average, and almost immediately after implementing lease conversion automation, our lead-to-tour rates increased to 50 percent,” Giannetta says. “Automation allowed us to quickly expand our reach and retarget shoppers, which ultimately escalated our ability to convert more leases by re-engaging the rent-ready consumers most interested in taking action.”


Andrew Ruhland is Junior Account Executive with LinnellTaylor Marketing.