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Step Away From the Giant Bird Suit. . .

by Amanda Cupp on July 10th, 2015

It’s the beginning of budget season, which likely means you’re considering how to spend your dollars for optimal impact during the 2016 year. For most residential property managers, this involves putting one critical endeavor above all else: filling your occupancy. Unfortunately, there are pitfalls as well as opportunities for progress when it comes to this task. One particularly ineffective technique which tops the list? Heavy-handed, inauthentic, gimmicky “sales” pitches which not only fail to engage prospective residents, but also risk alienating your current residents.  Let’s take a closer look.

Enough with the Costumes
My newly graduated sister and I were out apartment shopping the other day, and drove past a person in a faded red parrot costume standing outside of an apartment community. This person wearing the suit was waving and holding a sign imploring passersby to, “Look Here!”

While a human in a giant bird suit may appeal to toddlers on a television show, it did little for me or my sister. In fact, this bird-brained marketing attempt had what I can only assume was the opposite effect than intended. Why? Because these five things, and only these five things, immediately came to my mind.

1. “Wow, it’s 90 degrees out today. I hope that person doesn’t suffer a heat stroke.”

2. “I wonder when was the last time they washed that thing?”

3. “Do not make eye contact. Do not make eye contact. Do not make eye contact.”

4. “I really hope that’s not a property manager with nothing better to do.”

5. “We are definitely not stopping here.”

Alas, not a single one of these thoughts made a positive contribution to the property management cause. Did the giant parrot grab my attention? Absolutely. Did it compel me to stop? Quite the opposite.

Authenticity Sells
The takeaway for savvy property managers? Not only do costume-clad people bearing signs make potential residents feel sorry for you and/or repulsed by your community, these and other ill-conceived, seemingly desperate actions can also have a negative impact on your current residents. Will they feel embarrassed every time they pull in the entrance? Will it cheapen their impression of their own community?

As a property manager, putting residents in this position is not only poor etiquette, but also bad business. You have a professional responsibility to respect residents when advertising, and “respect” and “furry suit,” alas, are mutually exclusive. Not to mention that there are plenty of other ways to attract and engage new and old residents alike, without stepping foot in an oversized, flammable, feathered costume. 

Ultimately, there is a time for everything. A massive cartoon bird for amusement-park photos ops or hawking fried chicken at a roadside stand? Bring it on. But in front of a luxury community trying to attract new residents while maintaining current ones? It just doesn’t fly.