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MC Residential Communities: Self-Guided Tours Enhance Productivity and Customer Experience
MC Residential Communities is a nationally recognized multifamily real estate investment company with a demonstrated history of success in delivering consistently superior returns. See how this company used Self-Guided Tours to boost tour numbers and make the experience easier for prospective residents.
Increase in weekly tours
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“We didn’t know how to sell to people anymore. There was no nurturing and no real customer service experience when customers were trying to find a new home.”
The Challenge: Self-touring practices were in early stages, but the approach didn’t support MC Residential’s goals
When Kelly Johnson first started at MC Residential Communities— a nationally recognized real estate investment company that manages more than 9,000 apartment homes—its properties were already using an early form of self-touring. When prospective residents arrived at the leasing office for a scheduled visit, they were handed a key to the apartment they inquired about and sent out to locate the apartment on their own.
The shortcomings of self-guided tours without technology
“While the concept was brilliant, it was a little ahead of its time because it lacked the technology and fell flat,” Johnson said of the first self-tours solution MC Residential attempted to implement. “Handing a customer a key felt very mom-and-pop to me.”
MC Residential abandoned this type of self-guided tour and returned to traditional touring practices. But Johnson knew self-guided tours needed to be part of the company’s future—once they could be supported by smart technology.
The Solution: SmartRent’s convenient, customizable, secure Self-Guided Tours
In the spring of 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic arrived, and the future of self-guided property tours was suddenly on MC Residential’s doorstep. It became imperative that the MC Residential team had self-tour protocols in place to continue operations during the pandemic and into the unknown beyond.
“We didn’t know how to sell to people anymore. There was no nurturing and no real customer service experience when customers were trying to find a new home,” Johnson noted.
The COVID-19 sea of opportunity
Not only did the pandemic usher in an immediate need for self-guided tours in the multifamily housing industry, but with it a wave of technology suppliers that were attempting to develop products to meet industry demand.
According to Johnson, the MC Residential team does its fair share of due diligence before making any upgrade decision, and they certainly did so during the pandemic, with such an influx of options to consider.
Testing the SmartRent Self-Guided Tour experience
MC Residential sought a security screening process that was less invasive for prospective renters, so they tested SmartRent’s Self-Guided Tours (SRT). Playing the role of a would-be renter, Johnson booked a tour at a community already using SGT. She was pleased to discover that SGT delivered what it promised.
“The software did what they said it would do,” Johnson recalled. “It sent me a message in the morning, reminding me of my tour. It reminded me that I needed to have my location enabled on my smartphone. At the exact moment of my appointment, the code for my tour popped up. What I loved was the functionality of the software.”
“The software did what they said it would do. It sent me a message in the morning, reminding me of my tour. It reminded me that I needed to have my location enabled on my smartphone. At the exact moment of my appointment, the code for my tour popped up. What I loved was the functionality of the software.”
Kelly Johnson, Vice President of Marketing
Overcoming obstacles for prospective residents
With many self-touring platforms there is a significant sticking point for renters: the requirement that they provide a credit card during the customer verification process. SmartRent, however, offered a less invasive security screening process.
“If I were a customer, I would probably stop looking at a community as soon as they asked for my credit card [information],” Johnson said. “What I loved was the functionality of [SGT]. SmartRent’s interface doesn’t ask for a credit card while offering great, non-intrusive security features. It’s just so easy.”
“If I were a customer, I would probably stop looking at a community as soon as they asked for my credit card [information]. What I loved was the functionality of [SGT]. SmartRent ’s interface doesn’t ask for a credit card while offering great, non-intrusive security features. It’s just so easy.”
The SmartRent difference: ease of customization and implementation
Johnson also loved SmartRent’s ability to customize its platforms by community—personalizing the tour experience for prospective residents while retaining the human element during the leasing process. She also lauded the “turn-key” ease of installation and implementation, along with SmartRent’s ever-available customer support.
Shortly after Johnson’s research, MC Residential Communities rolled out SGT at two of its properties for a five-month test phase that proved hugely successful. MC Residential followed up by deploying SGT portfolio-wide.
What SmartRent’s Self-Guided Tour solution does for MC Residential Communities
- Offers customizable reminders. SGT sends a message prior to the tour to remind prospective tenants to toggle on location services on their smartphone.
- Features automatic Digital ID verification. SGT verifies the prospective renter’s identity electronically, prompting them to take a picture of their driver’s license along with a selfie (both of which are authenticated digitally).
- Renders built-in geo-mapping SGT maps the model property’s precise location for the prospective renter’s smartphone.
- Provides convenience. SGT delivers an access code to the renter at the exact moment of the appointment—safe, secure, touch-free.
The Results: MC Residential tour numbers on the rise
Johnson noted that MC Residential Communities’ newfound ability to market self-guided tours has been “game changing.”
An example of MC Residential’s success with SGT; One of the company’s properties in Happy Valley, Ariz., was getting just five tours per week during the “dark days of the pandemic,” Johnson said. After SGT’s implementation the property began consistently getting an additional eight to 12 tours weekly.
“The beauty of this SmartRent solution is largely its simplicity, which creates a short learning curve for associates. We’re already getting our people to rise to the occasion and do something extra, tapping the features of this platform to make it the best experience it can be for customers. SmartRent is another tool in their arsenal, and they know it.”
Safety and sustainability
The Self-Guided Tours solution gave MC Residential leasing associates a way to keep doing their jobs during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Johnson spoke of the team’s excitement about being able to earn their leasing bonuses—and help renters find a new home—while keeping all parties safe by limiting in-person interactions.
“The beauty of this SmartRent solution is largely its simplicity, which creates a short learning curve for associates,” Johnson said. “We’re already getting our people to rise to the occasion and do something extra, tapping the features of this platform to make it the best experience it can be for customers. SmartRent is another tool in their arsenal, and they know it.”
In addition to bolstering security and tour numbers, SGT also enabled the MC Residential teams to tailor the leasing process to the comfort levels of prospective residents, which was of particular significance during the days of the pandemic.
“You tell us what you’re comfortable with, and we’ll make that happen for you,” Johnson said.
Johnson noted her excitement about seeing where the capabilities and versatility provided by SGT can take the company’s operations—by providing “what the customer wants.”
“With the possibility of having five tours going on at the same time and what that means for our ROI,” she said, “I just can’t say enough great things about what I see for the future.”.