As the entire world knows, March 2020 proved to be the beginning of unprecedented times. Every business in every industry was impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic and had to find creative ways to stay connected and safe while still offering personal and impactful experiences to customers. This new normal brought significant changes to the real estate industry, especially as renters and buyers were still searching for homes while maintaining social distance. Developers and brokers across the world had to shift to virtual leasing tools and rely on strong teamwork.
At Hartz Mountain Industries, we found ourselves faced with this pivot. After years of planning at Hamilton Cove, our three-tower collection of 573 luxury rental residences along the Lincoln Harbor waterfront in Weehawken, New Jersey, we had to ask ourselves: does it make sense to launch as planned? Challenges included the safe continuation of construction that was already in process and quickly shifting to virtual showings that would prominently showcase the residences, lifestyle and location, all while prospective renters could not tour in person.
Launching leasing during this time required creativity and innovative ways to reach potential renters in authentic and technologically advanced ways. Nobody could have anticipated a once-in-a-century pandemic. But business has to continue despite obstacles that may arise, and we have to be prepared to face challenges head-on.
From residential features and layouts to amenity offerings and location, it’s important to provide prospective renters with a true look at what is being offered and what they can expect when living in the building. While we could not conduct in-person showings for several months, we quickly released newly-produced video to give virtual tours regardless of where the prospects were located around the world. This allowed us to remotely accommodate prospective renters who were moving forward with apartment searches, while keeping them and our team safe. The creative leasing tool provided a complete look at the building, including its decorated model apartments and world-class amenities.
Because we are an amenity-rich building, we wanted to make sure this was not lost through virtual tours. We knew this would resonate with renters looking for a waterfront retreat away from the bustle of New York City yet a short commute from Manhattan, Hoboken and more. Video makes visualizing a renter’s future home experience possible. Prospective renters appreciate a genuine approach to virtual tours, especially during a pandemic, that keeps their best interest at heart.
While offering virtual tours, it’s also important not to lose opportunities to personally interact with prospective renters. In addition to virtual tours, incorporate a personal element with an interactive presentation conducted by leasing agents through Zoom meetings. Prospective renters value that we kept their safety in mind yet were providing the same level of service as we would in person. As we move forward, expect prospective renters to continue to request virtual meetings and personalized presentations.
Build a Strong Team
During times of uncertainty, it’s imperative to surround yourself with positive team members who take pride in their work and in quality service. From the beginning of the pandemic, our team remained dedicated to collaborating and providing excellent service. A project’s success while launching at a time like this is due to teams working together to ensure residents can view the building in whatever way they’re most comfortable, sign leases the same way and move in while practicing social distancing.
Have a Plan, Adapt Quickly & Deliver Quality Service
This past year has proven how it is essential for businesses to be able to quickly embrace challenges and see them as opportunities. Every business should have a plan as well as a backup plan. In our case, we embraced technology on a much larger scale as a new method to connect with renters so we don’t miss opportunities to interact and provide the same quality service. Even during a pandemic, the home search is an exciting time for renters. It’s important to keep a flawless and streamlined daily process for them and our teams as we all normally did before COVID-19.