At the center of many apartment communities across the country you will find the apartment community clubhouse — commonly utilized as a sales, center, management office, resident amenity utopia and general command center. Some of these buildings are quite ornate and over the top, designed for a “wow” factor. Others are more simplistic, and utilized primarily for business functions. Either way, if you have the building, the question to ask, is “How is this area selling for us?”
What kinds of things should we consider?
The Threshold Experience
When an individual enters your clubhouse, what is the first thing they see?
The threshold area, also known as the “decompression zone”, is the very first three to five feet of space that clients step into when they enter your clubhouse. This is where they transition from the outside world and enter your experience. Once in this space, they very quickly decide how cheap or expensive you area, and whether you exhibit quality. Since all of this is going on here, messaging and signs will be missed.
Once they are in, 90% of people will unconsciously turn right. The first wall they see is often referred to as a “power wall”, and acts as a first impression vehicle, so be sure to give it extra special attention in terms of what you choose to display and how you display it. You might try a chalkboard on an easel that says, “Welcome!” and lists upcoming events. This would also be a great place to hang a large photo of the community team.
Map Your Sales Zones
If you want your clubhouse to really sell for you, map your sales zones. At Starbucks there are 11 distinct signage positions, from the availability of mocha coconut frappes, to the suggestion to add a blueberry scone to your order. To do this, start a list of where your prospective residents and residents stand around doing nothing. This is where a message might be appropriate. For example, when a prospective resident enters the space, where do they go first? Can they easily find you? Is it easy for them to know what to do? Where do people wait around? What kind of positive message might you send confirming or reconfirming your commitment to them?
While you are thinking about placement, consider where it is likely to get read. If your sign is placed on the way to the bathroom, it may be overlooked by the “task at hand”. Rather, place it on the way out. If you have a clubhouse entrance with a cathedral ceiling, keep in mind the resident will first look upward on entry. Will they see anything interesting that builds value or is memorable?
Take a look at the back of the clubhouse. Is anything interesting happening there? If you want people to experience the area, place something appealing in the space. For example, a strategically located touchscreen would entice clients to enter the area and play. If you do a touchscreen, make sure there are hooks and places for people to park their things while they get interactive.
Take a Seat
With seating, think short, medium and long—term parking. For example, if your model is a bit of a walk away, it might make sense to place a bench on the tour path for individuals with health issues, etc. If you find people improvising anywhere, i.e., using a window ledge as a seat, you will want to rethink your seating or “sit down and stay awhile” opportunities. Where people try to sit is where their subconscious mind is telling them to sit.
If you want people to use your seating, think public privacy. This Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Omaha created an inviting area for guests to utilize the common area while still maintaining a sense of privacy. In addition, the individual televisions allow for a customized experience.
Try to stay away from the traditional sofa in your clubhouse. They may look pretty, but people do not like to share their space, and will almost always choose individual seating first.
R&R’s Tips for Making Your Clubhouse a Sales Tool
–chalkboard paint a wall or table top to keep kids busy and to write sales messages.
-Amazon.com sells life-size games: Tic Tac Toe, Connect Four, Playing Cards, Jenga and Bowling (search for JUMBO games). Buy sets to rotate among your sister properties to keep them fresh.
-write messages on the wall (or in frames or on canvases) with resident testimonials or your USP.