Multifamily leasing consultants—a job set barely breathing, right? Think again, says Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Laramar Group, which leapt this year into a leasing agent commission structure long sought but seldom achieved in the multifamily world. The goal? To nurture the first highly commissioned, empowered, motivated apartment salesperson.

Backing up the corporate-wide transition is the Laramar Incent Sales Compensation Program, a Web-based commissions dashboard that interfaces with Laramar's Yardi system for daily point-of-lease data and outputs monthly payroll feeds to Roseland, N.J.-based HR services firm ADP for sales compensation. And the total investment for the pilot program and version 2.0 for corporate roll-out? A mere $100,000.

That's just the beginning of cost savings and efficiencies that Incent promises, says Laramar CEO and managing partner Dave Woodward. “I really think we are going to create a career in apartment sales,” Woodward says. “[That will lead to] higher occupancy, lower employee turnover, which is a huge hidden cost, and an overall better caliber of personnel. We think we'll be able to quickly recruit the hot shot leasing consultants from other apartment companies that are not thinking this way.”

Leveraging Incent, a monthly quota for each “sales consultant” is divided into four advancing tiers based on effort and skill sets. As sales consultants meet or beat their quotas, they rise through the tiers and have monthly opportunities to increase their commission rates by doing so. Sales consultants consistently performing lower are offered training and evaluated for possible reassignment in the company.

The system features e-mail reminders for prospect outreach and renewal leads and on-screen motivational messages so consultants know when they are close to a higher tier. That has some of the best salespeople doing the unthinkable: working weekends and holidays. “Under the new model, people want to work Saturdays; they want to make appointments on their day off,” Woodward says. “They are thinking much more like a realtor whose income is tied to incremental revenue.”

The impact has been profound. Since the program was piloted in November 2007, lease renewal rates have increased by 26 percent and lease conversions from on-site visits have jumped 33 percent.

“We're getting higher renewals and conversions; we are rewarding and reducing turnover for top performers; and we've got better coverage of peak traffic times,” Woodward says. “But most of all, we think we have finally broken through and created a career path in apartment sales.”

Fast Facts Company: Laramar Group

Launched: Piloted in 2007, full v2.0 adoption in 2008 to 2009

Technologies: Microsoft SQL server, report server, and ASP.NET; AJAX controls; Fusion Flash charting

User Profiles: Sales consultant, community manager, regional manager, and executive interfaces

Budget: $100,000