If you’ve worked in the multifamily leasing industry long enough, chances are you’ve been the subject of an apartment mystery shop. This experience can elicit an array of responses from stress and defensiveness to excitement and pride. Everyone wants to perform well on mystery shops and receive positive feedback, and when this doesn’t happen, you may feel upset and judged. However, the truth about mystery shops is that they are a tool you can utilize to your advantage! An Ellis mystery shop will show you what you’re already doing great as well as the areas you can improve upon. This will benefit you AND your rental prospects and residents and will make you more likely to get the lease.
Let’s take a moment to stop and consider the journey your prospect is undergoing in making a move (making a move during a global pandemic, nonetheless). It’s been said that the top 5 most stressful life events include:
- Death of a loved one
- Major illness or injury
- Job loss
When you’re thinking about your prospect and your job to help them find the right home, do what you can to keep it simple and straightforward Chances are, many of the people you help each day are dealing with more than one of the above stressors at the same time. One way to do this is to become a storyteller. Just like a good story, every prospect interaction has three parts – a beginning, a middle and an end. According to novelist Dan Brown a story includes:
- The Beginning/Telephone: This part of the story introduces the characters and the world of the story and it needs to do so with enough energy to grab the reader’s interest right away. During a shop, the telephone interaction (or initial interaction) is the beginning of the shop story. This is where you get to know the prospect and their story and grab their interest in coming to visit.
- The Middle/Tour: Often, tension evaporates in the middle of a story, so it’s a good idea to figure out your ending first. It may not be perfect, but you can always change it later. Having a clear destination in mind will help you stay focused during the “middle muddle”. The middle of the shop is the tour. If you already know you’re going to close, this will help you conduct the tour with determination and excitement.
- The End/Close: Must answer your sole dramatic question, which already has your ending hidden within it. For an Ellis mystery shop, the close is the end and the dramatic question is the invitation to leave a deposit and lease!
Let’s review 6 steps to keep mystery shop success simple and straightforward.
Step One: The Telephone Call
You only get one shot at making a great first impression during the initial phone interaction and the way you answer the phone is a vital component of setting the tone of the call. Make it a point to sound happy, genuine, and inviting with your greeting and ensure you are comfortable with the wording you use to answer.
Before you can master your greeting, however, you have to make sure you’re answering the phone! Ellis mystery shop data has revealed that it takes a prospect an average of 2.5 calls to reach a live person at all and when a message has been left, the call is returned only 36% of the time. A true prospect will likely move on to your competition before you’ve had a chance to call back, so make it a priority to have someone either answer the call or be responsible for calling back timely when messages are left.
When you’re navigating your telephone conversation with a prospect, you will be working to complete the guest card. One important question often overlooked is “What is the reason for your move?”. This piece of information can be valuable in helping you understand the caller’s story so you can find their perfect home. When discussing the apartment, instead of running down the list of what you have, try to fill in any blanks and help the prospect envision living there.
Step Two: The Greeting
What sort of first impression will you make in person? Maybe the office is hectic and you’re trying to juggle several issues at once. Regardless, when the prospect walks in, be sure to stand and smile to greet them. They’ve decided to commit to a visit, so make sure they feel welcome!
Step Three: Identifying Needs
Recap what you talked about on the phone and then listen. It’s possible there’s more to the story, so give them the opportunity to give you the rest of their information and needs.
Step Four: Demonstrating
Get outside the office and show them around! Things can get busy in the office with all the distractions, so don’t waste too much time talking about the brochure. Remember to describe the surrounding area and nearby conveniences. This will go a long way in helping the prospect envision living in the community. Regarding objections, look at them as opportunities to offer solutions. Even if the objection isn’t something you can change, you can offer alternatives or workarounds.
Step Five: Closing
Invite, invite, invite! This is the ending of the story. Don’t think of the closing as a pushy sales pitch; consider it an invitation for the prospect to live in your community. Ask them to complete an application AND make a monetary commitment so you can get them started on settling in. Offer to help however you can. Remember to use a sense of urgency as a way to motivate your prospect to commit! Even if they say no, be sure to walk them through the application procedure and let them know you’ll be checking in with them so they’ll be expecting your follow up.
Step Six: Follow Up
This is the final piece of the story – it’s rolling the credits! Don’t skip this step! You need to reach back out in a way that will grab your prospect’s attention and remind them you’re a great fit. Even though email feels like the easiest way, taking the time to make a phone call will likely set you apart from your competition. This will give the prospect the opportunity to ask any other questions they may have.
With these 6 steps to keep mystery shop success simple and straightforward, your next perfect score (on the shop and getting a lease!) are right around the corner. Fun tip – try mystery shopping someone else in a different state or time zone. Print out the Ellis mystery shop form and see what it’s like being on the other end. You might learn something!
Since 1984, Ellis Partners in Management Solutions has specialized exclusively in helping our multifamily clients measure and improve the customer experience by teaming with customers to develop professional skills and behaviors in each team member. We evaluate customer service and performance of onsite leasing professionals through comprehensive mystery shopping reports, our multiple touchpoint resident survey program, and training. Our turn-key integrated customer experience program, backed by outstanding customer service, sophisticated technology, and ethical business practices, has made Ellis one of the multifamily industry’s most respected and sought-after providers of training and consulting services.