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Leadership & Management: Developing Your Onsite Teams

The Top 5 Shop Questions Your Competitors Are Missing

By Leadership & Management: Developing Your Onsite Teams

 

Top 5 Shop Questions Your Competitors are missing

What are the Top 5 Shop Questions Your Competitors are missing?  You already know that providing exceptional customer service is a must in today’s multifamily industry. The competition is fierce, so anything you can do to gain an edge will help you close leases and retain residents for the long term. One great way to outshine your competition is to find out what they’re missing and do it better! You can start by understanding these top five shop questions your competitors are consistently missing so you know where you can focus your efforts.

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Shopping Report Data Integrity: 4 Reasons to Resist the Temptation to Take the Flawed Win

By Leadership & Management: Developing Your Onsite Teams

Data integrity is the overall accuracy, completeness, and consistency of data. Integrity is the starting point. When you have shopping report data integrity, you are working with accurate data that can be analyzed and measured. While the temptation to adjust the data in your direction can leave you feeling good in the moment about your accomplishments, in the long run this compromised data is not actionable and is of little use to an industry, a business, or an individual person. It is a flawed win.

 

Certainly, the stakes are high and winning is the goal, but just like the world of sports, the accuracy of shopping report data matters. As we kick off the spring baseball season, the stats will start rolling and players will be sharply measured by them. In fact, the player who leads the MLB league in highest batting average, RBIs, and homeruns is referred to as the “Triple Crown” winner. The pressure is on as these MLB players are judged by and ultimately paid based on their stats.

Now, let’s imagine that the player, a colleague, or a coach was allowed to interpret and change the calls on the field or adjust their game statistics.

  • I didn’t really mean to hit the batter with that pitch. No walk!
  • He tried his best to field that ball, but he didn’t get enough sleep last night, so he missed it. No error!
  • That ball went under my glove because the sun was in my eyes. No error!
  • Bad umpire. Everything is questionable and up for adjustment.

While these reasons might appear completely ridiculous, so are many of the excuses I have heard from leasing professionals (myself included) over the years who tried to dispute and change shops conducted through an independent mystery shopping provider. These were some of my favorites.

  • I knew it was a shopper, so I dotted all the i’s and crossed all the t’s. Adjust score.
  • I am absolutely, positively certain that I asked for the deposit. It is checked off on my list! Adjust score.
  • The shopper didn’t like me. Adjust score.
  • The apartment was clean and smelled fresh; I walked it that morning. Adjust score.

Trust me when I say I understand the temptation to take the flawed win. In fact, I remember sitting in my manager’s office in the early 90’s attempting to convince her that I did not miss a particular point on my telephone shop, but then she pulled out the recording. When I was promoted to property manager, I was willing to go to battle for my employees, but scores were rarely changed by the training director. My point is that we all have good intentions and being passionate about our employees is a great thing until we let our emotions take over our good business sense.

Nationally known speaker and Certified John Maxwell Coach, Jeffrey G Duarte has said, “Some forget the valley is where they learned and grew the most and the peak they have reached will soon become another valley.” Sometimes even our best leasing professionals need a wake-up call, which often visits them in the form of a low or unacceptable shopping report score. While no one likes to be reminded of their weaknesses, quite often adversity leads to examination. Examination is key, and this should be our goal as supervisors and leaders: To examine the errors and improve, rather than to dispute or adjust scores for our employees. There is no long-term value in the flawed win.

Umpires make subjective calls. Leasing professionals have bad days. Mystery shoppers make judgments. Yet, it is rare for an umpire to reverse a call, and it should be rare that a shopping report score is adjusted because it is an evaluation of a customer’s first-hand experience. So, when the temptation to argue or adjust a shopping report overwhelms you, remind yourself of the goal – to examine and improve.

Here are 4 reasons to resist the temptation to take the flawed win.

1. Sometimes the Data Reveals the Obvious.

Many years ago, I had a conversation with a manager regarding a shopping report she eagerly wanted to contest. The manager insisted that the shopper had made an egregious error on her employee’s report. All of the boxes were positively checked with the exception of “Would you lease the apartment,” so the report

was marked unacceptable. As the manager and I listened to the recorded call, we quickly realized that it was more about the manner in which the employee spoke and interacted with the customer, rather than the words coming out of his mouth. There are questions on shopping reports that are about perception, so they are designed to capture a response based on the customer’s experience and not necessarily a question that was or was not answered. In this case, the call revealed a leasing professional who was robotic, dry, boring, and sleepy. Ultimately in this case, there was no changing him; he was in the wrong business.

A friend recently shared another story about a manager who would instinctively drive around the potholes at her community and never think twice about it because she knew where they were. This continued until a shopper pointed out the potholes on a shopping report. Then the manager realized that she had been overlooking the obvious.

Sometimes we overlook the obvious with our employees because we are too close to them or the situation. It takes an outside eye to reveal what needs to be changed or improved.

2. You Don’t Have to Play Scorekeeper.

It is difficult to remain unbiased when it is your kid making the error on the baseball field or your leasing professional receiving the negative comment or unacceptable shopping score. Our natural response is, “We know what they meant to do or say. Let’s give them back that point.” I am pretty certain that’s why the MLB does not allow the player’s family, friends, or coach to score their game. When I was a training director, my phone would have blown up with calls from managers if they knew they could manipulate their shopping report scores, especially if there was an incentive attached to it! If scores can be freely changed, the credibility of the entire program comes into question. Partnering with a third-party mystery shopping provider takes the burden of the evaluation off your shoulders.

3. Shopping Report Data Integrity Helps Define Patterns.

We use data to reveal patterns and trends which help us to improve our performance and ultimately our business. At the leasing desk, these data patterns help us to identify areas of strength and areas which need more attention. Data provides the evidence we need to help inform better decision-making around goals and strategies. Most companies track this data against their own measures of success for their company. If the data is altered or flawed, then their measure of success will not be accurate.

4. Shopping Report Data Integrity Allows You to Set and Maintain Standards.

There must be a standard – the same set of rules – applied to everyone and every company in order for the data to be credible. If one business takes the shopping report data at face value, yet another manipulates some of their scores, then the outcome is questionable.

Current and accurate data about your customer’s experience with your product and employees helps your marketing efforts. It provides a snapshot of the entire journey and confirms that your marketing messages are reflected accurately and consistently in the leasing professionals’ presentations. When data quality is high, companies are better able to mitigate any obstacles on the customer journey, increase business efficiency, and make informed decisions.

Teaming up with a professional mystery shopping provider to increase your data accuracy is a certain way to success and trusting them to do the work for you is key to eliminating the risk or temptation to take the flawed win.

 

About Ellis

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.

5 Steps to Get to and Beyond the Close

By Leadership & Management: Developing Your Onsite Teams

How many times have you worked your way through the leasing presentation, convinced the prospect to commit and sign a lease and then felt satisfied the job was done? Have you ever thought about the fact that once the prospect has signed the lease, their relationship with you is really only beginning? If you can reframe your perspective to look at “closing” as the start of a long term relationship, you’ll find yourself with less resident turnover and greater resident loyalty in the long run. We present 5 steps to get to and beyond the close.

 

1. Focus on Where it All Begins.

After all, you can’t dive into a commitment without first navigating the courtship! When it comes to leasing, the courtship is the sales presentation, and the closing is the proposal. Here are four main reasons you may strike out on closing:

  1. I do not believe in what I am selling. Remember, what you are trying to sell doesn’t have to be something you want for yourself! Maybe you would not choose to live in the community you work for, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t perfect for the prospects who are coming to take a look.
  2. I am afraid I am going to be turned down. If you’re doing a good job of leasing and you’re priced right, you WILL be turned down sometimes! If you were able to lease to every single prospect that visited, it would mean your pricing is too low or your requirements are too lax.
  3. If I try to close, I will look dumb. Even if you feel uncomfortable at first, the techniques we’ll share today DO work and will feel commonplace with time.
  4. I perceive “pressure” as a negative approach. Your prospect came in to see you; you didn’t call them in! Many people need help deciding to lease with you. It’s not “pressure” if they qualify and want somewhere to live!

At the end of the day, leasing success is measured by actual move-ins, not showings or applications or deposits. Did you know that 70% of sales decisions are based on the prospect’s perception of the leasing professional? For this reason, it’s vital to make sure you are FEP! What is FEP? Well, that’s someone who is Friendly, Enthusiastic and Professional! Be aware of your facial expressions, body language and tone of voice to ensure you’re conveying a FEP nature.

2. Avoid the Non-Close

We’ve talked about reasons people fail to close. Now let’s look at actions you may think count as closing, but actually don’t:

  • Handing out rental applications.
  • Waiting for a prospect to say, “Yes, I want it!”
  • Giving the prospect your card and asking them to call if they have questions.
  • Being very careful not to be TOO pushy.

Most of these are great to work into the overall presentation, but you have to ASK for the close! In fact, it would be abnormal, inappropriate, and rude NOT to ask them to lease. Here are simple steps to get to and beyond the close:

  • First Contact – ABC (Always Be Closing). Consider every prospect who walks in your door as potential to close and make sure you’re setting yourself up for success from the beginning and throughout the interaction.
  • Develop the YES Habit. Nod your head while you ask questions to encourage a positive response from the prospect.
  • Two-Word Questions. Use two-word questions to get your prospect nodding along with you!
  • Temperature-Taking Questions. Ask the prospect questions about how they’ll set up the bedroom or where they’ll put the TV. Get them to visualize living there and give you subconscious feedback.
  • ASK FOR THE MONEY. Every prospect knows they’ll be spending money for an apartment, so you won’t surprise them!
  • A NO Does Not Mean NO. The first “no” you get from a prospect is just a reflexive response; keep pressing. Look for an objection you can overcome!
  • Body Language. Don’t read too much into body language but look for positive signs like picking up the application or brochure or leaning forward.
  • Know When to Shut Up. If the prospect tells you they’re ready to lease, STOP! Go on back to the office and get started on the paperwork instead of continuing the presentation.
  • Where to Close? Anywhere! You can close anywhere you want! Close in the apartment, at the pool – wherever you can get the application right now!

3. Never Fear the Objection.

Don’t be afraid of objections; they are just buying signals made to look like a “no”. Take advantage of the opportunity to overcome the objection to get a “yes”! There are two main types of objections you’ll likely encounter:

  • Easy Objections (Not True). These are easy to address because they are based on misinformation or a misunderstanding. In these cases, all you have to do is provide the accurate information!
  • Difficult Objection (Is True). First, repeat the prospect’s concern in question form and then minimize the concern by stressing other relevant benefits of the community or reasonable and effective workarounds if available.

You have probably already heard all of the objections you’ll hear for your community. You are aware of the shortcomings and you’ll have your answers ready in advance. It’s easier to educate the prospect on the advantages of a possible objection than to defend it after the prospect objects.

Sometimes you’ve done everything right and you come down to the close and you get the standard put-off. It’s not a no, it’s not a yes; it’s just a delay tactic. Here’s how you can address these answers:

  • “Let me think about it.” – “You should think about it! It’s a very important decision.” Or “Would you mind telling me some of the things you will be thinking about?” (This may reveal an objection.)
  • “I really want to look around some more.” – “You should look around. You want to find exactly the right place for you.” Or “Would you mind telling me what kinds of things you will be looking for?” or even “Where else are you planning to look?”

4. 5 Simple Steps to Get to the Close and Beyond.

  1. Trial: Ask about how they will arrange the apartment. This is a bit of a pre-close.
  2. Direct: Directly instruct the prosect to come back to the office with you to complete paperwork and take the apartment off the market.
  3. Which: When you’ve shown two apartments, you ask which one they liked best. You can also ask in terms of the move-in date. When would you rather move in?
  4. Summary: Review all the things they liked about the apartment and all the ways the apartment meets their needs and preferences.
  5. Assumptive: When you’ve received positive buying queues, you can take the prospect back to the office, give them the application and let them know that while they’re completing it, you’ll go get them a drink and then leave them alone with the application!

If the prospect gets out your door without completing an application, don’t give up! You need to keep reaching out. It can actually take up to 14 extra contacts to close the deal!

  • Let the prospect know you care.
  • Try to make another appointment.
  • Determine remaining concerns and true level of interest.

Once you’ve made the close and have elicited that commitment, the real work begins – keeping the relationship alive.

5. Know the Ingredients for Long Term Relationships.

  • Trust
  • Commitment
  • Communication
  • Genuine concern

How do these components or positive behaviors translate from a romantic relationship, for example, to a leasing relationship?

  • An Engagement that Equals or Surpasses the Dating. Follow up after the rental commitment. During that time period between signing the lease and moving in, we need to be in touch with the new resident.
  • Best Wedding Ever! Create an incredible and memorable move-in experience.
  • Quick Recovery After First Fight or Misunderstanding. Ensure a prompt and appropriate response to the first service request or complaint.
  • Daily Reinforcement of Marriage Commitment with Loving Acclamations. Offer continued acknowledgement and appreciation from the onsite team, especially the office personnel.
  • Never Forgetting an Anniversary. Be prepared and anxious for the lease renewal.

You have a passion for your prospects and residents, and using these 5 steps to get to and beyond the lease will help lead to an ongoing positive relationship.

Presented by:

 

 

 

Rick Ellis, CAM, CPM

 

About Ellis

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.

3 Keys to Building and Maintaining Employee Engagement

By Leadership & Management: Developing Your Onsite Teams

To have a great business, you need to build and maintain a great team of employees. To establish and maintain employee engagement, there needs to be an awareness of and attention to employee turnover. Every industry experiences employee turnover to some degree, but in the multifamily housing industry, recent employee turnover has topped 32%! What’s more, every 10% of employee turnover results in about 3% resident turnover. It’s essential to manage employee turnover through career development and employee engagement to keep your community team shipshape. Read More

3 Ways to Eliminate Stress Through Mindfulness and Meditation

By Leadership & Management: Developing Your Onsite Teams

 

You may find yourself struggling to manage the stress caused by the expectations of today’s changing climate on top of all your other responsibilities. When we’re bogged down by stress and anxiety, it makes it much more difficult to be focused and productive, thereby making our to-do list grow longer and longer. However, you can work to eliminate stress through mindfulness and meditation. Read More

7 Important Things to Keep in Mind When it Comes to Fair Housing Compliance

By Leadership & Management: Developing Your Onsite Teams

Everyone in the multifamily industry should be familiar with the Fair Housing laws, but there is a lot to remember. Here’s a scary thought – you are held accountable and subject to consequences for violating Fair Housing laws, even if you are not aware you’re doing it! With this in mind, it’s important to carefully and thoughtfully consider policies and procedures to ensure you and your team are in compliance with the Fair Housing Act. This is especially true as you work to navigate the unfamiliar and rapidly evolving state of business during the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ll discuss some tips and ideas you can use as a sort of preventative maintenance for Fair Housing compliance. As you work through the decision-making process around your policies and procedures, remember to think beyond today. Consider the impact your decisions will have both today and further down the road. Read More

10 Secrets of Today’s Most Productive Multifamily Executives

By Leadership & Management: Developing Your Onsite Teams

The state of business today, particularly within the multifamily industry, is evolving immensely. You may find yourself struggling to manage everyday duties that used to come easily before all the change, so this is an ideal time to examine some tips and practices to help streamline our productivity. Here, we’ll discuss 10 secrets of today’s most productive multifamily executives that you can apply in your own career to help you regain control. Read More

7 Leadership Skills Your Team Needs from You Now

By Leadership & Management: Developing Your Onsite Teams

Strong leadership is crucial now more than ever to help your leasing team maintain success. The current atmosphere demands leadership skills applied in some unique ways. Findings from a survey by Leadership IQ in June 2020, of more than 21,000 employees of varied roles and backgrounds on how well their leaders were performing, revealed these 7 leadership skills your team needs from you now: Read More

FRIENDLY Leasing. FAIR Leasing. Friendly FAIR HOUSING Leasing.

By Leadership & Management: Developing Your Onsite Teams

*Note: Always be sure to check with an attorney before implementing or changing any Fair Housing policies in your community!

Fair Housing can feel like a very delicate subject, but don’t freak out about it – it’s a great tool to create value in a number of ways! Fair Housing laws make sense because they help ensure people are treated right. It evens the playing field and takes away the guess work to allow for good sales and leasing. It also enhances resident loyalty and relations when all of our residents feel they are being treated fairly and equally. Read More

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