Mystery shops of apartment complexes are designed to test the rental consultant’s sales skills set and customer service process. Oftentimes these shops are targeted, which means that secret shoppers will be asked to make an appointment to visit with a specific rental agent.
During the visit, the mystery shopper will complete tasks that a person looking for apartment normally does — he or she will visit your apartment complex and shop a specific sales person to evaluate level of customer service, sales skills, and the approach taken to convert a prospective renters into lease-signers. Shoppers will talk about their specific needs, tour apartments, and listen to the agent present the features and benefits of the apartment complex.
When you hire a mystery shopping company, you gain the flexibility of choosing your own criteria for evaluation of the shop. Furthermore, you can go as deep into your operations as you want. For example, you can research the customer service levels of only your phone and online business inquiries. Or you can get a snapshot of one representative’s sales approach from introduction to close. Here are some other questions that mystery shoppers can help you answer:
How do my sales reps respond to different types of customer scenarios?
Give the mystery shoppers a specific scenario, or allow the shopper room to create his or her own. The different scenarios of the mystery shoppers would include things like the size of apartment they’re looking for, planned move-in date, the number of people who will live in the apartment, whether or not they have pets, price range, any special needs or qualifications, and how they heard about the apartment complex. By sending a variety of prospective renter through the sales process, you as a manager can determine how your sales staff is assessing different customers’ needs.
How does my staff respond to objections?
You can direct the secret shopper to pose an objection to the sales representative. The suggested objective (something like “I don’t think my bed would fit in this room,” or “This closet seems pretty small”) should be something that allows the rental agent an opportunity to overcome that objection and show the shopper how the apartment can work. Does your staff surrender the sale at the first obstacle? You can find out with a mystery shop.
Is my staff well-informed about fair housing and safety?
Apartment shops also address issues such as fair housing and safety. The mystery shopper might might ask whether there are other families with children in the complex, or if there are problems with burglaries or vandalism in the area. Since a wrong answer here could be make-or-break for a potential renter, the staff can work together to formulate possible appropriate responses.
Do my sales representatives ask for the sale?
Once the mystery shopper has visited the apartment, the leasing agent should try to close that individual and get him or her to sign a lease. You can ask mystery shoppers to record whether or not the agent asked for the sale, with questions such as: “Are you ready to fill out an application?” or “Would you like me to hold the apartment for you?” You can also determine if the agents create a sense of urgency, with statements like, “This is the last apartment I have available right now.”
Are follow-ups being made?
Because your potential customers are most likely visiting multiple complexes, a follow-up can be the difference of your complex being pushed to the bottom or top of the pile. You can ask the mystery shopper to report any follow-ups made by the agent, such as a telephone call, e-mail, or thank you note.
By evaluating your staff’s performance with a mystery shopper, you should begin to understand the behavioral patterns of your personnel towards different categories of customers. You can see the other side of the story by seeing the impact a sales person’s presentation can make on a potential customer. Finally, you can determine whether or not a sales representative is following the procedures and guidelines by your company. By learning about your personnel and fine-tuning training, you can develop your top level of customer service and gain an edge over your competitors.