When you hold any position in property management that requires you to answer a telephone, chances are better than good that when the phone rings, there’s either a resident or future resident on the other end of it. For those of us that are Leasing Professionals, with leasing in the first line of our job descriptions, leasing is our number one goal no matter how we come into contact with the future resident — but the odds are overwhelmingly in favor of that contact first occurring over the telephone. The fact is, at least four out of every five of your residents first came into contact with your community over the telephone. This is so important; I’m going to say it again. At least four out of five of your residents first came into contact with your community on the website and then the telephone!
Let’s put the numbers into perspective and take a closer look. The statistic is that four out of five residents began their relationship with you via the telephone. Out of all the of calls that your community receives each week, many resulting visits, at least four out of five of those signed leases first began as one of those phone calls.
How might your telephone-to-traffic, and ultimately your closing ratio, be affected if you were to truly concentrate on turning more of those scores of calls into visits (with less lost opportunities). How much more effective can the resulting visit be if it’s built on a flawless first impression? The answer is that your closing ratio can skyrocket, and your presentations can be enormously successful, if you use the telephone to its best advantage.
Are you taking full advantage of the opportunity that each telephone call represents? Do you start leasing the minute you answer? Is the telephone’s ring an interruption to your day? Do you answer just to make it stop ringing? Do you take the time with every future resident to schedule a visit to your community? When you’re busy, do you rush the conversation just to get back to whatever you were doing? Do you try to get to know the future resident? Build rapport? Get his or her telephone number? Qualify them? Ask how they heard about your community? Grab your future resident’s full attention? Make the conversation memorable?
Few of us can honestly answer “yes” to every one of the questions that I just asked, but I think I’ve made my point clearly: there’s more to answering the telephone than merely saying, “Good morning, Magic Apartments, this is Tami.”
Be Prepared to Answer the Telephone
Let the telephone ring two or three times. This allows you time to prepare to answer the call. Kate Good says “Learn to say goodbye before you say hello.” In other words, say goodbye to whatever you’re doing when the phone rings, and give yourself a second to focus on the call.
Believe me, I know you’re not just sitting around all day waiting for the telephone to ring. We all have many other responsibilities that keep us jumping throughout the day. A ringing telephone is – more often than not – an interruption, and usually an unwelcome one, at that. By letting the telephone ring once or twice more, you give yourself time to redirect your attention, adjust your attitude, and make certain that you have the necessary tools at your fingertips so that you are prepared to handle a future resident inquiry. Tools? Yes, it’s the simple things that make a big difference. The number one tool needed is a pen. Now that sounds pretty basic and you’re probably wondering if I am a bit crazy to even mention it at all; but I’ve found that I rarely have a pen close at hand when I absolutely need one, even if I had one in my hand just a few minutes before. You will also want to make certain that you have a guest card and a brochure or floor plans at your fingertips.
Understand the Goals from the Start
The goals of your telephone conversation are to:
Investigate what the future resident wants and needs
Develop a rapport / start building the relationship
Assure them that you can, indeed, meet their specific needs
Determine if they fit the qualifying criteria for your community
Ask for the Marketing Source and necessary follow up information
Schedule an appointment so that you can prove that your community offers exactly what they’re looking for.