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Rommel Anacan

Welcome to my blog on MFI! This blog allows me to have an ongoing conversation with multifamily professionals like you. My focus is on helping you and your companies succeed by helping you optimize the quality of your relationships. If you'd like more information about me, my company and the ways that I can help you, please visit my website at www.RelationshipDifference.com

The Leasing Office is Closed!

The Leasing Office is Closed!

I am writing this post as I sit in my car, waiting for a leasing office to re-open so that I can meet with the team on a consulting project. I actually arrived at the community about an hour ago, and as I walked to the front door, I saw a sign in the window that said something to the effect:

 

“We are currently out showing our community to a client. 

We’ll be with you in a few moments.”

 

Having worked onsite for many years I understand that people need to eat lunch. I know that offices cannot always be staffed to ensure uninterrupted coverage during the day. So I am not begrudging the fact that the office has been closed for an hour. 

 

Rather my issue is that I don’t know when to expect someone to be back in the office. The sign in the door said that someone would be right back in a few moments, which in my expectation would be like 5-10 minutes. But it’s been an hour later and still, the office is closed and I still don’t know if anyone is showing up anytime soon. 

 

What if I were a prospect? 

 

On the stretch that this community is on, I drove past several other apartment communities. Communities that a prospect could easily visit, while waiting for someone to show up at this one. Imagine if a prospect visited this community, saw the sign that said someone would be back in a few moments, went and visited a competitor, and then came back here only to find the office still closed, with no information about when the office was supposed to re-open?

 

Do you think they would come back a third time? 

 

Would you? 

 

Prospects can’t read your mind!

 

You may know that you’re heading out to lunch and will be “back by 2 pm” but if you don't clearly communicate that to your customers and residents, how will they know? The next time you're faced with a situation where you need to close up the office for an extended period, how about printing up a sign that says, 

 

“We’re sorry for the inconvenenience! The Leasing Office is currently closed. We will re-open at 2pm and will be able to help you when we return. 

 

Thank you for your patience and understanding.”

 

Then prospects and residents would know when they should return and can then plan accordingly-which would save them the frustration of trying to guess when you'll be back, and save you some of the wrath of their frustration. 

 

As I wrote about in a previous post - look for ways to make it easy for people to fall in love with you ... by seeing things through their eyes!

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Great, practical point!

  Scott Mastley
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Thank you, Scott!

  Rommel Anacan
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I think an interesting approach would have the sign say "Text us at XXX-XXX-XXXX and we will let you know when we return!" Have a system where the office staff then signs back in and the system automatically sends a text to that person that they are back. Even further, the system could automatically create a guest card for that person so they don't get lost. I know that's a bit ambitious, but I think it is quite feasible and would help track traffic immensely.

  Brent Williams
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I have to admit, I never would have thought about that, Brent! I think that's a great way to keep people in the loop, while using today's technology and how people communicate.

  Rommel Anacan
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I forward the office phone to my cell when I'm off-site, and I love my residents, but I am Never EVER giving out my cell phone number. They would be calling 24/7.

  Rose M
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Gotta keep things simple and this gets right to the point! A good reminder to our teams out there on the front line! In fact, the sign that says when you will be back is far more professional than eating at your desk because you are afraid to leave the office...answering the phone with a mouth full of food or worse, greeting someone in person as you wipe the ketchup from your face! As always Romel, thanks for sharing!

  Becky Currie
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Thank you for posting about this. I love the texting idea since we do have a text only number that we use for prospects that can also be used on the door sign. I'd go a step further and add that they can text during the hours of 9:-5:00 so that they won't expect a reply if they text after office hours.
I've always had a problem with this because I run my office of 168 units single-handedly, I don't always know when I'll be back in the office. Especially when I'm meeting with the boss and won't know how long we will be in that meeting.

I also don't understand why some apt offices do not stagger their staff to take lunch at different times so that there is always someone in the office during the day. I see some teams of 3 or more all take their lunches at the same time. What's the logic behind that?

  Susan
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Posting the text only number is a great idea! And shows your clients that you're being really proactive about it too. And I give you tons of credit for running 168 units single-handedly! (=

  Rommel Anacan
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Great Points... as always! A prospect is going to spend their time doing something and it's usually visiting a neighboring community. That presentation is going to be the key factor as to whether they make it back. This is why appointments are such an important factor in the process although the office should be "open for business" as much as possible. Lunch times should be planned and based on the time of day that is the least busy. In many offices the busiest time of day for prospective calls is around the normal lunch time. That's when our working prospects get the time to make those personal calls and our offices should be available for them yet I have seen so many offices not only close for lunch but extend their lunch to do other errands such as going to the bank or stopping by the office supply store.

  Pat Daly
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Thanks, Pat! I couldn't agree more! Thanks for reading and commenting!

  Rommel Anacan
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I have a dry erase board on my door so I can write a custom message when I head out. But since I have a fair amount of customers who have limited reading comprehension skills, I have to keep the message short and simple. "Back @ 2pm"

One thing I've noticed is that my customers do not care where I am or why I am gone- they just want someone in my office when they take the time to come by. If no one can be there, they want to know when we will be.

To facilitate maximum office coverage, I plan my off-site duties around the schedules of my staff, making sure we don't all have breaks or errand runs at the same time.

  Rose M

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