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What's In a Name? Nothing if You Use It SEVENTEEN TIMES

Dear Abby:

I've been looking for an apartment over the last few weeks and I've noticed some strange behavior on the part of the salespeople who are trying to get me to lease apartments. I believe they are called "Leasing Agents" or something like that. It's sort of annoying and I want to know what you think.

I went to a lovely apartment community to see about renting a two bedroom. The Leasing Agent was very nice, but after she filled out this card about me, she started doing the strangest thing. She kept using my name, over and over and over again. I thought maybe she was just forgetful or something but then when I went to the next place, the Leasing Agent there did it too! And at the next place and the next. They were doing it on the phone all the time as well. It was really starting to bug me. So, I actually started counting how many times they used my name.

One place used my name eight times on the phone. Eight times! After they got my name, they said, "Well, Annie, what is important to you in your new apartment?" Then they said, "We have one that will suit your needs, Annie", and "When can you come out to see us, Annie?". It was really over the top.

At one place I visited, they used my name 17 times. I'm not kidding. 17 times.By the 17th time that woman used my name, I was ready to run screaming to my car. Don't these people realize that it's patronizing to use my name over and over again? It's so obvious that they are trying to 'sell' me rather than help me find the best apartment for my needs that it really turns me off to these places. I'd rather go find some Mom and Pop group that doesn't put on the sales pitch and is more genuine. They may not be a fancy company, but at least they aren't trying to push me into a sale. Or if they are, it's not quite so obvious.

Now, I don't blame these Leasing Agents or Professionals or whatever you want to call them. It's clear that they have been trained to do that. But I think those training folks might want to change their mind. After all, that whole 'name thing' was started by Dale Carnegie and he was born in 1888! And died in 1955! Clearly, his teachings need some updating.

Thanks for listening, Abby. And please pass my thoughts along.


Annie (aka Annoyed in Annapolis) 

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This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

My sentiments exactly! I've always thought this was very "car salesmanish" and a huge turnoff. We don't talk in our normal everyday life this way with our family & friends. Why would we treat our customers any differently when we're trying to create that "welcome home" feeling?

Same thing goes for repeating "anything" multiple times. For example, I went with my daughter a few months back to the mall so she could return a gift at a department store. As I sat in a chair by the dressing rooms, I saw the "big wigs" stop to talk to the clerks at the counter and push them to say "Excellent" at least 7 times to every customer that purchases something. Of course, in my mind the movie "Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure" pops up, which I'm sure wasn't the impression they were aiming for.

When my daughter selected her item to exchange and we got up to the counter, I told them "Please don't you dare say "Excellent" to me 7 times." The clerks both seemed embarrassed and said "Oh - you heard that?" To which I replied, "Yep, but I'd rather you just be yourself".

  Anne Marie Stephenson
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Oh I *hate* it when people use my name repeatedly, or worse, without my permission. Target is notorious for that - just because I give you my credit card doesn't mean that I'm giving you permission to use my name! I know it's supposed to sound friendly (my retail days were not so very long ago, after all) but frankly it just creeps me out.

  Sara Morrill
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

@Sara Thanks, Sara, for your comments.Sara,I always appreciate your input. Sara, it's great to have you hear on MFI. I'm so glad you commented, Sara!

@Anne Marie Excellent response, Anne Marie! I could not have said it in a more excellent way, Anne Marie. This is such an excellent subject for us to discuss, don't you think Anne Marie? Do you mind if I just call you Anne? It's easier for me to get my 17 excellent mentions in of your name, Anne, if it's a bit shorter, you know?

Ladies, all kidding aside - thank you SO much for agreeing with me! I can't tell you how many wonderful Leasing Professionals think that those techniques are the way to sell! It's absolutely counterproductive to closing the sale. It's like wearing a big sign that says "I don't care about you, I only care about the sale" around your neck.

Thank you for your comments, ladies. And in all sincerity, they were really were 'excellent'.


  Lisa Trosien
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

The big question I have is this - when you come back for a follow-up visit (that is, if you can STAND to come back), will they greet you with a big, "Hello, Annie! So nice to see you again!" Or will they need a little memory jog. Sincerity and providing genuine service make a 100x's more positive experience than using my name 100 times ever will!

(My other question is: do they use this same technique on existing residents? Or are they too busy memorizing guest card info to bother learning their rent-paying customers names?)

Glad to see our own Dear Abby back! Always good stuff!

  Jen Piccotti
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hi Jen!
I think your questions are great! I've been asking my audiences lately if they still stand up when a resident comes into the leasing office as well. We can't only use our 'company manners' for prospects! That's crazy!

On behalf of Dear Abby, we thank you for weighing in!


  Lisa Trosien
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

LT - My husband put it best... when we rented two times ago, this scame scenario occured. And there's only so many times that you can hear "Mr. and Mrs. Smiley" without losing the straght face. As we were walking out of what would be our townhouse... he asked the leasing agent if she had ever seen the movie "Rainman" and when she said,"No, Mr. Smiley I haven't Mr. Smiley' he advised her to do it. We laughed the entire way home at that leasing agent's expense and can honestly say that while we did rent there, it was not because we bought the person. We bought the house plain and simple.

  Tara Smiley
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Hey Tara!

So nice to hear this from a renter's point of view! And how unfortunate that you rented 'in spite' of the Leasing Pro! It would have been so great had she had a positive impact on your decision. I wonder how many people didn't rent because they simply couldn't take the patronizing attitude? And, in her defense, an attitude that was probably taught to her.

As always, thank you for your comments!


  Lisa Trosien
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

They probably all attended the same training by a "professional" and were taught to use a persons name as often as possible. Or should I say some training "professional or whatever you want to call them". The patronizing can work 2 ways

  Laurie Frew
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Laurie!!! I laughed OUT LOUD when I read the last line of your post! LOVED it!

Yep, I never hold it against the Leasing Pro when this happens but you can bet I do a lot of deprogramming when I get them in my class!

Thanks so much for your thoughts!


  Lisa Trosien
This comment was minimized by the moderator on the site

Can you work on the stores that insist on trying to pronounce my last name when they thank me for spending money?

  Laurie Frew
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