As a Mystery Shopper in the apartment industry, keeping the ‘mystery’ in the shop is not always as easy as you might think. Each shop should be conducted inconspicuously and with great attention to accuracy and detail. With each shop that you accept, you are making a commitment to seeing it through to the end. Accepting this responsibility means having the ability to ‘play the part’ so that the leasing professional benefits from the results of the evaluation.
Mystery Shopping is a common training tool used by many property management companies, and most agents expect to be shopped at one time or another. Over time, repeated shops can create a ‘sense’ within an agent that they are being shopped, which can ultimately impact the results of the evaluation. It is important that as shoppers we become aware of the things that can jeopardize our identities and avoid them whenever possible.
Although the Mystery shopper tips list is long when it comes to conducting successful shops, the following collection from a property management professional will help you conceal your secret identity as a shopper from your target agent:
BEGIN YOUR PHONE SHOP BY ASKING ONE SIMPLE QUESTION
- Most real prospects will ask, “How much are your one bedrooms?” or “Do you have any one bedrooms?”
- Stop talking and let the leasing professional guide the conversation.
- If you are given a price right away then respond by saying, “OK, thank you” and then let the agent control where the conversation goes next.
- A trained leasing professional will respond by asking you questions in return. Let them ask
SPEND MORE TIME LISTENING AND LESS TIME TALKING
- Because accurate reporting is essential, listening to the agent is key.
- Pay attention to the questions that they ask you and how personal the conversation gets.
- If the agent is not overly engaging, be careful that you are not the one that controls the conversation ~ It is the agent’s responsibility to find out about you, your needs, and how they can provide you with the best solution.
- Listen for the ‘close’. There are numerous ways that an agent will attempt to close, but more often than not the agent will struggle asking for a monetary commitment.
- Closing can be challenging for many agents and at the same time it is one of the most important things that they are evaluated on. Read through the report carefully before conducting the shop so that you are clear on what kind of ‘closing’ is being considered.
- The closing portion of the evaluation will often be scored higher than other areas on the report. By not accurately reporting the results you are dramatically impacting the agent’s overall score.
DON’T AUTOMATICALLY REVEAL YOUR TRAFFIC SOURCE
- Better yet, don’t ‘know’ what the term “traffic source” is!
- Most leasing professionals are trained to ask you how you learned about their community. Unless you are directed to do so by the client, you should NOT refer to specific industry publications such as ‘For Rent Magazine’ or ‘The Apartment Guide’, or online sites such as ‘Rent.com’ or ‘MyNewPlace.com’.
- Most real prospects will not be able to accurately pinpoint an exact source when asked.
- Keep your answer vague by responding with, “…On the internet” or “…In the rental magazine”. A good leasing consultant will try to identify the true source by way of visuals or actual ads. Let them try.
RESEARCH THE COMMUNITY AND HAVE A BELIEVABLE STORY
- Review the property website, look at photo galleries, pricing and availability.
- Know what the nearby competition is. A typical prospect is looking at multiple places. Know the names of the nearby communities. A good agent will ask you what other places you are considering.
- Learn about the neighborhood and incorporate some relative ‘interests’ into your story.
- ‘Work’ for an employer that would be considered within reasonable commuting distance from the community. Create a job title for yourself that you can relate to.
- Spend some time creating a valid, believable story. Your story should feel natural to you.
- A good leasing professional is going to try to develop rapport with you in a number of different ways. Be able to engage in the conversation organically.
DON’T ARRIVE EARLY OR WAIT IN YOUR YOUR CAR IF YOU DO
- Rarely do real prospects show up for their appointments on time – oftentimes they don’t show up at all.
- When you enter the leasing office, let someone acknowledge you and initiate conversation with you.
- If asked how you can be helped, reply by stating that you called earlier and spoke with (agent’s name) about a one bedroom.
Above all, always remember that your goal is to evaluate the leasing professional with fairness and accuracy. Being prepared with a full understanding of the mystery shopper tips above will make all the difference in how smoothly the entire process unfolds. Listen carefully, be observant at all times, be professional, and be courteous as you carry out your shop. Use care when filling out your reports and be thoughtful in your answers. MAKE IT COUNT! Click for additional shopper tips.