Don’t Blow Your Mystery Shopper Cover

Our apartment mystery shops are intended to be anonymous.  The leasing professional you shop should never think of you as anyone other than a real prospect.  We sometimes hear from shoppers that their biggest fear is of being “spotted” as a shopper.  What can you do to decrease the chance of tipping off the team member that you may be a mystery shopper?

  • If you are shopping a target agent, don’t ask for them by name on the phone (right away).  If you have not reached your target after a few calls, our team may advise you to ask for them by first name only.  If a prospect is referred to a community by a friend, they likely would not give the first and last name of the individual they recommend.
  • Try not to sound certain at the beginning of the call that you plan to visit the community in person.  Allow the leasing professional to lead the call, determine your needs and build value.  YOU know that an in person visit will usually follow, but don’t jump to it too soon.
  • If you are shopping a target agent and they are not available when you arrived onsite, don’t give the impression that the world had just ended.  Behave as you would in a real leasing situation.  It is entirely reasonable that a prospect would prefer to meet with the same person they spoke with on the phone, but they would not insist on doing so.  If the target is not available even after you agree to wait a reasonable amount of time, continue with whomever is available.  Appearing too upset at being passed off to someone else is often a red flag of a shopper.
  • As the visit progresses, remember to stay “in character” as a prospect.  What features would you want to look closely at?  What questions would you ask?  Behave as you would if you were truly considering that community for your home.

Even after taking every precaution, sometimes a shopper’s cover is blown.  What should you do if you feel like you’ve been spotted onsite?

  • Don’t let your imagination get carried away.  We do thousands of apartment mystery shops every month, and it is pretty rare for a shopper’s identity to be compromised onsite.  Don’t assume the worst!
  • Do not EVER admit you are a shopper.  Even if the leasing agent asks you directly, do not own up to it.  Just continue your story as if you were a prospect.
  • Do not identify yourself as a shopper in a follow up contact.  If you speak with the leasing agent in a phone follow up, don’t say you were a shopper.  Don’t “unsubscribe” from email contacts or say that you would prefer not to be contacted.

Keep in mind that most leasing agents have no idea that the person they are speaking with is not a real prospect.  If you are concerned after a phone call or visit, please let our team know.  If the call was recorded, we can review it and advise you on how to proceed.  If you feel you were spotted onsite, we will let you know the next steps, depending on the circumstances.  Don’t let a case of nerves or awkwardness cause you to second guess yourself as an apartment mystery shopper.