It’s true, we’re all actors in some respect. We “act” a certain way on the job, we “act” a certain way at home and even another way when we’re in public. While the root of all this action is hopefully including remaining true to who you are as an individual, we are all expected to “act” a certain way.
We’re not given lines in our personal interactions (oh wouldn’t that be wonderful?) but we all ad lib it to a point where we communicate easily and with respect to each other.
In terms of lines, however, rental agents and other sales professionals are often given exactly that – a script in which to follow. The higher thinking brains would say that this eliminates liability, for if each and every agent is saying the same previously-researched-and-approved lines then no one can say they were treated differently.
The role of the leasing agent can be very tricky and the agents that I’ve run across in the years of shopping have been actors fresh off the training school stage to great masters and even teachers of the art. The leasing professional role is a pivotal one – it’s the face your prospect not only sees first but the voice it hears first if they’ve called ahead. That role has to be supported by good mystery shopper actors, because in this analogy a bad performance leads to a lost lease or bad shopping report.
As a previous on-site manager, I’m thrilled when I run across that agent who is eager and professional, one who knows exactly how to take control of our interaction while still making me feel comfortable. I know that their performance that day is a reflection of experience, training, continued guidance, and true talent. It means they understand the importance of their role and that how they fit into a much larger picture.
For the leasing agent, they must make sure their words are not misunderstood to ever let the customer feel that they’ve been discriminated against or that they ever allow discrimination, as well as convince them that they don’t take note of any criminal activity in the area. Handling these situations can be tough, especially when they state that they also live onsite. Most folks don’t live somewhere and not have even a small idea of the criminal activity in their home area. But of course, they are simply adhering to laws that outline how they can and cannot answer those types of questions.
I can’t tell you how many times as a mystery shopper I’ve heard “Crime Has No Address!” from a leasing professional. Truthfully, yes it does and it lives everywhere. We may not like the script the leasing agent’s have been given when it comes to Fair Housing and Safety, but they’re playing the part that is required of them.
It is our jobs as shoppers to help management companies understand what their prospects are seeing, hearing, and experiencing through communicative and well written shopping reports. We all have a part to play in making mystery shopping successful.