What MHRetailers & LLCommunity owners/operators Should Learn from their Apartment Community counterparts!
What MHRetail Salescenter Operators & Landlease Community Owners Owners
Should Learn from the Apartment Industry
Apartment owners have the job performance of their leasing (sales) consultants Mystery Shopped regularly, landlease community folk rarely do, and MHRetail salescenter managers almost never do!
Apartment community leasing consultants are believers! They KNOW their individual job performance, during telephone and on – site interviews will be monitored monthly, year in – year out. Accordingly, they treat every incoming telephone call from, and every on – site visit by, a prospective lessee, as interactions with bona fide ‘shoppers’! As they should; because all inquirers are ‘shoppers’, just like the callers and visitors to landlease communities and MHRetail salescenters. Only diff, is the goal to get interested and qualified ‘shoppers’ to rent and or buy from us; while (professional) ‘shoppers’ are paid to measure how well or poorly on – site staff carry out their job descriptions! Here’re basic lessons we can learn from our apartment community consultant counterparts…
Apartment leasing consultants answer incoming telephone calls on the second ring – not the first (too quick) or fifth (too slow), with a sure SMILE in their voice! They then ask the caller’s name, recording it on a daily traffic record, and then use it several times during the conversation. How important is this initial conversation? Many believe it’s the key first step in establishing Good Resident Relations (in the LLCommunity setting) and Good Customer Service (in the home sales environment)
Consultants then identify caller’s housing needs: immediate or 30 days out; size of living quarters needed, etc., while also ascertaining whether they’re ‘qualified’ to lease and or buy at this particular location (e.g. employed, retired, family or adult only, etc..), being very careful not to discriminate along the way. Why should this be any different in a LLCommunity or MHRetail salescenter?
The ‘close’ of a telephone interview with an interested and qualified prospective lessee or buyer is to ‘Get an Appointment on – site!’ Do all our consultants know & practice this? As a pro ‘shopper’ I know they don’t!
Once this is accomplished, offer Travel Directions to the property or salesceneter, AND ask how they first learned of the property or salescenter – to measure effectiveness, or not, of marketing efforts, re advertising, etc.. This latter information should also be recorded on aforementioned daily traffic record, with results tallied and acted upon at the end of each week.
When prospective lessee or homebuyer is enroute to the property or salescenter, is there signage helping him/her find their way? Two ways to do this. First, consider buying and installing bootleg signs (exact imitations of aluminum plate DOT signs, per print style and PMS colors) at exit(s) from nearest interstate highway (Just name of property, with an appropriately – directed arrowhead). Then, within a quarter mile of the property, ‘adopt’ the highway, either officially – if a program is in place, or constructively, by installing a 2’X2’ sign, on an engineer stake, announcing ‘This Highway Lovingly Cared for by (name of property or salescenter)’. Must maintain that ¼ mile stretch of road, and be sure not to infringe on a neighbor’s property without securing permission.
When prospective lessee or homebuyer arrives on – site or at the sales center, is there a sign out front Welcoming them? For example, at every entrance to an apartment or landlease community there should be a small (1’X2’) sign, saying WELCOME HOME! On the front side, and DRIVE CAREFULLY on the back side. All apartment communities do this. Do you?
Do you reserve the best parking site outside the Information Center (Surely you’re not still calling it an office) for visitors? For example: RESERVED FOR FUTURE RESIDENT! Or’ Reserved for Dream Home Buyers!’ Apartment folk do this all the time! Makes you feel special when visiting the community or salescenter for the first time, every time….
Are your sales and leasing consultants schooled in how to ensure their personal safety and security when working alone in the Information Center and or demonstrating product (i.e. rental units, new homes, etc.)? Apartment consultants practice such measures all the time. Want a free list of ten such personal tips? Request it via the MHIndustry HOTLINE: (877) MFD-HSNG or 633-4764.
OK, let’s stop here for a moment and concentrate on the landlease community lifestyle.
Have vacant rental homesites? Sure you do. BUT, do you manicure them (i.e. trim any shrubs, mow the grass, pick up debris, remove earth anchors & dangerous steel strapping, protect utility risers, and rake the site)? Once that’s done, on some of the sites, install a 2’X4’ sign, painted both sides, that proclaims: THIS CHOICE SITE AVAILABLE! Call (information center telephone number)! Captures the attention of visitors and drive – thrus all the time – if you do it.
Do YOU allow free and random storage/parking of vehicles, boats, trailers, and RVs on vacant rental homesites? NOT. Provide a fenced, secure area for this service and charge a fair storage fee, as one more measure of AITR (alternative income to rent). Otherwise, over time, you host a junkyard and increase your liability for various forms of risk.
AND, conventional apartment communities routinely reduce their monthly ‘call rental rates’ (i.e. The rate they quote over the phone during the initial interview) when physical occupancy begins to drop, then raise them when occupancy rebounds. Do LLCommunities do this? Rarely. Wonder if there’s a message here? Think about it….
This is plenty to consider for the time being. However, questions, suggestions, or ideas from your personal and corporate experience are welcome. Let me know via this website or phone (317) 346-7156 or via firstname.lastname@example.org
What does it cost to Mystery Shop LLCommunities and MHRetail salescenters? Fee varies, but oft about $500.00 per location, plus out of pocket travel expenses. Sometimes less, if four or five properties/salescenters are close enough together, geographically, to ‘shop’ in one day. What’s $500.00 get you? Phone and on – site performance evaluation of personnel and property by an experienced ‘shopper’, completed Standard Shopping Report with narrative, documenting discrepancies (curb appeal, rules enforcement, marketing and sales/leasing shortfalls). Also attached are handouts from the consultants, along with color photographs of what needs improvement at this location. Interested? Let us know…
What else is going on in the MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class these days?
Will I see you at MHI’s Summer meeting in Washington, DC., @ 14 & 15 July? Hope so. For details, phone Thayer Long at (703) 558-0678. National MHRetailer & LLCommunity councils meet then too.
How ‘bout during the week of 23 August in Chicago, IL. So far, I know of a possible networking dinner among area LLCommunity owners, the one day MHM class, Precision Capital Funding’s two day seminar (Call 217/971-3968 for information), and a planning meeting for the Grand ‘One & For All’ Tour of seven regions of the U.S., scheduled during remainder of this year and throughout year 2011.
Most important though, is the upcoming 19th annual International Networking Roundtable at the Pointe Hilton Tapatio Cliffs Resort Hotel in Phoenix, AZ. As this is a ‘by invitation only’ event, contact us via the MHIndustry HOTLINE cited earlier, to request a registration brochure. What’s going to happened there this year?
New Community Series Homes on display, a couple dozen LLCommunities ‘for sale’, Randy Rowe’s ‘take’ on the MHIndustry & LLCommunity asset class today. And much much more. Want to know how truly exciting this event will be? We’ve already been accepting registrations and haven’t distributed the first brochure yet. They will be soon forthcoming though, with the July issue of the Allen Letter professional journal. If not a subscriber, call (317) 346-7156 to become one.
And while you’re at it, ask about the new 100 page Manufactured Housing $$$ Primer! Contains the writings, on chattel finance, of more than 20 MHIndustry experts intimate with this timely, and oft confusing, subject. Only $29.95 postpaid.
Geroge Allen, Realtor®, CPM®, MHM
Consultant to the Factory – built Housing Industry & the Landlease Community Real Estate Asset Class
Box # 47024
Indianapolis, IN. 46247