In the movie Casino Royale, James Bond must defeat a terrorist financier at a high-stakes poker tournament in order to…. well, stop the bad guys somehow. After several grueling hours of play and nearly losing everything, including his life (it is a 007 movie after all), Mr. Bond finally emerges the victor. How does he do it? He goes all in. He understood that he was never going to win by playing it safe or by only partially committing.
Our Leasing Center services offer a wide range of options and tiers. From those who want to play it safe (after hours only) to those who are ready to go all in (all calls 24/7) and everything in between. By now, management companies know they are missing calls. It’s no secret. I’ve said it before, but one of the great ironies in our industry is that we spend so much money to get our phones to ring only to have no one there to answer them. I regularly ask prospective residents about their experience with this and suffice it say, our reputation precedes us. The question, then, is not if we need more resources to help us answer our phones, but how we should use them.
It is easy and popular to assume that the best way to utilize the Leasing Center is in a missed call scenario. I’d like to make the case that this is not the best way. Instead, going all in and having the Leasing Center handle all calls 24/7 will not only yield the biggest payout but elevate every aspect of your on-site operation. I know what you are thinking, so to make my point let’s review some of the comments I frequently hear.
“No one can handle the calls better than my on-site staff.”
In principal, that is true. But just because the on-site staff can answer calls better doesn’t mean they do. Consider this: while the average on-site leasing call lasts less than two minutes, calls handled by the Leasing Center last on average over five minutes. We have the time, the training, the tools and an entire work environment designed to drive these interactions. Your on-site team simply doesn’t.
Furthermore, most management companies do not have adequate processes in place for monitoring call quality on-site. Without tools like call tracker or call analysis, properties don’t even know how many calls they are handling or missing. We listen to, grade, and report on two randomly selected calls per agent per week. Are you doing that with your on-site team?
Finally, the numbers don’t lie. We convert more calls to appointments than the average on-site team. In a three month study earlier this year with a NMHC Top 50 company, we beat their on-site teams conversion by an average of over 8%. As long as the objective of a leasing call is to drive traffic on-site, and it should be, it is a no-brainer that this argument is simply invalid.
“The experience just isn’t the same coming from an office in a different location”
While there are some disadvantages of being off-site, our revolutionary interface does an amazing job of putting all the information an agent needs right at their fingertips. We can answer over 95% of the typical questions a prospective renter has. Our interactive map tools, property photos, and comprehensive amenities table allow us to facilitate natural, informative conversations. Most callers never even think to ask if we are not on-site and the biggest disappointment we encounter is when they find out we won’t be the ones to facilitate their tour.
“What would my on-site team do if they weren’t answering calls? That’s their job.”
By removing the requirement to be available to handle randomly arriving inbound calls from their plate, you will free you on-site team up to be more organized, efficient and proactive than ever. Make no mistake, there is still plenty of follow up to be done and touch points to be made, but they can perform those tasks on their time. That freedom will allow them to plan their day with the confidence of knowing there will be fewer distractions. Not only will employee satisfaction go up, you may even find you can operate with smaller teams, saving you precious dollars.
“It’s just too expensive”
Utilizing the Leasing Center to handle all of your calls 24/7 can cost less than a single part-time employee for an average sized community. Putting that into perspective, the cost becomes much more bearable. As consumers, we demand 24/7 access to every business we interact with. How can we expect our prospects and residents to be any different? We have seen call volume trends moving away from traditional business hours, and this shift will continue. Coupled with opportunities to operate more efficiently on-site, leverage the increased lead traffic to raise rent rates, and increase overall occupancy, the ROI more than justifies the cost.
We didn’t talk about an improved caller experience with fewer abandoned calls. Nor did we touch on the consistency this approach creates for the resident experience. The truth is, there are simply too many reasons to consider going “all in” to list here. It may have seemed like James Bond was risking too much with his gamble in the movie. But the reality was that he understood the game, did his homework, and knew the reward was worth the risk. You and I may never be as debonair as 007, but that doesn’t mean we can’t reap the rewards of going all in like he did.
Agree? Disagree? I’d love to hear from you.