Yes, it’s the middle of March Madness, but that didn’t keep us from our regularly scheduled Friday chat. Our latest topic for discussion: Shopping the Leasing Team. There are no shortage of passionate opinions on this subject, and this discussion didn’t disappoint. Here are some of the highlights from the chat:

Are “standard” shopping reports fair? Should companies customize their expectations in their shopping reports?

  • David Kotowski: Companies should customize their shopping reports based on what/how they train their associates.
  • Jennifer Kennedy: I think customized shops are better than standard, but I think standard are fair.
  • Patrick Nelson: There should be a minimum standard for our industry however I think each company should customize when possible.
  • Heather Kattelman: Def customize! If we are going to hold them resp for leasing polc that’ what we shop for.
  • University Pines: Ours shops via phone 1st scoring out of 100 pts, then actual visit scoring out of 200.
  • David Kotowski: The old saying “inspect what you expect” comes to mind here. It’s unfair to inspect more than you’ve told someone you expect.
  • Janet Rosseth: Custom reports should follow agent job description closely. If u expect your brand sold a certain way, it should be on there.
  • Jennifer Kennedy: Customize – because we have special programs that give us comp. adv. and we want our teams to talk them up.
  • Richard George: You should only customize to test specific behaviors that you want to encourage.
  • Elysa Rice: We think it’s important to have an industry standard to compare against. mgt co can customize in addition to standards.
  • Janet Rosseth: Most shopper services allow for companies to customize around the standards.
  • Elysa Rice: Questions like response time should most certainly be compared.
  • Joanna Ellis: Most companies we work with (hundreds) customize shop reports to their training programs laying out guidelines and expectations.

Should auto-responders get the same ‘rating’ as a Leasing Pro generated response?

  • Patrick Nelson: No. Nothing like a response from a live person.
  • Matt Adler: I’d say no. The autoresponder should be counted as a PART of the process but doesn’t replace personal interaction.
  • Elysa Rice: Industry standard is 40% NO response at all on internet leads – so by all means auto is better than nothing.
  • Joanna Ellis: Many companies send auto resp but also require agent to follow up with personal email and/or call.
  • Janet Rosseth: Auto responder is nothing more than an out of office tool. It can be written to engage prospect until agent connects though.

Many companies today are ‘training to the shop’. Is this realistic?

  • Kim Cory: NO-what are we training robots here?
  • Zack Kestenbaum: I’m an idealist, I think we need to hire quality people and trust them, measuring is good but don’t “train to the shop.”
  • Janet Rosseth: Shops should measure the effectiveness of training programs, not to point out faults in our agents.
  • Tamela Coval: As a former leasing agent, the shop rep was 1st presented to me as a constructive tool-I carry that positive approach with me 2day.

What if all shops simply had the one question: Would you have leased today based upon the leasing pro’s behavior? Yes or No.

  • Carmen Krushas: That’s why the big Q are the benchmark Q’s. need to jazz it up a bit?! totally stagnant. (I do like your question tho)
  • Lisa Trosien: My former mgmt co always shopped us 2x on our ‘shop day’ as they believed shoppers had bad days. Wanted to be fair to us.
  • Jennifer Kennedy: I don’t trust the shopper on that. They might have said “yes” to everyone because they aren’t truly moving.
  • Zack Kestenbaum: Too subjective, what happens if shopper is having a bad day?
  • Joanna Ellis: One question is good but sales does require technique too. If you don’t ask, you may not receive!
  • Kim Cory: Some also like seeing formal evaluations even all-stars. Shops should B explained & used as a tool 2 help.
  • University Pines: That 1 question’s important but responder really needs to be specific & descriptive in the answer 2 get anything out of it.
  • Heather Kattelman: I would question this b/c I’ve seen many shops that this 1 ans just doesn’t “fit” w/ the overall opinion of the rest of the report.

Should you ever terminate a leasing pro for a bad shop? Why or why not?

  • Kim Cory: NEVER!
  • Jennifer Kennedy: No. Sets a bad precedent. Only exception is if they did something illegal during the shop.
  • Zack Kestenbaum: Don’t fire based on a shop, fire based on results.
  • University Pines: Anyone can have a bad day…not a good reason to “punish” & def not to fire…good learning tool tho.
  • Carmen Krushas: Get the dead weight off and shop. Nothing wrong with firing for the right reasons. Who cares if they had a bad day? not customer.
  • David Kotowski: For one bad shop? NO!! For consistently bad shops? Maybe. Regardless of the #’s, everyone eventually has to show they know.

Other notable comments and questions to get you thinking:

  • Patrick Nelson: How frequently should the team be shopped?
  • University Pines: frequency: i think no less than once a month…
  • Elysa Rice: We have a client that uses their reports as competitive motivatrs for agents – they win vacay time, bonuses, etc based on reports.
  • Janet Rosseth: If 55-65% of our first contacts are from Internet, we should be “shopping” there more frequently.
  • Joanna Ellis: Shops are used primarily as training tools but also serve as a form of accountability. “Do they not do or do they not know?”
  • Lisa Trosien: Is a ‘national benchmark’, such as what Ellis uses, helpful? It shows you how you stack up…I like it.
  • Justin Dunckel: Ellis bechmark is great. Even cooler that they customize results for our small Co. so we can compare vs. the big guys.
  • Eric Brown: If I were a leasing consultant and my company shopped me I would seek employment elsewhere, Measure me on Results, not a witch hunt.
  • Joanna Ellis: Large co shared how shop drives results-100% shop = double lease bonus per lease. Do I hear “commission sales people”? Results!!!
  • Lisa Trosien: If shops are used constructively as a training tool, they are *not* witch hunts.
  • Joanna Ellis: Companies shopping regularly can spot trends and use information individually and globally to redirect training. Goal: Consistency.
  • Tamela Coval: As Trainer on both owner/manager & vendor side, I used Shop Rep as Training Guide. Not 2 teach 2 the test, but 2 set expectations.
  • Megan Yasenchack: It (shops) would help me to improve my skills, being new in leasing I want to learn as much as I can 2 get better at what I do.
  • Justin Dunckel: We’re kind of all pretending these shops are 100% subjective about the LC. I sure gain more info than that on mine.

Additional Resources:

What’s your opinion on secret shops? Good? Bad? Helpful? Are you customizing the shops based on your training program, or are you using a “standard” report? And how does your bracket look so far?

(This week’s #AptChat included 307 tweets from 46 different contributors.)