When you mention that you are in real estate, people often feel an automatic urge to unload their frustrated real estate story baggage right into your lap.
Given the technology and the training out there, it surprises me how frequently I hear nightmare stories from potential tenants and even potential investors, venting their frustrations about their hunt for the right property or property manager. You can probably guess what the main complaint is: ‘I have made several email and phone inquiries and I cannot get anyone to return my call or email’.
Really? With all the systems that are at our fingertips, how is it still possible that we can’t get the simple task of returning an inquiry right?
I know there are countless excuses, ranging from ‘I just don’t have time’ to the even more amazing attitude of ‘Ugh, they’re just tenants’. But let me ask you, if you were desperately looking to move house and no one even had the courtesy to return your inquiry, how would that make you feel?
Something else to contemplate: do you know who that inquiry is from? How much potential business have you just turned away? The inquiry that you just snubbed could have been from an investor who has three other properties right down the road from your office.
With all of this in mind, have a think about your inquiry strategy. Do you have a system in place to deal with your tenant inquiries? With vacancy rates varying all over the country, we hear stories of properties leasing in the space of a week and others struggling to find tenants for six months despite multitudes of advertising changes and rent reductions.
It is good practice to have a system in place to ensure you are getting back to potential tenants. Where possible, plan your open-for-inspections at the beginning of the week. This way, anyone that sends through an inquiry can be informed of a time straight away. If your department has a leasing consultant, the task of tackling inquiries should be their priority, even if it means just sending through an email to say ‘We have your inquiry and will let you know as soon as an inspection time is available’. In smaller offices, this may be a task for the receptionist. In this instance, provide times and a script so that the receptionist knows what is expected. Keep it simple so they can give the information and move on to the next call on a busy switch.
Don’t forget that there is also software out there to help take the headaches out of this process.
One of the best agencies I have dealt with added me to their mailing list and, while I didn’t end up renting through them, over 12 months later I still receive updates about properties that may interest me. While I am not interested in moving, they are now cemented in my mind as an agency that manages inquiries well.
There is an old saying about walking a mile in someone else’s shoes that I am sure you are familiar with. Have a think about your inquiry process and put yourself in the shoes of potential clients that inquire through your office. Do you respond or do you let them fall away because they are too much ‘work’? You could even try secret shopping in your office – you might be surprised at what you find.