Available for a limited time!  Only one of its kind!  Offer expires at midnight!  These and similar phrases are used to make people “spring boldly into action.”  They conjure up images of people rushing into department stores and retail outlets to take advantage of incredible offers on quality merchandise, especially during the holiday season. 

The advertisers and merchandisers are trying to create a sense of urgency in the minds of their customers which will motivate them to take immediate action.  They are in “sales” business and want the customer to immediately purchase a product and part with some of their money! You may not have to meet monthly or quarterly sales “quotas,” but undoubtedly, you have specific occupancy standards which must be met and maintained.  Therefore, you need to rent a certain number of apartments each day, week or month to achieve the goals set for your community.

The SECRET SHOPPER phoned three communities looking for immediate availability.  I told each consultant that I was new to the area and needed a place to live right away.  Each leasing person seemed interested in helping me, but only one motivated me to visit immediately.

First Call

My first call was answered promptly by a friendly voice.  I stated that I was new to the area and needed to find a place right away.  The consultant asked where I was moving from and what was bringing me to the area.  She then asked for my name and began to inquire about the specific needs and requirements that I had.  It was a pleasant exchange that went on for several minutes.

Once the consultant learned what was important to me, she began to talk about various openings.  She said that I had called at a good time because there were a couple of great apartments to choose from.  The consultant invited me to visit and told me the office hours.  She said, “If I’m not here, anyone in the office can help you.”  She gave me directions and closed with, “I hope to see you soon.”

Second Call

The next call I made was answered with a great deal of enthusiasm.  The consultant asked for my name right away and I could hear the smile in her voice as she spoke and offered her assistance.  I explained that I was new to the area and needed to find a place to live right away.  The consultant asked questions to determine my needs and find out what was important to me.  She told me there were only two apartments available and briefly described the positive attributes of each one.  She asked when I would like to come by and we discussed the driving distance and the fact that it was raining.  The consultant said, “It’s been kind of slow today because of the weather.  If you want to wait and come by tomorrow, I’m sure the apartments will still be available.”  I said, “I think I’ll do that” to which she replied, “Great!  I’ll see you tomorrow!”

Third Call

My final call was met with an energetic greeting and an immediate offer of help.  When the consultant learned that I needed an apartment immediately, she said, “Well, you better get right over because I only have one left!”  I laughed and asked if she could tell me a little bit about it first. The consultant described the apartment interior as well as the view.  She explained that the “view apartments” don’t open up very often and said this one was especially nice because of its south-western exposure.

The consultant said she had a model to show and she could take me by the location of the apartment for rent.  She told me they were still getting it ready but that I could move into it by the weekend.  The consultant asked if I had time to come over right now.  She said she had another appointment in an hour and if I waited, the upcoming apartment would probably be gone.  I agreed to come over within the next 20 minutes.  The consultant then gave me directions carefully since I had stated I was new to the area.  She suggested I bring along her phone number in case I got lost so I could call from the road.  Before she hung up, she asked for my number to be able to check back with me if I didn’t make it.  The consultant thanked me for calling and ended with, “I look forward to meeting you.  I’ll see you when you get here.”

Which One Are You?

What are you doing to create urgency when the telephone rings at your community?  How do you convince the caller that what you have to offer is worth their time and consideration?  Your community may be just one of a dozen competing for their attention.  Why should they visit your place and why should they do it now?

Is there something about your apartments or community that stands out from all the rest?  Could it be a unique floor plan or a desirable location?  What about the easy access to area conveniences or your sensational staff?  Whatever it is, use it to create urgency to get your callers to visit TODAY!  Tomorrow is too late!  By then, they may have already rented from the leasing consultant who invited them to visit yesterday.

Joyce Kirby is with Shoptalk Service Evaluations “Ask the Secret Shopper” and may be reached at joyce@shoptalkservice.com or by visiting www.shoptalkservice.com.  Reprinted with permission.