This article was posted on Wednesday, Dec 12, 2012

Whether you have several vacancies and upcoming notices to lease or you are down that last “net to rent”, you must still qualify your prospects in order to ultimately secure the rental.  How you remember and record the needs and preferences of your callers and visitors is just as important as obtaining the information in the first place.  Following is a question that came up during a training session on the topic of guest cards.

Question:  My property supervisor is really pushing us to use guest cards.  However, this whole “qualifying thing” makes me feel uncomfortable, like I am invading someone’s privacy.  I have a pretty good memory and don’t really think it’s necessary to write down everything on a guest card.  What’s the big deal anyway?

Answer:  I commend you for being respectful of the privacy of others.  This demonstrates professionalism and consideration on your part however, it is possible to note the preferences and personal information of your prospective renters without being intrusive.  Remember the old adage – “The shortest pencil is longer than the longest memory.”  No matter what your recall ability is, you will not be able to memorize all the needs and preferences of every client, along with their name, phone number, mailing address and email!

Try asking each one of your prospective renters for “permission” to question them about their needs in order to provide them with the best possible service.  It might sound something like this:  “Is it okay if I ask you a few questions to find out what you’re looking for in your new home?  I want to help you pick out the apartment that will best meet your needs.”  Then, at the end of the phone contact or visit, once you have established a rapport, it would be perfectly natural to ask for their email, phone number or mailing address so you can keep in touch with them.

Remember, you are in the “customer service” business.  You can’t meet the needs of your customers if you don’t know what they are.  (Neither can anyone else in your office if your phone callers show up and you are not there.)  You can’t follow up on the interest of your clients either, if you don’t have their contact information.  Think of a guest card as a “tool.”  When used properly, you will find that it is a professional, organized method for leaning everything you ever wanted to know about your prospects but were afraid to ask!

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Joyce Kirby is with Shoptalk Service Evaluations, “Ask the Secret Shopper” and may be reached at [email protected] or by visiting   Reprinted with permission.

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