5 Key mistakes you should avoid while working your guest cards

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Etch a SketchNo matter how you create one, be in on an iPad, a website, a piece of paper, or your Etch A Sketch, the guest card is the fundamental way to understand a prospect’s needs and get them to move-in. As we enter the slow season and rush to find ways to drive more leads, I wanted to stop a minute and look at our current prospect cards and see if we were doing everything we could to convert. Here are some of the things I found:

Not responding to prospects fast enough.

According to the Harvard Business review survey from March 2011 – “Firms that tried to contact potential customers within an hour of receiving a query were nearly seven times as likely to qualify the lead as those that tried to contact the customer even an hour later—and more than 60 times as likely as companies that waited 24 hours or longer.” It’s easy to see the logic behind this argument right? Your quick response is received by the prospect when they are still in front of their devices!

It’s so hard for us to follow up immediately though; an agent is giving a tour, making phone calls, baking cookies, doing the daily grind. If prospects expect an immediate response and our people are busy, it’s easy to see why our email lead conversions as an industry are dismal. Are our industry averages low because we haven’t found a way to respond fast enough? Prime example of this slow response I took from this actual rejected guest card (some of the info changed to protect the guilty):

12/3/2011 2:40pm – LEVELONE: Caller setup appt for 5:30pm on 12/3.

12/4/2011 1:53pm – OFFICE: Leasing Agent left a message.

That’s nearly 24 hours later. Prospect has moved on already.

Not contacting prospects on all the available channels.

Too many channelsIf a prospect submits a guest card with their phone number and email address then it’s safe for you to contact them on both. Yet I found many guest cards which contained a cell phone number and an email address but only contact on one touch point.

12/3/2011 6:20am – LEVELONE: Caller would like information on current availability.

12/5/2011 12:34pm – Sent email.

It’s easy to talk about being memorable and creative in your first contacts and follow ups but the truth is time works against us. We don’t always have enough of it to send out cards, our latest newsletter, our favorite property pictures, our best cookie recipe but at the minimum use everything that a prospect is giving you… please.

Can’t spel to good.

Please use one of these
These are old fashioned but still very useful.

The problem with the internet and sales is that conversations take place with the written word. You are forgiven on the phone if you use “their” instead of “there” but when writing out a response to a prospect you must get the spelling and grammar write right. There is a huge price to pay for typos. According to the BBC, “Spelling mistakes ‘cost millions’ in lost online sales,” Correct spelling and grammar is so vital in establishing credibility as an agent and for the company that he or she represents.

Not checking the history on a guest card.

If a previous conversation has steered someone from a 2 bedroom to a 3 bedroom, don’t email them information days later about a 2 bedroom. If an email you sent comes back undeliverable, don’t try to email them again:

12/8/2011 11:23am – FROM EMAIL SERVER: mta1390.mail.mud.yahoo.com rejected your message to the following e-mail addresses.

12/10/2011 10:04am – OFFICE: Emailed prospect.

It looks unprofessional, disjointed and disorganized to repeat questions or jump into an existing conversation without knowing how a previous agent got there. Take a minute to read what’s occurred over the life of a guest card and respond accordingly.

Using the templates incorrectly.

If someone asks a question, answer them. Don’t respond with the generic 2 bedroom template. We try to use generic templates only when we have very little information to work with (bedroom and move-in date are missing). Otherwise, we try to respond as a human being and make the response relevant to the recipient. Some great tips on how to use email templates effectively are here. Templates can be powerful time savers but if abused they can be a detriment.

12/3/2011 9:20am – LEVELONE: Caller has Fox Terrier. The caller asked about washer and dryer.

12/3/2011 10:15am – OFFICE: Generic template used which doesn’t mention the pet policy or whether we have any washers or dryers.

Opportunities for improvement are everywhere.

No company is perfect. We all get caught up in the heat of the day, get distracted and stress out. Truth is, you spend time and money to get these people interested in your product. It’s so easy for them to lose that interest. It makes you wonder – what if we had sent out a better email? What if we had responded quicker? What if we had tried to make contact on every possible channel? What if I learned how to spell the word definetely correctly? (oops) What if?

Happy renting everyone.

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