I want to say that I was surprised at the negative comments made on my last blog, sadly your feedback is an indictment of how often people in our industry get service delivery wrong.
As businesses we seem to constantly pursue that point of difference, how can we better the technology, the training, the marketing to engage the client, when what we really need to do is focus on great customer experiences. The technology, training, marketing, websites that are responsive are all secondary to service/client experiences.
The business that focus's on client experiences will win their business.
So where am I in my leasing cycle.
Well after having viewed a number of properties, I finally found one in Balwyn and move into it next month. Thank goodness say the property managers of Melbourne...:-)
However here are some insights I would like to share with you:
1. We have to ensure that our property mangers and leasing agents are more accountable on returning calls despite the volumes. As an industry we cannot continue to see high volume of calls not returned or clients called at all as acceptable. Managers of departments and business owners need to focus on this area of their business, mystery shop your people, have better reporting and transparency, maybe even call your clients on a regular basis to get feedback.
2. Ensure that you present the home professionally on the internet. Photos of doors, toilets, bathroom sinks, untidy rooms simply have no place today. This was an issue we talked about at conferences over 15 years ago, why is it still happening today?
3. Provide accurate description of the homes, if the third bedroom is too small to use as a bedroom then ensure that you say so. You waste our time otherwise going from inspection to inspection based on the description of the home you provide.
4. Why is there such a disparity on pricing, same suburb, same street, similar homes priced at least a few hundred dollars apart. If listings are on the market for over 10 days at least, you may have the price wrong, don't refresh and say it is a new listing, those of us on the market - KNOW IT ISNT.
5. Leasing agents need to ask better questions, no one has asked me if I have a property to rent. I have an investment property in Richmond, however because I am a tenant, I am considered as "second class". Ask yourselves how many potential listings are you missing out on from your tenants and existing landlord simply because you haven't asked. Every time you go through McDonalds the 16yr old ask, is there anything else, would you like a drink, would you like fries!
6. Have empathy for your tenants. Moving is a very stressful time, as an industry we have to get better at providing support during this time. With so many client services companies and options it seems that we only focus on connections and that's because it is on the application forms.
An example of the level of service we provide, here is what happened at the OFI on Saturday at my property.
I took my son to view it, a number of people turned up as it was advertised and they were told the property had been leased however there may be others that may interest them.
The property I have leased had been for sale, it was passed in on a vendors bid and the owners decided to rent it out.
They choose another agent to do this.
However the agency that was selling the property listed an open time of 1.30 pm Saturday 23/5. A number of people turned up at 1.30pm and yes you guessed it, there was no sales agent there to let them know that the property had been taken of the market.
To say I was appalled at this was simply an under statement. A high profile brand providing this level of service is simply unacceptable.
Surely systems in offices cannot be that poor that this was missed. I suspect it was simply sour grapes or poor management from the three sales agents listed on the board.
Interesting as well that the owners decided not to use the selling agency to rent their property either. How often does that happen I wonder.
To any business owner who reads this blog, why is this rant of mine important enough for you to pay attention.
It is quiet simple really. As an investor, I give you my property to manage and you build your wealth and assets off it. Your business is valued on the recurring income I pay you in management fees. You even have the ability to leverage off the rent roll.
Yet you see it as acceptable to provide the poorest level of service to those who rent my property off you. Tenants ensure that both of us continue to build our assets.
The rent role is your retirement/exit out of the business, my rental property is one of my retirement/exit out of corporate world. The common denominator here is the tenant and your teams are simply not paying enough attention to the service delivery they receive, regardless of the fact there is an abundant supply of tenants.
In each of your market places, regardless of your brand, it would be very easy to become known as the agents that provide the worst service.
Sadly that are far too many similar experiences and stories such as mine to say this has been a one off.
So here ends my blog on my experiences on leasing a property. I now have an 18 month lease in place and the next stress on the agenda is the actual move. :-(
My new property manager said to me, after I had told her about my experiences - there are no short cuts in property management..... wise words I say.
Thursday, May 21, 2015
I have decided to start this ongoing blog to share with you my experiences as a prospective tenant. I believe that one of the best ways to improve process and service is to be a client of your business or industry. So lets see how the leasing system works for me.
My property manager hand delivered my notice to vacate as she wanted to tell me face to face how sorry she was that I had to move. A very lovely and unexpected gesture. Unfortunately I wasn't at home so she left the notice under the door and emailed me.
One of key areas that many of us often fail to deliver on or understand is empathy on how the client is feeling. We get so busy doing our jobs, processing applications and people that really connecting with what our clients are going through emotionally can become irrelevant.
I have been in my property for over 3 years and for all intents and purposes it is my home. Somewhere in the back of my mind I am very aware that at some point I may have to move however it isn't something we think about at all.
My kids and I have created a lovely home here, the location is perfect and we can afford the rent. We are emotionally tied into this property even though we rent.
When I got the notice through on my email, I actually sat there, disconnected from the teleconference I was on and thought - what do I do now, they are taking my home away! My emotional stress levels kicked into top gear and panic set in as to what now. Where are we going to go, how much more am I going to pay, *$^& I have to pack the house up, this is going to cost me money I hadn't budgeted for, what if I don't find a property..... etc etc
Dramatic - ofcourse, but that is how I felt.
60 days isn't that long a time, especially as over the next 30 I am travelling, so going to inspections will be challenging.
The first thing I did was to jump onto realestate.com and see what was on the market. That is when the full realisation hit in.
Not enough stock and I would need to pay more for the type of property I am looking for.
So started my journey of dealing with my industry as a tenant.
- set up my profile on realestate.com and I trawl through 2 pages of property in the suburbs that I have selected
- realise that most property managers take terrible photos, why I am interested in a photo of the tiles of a back yard, or a close up of a toilet, why are we not taking professional photos of properties in the top end of the market?
- the hero shots really need to capture my attention otherwise I will skip past it
- why do we not have floor plans especially for the top end properties
- virtual tours are fantastic but again few and far between
- inspection times are not listed on a number of properties, why is it that by Thursday we don't have them listed on the internet so I can plan my Saturday
- calls are not answered and certainly not returned, if you have your mobile number listed on the internet then can I suggest to you that if I leave a message I expect you will return my call
- a third bedroom is one where I can easily put in a bed and most certainly swing a cat in! Please stop advertising a study as a third bedroom
- ensure that your reception staff, who clearly are there to assist you in the volume of calls that you take, are aware of the properties listed and open times. Sample dialogue "umm, sorry you will need to spell the name of the street as I am not sure we have it for rent" Ahh yes you do, its on the internet!
- Thurs morning call to find out an open time dialogue - "sorry, we don't have an open time, you will need to call back later today if you want to know when it is open, or keep checking the internet"
I have been given 60 days notice, this is day one of my search for a property.
I have met one leasing agent who has returned my call, met me at a time that worked for both of us and I felt really wanted to help me find a property.
One agent out of 10 I have called or met so far.
So lets see what the weekend brings.