Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Handy Dandy Guest Card

Let us imagine for a moment that you are getting ready to purchase a car. You are going around to different dealers and you arrive at your first stop. You walk into the dealership and a seemingly nice man in a suit approaches you and shakes your hand. You two speak for a moment and you inform him you are looking to purchase a new car. He then leads you to the huge parking lot full of all different models. He takes you to several different cars that are all nice but not one of them has the features you are looking for. You thank the man for his time and return to your old vehicle irritated at the wasted 45 minutes you just spent.

Why was this wasted time you ask…. Because the dealer did not have a clue what features, price or even the color you were wanting. Why did he not know this information? I know it is hard to believe that men are not mind readers…. but he did no t know because he did not ask what you wanted. How do you know if your community is right for them if you do not find details first?

The guest card is easily the most underrated tool the leasing professional has. The guest card will assist you in the following:

1) It is the first step to building your relationship ~ It is no news flash (at least we hope not) that leasing your community is mainly established from the relationships you develop with your prospects; People lease the agent not the community. It is really hard to pull your weight in a relationship if you do not know the details of how to build it.

2) You will learn their hot buttons ~ You can be as nicely dressed with the most dazzling set of pearly whites this side of the Missouri river, but if you don’t have a clue what your prospect wants, then those shinny gems will gleam them right out the door.

3) Follow up, Follow up, Follow up ~ It is a great way for you to document what they really enjoyed about your community. When you speak to them or send them cards or emails later you can refresh their memory on the features they liked.

So now that we have offered a few reasons why guest cards are important, let’s discuss tips for getting the most from your handy dandy guest card:

1) Permission please ~ Ask for their permission and method preference before you contact them. You don’t want to be the messenger to their roommate that their looking for a new place to live.

2) What is in a name ~ If you cannot pronounce their name, then ask them to repeat it until you do. There is nothing wrong with asking for assistance. Do not spend the entire tour calling them by the wrong name. You leave them with the impression “If this person can’t even get my name right, how am I going to trust they will do anything right?”

3) Do not Interrogate them ~ As much as you may love your episodes of Law and Order, you are not Detectives Benson or Meloni. Keep the conversations light intermingled with some fun remembering that people lease on emotion. If you ask just a few simple questions it signals that the gates have opened and their information will come pouring out!

4) Do not force it ~ If they don’t want to complete a guest card, that is ok. Just get the basics of their name and any info they feel comfortable giving. If they are talkative you should be able to gain most of all the knowledge you will need during the tour. Just make sure to document on the card they declined to complete.

5) Our old pal Fair Housing ~ Do NOT document the cards with information such as race, color or any of the protected classes. Don’t make reference if they were rude or if their kids were bratty. An example of an appropriate note would be if they informed you they heard about your community from a friend whom works at the hospital next door, which your community has been heavily marketing. Another example could be when you show them the lakes on your community and inform them about the fishing; they get excited, informing you how their grandkids love to fish. Ask what their grandchild’s name is and document just the name and that they love fishing. When you follow up later you can mention how much that feature would benefit them!

There are many other benefits and “rules” for the guest cards. Make sure you check with your supervisor and reference your company policy for the methods that work best for you.

Tina Clauder

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