Affordable Accountability

By Wilson, Becca; Freeberg, Katheryn | Journal of Property Management, September/October 2010 | Go to article overview

Affordable Accountability


Wilson, Becca, Freeberg, Katheryn, Journal of Property Management


CRM APPLICATIONS CAN GREATLY IMPROVE YOUR CORRESPONDENCE WITH POTENTIAL CLIENTS AND CUSTOMERS

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Software isn't just a tool to improve your marketing to customers. It can actually track your leasing agents' communications with potential clients who have inquired about their properties- holding them accountable for the timeliness, effectiveness and quality of their responses.

Many management teams resist accountability tools, however. In fact, they actively dodge advancing technology tools that create an accountability demand of their performance. While those concerns are valid, worries regarding the objective measurement of your firm's success and potential might outweigh any reservations about accountability technology.

BELLS AND WHISTLES

CRM is a targeted strategy used by companies to foster and manage positive communication between businesses, their clients and potential customers. Technology is an important piece of the CRM strategy because it not only facilitates communication, but it tracks interactions in a way that is useful for management. It also bolsters the confidence of the prospective resident to see how the leasing and management team practices free and open communication.

One of the most traceable kinds of prospect inquiries to track are Internet leads. Between 60 and 70 percent of residential property management firms' traffic is generated from the Internet. A staggering 43.3 percent of online leads are currently ignored, according to a national secret shopping survey of 300 communities not using an effective lead tracking system.

Further, the apartment industry has trimmed its onsite workforce to all-time lows. Training has been cut drastically nationwide. Companies willing to invest a small sum in lead-tracking tools can help their leasing staffs become customer-centric closers from using a good CRM system.

A quality CRM application allows managers to see where their prospect leads are coming from- whether it's Craig's List, Facebook, printed media, telephone calls utilizing call measurement numbers, walk-ins, online advertisements or other outlets - helping them to determine where to effectively spend their advertising dollars. It also tracks all correspondence, enabling managers to see how soon and how often personnel are responding to queries for performance measurement and training purposes.

On an administrative level, CRM applications can indicate the highest traffic times for queries from potential residents, which can influence when to increase and pare back staffing, and adjust advertising and promotion expenditures. A quality CRM can be integrated with a firm's property management software to save time, improve accuracy and increase reporting integrity.

Ultimately, the best CRM software will have one point of delivery for all lead sources; be specifically created for the management industry; have comprehensive performance reporting; and offer branded follow-up tools.

GETTING THE TEAM ON BOARD

The best CRM tools will render themselves ineffective if your leasing team is not on board with tracking tools. In fact, you may find your leasing teams sabotage the efforts of these tracking and accountability tools.

Why? Primarily because they were hired with a contract or expectation that they must maintain a designated closing ratio to keep their jobs. Add a commission package that does not actually incentivize your team to perform and you have a formula for failure before you begin.

Additionally, leasing personnel are generally compensated in a way that promotes dishonesty on traffic numbers and reports. They can toss guest cards, not enter them in the accounting program, not respond to Internet leads, or not answer the phone. Plus, they can easily adjust the numbers on their productivity reports.

Effective lead management tools remove most of those "fudge" options. …

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