Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Let it go to voice mail. No big deal, right? Think again!

I admit it. I have often let incoming phone calls go to voice-mail. I figured no big deal, right? I’ll finish what I’m working on and call that person back later.
Well, if you think that it doesn’t matter, read on. It matters. A lot.
We recently studied over 8,000 phone calls from renters responding to RentLinx Plus! ads, and we uncovered some shocking statistics.
What percent of the calls (placed during business hours) do you think were answered by a person? 90%? 75%? 50%? The answer is..... 26%! Only 26%. Another 18% of the callers were greeted by an automated system that allowed them to navigate to a person.
Overall, more than half of renters were not able to talk with someone - anyone. During business hours. While responding to a paid ad.
Let’s stop here and discuss a very important distinction. The purpose of advertising is to produce leads, not leases. Leads are phone calls and emails from renters. The purpose of your leasing office personnel is to turn those leads into signed-leases. Think about it, if every inquiry resulted in a signed-lease, why would you need a leasing staff at all? You could just put the lease online and mail the key to the renter. We know it doesn’t work that way! Everyone in the leasing office is very important – to show the apartments, make sure the application is completed correctly, conduct credit and background checks, and do everything else it takes to get a signed-lease. Your job is to turn some of the incoming leads into signed-leases. The purpose of your ads is to get the phone ringing.
So, back to that ringing phone. What happens when a call goes to voice-mail? What percent of the time did the caller leave a message? What do you think? 90%? 75%? 50%? The answer is 20%. Yep, only 20% of the callers left a voice message. Why? Because when your hottest prospects (you know the renters who are qualified and ready to move ASAP) get your voice mail greeting, they simply hang up, glance back at their computer screens and call the next ad. Your competitor’s phone starts ringing, and you just lost a potential new resident.
Even so, we found that some renters were really, really interested in a specific property, and they did call back a 2nd time or they emailed. However, most of them didn’t. Ever. 55% of renters who hung up never called back, or emailed. They just moved on.
Oh, and we found one more chilling category. 2% of the calls were not answered at all. Yep, unbelievable, but true. Interested renters called after reading a paid advertisement only to hear endless ringing. No answer by either a person or an automated system – during business hours. Ouch!
Now, here’s where it gets really attention-grabbing. You know you have a much better chance of getting a signed lease if you can get the renter to come out and tour your property, right? Overall, only 13% of incoming phone calls resulted in the caller agreeing to a property tour. Guess what improves the odds of getting the renter onsite?
1. Talk to the caller! Yep, just talking with the caller resulted in a tour appointment 33% of the time.
2. Answer the phone! When a person answered the phone (instead of an automated response system), the odds of getting an agreement to tour the property increased to 50%.
3. Invite them to tour!!! Yes, just ask! Inviting the caller to come and view the property resulted in a 92% rate of onsite tours apointments!!! Ask, ask, ask!
The proof is in the numbers. It is a big deal if you let your calls to go voice mail because 80% of them won’t leave you a message. And, most will never call back or email you either. The combination of answering the phone and inviting the caller to come in for a tour increases your odds of getting the renter onsite from 13% to 92%. That’s huge!
Now that I’ve seen these stats up close and personal, I’m going to answer my phone every time. What about you?


Blogger Unknown said...

Dear Amanda:

Those statistics are really interesting, and helpful. This is a great article that my friend Doug Chasick, CPM, shared with me.

Now I am going to share with at our Managers Meeting on Friday.

Thanks very much,

Kevin Grail, CPM, CPO

6:44 PM  
Anonymous Troy Ross said...

Amanda - great info! I got your email message regarding this article and will pass it on to our members. This is a great read with useful info! Thanks again!

- Troy Ross, President of RREIA
Richmond Real Estate Investors Association

11:59 PM  
Anonymous Pete Jorde said...

You are right on. As a Regional Manager I know there is nothing more important than answering the phone and doing so with the right attitude. Finding a manager like that is not easy however and I can honestly say I have managers that blow away the competition. Carolyn and Greg answer the phone at least 90% of the time and at all hours, really!! When they are on the phone or tied up, the caller will get a detailed message that gives a lot of good information about the available units to build anticipation for that return call. Time after time I conduct market surveys and we are able to command higher rents than we would otherwise just because we field those leads better than the competition. Enough said!!

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Eric Puryear said...

You make a very good point about the importance of having a live person answer the phone instead of sending callers to voicemail. Spending advertising money to get potential clients and then sending those potential clients to voicemail is akin to setting your advertising money on fire!

9:18 PM  

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