Safety…A Dirty Word?

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Just a few days ago I was stunned by someone’s perception of our community.

A little background – We are located just steps from a large University.  Students get more privacy and freedom without compromising location, security features or the college experience.  Leasing is per bedroom and you must be a student to live here.  The community features were designed with that in mind.  Anyway, here’s what happened….

Parents and students often express their concerns about the safety of off campus housing.  It would then stand to reason that describing the precautions we have taken would be a good thing…right?  In this case we were wrong!  This particular prospect graciously declined to lease because “I found another option…in a safer area.  After staring blankly in disbelief at the e-mail, I started formulating a response.

“Dear Mr. Doe,

I’m sorry to hear that!  Your feedback is very important to us.  Is there anything in particular that gave you the impression our location is less safe than others?

Thanks,

Angela”

I figured that repeating our security features would be useless without additional information.  Not expecting a detailed (if any) response, I went about my day.  Unfortunately, this was one of those moments you just can’t shake.  It ate at me.  I wanted to know why!  Just when I thought I would never have an answer I received this –

“Angela,

I really respect the heightened security.  It’s just that the electronic locks and the 2-out-of-3 inaccessible (electronically secured) rooms left me feeling both

A. that the security is necessary (and therefore the risks are present) and

B. Alienated in “my own home” by not being able to access two out of three doors.

It’s a great system, just not for me.  I hope that my feedback is helpful and not offensive, as I did not intend it to be.

Kind regards,

Mr. Doe”

Ok again I’m a little dumbfounded by this response.  I mean come on, does he really expect his roommates to be so trusting that they leave their doors wide open at all times?  Is there really an area where security features are unnecessary?!  I know that nothing I can say will change his mind, but maybe a response will eventually pay off.

“Mr. Doe,

Your feedback is not offensive at all.  I appreciate your honesty and do understand your position.  Many parents and students have raised concerns about safety in off campus housing.  All of the precautions we have taken were simply to satisfy those concerns.  If we can be of any assistance in the future, please let me know.

Thanks,

Angela”

This was the end of our conversation.  Will he recommend us to another student that may not feel the same way about locking bedrooms and security precautions?  Only time will tell…

The moral of this story is to identify with your prospect!  Discovering needs and wants, focusing on THEM and being careful not to feature dump are some of the most important things to remember when touring a prospect.  If they walk out the door without taking out a checkbook, find out why!!  Feedback truly is important.  Don’t miss out on opportunities to learn from your mistakes.

~Angela

“Mistakes are a part of being human. Appreciate your mistakes for what they are: precious life lessons that can only be learned the hard way. Unless it’s a fatal mistake, which, at least, others can learn from.” ~ Al Franken

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4 responses »

  1. From my perspective Angela I can’t really see where you could have made a mistake. This individual has a very unique perspective on what safety is for sure and I can’t see what would have changed his mind unless you removed all the locks you have. I do applaud your follow up though and that you respect feedback. No matter what happens that serves as a great teaching tool. Great post.

    • Thank you Jonathan. I believe my mistake was not properly identifying his needs and wants from the get go. If I would have done that, I may have been able to at least recommend a sister community of ours… keeping him as a rental instead of losing his rental completely. That’s not to say that he won’t be unhappy at some point and looking again, but for the time being he is going elsewhere. I always try to at least keep them within the company, but sometimes I lose focus during busy season. I know that being busy is no excuse and it’s experiences like this one that help keep me on track. When a prospect walks in, when the phone rings, when you’re sending an e-mail, it’s imperative that the other person receives your full attention. Stop what you’re doing and focus on the customer.

  2. Kudos to you for seeking feedback. It is a great way to discover areas for improvement. In this instance I must agree with Jonathan – I don’t see a mistake on your part. When strangers are sharing a home it is understandable that they may desire unique locks on their doors. It is rather strange that Mr. Doe disliked not being able to access the other rooms.

    • Thank you RPM. I found it rather strange as well. It may not have been a “mistake”, but instead, an oversight. Somewhere I forgot to ask something or missed an opportunity to overcome that objection. By the time the objection came out, it was already too late.

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