The Mystery Shop is History

Learn how you can take the mystery out of measuring employee performance.
June 29, 2020

You’re doing everything right—the leasing team is trained, they’re answering the phone, and quickly responding to leads. Curb appeal looks good and your marketing is bringing in viable prospects. But something isn’t quite right. Occupancy is down. The leases aren’t rolling in as you expected.

Maybe it’s time for a mystery shop, so you can understand what is happening from the potential renter’s point of view.

Or is it?

History of the Mystery

Mystery shops started to gain popularity in the 1940s. Without access to internet reviews and business intelligence, a mystery shopper was one of the only ways to get a small reading on the performance of a company and its employees. A good actor, some meaningful questions, and a tour gave them a tiny slice of information that could be used to help determine training, hiring and termination needs.

Almost 80 years later, that same methodology is used today with mystery shoppers. The problem is that with such a small peek at performance, a lot of variables must be accounted for: Did the shopper fit your customer profile? Was it cost-effective? Was the small sample size statistically relevant? Was the shop report accurate? Did the employee figure out it was a shop and alter behavior?

Fortunately, there have been major strides in developing new solutions that target these challenges that mystery shops impose.

New Methods

Strong property owners and managers need real, quantitative evidence of their employee’s performance—not contrived observations. Here are three ways to measure the performance of your leasing team, without a mystery shop.

1.   Internet Reviews

Reviews from Google, Yelp, and many other ILSs can offer an unfiltered glimpse in to what renters think about your property and employees. And in turn, these reviews can significantly impact a prospect’s decision to rent. Embrace your reviews, both the good and bad, then take the time to read and respond to each one. Analyze the insights you learn from the reviews to recognize patterns of behavior from your leasing or maintenance staff.

2.   Automated Surveys

Sometimes, the easiest way to get honest feedback is to just ask for it. Consider sending your prospects a simple survey with your most burning questions. It can even be just one question like, “How satisfied were you with our service today?” and correlate the responses with the staff member who interacted with the prospect.

The key to asking for feedback is to ask at the right time. Set up an automated email or have an email template ready at your fingertips to send a survey the moment after interacting with a prospect.

3.   Telephone Performance Analysis

Phone calls are one of the most powerful tools for measuring employee performance. By using telephone tracking numbers, you can record and listen to every first-time prospect call received by your property. You can listen to these calls to evaluate performance and create training opportunities for your leasing staff.

Alternatively, if you don’t have time to listen to each call—as most of us don’t—you can use AI (Artificial Intelligence) to analyze the calls for you. Agent Performance, from LeaseHawk, uses natural language processing to measure how well leasing agents performed on the call based on a survey of best practices. The results are available within minutes, so you can detect skill gaps and performance variation and quickly take action to correct deficiencies.

Next Chapter

A good employee performance evaluation tool should use precise scoring criteria and allow for customization of the weighting of each component to meet your specific needs. This allows you to shift focus to areas of concern and then coach and watch for signs of improvement.  

Employees should feel empowered to use an evaluation program to grow professionally. Look for one that has easy-to-understand reports showing scores, areas of strengths and concerns, and ranking information. Investing in your teams’ professional skills and openly assessing true prospect calls takes away the mystery of being shopped and keeps the leasing team focused on working real leads without feeling like they are wasting valuable time or being spied on.

In today’s data-driven world, it’s important to investigate other options. New technology, including AI, is providing you with a reason to turn the page and move on to the next chapter of measuring employee performance.

Close the book on the historic mystery shop.

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