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Undercover Customer – Creating a Brilliant Open Home Experience

Over the past year, many Real Estate agents across the country were ‘Mystery Shopped’ by Real Estate Author and Coach, Glenn Twiddle and his team. He chose the properties at random, and was on the lookout to score agents on following up, marketing skills, sales skills, negotiation prowess, and test the capabilities of the agents in general. Here is what they found.

Mystery shoppers. Lots of big companies do it – everyone from McDonalds, KFC, David Jones, you name it, and now you can even see it on TV shows like “Undercover Boss”. The best way to get in touch with how other people see your business is to actually become a customer yourself. We weren’t out to point fingers at any agents in particular, but we really wanted to hold a mirror up to the industry to find the reality of what the customer service experience for buyers and sellers is really like.

Some Agents, of course, do the job well; in other cases we what we found, in some cases, wasn’t pretty!!’ The Mystery Shop teams were all given a similar script. It was…

‘We own a house down the road, and we’re just checking out prices.’ The very thing a future seller might say.

Here are some of the results of 71 ‘secret shopped’ home opens –

  • 57 agents didn’t phone back at all.
  • 1 followed up on the day of the home open
  • 4 agents just didn’t show up (and at 3 of those instances, buyers were left waiting on the footpath with the secret shoppers)
  • 23 agents made our secret shop ladies feel ‘unwelcome’
  • 58 of the agents didn’t ask for the sale in any way.
  • 1 followed up with a simple thank you SMS
  • 1 followed up on more than one occasion
  • 1 had take-home material that was something more than a colour photocopied, one page flyer.

These results might sound appalling; but it presents a fantastic opportunity for good Agents to create brilliant open home experiences compared with the competition.

Here’s how to create an outstanding open for inspection experience:

1. Follow up
This may seem like common sense, but the reality is between 10 and 20% of Real Estate agents even make one piece of follow up activity. We recommend an SMS on the day as the guests leave, a phone call that afternoon/night, and a piece of physical mail if possible, like a greeting card, during the week at some stage.

2. Be nice.
A staggering statistic from our adventure into the shoes of the customer was that 23 of the agents studied were flat out ‘rude, arrogant and made the ladies feel unwelcome.’ These reports were using the words of one of the secret shopping volunteers, so step one, be nice.

3. Be on show.
Understand that the home open is your opportunity to shine and show the world why you are the agent of choice in your area. So treat the opportunity with the respect it deserves. Dress one step better than your competition. Have your car sign written professionally and parked out front. Have flags, signs and other goodies to let people know there’s some excitement going on.

4. Blow them away inside.
You need to differentiate yourself from the ho-hum of a ‘normal’ open house. So some items like

  • iPads with slide shows on them
  • Real Display Boards have big open house displays that look amazing
  • Shoe cover machines to protect carpets. It puts a little plastic cover over shoes, available at REI shops or online
  • Have the owners put on a sausage sizzle on the BBQ (if the property lends itself to family style entertaining)
  • A small giveaway for the kids (like a chupa chup – but remember to get parents’ permission before giving kids lollies!), and
  • Bottled water for adults

can make your open home stand out from the crowd.

5. Quality of take home materials.
Have marketing materials worthy of the marketing of an asset worth hundreds of thousands of dollars. If you are looking to impress, a black and white, photocopied piece of A4 will not suffice.

6. Have two people present.
Have one person taking names and greeting guests while you escort, without being intrusive, the other guests around the house. Make sure this ‘meeter and greeter’ is personality plus. A real, natural rapport builder. No room for grumps in this role, or in yours for that matter.

7. Remember, you represent your seller.
If future sellers are also ‘secret shopping’ you, remember who is paying your fees. Represent your seller at all times, and treat buyers, fairly, honestly and professionally, but remember, you are working on behalf of your seller.

8. Follow up.
Yes this was tip number 1, but it’s too important to not do. In your follow up, make sure you ask for the sale in a non-confrontational way.

If you can follow these tips you should be able to make every open home memorable, and the next time you are ‘mystery shopped’ you will be sure to pass with flying colours.

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