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February 27, 2018

How to Handle Incoming Phone Calls and Other Tricks for On-Site Staff

Posted by Jake Meador


We all know that when we take an incoming phone call we need to be helpful and polite, and while doing so, we need to remember our #1 objective of that call - Setting The Appointment.

We know that we are the best option for a prospect to receive the highest quality care while looking for their next apartment, but we cannot fully provide them with that care if we do not gather their contact information and set up an appointment to tour our community and one of our floorplans. Here are a few helpful tips and tricks to best gather information and set the appointment during an incoming phone call.

Answering the Call

Don't Say
You: Thank you for calling "your community name" this is "your name", how can I help you?

Do Say
You: Thank you for calling "your community name" this is "your name", who am I speaking with?
Them: Hi, this is Bob.
You: Great Bob, what can I help you with today?

This is a simple way to get a first and possibly last name without having to jog the conversation with "ok, what is your name?" Notice also that we are using phrasing like "how can I help you?" instead of something such as "what can I do for you?" This implies that we want to be helpful.

Gathering Contact Information

After answering questions and providing prospect with requested information, we need to gather contact information so we can follow up with them.

Don't Say
You: Is there anything else that I can help you with today?

The prospect will likely reply with something like "no thank you, we are going to think it over and get back to you". Now the call is coming to an end and it is very hard for you to regain control to continue to move the prospect through the leasing process.

Do Say
You: Bob, how do you spell your last name
Them: (Spells last name for you)
You: Great, and your number is? (we specifically word this in this way because it is much harder to refuse to give your number when asked "and your number is?" as opposed to "can I have your number?")
Them: (gives you their number)
You: And the best email to reach you at is? (Again, the phrasing is important here. We ask for the "best" email to reach them at in hopes to get their most used email and we don't ask "can I have your email" in hopes to have a higher percentage of people who give us their information.)

Setting the Appointment

After we have answered questions and gathered contact information, we need to attempt to set an appointment to show a unit. One of our biggest tools here is the "either/or" question. By giving someone an either/or question, it is pressing them to choose one of two options that you provide. In this way, you can steer the conversation in a direction that you desire.

Don't Say
You - What time were you thinking of coming in?

With an open ended question like this, you have no control over what the other person says. They can say things like "I'm not really sure; I'll have to get back to you" or "We are just looking right now."

Do Say
You: Were you thinking about coming in sometime later today, or would tomorrow work better for you?

This steers the prospect toward two options that both include coming down to the community. Now some people may say "I am not available today or tomorrow." That's OK. Just offer them another either/or question with two more options.

You: Ok that is fine. Would later this week work for you, or would Saturday be best?

Again we want to keep providing either/or questions until we hopefully find a day that works. Once we find a day that works, we start to narrow down a time with the same technique.

You: Ok great. Were you thinking sometime in the morning, or would afternoon work better?

Once they pick a time of day, give them two open availabilities on your calendar. One simple trick is to give them times that are on the quarter or three quarters of an hour such as 10:15AM or 12:45PM. It has been proven that appointments on either the quarter or three quarters of an hour have a much higher rate of both being remembered and attended.

You: Perfect. I have a 9:45AM available or an 11:15AM. Which time works best for you

Again, work with the prospect to find a time that works best for them. We do not care when the appointment is as long as it works with their schedule.

Other Helpful Phrases

"This is one of our most popular floorplans."

This is something we say about ALL of our floorplans whether we have 1 available or 20. We can justify saying that it is popular because this prospect is interested in it. This creates urgency for the prospect, builds up the value of the floorplan, and helps move them forward through the leasing process.

"We only have a few of those left."

Again, we are creating urgency. By saying we only have a few left, it tells the prospect that they need to hurry up to make sure they get one of the few units left. The word "few" is a fluid term in this case.

Final Thoughts

These techniques aren't always going to work and you might not be able to use all of them with one prospect, but they will give you an edge when trying to convert an incoming phone call into a happy resident.

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