Saturday, September 19, 2009

Acorn Got Secret Shopped!

It’s current events like we have been witnessing recently that give us a whole new appreciation for being Secret Shopped!  I was hired at one time to do secret phone shops, and I never felt more uncomfortable in my whole life.  I felt so sad for the people I was talking to on the phone and looking to try and find something to score them high on.  I felt bad because now that report had to go to their boss and I was so anxious that because of my call, someone might lose their job.  After witnessing the ACORN events, my attitude has changed.  Secret Shops are for a protection and will only make you strive to achieve higher in your position.  Notice below from the ACORN website their motto and brief bio.

Who is ACORN?

ACORN is the nation’s largest grassroots community organization of low- and moderate-income people with over 400,000 member families organized into more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in about 75 cities across the country.  Since 1970, ACORN has been building community organizations that are committed to social and economic justice, and won victories on thousands of issues of concern to our members, through direct action, negotiation, legislative advocacy and voter participation.  ACORN helps those who have historically been locked out become powerful players in our democratic system.

Now in the property management end our bio or our mission statement on our website may read something similar.  Let’s change the words up a bit.

Who is Property Management XYZ?

PROPERTY MANAGEMENT XYZ is one of the nation’s largest property management companies.  We have a portfolio of over XXX condos and apartments in over 10 states.  Since 1970, PROPERTY MANAGEMENT XYX has been building communities that are dedicated to helping our residents have the best living experience possible.  Our goal is to keep you happy and satisfied with your community and to retain you as a resident indefinitely.  Our chief concern is you as the resident.  Our goal is the utmost of customer service.  We want to hear your voice.  We are here for you.

The question is:  Does our company description match what our employees portray?  When you look at ACORN and their company description, the proof is in the pudding.  It sounds good on paper, but reality is much different.  I can guarantee you right now that they are wishing they had some sort of secret shop system set up in order to protect their organization. 

Does our “About” page read something similar to the example above?  What are we doing in the multifamily industry to make sure our mission statement matches our people?  If you were not participating in secret shops before, what will you do now?  If you were not creating and implementing a performance review program, what will you do now?  If you do not have an active and ongoing multifamily training program, what will you do now?  Do you believe that the only way an employee can benefit from their secret shop is if they have follow up training to enhance their skill sets?  It all ties together.

Never be afraid of secret shops, but welcome them.  Treat each situation as if you were being shopped, that way you can never go wrong.  They are a protection for you and your company to make sure that fair housing laws are being followed and customer service skills and leasing skills are optimized.

Your feedback is greatly appreciated.  If you have been secret shopped before, what is your general feeling towards them?  As a property management company who has that policy of using secret shops, how do you use them to make your team better with their job title?

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