By: Shad Bookout
Every apartment community on Earth has at least one. Most have two or three. You cannot escape them. They will hunt you down and they will find you at the most inopportune moments. They are a daily presence and, in some cases, a daily challenge. But there is more to “that resident” than meets the eye. And you know exactly which of your residents we are referring to…don’t you?
They come into your office nearly every day. This one resident causes fear in most property management teams. When you see him or her coming through the window, the entire mood of the office suddenly changes. The manager suddenly has to take this “urgent” phone call. Maintenance teams suddenly disappear to go take care of whatever needs their “immediate” attention. Leasing agents go diving behind desks. But it is too late! The resident has already entered the office and made eye contact with you. You can now kiss the next 20 minutes of your life goodbye.
Sure, they are a challenge when it comes to the things you need to do that day, but the residents who seem to occupy your office more than their own apartments may have other agendas than an incessant need to interrupt your day. They provide a great opportunity to hone customer service skills and to learn more about your apartment community and some of its inhabitants. There could be many factors playing into their daily visits to your desk.
Many of these residents may be incredibly lonely and may even lack the social skills to go out and find new points of social contact. The fact that they are reaching out to you is a testament to your social selling skills, which go far beyond the basics of leasing an apartment. A connection was made that creates a sense of comfort within them, creating solace in an otherwise socially-isolated day.
Others may be suffering from mental disease or social disorders that cause them to not be fully aware of the imposition that they sometimes are creating. Diseases such as autism, Asperger syndrome, depression, and obsessive-compulsive disorder may be a factor in the lives of these individuals. Their visit to your office is an island of calm in an otherwise tumultuous life. The dependence they have on you is real, and the time to really be concerned is when they are not around and engaged in their normal routine.
Of course, some people are just busybodies and will inevitably be “just stopping by” to put in their input and provide their observations about their surrounding community. Even though you see them as an imposition, they are actually a great resource. They usually know more about what is going on at the community than anyone else, and can be your eyes and ears on the street. You can even make them feel special my anointing them a designation. Create a title such as Community Ambassador or Mayor of the Month, and you will see their eyes light up.
Now that you hopefully see “that resident” in a better light, make sure to redouble your efforts to provide outstanding service to them. Instead of diving behind the desk or locking yourself in the office when they arrive, stand up, reach out, and say, “Hello”, because they are more than just “that resident”…they are “your resident”.