Video Mystery Shopping: Take Ownership of Your Store! (And why you should avoid Chinese food in your models)

In the Video Mystery Shopping business, we get hired to shop new home sales associates. It is as simple as that. Our mystery shoppers arrive and video tape the sales presentation and then we have reviewers who watch each and every shop and grade it based on a proven rating scale. We are shopping the sales associate only, not the community, the condition of the models, or any other outside factors.

While these other factors have nothing to do with how we score a new home sales associate, they do have a major impact on how your customers will score YOU when determining whether or not to buy a new home.

I have personally visited hundreds of new home communities and have been witness to some of these ‘outside factors’ that would have prevented me from purchasing a new home from that builder. Remember, your community and your models are your ‘store’. This is the first impression your prospects have of you and your builder.

Here are a few of my personal pet peeves:

  1. Flags and signage that look like they have been around since the days of Methuselah!  Set up a maintenance program with your sign guy to swap out flags and signage as needed. Remember, faded flags and signs give the perception that your community has been around a long time and no one is buying!
  2. Landscaping that hasn’t been maintained. Weeds, dead grass, and dried up flower beds are a major turn off! Be sure to have your landscapers visit regularly and swap out flower beds as needed.
  3. No paper towels in the ‘useable’ bathrooms. Do you really expect me to dry my hands on the ancient towels that the interior designer provided when the models opened in 2006 (that have probably never been washed)?
  4. Bare models – we all know that certain items in model homes have a tendency to ‘walk’ away after a period of time, make sure you have your interior designers check the models every 6 months or so to refurbish any missing items.
  5. Smelly kitchens – OK, I may get some criticism on this one. I know that sales associates work long days and that they have to eat. But I have walked into some models where the kitchens reeked of garlic, Chinese food, and tuna fish. Set up rules and guidelines on what can and can’t be eaten in the models. Personally, if you need to microwave it, don’t bring it.

The fact is you are going to be judged by how your models and neighborhoods look. The simplest way to insure that you’re looking your best all the time is to have open communications with your vendors who are responsible for the community. Also, take the time to drive your community and walk your models on a routine basis so that you can see with your own eyes what your customers are seeing. Remember, this is YOUR store. It is important to take care of it.

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Melinda Brody & Co.

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