MYSTERY SHOPPING OF COMPETITORS
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There is no better way to see the community from the inside, get a sense of how effective their sales and marketing team is when in action, and to observe how the staff interacts with residents. An effective “mystery shop” can help you to learn more about your competitors’ strengths and weaknesses, so you can better differentiate your community in the marketplace.
The Roche Associates sends someone out to mystery shop your community FIRST before shopping the competitors so that there is a basis of comparison. You can find how effective your sales staff is, and how your community is truly viewed by someone coming in from the outside.
Then, we mystery shop up to a half a dozen of your top area competitors, selected by you, to see how they compare to your product.
The Art of Mystery Shopping
There is an art to mystery shopping. It begins before the tour even takes place. The mystery shopper will evaluate the community in all of the following areas:
- Appearance and condition of the physical facilities and grounds
- Amenities and common areas
- Size and amenities within the apartments
- Calendar offerings and activities
- Staff interaction with residents
- Marketing staff’s overall capabilities in leading tours and attempting to make a sale
- Price points and what is offered within the monthly rent structure
- Additional fees for services
Effectiveness of The Sales Staff
The mystery shopper will, even more importantly, evaluate the sales and marketing skills of the sales staff on the tour. Here are some questions to consider:
- Did the marketing staff ask discovery questions on the phone while setting up the tour?
- Did the marketing staff ask effective discovery questions to learn more about the prospect during the interview, prior to conducting a tour?
- Did the marketing staff do a good job understanding the prospect’s needs and challenges?
- Did the marketing staff do a good job finding out why the prospect wants to move now?
- Did the marketing staff tailor the tour toward the prospect’s needs, wants and desires?
- Did the marketing staff attempt to “close the sale” effectively at the end of the tour?
Finally, the mystery shopper will compare each community shopped back to your community, and make a list of points of differentiation.
What Makes Your Client Stand Out?
What makes your client’s facility stand out in comparison to these others? When you have a solid understanding of the competition, you can create top points of differentiation, and use these to market your client. These could include:
- Price breaks
- Services bundled
- Community amenities
- Size of apartments
- Special services or offering
- Activities offered
- “Newness” or attractiveness of the community