Need help, phone call volume dropped off a cliff

I haven’t closed on the park yet.

During DD I ran test ads and was getting one call every 15 minutes on average. I did this 3 times over 3 weeks and it was consistent, phone rang off the hook.

Supposed to close this week so I started up the ads again to get a client list, and only got 3 calls all day on Sunday, and only 1 call today.

School does start this week, I’m just trying to figure out what happened.

I’m spooked here, any thoughts please???

Also, on Craigslist do you run your ads in the for rent or for sale section?

Call back everyone who called you from your previous adds. Many of them are likely still looking for housing. I wouldn’t worry too much though as your add might be burned at this point. People can only call so many times without getting a response.

We advertise in the for rent section. We find it easier to sell someone on site.

Thanks Charles. It was weeks ago and I didn’t keep their info. I had just assumed they’d move on after weeks, my mistake I guess, live and learn.

I am mixing the ads up, maybe too much.

Does anyone still use the newspapers?

We use newspapers (rarely), bandit signs, flyers in local establishments, and we also send mailers out to c-class apartment tenants. Craigs list pulls well on its own, but combining all those methods together makes a world of difference.

I like the mailers to c-class apartments. How do you find those mailing lists?

How many calls did you receive over a 10 day period when you did the test? Did you place the ad in the largest metro newspaper and Craigslist? Did you change the ad in any way between the test and what you just ran?

I only ran the ad for 3-4 hours the 3 times I ran it. My phone was just ringing nonstop.

No newspaper, only CL.

Yes, I did change the ad and that may be part of it. I’m trying to get back to your formula.

Here’s the latest attempt, feel free to pick it apart, thank you for your help.

The Post Office might be able to provide you with a list for apartment mailing addresses. I would try that before you pay for a list. We generally don’t try to figure out who everyone’s name is so as long as you can get a basic idea how the addressing works at the complex, you can mail to it. Great thing about it is that if you target the right complex, most of your calls will be from people who have passed a somewhat recent background check and who can likely afford your product.

Bandit signs also work well. For instance, if you want to get a handy-man special going, pop in a few bandit signs near the entrances/exits of Lowes, Home Depot, and local hardware stores. I looked up your local Lowes and I would put one on each side of that entrance on the first Saturday morning you own the park. You’ll probably get away with keeping them up all weekend, but anticipate them getting taken down on Monday.

Coach62, we do Craigslist exclusively in the ‘For Rent’ section.

We use the same format for Craigslist Ads with lots and lots of pictures.

We use a very specific procedure for our Craigslist Ads. Everyone who participates in the process gets the exact same info.

We have found that the call volume does fluctuate depending on the time of the month and the time of the year.

A great time to rent or even sale is during Tax Season when people get tax refunds. They have the money and they want to use it.

We wish the very best.

Thanks for providing the link! Well laid out, easily readable, and gets the talking points across

Is that a canned photo or an actual unit at your community?

Kristin is right… it fluctuates. Hard to figure it out but don’t be deterred. Went a couple weeks without any decent calls… then six or seven great rental applicants in course of day or two. We have a waiting list now…

@Coach62, was that your original ad or the second one you ran?

Pretty close to the original ad. Little if any difference.

I think we got one call today and he hung up when we told him he had to pass a background check :-/

It’s just hard to imagine how you go from 4 calls an hour to 1 or 2 calls a day. The main reason it worries me is that I’m getting ready to bill back water, and stop providing cable once we close. I figure I’ll lose a few tenants and I’ll have to replace them.

JD - that is a photo that looks like the one that’s for sale. The other ads had actual photos of the home for sale, I was just trying to mix it up.

Craigslist is great, but you also need to run the ad in the Orlando newspaper in the “mobile homes for rent” section of the classifieds.

I would also put up a banner at the entrance, a sign in the window and yard of the home that says it’s for rent/sale, and send a letter to all current tenants offering them one month free lot rent if they find you a tenant.

An apartment direct mail in Cocoa would also work – we do those frequently.

While you will see ups and downs in call volume based on the season, you should never have too few calls to stay at 100% occupancy.

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OK, that last post makes me scared about what your “sales script” is, as you should not be talking about your screening process on that first call.

Here’s what we do: answer the phone with “NAME OF PARK. How can I help you?”. Customer says “do you have any mobile homes for rent?” You say “Yes, we have some really nice homes here from $______ per month including lot rent. When would you want to come out and look at is?”.

The whole goal of the call is to get a showing. Don’t say any turn-offs on the call like “you know we don’t allow big dogs, trampolines, pools…” and the customer will have already hung up because they think you’re too negative, or a big pain, etc.

Our metric is 3 calls = 1 showing and 3 showings = 1 sale/rental.

If you are showing the homes yourself, I would ask all the questions about their qualifications during your first phone call. There is no reason wasting your time showing homes to felons and pit bull owners when you can ask a few questions on the phone. Your time is valuable. In my experience good tenants appreciate that you screen people and will not mind a few tactfully asked questions regarding their qualifications.

I agree completely. I’m talking from a manager’s viewpoint, where they often have no common sense on sales. We mystery shop our managers, and we’ve had them answer the phone with “you don’t have any big dogs, right, cuz we don’t allow them things”. That’s a great start to a sales pitch, right? Tell the manager to just get them to come in and look, As an owner, you can make much better decisions and asking some screening questions is perfectly acceptable.

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That’s brilliant Frank, I know from running test ads that often even the Craigslist ads in nearby major cities get better responses.

I’ll talk to my manager about the sales script, I haven’t actually given her one yet. I think she was just letting him know there was an application process. She’s actually a hard worker and wants to do well. She definitely needs training, but was actually excited when I told her I was getting her your manager training session. I think she will be good at sales, but definitely needs training.

I do not show them myself as of right now, I live 4 hours away. I agree with your statement here, now I just have to teach her to blend this with what Frank says.

Thanks a ton for the help.

I’m not quite sure what you mean by this. Do you mean that you anticipate that I should get enough calls to fill vacancies? Even though call volume has dropped significantly, we are still getting 2-3 calls a day, just on this Craigslist ad only.

If you can hold to a metric of 3 calls = 1 showing and 3 showings = 1 rental/sale then you basically need 9 calls to get a home occupied. If you are getting 3 calls a day, that means that you can fill that home every 3 days potentially. Don’t ever let your manager tell you “nobody wants these homes” because that normally means 1) the manager is not answering the phone or 2) the manager is chasing all the customers away with pathetic sales ability. Don’t forget our company motto: “it’s easier to change people than to change people”. If the manager can’t keep your homes filled then find a new one – there’s no way you can be in the affordable housing business and not have enough demand to fill your homes.

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