YOU HAD ME AT “HELLO”!
BY TRACEY GOETSCH, MAHC BOD
This famous line form the movie Jerry McGuire should serve as a mantra for our onsite managers throughout the Cooperative system. The greeting a person receives when entering our office, whether a member of the cooperative or a potential member, should make them feel immediately welcomed and comfortable talking with our managers.
That first impression for an outsider can make or break a deal. Our waiting lists should be teaming with applicants for our units. When a potential "looker" presents themselves in our office, they should be greeted with a warm and welcoming "HELLO". This should be followed with an enthusiastic description of Cooperative living and its benefits. They may be expecting the same old routine of quoted rental prices and amenities that they have seen at apartment complexes they have visited prior to coming through our door. They may not be fully aware of
what they have walked in to. This is our opportunity to educate them on how Cooperative living could be the true answer that they have been looking for.
The conversation could go something like this: "Good morning, so glad to see that you have come into our offices. Are you looking for a new place to live? Please have a seat, (an offer of refreshments would be nice) let me get to know exactly what your needs are and then maybe I can tell you how we can help you."
The first step is to make the visitor feel welcome and that we are interested in them
personally. Asking the question of what they are looking for will lead perfectly into a
clear explanation of the benefits of Cooperative living. Most "lookers" have needs such as unit size, number of bedrooms, access to schools and shopping, proximity to work, etc... As the visitor is explaining these needs and requirements the manager should make notes of key points to address with them. Then, only after the visitor has finish with their list of needs, address their
issues. Waiting for them to finish and making needed notes only serves to demonstrate that you are a manager that is willing and ready to listen to their needs. Explain that Cooperative living
can help with many of them and offer them the many benefits that they may not be aware of with Cooperative living.
Cooperative living is, after all, the best of all worlds. This is something that we as member already know! Potential members do not. Cooperative living offers the best side of "renting" in that maintenance is provided for the units and for the grounds. We share the cost of amenities and operations through the monthly charges. Yet we also, as cooperatives, offer the benefits of "home ownership". Our unit is ours to decorate and make improvements upon. As a member we gain equity with time. All members have a voice in how things are maintained and operated within the complex. All of these are facts that should be “presented", up front, to every
visitor that comes through our door.
The fact that there is a waiting list should not be looked at, or presented, like a deterrent to potentials members. It should be used to demonstrate how desirable Cooperative living is.
Our managers need to also remember that members should be treated in the same warm fashion, Cooperative members concerns are always legitimate enough to be heard with care and concern.
Too often our managers are bombarded with what they see as mundane complaints that they feel are not of real concerns. But for that member bringing the complaint , the fact (as they see
them) have justified their visit or call to the office.
These members should feel their concerns are listened to not just heard. The manager
may not be able to immediately resolve the issue, but being thoroughly heard may
satisfy the member in and of its self.
Often times, as people speak about their concerns, they are able to come up with resolutions themselves. Sometimes –NO ALWAYS- it is the manager’s position to be a good listener.
Our managers are our front lines. They set the "mood" for the complex as a whole. This is not an easy job. It demands patience, resolve` organization, people skills and professionalism. As Cooperatives it is important that we provide all the needed support, education and training for
our management staff to ensure that our "first impressions" are good and that they are lasting.
We should have them with "Hello", and that should just be the beginning of a wonderful relationship!