Ex Vs. UPS: Service Wins

I'm going to air a dirty little secret here.  My name is Heather and I am a postage procrastinator.


By my front door, I have what I like to call "Heather's guilt pile."  You see, I'm very good about remembering people when I see items I think they "have to have," but I'm not so good at the dispersement of said items.  So the boxes stack by my door.  And they stack and they stack and I feel more and more guilty every time I walk by them because lord knows I don't get off work in time to go to the post office, and I know that, once again, this week, they aren't going to get mailed.  The road to hell for most people is paved with good intentions.  Mine is paved with these boxes. 

I had a box there of Chuckar  Cherries for my grandmother in Florida. I actually did send it once, but then it came back because I'm dyslexic and transposed the Zip Code.  I put it on the pile and I remember thinking, "Okay, I'll just take this back to UPS tomorrow." That was two months ago.  Alan decided he was going to "help" me get that package mailed and so he put it in my car.  It then sat in the back seat of my car for the next month.

Well, yesterday, I decided it was time to make time to mail that package.  I was out doing site visits, so I told myself that I would send it when I got back to Issaquah at the end of the day.  Unexpectedly, I did not arrive back in Issaquah until about 7:30, but as soon as I did, I went right over to the UPS store.  I have been loyal to UPS ever since two years ago when FedEx ticked me off.  I actually even liked the UPS guy who would deliver stuff to our community better than I liked the FedEx guy.  Dave never gave me attitude, and he never failed to put the stickers on the door.  The driver for FedEx was surly and argumentative.  Also, the UPS driver never came in without a smile.  ALWAYS!  It made me pretty darned brand loyal. 

Until last night.  It was only 7:30, the time when most busy professionals who have to put in extra hours in a rough economy finally get home, but the lights were off, the door was locked and the little security gates were down.  (They have to secure the packing peanuts.  They're a controlled substance.)  They closed at 6pm. 

Here, I had made the supreme effort of remembering to actually send out a package, and they weren't even open past 6pm.  Now, I know the world doesn't always run on my schedule, much as I would like it to, but I have to admit, this really upset me.  I couldn't help but think that this move had to be costing them customers, which is the one thing that you can't afford to lose in this economy.

Across the street, a siren song of the glimmering lights of FedEx/Kinko's beckoned me to them.  I didn't want to go, but I wanted that box of dried cherries out of my car and off my conscience.  They were open until 10pm.  The cashier was pleasant and very helpful.  He was even friendly!  I don't know if they cost a little more or not, but at that point in time, I didn't really care.  I was getting the service I needed, WHEN I needed it.  I decided that FexEX and I could be friends again, on a probationary basis for now.

How late is your leasing office open?  Most of us are only open each day until 6pm.  It's not a new idea, but it is one that still has a lot of merit.  Why not keep your office open until 7:30 or 8 for one or two nights a week?  Your residents don't want to wait until Saturday to come in and see you if they're upset.  They want to see you now.  At least give them a chance to get home from work before you shut the door to them.

Maybe even consider having your manager stay late one night with the staff.  If on Wednesdays, Manny the Manager is in the office until 7:30, I'll bet you that Manny will get more of a chance to connect with residents he would have otherwise usually missed.  When we connect, we retain. 

I'm not asking you to set the world on fire.  Try it for one quarter this year.  Give it a shot this summer and see how your resident retention numbers look.  If there's no correlation, it might not be for you.  After all, not everything works at every community.  But I'll bet you that you'll see a decrease in the number of summer move outs.  All for something as simple as changing your hours one day from 9-6 to 10:30-7:30.  And that extra hour and a half in the morning will give you plenty to time to go to the UPS store and get your packages sent out when they ARE open.

Treasures From Travels - Site Visit Coolness for May

"You will hear good news today."