The Human Interaction. Where Has it Gone?

The Human Interaction. Where Has it Gone?

Episode 16 – JuvoHub Podcast

Host: Jonathan Saar from Market Me Social and Mark Howell from Howl Creative Concepts

Our Special Guest: Jamie Lee, Director of Sales and Training at Integral Property Management

Jamie Lee is a native of Atlanta, Ga, and has been in the multi-family property management industry for over thirty years. Marketing is fascinating but training is her passion. Jamie believes that passing on the knowledge that others have poured into her is the most rewarding aspect of her career.

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Show Highlights

Notes from Host:

Jamie Lee brings vitality to the topic of human interaction. In a world where more and more interactions are moving to virtual, Jamie provided some practical training tips and best practices to the table. Renting an apartment is one of the biggest decisions a consumer makes. Jamie, with her 30+ years of industry experience, highlights the reasons why human interaction is more important than ever.

Some questions we consider:

  • Why do you think the human interaction is missing today in the sale cycle?
  • Before Covid, what was your strongest or biggest strength that you believe your company possessed and how has it changed now?
  • How are you encouraging your sales associates to ensure that the human interaction is still available during the sales cycle?
  • If we’re not careful we could change the sales cycle for our industry completely even for future generations. How can we ensure that this won’t become like the banking industry?
  • What kind of measures do you put in place to ensure a great sales cycle interaction?

What one actionable tip could you share that has served you well as an educator?

Knowledge is power but never stop learning.

Jamie Lee, Director of Sales and Training at Integral Property Management

If you enjoyed this episode be sure to check out:

Jonathan Saar: Hello everyone, and welcome to episode 16 of the JuvoHub Podcast, the helping hand in property management and podcast for all of us. Whether we're in school or we've been in the industry for years, there's an opportunity to have some great guests bring to us their knowledge and their experience. And today, we have another fabulous guest who's going to talk to us about the human interaction, where has it gone? But before we get into that, let's welcome again, Mark Howell, from HOWL Creative Concepts is our co-host today. Mark, good to have you with us.

Mark Howell: Yes. Thank you. It's exciting to be here. This is a topic that I love talking about. So we're going to have a good conversation today.

Jonathan Saar: For sure. And our guest as well, Jamie Lee from Integral Property Management. Jamie, welcome to the show.

Jamie Lee: Thank you. I'm excited to be here.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah, we're so grateful to have you. And a very intriguing topic, the human interaction, where has it gone? So Mark, what's the show about? What are we going to be covering? And then we get to hear some thoughts from Jamie. I can't wait.

Mark Howell: Yeah, absolutely. So Jamie ... and listen, you and I can talk about this topic for hours. So we're going to try not to take everyone down a big rabbit hole with us. But I know I'm passionate about it, you're passionate about it. And so I want you to tell me a little bit about what you've done just in your organization or personally as an educator, a trainer in our industry. What are you finding about this human interaction? So look, we know we're in a pandemic right now and that certainly has changed how we do business. It has changed the entire sales cycle, but what I'm worried about or would love to talk about is, why should we be focusing more on the human interaction?

Mark Howell: I know I talk about it all the time with people, but I want to hear your perspective. So I have a couple of questions for you, Jamie Lee. First, why do you think that the human interaction is missing today and what is so different now with the sales cycle during a pandemic? So let's get started just right off the bat. What have you struggled with, with the sales cycle during this pandemic and the human interaction? Whether it be there or not be there.

Jamie Lee: Mark, I agree, this is a passion for both of us. And for years, we have just gone through our regular way of doing things. Which is, meeting the customer at the door, walking them through apartments, creating that connection with them. We used to call it, remember, building rapport. But actually it's so much more than that, it is making a connection from one human being to another. And that is what is now, during the pandemic, we are not meeting face-to-face anymore. We are not getting to hold each other's hands through this whole process. Everything is now done digitally and electronically and it just has removed the whole human element. And the steps that we have taken very specifically is to really amp up our websites and our virtual tours and stuff.

Jamie Lee: But the hard thing has been really keeping that connection and having our agents realize it's still just as important to reach out to that person, to walk them through the virtual tour together. Not to say, "Oh, go take a look at it at your convenience and call me back if you have any questions." That's not the way to lease apartments ever. And especially now during a pandemic when everybody needs to feel connected in some way.

Mark Howell: Yeah, it's true. It's funny. Back in my day, 20 something years ago, we always said that people will lease from people they like. And that never has changed. So how are you going to like me if I'm not in front of you? Take away this big mouth, this loud voice and my personality, then all you really have are the four walls, the brick, the mortar, the glass that's in the apartment. So I find it fascinating that during this time, we are ... We're going to talk in a minute about this slippery slope of where our sales cycle is really going today and even how it has changed the banking industry. So if you think about the banking industry ... I'm sorry I didn't say that the right way. The banking industry years ago, people would always go inside of the bank to do business.

Mark Howell: Well, now we don't need to do that anymore. We haven't had to do that in years. I can't even remember the last time I was actually in a bank. So one of my bigger fears, human element away and bring in these AIs, the artificial intelligence, we're teaching our consumers that they may not need us at all one day. But I would love to hear from you. So before COVID ... let's go back to the good old days. Before COVID, what was your biggest or best strength that you guys felt like you possessed at Integral?

Jamie Lee: I think it's our people. We are an affordable business model, so we've got all the layers of income. And our leasing teams, our office teams are always needing to connect on many different levels as far as seeing people and touching people and having them come in to the office. And that is been one of our strengths. I mean, just the ability, the flexibility of our leasing teams that are with the people. And, there.

Mark Howell: So what would you say has changed now? I mean, that is good news and bad news. The good news of that is, you can admittedly say, our people are what keep us profitable, right?

Jamie Lee: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mark Howell: That is what makes us a great place to live. But now with this human interaction being missing from the sales cycle, what has changed? How do you teach your employees to try to build back in that human interaction during a tour today? Tell me some of the techniques that you guys are doing.

Jamie Lee: Well, and you're exactly right. If we're not in some way face to face, it's just not ... I mean, you think about your home, the place that you dwell is your largest payment every single month. Car payments are not as much as rent, on and on. And you've got to keep that connection because we're not talking about buying something off Amazon that you can return if you don't like it. This is your home. So one of the things, when all this first shut down, just like everybody else in America, we got Zoom accounts for everybody. And I literally walked every associate, every office associate that we have through my home. Showing them how to ... I had my tablet and I did it on my phone sometime. And I would walk through and go, "Hi, I want you to take a look at your kitchen." And I'd be zooming them through my kitchen.

Jamie Lee: Then I would flip it around so that now it's back like selfie mode, where now we are looking face to face together and teaching them. Then they all had to come back to me on a Zoom and do the same thing to show me what they were looking at their living rooms, their patios, whatever, and then flip it around so that we're having face-to-face conversation. I think that was one of the biggest things, was just getting comfortable with the technology and moving it back and forth so that it is face to face, yet we're still seeing the same thing.

Mark Howell: Let me ask you while we're talking about that, because it's funny as I work with different property management companies and tried to teach many different associates the art of toggling back and forth with a camera or iPad to keep that human interaction. Bring it back so we're looking at your face and you're asking them a question. I found a lot of people would say to me, that makes me nervous. And I would laugh and I would say, what's the difference if you had them in front of you and they were looking at your face or over the phone and looking at your face. But it's funny, I was met with this sudden roadblock where people were almost intimidated by turning the phone around to show them their face. And I said, guys, your face is your face is your face. It's the same face. So how do you teach someone or how do you overcome that fear of, well, that makes me nervous?

Jamie Lee: I asked them, "How many selfies have you taken in the past six months?" And everybody goes, oh, well, 200. And I said, "It's no different." The toggling back and forth is just like taking a selfie. Only when you reverse it, now you're looking face to face with the person instead of just looking at yourself. And once you put it on that level, how many selfies have you taken, people go, oh, okay, wait, I get it now. And everybody's hungry. We want to see each other. And that's what I kept enforcing over and over and over. Reinforce is, people still want to have that connection. A lot of people are literally on lockdown and they want to see another face and they want to see that face more than one time.

Mark Howell: Yeah. That's very important. Great to bring up too, because this whole topic, the human interaction and why is it missing, it's important that we as sales associates remember that many people that are out looking for a home in these very unstable times, and let's face it, just unrest world we live in, they're dealing with something emotional too. And like you said at the beginning, their home is one of the biggest purchases that they're going to make. It's also one of the most stressful things to ever have to go through. I think they say, a death, a marriage or a divorce, buying a new home or moving, and then a new employment or something like that, are some of the most stressful things that a human can go through.

Mark Howell: And now we're in this world where we have taken that interaction, that kindness, that smile, that caring tone out of the equation. And we're just handing people keys and saying, hey, go show yourself an apartment, your new home. It's sad, because I think for me that's how I build a relationship with people. Is I really truly get to know them and I get to know what's important in their life. But are you guys ... how are you taking tours right now? Is everything back to business as normal? Are you offering all three different live tours or walk-ins, or is it appointments, is it virtual? And are more people wanting virtual versus live or the opposite?

Jamie Lee: All good questions. Self guided tours were great for some people and we made the decision not to do self guided tours and it's worked for us. Yes on the virtual tours on our websites. We have not opened our offices back up for people just to roll in without appointments. And we are leaving our space during the office hours for residents that need to come in, because we're maintaining the social distancing. We can only let so many people in at one time and still maintain that type of distancing. So the front doors are not just thrown open, it is absolutely by appointment. And we are doing all of our leasing, our touring from our tours, from our virtual tours. And I got to tell you, Dawn Barr did our Matterport videos for us. She is amazing. And I want to offer that out there as a resource to anybody that's listening, her Matterport videos ... You're welcome to contact me if you want more, but she is a member of the Atlanta Apartment Association now. And her work is incredible, and very reasonably priced too. Very.

Mark Howell: Explain that a little bit more to me, Dawn Barr does, is this the videos of all of the apartments and that are very detailed. So if you're looking for someone to help you in this time, and let's face it, a lot of people that I've talked to recently say, oh, we're on the tail end of where we were in March. But I don't think so. As we see, I think we could be facing with going back to more of the virtual aspect of touring. And we have no idea what the next few months will bring. So I do know that what has happened has certainly changed the way some people will want to do business with us, right?

Jamie Lee: Mm-hmm (affirmative).

Mark Howell: So if we're not offering our prospect the ability to choose which tour would be most effective for you. A live appointment to come in with me or a virtual. And what I mean by virtual is, either looking at a prerecorded video or me hosting a self guided tour with my phone and you stay where you are and all that kind of stuff. So I think that's great that she does that for our industry.

Jamie Lee: I want to break that down a little bit because when I started looking for these, Matterport is just a type of the camera that's used. That's taking this sweeping shot and then you move it eight feet and then it takes another sweeping shot. And then when it's all linked together, it makes the tour. A lot of these, you have to run your finger along the floor. I call it chasing mice. And that's how you move through the apartment, is by moving your finger along a screen. Well, I get stuck on the roof from the ceiling and I can't ever get back down to the ground when I do those. So the thing about Dawn's videos that are so amazing, they're Matterport, but when it starts, you're looking at the doll house view, which is like looking down, then it automatically takes you into the front door and starts moving you through a video.

Jamie Lee: You can stop it if you want to, and then move it with your finger like on the mouse. But if you just let it keep going, it's literally walking you through the apartment home, and that's amazing. You can stop it, and then it's got a measurement tool. So if you're standing in the middle of the room where you stop it, you can put the ruler up to the left, put the ruler up to the right, and it'll tell you the dimensions of the room, which is also an amazing tool to have. And then you can-

Mark Howell: I'm so glad you did bring that up. That's so incredible because when I think about a virtual tour, the one thing that is missing from the prospect's perspective is, so they can see and they can hear, but they can't feel. They can't feel the space of the room. And that is a huge obstacle, in my opinion, is that if I have a camera and I'm showing you this vacant apartment and I'm trying to explain to you how spacious it is and you really can't see that very well. So that tool would be very beneficial, especially when the salespeople don't know the dimensions of the room itself.

Jamie Lee: Right. That's funny, because wasn't that always the thing? Somebody would go, "How big is the room?" And I'd go, "Well, it's big enough to fit a king-size bed."

Mark Howell: Yeah, that's hilarious. I do catch people in that a lot when I try to shop a lot of the people that I work for and when I am calling their properties and I say, "Hey, can you slow down a little bit and go back into the main bedroom closet. How big is that?" And it stumps them. It's funny that you are taking these virtual tours, not honestly 100% percent prepared for all of the obstacles that you might encounter. But interesting. I love that Dawn Barr does that, so great. What is your advice to anybody in this industry sales related as far as virtual touring? What do you say to somebody? Let's say that there's a new generation of sales people coming up and I have some people that don't know how fun this business was like you and I do.

Mark Howell: That they just started in the middle of this pandemic, and so what they're learning is so crazy to me. I'm like, oh, no, no, that's not how we used to do things, or I promise you, it's a lot more fun than that. But what would our advice be to some new generation that doesn't really understand how it used to be? How do we keep them engaged with the human interaction?

Jamie Lee: I think it's important for everybody to leverage technology. I mean, we absolutely must do that. But I think it's also important to constantly be referring to these new associates back to the basics, back to the basics. You don't know what the basics are yet. And then go back to the greeting. I mean, how you greet someone is critical. Standing up, smiling. I mean, how many times have we said those words? Stand up, smile. It's a universal sign of respect to stand up.

Mark Howell: For sure.

Jamie Lee: And to do those type things. And when you're on a computer, you can't stand up. You can't show that respect. So we have to find new ways to do that. But we will not always be in the middle of a pandemic. And I tell these new associates, we're still going to do business the old school way once we're able to. And I teach them the basics of standing up, the greeting, building rapport, polite. What's wrong with polite, having good manners? You can still communicate good manners and being polite and being kind, even when it's virtual, even if you're just on the phone with them.

Mark Howell: I think that does make all the difference in the world, if that's the only human interaction that we have to work right now. What's that old saying, your first impression, you never get another chance to make another first impression or something like that. And it's the same thing. That first impression, whether it be virtual, over the phone, they're going to make a decision to either want to do business with you or not. And I always say this, let's face it, the consumer today is much more savvy than they ever have been. So if your phone is ringing, they've already vetted you out. They've already gone online and looked at what you had. They know what your prices are. All you have to do is exactly what you just said and put a smile on your face and be as accommodating and as polite as you can.

Mark Howell: So I think it's funny to me when I hear or listen to calls and people don't have ... you can tell when someone has a good human interaction in their tone, right? And I'm like, guys, if your phone is ringing, then you already have something that they want. They've already done all of their research. It's not like back in our day where we had to really sell them over the phone. These consumers today are so savvy, so stinking savvy. But well, I have loved our conversation and just your advice and everything that we've talked about. Thank you so much for being a part of the show.

Jamie Lee: It's been my pleasure.

Jonathan Saar: A couple of things that struck me too, Jamie, just to Mark's point of, I was listening to this other show and the generations that we have coming in that are going to be renting apartments. And a few years ago it used to be, reviews was the big deal and you need to have reviews and so on. And it seems like the touch points continue to grow as far as people making consumer-based decisions. So huge hat tip to you and your team to taking all those barriers out of the way and making the experience as beautiful and wonderful as possible. Because they're more used to it, I think, now than some of those older ones. It's still a little bit challenging to look past that camera and believe that people are on the other side of it and keep that level of human interaction going in and imagine somebody smiling on the other end.

Jonathan Saar: I heard one time too, before, you just got to keep that visual in mind. Yeah, great interview. Man, I'm alive, so important. So important. Just because you've got this device in your hand ... I love the iPad thing, walking around with that doesn't mean we lose the relationship that we can build and connect with people. They're renting a home. This is their home.

Mark Howell: That's right.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah.

Mark Howell: That's right.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. Make it-

Jamie Lee: Absolutely.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. Got to make that connection. So yeah, beautiful. And nice having you on the show today. What we love to do, Mark and I, is to provide an actionable tip. So you as an educator, and I think you said before the show, how many years you've been in the industry now? 30 ... what did you tell us?

Jamie Lee: 36 years. And I started when I was minus 10 years old.

Jonathan Saar: Minus 10, of course you did. Yeah, exactly.

Jamie Lee: I hate to say 36 years because then automatically people go, my God, how old is she?

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. But it's okay.

Mark Howell: Old enough to tell you what to do.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah.

Jamie Lee: That's right. Old enough to teach you.

Jonathan Saar: You started leasing apartments pre-birth, that's fine. Mom was good.

Jamie Lee: Yes.

Jonathan Saar: Taught you how to do it.

Mark Howell: That's right.

Jonathan Saar: So you've been in the industry for a long time and I think of all of the different people that listen to this show in school, wanting to get into the industry and even for all of us. So as an educator, any quotable quote, tip that you like to share with your training classes or you feel would be appropriate to share with our audience today?

Jamie Lee: Absolutely. I don't think I have done a live training in the past 25 years that I did not say these words pretty much at the end, "Knowledge is power, so never quit learning. Always keep learning more and more and more, keep your knowledge level up." And I think it's never more important than it is now to just keep learning.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah.

Mark Howell: I love that.

Jonathan Saar: Yeah. I think we try to aspire to that every single day, just keep at it. There's just ... and especially with what you were talking about with technology. And there's barriers to trying to bridge that with what we're used to doing. And now we're trying to just be open to it, have that open mind. So beautiful, beautiful takeaway. We appreciate you sharing that. So where can people connect with you? Is it okay to connect with-

Jamie Lee: Oh yeah. Should I give out my personal cell phone or should I just say LinkedIn and Facebook?

Jonathan Saar: It's up to you. You might get all kinds of spam.

Jamie Lee: Yeah, you never know. But yeah, I think I'm pretty easily found on Facebook, LinkedIn. And Jonathan, if they need to, they can get in touch with you and you can find me.

Mark Howell: Or me, I know how to get you too girl.

Jonathan Saar: That's right.

Jamie Lee: That's right.

Mark Howell: Lead them to the path.

Jonathan Saar: Very good.

Jamie Lee: Speed text. You're on speed text.

Mark Howell: Right.

Jonathan Saar: Well, I mean, for everyone listening, make sure you connect with Jamie. Mark and I have known her for quite a few years and well-respected in the industry, a good friend of ours and we've appreciated her hard work as an educator. And so we're so, so, so grateful to have her on the show today. And don't forget, check out Mark's website, howlcreativeconcepts.com. Another fantastic industry trainer who's been touring the area and ... You say it Mark. I'm totally losing my words.

Jamie Lee: I'll say it. I want to say it.

Mark Howell: Okay Jamie, you say it.

Jamie Lee: He's been sharing the wealth of his knowledge with everybody that'll listen, because that is one smart cookie.

Jonathan Saar: There you go.

Mark Howell: Aww, thank you. I couldn't say it better myself.

Jonathan Saar: To find out more information, go to howlcreativeconcepts.com. Yeah, absolutely. So thank you so much. My name is Jonathan Saar, this is episode 16, the human interaction, where has it gone? And you can learn more about our company at marketmesocial.co, but it has been a genuine pleasure to have Jamie Lee here as our guest today. And we look forward to having you on a future episode and thank you Mark as a co-host, wonderful job, beautiful discussion. We'll see everybody next time for episode 17, take care everyone.

Mark Howell: Bye-bye.

Jamie Lee: Bye.

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