Liar, Liar

In fifth grade I failed a math test. I was the girl who got straight A’s, never talked and spent the first day of summer vacation helping the librarian organize her book shelves, so for me, this minor hiccup felt like an absolute disaster.
 
I had to get my parents to sign the test, but I was too afraid to show it to them so I forged my mom’s signature. I thought I had done a convincing job—even had the foresight to use an erasable pen so that I could go back and re-commit fraud if my first attempt wasn’t on point—but apparently the ink smudges and faint outline of five different styles of the letter ‘K’ gave me away.
 
“Lauren,” Ms. Dezes whispered, walking up to my desk the next day, “I need to see you after class.”
 
“It’s a real signature!” I blurted out—because clearly that’s how someone who’s telling the truth would respond.
 
When class was over, I confessed and Ms. Dezes wrote a note home to my parents explaining the situation. Instead of giving it to them, I carefully removed the stapled note, had my parents sign the original test, stapled the note back on and forged an entire letter from my mother to the teacher explaining that she had spoken to me about such a serious offense. With all this lying, my stretch pants were undoubtedly on fire.
 
I’m sure my note was even more obviously forged than the signature, but for some reason Ms. Dezes accepted it. Perhaps she assumed that any sweet 10-year-old who would go to such lengths to hide a bad grade must have parents who would have beaten her with a slotted serving spoon. (In reality, they weren’t even mad.)
 
Although I escaped further punishment, I lost Ms. Dezes’ trust. That good rapport we had established was suddenly gone. And for the rest of the year, that seemed a whole lot worse than failing.
 
Without trust, you have nothing—especially when you’re in the apartment industry. Today’s residents are smarter, more tech-savvy and more sophisticated, but they’re also more cautious, diligent and anxious when it comes to renting an apartment, said multifamily housing consultant Lisa Trosien. If you’re lying or shady, they’re going to see right through it.
 
During the recent Multifamily Insiders webinar, “Renters Have Changed—Don’t Get Left Behind,” Trosien said prospective residents are looking for how things are sold, not what is sold. They’re looking for someone they can trust—and that trust must be established immediately.
 
According to an April 2012 survey by clickfox.com, customer loyalty is most often formed as a result of first impressions. To gain a prospective resident’s trust—and business—the first time you meet them, Trosien said leasing professionals should begin with a “who you are” story.
 
“People don’t remember facts and figures but they remember how they feel—and they remember personal stories,” Trosien said. “This doesn’t mean you should tell your entire life story, but try to connect with them in a sentence or two. Tell them how long you’ve been in this industry and why you love it. You’ll gain their trust.”
 
Do not tell them you cheated on a math test and lied repeatedly to your teacher and parents about it.
 
For more on gaining prospective residents’ trust, check out Marketing Insider in the July issue of units, which mails July 10.