Creating a game show environment
ShoreTel delivers on its promise
The Manhattan Rental Market
“Our entire business approach is centered on supporting our clients from start to finish–from the initial consultation through lease or purchase contract to move-in. We believe in providing every service necessary to make a new home in Manhattan a reality for you.”
In America’s most densely populated city, the competition for apartments is always fierce. The vacancy rate for rentals hovers around 1%. The application process in New York City is very thorough and not typical of other cities. Landlords will consider many applicants and choose the best documented, financially qualified person.
Finding the right apartment in Manhattan can be a stressful, time-consuming process. That’s why many renters turn to an experienced real estate broker who can provide access to the most apartments, some even before they are vacant and advertised.
A broker’s reputation can help get an applicant selected, so it is critical that the broker maintain and develop that reputation by finding and placing the best tenants. This requires a solid commitment to outstanding customer service, a well-developed and measured marketing plan and careful allocation of resources.
Since 1984, Manhattan Apartments, Inc, has helped their clients rent, buy, and sell tens of thousands of apartments, co-ops, and condominiums, gradually transforming them into one of the largest and most active real estate companies in New York City. Their management team brings more than half a century’s experience into staff training and supervision. More than 150 licensed and highly trained agents provide customers with everything they need to know to find the right apartment.
With more than two decades of experience, they have researched and established relationships with landlords and management companies in thousands of rental buildings, co-ops, and condominiums throughout New York City.
In 2008, Manhattan Apartments consolidated four offices into one central location. The phones had to be addressed, of course, but the old system was generally working, so the initial plan was to simply move the PBX.
“We already had a PBX system in-house that I just made upgrades to in preparation for the move. I had upgraded it so that it could handle remote IP telephones. I was pretty happy with that system.”
“Hey, I’m not going to buy your phone system.”
That’s the first thing that the ShoreTel sales rep heard from Jonas Single, Director of Property infrastructure with Manhattan Apartments. It turned out that Jonas had some really good reasons for sticking with the current system. Jonas was an expert with the PBX. He had been to the vendor’s training school. He knew how to program it, knew how to trouble shoot it and didn’t need the vendor for technical support.
Additionally, their needs were, at least at first glance, fairly straightforward. They need the basic functions like; call waiting, caller ID, direct outward caller ID, voicemail and call distribution. No problem for most any system.
But, in preparation for the move Jonas was asked, as a personal favor, to take a look at ShoreTel. He reluctantly agreed after reminding everyone that he was, “philosophically opposed” to a cloud solution.
Creating a Game Show Environment
Meanwhile, Jonas had a big idea. Incoming calls from potential buyers and renters are like gold for Manhattan Apartments. Lots of marketing dollars are spent to generate those calls, so it is critical to maximize the revenue potential of each one. One approach would be to give preference to your most productive agents. Another might be to distribute calls evenly so that every agent had the potential to become more productive. Jonas wanted to do both and more.
His vision was to create a game show environment, where at unpredictable intervals all of the phones in the office, almost 100 would ring at once. This would encourage agents to be at their desks and available to be the first to grab the calls. For agents working on commission, the shortest path between them and a financial reward is an incoming phone call. At the same time, it was important that Manhattan Apartments’ sizeable monthly advertising spend be used wisely, so Jonas wanted to ensure that the best producers had the best statistical chance of getting an incoming call. Most phone systems, including the in house PBX are just not designed for this level of flexibility. Jonas found some work arounds, but not a real fit until he examined ShoreTel Sky.
“Most all of the other phone companies I was dealing with had a hard time understanding what I was talking about. We didn’t want it to be a system where people had to log in and get the next phone call. We were looking for a game show-type environment where the phone would ring and the first person to pick it up would get it. So there is a random effect involved in it, but statistically, the top producers have a greater chance of getting a phone call.”
The benefits begin to pile up
Despite his initial reluctance, Jonas began to come around as he learned more about how the ShoreTel Sky solution could meet the unique challenges of the real estate brokerage business.
ShoreTel’s earnest interest in getting Manhattan’s business and their track record of reliability eventually won the entire team over. In addition to creating the unique call distribution system envisioned by Jonas, ShoreTel Skybrought more to the table:
- Given the large advertising budget required to generate incoming calls, missed calls are unacceptable. ShoreTel Sky’s back up and failover technologies ensure that every call is answered even if phone lines are cut or if the office becomes inaccessible.
“We want the phone calls to go somewhere, and so I have now the hosted solution with all these different switches, in multiple locations, we have ways that we could always get that phone call to be productive, and recreating that scenario with my own PBX was next to impossible.”
- Understanding which marketing campaigns are driving the most revenue is critical. With ShoreTel Skys campaign manager, Manhattan Apartments can tell every day which advertising spend is working, and which is not.
- The flexibility with which incoming calls to agents are routed extends to other business calls as well. Each person can identify which calls are critical and should ring every phone possible (desk, cell and home) and which calls are likely to be less important and can go directly to voicemail. Productivity has increased across the board.
Summary of the ShoreTel Sky/Manhattan Apartments Fit
Despite the initial reluctance to a hosted solution, the right choice for Manhattan Apartments became clear. With its ability to direct calls in the unique manner desired by Manhattan, outstanding customer service and unbeatable reliability, the ShoreTel Sky solution stood above the rest and has delivered on its initial promise.
“Working with their tech department is like working with the Apple Genius bar. Casual, cool people who sit down, get involved and work with me until we find a solution.”