Property Managers: The Stubbed Toe Phenomenon Is Holding You Back

The First Date: Don’t pick your nose

Focusing on the Customer Experience Journey should start early, when first impressions are most vulnerable.



Think of your first interaction as a blind date. You look across the table and see that your date starts ferociously picking their nose. No qualms. No shame. Do you think there's going to be a second date? H-no! That first impression, once it's made, is etched in your mind.

It’s a little different once the relationship has been established.

If you've been married to somebody for years, and you start seeing that they kind of pick at their nose, you don't immediately divorce them right away, right? (But you definitely tell them that’s disgusting and that they should stop immediately!) It’s still gross, but your relationship has been built on many good experiences. So it’s easier to overlook a flaw.

It's the same thing with our relationships with our prospects and residents.

The first date can be likened to the first time our prospects interacts with us. If we pick our nose, so to speak, by dropping the ball on how we treat them, chances are they aren’t coming back. No second date for us.

But let’s say we nail the first date. The tour is good. They love the community. We’ve made a good impression. Now they are ready to make this a little more serious. Maybe Facebook official. They decide to put an application in.

Things are really getting serious now. They are feeling comfortable and are ready for the commitment. They sign a lease.

Now what? We’ve got them so we can let them see the good, the bad and the ugly? Nope.

This shouldn’t be a disappointing marriage where one party hid their crazy until it was too late to back out.

This is the time to reaffirm that they made the right decision.

The reality is a lot can go wrong over the course of this relationship.

That’s why it’s critical to have a real customer journey roadmap. Map out all of your interactions from prospect to renewal. How are those interactions going to play out? How are they going to meet your customer’s needs?

Now, for us, there's a lot of different things that we do on a daily, weekly, monthly basis. But, here are some of the ones that I want you to think about:

  • Prospect Phase

  • Signing the Lease

  • Move-In Day

  • Paying Rent

  • Submitting a Maintenance Request

  • Voicing a Concern

  • Handling an Issue

  • Resident Events

  • Renewal Notice

For each of these interactions, create a standard process of interactions. These are things we do every day, so dissect them, talk about them with your teams. What are you doing right? What could be better? What keeps popping up that is causing frustrations to your residents and to your team? Why are people leaving?

Does this sound overwhelming?

Pick one a month to master as a team. We created a freebie to help you with this process.

The Stubbed Toe Phenomenon: Why you have to master the basics

Let's say you're dead asleep in the middle of the night. Just picture yourself, it took you awhile to doze off, but now you've been asleep for hours. And, all of a sudden you feel that nagging, tingling, that you've got to go to the bathroom.


So, there in the dark you stumble, still half asleep to the bathroom, and on your way back, you hit your little pinky toe at the corner of your dresser.

You let out the loudest yelp, maybe some expletives that you're not very proud of, and immediately, all of your focus goes to that tiny little toe. And, you sit on your bed, you grab your little toe, you're rubbing it, because all you can think about is the pain in that little toe.

So, that's it, right? It's such a small thing, but right then and there, that stubbed toe is taking all of your focus.

Well, it’s the same thing with our resident interactions. A customer can already be in a really bad mood by the time they get to your community. Say it's hard to find parking, or your address is wrong on your website, or your hours are wrong on your Google listing. These are elements that should be easy, that clients, residents, prospects expect to be easy. But then they find them to be difficult, it's like that Stubbed Toe Phenomenon. Nothing can divert their attention from that. It's frustrating, and it's all they can think about, right?

So, what we're saying is, we've got to make sure that those things that can cause the Stubbed Toe Phenomenon, are handled and handled well. Better yet, they should be anticipated even before they arise. That's why it's so important to take a very focused approach to every single touchpoint, dissect it and master it.

Once we master the basics, then we add ease, speed and accuracy.


We encourage that you take one of these areas like Move-In Day, dissect it, build a process, put it in place, and then test it for 30 days. Encourage your team through your meetings to put this process into place, to look for ways to improve the process. Then, for 30 days, let that be the focus of perfecting that process as a team so that it becomes second nature. Once you've mastered that, we can add ease, speed and accuracy. These things just come much easier once we've created a seamless process.

Action Item: Add some cowbell to your interactions, make sure they run as smoothly as Beyoncé’s performance of Single Ladies, and look for ways to limit that Stubbed Toe feeling! Once you master that with the help of The Sprout Client Journey Guidebook, it’s time to close the sale…or shall we say, put a ring on it!

About the Author: Barbara Savona is the CEO of Sprout Marketing with 18 years of housing experience. Sprout Marketing offers an exclusive marketing platform for multifamily professionals. Whether you are struggling with outreach marketing, social media, resident retention, events or overall community engagement, Sprout Marketing has you covered. Learn more at