Apartment shops with Ellis - tips and tricks?

I just signed up with Ellis. It's a lot of information and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. Anybody have experience with Ellis and have any tips or tricks for me?
Thanks

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My first report for them probably took me 1.5 hours (give or take, mostly likely longer LOL). I now have them down to about 45 min. Once you do a few, it gets easier. Be sure to read the online form before starting your shop. They will also ask you questions pertaining to the leasing office furniture and what the agent was wearing. I jot those down right after the shop so I don't forget smiling smiley
I love Ellis!

Make sure to update the website (the envelope, I think) with your daily status in trying to reach the target.

The reports ask for a lot of repetitive information. Don't get frustrated.

They are very pleasant to work with, just don't lose patience.

"There's so much trouble in this world; surrounded by miracles" - Citizen Cope
@ShopperSavvy wrote:

I just signed up with Ellis. It's a lot of information and I'm feeling a bit overwhelmed. Anybody have experience with Ellis and have any tips or tricks for me?
Thanks

Unless you are a shopper who can do one shop run home and input the report on the computer, don't bother with them. If you're the typical shopper who is away from home and inputting forms remotely on portable devices, it's almost impossible.

They only accept uploads in certain formats. If you do screenshots for the follow-ups and they're in .PNG, they won't upload. If you do recordings and they're not in the proper format they won't upload either. If you want to do a video shop, you have to watch a video on how to unpack a box of video equipment before you can even apply. By that time the job is gone.

The scheduler will write you daily and demand a reply or they will just rip the job away no matter how much work you've done on it. You ask to speak to a supervisor - you get ignored. You ask if they you can get a phone number to call the supervisor -you get ignored.

You think when you see their fees and you think you'll spend an hour, hour and a half on the on-site visit. An hour, maybe an hour and a half on the report. And maybe all tolled an hour reaching a Target. Add the time up and divided into the fee and you think you're making a decent hourly wage. When you do reach Target, you have to be able to be at the site within a couple hours so your schedule has to be open. You can't have anything scheduled before because if it runs over and you may miss the appointment. Some of the reports don't allow you to actually make an appointment, you have to reach the Target and then be there in a couple hours.

Once you add in the daily emails, that have to be replied to on the website (before you can start to work on the report), you end up making so little that it's just not worth it. It's a lesson we all have to learn from experience. Unless it is heavily, and I repeat HEAVILY bonused, don't bother.
1) Be ready to write down lots of details about your observations. I have a notepad in my car and after each shop, I write down a description of the leasing office, agent, signs and amenities. Review the report and either have it saved to your phone or print it out so you get those details while they are fresh in your mind.

2) Using an audio recording app helps as well. I record almost all of my apartment shops. So much easier that trying to remember the exact greeting or what questions they asked me.

3) Review the community's website and look at what they show as available. I.e, if they don't have any two-bedrooms available, but they have six one-bedrooms, ask about a one-bedroom.

4) Look at what they offer in their apartments. If none of their apartments have balconies, don't say you need a balcony.

5) Know the price range for the size apartments and when they ask what your budget is, go a couple hundred over their listed price.

6) Have three objections ready to use before you arrive. Make them something minor that you can work around. For example: I really preferred darker cabinets, or, I would rather have two-sinks in the master bathroom. The point of the objection is to see how the agent responds, don't make it a deal breaker or demand something they wouldn't be able to do.

7) Use a real phone number with voicemail for the follow-up. I use a gmail email address attached to a Google Voice number. When I get a voicemail, I also get an email with the transcription. Copy, paste, done. I don't know what this screenshot nonsense is about.

8) Reaching your target may take a while. Especially if the shop has been bonused. It may be better to start with some shops that say "ANYONE" if you have some available. One less thing to worry about.

9) If you have a target and you cannot reach them, update EPMS using the envelope icon to the left of the job in your log.

10) if you have any problems or need a deadline extension, use the envelope icon to let them know. I have worked with over a dozen different EPMS schedulers, and they are all great.

After you've done a few, you'll find they're pretty easy.
Hi ShopperSavvy, Don't listen to the naysayers. This is a great company to work with. Once you do five shops, you'll get the hang of the reports so don't be deterred by the length or repetition. Do read the specifications carefully. Watch for restrictions such as only shop M-F, do not shop after 4:00 PM, or target is off on Tuesdays. I use Dropbox to upload videos and have had no issues. Don't hesitate to ask if the address you have works on GPS, particularly if it is a new development. If your location is in a highly congested downtown area, ask where to park as many offer complimentary garage parking which will save you time and aggravation. --Susan
I have had a great experience with Ellis. If you are willing to write a few narratives, they are fantastic.

* Do they have long reports?
Yes, but once you have done a few they are not bad.

* Do they expect you to communicate as your shops approach a deadline? Yes. They respond quickly to your questions and want to know if you are on track with your reports. They are also very accommodating about date extensions when you are having difficulties.

* Do they pay well? Yes. Depending on where you live, their shop payments start anywhere from $30 to $45 for a non-recorded shop. If the shops don't get snatched up, they put bonus money on them. If you have a good record with them, they will add a bonus to a shop if you ask. They pay like clockwork on the 22nd of each month for shops completed the 8th of the previous month through the 7th of that month. So, you get your payment two to six weeks after you complete the shop.

* Time spent per shop: There is a huge amount of variation. I have done about 200 shops for Ellis. Sometimes a target answers on the first call. Sometimes, I have made over 20 over a period of two weeks. Each failed call takes about a minute. Successful calls can take three minutes or up to 20. On site visits can be as short as five minutes or last over an hour. On average, it takes me about four calls to reach a target, six minutes on the phone, 25 minutes on site and 45 minutes to write a proper report. That's a total of 80 minutes, on average, per shop.

* Multiple shops in a day: I have done six in a single day, but I likely won't do that again. I'll do five. Audio recordings and pictures are the key.

* Reserving time in the afternoon: You are expected to TRY to visit the same day. It is not mandatory. when I make my first call, I make sure that I could visit that day. However, if I don't reach the target, I do not hold the spot open. EPMS totally understands that you cannot block out an entire day (much less a week!) for a $35 shop. When I eventually do reach the target, I schedule for the soonest possible time that works for both of us.

* I have never had problems uploading files through their website, with the exception of video files - for which they prefer Dropbox, anyhow. They are fine with the .AVI files my camera produces.

* Video Training: Yes, before you do your first video shop with them, they demand that you go through their training and submit a sample video. I did it once and now don't even need to think about it.

The work Ellis offers is not for everyone. If you cannot write reasonably well or type fairly quickly, you will go nuts. However, if you are a good typist and and quickly put together descriptive coherent sentences, you can do very well.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
I’ve enjoyed my Ellis shops so far. The length and requirements of the survey depend on which apartment company you’re shopping, I think. Their team is very responsive, and they’ve always cut me slack on the due date if I needed it.
Targeted shops are not worth it unless highly bonused.

Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Yes, I stole Hoju's tagline.)
@iShop123 wrote:

Targeted shops are not worth it unless highly bonused.
Yes!! I hate trying to get a particular target, especially since you're not allowed to just hang up if the target doesn't answer. I'm running out of excuses for ending the conversation...
@chrisg0619 wrote:

@iShop123 wrote:

Targeted shops are not worth it unless highly bonused.
Yes!! I hate trying to get a particular target, especially since you're not allowed to just hang up if the target doesn't answer. I'm running out of excuses for ending the conversation...

Here's a few I have used:
1. What are your cross streets?
2. Are your kitchens stoves gas or electric?
3. Do the apartments have laundry hookups?
4. What is the nearest elementary and middle school?
5. Do you allow pets?
6. Do your apartments have fireplaces?
7. Do you have Apartments without carpeting?
8. Do you have a pool?
9. Is there a supermarket within walking distance?
10. Do you have apartments with central air and heat?

I hope it helps.
I try to make sure that I have questions that will get me off the phone real quickly....
1. When calling an community well north of the city, "I'm looking for a place south of the city. Is that you?"
2. When calling a more expensive community, "Do you offer subsidized housing?"
3. When calling a senior living center, "I'm looking for a new place for my self and four kids."
4. When calling a community I know to only have smaller apartments, "What do you have for four bedroom apartments?"
5. When calling for a target named "Rick," "Hi, is Sandra available?
6. "I am looking for a place walking distance from <name a really well-known landmark that is nowhere near the location.>

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
Virtually everything you wrote is wrong.

Let's start with the time, especially the time on site. Out of hundreds and hundreds of apartment shops, I have spent over an hour on two or three. In every case they were walk ins on long video routes. No targets, but no appointments and returning later was not an option. My average is right around 30 minutes. I can't imagine how many phone calls you are making for it to take an hour to reach the target. Ellis requests shoppers make 3 to 5 calls a day. Five calls isn't even ten minutes. To reduce wasted time there is a simple trick. I try on my on to reach the target for a couple of days. I then have someone else, preferably of a different gender, call to ask for the target.

Ellis will absolutely allow you to make an appointment with a target. I rarely make contact and visit the same day. The only requirement if the appointment is another day is to call that morning to verify the target is there. I frequently schedule them into other routes and don't hesitate to schedule shops before and after.

I don't understand why you think the report needs to be entered immediately. I think the website has been changed from 24 hours to 12, but if my visit is late in the day the report gets entered the following day.

As a video shopper with my own equipment, I don't know anything about the process of watching a video because it is based on having them loan the equipment.

Most MSCs only accept uploads in specific formats. The vast majority require JPG while some also allow PDF. I have never had to submit a screen shot to Ellis for the follow up, but when I do create one I have the option to save it different formats.

@tstewart3 wrote:

Unless you are a shopper who can do one shop run home and input the report on the computer, don't bother with them. If you're the typical shopper who is away from home and inputting forms remotely on portable devices, it's almost impossible.

They only accept uploads in certain formats. If you do screenshots for the follow-ups and they're in .PNG, they won't upload. If you do recordings and they're not in the proper format they won't upload either. If you want to do a video shop, you have to watch a video on how to unpack a box of video equipment before you can even apply. By that time the job is gone.

You think when you see their fees and you think you'll spend an hour, hour and a half on the on-site visit. An hour, maybe an hour and a half on the report. And maybe all tolled an hour reaching a Target. Add the time up and divided into the fee and you think you're making a decent hourly wage. When you do reach Target, you have to be able to be at the site within a couple hours so your schedule has to be open. You can't have anything scheduled before because if it runs over and you may miss the appointment. Some of the reports don't allow you to actually make an appointment, you have to reach the Target and then be there in a couple hours.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
In writing the report for EPMS, I would recommend writing a very detailed Executive Summary statement. Due to how redundant this MSC's reports are, I would use the same Executive Summary statement to answer questions later in the report, such as discovery, tour presentation, closing, etc. Also, if you stay consistent to the Executive Summary, then the editor is less likely to kick the report back due to a contradiction.
@2stepps wrote:

Is your refrigerator running? Well, go catch it.
Do you have Prince Albert in a can?

Seriously, nobody cares that you're offended.

(Yes, I stole Hoju's tagline.)
And like LisaSTL said, an hour and a half on-site? That is unbelievably rare. Out of the 50 or so video apartments that I've done for EPMS, I may have had 2-3 go around 45-50 minutes due to them being very high-end units ($3,000-$4,000 per month) where the agent would spend a long time with you going over the amenities, unit feature & benefits, etc. Yes, the report can be tedious, even for video. Realistically expect an hour.

When it comes to the deadline, I do have to say that the schedulers are pretty reasonable. If I'm on a route and finish an EPMS shop late, I'll send a message through the website to the scheduler that the shop is done, yet I'll need time to enter the report. Usually, I'll get a day, possibly two. It all depends. For those route shoppers, EPMS is also really good filler work if you don't have anything else going on. I picked up 9 non-targeted shops this month that were sitting in areas that I would normally go through, so I took them. I worked fast in getting the reports submitted, since you can only accept a maximum of 4 at a time.

Either which way, not a bad way to earn an extra $450 for the month with EPMS.
FYI: You can only self-assign four at a time with EPMS... However, if you also sign up as a "back up" for shops, you can add those to a total. Moreover, you can also ask schedulers to assign you to more. I've had as many as a dozen going at a time...

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
Are the reports for the video shop similar to regular shops? I have done regular shops, but am a little hesitant to do video because I do not want to spend a lot of time reviewing the video to make sure my written reports are in sync with the video.
The video reports are exactly the same. I generally run the video in the background while filling out the report. I also provide less narrative than for a written shop.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
It varies - and you often don't know until you are previewing the report form. For Ellis, specifically, I have had video shops with a written report as long as the regular reports and reports that were nothing more than a short invoice.

Hard work builds character and homework is good for your soul.
Over the years I have occasionally heard stories of the no report Ellis video shops. Apparently they are as elusive as unicorns.

Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you. It's not pie.
"I prefer someone who burns the flag and then wraps themselves up in the Constitution over someone who burns the Constitution and then wraps themselves up in the flag." -Molly Ivins
Never try to teach a pig to sing. It's a waste of your time and it really annoys the pig.
@MFJohnston wrote:

I try to make sure that I have questions that will get me off the phone real quickly....
1. When calling an community well north of the city, "I'm looking for a place south of the city. Is that you?"
2. When calling a more expensive community, "Do you offer subsidized housing?"
3. When calling a senior living center, "I'm looking for a new place for my self and four kids."
4. When calling a community I know to only have smaller apartments, "What do you have for four bedroom apartments?"
5. When calling for a target named "Rick," "Hi, is Sandra available?
6. "I am looking for a place walking distance from <name a really well-known landmark that is nowhere near the location.>
Great ideas! Thanks!
Here are the guidelines (the same for EVERY job I have done for Ellis):

RE: appointments:
Do NOT ask to set an appointment over the telephone. If the agent asks you to set an appointment, do NOT readily agree to visit at a specific time, unless the Shop Contract Instructions for the shop or the Special Property Instructions for the shop indicate otherwise.

RE: Onsite visit on the same day:
Remember, you must call and visit on the same day, unless the shop contract instructions state otherwise. If you do not visit the same day as your call, you MUST call briefly before going out to ensure your target is there.



@LisaSTL wrote:

Virtually everything you wrote is wrong.

Let's start with the time, especially the time on site. Out of hundreds and hundreds of apartment shops, I have spent over an hour on two or three. In every case they were walk ins on long video routes. No targets, but no appointments and returning later was not an option. My average is right around 30 minutes. I can't imagine how many phone calls you are making for it to take an hour to reach the target. Ellis requests shoppers make 3 to 5 calls a day. Five calls isn't even ten minutes. To reduce wasted time there is a simple trick. I try on my on to reach the target for a couple of days. I then have someone else, preferably of a different gender, call to ask for the target.

Ellis will absolutely allow you to make an appointment with a target. I rarely make contact and visit the same day. The only requirement if the appointment is another day is to call that morning to verify the target is there. I frequently schedule them into other routes and don't hesitate to schedule shops before and after.

I don't understand why you think the report needs to be entered immediately. I think the website has been changed from 24 hours to 12, but if my visit is late in the day the report gets entered the following day.

As a video shopper with my own equipment, I don't know anything about the process of watching a video because it is based on having them loan the equipment.

Most MSCs only accept uploads in specific formats. The vast majority require JPG while some also allow PDF. I have never had to submit a screen shot to Ellis for the follow up, but when I do create one I have the option to save it different formats.

@tstewart3 wrote:

Unless you are a shopper who can do one shop run home and input the report on the computer, don't bother with them. If you're the typical shopper who is away from home and inputting forms remotely on portable devices, it's almost impossible.

They only accept uploads in certain formats. If you do screenshots for the follow-ups and they're in .PNG, they won't upload. If you do recordings and they're not in the proper format they won't upload either. If you want to do a video shop, you have to watch a video on how to unpack a box of video equipment before you can even apply. By that time the job is gone.

You think when you see their fees and you think you'll spend an hour, hour and a half on the on-site visit. An hour, maybe an hour and a half on the report. And maybe all tolled an hour reaching a Target. Add the time up and divided into the fee and you think you're making a decent hourly wage. When you do reach Target, you have to be able to be at the site within a couple hours so your schedule has to be open. You can't have anything scheduled before because if it runs over and you may miss the appointment. Some of the reports don't allow you to actually make an appointment, you have to reach the Target and then be there in a couple hours.
@tstewart3 wrote:

RE: appointments:
Do NOT ask to set an appointment over the telephone. If the agent asks you to set an appointment, do NOT readily agree to visit at a specific time, unless the Shop Contract Instructions for the shop or the Special Property Instructions for the shop indicate otherwise.

This says YOU are not supposed to ask for the appointment. Let THEM ask for it. You can, and should, agree to a specific time, just let the agent do their job first. Part of their job is to secure a commitment to visit. You might simply act like you are checking your schedule, or say you have an appointment a half-hour before the time they suggested, but you think you can probably make it. Give them an opportunity to find the best time for you.

@tstewart3 wrote:

RE: Onsite visit on the same day:
Remember, you must call and visit on the same day, unless the shop contract instructions state otherwise. If you do not visit the same day as your call, you MUST call briefly before going out to ensure your target is there.

All this says is if you are not able to visit the same day as the call, simply call the day of the visit to make sure the same agent is working before you arrive.
I will let others take it from here, since I am SMH. Let's see who is smart enough to read and understand directions and who is not.
This is all fantastic information! Thank you all!

I think I might pick up a tablet with wifi so I can enter the report from the car?
Why shaking your head? You seemed to misunderstand the instructions you quoted. Hope my clarification helped.
The one that gets me is the question they ask about the color of the leasing agent's eyes! There is a page at the end of most of their reports that asks questions just to verify you were actually there.
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