EPMS

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Some of their forms are amazingly short. It's the luck of the draw I guess. But I sure wouldn't be doing their shops for what they pay in their "low price" locations.

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
A suggestion to all considering accepting an EPMS shop: They permit one to read the report before accepting the job. All conditions are clearly indicated and the only occasion in which I was unpleasantly surprised was when I didn't take my own advice. A job was within a mile of one for another MSC, so I took a leap before I looked. After discovering my error, I decided to complete the shop as a form of creating a memory in my mind to never again accept work that involved that particular client. It entailed repetition and hrs. the likes of which I'd only experienced with fine dining.
TechSavvy Wrote:
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> Question...When you tell the agent you were
> referred, have you ever had one ask who referred
> you? So far I've been fortunate and not had to ask
> for the target, and I'm concerned about this
> happening. What do you say?


Yes, they sometimes do ask who referred you. You can work this in a few different ways, but it depends on how easy or difficult it is to get past the non-target agent who answers the phone. If they're easy about getting the target on the phone for you, and the target does ask how you know them, in my opinion, best thing to do is name a name - don't skip a beat - if you start hemming and hawing, you sound suspicious. BE ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN, THOUGH, IF YOU DO THAT, THAT WHEN ASKED FOR A TRAFFIC SOURCE, YOU REMEMBER THAT YOU ASKED FOR THEM BY NAME (e.g., you found out about them because you were referred to them by someone!! - that's your traffic source)- but make sure this traffic source is acceptable to this particular shop in the specific instructions. If they keep questioning you about who referred you - you don't know this person's last name or how it might be that they knew who to refer you to there. It's a mystery! "She (or he) is a friend of my sister's who knew I was looking for something in your area, and she told me you were really helpful. (flattery always works well). If questioned further, "I think he/she either lives there, or used to live there - didn't really get the chance to ask". Name a common name, then be as vague as possible from that point on. Don't over-explain, just keep giving vague answers if they keep pursuing it. I have also said that I spoke to them once before, briefly, but didn't get to finish the call because ("such and such" happened and I had to get off the line) - that sort of justifies why you wanted to pick up the thread again with them. I've even had agents say that they remembered talking to me previously! Also, if they don't ask the question - don't offer the info - if you start explaining all over the place without them even asking the question - you raise a red flag. I do not at all like asking for the agent by name because it's awkward. First of all, anyone who answers the phone will immediately attempt to help you. Let's face it, any available agent feels that they can assist you as well, or better, as any other. I think it's pretty annoying to them, that here they are trying to assist you, and you want to talk to someone else. That's why, when given permission to ask for the target, if the agent that I don't want answers and makes it difficult to get past them, I will just say that the agent I am asking for was helping me before, or that I'm returning their call. Don't get into a tug-o-war with them - if the agent you're trying to get past gets too persistent and the call is going nowhere , then say "Oh, sure, that's fine, you can help me" - let them ask a question or two - give a phony name if they ask for one, then make a quick excuse and get off the line. Call back later, and your target might just answer. Telling a persistent non-target agent that you're returning your target agent's call gives you an unquestionable pass to the target if the agent you're attempting to get past starts throwing up barriers - and you can usually tell within the first few seconds how difficult or easy it's going to be to get past them. But it's best to use this only as a last resort. Just make sure you stick with the same thread between the two agents. I made a mistake recently by asking for a target by name, then when asked for a traffic source later in the call I said I'd found them on the Internet. The agent that answered didn't ask why I was asking for someone else, and neither did the agent I asked for. Neither did she ask how I had found them (at first) - until as sort of an after-thought - she did ask for a traffic source just prior to ending the call. It was a long call - and by that time I guess I'd forgotten that I had asked for her by name. In response, I said that I'd found them on the Internet. If she picked up on that, she never questioned it. I've learned to tap dance and fabricate quickly, and I almost wish she had questioned it because I would have said - Oh, I ORIGINALLY found your community on the Internet, and the first time I called I spoke with you (remember??), but our call was interrupted and we didn't get to finish. I had your name written down here in my notes so I thought I'd just ask to talk to you again." But, NO(!) - if she noticed what seemed like a discrepancy in my story, she never said. It was the EPMS editor who listened to the recorded call that noticed...and she wasn't kind about it! You'd have thought that I had confessed to being a shopper right then and there during the call. This editor's email was dripping with such cynicism and sarcasm when she called me on the carpet about my error, that I was completely taken aback - she was just so totally unprofessional about it. She even indicated in her original email that my error was proof positive as to the reason why the agent got a perfect score on her shop (never mind the fact that the "discrepancy" if she noticed it at all, came to light at the very end of the call). This editor's email was worded in such a way as to sound like she'd taken my error as a personal affront! I gave her a taste of her own medicine in my emailed reply. She emailed back saying that her original email was only meant to be "coaching" and "helpful", and to please try to be more careful in the future. I emailed her back that if she considered her initial email to be "helpful" and "coaching", I never wanted to be on the receiving end of any communication from her that she considered to be outside of her scope of "coaching" and "helpful." That's been the only sort of "run-in" I've ever experienced with EPMS - I work for them pretty much exclusively - I, of course, hate the redundant reports - but I think they are an excellent company to work for, and they are (generally) fair. The long, convoluted and redundant reports are, it seems, a necessary evil because of all the "shoppers" who have the nerve to cheat.
I do admit sometimes getting a hold of your target agent can be difficult. But most of the time, it is not because leasing office generally have a small number of employees. If it takes a day or two, you can contact EPMS, they will usually tell you to ask for the person by name.

If you are always reaching a call center or concierge, you'll figure that out quickly when you're experienced. Contact EPMS, they are very responsive. They usually get back to me within an hour or so.

I find EPMS to be one of the best shopping companies out there. They are incredibly communicative and always have shops available. I make more $ from EPMS on a monthly basis than I do with all of the other shops I do combined. The great thing about EPMS is that they are self-assign. You can assign yourself and do the shop right away if need be.

I also love direct deposit in my bank account. The other great thing, is they have shops across the country, so when I travel, I can usually make at least 2-3 shops.

The only thing I don't really like is the report length, but I have done about 25 shops now and know what to look for during my shop to make the report easier to fill out. All in all, I do shops for about 20 companies, EPMS is in the top 3.
I had a bad expierance with EPMS in doing a shop for them. I had a specfic person to shop I got a hold of her on my second call. I told her what kind of apartment I was interested in and I made an appointment to go check one out. I got here met with my contact person she told me that they have no apartments available now to lease, however they do have an open apartment. This apartment has been promised to someone who has not come in yet so I couldn't sign or put a deposit on any apartment that day. My contact said by the time I was looking that they should have an apartment for me to rent. I went on a tour and I was shown the vacant apartment. As soon as I walked in I told her that I have to be on one level due to arthritis in both knees and hips. I submitted my report and an editor sent me 3 e-mails telling me what I neded to change and the most important thing was I didn't let the manager close on me to rent an apartment. I told her there were no apartment available that I could rent. She finally said that she would accepot my report in a e-mail to me. Then a little over a hour she sent me a second e-mail saying my shop was cancelled because I did not let her close the lease. I contacted the main office and spoke to somene higher up then the editor and told her everything. She said since there was nothing to close on she would accept my report. I went online about an hour later and it was marked accepted. I just wanted what I deserved not anything more.
plbell,
The upshot is that you were treated fairly, in the end. It pays to follow-up.

I have had a very similar report, and it was accepted without question. So, it appears that some of their editors have gotten the message and others have not. So, always appeal!

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
EPMS is great to work for except the report. The repetition is AWFUL. Can't we all BEG them to modify it. One scheduler said they have had so many shoppers lie about visiting the communities. I just finished a report. Come on, it asks what proof do I have that I actually visited the community. Only a recorded conversation with the leasing age, her business card and the floor plans. And it asks for her description. One scheduler tried to tell me it takes 20 minutes to fill out the report. I don't lie to them yet they lie to us?
kim,
They have had even video shops faked. That made me think for a bit, but I figured out what was likely done and why it could be made to pay for the shopper to do so.

Nope; not telling and certainly not trying it out!

Based in MD, near DC
Shopping from the Carolinas to New York
Have video cam; will travel

Poor customer service? Don't get mad; get video.
I don't understand how or why anyone would or could fake the video portion of visiting the community. I've not yet done one, so I don't know the specific requirements. BUT, visiting the community is the easiest part of the shop! I enjoy seeing how they're decorated and the furniture. There were a bunch of little children playing in the play area - enjoying each other's company. The Rep. couldn't have been nicer. BUT THE DREADED REPORT!!! I'm a VERY easy going person and it takes a lot to get me frazzled. - One of the MANY reasons I like this forum - y'all understand!!! I have another audio visit Monday. I know these reports will get easier & faster as I do more. Appreciate your input, Walesmaven!!
I have and do work for EPMS. They are a good company and pay on time and timely. The shops i have done require me to wait and respond to the question of "Did they send a card or email". I like them a lot.

Thant and 50 cents'll get cha two quarters smiling smiley

Don



Cryl Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I usually only work with Ellis, do several
> apartments per month and have never had a problem
> with them, also they are very accomodating. I
> agree with one of the above posters, I sign up for
> any back up job that is close to my home, and, I
> get several of them. If I cannot reach my target
> by the 2nd day, I notify Ellis and I am usually
> told to ask for the target the next day and say I
> was referred.
> I am going to start doing video shops with them,
> don't know why I put it off for so long.
I've been signed up with EPMS for about 10 years now. They were my first MSC. I haven't worked for them consistently though. I always do a job with them and then get turned off by the length of the report. I'll wait a year, decide to do an apartment shop, and get upset all over again because of the time I put into the report.

I just did two shops back to back last month and got caught in that conundrum again, but the pay came so on-time! I feel like I must be putting too much detail in the report. Does anyone else give play-by-plays of the visit in their reports? Am I putting in too much detail? Do you know if they have given out sample reports or know where I can get one?

I would love for my report to take 20 minutes but they usually take much longer than that.

Performing shops in central NC and beyond
I gave up with the security of leaving your ID. As safe as you think it is, it is not. You do not know what they can do with it out of your control once you are touring. The report itself is far too repetitive. I did then way back on paper. What a time consumer.
I have an opp to do a targeted shop for them yet this wk. It is basically within blocks and pays 40. I need input soon. Thanks
brownie77 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I've been signed up with EPMS for about 10 years
> now. They were my first MSC. I haven't worked for
> them consistently though. I always do a job with
> them and then get turned off by the length of the
> report. I'll wait a year, decide to do an
> apartment shop, and get upset all over again
> because of the time I put into the report.
>
> I just did two shops back to back last month and
> got caught in that conundrum again, but the pay
> came so on-time! I feel like I must be putting too
> much detail in the report. Does anyone else give
> play-by-plays of the visit in their reports? Am I
> putting in too much detail? Do you know if they
> have given out sample reports or know where I can
> get one?
>
> I would love for my report to take 20 minutes but
> they usually take much longer than that.

Their reports are awkward. If you hang in there, continuing to do them, then they become more comfortable and okay. No, I have not seen samples of what they're looking for in narrative. I write and try to report concisely. I did receive a request for clarification. It was alarming, as it had 'Rejected' or something like that, in the subject line. I provided more info, and all was good. My reports always take longer than 20 minutes, but I don't stress about time, or look at this work in the sense of how much I make per hour. If and when I feel a shop is just not worth it, I quit doing them.

EPMS pays on time. Communication is good. It's just going to have to be up to you whether to continue with them. Their shops are a nice and, so far, dependable $$ part of my shopping business.

I recently searched different States on their site and realized that not all States pay the same, for the same shops. The States that I shop are low man on the totem polesad smiley
I like the company and the help they provide. I have gotten use to the reports even though they are a pain. Video reports are really quick though. If someone is just starting with Ellis PM me and I will give you a couple of tips that will make the paperwork easier.
wjones777 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> I like the company and the help they provide. I
> have gotten use to the reports even though they
> are a pain. Video reports are really quick
> though. If someone is just starting with Ellis PM
> me and I will give you a couple of tips that will
> make the paperwork easier.


Could your tips not be posted here for some reason?
The reports are long, but their deadlines aren't as bad as the other companies. Some companies, the reports are due within 12-24 hours or you lose your shop totally. EPMS gives you a couple of days to fill out the report as long as you keep them posted and updated. That's why I say the reports are long, but you can do them bit by bit.
First there is a part of the form where you listen to your recorded telephone call. Right down the date, time of call, and length of call. You will need this info twice on the report. Second the redundant part at the end is for EPMS to be able to prove you did the shop. This section needs very,very,very, little comment. To prove you were there just find something like the name of the coffee maker etc; that you could only have known by being at the site. That is my best two tips.
Thank you wjones777. These are SUCH time consuming shops, yet they pay well and are available frequently. Your input is GREATLY APPRECIATED!

wjones777 Wrote:
-------------------------------------------------------
> First there is a part of the form where you listen
> to your recorded telephone call. Right down the
> date, time of call, and length of call. You will
> need this info twice on the report. Second the
> redundant part at the end is for EPMS to be able
> to prove you did the shop. This section needs
> very,very,very, little comment. To prove you were
> there just find something like the name of the
> coffee maker etc; that you could only have known
> by being at the site. That is my best two tips.
Good upfront tips, wjones, thanks! A ditty that I would add is to get the color of the agent's eyes.
Hello Fellow Shoppers!! yawning smiley)

I am new to apartment shops - actually, I'm pretty new to all shops. I used to live in an area that offered very little, so I really gave up on it until just recently (I'm living in a fairly large college/tourist town now).

Anyway, to be honest, I was excited to find some available apartment in my area, but have become a bit "scared off" by some of what I've been reading here... Eeeks! However, I refuse to let that fear get the best of me - I have a family to raise, and every little bit helps.

I'm going to read & re-read this thread up until my first apartment shop, but to summarize, for those of you experienced in apartment shops, specifically w/this company: What would you say are the top 10 things to do, or to keep in mind, to have a successful shop?

Also, in regard to the reports - the ones I've viewed so far (not many) seem to mostly consist of yes/no/NA check boxes ... am I missing something???

Any and ALL info & advice will be GREATLY appreciated!

Thanx in advance!!
- Laura
Hi Laura!
One of the things I do on these shops is click on the map to the location even if you are around the block. Use this to put important items such as the job number which is 6 numbers and the seventh number is for the recorded phone call. This way if you run into trouble on the road you can call Ellis for help. I forgot my clip board one day and had Ellis saved in my phone. I use this map sheet to write down important items such as time and length of visit. I also put down all of the recorded phone call info so I will have it for the report. I have a work sheet like this on every shop. It saves me time and records the relevant info I will need. Another thing is only 3 calls per day are required to reach the target. If you do this 3 days to no avail they will normally let you ask to speak with the target. I usually get the target within 2 days but have had to go the length and it take four to five. Ellis is pretty good about rescheduling shops during the middle of the month but not at the end. They have there time frames with clients as well. Hope you have a great time shopping.
After several "failures" I got a shop and what a "killer" report! It has scared me off from doing apts. But really after reading and thinking about this, they do pay well....and I find it is true that you get used to reports and they become a snap.
There is so much that experience adds to your shops. Not only what and what not to say in your reports, but what and what not to say during the shop. For instance, I have found that it is very hard not to lead the sales person. I know what they are supposed to say to me and when they don't, I have a hard time not asking the question so they will answer. This is not the purpose of the shop! DUH! It can cut your time on your shop in half or more! Your report becomes a whiz.
Does anyone else have this "problem"?
Laura, their reporting platform is a awkward and disjointed. I have done numerous apartment shops for EPMS and don't hesitate to assign myself as many as I can. I enjoy the shops, and the fact that I don't have to outlay any money. EPMS communicates promptly, except on weekendssad smiley and they pay on time.

Arizona, it is difficult when the agent is not on their game. You want to lead, and seemingly, it would make reporting easier. Don't. Let the chips fall where they may. The agent needs to do what their employer expects. If s/he doesn't, the employer wants informed, and hopefully will address that. A negative report is always the most time consuming, but the client is paying for information to help them achieve their desired level of service.
Thank you for all of that info!

Well, my 2nd shop was sent back for me to re-check my answers... Oh Lord!!
I don't know what on earth I did wrong yawning smiley( What really sux is this one had a great bonus, so I'm a little bummed, but I do hope to do more of these shops and hopefully NOT have them returned. LOL!

Idk... I'll look through it one more time I guess, and then get back to the editor.
aadshort Wrote:
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> Just thought I'd share my most recent experience
> with EPMS. They do apartment mystery shops and
> when you can get one where you do a random leasing
> agent, the job isn't bad. If you have to shop a
> specific person, that's when it starts getting
> time consuming and frustrating.
>
> I hadn't done anything for EPMS in awhile but got
> lured in by bonus pay. I was supposed to shop
> "Patti" and on my 2nd attempt to call, I got
> "Patricia" so I completed the call. At the end of
> the call I told her I would see her tomorrow and
> that's when she told me she was actually at a call
> center and not the leasing office. I should
> mention both times I called, I could hear a lot of
> call center type noise in the background which I
> thought was weird. Nowhere in the shopper
> instructions did I see any warning that this might
> happen otherwise I wouldn't have even bothered
> taking this shop. Anyway, I emailed the scheduler
> to let her know that these guys don't even answer
> their own phones, they send them to a call center.
> That makes it impossible to actually do this shop
> correctly since obviously you'll never actually
> speak to the target agent and you can't be sure
> you'll even get them when you show up at the
> location. In response the shop was cancelled and
> I was told that they sometimes send their phone to
> a call center around lunch. Both calls I placed
> were well before lunch so just beware that they
> don't even warn you calls can get routed to a call
> center and you could spend your day calling trying
> to get through to the actual office but end up
> talking to a call center.


Hmmm... I just had to shop a "Patti"... I'm wondering if you're in my area? I got her, no problem, but now my shop has been rejected, and I'm not quite sure why? I actually thought it went well, but who knows. I've asked for feedback so that hopefully I'll do better next time around. This shop had a nice bonus which makes it all the more depressing that it was rejected, not to mention all the work that goes into the report. Here's to hoping for better luck next time!
In my experience, "rejected" shops are sent back for clarification. I had one, and the word "rejected" was alarming. However, I was advised that additional information was needed, and I submitted it. The shop was then accepted.

Don't assume that a nickname or derivative is the target. There is recourse available to the shopper who cannot reach the target. Contact the scheduler. If you have issues, a real person at EPMS answers the phone, during business hours, and wants to help make the shop successful.
annie33 Wrote:
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> Their forms are so long, I have learned to put an
> ice pack on my neck, that helps.


AMEN to that, annie33! LOL!!!

...and, a heating pad against the back of your chair
always seems to make it a bit more pleasant! yawning smiley)
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