Good manners are not just knowing which spoon or fork to use, but how to treat others in all situations, especially in the business of real estate. The subtleties of your business interactions can set the stage for profitable long-term relationships and will help you to become more successful at work and in your interpersonal interactions. Every now and then, you may wish to take a step back and brush up on some of the more basic fundamentals of real estate by reviewing what I like to call the ABCs of real estate.
First impressions carry a lot of weight. No matter what time you are meeting with your clients or what plans you might have afterwards, you must always look the part. If you appear well groomed and appropriately dressed your stock and credibility will significantly go up. This also applies to the appearance of everything you bring with you as well. Is your car clean? Is your briefcase in good condition? Do you have clean, crisp copies of all the necessary paperwork with you?
Agents who make life balance a priority have more energy, get more out of the time they do spend working and have a much easier time finding a way to unplug outside of work. Have you scheduled your time off this year? If not, I recommend you do it now. Are there any graduations, weddings, bar mitzvahs or family reunions this year? How about concerts or cooking classes? What ever you’d like to have in your life aside from work, get in on the calendar now and treat it with the same level of commitment you would a listing appointment.
Real estate agents often live by their phone. The convenience of a cell phone has in many ways revolutionized the way we do business; however, it is also making it so agents are available to their clients continuously. A cell phone is a tool that should be used to help make areas of your work more convenient and accessible; however, when you are with a client, he/she deserves your full attention. When your cell phone rings while with a customer, the interruption is not only a frustrating interruption — it is a gross breach of etiquette.
When clients tell you they are looking for something with a big basement, do you immediately go to your list and start showing them only houses with basements? Most successful agents would go "Three Deep" in this situation. For instance, "What would a big basement provide you? If I could find you a house that would meet that need, even without a basement, would you buy it? Do you want to buy this house anyway?" As a Realtor, it is important to pride yourself on helping your clients achieve their goals, and even more so to help them discover them. The "Three Deep" method is a great way to start.
One of the biggest challenges agents face in growing their business is learning to become empowering leaders. Agents have become so busy they eventually need help — they find their hours are too long, their customer service is declining, or they are bogged down in administrative chores. Adding staff can help agents overcome these obstacles, as long as the team members are empowered to work independently and do their job well. When your team members, or those who work closely with you, are well-trained and empowered with knowledge, accountability and good support systems, you will automatically allow your business to build rapidly and remain profitable.
If all you do after a sale is deposit your check, it’s time to re-think your approach to post-sale follow-up. Successful real estate agents know that post-sale follow-up is one of the easiest and most effective methods for prospecting. Keep in touch with your past customers long after the sale by sending subtle reminders such as moving tips, address labels, personal calling cards, or a referral-request letter.
Almost every highly satisfied real estate agent has a clear vision of his/her goals, both short and long term. I have found that the most successful Realtors regularly review and fine-tune their goals. They see their personal aspirations as a perpetual work in progress that can be adjusted or changed as life itself evolves or their vision for the future takes a shift in perspective. I often suggest writing your goals in pencil. It encourages flexibility with yourself, your methods, the timing and even the goals themselves.
Sometimes the thought of telling a client something that you know they don’t want to hear can be stressful. Like doctors, real estate agents must learn how to be honest, upfront and deliver unpleasant news to clients with a "gentle bedside manner." A commitment to honesty to yourself and others, tempered with compassion and combined with your wisdom and experience, will help you deliver even the most difficult news with confidence.
Your "intention" is a statement about what you want, invoked with passion, as if it were already happening. For example, "I am enjoying a long, guilt-free vacation in the Bahamas paid for with all the extra money I made this year compared to last year." Stating your intention as a feeling is a powerful motivator, whereas number-type goals can actually be a de-motivator. Why? Number goals allow you to cover up or ignore the powerful feelings that could be keeping you from reaching your goals in the first place.
J-Justify Your Recommendations
Every decision in the process of purchasing or selling home is ultimately up to your client. However, if you consciously back up all of your recommendations with solid market evidence that will justify your suggestions, your clients will be much more inclined to follow your lead and trust your advice.
K-Keep Your Word
Nothing frustrates people more than when you say you are going to do something and you fall short on your word. Buying or selling a home is often one of the most important events in your client’s life, therefore it is an absolute must that you keep your word, whether it is following up with him/her or being on time for your showings.
There is always more to know, a new technique to try, and a better method to discover. Seminars and conferences are available to help you expand your real estate knowledge base. And one of the biggest benefits of attending, aside from the information you will learn, is the opportunity for networking. Reaching out to people you encounter at these events is an excellent way to discover useful ideas and establish the support you need to make it in this business.
Hopefully, these bits of advice will provide you with a simple refresher course of the various practices that are important to follow in your real estate interactions. Stay tuned for more real estate etiquette and bits of advice in next month’s article, where I will cover letters M-Z.
Howard Brinton is a real estate sales motivational speaker and the founder and CEO of Star Power Systems, a sales training organization that offers tapes, books, videos, conferences and a club that distributes selling techniques from the nation’s top producers.