When we were kids, we were taught never to break a promise. But in the grown-up world of mortgages and real estate, delivering on your promises is a technique that will land you more business. I’ll show you this technique. It’s a very simple but effective workflow.
How to break a promise
- “I’ll call you tomorrow at 9.” And then you don’t.
- “I’ll reach out to you once I have that information.” And then you don’t.
- “I’ll work on the project and show you my progress tomorrow.” And you then don’t.
There are hundreds of excuses why you didn’t call, including:
- “I didn’t hear back from my contact, so I didn’t call you at 9 a.m.” But your client expected you to call at 9 a.m. because you said you would.
- “It was easier to do other things instead, and after some time had passed, it was easier to ignore it.” But your client was expecting you to reach out.
- “I didn’t find time to work on the project, so there was no progress to show you. That’s why I didn’t contact you.” Not reaching your goal is OK, but neglecting to contact people when you said you would makes you unreliable.
Become trustworthy and land more business
When clients can rely on you to keep your promises, they will stay with you through repeated transactions and refer more clients to you.
Recently, I arrived home from work and found a request via email from a customer. The request required me to do a bit of computer work, which I predicted would take five minutes.
I replied, “Sure. I’ll get that done tonight.”
At the end of the evening, I was tired and wanted to go to sleep. Then, I thought, “Oh, no!”
I had made a promise.
My choices were:
- Just do it in the morning and say nothing that night.
- Tell my customer that night that I would do it in the morning.
- Just do it then.
I decided to do it right then. The task didn’t take me five minutes. It took 15 minutes. Then I notified my customer.
What did I learn?
- Know my limits: If I’m tired and I’m already home from work, it’s difficult for me to do more work that night. Maybe it’s better to know my limits and not promise that I’ll do work that evening.
- Be realistic about how long tasks take: Do any of us accurately estimate how long tasks will take? Be realistic. Build in padding. I often triple or quadruple my initial, instinctive estimates.
The trust workflow
Here’s the technique I use always to deliver on my promises. This really does land me more business because my customers find me reliable and trustworthy. My secret is the trust workflow.
Before making a promise, be realistic about whether you can perform the task on time or even whether you want to do it at all. It’s far better to decline a request than to accept it, make a promise, and then not deliver.
If you’ve made a promise to a client:
- Do what you promised on time and inform your client when you’ve finished. Not informing your client that you finished the task is almost the same as not doing the task at all.
- It’s OK when something happens, and you cannot complete the task on time or even at all. These things happen in business.
- If you can’t complete the task on time, inform your client before the deadline, explain the situation, and negotiate a new, realistic deadline.
- If you can’t complete the task at all, advise your client before the deadline and discuss alternatives, which typically include creating a new task or abandoning the task altogether.
- It’s OK to abandon tasks, provided you follow the trust workflow. Just don’t do it too often and become unreliable. This admission goes back to being realistic about whether you can perform the task at all. Remember, it’s better to decline a task than to fail to deliver on your promise.
Never, never, ever let three or four calendar days pass without giving your client a status update, regardless of weekends.
The modern way we human beings ignore tasks is by ignoring other people and hope the task will die a quiet death.
Don’t let your client start to suspect you are that kind of human being.
Become a reliable business partner in the busy world of mortgages and real estate. Follow the trust workflow with your clients, and land more referrals and repeat business.
Dave Sims is founder and CEO of Floify.com, a mortgage borrower portal. Dave is also a licensed mortgage loan originator, NMLS 1235071.