As every experienced real estate agent knows, not all real estate transactions proceed smoothly. Sometimes, things just don’t work out and your client ends up firing you, or you end up firing them.
In a perfect world, a real estate agent would get along fabulously with clients — both buyers and sellers. But let’s be honest, there are times you encounter a really problematic client who just makes your job harder.
Although handling such difficult clients is par for the course in the real estate business, you need to know when to pull the plug. Sometimes the reasons for firing a client are quite obvious with red flags popping up as soon as you meet them.
Most of the time, you come to the realization that your relationship just isn’t a good fit anymore after you’ve worked with them for a while.
In spite of how good you are at dealing with challenging clients, you need to have your limits. No matter how much effort you put into them, some clients just can’t be satisfied, and you have to let them go. Once you’ve decided to fire them, the challenge then becomes how to do it.
Here are five tips on amicably breaking up with your client:
1. End things formally
It’s always best to end your relationship with a client through a face-to-face meeting, preferably in your office. No matter how stressed and frustrated you feel, resist the temptation to dump them after yet another unfruitful home tour or trying to do it on the phone.
Meeting with them will give you the opportunity to explain the reasons for your decision as well as answer any questions they might have.
2. Put it in writing
Before meeting your clients to end things, ensure that you have detailed written communication outlining the reasons for terminating your relationship.
Also outline all the concerns they had to that point and the actions you took to try to resolve things as well as the end result. This will not only make it easy to answer your client’s questions, but it will also help you stick to your guns if you experience any doubts about your decision.
3. Stick to the facts
Be firm but professional as you have this conversation with your client. Be factual, and focus on what caused the problem, without personally attacking your client’s character or personality.
Attacking them will make you seem unprofessional, and it might end up hurting your career. Remember we’re living in the era of social media, and a bad word from your client can do irreparable damage. So keep the conversation as positive and factual as you can.
4. Provide your client with options (where possible)
As you’re ending your agent-client relationship, it’s always a good idea to offer options. Suggest that perhaps you weren’t the right agent to meet their needs, and offer to have your broker assign them to a different agent in your office.
This shows you have no hard feelings, and you might even collect a referral fee for your efforts.
5. Avoid bad-mouthing clients after a breakup
Some clients are downright vexing, but once you have fired them, drop the issue. No good can come of publicly criticizing them or bad-mouthing them to other agents.
You’ll only look like an agent who doesn’t value his clients’ confidentiality. So keep things civil and professional to the end.
Although no agent likes to let go of business, sometimes things just don’t work out, and the best course is to cut your client loose.
Regardless of how annoying or frustrating they are, always treat your soon-to-be-fired client with respect. Most of all, once you’ve fired them, move on and seek out better clients.