Here are five tips for newbies to get them on the right track. If you’ve been in the business a while and you’re not already doing them, they’ll make excellent New Year’s resolutions. 

We’ve all been there. The brand spanking new agent hot out of pre-licensing without a clue as to how the real estate business really works. Over the past decade, I’ve seen them come and go, divide and conquer (or so they thought) and tap out completely defeated.

The media has portrayed us an elite group of idiots driving fancy cars, wearing designer clothes and being foolish at happy hour. I, for one, would like to see us all raise the bar on professionalism, integrity and authenticity. By each of us establishing a new set of standards, we can change our image one agent at a time.

My best practices have been honed, rehoned and revamped over the past 30-plus years, but truthfully, it comes down to some pretty basic principles that have privileged me with the opportunity to work with an amazing array of clients, colleagues, friends and mentors.

Paying close attention to mistakes (and I’ve made plenty) has really helped me create a system that I continue to improve because each transaction has its own twists and turns.

Sometimes the experiences we have with our colleagues, lenders, closing coordinators and clients are less than delightful, and we all fall into the “not my fault,” hole. The hole can be as deep or shallow as you want it to be depending on your level of personal responsibility and ability to deliver information.

Below are five tips for newbies to get them on the right track, but if you’re not already doing them, they’ll make excellent New Year’s resolutions.

1. It’s not what you say, it’s how you say it — so practice

Delivery of information, and the tone in which it’s delivered, can send your transaction down the right road to closing or the long, windy back road to termination. Think before you speak, and listen before you talk.

Take time to practice a delivery that will garner engagement and resolution as opposed to jumping on the bull for a long bucking ride.

2. Check your curb appeal

First impressions are important to our clients and business partners. Do you look and sound like you just rolled out of bed? I sure hope not.

I’ve come across many agents at showings, closings, inspections and open houses who literally look fresh from a long leisurely nap or a good hearty work out at the gym. Please, please, please know your audience, and dress accordingly.

3. Master your handshake

This might seem like a no-brainer, but your handshake says a lot about you. Is it a dead fish or the bone crusher? Practice handshaking.

I raised my children to know how to make eye contact and shake hands. We still practice. I am launching them into the world one at a time, and interpersonal skills remain important across all social settings.

I have a habit of paying close attention to the way clients shake hands — it gives me an almost immediate read into their personality, and I adjust myself to navigate.

4. Respond promptly to emails, text messages and telephone calls

I check messages all day — at red lights, standing in lines, waiting at the drive thru. Acknowledgement and follow-up are essential to being a professional. Four day’s response time to an email, phone call or text is not acceptable or productive.

5. Perfect a system that works for you and your clients, and stick to it

Losing track of rogue clients, deadlines and closings will not bring you new business or a great reputation — it will bring you lawyers and the unwanted attention of the real estate commission.

With all of the apps, widgets, systems and programs we have to choose from, you’d think we’d all be at the top of our game. I say TMI. Pick a lane, pick a process — and own it. Revisit and re-evaluate quarterly to see where improvements can be made with your marketing, communication, calendaring, etc.

This might seem pretty elementary, but I wouldn’t be writing this article if it didn’t need to be mentioned. With the new year approaching and resolutions to be made, let’s all do our part to make this industry great again.

We can’t control inventory, sales or interest rates, but we sure can discipline ourselves to maintain a professional standard that we can be proud of.

Lauren Klein is a multi-million dollar producer with Coldwell Banker, owner of Pittsburgh Property Diva and real estate branding expert. 

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