Today’s real estate world is fierce with competition, and client expectations have grown as quickly as the Realtor population. Winning the listing in the first place is no small challenge, and it’s only the start.
Success ultimately comes down to a large number of factors. But even with every effort made, the relationship with a client can sometimes go awry. What could possibly be worse than not getting the job in the first place, you might ask? Getting fired after you were hired!
This nightmare scenario actually occurs far more often than you might think. But even when it happens, it is a tremendous learning experience. There are always reasons, and understanding them can help you get out ahead of a potentially dicey situation the next time around with a bit of thought, attentiveness and prior preparation.
So, in today’s world — here are 10 things that can be paramount when it comes to client retention:
We all get bombarded by phone calls, emails and texts, and sometimes we just don’t know the answers as to why their house hasn’t gotten showings or why the seller hasn’t responded to our buyer’s counteroffer.
If clients can’t communicate their frustrations with their agent, you can be certain they will communicate them elsewhere. That means they might fire you and keep you from getting hired by anyone to whom they choose to vent! Don’t hide behind voicemail; communicate the good right along with the bad — and do it sooner rather than later!
2. Set expectations
We’ve all experienced the clients who believe we should work 24/7. It is OK to let them know you will be unavailable after 8 p.m., but balance those boundaries by also letting them know the times you will be available.
Also, what is their preferred method of contact? If there is more than one seller or buyer, who is the preferred person to contact, and during which times? Let your clients know how often they can expect you to be touching base, and diligently follow up accordingly.
3. Focus on the client’s needs
People can sense if we need a commission. We must always understand what their needs, desires and pain points are.
What is most important to your sellers? Is it getting the most dollars for their home, or is it more important to price aggressively for the quickest sale?
4. Don’t over-promise or under-deliver
When you say you are going to do something, do it! Be careful not to commit to something you cannot make happen. The client’s confidence in us declines rapidly when we do not perform as we say we will.
We don’t know when a house will sell, we don’t know if there will be a bidding war, we don’t know what price it will yield. We do have stats (and we need to know these) that should give us reasonable expectations.
5. Don’t flip-flop on fees
Price is always a question that comes into play. However, we offer a value to our clients, so when we set a price we have to be able to explain why we are worth that amount.
If you would consider a reduction in commission, try saying this: “We charge X percent — here is why.” Then explain, and proceed with: “If the only thing standing in the way of doing business with us is price, then let’s have a conversation about what you are comfortable with.”
Remember: 1 percent savings of an unsold property is no savings at all.
6. Don’t try talking people out of what they know they want
As real estate agents, we are hired to guide and direct — but don’t ever forget that the decision maker is always our principal. Offering a consideration as to why their decision might or might not be a good choice is good practice — just follow up that conversation with: “You are the boss, and I will execute what you wish.
7. Be organized, professional, and have a plan
For many people, this is the biggest asset they will ever purchase — and we are the professionals hired to guide them through the transaction. Disorganization, along with being unprepared, will make clients question your value and why they need you at all.
Technology is readily available for everyone to become an expert in our industry, so we must accelerate our A game and make sure we are more prepared than our clients.
8. Know the market
Many times, buyers show us the homes they would like to walk through. If you don’t know these homes, start doing your homework! When we have homes listed, we should know about the house on the corner that popped up for sale when our client calls, and ask any and every question about that competition around the corner.
9. Be attentive
Selling or buying a house can be a fun, stressful, expensive, confusing process; and buyers and sellers will experience many emotions throughout the transaction. We, as real estate agents, should be licensed psychologists.
Don’t forget that we are hired to assist through the entire process. When we don’t care about their circumstances and emotions, we lose the opportunity to make a real connection.
We need to understand our client’s perspective, empathize and sympathize with their situation. When challenges arise — and they always do — we need to be present with calm and steady support. When we fuel a stressful situation, as opposed to diffusing it, we become superfluous.
10. Be a solution-finder and resource center
Be a creative problem-solver. You should have contacts in our community for financing, repairs, inspections, appraisal issues and any other tool that comes into play when buying or selling a home. If you don’t know alternative ways to help clients find solutions, the next agent in waiting will.
Real estate success is a multipronged, complex process that requires wearing lots of hats and juggling several considerations at once. There are lots of things to be mindful of to keep your client engaged and enthusiastic — but at the end of the day, preparation, professionalism and empathy will go a long way.
By communicating consistently and thoroughly, while also keeping a finger on the pulse of what’s happening in your market, you’ll have tools at the ready to build relationships that will generate successes far down the road.