Whether you’re a rookie agent, a rising team leader or an established veteran broker, we can all benefit from sharpening our skills. Follow our “Back to Basics” series to learn fundamental strategies, tactics, philosophies and more from real estate pros across the industry.
In today’s super-competitive real estate arena, constantly upping your game is the only way to stay ahead — and who doesn’t want that? I upped my own game by providing information, communicating data and building a value-add Rolodex.
You might be thinking it’s easier said than done — and if you are, you’re wrong. The single most beneficial value-add in any relationship is the conveyance of information.
It’s easy to take information for granted — especially in a professional context because, as a professional, you see and deal with industry-related issues and circumstances on a daily basis. Often, we forget that not everyone knows
For most homebuyers and sellers, the learning curve is steep because they don’t buy and sell homes every day — but you do. And that’s why you always have an opportunity to be better than your competition.
As a real estate agent, you possess specialized knowledge gained from both past career lives and your present profession. I think of it as my “experience tool bag,” which is apt because my background is in property development. I use my construction and investment experience in every transaction.
Every tool in your bag is a unique piece of information that you can use to build up your customer service game or your value-add factor so that you become indispensable to your clients.
Providing comparables (aka a comparable market analyses or CMAs) and a pricing strategy is important for selling — but there are many more components that a seller needs to address to complete a transaction and smoothly transition to their new home.
I take the holistic approach and consider it part of my services to educate sellers on the required steps of a transaction. I also provide contact information for the people they will need to hire to smoothly get where they are going.
Do that, and your clients will remember that you were key in getting them there.
Another thing you should do is break down the selling process. Get specific, walk your client through each step and include a timeline of the order of events. No matter how sophisticated the client might be, they likely do not know what to do and when to do it. You do, and methodically explaining the steps, the timing and the process will make you a hero in their eyes.
For example, something as simple as reminding them to contact the mortgage lender to inform them that they intend to sell their home will go a long way. A great exercise is to write out the entire transactional process A to Z and then explain it to someone as if they were a 5-year-old.
Lean on your Rolodex
Now that you have imparted your knowledge and your client has a clear picture of the process and the timeline, your next step is to go to your tool bag, take out your value-add Rolodex and provide referrals to the people they will need to hire.
Your Rolodex should have plumbers, electricians, accountants, window washers, attorneys — especially attorneys — and basically any service associated with repairing, maintaining and selling a home. I always provide two referrals for each category.
Now here’s the thing about your Rolodex and referrals: Referrals can be a very dangerous thing if the person you referred does not deliver. You are, by association, an extension of the referred party, so make sure your Rolodex contains tried-and-true professionals. A bad vendor referral is the kiss of death for an agent.
When I make a referral, I check in on the work because if there is a problem, I want to get it rectified. It will show the client that although the person did not deliver, you were there to help. It is only customer service when the customer is satisfied.
One highly effective and greatly appreciated customer service value-add is communication — particularly communicating feedback after showings and open houses.
It’s critical for a seller to hear real-time feedback from the market to make a well-informed decision when the offers come in. If you haven’t been communicating the market’s perception of their property, then you will be bringing the seller from zero to 60 in one conversation.
Presenting an offer is a conversation that should be focused on the offer and not coupled with a mass update of what you have received as feedback.
The feedback from showings is a critical data point to factor in when making a counteroffer. That information needs to be absorbed in real-time. Doing so will make for a much more productive discussion when strategizing the counteroffer — especially during a challenging market or when a seller lists at a price higher than what you have advised.
Feedback is only one component of communication. Your sellers will be grateful if you also update them on market data throughout the life of the listing.
My market is in Manhattan, and the market today is very different than it was six months ago, so I update my sellers with closed sales data for similar listings every two to three weeks. I also let them know about new inventory that is direct competition for our listing.
The takeaway is that we all have unique skills that we have honed over the years.
We have expert industry and transactional experience and knowledge. By combining those with effective communication of feedback, relevant data points in real-time and a solid dependable Rolodex of contacts, you will up your customer service game exponentially.
Sellers who hand over the keys — and your commission check — at the closing table with smiles on their faces are sellers who feel that they had all the information needed to make a well-informed business decision. Your reward is earning the only agent spot in their Rolodex, glowing recommendations and, of course, the check.
The best compliment that an agent can receive is: “I could not have done this without you!” My goal is to make that an absolute truth for my clients.