You often hear real estate professionals drone on and on about customer service. Here’s the problem with that: There’s no record of it. Talk is cheap. Backing up that talk with the printed word, available for the world to see, is critical for success. Enter the manifesto.
Jay Thompson is a former brokerage owner who spent the past six years working for Zillow Group. He retired in August 2018 but can’t seem to leave the real estate industry behind. His weekly Inman column publishes every Wednesday.
Back in the dark ages of the internet, say 20 years ago, the “manifesto” was all the rage. Pretty much everyone who fancied themselves an entrepreneur, a marketer, a business owner or an “internet expert” penned a manifesto.
A manifesto is a written statement declaring your intentions, motives or views.
Even Ted Kaczynski, the Unabomber, had a manifesto.
There were books, like The Cluetrain Manifesto (highly recommended, by the way. At 20 years old, it’s a little dated in parts, but still a good read.)
For whatever reason, usage seemed to sort of fade away over the past 10 years. I have no idea why.
Bring back the manifesto
Spend any length of time inside the real estate industry, and you will hear buzzwords like “unique selling proposition” and “value add” fired off as real estate brokerages volley back and forth in usually futile attempts to differentiate themselves from each other in their on-going quest to hire more real estate agents.
Agents tend to focus less on recruiting than brokers (though that’s changing with the advent of teams and brokerages/franchises offering residual income via revenue or profit sharing). That doesn’t stop them, however, from being focused more on themselves than their clients.
One does not have to look very far to find all sorts of claims and promises from real estate brokers and growing numbers of agents about how they, and only they, can offer agents the key to wealth and fame.
In the name of fairness, no one should throw just agents and brokers under the bus. The sad fact is, this sort of behavior happens across almost every business vertical.
Real estate does, however, seem to over-subscribed to the, “it’s all about me,” school of marketing (that school, incidentally, should have been closed years ago).
Why is it that you rarely hear from real estate agents and brokerages about what they can provide homebuyers and sellers? You know, the consumer. The person paying them for services.
Shouldn’t the public be hearing not about you, but about what you can do for them?
Of course, that’s what they should hear. That’s certainly what they want to hear.
Put it in writing
Back when I was an active broker-owner, I would often drone on about the importance of customer service. Almost a decade later, I am fully convinced that providing exemplary customer service is the single-most important action anyone in this business can provide — agent, broker, franchisor, lender, title, vendor — it doesn’t matter. The client sets might be different between parties, but the expectations of their clients are remarkably consistent.
Here’s the problem with the aforementioned droning on — there’s no real record of it. Talk is cheap. Backing up that talk with the printed word, available for the world to see, is critical for success.
Enter the manifesto.
There are no rules to writing a manifesto. No word count requirement. No required commentary. You start with a blank piece of paper (well, a blank screen these days), and you write down what you are willing — and able — to commit to doing for you customers.
Including other groups you work closely with only strengthens your manifesto. After all, you need to work well with them to successfully close transactions.
After I wrote my brokerage’s manifesto, I felt empowered and emboldened to really push our brokerage from providing great customer service to providing world-class service. After all, it was published on the internet for all to see. Failure was not an option, and I wasn’t about to go down in front of the world.
Carve a couple of hours out of your busy day, and dedicate it to writing your manifesto. You might just find that it helps you focus on things that need improvement and motives you and your agents or team to continue to push forward providing extraordinary service.
Below is my brokerage’s manifesto in full. Feel free to use it.
Our agents have one primary purpose, one unified goal, one main philosophy in all of our business operations — to provide our clients unparalleled customer service. That may sound trite or cliche, but it is real.
We run our business based on the belief that we can do something different in real estate. Everything we do, from the hiring of agents and staff, to the implementation of procedures and processes in our business is ultimately done for the express purpose of providing all of our clients with exemplary service.
In the real estate industry, we have four main groups of people they have to interact with. Below are our promises to each of those groups.
For our clients
- You will be treated with the utmost respect by your agent.
- You will be told the truth, always. Even if it hurts.
- You will be our primary focus and concern.
- No one will ever try to talk you into doing anything that you are uncomfortable with or that you do not completely understand.
- You will never be obligated to continue using any service we provide.
- We will make every effort humanly possible to ensure your real estate goals are achieved.
- Your agent will be experienced and professional.
For our prospective clients
- You will never be hounded or harassed to “get the sale” (or for any other reason).
- We will attempt to answer any questions you may have.
- You will be respected as if you were already one of our most valued clients.
For our real estate team members
- You will be always be treated with the utmost respect.
- We will endeavor to provide you with the tools you need to be successful.
- We will provide you a work environment of cooperation, not competition.
- You will be paid accurately and immediately.
- You will have 24/7/365 access to us and our office staff.
For our ‘competitors’ and ancillary service providers
- We will treat you like we expect to be treated.
- We will work together with you to achieve a successful transaction closing.
- We will immediately pay commissions due.
You will be treated with decency and respect regardless of your race, color, religion, gender, handicap, familial status, national origin, sexual orientation, gender identification, income level, age, or anything else. You’re a human being, as are we. We treat you how we want others to treat us.
Those are our promises. And we plan on keeping them. Always. Unconditionally. Forever.
Feel free to copy
Anyone reading this is more than welcome to use the manifesto. Just copy and paste the above, edit as you see fit, and use it wherever you like. No attribution required.
Give it a shot. Talk to your agent, your team, your broker. Think about what you really want to be known for. Write it down. Publish it. Live it.
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Jay Thompson is a real estate veteran and retiree in Seattle, as well as the mastermind behind Now Pondering. Follow him on Facebook or Instagram. He holds an active Arizona broker’s license with eXp Realty.