You try your best. You make a commitment every day to excellence, and to stunning your client base by overachieving on their expectations. You plan and strategize your business down to each detail, each point plotted on your individual road to success.
Sometimes, however, certain variables are introduced into your daily practice, and these variables are completely unpredictable (and in some cases unaccountable), because they are of the human kind!
To make matters more difficult, they claim to be professionals, sharing your space within your industry- threatening to derail your own hard work- or in some cases, really damage the industry by tarring others with the same brush. Like it or not, the nature of your industry requires regular interaction with other professionals. To try to keep things running smoothly, there are regulations and codes put into place- both written and unwritten. Despite best efforts though, sometime these suggested practices and codes of conduct are sidestepped, or disregarded.
How do you keep your cool- and keep business going and client relationships strong? Common sense and common courtesy should be the guiding rule, but in talking to several members of our Propertywire.ca community, often this is not the case. The consequences from bad practices are far-reaching; from professional annoyance, to serious impact on the sales process, the image of the industries, and bottom lines.
So, what can you do when others just dont have your high standards? Although you may feel like closing yourself in the proverbial closet and screaming, professional etiquette prevents you from doing so. And besides, your clients are counting on you
It can be a PR nightmare in client centric business, for some to participate in bad practices. Many of these bad practices result in a negative consumer perspective, and run the risk of making you look either unprofessional or even unethical. You can do all the marketing you want, but what speaks loudest to your brand integrity when your feet hit the pavement, is your behaviour- and, unfortunately, you are not always judged singularly by your own behaviour.
Early Bird no Longer Gets the Worm
You always want to keep things fair and even- especially when there are clients involved. Markham Realtor, Rusty Topan, Broker, Re/Max West Realty, has concerns with the listings process negatively impacting a buyer’s experience- and putting forth a sense of inequality. Keeping in mind too, the intensely emotional nature of buying a home, it makes it difficult to support a client emotionally when a practice seems destined to create anxiety.
“There is a tendency that seems to have become the norm to state on the listing when offers will be presented/viewed. Almost every well-staged, accurately priced listing is set up from the get go to be a multiple offer situation. It’s all fine and dandy for the seller and the seller’s agent, but the buyers are getting discouraged and the anticipation and excitement for the buying process is turned into anxiety and worry. I hate seeing the look on the face of the new buyer who finds out that he/she can’t attach even reasonable conditions to their offer, and has to commit to more then the house they fell in love with was originally listed at. It’s turning the offer process into a cat-and-mouse game, and it has removed any concept of ‘the early bird getting the worm’.”
Respect My Time: When Structure Meets Chaos
The Real Estate and Mortgage professions require heavy time commitment and, at times, crazy hours. That is not to say that you can’t set a schedule- and furthermore that you shouldn’t expect other professionals to respect it. Professional enthusiasm, and aggressive business practices can, at times, step over boundaries.
Steven Fudge , Sales Representative, Bosley R.E. Ltd. says, “It’s very easy for a busy Realtor who works all hours to think that other Realtors live a similar hectic pace. When this happens, it’s easy to inconvenience others who have a more structured life/work balance.”
“For example, some Realtors will leave me a voicemail late at night requesting appointments that aren’t possible to coordinate, either because they require a minimum 24 hours notice for tenants, or it’s outside the times stipulated clearly on the listing. These errors would be quickly clarified had they called my appointment desks during operating hours, so the ensuing trail of telephone calls can be irksome. I also raise my eyebrows when Realtors page me on a Sunday to provide ‘feedback on a showing’. That sort of call isn’t necessary to place on a weekend, is it?”
Work/Life balance takes a time commitment in and of itself to achieve, even if others are trying to knock you off kilter. Fudge’s solution is easy. He sets the example himself.
“As a courtesy to others, I try conduct as much of my business with other Realtors during the more conventional hours of 9-5pm Monday through Friday even though I, and the rest of us, invariably work much longer hours. However, I recognize this isn’t always possible so I try to be easy-going about it.”
Common Courtesy as a Guide
It really just comes down to common courtesy, professional or otherwise- and being reliable.
Karen Filice, Broker of Record/Owner, Cirrius Realty Inc., Brokerage is succinct in her beliefs as to how Realtors should conduct themselves. She says, “Standard practice (should be to) make an appointment, show up for the appointment within the time allotted, and leave a card.”
Filice is well aware of how the scenarios play out, but believes that the Realtor has to take responsibility on behalf of the seller anticipating the showing. “What happens, a client doesn’t like the house and they drive by with the showing Realtor. What should happen, the Realtor should stop, knock on the door, tell the home owner the client has changed their mind about seeing the house, or leave a card in the door to say they were there, but client declined to view.”
Not only does not doing this strain the relationship between client and Realtor, in a business of networking and referrals, one must be constantly mindful that what comes around goes around- especially in the professional arena.
Filice also, has a simple solution: “When a client calls to say: There is no card, they didn’t show up, the lights were left on, the door unlocked, I put a call through to the showing individual and remind them of what they should be doing. I also apologise for my colleagues to my client.”
One of the benefits of being in the business for a long time is learning from other’s mistakes, and learning how to avoid problems through due diligence. Says Filice, “It should be common practice to do a title search on listing – which I do on both listing and sale.”
“Many realtors do not do this. Recently I had an offer on a property and noticed that the total debt showing on title would not equal the purchase price (or the asking price for that matter). I drew up the offer, but as a courtesy, called the listing sales rep and told him what I found. He asked me to forward him the title search. I told him he should have done his job (he was a friend and I gave him a hard time) and in the end sent him the title search…In this case, the offer was delayed two days, by which time two other offers were registered and we lost the buy. But the sellers were safe.“
Don’t Judge this Book by its Cover.
The Mortgage Industry sees many of the same problems, says Leslie Penney, Vice President – Business Development Mortgage Alliance/ APlus Mortgage Group. What he suggests though, is that amongst professionals, don’t judge a book by its cover. It is off-putting, to say the least, to make unfounded assumptions on someone’s abilities without taking the time to determine if the assumptions are valid or not. Furthermore, it is not fair to promote this stance to the client.
“One thing I experienced in the beginning was a bit of flack from some veterans of the business. At times there would be suggestions to clients that the new guys don’t know what they’re doing because they haven’t gotten the experience or that maybe they won’t be in the business six months or a year down the road. That may be an unfair call if the competition doesn’t know the background of the person they are referring to. The person may be a new mortgage broker, but they may have a background in lending, etc. “
And, as Penney suggests, this isn’t limited to other mortgage brokers- but happens with other players in the marketplace at times too.
“Banks sometimes use this approach when competing with brokers for clients. The whole bricks-and-mortar approach with being in business for such a long time is much the same as the veteran brokers. The person at the bank that the client is talking to probably hasn’t been at mortgages as long nor do they focus on just selling mortgage products, but they sell based on the premise of the large logo behind their desks.”
He suggests that the solution here is marketing, and promotion of your own abilities. Of course, too, the best advertisement for your abilities is a job well done, so another solution to combat this is to over deliver on client expectations, and then to ask for a referral.
Managing other people’s behaviour in a professional environment is no easy task. Frustration can often replace professional composure. As with most situations, ‘you attract more flies with honey than you do vinegar.’ Keep in mind that every move you make is perceived and processed by the client, and in some cases your best strategy is to offer solutions- and to keep your cool.
As Fudge puts it, “After twenty years of working in the industry, I’ve seen time and time again that being patient and professional to other Realtors will ultimately serve you well.”