Learning the Secret to Customer Satisfaction!

Real Estate Agent with Reliant Realty in Nashville, TN TN License# 00232013

When I returned to college after serving in the military (c. 1971), one of the jobs I took was working at TENNESSEE FURNITURE, located on 3rd Avenue South in downtown Nashville.  The owner, Mr. Bernie Kantor had "TEN RULES TO CUSTOMER SATISFACTION" posted on the wall next to his office door, and he stressed that all his employees memorize them.  I remember that he would always greet me at the door, tell me to walk all three floors and take note of any new inventory; then he would ask me "What is Rule #__?"   (All of this was before I was allowed to clock in).

Mr. Kantor's had a secret... but everyday, he insisted on the same routine: walk the floors, take note of the inventory, and answer the question, "What is Rule # __?" 

Whenever a person entered the store, they were greeted just inside the entrance with, "Welcome.  How may I help you today?"  Upon their exit, they were thanked, asked if they had seen our new items, and invited back.  People came in to pay their utility bills, to make payments on their accounts, and to get out of the rain; but they were always treated as the next big sale.  People were always treated well, and recognized a friendliness in that store; and the staff never forgot Mr. Kantor's "TEN RULES TO CUSTOMER SATISFACTION."  You see, Mr. Kantor had a secret...

In forty-plus years of sales, I have often reflected back on those "TEN RULES TO CUSTOMER SATISFACTION."  Every homebuyer, every homeowner, every fellow REALTOR® deserves to know that I have not forgotten what I learned from Mr. Kantor.  One of our regular customers was NFL Hall of Famer, Ed "Too Tall" Jones, and he knew we had the secret...

Should I share the Ten Rules?  Do I need to?  The fact is, most REALTORS® already know:

Rule # 1 "The Customer is Always Right!" 

Rule # 2 "The Customer is Always Right!" 

Rule # 3 "The Customer is Always Right!" 

Rule # 4 "The Customer is Always Right!" 

Rule # 5 "The Customer is Always Right!" 

Rule # 6 "The Customer is Always Right!" 

Rule # 7 "The Customer is Always Right!" 

Rule # 8 "The Customer is Always Right!" 

Rule # 9 "The Customer is Always Right!" 

Rule #10 "The Customer is Always Right!" 

What about the Secret?  Is it the ten rules?  NO, the secret is the application of the "TEN RULES TO CUSTOMER SATISFACTION."

That will be a blog for another day...


Posted by

Fred Cope, Reliant Realty, Nashville, TN -- (615) 587-3500 -- http://www.LookingForHomes.org --30 years experience in real estate and finance


Re-Blogged 1 time:

Re-Blogged By Re-Blogged At
  1. Shanna Hall 04/18/2010 03:18 PM
Real Estate Sales and Marketing

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Ted Tyndall
Davidson Realty Inc. - Saint Augustine, FL
FL Homes for Sale-Palencia, World Golf Village,Nocatee,St. Augustine

Fred, that is great. That is a major rule no matter what you are selling.

Apr 19, 2010 05:42 AM #22
Carolyn Roland-Historic Homes For Sale In Delaware and S. Chester County PA
Patterson-Schwartz Real Estate - Wilmington, DE
Carolyn Roland, GRI, CRS

That's good old fashioned advice!

Apr 19, 2010 07:39 AM #23
Karen Fiddler, Broker/Owner
Karen Parsons-Fiddler, Broker 949-510-2395 - Mission Viejo, CA
Orange County & Lake Arrowhead, CA (949)510-2395

That's the way is used to be....but that's not the case now in real estate...I almost think they are always wrong :(

Buyers....you can't get a $1 million home for $300,000....Wrong!
Sellers....you can't sell your house for $100,000 more than the REO down the street.....Wrong!

Wish we could have an economy where we can get back to service instead of being the bearer of bad news. :) love the sentiment, didn't mean to rant on your post....K

Apr 19, 2010 07:46 AM #24
Sheila Anderson
Referral Group Incorporated - East Brunswick, NJ
The Real Estate Whisperer Who Listens 732-715-1133

Good post. Simply solution.

Apr 19, 2010 08:00 AM #25
Damon Gettier
Damon Gettier & Associates, REALTORS- Roanoke Va Short Sale Expert - Roanoke, VA
Broker/Owner ABRM, GRI, CDPE

I certainly understand the premise of the customer is always right, and we all know that this certainly is not true in reality.  What I have experienced lately is an attitude of the customer is NEVER right.  It is quite shocking really.

Apr 19, 2010 09:49 AM #26
Ross Therrien
Prudential Verani Realty, Londonderry,New Hampshire - Londonderry, NH
Realtor, Broker Associate

The customer is always right:  To feel any way they wish. 

Our job is to listen and agree. Then move on. If they hire us then they become clients---then they have to listen.

Apr 19, 2010 09:56 AM #27
Fred Cope
Reliant Realty in Nashville, TN - Nashville, TN
Looking For Homes With A Smile

I'm overwhelmed with the response to "LEARNING THE SECRET TO CUSTOMER SATISFACTION."  I appreciate each contributor to this discussion, and am reminded of my grandchildrens' Easter Egg Hunt a couple of weeks ago.  I have watched several walk right upon the SECRET, and then go past.  Some just trampled all over the secret egg, and others were like the adults who watched and cheered.  I want to just blurt out the secret, but that would defeat my purpose.  I have tried giving a couple of hints.   I want someone to just say it!!!

Boy, Ross almost nailed it, then stepped on it. 

Damon, the reality is "THE CUSTOMER IS ALWAYS RIGHT!"  Hang with me, and you'll agree...

Juli, thank you!  The REALTOR® needs to "provide necessary information to help make the client right!"

Christopher Watters discussed the conflict between a seller's estimate of value and the market's estimate, and that isn't going to change.  But he went on to speak of attitude and of Great Service.  Did you pay attention to what he said?  Do you agree or disagree?  What would you consider to be at the core of Great Service?

Remember: It is simple.  It is selfless. It begins with an attitude.  And new hint:  God planned for you do this twice as much as is your tendency.  Until you master this, you will never be master of your trade. 

Apr 19, 2010 11:22 AM #28
Heather McClatchey
Tooele, UT

Thanks for your post.  I agree with you, to provide the appropriate service to your client you "need to walk the floor" every day and know what is new.  The customer is always right.  My first job in sales I was taught a very valuable lesson too, *treat every customer, no matter how they appear that they could be you next big client*  I have had many clients in retail that have thanked me for "giving them the time of day" because others wouldn't because they didn't think they could afford the purchase they were looking at.


Apr 19, 2010 12:33 PM #29
Patricia Aulson
Realtor - Portsmouth NH Homes-Hampton NH Homes

Thanks for the post!   Remember the quote....."customer service is not a department, it's an attitude!"

Patricia/Seacoast NH

Apr 19, 2010 12:43 PM #30
Peggy Campbell
Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage - Scottsdale, AZ

What an enjoyable post! One of my most inspiring bosses often quoted the other sentence you referred to above; "Clients don't care what you know until they know how much you care".

Apr 19, 2010 12:55 PM #31
Pam Turner, REALTOR®, e-PRO®, SFR
Century 21 Belk Realtors Dalton GA - Dalton, GA

Great customer service is priceless! Thanks for the reminder!

Apr 19, 2010 01:26 PM #32
Elyse Berman, PA
Best Connections Realty, Inc. - Boca Raton, FL
Boca Raton FL - (561) 716-7824 - CRS, ABR, GRI

Fred, Great post!  It sounds like Mr. Kantor made quite an impression on you.   Great advice.

Apr 19, 2010 01:38 PM #33
Esko Kiuru
Bethesda, MD


The customer can be always right, once he has been fully informed about the matter at hand and understands what it entails. The way the owner treated customers must've made him a local hero.

Apr 19, 2010 02:21 PM #34
Chris Olsen
Olsen Ziegler Realty - Cleveland, OH
Broker Owner Cleveland Ohio Real Estate

Hi Fred -- When I worked at Wendy's in high school, I was new, and I watched a fellow employee create a frosty and hand it to the customer.  The customer was OUTRAGED and upset that it wasn't high enough and he thought he was getting short-changed.  I looked at it and it seemed really full to me.  I saw the 40yo+ manager grab the shake, throw it out, gave him an even bigger size, filled to one drop from overflowing and hand it to the customer and the customer was then beaming -- got a larger size and fuller.

We all talked in the back afterwards and several employees commented that the original shake was fine.

The manager responded with:

The customer is always right, even when they are wrong, they are right.


I never forgot that.  I was only 16.


Now, next time I go in and order/buy a chevy neon, I'll scream at the manager and say I really ordered the corvette! LOL

Apr 19, 2010 04:12 PM #35
Christine Donovan
Donovan Blatt Realty - Costa Mesa, CA
Broker/Attorney 714-319-9751 DRE01267479 - Costa M

The customer may need to be treated like he is always right, and they should be treated with respect and courtesy.  However, I believe they also need to be educated that over pricing a home or searching for a home that does not fit their needs and/or price range is not the best thing for them.

Apr 19, 2010 04:30 PM #36
Jirius Isaac
Isaac Real Estate &TriStar Mortgage - Kenmore, WA
Real Estate & loans in Kenmore, WA

You gotta tell them they are wrong when they are wrong. And they are a lot of the time.  I agree with Christine above.

Apr 19, 2010 04:38 PM #37
Fred Cope
Reliant Realty in Nashville, TN - Nashville, TN
Looking For Homes With A Smile

BUT ARE THEY WRONG?  WHO SAYS THEY ARE WRONG?  Did you ever try to get a bargain on an old pick up truck, and ask/offer an unacceptable figure?  If not, I've got a pick up that I think is a bargain.  [No, I have no intention to sell my Chevy.]  Negotiations begin with two people having "unreasonable" expectations; but conclude with two people believing they got the better of the deal.  Not every negotiation concludes successfully.  I've met those "unreasonable" sellers, and buyers; but an old sales mantra says "It takes so many NO's to get a YES."  Low offers are the best medicine for a high price, and firm sellers are the best cure for silly buyer offers.

Everyone thought the Wright Brothers were crazy--thinking they could fly.  Persistent Determination won the day!

Remember:  If negotiating the sale of a home were easy, we would be unemployed.  THe tougher the negotiations, the more rewarding the success!

Apr 19, 2010 07:31 PM #38
Chesapeake, VA

Hi Fred,

At Exit Realty they preach the “Platinum Rule” – “Do unto others as they would have you do unto them”. 


Apr 19, 2010 07:44 PM #39
Richie Alan Naggar
people first...then business Ran Right Realty - Riverside, CA
agent & author


I love this topic and I am always thankful to see it. I have been in customer service all my life in different fields too...I have actually seen arguments  break out between people. You may have a point....but you lost the sale. Thank you

Apr 20, 2010 02:37 AM #40
Bob Engert
Georgia Elite Realty - Marietta, GA

 May not start that way, but it's wise to make them feel they are.

 Just don't compromise your integrity by doing so!

Jul 12, 2010 07:21 AM #41
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