(NOTE: For those who have been in the business since dinosaurs roamed the Earth, like me, you may want to utilize the old skills of A time, B time and C time to convert these basics to a rational framework. It's always easier to apply new skills by understanding which old and valued skills they are replacing.)
While some may say there is no "right" or "wrong" way of doing things, that is clearly not the case. One of the first things we learn in the real estate business is to base our course of action (business plan) based on last year's realities. In that regard, your methods may not be the same as mine if your clients don't use email or text messaging. The majority of my clients work at Microsoft or Google and I adjust the below communication method template when and as needed, to my clients preferred way of communicating and not MY preferred method of communicating.
Asking people is NOT the #1 way to create your Effective Communication Template. Noting how people communicated with YOU vs how you communicated with them over the past 12 months, is the basis for establishing your communication systems.
#1 - EMAIL
Email continues to be the #1 effective means of communicating in a real estate transaction.
A-Time (Active Current Client interraction)
1) Seller clients whose home is listed for sale and/or in negotiations with a buyer for their home, but not in contract with a buyer.
2) Buyer clients who are actively looking for a home to buy or who are in negotiations to buy a given home but who are not yet in contract.
Agent to Agent communications are only in A Time if you are Actively Negotiating a Purchase and Sale Agreement with that Agent.
"A" time is also "ANY" TIME meaning it is never too late or too early or the wrong day. These activities if done correction end up in $ as a result and if done incorrectly = no payday if not done correctly.
HOW DID YOUR NEW CLIENTS CONTACT YOU IN THE LAST 12 MONTHS?
A large majority of my clients, in fact pretty much all, contacted me to ask me to represent them in a purchase or sale via email as the first point of contact. One contacted me via facebook. None called me on the phone as the initial means of asking me to represent them in the purchase or sale of a home.
Instead of asking people what their preferred method of communicating IS...follow their LEAD as to how they initiate contact with you.
Email is #1 as it allows your clients and prospective clients and cooperating agents to scan, prioritize, read and respond on THEIR schedule vs yours. UNLESS you absolutely must have an answer NOW (which should be the rare occasion), email with attachments is the #1 method of communicating.
VIPPS: Your email should NOT have a lot of mime code or jpg attachments (signature lines) as the client needs to know if there is an attachment they should be reading. If every single one of your emails has an "attachment" because your signature line contains "an attachment"...screwed up!
#2 - TEXT MESSAGE
While some agents have a hard time knowing when to text vs email or call, the simplest way for you to set up hard and fast "rules" for texting is to look at your phone. Pick it up right now and look at the text messages.
Pay more attention to the text messages TO you vs FROM you and you will quickly see if you are mirroring your client's preferences vs treating text message as if they are email.
Usually text messaging is associated with B-Time activities.
Looking at my phone to give you some examples of the text messages over the last few days.
"Here" to client meeting me at the home they have an offer on which is walking distance from the house they are currently renting. They can leave their house when I note that I am "here" which I do as I enter the housing development. This is B time as the offer is being signed at the home they are buying, so the A time activity has already been established and the B message is the final event leading to A time.
"I will be at X house today at X time if you want to join me" The majority of my work for clients does not involve their having to be with me. That may sound a bit odd for some agents, but "touring" homes with clients has not been an activity for me since 2001 or so. Let me change that to touring homes with clients to find a home for them to purchase has not been an activity for me since 2001 or so. I work every day to find the home for them to buy. When I am going to preview a home I just tell them when and where I am going and they can join me...or not. Sometimes they respond "can you change that to 6 vs 3 so I can join you? which is why I text them a few hours in advance so they can join me. Sometimes this is an email with property links vs a text if it is more than one house.
"Closing Date?" Sent that text while writing an offer and I left that blank while completing other aspects of the offer. 3 inutes later I received this text response "How is 8/23?" to which I texted back "Good".
Texting should always be SHORT as some people's phones do not accommodate long winded texting!
Some people's phones register long text messages as 4 or 5 text messages in succession, which is hugely annoying. My phone does not do that...but it's not about ME is it? SHORT!
If you have not learned to talk in few words...
join twitter and practice conveying info in shorter and shorter bits.
#3 - MEET IN PERSON (almost always "A" or "B" Time Activity) B time leads to A time for those who don't know the ABC "time" scheduling. C is a feedback call, as example. C is telling your assistant to send out X, as example. B is meeting a client at a home that they may want to buy. If they do want to buy it that B time converts to A time while you are standing IN the house and they indicate that level of interest...you move quickly to A time by calling the Listing Agent before talking about writing an offer to gauge how quickly you need to be writing based on "other offers in hand".
IMPORTANT: AGENTS WHO CALL THE LISTING AGENT TO FIND OUT IF THEY HAVE ANY OFFERS
BEFORE THEY "MEET IN PERSON" TO SHOW THE HOUSE
ARE CONSIDERED FLAKEY! NOT ALWAYS...BUT ALMOST ALWAYS.
DON'T DO THAT!
YOU CALL TO SEE IF THERE ARE OFFERS THE SECOND YOUR CLIENT INDICATES AN INTEREST IN WRITING AN OFFER, OR YOU GIVE THE APPEARANCE THAT YOU ARE A LAZY AGENT WHO DOESN'T WANT TO BE BOTHERED SHOWING A HOUSE IF THERE ARE OFFERS IN. YOU CALL THE SECOND YOUR CLIENT HAS AN INTEREST IN WRITING AN OFFER, AND NOT A SECOND BEFORE!
THIS AGENT TO AGENT CALL IS B - TIME THAT LEADS TO A - TIME UNLESS YOU SHOULDN'T BE MAKING THE CALL AT ALL, WHICH WOULD MOVE IT TO C - TIME.
This is not a call you make to an agent before making a Meeting in Person with your Client appointment to see a house.
Personally I always Meet in Person when the client is going to sign more than one or two pages. In person is usually signing An Offer in it's entirety (13 to 23 pages), signing a Listing Contract, meeting to see a house or more than one house, meeting at the Home Inspection, etc.
Set up that Meet in Person via #1 EMAIL
almost NO exceptions to this rule!
Sending an email (possibly text) scheduling the place and time of a face to face meeting gives the other person time to think, check their schedule, arrange the time with their partner, etc.
Asking for a face to face meeting via a phone call may be a reason why you are stood up often.
I am NEVER, EVER stood up for an appointment. NEVER!
...and yet I continue to read agents whining about this "Problem" they have.
Look in the mirror...not at the bad people who stand you up.
If you are making Face to Face appointments by phone call...you are not doing it "right".
#4 - CALL ON THE PHONE
There are many reasons why Calling On The Phone has become the LEAST effective means of communicating.
I have given several in person Seminars on Social Media and Blogging to Agents over the years and without fail half of the Agents in the audience says "I LIKE TO..." talk on the phone or meet in person.
If your reason for doing things differently than noted in this post starts with the word "I"...it is very likely the wrong answer. WE deal with putting clients FIRST. That is what we DO.
By putting yourself first in your communication preferences
you are basically telling people
DO NOT HIRE ME AS I ALWAYS PUT MYSELF FIRST.
- A huge part of our business involves confidentiality. SOUND TRAVELS!
- Even if you are not talking in a place where someone can hear YOU you cannot ascertain if the person you are calling is in a place where someone can hear THEM.
- Even if you are calling them on a home land line (rare) you cannot see if someone else is in their home.
- You can't see if they are changing a diaper or if the sound of the phone ringing is going to wake up the baby or if you are interrupting them during their favorite TV show or in the middle of a movie.