Cold Calling and Public Relations In Real Estate . . .

Real Estate Agent with RE/MAX Realty Services

In the olden days when I was a newer younger agent, I moved from a traditional broker to RE/MAX with my friends.  You know, if your friends jump off the cliff are you going to jump too - I could just hear my Mother's voice and the obvious answer was, well sure!! 

 So here is a funny story about cold calling in real estate.  It is long, but I think you will enjoy it.  This is also the reason I am as polite as possible to telemarketers.

The market was changing then, people were scrambling left and right to stay in the business, but many left.  I stayed.  At the time there was a seminar called Floyd Wickman's Sweathogs.  It was the end all get all answer to our prayers.  A twelve week program that was going to change our lives.  It cost like $800 at the time, all the money on the planet for me, but I managed to get it together and go.

So off we went once a week.  There must have been 500 RE/MAX agents from the surrounding metro DC area there at Sweathogs.  We all had our books, a hat - I swear - that looked like a fast food restaurant hat that said "No, but I will . . "  That meant, no I didn't get a listing this week, but I will.  How silly, but we all did it.  If you got a listing you didn't have to wear the hat, that in itself was motivation. 

There were many scripts and dialogs that we had to learn, when the seller said this, you said that and so on.  Homework to do, cold calling because" listings were the name of the game", no matter what the market conditions were.

The call was simple," Mr or Mrs Wojokowski, this is Audrey from RE/MAX are you thinking about selling now or in the near future? " BAM that was it.  Just going down the list one after the other.  I started doing this, but found out just not my thing, as a matter of fact I totally hated it.  My remedy was to hire someone to do it for me.  In those days that was pretty forward thinking in the real estate industry, no one really even had assistants back then. So, who do I hire?  You know there are all the rules of brokerage and such, I dealt with that with my broker and found the perfect person.  Harry.

Harry was retired from IBM and a total bean counter, quiet, tall, wire rimmed glasses never said boo to anyone.  He was the best, just went right down the list, calling one after the other right out of the criss cross.  I got business like crazy from it. Harry was happy, Audrey was happy everything was lovely.

So one day I walk into the office and the receptionist said, I have been trying to get you there is a man named John Doe who has been calling here for you like crazy?   I was puzzled , took his number and went to call John to see if he needed me to come and list his house straight away.

That was not what John wanted.  Remember I told you there were 500 RE/MAX agents calling?  Well every other company in town was doing Sweathogs too, so the public was barraged with "Hi, are you thinking about selling your house now or in the near future," nightly.  Well, Harry found John and struck a nerve.

I called John Doe back.  As soon as I said "Hi, this is Audrey" he went off.  Not in the super mean screamy way, but just vented to me.  He said, "Harry called me last night to ask me if I wanted to sell my house and I said, No, I am so sick and tired of all you agents calling my house to ask me if I want to sell my house.  If I want to sell my house I will call you and ask you to come over, don't you all call me and bother me and I have had it and I am so sick of all of you and Harry told me to EAT $%^&!!! "  I said, Harry?!! Not Harry, Harry wouldn't say boo to anyone?  He said, "Yes he did that is why I called your office yesterday and today." 

I just died.  So, I apologized all over myself and told him that I would talk to Harry, my brokers and get it resolved, apologized all over myself a little bit more.  Then I just had to do it, I asked him if he was thinking about selling or not, but by then we were laughing and it was okay.  He was not in the market to sell at the time.

So, I get off the phone and at the time I had an office mate and told her the whole story.  She said, "no way, I sit in here with Harry and he is totally polite, yes mam, no sir, thank you.  That guy is crazy he must of misunderstood Harry, there is just no way." 

I called Harry and said,  "Hi, Harry how's it going? "  Harry said fine.  I asked him if anything unusual happened recently, he said, "no. . . oh there was this one  guy I called the other night and all I did was say, Hi, would you like to sell your house now or in the near future and and he went off.  He said, I am so sick of you agents calling me and asking me if I want to sell my house, if I want to sell my house I will call you, and was so rude and nasty to me I just told him to EAT $%&^!!  "  I almost died.  Harry, who never says boo to anyone told the guy to EAT $%^&. 

I just about fell out of my chair.  I told Harry we couldn't do such things and I was sorry the fellow was rude to him, but well we were calling him not the other way around, and it was unacceptable.  I called John Doe back, we kissed and made up, everyone was happy and I had a real estate story for sure.

When I turned to my friend, Kathy who was there at night and vowged for Harry's manners, she and I just about fell out of our chairs laughing so hard.

I just died and I still love that story.  If you could have known Harry, tall, quiet, wire rimmed glasses it just makes the story even funnier. 

A couple of things;  always be polite, never assume anything about anyone and telling someone to EAT $%^& , although it gets their attention, is not the best marketing plan!!


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Michael A. Caruso
Surterre Properties - Laguna Niguel, CA

Do you still cold call?  Remarks would be very interesting in this environment....

Nov 18, 2008 03:09 AM #1
Richard Shuman
The Only B.S. I Have is from the University of Massachusetts - Lake Mary, FL
Real Estate Broker - Orlando Area - Love Referrals

That is so funny!!! People tell me to  EAT $%^& on a daily basis.

At least I am talking to people- Throw enough $%^& against the wall - something has to stick!!!

Nov 18, 2008 03:12 AM #2
Pat Champion
Coldwell Banker Camelot Realty - Mount Dora, FL
Call the "CHAMPION" for all your real estate needs

Great story-I guesss even Harry had his breaking point.  Thanks for sharing.

Nov 18, 2008 03:13 AM #3
Audrey June-Forshey
RE/MAX Realty Services - Darnestown, MD
GRI, Gaithersburg, MD

Michael, No I don't.  Now I have been in the business long enough that I mostly get referrals and repeat business.

Richard, that is so funny, I almost spit my coffee on the computer. LOL!

Pat, I guess so.  Harry was the best, bless his heart.

Nov 18, 2008 03:16 AM #4
Tracy Miller
Canton, MS
S. S. Specialist

Audrey - what an incredibly funny story.  I really enjoyed reading it, and although I've never met Harry before you drew a very clear picture of him, which is a polite, friendly, professional salesperson.  Thank you so much for sharing this story. 

Oh, by the way, do you still rely on cold callers to help generate business for you or are you making these calls yourself now?  If you do still rely on cold calling, have you found it to still be as effective as you said it was in the past at generating clients for you? 


Nov 18, 2008 03:25 AM #5
Mike Klijanowicz
Cummings & Co. Realtors - Perry Hall, MD
Associate Broker @ Cummings & Co. Realtors

Nice story and I even laughed out loud at this one.  Did the guy ever call you back when he was ready to list his house?  Just curious...

Nobody cold calls anymore because EVERYBODY is on the DO NOT CALL LIST!

Nov 18, 2008 03:28 AM #6
Yvette Smith
LONG & FOSTER - Williamsburg, VA
Realtor In Williamsburg VA, Homes for Sale


Your story made me afraid to pick up the phone!!!  Funny story!!  I always try to be polite because I hate rude telemarketers!!

Thanks for sharing,

Nov 18, 2008 03:30 AM #7
Kathy Judy
Tri-Cities Real Estate retired - Ontario, OR

I am a Wickmanite too!  It helped me a bunch!  Just the knowledge that if I wanted a listing I could get it.  I miss cold calling!  I am good at it and used it when I was depressed as I could always get some action going that way.  It's too risky now with the do not  call list and truly is an inefficient way to get listings.  But it is a cheap and effective way to advertise your name! 

Nov 18, 2008 03:40 AM #8
Kenneth Bargers
Prudential Woodmont Realty - Nashville, TN

Audrey - Great story about the necessary evil of cold calling!  Poor Harry - day in and day out and finally someone hit a nerve.  All the best to you and your business.

Nov 18, 2008 03:41 AM #9
Ann Allen Hoover
RE/MAX Advantage South - Hoover, AL
CDPE SRES ASP e-PRO Realtor - Homes for Sale - AL

I love it!  I sure wish I had Harry making my calls!  I can't stand doing them.

Nov 18, 2008 04:29 AM #10
Jason Edwards
Austin, TX

Hey Audrey.  I love reading stories about the "old days" like this one!  All those years ago I only made it becuase Floyd taught me how to call but luckily ours was the only company doing Sweathogs at the time.  See how things have come full circle?  People are scrambling again only this time I'm the trainer.  No silly fast food-like hats this time around though!  Oh...and no cold calling. ;-)

Nov 24, 2008 02:21 AM #11
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Audrey June-Forshey

GRI, Gaithersburg, MD
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