To drive or not to drive...

By
Real Estate Agent with Coldwell Banker Heritage Realtors

In today's litigious society, I have to wonder:  Is it really worth the risk in driving clients around in your car?  Especially those families with children?

I'll never forget my very first Real Estate training course.  The instructor was very "old school" and taught the Mike Ferry program like it was the Bible.  One thing that he felt especially passionate about was controlling the client's thought process.  He insisted that we should never allow our clients to ride alone.  If they didn't want to ride in our car, we should simply hop into theirs so that we could control the conversation.

First of all, that's not my personality.  I think you'll get a better understanding of what your clients want if they have a chance to talk it out between houses.  I save the "what did you think of the house" conversation for the driveway of the next house.  I've discovered that since I started using this approach I get a much more honest opinion from them.  But, that's my personal style and I realize that what works for some is not what works for others.

Secondly, I can't help but think of the liability!  What if I got into an accident (my fault or not) with someone's child in the car?  Even though I have insurance I have a deductible and it would generate a lot of paperwork and added insurance costs.  No thank you!

Last of all, they will always remember me as the Realtor® they were with when it happened.  Not the way I want to be remembered.  I want to be remembered for my excellent customer service and my attention to detail. 

So...let's hear it.  Do you drive them or not?  Why?

Happy Selling,

Rebecca

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Rainmaker
206,324
Chris Tesch
RE/MAX Bryan-College Station - College Station, TX
College Station, Texas Real Estate

Rebecca,

Frequently when clients follow me I find myself getting lost because familiar landmarks pass by unnoticed.  I would also worry about the liability of them following you.  I know of cases where someone following a speeder gets a speeding ticket because they are presumed to have been speeding, so whether you are caravaning or not there might be legal implications.  I don't know of a minute of a day in which you might not get called to the carpet for something you innocently did, or didn't do. 

As far as clients riding in my car, I'm all for it!  I don't want to control the conversation, by any means.  I find this a great time to talk about things.  Sometimes they will mention an old home that they had, that was particularly inviting or a situation that they found confusing about an earlier contract.  This is valuable information that might make me more able to assist my clien 

Jul 30, 2007 03:32 AM #1
Rainmaker
240,528
Bob Southard
Atlas Realty Service, LLC - Kennesaw, GA
e-Pro - Cobb, Cherokee, North Fulton

That's a great question.  I have never been in an accident with a client.  I did have a client that was in my car when I was showing houses.  She got out of the car and broke her finger.  I wondered after that if I might be getting a phone call to see if my insurance would cover it, but it never happended.  Of course, I still haven't sold her a house yet either.

I have done it both ways, and I don't have a preference either way.  Usually when they have kids, they want to drive thier own cars becuase of car seats and such.  And that's fine by me.

Jul 30, 2007 03:38 AM #2
Rainer
7,190
Brian Myers
Signature Properties in Scottsdale, AZ - Paradise Valley, AZ
Scottsdale & Paradise Valley, AZ Real Estate Agent

Rebecca,

 I absolutely try to drive them around when I can.  I agree 100% with you on the liability of driving them around and GOD forbid you are involved in an accident with their child in the car.  BUT, and you knew there was going to be a but, this is my time to separate myself from the majority of agents out there that we are "in theory" competing with.  That time is invaluable to me, because I get their full attention.  They are trapped and have to listen to me.  After about two or three homes and discussing the homes we just saw, I usually have a good idea of exactly what they are looking for. The rest of the time I am explaining on how the home buying process works in Arizona and pointing out different points of interest. (Schools, stores, parks, and etc.)  I really try to overload them with information VERBALLY while I have them in the car.  If I can get someone to go on a home tour with me for even four or five homes, usually after that tour I have established myself as the professional they want to do business with.  Great question, I will be interested to see what others respond.

Good Luck!

Jul 30, 2007 03:40 AM #3
Rainer
10,223
Christy Avila
J and C Realty - Yucaipa, CA
That is a tough one.  I actually try not to drive my clients around because of the liability issues.  If I have a client that is very unfamiliar with the area or insist that we ride together than we will.  I try to avoid it though.
Jul 30, 2007 03:42 AM #4
Rainmaker
1,540,427
Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty
Bucci Realty, Inc. - Melbourne, FL
Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County
I avoid driving clients around for a couple of reasons. The liability issue is one reason but also it gives the buyers the chance to discuss openly issues without fear of offending me with a negative comment. Yes, buyers should be open with you but sometimes they are just too nice.
Jul 30, 2007 03:54 AM #5
Rainer
39,620
Rebecca Quinones
Coldwell Banker Heritage Realtors - Dayton, OH

Chris - I never speed and I live in a small town where there isn't a lot of chance you're going to lose your client.  Good point about it being a good time to really get to know your clients.  If you don't drive them, you have to be good at creating other opportunities for this!

Bob - I hope her finger heals quickly and she buys a house from you!  I've found the same thing when clients have children.  They usually just say, "We'll follow you."

Brian - More excellent points.  If I'm doing "marathon" home showings with relocation clients I try to use a lunch break as a good time to do my talking. 

Christy - So far it looks like the we're the only ones.  :)  I'm like you.  I HAVE and WILL drive clients around but if I can tactfully avoid it, I do. 

Jul 30, 2007 03:56 AM #6
Rainer
39,620
Rebecca Quinones
Coldwell Banker Heritage Realtors - Dayton, OH

Gary - Score another for "against".  When we bought our house in Melbourne, my husband rode around with the agent.  When we bought this house, my children and I came for the house hunting trip and we drove alone. 

So, this poses another thought.  Does our comfort level have anything to do with the family dynamics?  Do any of you find that you are more likely to drive one person or a couple and less likely to drive around a family?  Or, does it not make a difference?

Jul 30, 2007 04:00 AM #7
Rainer
12,536
Sybil Holcomb
Ayres Realty - Douglasville, GA
I have mixed feelings on this one.  I do like having them in my car for a chance to really get to know them but I also hate the liability issue of having them in my car.  I usually let them make the decision but I really try to sway them to following me if they have children.  That's just to nerve racking for me.
Jul 30, 2007 04:12 AM #8
Rainmaker
704,155
Brian Block
RE/MAX Allegiance, Managing Broker/Branch Vice President - McLean, VA
Northern Virginia & D.C. Real Estate

I almost always am in the same car as my clients and it is usually my car.  Usually it will only be their car if they have young kids or a baby coming along or if they have to rush off to somewhere else after our appointment and we are far away from the starting point.

Regarding liability, our brokerage requires that they are put on the insurance policy as a co-insured and requires a certain minimum level of auto insurance.

I've only ever gotten one ticket with clients in the car and it was for failing to make a complete stop at a red light before making a right hand turn.  My clients were as shocked as I was and had no idea that I had done anything wrong.  They ended up finding their house that afternoon and obviously the commission far outweighed the traffic ticket.  Hmmmm... could I write that off as a business expense? 

Jul 30, 2007 04:14 AM #9
Rainer
39,620
Rebecca Quinones
Coldwell Banker Heritage Realtors - Dayton, OH

Brian - All brokers that I know of require you to add them to your insurance policy.  I'm glad that your red-light incident turned out OK. :)

Brian & Sybil - I'm absolutely against driving around a client with a young child or baby!  As a mom I would never put my child into a car with someone that I don't know well (to include a few people that I do know well!) so I wouldn't even offer. 

 

Aug 04, 2007 11:03 AM #10
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