"I see myself as a caddy."

Real Estate Agent with Winderemere Homes & Estates: waterfront condos, second homes

On Monday, I was in the middle of a first phone conversation with a new client. He and his wife plan to purchase a home and are curious about the opportunities available, specifically with short sales and foreclosures. This new client had a number of questions about both types of transactions. I confirmed some of the things he had heard and clarified other aspects of the current real estate market. And then, I listened to myself say something I never told a client or prospect before:

"I see myself as a caddy."  

A caddy? Where did that come from? (Just to clarify, I was referring to myself as toter of golf bags, not a luxury GM automobile.) While I have my established stable of phrases that use during first time conversations, "I see myself as a caddy" is not one of them.  Recently I have  been trying to resurrect my latent golf swing, but "I see myself as a caddy"  certainly bubbled up from my subconscious.

Before today, this caddy analogy is nothing I've talked about, written about, or on the conscious level even thought about. But upon deeper reflection, the analogy is apt. Consider for a moment the role of a caddy in connection with a professional golfer.

A caddy knows the terrain. Before golf ball and flaga tournament, a caddy walks the course and anticipates which locations where his pro will likely land. He notes potential dangers--known hazards marked by stakes as well as hidden perils. As he walks the course, a caddy periodically drops a golf observing which way the ball will bounce, planning for future contingencies.

A caddy keeps his pro on schedule. While familiarizing himself with the course, a caddy keeps a notebook full of distances--length to the pin, distance needed to clear a sand trap, etc. By matching these distances to the capabilities of his golfer, he puts his pro in situations where he will be most likely to be successful. A good caddy  anticipates the the most likely scenario and always prepared for the next move.

A caddy advises and consults.  Armed with the knowledge of the course and his pro, a caddy doles out sage advise when asked and sometimes when not asked. How much is this putt going to break left? Do I need one more club into this wind? While the caddy advises, it is ultimately the golfers's decision what do next. A caddy is neither a coach nor a manager, but a trusted consultant working towards the golfer's goal.

A caddy reassures.  Once his pro has made his decision, the caddy's job it to give his golfer the best chance to put a good swing on the ball.  Playing part time psychologist, the caddy carefully chooses his words for a beneficial effect on his golfer. At a time filled with tension and stress, the caddy tries to fill the pro's head with a positive thought before he needs to act.

A buyer/seller  hires a agent for the same reasons a pro golfer hires a caddy: to take away some of stress of the task at hand so they may concentrate on the big picture. We shoulder our clients' burdens and we carry their golf bags. And some  clients certainly have more baggage than others.

A prominent real estate coaching company has a dialog that uses the analogy of real estate agent as a pilot and the client as a passenger.  The point of the dialog is that as the "the pilot" I'm going to get you safely to your destination (the sale of your home). There is a handout that lists in detail the many forms of "turbulence" that might come up throughout the "flight"--everything from buyers changing their mind to appraisals coming back low. 

backswingThe problem with the pilot analogy is the passive nature of the passenger. The client is merely along for the ride with no input as to the direction of the flight. Our clients should should be the main character of the transaction, gently guided by our knowledge and experience. The caddy/pro relationship is symbiotic; the better job a caddy does, the better his golf will preform. The better the golfer preforms, the larger the caddy's paycheck. Sound familiar?

The client from the phone call currently finds himself in a "highest and best" situation competing with another buyer.  I will tell him what I know and I will tell him what I believe. Before he makes a decision, I will try to put a positive swing thought in his head.  Will he score on this listing? I don't know.  But if he doesn't...we'll be ready to tee it up and take a swing at the next one.

Comments (52)

Kimo Jarrett
Cyber Properties - Huntington Beach, CA
Pro Lifestyle Solutions

Excellent analogy, however, the caddy always gets paid a minimum regardless of the outcome, so maybe comparing a caddy to a Realtor is a bit of a stretch, yet it's an interesting post.

Nov 06, 2011 05:39 AM
Katie Munoz
Moving Forward Inc - Seattle, WA



It's amazing what I learn on Active Rain.  Not being a golfer, or a real estate professional, I learned from your descriptions this morning.  I really didn’t know what a caddy’s function was at all.  And now I have a MUCH better idea of the importance of a buyer’s agent.


Why am I even on this site, if my business isn’t real estate?  My company, Moving Forward, helps seniors (and younger people too) relocate and/or downsize with ease.   


Recently an adult daughter explained our service to her mother as having a “catered move.”   You've inpsired me to take that line out for a test drive. 





Nov 06, 2011 05:41 AM
J. Philip Faranda
Howard Hanna Rand Realty - Yorktown Heights, NY
Associate Broker / Office Manager

OK, this is absolutely an analogy- you used "like or as" ;-)

And a great analogy it is! 

Nov 06, 2011 06:07 AM
Christian de Almeida
Bal Harbour, FL


I was just checking my email and went through some AR articles, there was one post that was "nice" but because I linked it through email I was not logged on and I didn't want to go through the trouble of doing so, so I just moved on to the next "interesting" article which was yours.  I thought it was such a nice post and an even better analogy that I made sure to login and comment on it.  Congratulations.

Nov 06, 2011 10:47 AM
Gene Riemenschneider
Home Point Real Estate - Brentwood, CA
Turning Houses into Homes

I think you have a very good analogy.  Thanks for a good post.  I may steal the line!

Nov 06, 2011 11:56 AM
Kathy Schowe
California Lifestyle Realty - La Quinta, CA
La Quinta, California 760-333-8886

What a great post... as a former pro and caddy...I am just mad I ddin't write it!  Well-deserved feature!  Kathy

Nov 06, 2011 12:38 PM
Marte Cliff
Marte Cliff Copywriting - Priest River, ID
Your real estate writer

Interesting! Since I'm not a golfer, I had no idea that a caddy was so important to a golf game.

Nov 06, 2011 01:10 PM
Mary Macy
Top Agents Atlanta Metro - Roswell, GA
Top Agents Atlanta Metro

What a great analagy. Thanks for your post, I am suggesting and reposting.

Nov 06, 2011 02:13 PM
Larry Bettag
Cherry Creek Mortgage Illinois Residential Mortgage License LMB #0005759 Cherry Creek Mortgage NMLS #: 3001 - Saint Charles, IL
Vice-President of National Production

Love all of the analogies here.  Very parallel and very close to what the great ones do!  Let's not forget...sometimes your the caddie....sometimes your the driver and sometimes your the ball!  Rather be the caddie or the club!

Nov 06, 2011 02:20 PM
Terronald Logan
Keller Williams Realty - Austin, TX
Realtor, Homes for Sale - Austin, Texas

Loving this analogy as well!  And I'm not even close to being a sports guy, so I can appreciate that I even understand these analogies.  Very well written and thought out!  Great job.

Nov 06, 2011 02:26 PM
Lynda Eisenmann
Preferred Home Brokers - Brea, CA
Broker Associate ,CRS,GRI,SRES, Brea,CA, Orange Co

Hi Steve,

Love this analogy myself...and I'm very familar with the "pilot" comparison with the other coaching group you referred to and I couldn't agree with you more.

btw, I found your post as a result of Kathy's re-post.

Nov 06, 2011 02:52 PM
Bob Miller
Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty - Ocala, FL
The Ocala Dream Team

Hi Steve, Great post.  Very nice analogy.  If only more agents would think this way.

Nov 06, 2011 09:34 PM
Jeanne Dufort
Coldwell Banker Lake Country - Madison, GA
Madison and Lake Oconee GA

terrific analogy, Steve.  Putting your golfer client in the best position to succeed is a wonderful model to live by.

Nov 07, 2011 01:47 AM
Sylvie Stuart
Realty One Group Mountain Desert 928-600-2765 - Flagstaff, AZ
Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagsta

Wow, I never would have thought about it like that! Great analogy! Thanks for posting!

Nov 07, 2011 01:53 AM
Steve Matsumoto
Winderemere Homes & Estates: waterfront condos, second homes - Oceanside, CA
First Time Home Buyers - Oceanside, CA

Judi - Thanks kind of you to say. Based on the look of your blog, I bet you're a pretty good caddy yourself.

Jennifer - Oh yes! Spend a good portion of the day as a fireman as well.

Nov 07, 2011 04:52 AM
Steve Matsumoto
Winderemere Homes & Estates: waterfront condos, second homes - Oceanside, CA
First Time Home Buyers - Oceanside, CA

Chuck - Obviously I'm biased, but I think if you buy into this analogy there's a high probability you're providing your clients with excellent service.

Gloria - You have to be willing to make your client the center of attention.  Like I commented to Chuck, if you see yourself as a caddy or personal concierge, you are putting your clients needs ahead of yours.  That's the way to provide service.

Lyn - Sadly, allowing the client to make a decision that is there's to make it sometimes forgotten/ignored by many agents.  One of the most useful lines in real estate is "I'll talk to my client and get back to you."

Melissa & Kimo - It's a lot like real estate. You have some highly successul caddies at the top and many that are sleeping 4 to a hotel room at weekly pro stop.  If you win 5% of your pro prize, 7% for a top 10 finish, and 10% for a victory, you can do quite well as a caddy with the right pro.

Nov 07, 2011 05:03 AM
Steve Matsumoto
Winderemere Homes & Estates: waterfront condos, second homes - Oceanside, CA
First Time Home Buyers - Oceanside, CA

Christian - Thanks for the compliment of reading, loggin on, and commenting.  My posts tend to be lengthier than other, so I appreciate you taking the time.

Gene - Great! No referral fee needed.  That is unless you felt strongly about sending me a check.

Kathy - Thanks for the re-blog and additional traffic. 

Larry - I'm sure we've all taken turns in this market getting smacked around.

Lynda - I have had clients that I would love to treat more like passangers than golf pros.  You know ones that succeed in spite of themselves.  But the ones I enjoy working with the most are partners in their success.

Nov 07, 2011 05:14 AM
Steve Matsumoto
Winderemere Homes & Estates: waterfront condos, second homes - Oceanside, CA
First Time Home Buyers - Oceanside, CA

Marte - In the world of professional golf, the caddy definitely affects the final outcome!

Mary - Thanks and thanks!

Terronald - You're too kind. Thanks for reading even though you're not a "sports guy."

Bob - I'm sure there's plenty of agents in your area that won't buy this because they need to be the star.   Those agents that have to shine the brightest tend to overshadow their clients.

Jeanne - I think so. By putting your clients needs ahead of yours, you'll never go wrong in this business.

Sylvie - Thanks for reading.

Nov 07, 2011 05:22 AM
Gina Tufano
Ask Gina & Company with Pearson Smith Realty - Sterling, VA
Ask Gina & Company, Northern Virginia Real Estate

This is a great analogy. I guess it's good that a part of your brain had gold on the mind! Congratulations on the feature and have a great day!

Nov 07, 2011 07:22 AM
Inna Ivchenko
Barcode Properties - Encino, CA
Realtor® • GRI • HAFA • PSC Calabasas CA

I play golf too.

There is a huge difference between a caddyand a realtor: a caddy is always paid....! and always has good tip after the service:)


Great blog! Very clever analogy.

Sep 25, 2012 04:17 PM