I've been watching and commenting on Leslie Rojohn's fine blog called "Time is Money-- Unless You're a REALTOR" - about charging retainer fees. Maybe you saw it, too, since it was Active Rain's headliner of the day last Thursday or Friday.
As typically happens when any topic of non-contingent compensation is featured, the comments came in fast and furiously, most along the lines of "Sounds great, but it will never happen. If buyers (or sellers) can get it free down the street, why would they be willing to pay for it?"
Indeed. Why would they?
That's not a rhetorical question - I'm asking it. Assuming you like the idea of getting a retainer or upfront fee, WHY would a buyer or seller be willing to pay one for your real estate service?
No answer? Well, then there's the problem!
Unless you're some super-duper salesperson who can sell the proverbial snow to an Eskimo, you need to believe that what you're selling is good for your customer. Great, even. AND IF YOU DON'T BELIEVE THAT ABOUT YOUR SERVICE OR YOUR FEES, no one else is going to believe it either!
Of course, this applies to any product or service someone might be pitching, but for our purposes here, we're talking about non-contingent (aka retainer or upfront) fees.
"Sounds great, but it will never happen. If buyers or sellers can get it free down the street, why would they be willing to pay for it?"
Well... in the last few years of my active career, I offered my sellers the choice to pay me $500 upfront... and most took me up on it - happily. Was the guy or gal down the street also charging $500 upfront? Nope. Were my seller clients so filthy stinkin' rich that they had an extra $500 lying around they wanted me to have? Nope. Was I such a super-duper salesperson that I was able to overcome their objections with a masterful script and a mega-watt smile? Oh, heavens NO!
Most of my sellers paid the $500 upfront fee because I made it a good deal for them to do so. And they recognized a good deal when they saw one and cheerfully wrote the check. And because I knew what I was offering was a good deal for them, it was no problem at all for me to "sell" them on the idea.
So... instead of moaning and groaning about how unfair it is that we Work for Free (which we DON'T) and that "no one will ever be willing to pay us non-contingently unless everyone else does it, too," get out of your own way and think about how you could make getting what YOU want also be a good deal for your customers. And you'll be able to sell it All Day Long.