Realtor Magazine recently published an article titled A National Open Door Policy. The gist of the article suggests that real estate office throughout the country should promote an open-door policy that would allow real estate agents with other companies to use their public space for quick safety check-ins with new clients.
There are more sensible, practical and intelligent ways to ensure your own safety without meeting your client in another real estate office where you do not pay to be a sponsored agent. I prefer to meet my buyers at my office prior to showing them any properties. The initial meeting is a productive way to get to know each other, explain the buying process and to lay out a strategic plan on finding the right home. Many agents also like to meet someone for the first time in a public setting to help ensure their safety, particularly when they don't have an officer or when time doesn't permit driving to it. I get it, but if you work for RE/MAX you shouldn’t be meeting your client at a Keller Williams office to “meet for the first time.” It’s unprofessional and just silly.
Consider the alternatives:
1. 1. Any restaurant lounge where you can have a cup of coffee or iced tea.
2. 2. Any sitting area at Starbucks, they’re everywhere.
3. 3. Any sitting area at your local grocery store.
4. 4. The Realtor room or closing table at any title company in town.
5. 5. One of your many preferred lenders conference rooms.
6. 6. You could meet at any of your preferred insurance companies conference rooms.
sd 7. Any hotel lobby.
The list goes on.
Let’s consider the many reasons how this open door policy could be abused.
1. Let’s assume John with Keller Williams meets his buyer at my office, RE/MAX. When he shows up he brings his buyer, 5 screaming kids, a few strollers and someone else who wanted to come along for the ride. This small entourage of outsiders is now occupying space in our lobby (for that handshake.) What if 5 other agents in the area did the same thing (for just that initial handshake) then we’d have 15-20 people wondering around using the bathroom, asking for copies, looking for coffee and simply occupying space that they shouldn’t be.
2. Sadly there are real estate brokerages out there who believe recruiting agents and stealing clients is the way to get ahead in real estate. They would take complete advantage of the situation. As terrible as it sounds, it happens. It’s happening now as you read this.
3. Home buyers and sellers shouldn’t be walking into your competitor’s office to meet you. It’s just stupid. It makes you look like you cannot afford your own office so you needed to borrow the lobby of some who could.
4. What if the buyer asked why you met him at a Keller Williams office if you worked for Coldwell Banker? You should never pass off any type of hint that you cannot trust what you hope is a future client. This is why meeting in a public setting (outside of a competitors office) would be much more professional and practical. I have read online how some Realtors are asking buyers they have never me to meet them at the police station. I would be incredibly offended if a Realtor asked me to meet them at a police station. GET AN OFFICE! BUY ME A CUP OF COFFEE! And for God's sake, leave your husband at home! This isn't high school and i'm not taking you out on our first date!
5. What if you and your buyer had a falling out? The first thing he is likely to consider is walking back into the office (where you don’t work) to find new help. Then, after you’re fired, you’ll blame it on the other office for “stealing your client.”
At the end of the day each Realtor has to be smart about their safety. That is a given. It’s also a given that we can all care about each other without being foolish. Use the public places all around you to promote YOUR business. Spend the money to turn your customers into clients. A nice conversation over a cup of coffee (maybe spend the money on an appetizer) could go along way. People loved to be fed. Customers love the way they are treated. Don’t alienate a potential life long client by dragging them to an office that isn’t your own. Don't make a man feel like a crook by asking him to meet you at the police station. Be smart, treat customers like they are the most important thing in your business life and use some common sense.