Time for a Phone Message Primer

By
Real Estate Agent with Chapman Hall, REALTORS, Atlanta, GA GA RE License 129010

Growing up with my dad as a prominent pastor of the largest church in town, we'd often get phone calls at home for him. This was in the 1960's and 70's, well before we were all attached to our mobile devices and even before answering machines. All it took was taking one of his calls when I was in 3rd grade for a primer from him on handling phone calls. In that instance, I simply forgot to write down who called--you know, being a busy 9-year old and all--but my dad gave me a lesson I remember quite well. After a couple of head-scratching phone messages left for me recently, I am compelled to send out a reminder to fellow agents and the general public for when they're making phone calls and leaving messages.  

Every morning for the last few weeks I listen to a saved voicemail. Even though I have AT&T's enhanced Caller ID feature on my phone, this call came in as "Unknown", and has no number associated with it when I listen to "Envelope Options" in the AT&T cellular voicemail system. Here's a transcript of the message:

Caller: Hi, this is Joyscropscrip from Kellscripscrip. I'm calling about the property on Scripscrop and wanted to know if there were scropscop covescrips for the Scripscrop neighborhood. My number is 7scropscrip-4scrip3-scripscropscropscrip.

It sounded like Joy or Joyce was riding with her window down, sunroof open, or out in the wind when she left the message--or there was some other oddity going on with her call or the voicemail system. If she had given her name and number TWICE, I may have been able to decipher who she was and been able to look her up in some way and make a return call. As it is now, all I know is her name is Joy or Joyce, and she's affiliated with either Keller Williams or Keller Knapp real estate--ok, it has to be Keller Williams, because I didn't see a Joy or Joyce affiliated with the smaller boutique firm Keller Knapp, and I honestly don't have time to see how many agents named Joy or Joyce are affiliated with Keller Williams in metro Atlanta and north Georgia. I also don't know which property she called about, because seven of the properties I have on the market are in communities with HOAs and have covenants.

Being in this real estate business for more than 30 years, I've seen so many changes I cannot count them all--but some things remain constant and have even increased in importance, like leaving good phone messages so you'll actually get a call back!

Please, folks...this is so simple...when leaving a messsage for anyone, gather your thoughts beforehand, speak slowly and clearly, especially any unusual names or words, state your name up front and at the end, and slowly say your phone number two different times in case there's choppy reception or something else which affects how your voicemail message is received.

Last week I had someone say it sounded like my messages were rehearsed. Well, they sure are! I use a formula that works. I clear my throat, make sure there's not outside noise, and have my topic and format in mind regardless if I get an answer or need to leave a message. Here's how I would leave a similar message:

Me calling about a listing: "Hi, this is Don Duvall with Chapman Hall REALTORS. I'm calling about the home you have on the market at 148 Thorncrest Drive in Callaway Farms. My buyers and I were wondering what info you may have about the community covenants. Please give me a call at 404-236-0043. Again, this is Don Duvall from Chapman Hall, calling about the home on Thorncrest in Callaway Farms and the community covenants. My number is 404-236-0043. Thanks."

I don't think I've ever missed receiving a return call because the message I left was indiscernible or incomplete. Is that overkill? Yeah, maybe if all the info is heard at first listen. Does it help that I use my "deep radio voice" as a former broker called it? Yeah, maybe. Does it help that my last name and brokerage firm's name rhyme? Yeah, perhaps...but I play on those things to make sure I leave a good message--and if there's something that interferes with the message, at least I've left my name, contact info, and call's purpose for the recipient to hear twice.

If you're Joy or Joyce from Keller Williams...sorry I had to use you as an example, but please call back so I can share info about one of my listings! I'm not a slacker, but I couldn't understand your message in order to call you back.

And as proof of the real estate gods joking with me today, my phone rang as I finished the previous paragraph. Because the phone was charging across the room, I couldn't get to it before it went into voicemail. It was a call transferred from my broker's main number so that's what showed on my phone (not the original caller's info). A male caller was inquiring about a new listing--and I got eight of the 10 digits in his phone number. It sounded like he was chewing rocks, on a crackling speaker, or using a bad headset. When I called the receptionist to see if Caller ID caught the incoming call, she said all it showed was "Cellular Call".

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