Grateful Beyond Words for My Wonderfully Loyal Clients
I love this topic and am so glad that Jeff Dowler, CRS challenged us this month to spend a little time focusing on things we have learned from our clients this year. As I have already shared with a few members, this year, my business has been 100% by referral only - repeat business, referral business from my sphere and referral business from my peers.
It’s been one crazy year in the world and in my business, it’s been a very comfortable place to be - only working with clients who know, like & trust me.
How sweet is that during a pandemic?!
“Do what you do SO well that they will want to see it again and bring their friends.” - Walt Disney
Here are just a few of the lessons that I have learned from 5 of my clients that I worked with in 2020…
Steve - Steve was a member here in the Rain for a very long time. We were asked to teach a class at a RainCamp in Seattle about a decade ago. We spent a delightful week vacationing in Seattle together.
During the recession, he left real estate and returned to his previous career with the airline industry. We kept in touch over the years. Imagine the surprise when Steve announced he was taking a position in Charlotte and wanted me to represent him! I so rarely take buyers in my car but, I had just bought a little 2-seater and Steve was actually the first person to take a ride in my new car with me!
We had SO much fun house shopping and at the end of the day, we decided to give Popeye’s chicken sandwiches a try. After waiting about an hour for our sandwiches, we both looked at each other, shook our heads and proclaimed in unison, “Well, this is a little underwhelming!” We had both fallen prey to the hype and when that happens, it’s never as good as hyped!
“Customer satisfaction is worthless. Customer loyalty is priceless.” - Jeffrey Gitomer
Corey & Leslie - Referrals from one of my lovely referral clients, this couple knew what they wanted and found it immediately…maybe a little too quickly! We had to sell their current home and absolutely ZERO prep had been done to it - ZERO! We got a cancellation with our photographer, giving the client only 3 days to prep their home. THREE DAYS is NOT a lot when you have a toddler! So, they went one room at a time, shooting me texts with pictures of their progress - she was inside, he was working outside.
In the end, we had a multitude of Offers on their home and got them into their dream home. We had a wonderful time working together but, one thing that we didn’t think to ask them to turn off when we were hosting the open house was their alarm. They had agreed to disable the alarm for every showing so, we didn’t need a code or need to share a code with buyers agents for showings.
For the Open House, we had buyers lined up (literally) 20 minutes early to get into the Open House and when we opened the doors, red & blue lights began flashing everywhere! The seller had left all of the lights and music on in preparation for our open house and had forgotten to turn off their alarm. Little did we know that Smart Home alarms could be set with sirens and/or flashing colored lights! While my clients were on the phone, they laughed along with the buyers walking through the house. It was hilarious - we were trying to get Corey to remotely turn off the alarm and also be hospitable to our open house guests but, it felt like it took forever. By the end of the conversation, we were all crying with laughter and in the end, one of those open house attendees won the bidding war and bought the house!
Rick & Sandy - This seller was a referral from one of my wealth management lender partners. They were moving to the coast and they didn’t want to move until they were sure they could sell their home in Charlotte. As it happened, I had just Closed on a home in their community and the sellers also gave me a recommendation.
The sellers not only had a connection as neighbors but, they had ALSO used the same lender partner when they bought their house with me and when they just sold it and bought another one with me! So, they had two very solid referrals. However, they had been ‘burned’ by real estate agents in the past and still insisted on interviewing 6 agents - one from all of the major companies and a couple of boutiques as well. After several months of going back, they finally hired me. I spent more time with these sellers than any I think I’ve ever worked with - with each level of progress (and there was a LOT of prep work that needed to be done), the husband would ask me to pop over to critique his work.
We laughed so much during our time together - I can still hear his laughter. He proudly proclaimed when he hired me that the reasons he hired me were 5-fold -
- I know my business.
- I know his neighborhood.
- My marketing was their favorite of the agents they interviewed.
- Their German Shepherd dog loved me!
- And, finally, because I wouldn’t allow him to negotiate a fee reduction!!
*The German Shepherd was highly trained and they told me that she liked very few people - the fact that his dog liked me spoke volumes about me! 🤣 That’s probably because I like all dogs - so, they like me, that’s all!
**And, YES to saying NO to the negotiation of a fee reduction! I used the old, “Do you really want someone defending your list price who can’t defend his or her own fee?” Formerly in sales and a tough negotiator himself, his wife said that he respected my stance because, in all of his years in sales, he had ‘never used that line!’
We laughed so much during their transaction - he was an early riser and would leave hilarious messages on my phone at the crack of dawn (knowing that I turn my phone off at night), telling me that when I decide to roll out of bed, he had some real estate I needed to sell! He knew that I would not ever phone him back until 9AM so, he would answer his phone, “You’re right on time!” Needless to say, the transaction was one of my favorites all year because we laughed SO much…oh and they shared the best rum recipe EVER with me!
“There is a big difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer.” - She Hyken
Lee & Becky - These were client referrals from a dear friend here in the ActiveRain! They moved from the referring agent’s area to another state and 3 months later, wound up taking a new position here in the Charlotte area. So, I received the referral and in a whirlwind, we found them the perfect home in the neighborhood they wanted to live in - her parents’ neighborhood.
We were in a heated bidding war and knowing that most agents in our area won’t share buyer letters with their sellers, I suggested that we share a personal story with the sellers through their agent. My client had grown up in that neighborhood and gone to school where the wife seller TAUGHT! They agreed that we should make this personal so, the listing agent and I had some great conversations. Included in those conversations was this full-circle personal story…oh, and the fact that my buyers were expecting their first child. Needless to say, we won the bidding war and the rest is sweet history.
The funny thing that happened - they were buying during the early pandemic months and we were all getting accustomed to wearing masks. The inspector only had one opening for 2 weeks and it was on a Saturday. I had relocation buyers in town that weekend so, I explained that my assistant would accompany them. He is a contractor so, he is very knowledgeable about any items that come up on an inspection. Anyway, my relocation buyers actually found their dream home that morning, we submitted an Offer and I took off to the inspection.
I arrived just in time as they were all congregated in the living room discussing the issues the inspector found. I opened the door, stepped in and removed my mask! Not a soul said a word to me and it took me several minutes before I realized what I had done. We walked outside to let the inspector show us the exterior items and we all had a good laugh at the mask incident! You put your mask on when you walk in, not take it off! 🤣
“Customer service should not be a department, it should be the entire company.” - Tony Hsieh
Mike & Katy - Years ago, I represented a luxury seller who sold his home to perfectly lovely buyers. Those buyers did not have a lot of communication with their agent (LONG story) so, they reached out to me when they had questions about the house that I had listed. The agent had no problem with me chatting with them as she was really too busy to give them the attention they so deserved. So, after the sale, I showed up to their house to meet them & welcome them to Charlotte. We hit it right off and the lovely couple (John & Jennifer) has referred me more business than you can believe! This couple, Mike & Katy, were one of the many referrals from John & Jennifer.
The couple was moving to Charlotte from California to be near their best friends so, when they were in town, they spent a lot of time with their friends. In fact, John & Jen often attended showings with us. We had a system - since only 3 people were allowed in the house at one time, the women went in first with me. If they approved, the men toured the house with me while the women waited outside. Touring one of my favorite homes I showed them, I went on and on about the fabulous wine cellar and the SubZero wine fridge in the bar area of the butler’s pantry - I mean, it was fabulous! I was hoping they would share their favorite wine as I knew that is what I was going to get them for a Closing gift, should they purchase this house.
A couple of days later, John was calling to give me another referral. He gave me the new buyers/sellers info and we soon began discussing the houses that Mike & Katy had seen the weekend before. Again, I mentioned the amazing ‘WINE HOUSE’ as I had so boldly named the house. One of the ways I use to help clients remember houses is to give each one a nickname.
John said that he had asked Mike if he minded that he share something with me and Mike had said he didn’t mind a bit. I IMMEDIATELY knew what he was going to say - Mike and/or Katy are sober.
Talk about a sobering realization - I was ALL about that wine cellar and probably mentioned it 4 or 5 times! I was horrified and John explained that they were absolutely fine with it but, he (John) thought I should know. I will never bring up drinking again until the clients do!
Fast forward two weeks and Mike flew back to Charlotte alone to search for homes again. This time John & Mike are the only two that toured with me. We arrived at the home that Mike & Katy ultimately purchased. The neighbors were out in the yard and to me, it looked like they were having a party - everyone was socially distancing and cars were driving by honking, etc. LOTS of cars!
We thought perhaps someone was graduating but, my client, being very friendly, decided to walk to the edge of the lot and proudly introduce himself as their new neighbor. Mind you, we hadn’t even submitted an Offer yet but, he did love that house! The neighbor came over and extended to us a tray of margaritas, offering for us to join in their celebration - the wife had just beaten cancer!
Mike proclaimed, “I’m sober but, thank you! And a big congratulations to you!” She explained that they also had ‘virgin margaritas’ and as she spoke, her husband instantly arrived with another tray, holding virgin margaritas! My client was even more sold on the house!
“It takes 20 years to build a reputation and 5 minutes to ruin it. If you think about that, you’ll do things DIFFERENTLY.”
- Warren Buffett
Levity is so important in our business and while the VAST majority of what we do IS serious business, injecting a little humor into what we do is key to making our clients feel at ease. Although I don’t ever try to think of something funny to say, I don’t hold back telling a joke or poking fun at something or even myself in order to lighten the mood.
A huge thank you to every single one of my clients & my referral partners. I so appreciate your loyalty and trust you have and continue to put in me. THANK YOU!
© Debe Maxwell | The Maxwell House Group | RE/MAX Executive | CharlotteBroker@icloud.com | Grateful Beyond Words for My Wonderfully Loyal Clients