First, my definition of real estate agent success: I believe that you can claim real, lasting success once the bulk of your clients come from referrals and repeat business.
You can definitely be financially successful before that happens, but constantly attracting new clients does require a great deal of marketing. That said, a few years of intense marketing is part of what you might call the “rites of passage” on your way to success.
Real estate agent success is the result of combined factors.
Of course. There’s never just one thing that makes a person successful in any endeavor. First are the professional credentials:
- Area knowledge – knowing your local market and how it is changing from month to month. Being able to prepare a valid market analysis.
- Legal knowledge – knowing how to abide by all the rules and keep your clients safe.
- Knowledge of your forms – and both the ability and willingness to explain them to your clients.
- Financial knowledge – being able to prepare a net sheet and to help clients understand financial documents they get from lenders and title companies.
And then there are the personal traits:
- A friendly personality.
- Good grooming habits.
- Dressing for success.
- Consideration for others.
And of course, you have to enough grammar skills to enable you to speak and write at least reasonably well. You also have to know or learn enough about marketing to promote yourself and your listings.
But none of those are the secret sauce to attain real estate agent success.
So what is the secret sauce to attain real estate agent success?
The customer service you provide is the secret sauce that makes clients remember you fondly, refer you others, and come back to you every time they want to buy or sell real estate.
What are the important components of real estate customer service?
First and foremost is prompt communication. When you read about the biggest complaints consumers have about real estate agents, the list always includes feeling ignored. So always respond to calls, emails, and texts just as soon as possible. Call or write back even if you have to say you’re tied up but will get back to them within X amount of time.
Toward that end, being accessible outside of normal office hours is important, but do set limits. No one will respect you for becoming a door mat and inviting calls at 3 a.m. Set your hours and respond as promptly as possible during those hours.
Next is actually paying attention to your clients. Listen to what clients say and respond accordingly. Never assume you know more about what they need than they do! And of course, never try to steer them to a decision they won’t love over the coming years.
Guiding and assisting during negotiations. Yes, the final decisions must be theirs, but help them see the pros and cons of any decision. Use your real estate and negotiating experience to help them respond to offers and counter-offers in ways most likely to lead to agreement.
Helping them locate trustworthy vendors. Clients might need a lender, an inspector, a contractor to provide estimates, a stager, a landscaper, a house cleaning service, etc. Give them a list of people who have served your clients well in the past.
Helping them understand financing options. You may need to rely on your math skills for this one.
Sharing community information beyond the choice of a home. For instance, letting newcomers know where they can find a good dog groomer, hairdresser, car mechanic, specialty food store, etc.
Providing empathy and support during emotional times. Even a happy occasion might have a few emotional moments. Be respectful of those and know when to simply listen.
Giving support and advice after the sale. This is especially true for buyers who are new to your community, or even to your side of a large city. Real estate agent success comes partly from being there for people even after you’ve received your commission check!
Perhaps more important: Going beyond the expected to do just a little more.
Examples of going beyond are:
- Going to your vacant listing ahead of showings to make sure there are no dead bugs, etc. to detract from the house.
- If your buyers have small children who must accompany them because they know no one in your city, bringing along a “sitter” to help with the kids so the parents can look at the house.
- Watering the house plants or going by to pick up mail from the mailbox when your listing clients are on vacation.
- Advising about staging when clients can’t afford to hire a stager.
- Assisting with a moving sale.
- Assisting with utilities set-up.
- Assisting with moving – being there to let movers in, or opening the house for them to pack up.
- Providing home warranty coverage.
- Holding a housewarming party.
- Sending home maintenance reminders after the sale.
- Providing buyers with a blown-up photo of the house on the day of purchase.
- Holding customer appreciation parties.
And finally – most important of all for real estate agent success – staying in touch.
Never let past clients forget you – and make sure that their memories are good ones!
You can stay in touch via market reports, greeting cards on holidays and birthdays, a regular newsletter, just listed and just sold cards, or fun mailings such as the messages found in my Event-themed Keeping in Touch Letters.
And of course – picking up the phone just to say hello now and then is always a good idea.