Hello hello and welcome back to another episode of Women Rocking Real Estate. I’m your host Jen Percival and I really appreciate you tuning in today. I’m recording this episode on a Sunday, for the second week in a row, which is highly hypocritical of me. Here’s why… last week, I had the honour of speaking at the real estate growth summit in Toronto, which was hosted by Keller Williams. They did a fantastic job and I just loved that they asked me to speak, even though I don’t work for Keller Williams - so big props to them.
So the night before my talk, I was working on my laptop trying to figure out what messages I wanted to convey and my 13 year old daughter comes in the room and in a rare moment of pleasantries, asked me what I was working on. So I told her that I was going to be speaking on a panel called Family First and it was all about running a successful business, but putting your family first….and she looked at me and scrunched up her face in disgust and said “Why would they ask you to talk about that? You suck at work life balance.”
I was like ok, tell me how you really feel. But you know what, she was right, I’m not always great at putting my family first and the fact that I’m sitting here at the office on a Sunday recording this, vs spending time with my family is a perfect example. So in the spirit of keeping it real, if anyone’s listening that was at the summit, I feel like a bit of a fraud. I have not got this work life balance thing figured out. It is a work in progress and sometimes, according to my lovely teenager, I suck at it.
Before we jump into today's episode, I do just want to give a shout out to a few people from the Summit. Speaking on stage in front of big groups of people can certainly be intimidating, but I was given great advice from my friend Christine that I had on the show a few weeks ago. Number one, nothing great ever happens in our comfort zone. If we really want to stretch and grow in our businesses, we have to be willing to put ourselves out there. Now I’m not talking about doing things that make you feel icky. There’s a big difference between stretching outside your comfort zone and feeling icky. You still need to be authentically you, but you do need to stretch.
The other thing she said, was that when you feel nervous doing something new, it’s because you’re focusing too much on yourself. I say this all the time, it’s not about you, it’s about them. And speaking in front of that audience was a perfect opportunity to practice what I preach. It wasn’t about me and my nervousness, it was about the audience. I was there to serve those people. Not everyone, just 20% of them. Remember when we talked about the bell curve of approval in that episode and that you’re really only ever going to connect with 20% of people? My only job was to touch them. To get a message to 20% of the audience that needed to hear what I had to say. When I focused on this, all my nerves disappeared and I was able to just be me. Real, raw me.
I told myself if I did my job well, I would hear from some of those people after my talk, so I just want to send a big shout out of thanks to Brittney, Tammy, Allison, Heather, Daniella, 3 different Jen’s, Tara and the first woman that came up to me right after I got off stage that was pregnant. I’m sorry I can’t remember your name, but you made my day so thank you!
Alright let’s dive into today's episode. We are going to be chatting about all the things you can do to keep your clients happy and ensure that you have brag-worthy online reviews all over the internet. In this business, your reputation is absolutely everything and it can be pretty difficult to recover from situations where a client is unhappy and they decide to promote their feelings all over the community you work in. Bad reputations spread faster than wildfires and humans love to gossip, so the best way to build and keep a 5 star reputation is through prevention.
So today we’re going to chat about all the ways you can protect yourself through best practices and what to do, not if, but when things go wrong. Because they absolutely will go wrong. There is not a single realtor on this planet that has not had things go sideways on them with a client…even if they did everything they could to try and prevent it.
Alright, let’s get started.
The first thing you really need to do is pick your clients wisely. I cannot stress this enough. You need to flush them out the people that should go into your no thanks pile. They don’t value you, they don’t respect you. In fact they will cripple you.
These clients become so demanding and so unappreciative and they are impossible to please. Chances are very high that you will disappoint them in one way or another. You will not be able to meet, let alone exceed their expectations. And guess what ends up happening. Either you’ll waste boatloads of time with them only to have them go buy privately or use another realtor OR worse, they will become a nightmare client. These are the types that love to post negative reviews online and file complaints and lawsuits.
The other thing to remember is that sometimes it takes a little while for people’s crazy to come out. They might seem normal at first, but then you start seeing the signs, you know the red flags that oh oh they might belong to the NCA - the Nightmare Client Association. So don’t be afraid to know when to hold em and know when to fold em, even if you’ve been working with them for a bit. Every single time I have ignored the red flags and ignored known my gut, it came back to bite me. Every single time. So now if I even get a whiff that they may belong to the NCA, I’m outta there.
So if you’re thinking that you just can’t turn away any clients in your business yet and you’re consciously choosing to ignore those red flags, you better be super careful that you implement the best practices I’m going to share next.
BTW, You should be implementing these best practices with ALL clients, not just those that belong to the NCA. Because here’s the thing, the second things go sideways, almost all people decide to join the NCA. Do not be fooled into believing your dream clients would never turn their back on you and join the NCA. Humans are humans and there’s just something about real estate….it can bring out the worst in people.
So what are some of those best practices? When it comes to keeping clients happy, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. You always want to be preventing things from going sideways instead of dealing with it after the fact.
So in the spirit of prevention, get things started off on the right foot, by asking a lot of questions around what they need for a successful transaction. Come right out and ask them what their expectations are and then don’t just deliver on those expectations, knock them out of the park. Now remember that you always want to be setting realistic expectations. Under promise, over deliver. The vast majority of the time when people become unhappy it’s because of unmet expectations they had. So make sure you kick every transaction off with a meeting about their expectations and re-set any that are unrealistic.
When I first start working with clients I also tell them what MY expectations are. I let them know that they are going to receive a lot of emails from me. I tell them that in order for this transaction to be successful, there are a lot of details that need to be communicated and that they will not remember everything if I only tell them in person. So I make sure everything is in writing and tell them that I need them to do their part and read my emails.
Next up, make a conscious effort to create value from day one though excellence, consistency, attention, empathy and appreciation. The earlier you set the precedent that you are a rockstar, the sooner they will believe that and any small hiccups will be overlooked. When someone believes that you’re amazing, humans are actually hardwired to find evidence to reinforce their beliefs. So they will look for more examples that prove to themselves that you’re awesome.
The same thing goes the other way too unfortunately. If they start to believe you’re not doing your job, they will be looking for all sorts of examples to prove that they’re right. So get off on the right foot right away and get them believing you’re a rockstar.
Next you want to communicate, communicate communicate. If you think you’ve communicated enough, communicate more. Communicate before, during and after. When it comes to real estate, there is no such thing as over communicating. If you’re client ever thinks “oh my god I’m hearing from my real estate agent too much”, you are doing an awesome job.
The next best practice that sets apart good Realtors from outstanding ones, is being able to predict the future. Always try to be a few steps ahead of your client and your transactions. You don’t want to be paranoid of things going wrong, but to be honest, being paranoid is way better than being oblivious. You should always be questioning and evaluating where things could go wrong, before they do and putting measures in place to try and prevent that from happening. You’ll get better at this the longer you’re in the business. But that’s usually because you learn from your mistakes.
People are actually pretty predictable and sellers in particular are naturally stressed throughout the selling process. Mark my words, they will not remember conversations you have. Or they will have an alternate version of it. For that reason, follow up every conversation with a written summary of what was said and what was agreed to. Putting things in writing not only reinforces consensus, but it’s also about covering your ass. You will never win trying to argue with someone that you said something in a conversation. They will always remember it differently and the more you try to argue it, the more you’ll just piss them off.
Not only do you want everything in writing with clients, but you especially want everything in writing with other Realtors. Every time I have gotten into trouble with our legislative body, the complaints were dismissed ONLY because I had all conversations in writing and could prove my innocence.
The last best practice I recommend you implement is to use systems & processes to manage your transactions. There are a lot of details to oversee in real estate transactions and we are only human. In the beginning of your career, you don’t know everything, so having checklists and reminders are critical. But even if you’re a seasoned realtor, as soon as you get busy, things will absolutely fall through the cracks. So set up your systems and processes right away to help keep you on top of things.
Alright so what happens if you’ve implemented all these best practices and things still go sideways? Guess what, I can promise you that will happen and more than once in your career. You can be an absolutely amazing agent and do everything in your power to make a transaction a successful one and things will still go wrong and you will still get blamed. When things go wrong, it’s human nature to point fingers, so it will be your fault, even if it’s so not your fault.
The best thing you can do, is get ahead of it. If there is bad news to be shared with a client, be the one they hear it from first. Whatever you do, don’t go MIA. They will likely be feeling stressed, so be readily available and reachable at all times.
If you did screw up something, take full ownership and accountability immediately. Do not let your clients spend one second thinking they need to make you understand that you screwed up. If there’s one thing that will make things worse, it’s that. There is nothing more frustrating than having to convince someone that they dropped the ball, if it’s obvious they did.
But what about those times when you’re not at all to blame? When you’re in the service industry, the customer is always right. Right? No the customer is not always right and it drives me batty having to pretend that they are sometimes. I’m actually terrible at it. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m kinda a no BS gal. If I screwed something up I will own it and apologize right away. But if I didn’t do anything wrong and I’m still being blamed, my natural inclination is to fight back and defend. It’s not good. This was one example where having a partner was great for me. She was amazing at calming people down, so in those situations I would get the hell out of there and she would come in and make everything good again.
However there were situations where clients have been way out of line. Where they did or didn’t do something that I told them about and things go sideways and they still try to blame me. It usually happens with clients that should have gone in my no thanks pile, but sometimes it happens with people I wouldn’t have expected it to. In those situations, I have not been afraid to push back and they usually haven’t had an issue with it. One of the reasons people hire me, is that I’m a bit of a firecracker and I’m not afraid of telling things like it is. So it doesn’t come as a huge surprise, if I call them on their BS.
The last thing I want to say about this topic is that sometimes when things go badly sideways and a client is extremely stressed, they can unfairly treat you poorly and that should never be accepted. If a client is being disrespectful to your, you need to stand up for yourself and know when to say enough is enough. I’ve had this happen to me twice in my career. In one situation it was a lawyer and he kept using my name as an intimidation tactic. He was like “Jennifer you need to understand in a courtroom, blah blah blah blah “Listen Jennifer…” So I just said “Listen Mark, youre being quite condescending to me right now and it’s disrespectful. I’m happy to continue this conversation, but that needs to stop. I think it surprised him and I think it actually made him respect me more. He was fine after that. By the way Mark wasn’t his real name.
The other time was with a guy named Todd and that was his real name. He actually called me an imbecile because we didn’t get multiple offers on his house when he didn’t do anything we had told him to do to get it ready to sell. Things like putting some working lightbulbs in the basement so that people could actually see it. As soon as the word imbecile came out of his mouth, I hung up on him. We would have fired him, but an offer came in on his house like 5 minutes later so at least I got my commissions.
So to recap on this stuff if you screw up, own it right away and for the times when you didn’t do anything wrong, but you’re taking some heat anyway, it’s up to you how you handle it. But if you’re ever being treated poorly or disrespectfully, stand up for yourself and do not let people get away with it.
My last piece of advice before we wrap this episode up, is to ask for a review as soon as practically possible, when things are still on a high. Don’t wait, because things can sometimes go wrong after the fact that have nothing to do with the job you did, but unfortunately people have short term memories and they only remember their last experience.
To build your business with people you don’t know, you need to have glowing online reviews, so make it a priority to gather testimonials on your website, Facebook, google, Zillow, etc.
Alright that brings us to the end of this episode, I hope that you’ve got some strategies to keep your clients happy and just a quick reminder to subscribe to the podcast if you haven’t already done so.
I will see you next week and remember the more you learn the more you’ll earn.
Until next time!