Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Professional Courtesy

In this day and age, people want results quickly, but sometimes we're not in a position to be able to take a phone call.  I'm in my car a lot, sometimes with clients, and I've always got my GPS talking to me when I'm house-hunting.  It's not conducive for talking on the phone, so I prefer email whenever possible.  When I'm stuck at a long red light, I can shoot off an email.  When a client is walking through a house, I can read and respond to a business associate without speaking aloud.  When it's late at night and I'm just getting back home and catching up on what I missed during the day, I can read and send emails that won't disturb someone else, like an annoying ringing phone would.  In other words, we can't always be expected to answer our phone or make a call, but how hard is it to send an email?  If you want to be a Realtor in the 21st century, you need a smartphone that gives you access to email at all times, or, at the very least, you need to be checking in on your email a few times a day.  You need to make it a rule that you respond to all emails within 24 hours, ESPECIALLY if you're the listing agent and looking to get your property sold/leased.  I've been pretty frustrated over the past couple of weeks with other Realtors dropping the ball on email communications. 

Example 1: I previewed a rental for a client that I thought they'd like, but might have a concern with the size of the master bedroom.  The room would be fine, except that the owner bought a massive storage closet unit from Ikea that took up an entire wall instead of having a traditional closet.  That didn't leave a lot of room if my clients had a king-sized bed, dresser, and TV stand.  I left feedback for the listing agent with that concern.  He emailed me and said that he believed that part of the storage unit could house a TV.  Okay, that might make the house a possibility then.  I wanted to get that verified before I drove my clients all the way out there, though, so I emailed him back and asked if the unit had electricity and cable outlets inside it, so there wouldn't be awkward extension cords running across the room.  He said he would check with the owners and get back to me.  A day passed.  Two days passed.  My clients were coming into town soon and I needed to make appointments at the houses that would be worth their time.  I emailed him again and asked if he had the chance to verify the location of the outlets.  No response.  What the heck?  How hard is it to follow-up on what you tell someone you'll do, or at least send any kind of response about why you haven't followed-up?  If he forgot that he told me he'd check into it, then my additional email should've served as his reminder!  I ended up showing the house to my clients anyway, but they didn't like it for a different reason.  I sent the new feedback to the listing agent, and what do you know?  He emails me to let me know the owners have dropped the price and to see if there's anything he can do to help my clients consider it.  Pbbbt.  You can start by not selectively responding to emails, and actually following through with the things you say you'll do.  I bet his client would be interested to know that he's failing in the communication category.

Example 2: I previewed a rental for a client and I absolutely loved it.  The house was great, the neighborhood was great, and it met all of my client's requirements.  This was a week before my clients were coming into town, so I emailed the Realtor two days before their arrival to make sure it was still available.  The listing still showed as Active, but I wanted to check.  No response.  I decided to go ahead and make an appointment to show it to them, and hope for the best.  When I tried to do that online, the appointment service threw back an error and it wouldn't let me set it up.  This can either mean the service is broken, the agent has removed the listing temporarily, or the listing is no longer active.  Because I knew my clients would love this house, and the listing still showed as Active, I didn't want to just give up on it in case there was a problem with the appointment service, not the listing.  I emailed the Realtor again and told him about my problems with setting up the appointment and asked again if it was available.  No response.  Are you freaking kidding me?  It wasn't until a few days later that the listing changed status to Leased that I knew there was no hope for it.  If something was in the works when I emailed him both times, could he not have spent 30 seconds sending me a response and telling me that?  Actually, "It's been leased" took me five seconds to type, so that's all it would've required.  It's just a matter of professional courtesy, people!

Rest assured that I don't have these communication failures.  I find it unacceptable to let an email, text, or phone call go unanswered from my client or from a business associate.  Not only that, I get back to people quickly.  As soon as I know something, my client will know something.  As soon as my client wants to pull the trigger on something, I make sure the other parties involved are aware of that.  There's no excuse for a lack of professional courtesy among Realtors, and there's no excuse for a lack of attentiveness towards one's clients.         

No comments: