Relationships take time (and they are everything)
The right relationship can pay-off in a powerful way.
But, like any relationship, it often takes time, commitment and genuine warmth from both sides.
This is a story* about how one agent, just like you, went from stranger to could-be member of the family, such was the relationship they built with their client.
One cold, dark and wet day back in January, I met the Lawsons. Into their 60s, nearing retirement, both kids moved out with a big four bed house starting to feel very empty.
I’d just sold a home similar to theirs around the corner and had been prospecting for new business by telling the story of that sale.
Instructed in October, 31 enquiries, 15 viewings, 2 offers, sold for asking price.
A good story to tell, and the best part was that I had a willing buyer left over.
Why wouldn’t I shout it to the rooftops?
The Lawsons saw my letter and gave me a call.
The first thing they said was “we’re not selling now”.
“Then it’s good you called me” I replied. “The time before you’re on the market is as crucial as when you are”.
“What do you mean by that” they questioned.
“Have you got 20 minutes tomorrow evening? I’ll show you” I said.
I was in to see them at 6pm the next day.
It was at the appointment I learned that I wasn’t the only agent they’d contacted. My letter (as it so often is) was the trigger for the Lawsons to contact three (THREE!) of my local competitors. I am sure there’s a few of you reading this who’ll know the same scenario.
No matter. I may not have been an agent as long as some of these people, but I’m good at what I do and will back myself against the best.
I took my shoes off as I knocked on the door. I always do. When you grow up in a household with a Mum and two sisters, you get used to being polite before you’re asked. Even when they say not to worry about it, I always do. It’s the little things, you know?
They ask if I want to take a tour because the two agents they’d had so far both started that way. I said “I’d rather get to know you first. The tour will mean more if I know who’s giving it”.
Their shoulders dropped, and the look of feigned interest left their faces and I caught a rye smile.
Sensing the nature of our relationship had changed instantly, I knew I’d already shown more value as an agent AND as a human than those who’d come before me.
20 minutes soon turned into 40 as we spoke about their experiences buying this home (it was 30 years ago!), their time in the place and what they’d done to it, their kids (and what THEY’D done to it), who they knew in the street and the area and finally I said “This was a wonderful chat, I know you’re not selling yet, but I am an Estate Agent so it would be silly of me not to be professional and ask what you might need from me between now and whenever you are, because when you’re ready, I want to make sure I am too”.
They looked at each other in silence.
“You sold that one around the corner” they responded, “What do you think ours would be worth?”.
“We better take that tour now” I smiled.
Taking a tour with potential sellers AFTER you get to know them is so much more useful (and powerful to you as an agent). Instead of just saying how cute the photos of the dog are, or how much their kids look like their parents, you can use their names and you can recall the stories about them you’ve just heard.
The Lawsons loved that I listened.
We finished the tour and I said I’d have a report on their property and the market back to them within 24 hours and that if they had any questions at all, I’d send them a message when I got in the car so they had my mobile number (business cards are finished).
They thanked me at the door while I put my shoes back on, again insisting that next time (always a good sign) I shouldn’t worry (I will).
We said our goodbyes and as promised, when I got to my car I recorded a short video from my phone and sent it straight to them.
“Dear Lawsons, great to spend some time with you tonight. If you have any questions, or need anything at all, property or otherwise, give me a call. I’ll have your report to you tomorrow. Thanks again!”
Video works a treat.
I hit send and get a reply almost instantly “Thank you!”. Love those words.
It’s late, so I head home to see the family.
First thing in the morning I prepare my report for the Lawsons. I think you’ll know what tool I use (author’s wink).
My process is to always deliver a market report two ways. I email it out, so I can track the opens and gauge their interest, and I either (time permitting) hand deliver it through the letterbox or post it same day. There’s a real value to potential clients being able to hold something in their hands with your name on it.
I get it off to the Lawsons by 8:30am in an email saying I have a full day so I’d give them a call to discuss at 6 that evening.
It’s opened at 8:40. Again at 8:45. AGAIN at 8:51.
My day goes well and 6 comes around quickly. The report has last been opened at 5:50. They’ve viewed it 11 times today.
I keep my promise and call.
“Hello! Me again” I start with.
“What were the first questions that popped up out of that report?” I always ask.
We go through their questions and I answer as best I can until the conversation starts to slow up. Sensing they are actually not selling, I ask “Would you mind if I sent you something like this every few weeks so you know exactly what’s going on with your place and the market in general? That way we’re both on top of things when your time is right”.
“We’d love that. Thank you” they respond.“Then that’s what I’ll do. I’ll try not to haunt you too much, but if there’s something in the market that I know is relevant to you two, I will get in touch - that’s my job as an estate agent”
They agree and we go our separate ways.
For the next six months, I produce and send a report, and follow it up with a call, every month. Not much changes in our market, but that’s something as important to communicate as much as when prices are booming.
I ask how many of the other agents they had spoken to had stayed in touch? One.
I’m not surprised. But I am grateful for their laziness. This job is tough, and anything (or anyone) that helps make it easier for me is appreciated.
One Thursday morning, seven months after I’d met the Lawsons, the phone rings. It’s a Lawson, but not the ones I’d got to know.
“We need to sell our place and Mum and Dad said to use you”.
That’s my kind of phone call!
“They said you’ve kept in touch, haven't pressured them to sell and that you actually seem to care...they don’t like estate agents but they like you!”
It’s enough to bring a tear to my eye.
Fast forward through a similar process and another few months and not only did I sell the Lawson’s daughters home, I sold the parents one too, helped them both find their next homes, met both sets of their new neighbours (who’ve all been told to use me) and got sent a Christmas card (I even got it before I’d sent mine out!).
What’s the point of my story?
Relationships take time. Listen to what your clients need from you and give it. Without expectation back. Do your job before you’re paid to do it and you’ll be paid more than you ever thought possible.
Relationships are worth it. Relationships are everything.