Have you considered creating a “How I Work” document? If not, think about these two good reasons for doing so.
- If you offer a great deal of service, your “How I Work” document is good marketing.
- By setting client expectations in advance, you will avoid many of the most common causes for agent/client conflict.
Questions to answer in your “How I Work” document
First… what your clients can expect from you…
- What is your method for determining the fair market value of a home?
- Will you hire a professional photographer, and / or a pro to draw out the floor plan?
- Will you assist with staging – or hire a stager?
- Do your listings include still pictures plus video? How about virtual tours or drone photos?
- Where and how will you market the home? Be specific with print publications, online real estate portals, and social media sites you’ll use. If there are some you won’t use, say so.
- Provided that open houses are once again allowed, do you use them? Say so, then say why or why not.
- Do you require buyers to be pre-approved before touring your listings?
- What other promises do you make to listing clients?
And then…what do you expect from them or insist upon before you take a listing?
- If the sellers insist on a price far higher than market value, will you still take the listing?
- Will you take a listing if it can only be shown between specific hours or on specific days?
- Will you continue with a listing if you show up with a photographer and the seller hasn’t readied the house?
- What if sellers refuse to leave during showings?
- Do you have a minimum number of days for which you’ll take a listing?
- What else is in your mental “rule book?
Setting your work hours is important.
I know, some agents advertise 24/7 service, but when I talk with agents, I try to discourage that. In my opinion, that’s like saying “Let me be your servant – my own life and family don’t matter.”
Set the days and hours you work. Yes, it needs to be more than 9 to 5, but include a start time and an end time. If you want to enjoy an evening meal with your family, let people know you’ll be unavailable from x to y and will return calls after that time. If you don’t work on Saturday or Sunday, say so.
Barring special circumstances, for which you can make exceptions, there is no reason why a client needs to call at 11 p.m. or 4 a.m.
Because your “How I Work” document sets forth both what you will do and what you expect clients, to do, make sure they read and understand it.
If you’re meeting in person, watch them read it, then ask if they have questions. If you’re meeting over the phone or video chat, go over the important points so the new client understands that you mean it. You might even make a space for the client’s signature.
What about buyers?
Create a separate “How I Work” document for them. Cover what they can expect from you and what you expect from them.
You know all the reasons why a home buyer needs an agent, so outline the services you will provide for them.
Then set forth your ground rules.
- For instance, what’s your policy on no-shows or late-shows?
- Do you require a signed buyer-broker agreement?
- Do you require lender pre-approval before any showings take place?
What about unruly children?
Right now it isn’t an issue, but when (if) life returns to normal, you’ll once again have people bringing children and letting them run wild. Your terms could state that in the interest of protecting seller’s homes and possessions, showings will be terminated if children are not under control.
Your “How I Work” document should also state your cancellation policy.
- Under what conditions would you cancel a listing – or a buyer broker agreement?
- Under what conditions will you allow a client to cancel?
Of course, even with a clear policy, you can’t always anticipate devious behavior.
Once upon a time a young man came into my office to ask about a parcel on the river. I took out the listing to answer some of his questions. Little did I know that he was very good at reading upside down – and memorizing.
Later that day I got a call from my client, telling me the man had called him to suggest that he cancel the listing so he could buy it and save them both some money. Luckily, I had an honest client.
This is a small town and the young man was local – so I warned all the other agents about him.
Another time was different. The sellers took their river lot off the market “for the winter,” but that was untrue. They sold it to someone who had come to them directly after seeing the sign and learning their names from a neighbor. Many years have passed, but I still have trouble being polite to that woman.
This document, together with your agent bio, should help you attract clients who will respect and appreciate your way of doing business.
While there will always be sticky situations with clients, by setting expectations early on, you can avoid a number of them.
Will I take my own advice?
Yes. Hopefully it will help me attract the kind of real estate copywriting clients I love most.
We all do need to get busy now…
After months of shut down, many experts are predicting that “Summer will be the new Spring.” All the signs are indicating that the next few months should see plenty of buyers eager to find homes, so if you haven’t been actively pursuing new listings, now is the time.
Come to my prospecting letters page, choose what you need, and get going today!
New sets are coming soon – I’ll let you know when they’re ready!
Image courtesy of punsayaporn at FreeDigitalPhotos.net