Business and Buddies

An excerpt from Volume 1 of Be The Better Broker.

‘My best friend is a Realtor — it’s a built-in shortcut!’

Uh, wrong.

In the early days of your career, any long-standing friendships you may have with top-producing Realtors are unlikely to translate into new clients for you. This can cause a rift in the friendship when the hard realities are not addressed up front.

Such individuals may prove to be excellent resources, providing insight and support, or even mentoring you as you enter the business. Successful (ergo, busy) people are often generous with their time and expertise. Cultivating these relationships can have longstanding material benefits to your business… just not in the manner you expected, i.e., a steady flow of referrals.

My point here — and it may be hard to understand at first — is don’t expect these industry connections, even the lifelong best buddies, to refer all of their business to you.

It will almost certainly not happen.

And they will not want to tell you this up front. Why would they? Think about it: if they lay out the hard truth up front they risk losing a friend. If they say nothing well, hey, maybe you don’t actually enrol, maybe you don’t pass the exam, maybe you don’t follow through. So it is better they say nothing until the last possible minute. This is in fact a reasonable thing when you think about it, although it will seem less reasonable when it is a reality.

Why do I suggest they are unlikely to hand you a stack of business on a silver platter?

Aside from the simple fact that the friendship is again put at great risk if a transaction goes wrong, there is a bigger issue. Rookies need to understand that people performing at the top of their game like to work with others in the same league. Top-producing Realtors often have near-unbreakable long-term relationships with established Brokers, in many instances having worked together through stressful transactions that in turn strengthened those relationships further. So they are unlikely to make room for you on the sole basis of friendship alone. On the basis of excellence is another story mind you.

A Realtor’s commission is typically 3 to 5 percent of the purchase price. Few Realtors are willing to put that commission — and more important, their own client relationship — in the hands of a brand-new inexperienced Broker. They will stick with the Broker with whom they’ve completed the last 50 files. Realtors, like anybody, want stability and predictability. They do not want to put their commission on the line, and beyond that, they do not want to put their relationship with the client on the line by referring them to a greenhorn.

I do suggest that new Brokers cultivate relationships with top people in the field. Just don’t throw any guilt their way for not sending business your way. In fact, you want to acknowledge that you understand precisely why they’re not able to refer clients to you… yet. Over the years as you stay in their orbit you will gain their trust, confidence and eventually their business. But first just be looking for their wisdom — this is a huge icebreaker. Appeal to their sense of mastery; ask for a brief monthly meeting or even just a brief monthly call to talk about the business of business. This will keep you on their radar as you slowly increase your own skill level and experience.

Then, should their current Broker drop the ball, you will be there to pick it up and run confidently with it.

Asking somebody to put their livelihood in your hands is a big ask. A referral is a transfer of trust. So you’ve got to be respectful and you’ve got to understand that until you build the trust, until you build a book of business of your own and earn a solid reputation, you may not wind up with all of the business you think you’re going to get from that old friend.

Thank you

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Dustan Woodhouse