An excerpt from Volume 1 of Be The Better Broker.
It has been said there’s no such thing as a mortgage emergency. We Brokers may know that no underwriter is going to be reviewing documents late at night or over the weekend. However we also know from experience that responding to those late phone calls or emails over the weekend often goes miles towards calming a stressed client. If you can be the one to put them at ease promptly whenever they need it you will establish a solid relationship and reputation. The clients concern constitutes a mortgage emergency, at least for them.
As your business matures and your skills evolve you may consider things like a professional answering service knowing that indeed there are no mortgage emergencies that truly need your attention until the following weekday morning. But the rookie Broker is a few years away from this level.
In the early years, if a client calls at 9:37 on Friday night while you’re having dinner with friends and you let the call go to voicemail, watch out. When clients call, especially early in a file, you’d better be available 24/7. Otherwise, there are always Brokers hungrier than you who will be available 24/7. When Brokers don’t answer the phone, they risk their clients talking about their concerns with friends and relatives, who may pose even more questions, thus elevating the client’s concerns that much more. So that relative says, ‘Let’s try my Broker. They always answer their phone.’
You may have just handed another Broker the opportunity to help your client. That Broker may in turn provide answers that relieve your client’s stress, or worse, may reply in such a way that raises doubts about your own skills in handling the file. So please understand and embrace that for the first one or two years, you’ve got to be a 24/7 Broker. The need for this can be mitigated once you are better established.
I like to tell the story of the Realtor who earned his success by passing out his business card saying, “Guaranteed call-back in one hour.” That’s an important hook because the average response time by real estate agents is way longer than an hour. So that’s how this guy broke into the business, responding quickly 24/7. Over the next year as his client list grew and active clients consumed more of his time, he could no longer respond to calls within an hour. He changed his business card to read, “Guaranteed call-back within 24 hours.” As he added more clients over the following year, he dropped all references to call-backs completely. His card now simply lists his name and number. That’s one way to start a business: rapidly adding new clients who provide referrals for potential new clients. The circle grows bigger and bigger because the Broker is available 24/7 for the first couple of years.
To be clear, 24/7 has in my experience elicited few calls earlier than 8 am or later than 8 pm. The rare calls outside those hours tend to be brief, with many callers having expected to get voicemail, yet quite happy to have an instant answer.
Brokers, like bankers, typically work Monday through Friday, although the workday can stretch well into the evening. My weekends are usually very quiet. I don’t often hear from clients unless I text, email or call them first, or unless they are experiencing one of those (at this point exceedingly) rare mortgage emergencies.
Clients tend to be working with their Realtors over the weekends, and once the offer is accepted they prefer to focus on all of the other aspects of an impending move leading up to their completion date.
During the workweek, my lunch hour has practically disappeared. This is prime time for clients, especially couples, to set appointments or conference calls with their Broker. It makes sense for clients to call at midday and in the evenings after work because that’s when they’re free. So Brokers often need to be available during those times, typically 8 am until 8 pm.
There are no real shortcuts around the hours of availability you need to provide; there is flexibility though. Squeezing in various mid-day events is far more manageable as you are the director of your own workdays, which can be as much of a curse as a blessing.
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