Focus first and foremost on maintaining control over the one and only thing that is in fact within your control: your reactions. Learning to control your reactions is vital, and no matter our age, all of us generally need continuous work in this area. I am working harder than ever on this, actually not just on controlling reactions but more generally the emotions behind the reactions. Actually accepting and letting them out to roam free once in a while, but that’s another book for another time; in this book, and in this business, during office hours there will be no free-range emotions. There will be calm, controlled reactions, and better still rather than being just reactive, we will be proactive.
We will better manage our clients by way of tuning into their inflection, tone, word selection, and pace of conversation, in turn, adjusting our own tone to defuse stress rather than inflame it. Mastering our reactions is the first step in mastering communications.
Never lose sight of the fact—and it is a fact—that clients involved in any aspect of a real estate transaction tend to be of one frame of mind: stressed.
They may be young, nervous first-time buyers who are also planning a wedding and finding themselves pregnant with their first child. They may be move-up buyers with young children or teens, and perhaps another (surprise) child due any day. They may have a mortgage renewal due while rushing to leave town for their annual three-week vacation. Or they may be in a financial pinch, trying to leverage money from their home to keep a struggling business afloat, recover from a bad investment, or deal with a personal family challenge.
Many clients are stressed to the breaking point during the financing process and often feel as if everyone around them is pressuring, pushy, picky, and overly demanding in general. Topping it off, as with most things financial, clients also rightly feel that everyone involved in the process is speaking a needlessly complex foreign language. This is a recipe for disaster.
When clients are on the ragged edge of self-control, your poise, your confidence, and your aura of calm is paramount. You need to be that port of calm in a storming sea of confusion that is all things real estate.
Grant your clients safe harbour; alleviate their concerns.
Calm is contagious.
Purchase control over parts of the process if you can—not illicitly, but by taking control of the related relationships involved in the transaction. Here is how…
Too many people in a commission-sales environment think of their compensation as their paycheque. Worse still, they view any expense related to completing a transaction as an attack on their personal bank account. This is short-sighted.
Here is a new way to see things. Imagine, if you will, that you are running a business. Guess what? You actually are! And as long as the business survives, so do you. So stop imagining— because this is reality!
Commission cheques are your company’s gross revenue. Each cheque represents a sale for the business, not for you personally. Can you think of any company out there that has zero operating expenses? Zero marketing budget? Zero R&D allowance? Zero breakage, shrinkage, or write-downs? Of course not. Every business has expenses. Every business allocates or invests a percentage of its revenues in each of these areas and more. There is no such thing as a 100% profit margin; that is an employee mindset, and you are not an employee—you are an entrepreneur.
Every business “buys” business. Be it through marketing campaigns, referral fee programs, discounting the final product, we all buy business somehow, some way. Often we think that our way is “superior,” when, in fact, it is simply different.
So how will your business (you) buy business?
Control over staff , production, delivery, marketing? Perhaps, but ideally through control over the process.
Where are the weak spots in your process? Where is the opportunity to invest a portion of your revenues into the process to better control the outcome? Often, a weak spot is the clients’ final signing of legal documents, done with a lawyer of the client’s choosing. And what sort of detailed, comprehensive selection matrix did the clients use in order to select said lawyer?
Price, as always, is the default all too many of us tend to utilize. What do you get when you shop on price? You get what you pay for. Except in this case you get what the client paid for, and many times it’s one raw deal.
What sort of madness has somebody simultaneously spending and borrowing hundreds of thousands of dollars in a complex transaction and then basing their selection of professional representation on a savings equal to or less than 0.0001% of the purchase price of the actual product in question?
Perhaps unsurprisingly, the client’s final choice often results in a less-than-optimal experience for them, but often for myself as well, with their chosen legal representative making disparaging remarks about the lender, the term, the rate, the product, or even the Broker themselves, with absolutely no perspective or understanding of the complete fi le in question.
Strictly speaking, a lawyer’s role is not to advise the client on the mortgage itself, but simply to confirm the client’s identity, witness signatures, and confirm that the client understands the nature of the documents being signed and then to register the mortgage and title accordingly. The uninformed opinions of an outsider not privy to the entire client profile are less than helpful, in particular when they come from an individual who is perceived by the client to carry more authority than the Broker themselves. All too often these frustrating interactions sour the client’s experience, tarnishing the transaction and devaluing the Broker’s expert advice.
Always be careful who is having the last word with your clients.
Take control of your clients’ experience from start to finish. Identify a law fi rm with satellite offices all over town, ensuring convenience for all clients. Consider offering a subsidy, no matter the fi le size, by an amount that not only bridges the price gap between the cheapest and best fi rms in town, but actually goes $100.00 further. This provides clients with the best advice, and a great deal. And it results in far fewer fi res for you to put out.
This specific control play was critical in our growth and it greatly reduced headaches for all involved. Was this a $250.00 attack on my paycheque? No. This was a $60,000-per-year line item on our business income statement. We are running a business; so are you. Act accordingly.
Sometimes increasing control takes time, not money. I’ve known more than a few car salesmen over the years, but there are only a handful I can still name 25 years later. One is Wayne Marks. What did Wayne do that implanted his name so deeply in my brain? Was it billboard advertising? The Yellow Pages? Bus benches? Newspaper ads? An amazing social media presence? Door-to-door mailers? It was none of these expensive and ineffective things.
Wayne simply made a point of calling both my wife and I— calling, not texting—and wishing us a happy birthday. Cheesy? Maybe a little bit, but most years he was kind enough to call me a few days ahead of my wife’s birthday just to remind me it was approaching. This was classy, clever, and obviously endearing.
At that point Wayne had been in the business for decades, and was no doubt spending an hour or more every single morning making his birthday calls. He could’ve easily spent that hour the way the other salesmen did: standing out front smoking, sleeping off a late night, complaining about a sports team. This would not be Wayne’s style.
Going the extra mile is Wayne’s style. However you want to look at it, all top producers purchase control over their clients’ experience. They either take over the cost of part of the process just to control who is handling it, or they invest more time than their competitors ever will making personal connections. This lowers their dollar-per hour income, but this is not the perennial top producers’ key metric. Being nice is their key metric.
Look long and hard at your client process: where can you invest time and money of your own to enhance and better control the outcome?
Now open a Word document and type these words:
1. Be kind
2. Work hard
3. Maintain control Then hit print and put them up on your office wall.
Go forth, be nice, work hard, and maintain control!