There are so many reasons to avoid answering your phone when you are busy with your clients, as I have said in this blog series. We must be perfect professionals to earn success.
Successful busy professionals are not answering their phone every time it rings because they do want to take the call. Instinctively it is the last thing they want to do is to miss a client’s call. They are hunters. Nor is it because they have a high opinion of themselves and feel that their clients are not worthy of any more time after the initial consultation. It is quite the contrary. Their clients are highly valued and respected. These professionals are simply and honorably fully engaged in serving their clients in a meaningful and substantive way and can only handle one client at a time.
In the real estate and mortgage business, meeting with a client is a serious matter and a very involved process. There are so many things that require discussion and consideration that it may require a series of discussions over time. It is not unreasonable to think that your 1st meeting will last thirty minutes to over an hour to discuss many things concerning the transaction, the possible outcomes, tactics, strategies and overall goals. This is how relationships and trust are built.
Now I know that some people will say, “What if I lose business because I am not answering my phone?” Well, my answer is that you are already losing business, because you are answering your phone. You are not giving your clients the time they need; you are making them feel like they are second class; an a means to end, or a necessary evil that must be managed and all because you are trying to multitask by putting people on hold. Why? Is it because you are on some kind of ego trip, and that you think you are more important than your clients are? Who is the most important person in any transaction? The client. The client is not only needed to complete the transaction, but the client represents thousand of future clients over the years that he or she may refer to you. We want our clients to provide great testimonies about our service. We want our clients to be fans. We want our clients to refer us to friends and family. Our clients are worth far more than one transaction. They are worth a lifetime of transactions that will pay dividend over the years and believe it or not it all starts with not answering your phone while you are meeting with them. Some things are so simply that it is really ridiculous that we have to talk or write about but here we are and I will be the first to confess I am guilty. Today is the Day of Salvation and I repent!
Let’s end this craziness now on a positive and constructive note. The following five rules of engagement for great client relationships are critical to being professional and maintaining great client relationships:
- Establish clear expectations about your availability up front with your clients and other professionals. This may involve setting status meeting in advance so the client knows that on a particular day and time there will be a status meeting about their transaction.
- Block off time everyday to provide your client status on their transaction preferably in the afternoon from three to five in the evening. Morning times are typically prime time to get things going, to start new transactions and to get engaged on existing transactions or to have meetings on pending business. We are hunters after all and must constantly be generating new business. 70% of our time must be generating new business, but that 30% should not be under-utilized. Delegate and manage your time.
- Hire an assistant. If you do not have one, then hire one immediately. To do volume, you need support. Someone to respond to your clients on your behalf and to make sure your clients are being served. This shows that you are fully engaged and not overwhelmed. This is one of the basic signs of a professional and it reflects poorly on anyone who does not have operational and customer service support.
- Always, at the end of every meeting, thank the client and send them an email to recap whatever agreements were made and the plans that were made in regard to their transaction. This further ensures that everyone is on the same page and that you are organized.
- Do not make excuses. No one wants to hear an excuse. Excuses are for the weak that lack the resolve and the preparation and training to get the job done. Do not make excuses about what you did not or could not do. Just do it. Close on time. Provide the borrower all the information they have requested on need and get the results that they want. It is okay to make adjustments, but it is not okay to make excuses. If something needs to change then you need to be the change agent – not the client. Change should come from you as an adviser and expert to lead the client instead of being led by the client. The client hired you to complete the job. Not to watch him or her do your job. Your clients wants leadership, professionalism, expertise and consistency. Give them that and they will be your client for life.
Finally, our clients must be treated with respect and feel valued. Establishing rules of engagement for yourself, your clients and your team will eliminate stress and customer service failures. Not answering the phone while in a meeting with your clients will ensure that your business and professionalism stays in tact and grows. Start now. Do it today. You have the Power to change your life and business. The Power Is Now!
Eric Lawrence Frazier, MBA
President and CEO