Thinking back many years now I remember watching my parents on the weekends preparing for an open house and taking out signs to properties on Saturday just in time for Sunday callers. I remember watching them at their desk with paper and pen writing up ads for the newspaper on Monday evenings because they had to have them in the newspaper before Wednesday's end of the day.
Those days are gone now or are they? Maybe they are just evolving a bit or maybe the newspaper ads time they spent is now being used for blog posts on their website and the open house time is still used but enhanced as they also bring their computers and have the listing showing on the tvs throughout the house.
I know Real Estate has evolved into a more automated system but maybe that is not what everyone wants. Bear with me a bit here. I am not saying all automation is bad, I am saying we should not completely remove the human element. For example; Maybe your clients really want to continue that personal touch where they can use some automation but to the point that it does not overwhelm them and scare them from “first contact”. Okay, okay, I know, get to the point, Mark! What I mean is there is a point where some realtors have their system so automated that clients really just feel like they are working with a robot more than an agent and they are just one accidental click away from tons of emails and phone calls they are not ready for.
Recently, I had someone tell me that they enjoyed looking at properties on a client’s website but their biggest fear was when they had to register to continue looking and all of a sudden they would get 50 emails, and 5 phone calls over and over for days. They told me it made them feel like they were being targeted when all they wanted to do was look around in a given market. Don’t get me wrong, it is a good thing to have a good contact system, and response time, does matter, and it is essential to respond to a request as soon as possible. But the request is the key. Looking over a client’s profile before you call, can help you gain a better understanding of what the client is looking for and also how serious they really are. Your client’s profile should contain a lot of information and it can take some reading between the lines, something automated sites don’t always do well. Looking over the listings and searches in your client’s profiles can really give you a good idea as to just how close they are to buying. Very broad searches should tell you they are really just looking at the area and a simple, email saying “I am here from you” is a good first “first contact”. Where more detailed searches can give you the idea that your client is serious about buying very soon and should merit stronger contact. If a client is just wanting to look around and they are pounced on, you could scare them off. In the past, it was not so obvious because only a few sites did this but now so many sites allow you to get them that they don’t feel well, for lack of a better word, safe!
We are not giving them the chance to ask for help, we are pushing the help on them and that is becoming poison to lookers. There is a much better method and that method is a more subtle approach for example.
When we created our system the goal was not to have hundreds of leads but to have a smaller group of more qualified leads, those really wanting and ready to buy. How did we want to make this happen? Well one, we left the system open for our clients to allow searches without registration if they wanted. This way, when someone was interested and they did register, it was more likely they were ready to buy and the agent, before calling them, could look at their profile and gain a better understanding of just what this client was looking for.
So many agents have told me they would rather deal with 25 serious leads in a month rather than 300 possible spam leads. Think of the time you would save and the attention you could give to those smaller groups of individuals. Bulk sales and leads might seem good but in the long term the relationship you build with your buyers and sellers is the foundation of your business and the stronger those relationships, the better you will do over time. Why do you think our veteran realtors do so well throughout the year? Is because they have that strong base of clients who “Trust” them and confide in them about the area just as much as about the home they are looking to buy or sell.
I would never consider myself an expert in these matters, yet I do see a trend where automation is hurting real estate relationships with clients, more than helping. We just need to find a good balance and start rebuilding that foundation. Remove some of that automation from your website and start making it a more personal website for not just your new clients but your older clients as well. Show them you are an authority in your market and a trusted agent and it will take you far! This I do believe!