It’s a scenario we’ve all experienced. We’ve secured an appointment with a potential seller. He’s had the property listed with one of your competitors and the listing has expired. The first thing he wants to tell you is that “the last guy called him everyday until he listed the property and then he didn’t hear from him again until just before the listing expired when he asked him to lower the price and renew”. It’s probably one of the simplest yet effective things you can do to build trust and confidence in the client broker relationship. Communicate. Especially in the age of cell phones, email, text and social media where everyone has access to instantaneous communication portals. How you communicate with your client is probably the single most important factor in developing the relationship that will have longevity. The converse is also true. Lack of communication will most certainly create a simmering feeling of animosity within your client which will erode the relationship beyond the point of repair.
Of course sometimes we avoid contacting the client because we either believe we have nothing to tell him or the information you have to deliver is negative or unpleasant. The nature of the communication is secondary to the NEED for the communication to take place. After all, isn’t communication what every relationship is about? Without it, the relationship is sure to breakdown.
Every commercial real estate broker should develop a structured schedule for client communication. This is something that you should broadcast to your clients when you establish the relationship. Believe me, it will make a positive impression on every client if you discuss exactly how intend to communicate with the client, what information you intend to provide and on what schedule. I highly recommend that when you are entering into the listing agreement with the client, you engage in a conversation that goes something like this:
“Mr. Client, I know the importance of communicating with you on a regular basis to keep you informed on the progress we are making in marketing your property. Typically, I provide a marketing letter to my client’s on a weekly basis which outlines the prior weeks activity, feedback from the market and a schedule of the following week’s marketing actions. With so many methods of communication available, I like to ask my client’s what their preferred method of receiving this information is so that I provide you with the best possible service in a manner that is most comfortable for you. Do you prefer receiving a fax, email or letter each week? I’d also like to schedule a regular call or face to face meeting where we can discuss the details of our efforts and strategize future marketing. What is your preference in terms of the frequency of these conversations and do you prefer to do this by phone or in person? What is the telephone number you prefer that I call when needing to reach you?”
Once you have noted the client’s preferences and what you have promised in terms of the information to be delivered and the method of communicating that information, you MUST perform precisely on those promises. Even if your weekly or bi-weekly communication is to tell the client that every potential buyer or tenant and their broker representatives are telling you that you are over priced, it is an opportunity for you to deliver the message to you client that you are proactively engaged in the process of marketing their property. It also manages the expectations of the client by engaging them in the ongoing process of positioning the property in the market and hearing market feedback from real buyers and tenants.
As commercial real estate brokers and agents, our consistency in communicating with our clients is a major component in building client relationships, branding ourselves as solid professionals and securing future business.