How to Lose a Client in Five Ways

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By Carl Guild

Want to succeed in real estate?

I’ve got two words for you: client retention.

Some of you may say that we don’t want to retain our clients. We want them in and out. Well, the truth is you want to retain your clients FOREVER. You want their inventory in and out, but the relationship must remain so you can represent them for every deal, every real estate milestone, and receive those all-important referrals. Don’t believe me? All right, have it your way.

Here are five surefire ways to make sure your client relationship doesn’t last:

1.   Don’t pick up the phone.

Business 101 says, “Pick up the phone! Return the call!” Un-business 101 says don’t do any of those things. In my business, clients are always amazed when I pick up the phone right away or call them right back. I cannot believe how many times I get a new client because said they tried someone else or their old agent, but they never called back … OUCH!

2.   Become a stranger.

Assuming a transaction is relatively low maintenance, neglecting to maintain frequent contact with clients will surely send them out the door faster than you say, “Congratulations, the deal is done.” Or, perhaps the market is a bit slow and your easygoing clients seem happy to wait it out. No need to contact them, right? Wrong. Clients always need regular contact … even in times of reduced activity. And what about those buyers who need space before going back out on the house hunt? Trust me, check in with them, too. This way when they’re ready to search for properties, they won’t do it with another agent.rr-guild-cartoon

3.   Make them feel unimportant.

Most clients are eager to use a top agent who generates a good deal of business; a top producer got his or her status by doing something right and having a proven track record of success. The dilemma is that most top producers are incredibly busy and must split their time among countless clients. No matter how big your book of business gets, you still have to make every client feel like your most important client. Some clients like to text frequently, others would love a phone call once or twice a week just to check in. It’s all part of letting your clients know they are important and makes them feel reassured throughout what can be a stressful real estate process.

4.   Keep them in the dark.

As a real estate agent, sharing information—whether it’s about just-listed properties in the area or the trend of home-prices in the regional market—is essential. Withhold this information and your clients could potentially feel clueless, insecure and even unready to jump into a huge financial transaction. Did a house just down the street get listed or sell? Let them know. Is nothing going on? Send some evergreen ideas for enhancing curb appeal or details about a fun event happening around town.

5.   Don’t be honest.

This one is pretty obvious. Lies are always terrible for business, even if they’re used to avoid delicate situations. Sometimes you just need to have the tough conversation. Don’t shy away. You are there to help them. You have a fiduciary duty to your clients. You need to act in their best interests at all times. Of course, you can do so in a friendly manner (no need to be a jerk), but always remember that you are there to help.

I’ll end on this bright note: It’s inevitable, you will lose clients. That’s OK.

For some people the sale of their home will never be easy enough or fast enough even though you do everything in your power to provide them with excellent service and care. You will also have clients who won’t budge on lowering their home to an appropriate price; you may lose clients who have a hard time seeing the forest through the trees even with your expert guidance helping them through the process. Losing a client is sad but inevitable. The good news is, it won’t happen often and, if you’re honest, informative, available and always working to improve, the clients you do keep will be your clients for life.

CARL GUILD is an agent with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties. Follow Carl on Twitter @carlguild or visit his website www.CarlGuild.com.

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