By Jake Breen
After 13 years of high-end sales there is a lot I love about what I do but there is one thing that drives me nuts: unorganized communication. It’s funny, with all this technology our lives are supposed to be easier, right? We have multiple ways to communicate, all of us are “on” wherever we have reception and yet we seem to be even farther apart as humans.
I’ll come out and say it: When transacting in real estate I prefer to communicate via email. Why? Here are my top reasons:
- Email keeps a record; it’s easy for me to recall what was said and easy for me to recall a history.
- Email is easy to search.
- Email makes us communicate more precisely because it makes us think as we type.
- Email time stamps all communication.
- Email messages can communicate to multiple parties at the same time.
- For me, email is direct, blunt and easier for me to communicate without emotion.
- Email allows attachments and links and I can insert videos and pictures to communicate clearly.
- When using attachments, documents can be edited, highlighted and annotated thereby precisely communicating changes needed.
There is more I love about email but suffice to say I believe I’m good at it and I believe that if everyone used email correctly, read email thoroughly and understood its capabilities, we could all communicate better.
In contrast let me tell you the preferred communication method of most Baby Booomers: the phone. Boomers love the phone. I believe this is sociological; Boomers only had hard lines for years. In their prime business years, Boomers went wireless. To them, the cell phone was the biggest technological advance they would ever see. (Disclaimer: This form of communication isn’t wrong, it’s just what this generation knows and prefers.)
Boomers love to read email, text or other forms of communication and then have a phone call about it. I can’t count the numerous calls I have had with Boomers where the entire phone call simply goes over exactly what I had emailed said Boomer. Often, my own email is just being read back to me as the caller likely reads it for the first time and goes through it in their minds … with me on the call. I’m always polite and never hang up. In my mind I’m thinking: “Just reply to my email!”
Now hear me out here and let me tell you why all this has caused a generationally fueled communications nightmare.
First of all we’ve got to get one fact—not opinion—straight. Cell phone plans used to be priced according to your minute usage but that all changed within the past few years. Cell phone plans started making “minutes” unlimited and then charging by text and now by data. This fact alone should teach us one thing: Data usage is more popular than charging by the minutes (talk time). Point: more and more of the world prefers to communicate using data, not talking on the phone.
The reason we’ve got more tech at our disposal but we are communicating less efficiently is that each generation is trying to communicate in the way they prefer and none of us will get on the same page. Boomers want a call and their parents want in person. Gen X and some Y want email and can make calls if needed. Millennials text and go social and may or may not pay attention to email. What are we to do?
I can’t solve all communication issues in one short rant but can I attempt to resolve one?
Real estate agents of all ages: When conducting business please learn to become proficient at email! Why? Here are my main reasons:
- It really frustrates me when you call to ask me all the information that is already listed in my MLS listing.
- When my showing instructions are very precise, all you need to do is read and follow them; you don’t need to call me.
- When we are doing a transaction and I email you all pertinent transactional information—PR, disclosures, REPC, title contact info and more—you need to remember, it’s all in your email, time stamped and dated. You don’t need to call me about it.
- If you have a question I will respond to you faster if you email or text me and ask your question. I don’t need to play phone tag with you all day. We are both busy.
- If a call is necessary for some reason and you get my voicemail PLEASE don’t leave a message that says “call me.” This is a waste of time. Tell me what you need in your message so that when I call you back I’m prepared to answer your questions or when I get your voicemail I can leave the answer on your voicemail.
- If you email me, expect you will get a response. There is no need to call me and ask if I got your email. I expect the same courtesy in return.
At least in real estate, when conducting a transaction, I can assure you that email is the most productive and efficient way to communicate with the other side of the transaction. I’m not advocating that we don’t need live or phone call communication in our industry; I use both every day. However, I would have a lot more time to use phone communication in the right way if the agents I interact with could all become proficient at email.
Now to Boomers, including my Dad, I still love you and I will still call you when I need to communicate with emotion and affection toward you. And I do know your response to this article: “Well Jake if you would just answer your phone then we could communicate.” However if that was your initial thought, I kindly ask that you re-read this article then email it to your colleagues and friends.
JAKE BREEN is a managing broker at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Utah Properties. He is also the broker advisor of the national REthink Council. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.