Selling Soulfully with Jennifer Allan

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Would You Be Willing to Show Your Business Plan to Your Clients and Potential Clients?

Yesterday I read yet another (ho hum) article about how important it is for real estate agents to remember that their primary obligation (to whom?) is to prospect for new business. Every day. Before they do anything else. 

Blech. Frustrated

This attitude literally nauseates me. The article went on to say that (I'm paraphrasing) since the non-income producing activities (specifically client service) we "have" to do are typically the activities that give us the most grief (um... really?) and create the most frustration in our lives, we should spend as little time as possible on them and relegate them to the hours of the day when our energy level is the lowest so as not to "waste" our high-energy hours taking care of those pesky clients who have the nerve to want our attention after they've hired us. 

Wow.

Now, if the author of the article was saying that a natural rainmaker should go out and make rain all day long and bring the results home to a more client-oriented PARTNER (not assistant) to actually care for, I might be less critical. But nope, that wasn't the gist of the article - it was simply to say that because client service activities are not directly income-producing (although I'll argue that one all day long!), they should be the lowest priority on your daily to-do list. 

I've ranted about this before and if you'd like to read more, check out the links below. But for now, I'll just ask this... 

If you were to sit down right now and write up a business plan for the next twelve months where you outlined your business development (i.e. prospecting) and client service goals and commitments, and then created a mission statement based specifically on that business plan... would you be willing to share it with your clients and potential clients? 

If the mission statement you create from your business plan reads anything like: "Taking care of my current clients will NOT be done until I've run out of energy to search for new ones" - would you be proud to post it on your website, your blog and in your listing presentation? 

 

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61 commentsJennifer Allan-Hagedorn • March 11 2012 06:43AM

Comments

I like your take on this. Sounds like a plan where you would not get much referral business!

Posted by Harley Wilcox, Harley Wilcox (West Group Real Estate) almost 3 years ago

Suggested, Jennifer. I missed the original post but this is a great response and your hypothetical mission statement at the end really supports the point you're trying to make. How could anyone say that out loud and be proud of it?

Posted by Jill Sackler, Long Island's South Shore Real Estate Agent (Charles Rutenberg Realty Inc. "Said and Done!") almost 3 years ago

We need a good balance between referrals, prospecting, and working with our existing clients.  The assumption is, treat the existing clients well and it may very well generate new referrals.  Good post Jennifer!

Posted by Anita Clark, Realtor - Homes for Sale in Warner Robins GA (ColdwellBanker SSK Realtors ~ 478.960.8055) almost 3 years ago

Very interesting post. I listened to a webinar about prospecting and it made sense . However we should take care of our curreent transactions and if we are good with time managemnet we can do both.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) almost 3 years ago

Simply put:  No.  I would not.  

I think there is room in the day for both of these very important activities.  Without customer service there is nothing in my opinion.  Great topic!

Posted by Amanda and Jared Christiansen, YOUR Fort Wayne Realtors, Century 21 Bradley. (Century 21 Bradley (260)704-0843) almost 3 years ago

Harley - EXACTLY. If you spend 80% of your time prospecting, you better darn well enjoy it because you'll NEVER enjoy a referral-based business!

Gita - One would hope! But our current clients deserve our attention as our first priority. If that means we are unable to manage our time well enough to prospect, then so be it! If you can't fit client service into your business model, something is SERIOUSLY wrong! 

Anita - There's no "might" about it. Taking care of current clients is an awesome way to prospect for new one!

Jill - Thank you! It wasn't a post here at AR - one of my readers sent it to me from another source, knowing I'd get all riled up about it. But yeah... I believe any agent who subscribes to this nonsense should be morally required to disclose it to his or her potential clients!!

 

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

Christiansens... It seems so obvious, doesn't it? 

 

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

It does take time, but we've earned our reputation by word of mouth which is now spawning positive reviews, cards and even letters. We're so busy taking care of existing clients that the new clients flooding our office are sometimes the "distraction."

Posted by Mark Delgado, Benicia and Vallejo, Property Management, rental h (houses for rent, Solano County & Glen Cove) almost 3 years ago

Balance...prospect for new clients, take care of the current client and stay in touch with the old client.  That is a business plan.

Posted by Gary L. Waters, Broker Owner Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC, Personal Service, always. (Waters Realty of Brevard, LLC) almost 3 years ago

Several years ago, before creating our independent brokerage and I wrote out a 30 - page business plan and discussed it to death with a business development consultant friend of mine. That course of action was beneficial to my business, and I do not understand why people do not revisit their business plan every year. Great post.

Posted by Melissa Zavala, Broker, Escondido Real Estate, San Diego County (Broadpoint Properties) almost 3 years ago

For me the key is to have systems in place to keep in touch with my customers and clients. My sellers really have no desire to speak with me. They do however have a great need for me to get the job done and to keep them informed. I probably spend less than 10% of my time coddling to current customers/clients. But still repeat business and referrals from satisfied custmers make up the bulk or my business. Why is that? Why can I spend so little time providing customer service yet still have great customer service skills?

Well.....because I am servcing the customer by getting the job done.  They aren't hiring me to be their friend. They are hiring me to sell their property. I provide the service they are hiring me to provide.

We should prospect for new business every single day. This needs to be our number one priority IF we want to stay in business so we can help more people. We don't need to choose between customer service and prospecting. A good agent can do both equally well.

Posted by Bryant Tutas, Broker/REALTOR, Tutas Towne Realty, Inc (Bryant Tutas-Tutas Towne Realty, Inc) almost 3 years ago

It's common when you hear people who put the most value your on transaction count discuss prospecting ad nauseum. Not everyone wants to be a mega agent and be responsible for managing others. Soon your job shifts to one focused on employees, not clients. Some of this is really related to the business model you are after. Do you want low touch, wide reach? Or high touch, narrower reach? Depends upon your personal preference. I want my clients to deal with the person they hired, me. But transaction coordinators and delegation handled correctly, can keep you from burn-out.

Posted by Karen Crowson, Livermore Wine Country Homes (Alain Pinel Realtors, Pleasanton, CA) almost 3 years ago

I would not show them my business plan. Their main concern will be for me to produce and I always do.

Posted by Harry F. D'Elia, Investor , Mentor, CSSN, Radio Coach, REOs, ABR (Precision Real Estate Inc.) almost 3 years ago

BB - if you're getting the job done, you are serving the client, I agree. And if, in your model, serving the client doesn't entail your being all warm and fuzzy and communicative and your clients are happy with you - more power to you. But I don't think you're in disagreement with me that our clients DO deserve our attention and that it IS a viable business model to give it to them, whatever form that attention takes, right?!

Karen - good point - if someone wants to be a mega-agent and doesn't really care about repeat and referral business because they're so good at prospecting for new... then that model works for them and they don't need me telling them otherwise. I just hate it when floundering agents listen to it and think that's the way it has to be...

Melissa - thank you!

Gary - works for me! 

Mark - and that's a wonderful thing, isn't it?

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

Jennifer, with all due respect, I think you are mis-representing the issue. 

According to several trainers, the 80% is supposed to be spent prospecting, handling lead follow-up, conducting listing presentations, conducting buyer presentations, showing property to qualified buyers, and negotiating agreements

The 20% is supposed to be spent handling marketing (creating flyers, newsletters, creating ads for newspapers, magazines and other online sources) plus administrative tasks such as faxing, copying, filing and letter writing, calls to lenders and other agents, inspectors, appraisers, and repair men.

I definitely see servicing existing clients in the 80%. 

Can you please provide a link to the offending article?

 

Posted by Former Agent (None) almost 3 years ago

Aimee - we can agree to disagree on this, but I do hear what you're saying. What is missing in those lists is solving (or heading off) the very real problems (and even the imaginary ones) that inevitably arise when you have active listings, listings under contract and buyers under contract. Solving (or heading off) those problems for our clients is what we are hired and paid to do, and if you have any business at all, can take up a significant part of your day - as it should! However, I think we all have stories of agents on the other side of the deal who seem to have no interest in seeing a transaction through to closing because they're off prospecting for new business... and I've certainly met my share of listing agents who seem to be completely disinterested in their sellers once the sign is in the yard (until it's time to ask for a price reduction six weeks later). 

When the trainers who advise an 80% prospecting/20% client service model explain their model, they make it VERY CLEAR that client service should not be an agent's priority. And I think that is a shameful message to send. 

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

Businesses exist to provide a product or service at a profitable level.  Finding new business is important for a business to sustain itself and grow.  However, if the main focus is to generate fresh leads to churn, what happens to the quality of the product or service that existing customers trust will be provided?  They are relying on that business to produce desired results and expect their best efforts.

How would I feel if I were the customer of an agent who made me his or her lowest priority?  I'd be finding another agent and figuring out ways that I could spread the word about the poor service I received.  Would we be happy if the accountant we hired spent minimal time on our financial statements or tax return because he or she focused on pospecting for new business?

I've found that current (and happy) clients will actively refer me to others after I share my plan for new business with them.

Posted by Rick Obst, Regional Marketing Mgr in Eugene, OR almost 3 years ago

Y'know - the premise of this blog was a bit rhetorical ("would you show your business plan to your clients?") but give it some thought! Could you come up with a business plan that acknowledges and respects the responsibility you took on when you accepted a homeowner's listing or agreed to help a buyer, while also allowing you time and energy to continue to build your business? A business plan you'd be proud to include in your listing presentation or on your website's About Me page? One that isn't just hype and propaganda, but truly reflects your commitment to your clients... and is backed up by your actions day to day? 

 

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

Jennifer, existing clients must be well taken care of every day. Prospecting also needs to done every day so that we have more clients when the present ones are cared for. It's not an either or - it's a both.

Posted by Maria Morton, Kansas City Real Estate 816-560-3758 (BHG Real Estate - Kansas City Homes) almost 3 years ago

I have been doing this for over 20 years.  My plan this year was to just work with those people who were referred to me.  I'm busier than I have ever been.  Coudn't ask for more.  I totally believe I have been blessed this way because I took care of people.  Every human wants validation, and even if you are doing your job, sometimes you have to go beyond and hold some hands, dry some tears and calm some emotions.  Good post.

Posted by Jeanne Gregory (RE/MAX Southwest) almost 3 years ago

Jen, the particular trainer who I follow, certainly does require that client service be the number one priority (or how else would you have a referral piece to your busienss) and that our day should be split 80/20.

I do wish you would post the offending article.

Posted by Former Agent (None) almost 3 years ago

Maria - I'm originally from KC... anyway, I agree with you - both need to be done which is the reality for any small business owner, not just real estate agents. What I quibble with is the message that prospecting should be done FIRST, as the priority, with client service relegated to our spare time ONLY after the prospecting is done. Just switch those two priorities around - tend to your clients first and then prospect. Simple as that!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

Jeanne - that's how I ran my business too (and it's the only way I can imagine doing it!) ... but it's not the only path to success, certainly and I won't try to tell anyone that their way is wrong if it's working for them! I just want to send the message that you CAN run a client-centered real estate business and be as successful as the Big Guys (or at least as successful as you want to be) - and you are proof of that! Keep up the good work ;-]

Aimee - I simply don't see any way that you can prospect 80% of the time and then claim to be putting your clients first, unless you're saying that your definition of prospecting is that you ARE taking care of your clients (which I concur with 100%). But perhaps we are just involved in a battle of semantics because if someone is enjoying a referral-based business, they must be properly serving their clients... which in my experience means devoting far more than 20% of my time to them. I'm not going to post the article - that would be snarky - and besides, I see that message preached by nearly every Big Name real estate trainer in the country, so most have probably said it at some time or another. 

I decided a long time ago that my mission is not to change anyone's mind about what the "right" way to run a real estate business is - that's not my place or any of my business, frankly. Rather, my mission to assure agents who want to run a professional client-centered business that is not based on silly scripts, cheesy dialogues and other intelligence-insulting strategies that they CAN... and should...

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

For me, the 20% of activities that lead to the 80% of my results are the ones that are given my primary attention. That includes BOTH daily lead generation activities and ensuring the needs of my existing clients are taken care of. If I spend 2-3 hours a day on lead generation, that still allows a lot of time in the day to handle my current clients. I schedule my lead generation time and stick to it. However, it is not at the expense of current business which I have a fiduciary responsibility to take care of. To answer your question, yes I would be glad to share my overall business plan with potential future clients, as well as my monthly, weekly, daily breakdown to show how those goals will be achieved.

Posted by Ken Brandon, Camp Lejeune, Jacksonville, NC (Coldwell Banker Sea Coast Advantage (Jacksonville, NC)) almost 3 years ago

That's the thing, it doesn't say prospecting 80% of the time.  The rule suggests 80% of our time be spent doing the following: (1) prospecting, (2) lead follow-up, (3) listing presentations, (4) buyer presentations, (5) showing property to qualified buyers, and (6) negotiating contracts. 

Showing property to qualified buyers would apply as either a listing agent or a selling agent.  And, to me, any time between the moment you begin drafting a contract until it closes, qualifies as negotiating contracts and a time during which you are most certainly servicing your clients.

I don't think posting the article would be snarky.  And, I think you are mis-representing the "rule".

BTW:  Don't read this to mean that I don't think servicing our clients is of primary importance.  I certainly do, and my clients will probably tell you that I over-service them!!  But, let's accurately account for the 80/20 rule. 

Posted by Former Agent (None) almost 3 years ago

Jennifer:

i think my number one priority is servicing my clients, both current and past clients.  They come first with me because they refer people to me.  I do think we need to keep prospecting but 80%?  No, not for me.

Posted by Evelyn Kennedy, Alameda, Real Estate, Alameda, CA (Gallagher & Lindsey, Alameda, California) almost 3 years ago

Jennifer,

If I am not mistaken, one of the reasons why so many of us have hopped on the blogging bandwagon was so that it would be one of the main avenues of prospecting that we have, the type that causes people to reach out to us when they are ready to buy or sell. That way, we could devote the majority of our energy to serving our existing clients well. Hmmm. I'm inspired....

Posted by William James Walton Sr., Greater Waterbury Real Estate (WEICHERT, REALTORS® - Briotti Group) almost 3 years ago

Your marketing plan needs to be balanced, and do not follow the trends make them or start them

 

 

Posted by Jack O'Neal, High Touch High Tech (Solutions Real Estate) almost 3 years ago

I have often wondered why "those people" say things like that! Who goes out and generates new business before they handle the business at hand? I have a moral and ethical obligation to see through to the end the current fires on the burner. I do love to obtain new clients but not at the expense of a current client that is counting on me to take care of them! And some fires need to be handled by the Realtor the client hired, not someone that they are passed off to.

Posted by Teresa Tedder (Carolina Realty of Wilkes Inc) almost 3 years ago

There are certain things that you can clearly delegate to others and certain things that you need to do yourself.  Customer care is one of those that you can delegate some but not all.  A good balance is what is needed.  I wouldn't want to share my business plan with my customers either because a big chunk of it is automation and delgation.  Some people want to do it all and work 50 hours a week.  I want to do the important things that have the most bang for the buck. 

Posted by Rob Arnold, Metro Orlando Full Service - Investor Friendly & F (Sand Dollar Realty Group, Inc.) almost 3 years ago

A very intersting post and I think the Active Rain family has a lot of great comments.

Posted by Joan Whitebook, Consumer Focused Real Estate Services (BHG The Masiello Group) almost 3 years ago

Teresa - I'm with you 100%, obviously! It baffles me that anyone actually says out loud that prospecting is a higher priority than client service. I guess if you want to THINK that, you can, but to actually speak it and advise others to follow that path as well? If I ever read a blog or article written by a real estate agent who proudly proclaimed their commitment to PROSPECTING over taking care of existing clients, there's no way on earth I'd consider hiring them or referring them to others. I want a caring professional taking care of me and my friends... 

Just to confirm... I'm not saying a small business owner doesn't have to prospect. But we have a fiduciary duty to be willing and able to devote however much time and attention it takes to competently serve the clients who have honored us with their business and if that means we have ZERO time to prospect, then maybe we need to adjust our business model to have fewer clients that we actually have the time and energy to service properly without sacrificing our prospecting time (a la Jerry McGuire). 

Besides... I don't know about you, but my favorite part of practicing real estate was the client service, details, frustrations and all! I HATED prospecting and shoot, would look for any "excuse" to serve my clients to avoid it. And y'know what? That approach works gangbusters in building a referral-based business!

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

I don't know what post that was, but I sure hope that it was misinterpreted.

Posted by Charita Cadenhead, Serving Jefferson and Shelby Counties (Alabama) (Keller Williams Realty) almost 3 years ago

Charita- I see this approach preached every day from the RE training pulpits and in most cases it's quite clear that the message is, indeed, that prospecting trumps service. Whenever I rant about it, a few always argue that I'm not understanding the philosophy, but honestly... I don't see how anyone can misinterpret the blogs, articles and training materials I've read where it's clearly stated that your primary job as a real estate agent is to generate leads, that you should never let yourself get distracted from your prospecting by  the "fires" of your current clients, and that "dealing with" your current clients should never take precedence over prospecting for your new ones. 

It just stuns me that there is ANY argument here, I guess. 

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

Charita - one more comment ;-]... every day there are blogs here in the Rain celebrating the notion that Job One for a real estate agent is to prospect. And when they're featured... there's a looooong string of approving comments that follow, all enthusiastically agreeing with the author. To me, this is one of the many reasons real estate agents are held in such low regard by the general public... who, of course, are our potential clients. 

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

Agents can't survive with a "clock watcher" mentality.  Real estate is not a time-oriented profession, it's task oriented.  Once you've done all you can do for a client and their transaction, which should be first priority always, switching to marketing actitvities should be seamless and equally as task-oriented.

It doesn't matter if an agent spends 80% of their time on client care or 20% of their time on client care.  And it doesn't' even matter how many hours they work in a week.  All that matters is that they accomplish the tasks required to provide the highest standard of care to their clients and to achieve the measurable goals they have set for themselves.  Time is not a unit of measure for success in this business.

I yield the soap box...

 

Posted by John Souerbry, Homes, Land & Investments (John A. Souerbry & Associates) almost 3 years ago

Hi Jennifer! Good post as usual. What I don't understand is how anyone can define how much time to devote to prospecting / client servicing. I feel that my time dedicated to either is constantly a moving split.

My clients come before prospecting. Always. When I am done tending to my current clients for the day, then I work on prospecting activities. If that means I don't work on prospecting for a couple days because I'm helping my buyers or sellers for the whole of the day, so be it. In a way, servicing those folks (current clients) fully and completely is like prospecting. Those happy buyers and sellers will likely tell others how helpful I was, which could generate more business within my growing sphere.

I'll take those leads any day over people who I have no connection with.

Posted by Bob Sooy (Realty World Northeast LLC) almost 3 years ago

Jennifer, I mentioned it before on another of your posts concerning this, but I think it's worth mentioning again here.  The whole 80/20 prospecting plan works great when you're just starting in the business (or you're re-starting, opening a new niche, etc).  However, as your business grows, the 80/20 should be on a sliding scale.  That is, you should be able to focus MORE on client care and less on prospecting.

Why?  It's not just because you have more business.  You should be developing prospecting systems that, once setup up, require less input from you as your business develops.  Furthermore, you should be adding prospecting systems that focus on your past clients and referral business.  At that point, you're prospecting AND dealing with client care

Posted by Roger Johnson, Realtor - Hickory NC Real Estate (CENTURY 21 American Homes) almost 3 years ago

Roger - Always love your comments 'cause they're so dead-on target. Yes, at some point in a real estate agent's career (or maybe at many points), 80/20 makes sense. But if the 80/20 approach actually starts WORKING, then your time simply must be re-allocated! Which should be the goal for any agent! To have so many clients to serve that you have minimal time for prospecting... which...

Bob - wow - you pretty much summed it all up! That's EXACTLY right. 

John - I agree with you. And I'd never tell an agent to calculate their TIME based on their business plan, but rather to prioritize what needs to be, well, a priority and do that first. Part of our job IS to fight fires (which is the part I love!) so when the "opportunity" arises to do that, I'm gonna take it and the other tasks on my list will get done later, including prospecting. 

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

I think servicing current clients is a form of prospecting. If they aren't taken care of you'll never get a referral and I'll take a referral over someone that signs up on my website anyday. Good post!

Posted by Amanda S. Davidson, Your Northern Virginia Realtor (Living A Dream Real Estate) almost 3 years ago

My experience with agents who aren’t available for their clients are usually part time agents. Last month we dealt with (correction never saw him) and agent that was an airline pilot. He was on a layover in Asia, We had to find the Broker who did not want to help either. We got it closed but it was a lot of work. I won’t bother you with the details and yes, the pilot got his commision - Ugly.

 

Posted by Anonymous almost 3 years ago

I think you may be missing some of what those trainers/gurus are saying.  They don't really mean not to take care of your client at all. In my experience once a contract is executed an agent really only needs to spend 2 hours on that deal from that point on until closing. Secondly they are emphasizing how important bringing new business in is. I'm sure in your career you have noticed ups and downs, feast or famine, roller coaster rides either with your business or other agents that you know. That is because they usually get so caught up with that one or two clients that they have, that they have to work on, that pending deal that they have to work on to make sure that it closes because they are desperate for a paycheck, etc. so now when it does close they have nothing in the hopper and they are starting from square one again.  Just like Dave Ramsey's methods are specifically for certain kinds of people and they don't make sense for other people so will some of these trainings and what not out there for real estate. The prospect, prospect, prospect is for a certain agent and it may not be a good fit for you but that doesn't give you a a right to say that it doesn't or can't work or is wrong.  Think about it, if something for a client or a deal came up out of the blue, you would make sure that it gets done no matter what, right? Even if you had to work on it until midnight, you would make sure it would get done for the client.  What about prospecting? Whether its cold calling, sphere of influence, expireds, fsbo's, farming, direct mail or even door knocking. If that doesnt get done agents in general will put it off til the next day. That is the point that these gurus are trying to get across to their students.  It's not that you never take care of the client or now that they are clients that they don't mean anything to us. That is simply not true and your take on it completely missed the point in my opinion.  BB Said it more eloquently than I did. He has better bed side manners than I do. ;-)

Posted by Don Bass (V.I.P. Real Estate) almost 3 years ago

There's enough time in the day to do many tasks including marketing. Some agents prefer hands on marketing, some prefer outsourcing, regardless time is always a choice that you choose what task needs to be done if at all.

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Kimo's Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) almost 3 years ago

I think we can all agree on one thing: it's all about balance! Someone above mentioned a sliding scale, and that's how I look at my time - there are times when circumstances call for emphasis on  one thing over the other. 

Great, thought-provoking post!

Posted by Debbe Perry, 828.439.3084 Morganton/Lake James NC (Real Living Carolina Property ) almost 3 years ago

This is a great post, I think it demonstrates the importance of your mission statement and what it says about your business.

Posted by Jack Snyder, Loan Officer, San Clemente, Orange County, California, 949-204-8584 (Loan Officer in Orange County for Omni-Fund Inc.) almost 3 years ago

Jennifer, I agree 100% . I quit paying money to hear those RE gurus long ago. I'm going to order your books.

Posted by Wayne Jackson, North Idaho Realtor, Serving Coeur dnullAlene and Hayden Lake (Lakeshore Realty 208-714-4109) almost 3 years ago

Jennifer,

This is what bothers me when someone tries to write about topics they don't fully understand. The author of the offending article might as well have tried to give directions on setting a broken hip after merely attending a first-aid class. He or she clearly doesn't understand the 80/20 rule - at least not enough to proffer advice to the masses. Applying the Pareto Principle isn't about setting time-on-task, but about identifying what actions you - and you alone - should be doing for the long-term health of your business, then focusing on those dollar-productive activities first.

The 20% of most real estate agents consists of lead-generating, buyer & seller presentations, and contract negotiations. And yes, I firmly believe that those items should be time-blocked and set before all else, because the "all else" will almost always find a way to win out over lead generation. Where the author of the article you cite went horribly off a cliff is the assertion that client-servicing activities should be the lowest priority. There are aspects of client services that definitely fall within an agent's 20%, and many more that can & should be leveraged out to an assistant or listing/closing coordinator. If done right, 'lead generation' can be weaved into the client servicing. Calling a seller to sync up on information can include an "Oh by the way..." referral question. The parts of "client services" that fall into the 80% include preparing fliers, scheduling inspections, compiling a list of listing & selling agents of nearby properties, obtaining & providing feedback after showings, etc. Some may call these things 'client services,' but I know that I will get enmeshed with what could be done just as well by someone being paid $10/hour if I know the only thing my calendar when I'm done is prospecting. With a true understanding of the 80/20 rule, I can easily write a business plan that I'd be willing to put on a billboard.

Posted by Kale Wright, ePRO (Keller Williams Realty Metro Atlanta) almost 3 years ago

Great point!  I don't have mine broken down that way, but prospecting is included.  Time to smile and dial!

Posted by Jan Green, RE/MAX Excalibur Scottsdale REALTOR®, GREEN (Scottsdale, Phoenix, Cave Creek, Carefree, Fountain Hills) almost 3 years ago

I guess I am doing it backwards.  I take care of the business I have spend time looking for more.

Posted by Gene Riemenschneider, Turning Houses into Homes (Home Point Real Estate) almost 3 years ago

Hi Jennifer.  Wow!  I guess I would ask you to provide examples of which is more productive because I come from the prospecting first camp.

Posted by Stephanie/Bob The Ruiz/Miller Team, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) almost 3 years ago

I wrap it up into one thing.  Top notch service to our clients.  After we had worked with a couple hundred clients, we never had to advertise again.  Good service gets you a lot of referral business.  We focus on our clients' needs.  A little bit of internet such as AR and that's it. 

Posted by Brenda & Ron Cunningham, Realtors, Homes for Sale - Phoenix Metro (West USA Realty) almost 3 years ago

Okay, let me see if I understand this.  We should spend 80% of our time generating activities we can then spend 20% of our time on?  After the 80% task is done and then when you're not working at your peak hours focus on the 20%?  Sounds backwards to me.  I believe in the old school thought that if you spend time and effort helping other people get what they want and need, that is the best way to lead to getting what you want and need. That most likely won't make as much sense when I'm fully awake as it seems to now, but I don't agree.

Posted by Ray almost 3 years ago

Thank you for all the comments!

Ray - I think you and I are in complete agreement... it just doesn't make sense...

Brenda & Ron - EXACTLY. Once you have a data base of Very Satisfied Past Clients (that you spent a heck of a lot more than 20% of your time on), all you really have to do is stay in touch with them on a reasonably regular basis, continue doing a bang-up job for your Future Very Satisfied Clients and you won't have to prospect. It really DOES work that way.

Bob - I'm not sure sure exactly what you're asking for examples of... please clarify! ;-]

 

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

Kale - that's where I have a fuss, too...  (well, one of my fusses) - is that client service should be a LOWER priority than prospecting. 

Wayne - thank you! I think you'll enjoy them ;-]

Jack - I hope everyone takes a minute to sit down and think about what their true mission statement REALLY is... and if it has anything to do with providing exceptional client service that they make sure that's where their focus really is... day to day!

Don - thank you for your thoughts! I don't think I ever had a transaction that closed with only two hours of work on my part, so I'll have to disagree on that, but perhaps my market and/or clientele were more demandinig and "troublesome" (although I don't consider my clients to be troublesome - I'm honored to be able to help them through a complicated process!). What I don't get about this concept is that if it only takes two hours of our time to take care of our clients once they ARE our clients... um... how can we possibly justify fees in the $1000's of dollars??? 

Posted by Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn, Author of Sell with Soul (Sell with Soul) almost 3 years ago

You hit a chord on this one, Jennifer!   I often wonder when I see agents calendars how much of their time is DEDICATED to client services - like marketing a home!   The push can't always be on getting NEW clients - If so, you will NOT have referral business as no one will want to work with you again - BECAUSE - you didn't DO what you said you'd do!

Posted by Marcia Kramarz, CDPE,LMC,CBR (Re/Max Executive Realty) almost 3 years ago

I do allocate time everyday for prospecting and follow up, but would never sacrifice the service I give to the clients I have. I agree with you 100%!

Posted by Sylvie Stuart, Home Buying, Home Selling and Investment - Flagstaff, AZ (Keller Williams Check Realty 928-600-2765) almost 3 years ago

I think a lot of seasoned agents forget this part of the business once they get busy. I have to allocate time each day to prospect and keep on top of my lead generation programs

Posted by Sandy McAlpine, Search Lake Norman Homes For Sale - Lake Norman NC (McAlpine Properties) almost 3 years ago

Thanks for sharing Jennifer.  If you don't have balance you have unbalance.  I think prospecting has to be first however from your blog it sounds like service to many is a far second. 

Posted by Brian Sharkey | Broker | GRI | South Florida's #1 Broker, SharkeyRE - #SouthFloridaBroker (SharkeyRE LLC) almost 3 years ago

Jennifer, you hit the nail on the head...AGAIN!!! Customer service seems to be a dying art, it's time we make it the norm.

Posted by Ron Cooks, Texas Real Estate, Ft Hood/Killeen Homes for Sale (Options Realty Group / Credit Consultant) almost 3 years ago

IMHO it takes both to stay in business, if you don't take care of your past customers including after the sale they will tell others.

Posted by Charles Stallions, 800-309-3414 - Pensacola, Pace or Gulf Breeze, Fl. (Charles Stallions Real Estate Services ) almost 3 years ago

Jennifer, I am so with you - I think that I agree with almost everything you write. -Kasey

Posted by Kasey & John Boles - Jon Gosche Real Estate, Boise, Meridian, Ada/Canyon/Gem/Boise Counties (Jon Gosche Real Estate, Boise ID) over 2 years ago

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