It’s been said that in the last 20 years the world has changed more than it did in the previous 100. Having made my start in real estate close to 20 years ago I can certainly attest to that. When I look back at it now, my first year in the business seems like something out of the dark ages, and yet in that first year I went to No. 1 in Canada. The reason I was able to enjoy that much success so early in my career and continue that success is because no matter how much things changed, one thing didn’t: people do business with people.
It might scare you to know this, but I remember real estate without the Internet, without emails or text messages. I can even remember a time before cell phones. Can you imagine that? Can you see yourself doing business today with a land line and a fax machine as your only means of communicating? Wouldn’t you feel lost if you were driving in your car or walking down a street, completely cut off from the rest of the world with no way of contacting anyone? Scary thought isn’t it, but that was reality when I was a rookie. I can remember standing in front of a house waiting for a client and having no way to send them a message unless I started a fire and sent up smoke signals.
Today with cell phones, we literally hold the world in our hand and are never out of touch with anyone or anything unless the battery dies. Then we’re lost, off the grid, out of reach and aimless until the thing recharges. Because with that cell phone we can email, text, get information online, take photos and send them and, oh yeah, we can call people as well.
The danger of having that much power at your disposal is you can get lazy. Why call someone when you can send a text? Why send someone a handwritten note when you can zip off an email from the comfort of your couch? Why meet someone for coffee when you can tweet what you’re doing to the entire world? Why meet anyone face to face when you can simply Facebook them?
Unfortunately a lot of agents today rely way too much on technology and have lost the one thing that truly makes them special – themselves. The interesting, interested, understanding, funny, forgetful human being they are that is unlike any other human being on the planet. That’s what clients want to experience. They’ll appreciate your knowledge and use of technology but they want you, a real live person, to work for them.
I remember one of my Realtors found himself in a bit of quandary that would make most sales reps jealous. His business was growing so fast that he was finding it hard to keep in contact with all his clients and past clients. He couldn’t meet with each of them or he’d have no time to do his job. He had made them an email group but was afraid a group email would be too impersonal.
So I told him, if you can’t go out and meet all your clients regularly, invite them to meet with you. From then on he held a client appreciation party once a year where he got the chance to chat with them and reconnect. It was nothing big and didn’t cost him a lot of money but these regular get-togethers gave him instant payback in the form of new and repeat business. With all the technological ways of keeping in touch, let’s not forget the most important way, the human touch.
Debbie Hanlon is the founder of Hanlon Realty and CEO of All Knight Inc. She is a three-time top 50 CEO winner and was named one of the top 100 female entrepreneurs in Canada. She is currently an elected city official in St. John’s, Nfld. and is available for motivational and training seminars. Email firstname.lastname@example.org.