By Debbie Hanlon

Having always considered myself a very good, hard working and fashionably dressed real estate agent, I was shocked when a former client contacted my assistant on another matter and told her how disappointed they were with me. I was mortified.

Service was my selling point, I always went the extra mile, I smiled the extra smile and I took pride in taking care of my client’s every need. Plus, my contacts through real estate and my ever-so-busy amazing life made it easy to put them in touch with people who could help them in other areas. To be told a client was disappointed in me was pretty much the worst thing I could imagine hearing.

My assistant told me in a text and I was on the road at the time, so I didn’t know why they were disappointed. Again and again as I drove to my office, I ran through the deal we’d done. It was one of the most complicated and difficult deals I’d ever done in 20+ years of wheeling and dealing. To get it to close I had to use every trick in my real estate selling kit. I’d saved that deal a dozen times, pulled it out of the fire, dusted it off and brought it back to life and kept it alive until it closed.

Driving along, I thought of all the favours I called in from home inspectors, lawyers, electricians, plumbers, snow clearers and even cleaners, which left my favour cupboard pretty much bare. I also thought about all the hours of work I’d spent along with the hours of sleep I’d lost making the deal work.

By the time I got closer to my office, I wasn’t thinking anymore, I was stewing. I was angry. How dare they, after all the work I’d done for them, come back and say they were disappointed in me? I’d worked magic for those people. If they only knew how good they had it. Oh, those ungrateful clients, I thought, as I parked and headed inside.

I was steaming when I walked in the door. I was ready to vent to my assistant and list off the litany of injustices that had been done against me. I was right ready to tell those clients how disappointed I was that they were disappointed with me, when my assistant spoke up. She said the clients were disappointed because they hadn’t heard from me since the sale. Sure, I sent a thank-you card and I also sent them a Christmas card, but did I reach out personally? No, I did not.

And just like that, I went from feeling angry to feeling somewhat embarrassed. How could I think that they owed me an apology? They owed me nothing, because the simple truth is, all I did was my job. I’d signed them on to sell their home and I sold it. How many hoops and loops I had to jump through to make it happen is just part of the job sometimes. They’d done nothing wrong, it was me who had fallen down on the job. Real estate is a contact sport and I had not kept in contact the way I should have.

As my readers know, I follow a systematic approach to selling real estate. That way I don’t have to reinvent the wheel on every deal I do, I just follow the steps and things usually go swimmingly. This took me by surprise though. How many other clients had I disappointed by not maintaining close enough contact?

Right then, right there, I added another step to my selling system. Now I call every client and talk directly to them. I ask them if there was anything I could have done better, because that’s what we should always do; try to do better. Now with my new After Care steps inserted into my selling system, I don’t think I’ll ever get another call from a disappointed client. After the deal, use some after care and make it a point to never disappoint.

Debbie Hanlon is the owner broker and Realtor at Debbie Hanlon Real Estate, a new boutique brokerage in St. John’s, Nfld. She is also a motivational speaker, real estate coach, author, former city councillor and children’s entertainer. She lives in St. John’s with her husband, Oral Mews and her dog Fisher.

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