Some clients only feel placated if they get into your pocketbook and win cash compensation. If you did something that caused them to be hurt financially, you may have to buck up. However, agents rarely are the cause of a client's financial hardship. Before you give up your hard-earned money, I caution you to ask yourself three questions:
1. Will offering cash really turn this client into a raving fan?
2. Is there another way to turn this client into a raving fan?
3. Is there a reasonable chance that I will win future business and referrals from this person?
If your answers don't cause you to feel confident that giving up money will net a future return at a low risk, keep the cash in your pocket.
The best way to provide the level of service you and your client agreed on is to create two checklists, a new listing checklist that details the steps you will follow throughout the process of accepting a listing, and a sale agreement checklist that details all the steps that happen from contract to close.
Figures 15-1 and 15-2 present samples of each of these checklists to guide you as you develop forms that work for your own business. Standard procedures vary from state to state and MLS board to MLS board. While the samples included in this book will be 90 percent accurate for your situation, you'll need to customize them to fit the requirements of your state, region, or local laws and code of ethics.
Whole books have been written on the topic of customer service. For a great resource, pick up Customer Service For Dummies, 3rd Edition, by Karen Leland and Keith Bailey (Wiley). The basis for customer service in real estate is accomplishing a sale if you represent the seller or securing the right property for the client if you represent the buyer. Short of doing those things, you won't have a customer to service. This segment assumes you have done that and want to provide that little bit extra for your clients.
Ask the agents in your office what extra touches work for them. Also, ask your broker what actions she thinks are considered extra touches. Following are two of my favorites — one that is extended right after the closing and one that is extended to long-term clients:
i Right after closing, arrange for two hours of complimentary home repair work. The cost of this extra touch will run only about $100 and the perceived value is huge. More often than not, clients will use more time than the amount covered by your gift, and so the repairperson will acquire new clients and will probably give you a great deal on the time he sells to you as a result.
By sending in a repairperson, you help the clients resolve small issues that the sellers didn't handle before they left. If these issues aren't dealt with, they may fester into something bigger that leads to frustration with the transaction, which could lead to frustration with you. This idea is an inexpensive win-win for all involved.
i For long-term clients, consider buying four season tickets to an event series that you enjoy in your town — perhaps to the symphony or the theatre or to professional or college sports games. Be sure that the events are ones you enjoy attending and that the activity is consistent with your professional image. (Tickets to WWE wrestling probably won't make your list.)
Shortly before each of the event dates, invite clients to attend the event with you. Don't issue invitations when you first buy the tickets. Wait until a few days or a week before each event. At that point your invitation will seem spontaneous and genuinely friendly. Some of your invitees will already be booked and will have to decline. You may have to call six to ten people to give the tickets away.
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