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Growing Your BusinessServing the Mature Homeowner

Selling More without Sacrificing Customer Service

By February 7, 2013 May 16th, 2019 No Comments

My How Things Have Changed!

Gone are the days
where an agent could be all things to all people and still make a living
at selling homes. Of course there are still those rare few who are
happy with a sale or two each month and can handle their business
without a support network, but what happens when you have complicated
transactions or clients with special needs?

Can you juggle it all yourself?

When
I look back at my early days in real estate (before Chris came along)
when I was the solo agent in charge of marketing, advertising, lead
generating, listing appointments, buyer showings, open houses, tech
support, scheduling, networking meetings, negotiating contracts, going
to inspections, project management, and going to closings (and I’m sure I
missing a few things)… it was exhausting. I suppose this is why my
income was not only erratic, but why I always felt as though I wasn’t
giving my clients my best.  I was spread too thin. 

Once
Chris and I joined forces, it was amazing how much more I enjoyed my
job. He liked the things I didn’t like and I liked the things he didn’t
prefer. A match made in heaven. Well…almost. There were a few things
(mostly detail stuff) that neither of us were good at nor did we enjoy.
But we managed until the time came where we hired an executive assistant
to handle those day to day tasks that were energy and time sucks for
us.

We literally went from 40 to 80 sales a year after just that
one hire. When you break it down, it was the difference of being able to
manage 3 sales a month to 6 or 7. For us, even after paying our
assistant, that was a significant increase in income. Not to mention we could actually take a day off here and there without any guilt or worry.  

Serving senior clients takes more time.

There
is no doubt that it takes more time to serve the senior client.  In
most cases, the sales cycle is longer, there are more people involved,
and there are far more details to be handled (especially when
downsizing). Most agents that are like me appreciate the slower pace
that older clients need and take the time necessary to insure they feel
comfortable with each step in the process.

As our seniors
division grew and we were handling as many as 5 or 6 sales consistently
each month for downsizing seniors, I knew something had to give.

I found myself spending my evenings and weekends helping clients
organize, pack, set up cable TV, furniture shop, and more. More and more
of my “free” time was donated to my clients to insure they had a
hassle-free move.

Customer service was important to me!
I was not going to just list their home and say, “OK…now you’re on
your own.” But I couldn’t “take the to raise” either (my husbands
words).

So this begs the question I am frequently asked, “How can I take on more sales without sacrificing customer service?”  

Here are two suggestions:  

  • Surround yourself with a skilled and like minded network of professionals.
    This is a key element in insuring that your clients are receiving
    assistance from trusted service providers and that you are not the only
    person capable of helping with the transition. Take the time to
    interview and assess the qualifications of each person you align with
    before referring them and then oversee their work until they have proven
    themselves. 
  • Hire
    an administrative assistant or executive assistant. A key hire can make
    all the difference in the world when it comes to client communications,
    organizing, and helping with the non-sales related tasks in every
    transaction. Consider hiring a gerontology graduate or someone who has
    experience in customer service or the aging services fields. 

Can’t afford a full time staff member?

There
are a variety of university programs that require students to complete a
practicum or internship. I had to do several hundred hours as a part of
my gerontology degree and so I worked as a volunteer to fulfill my
requirements. Think about how much you could teach a student about
working with seniors in real estate and senior housing.

Another consideration is to tap into your network of past senior clients.
Many seniors are looking for ways to give back and add value to others.
For some it is not necessarily about the money, but more about a place
to belong and continuing to be of service.

Begin putting money
aside for adding team members. A good rule of thumb is to have 3 months
of their salary in reserve when you hire. This cushion will keep you
from feeling stressed if you have a sale fall through or a slow month.

What is you longterm career vision?

In this year’s first senior housing professionals mastermind
session this week I asked the group to spend time on envisioning their
businesses going forward. What are they creating? Will they work solo or
have a team? Do they prefer to sell or lead a team of sales people?
Does it excite them to expand regionally or nationally with their brand?

If
you are in the group of agents who choose to maintain 1 to 3 sales a
month on average or are comfortable with a fluctuating income, you may
be able to deliver a high level of customer service as a solo-agent. For
those who envision a larger organization like we did or who want to be
able to serve at a high level and still take vacations and have a life,
you will probably need to increase your support network.

What it all boils down to is you and your vision.
Know your customer service standards and know your limits. Listen to
your inner business advisor and your inner wisdom. You know the right
answers.

I will leave you with this – a quote from one of my wise coaches

“You take care of others best when you take care of yourself first.”

 

Photo courtesy of Dell

 

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