Chapter 18 - Quality Interaction
Who do you want to be around on a day-to-day basis in real estate? Socrates taught Plato, Plato taught Aristotle, Aristotle taught Alexander the Great. Daily interactions are important and play a long-term role in our development and enjoyment of the business. Your customer: whom do you want to serve and interact with daily? “The worst wheel of the cart makes the most noise”—Benjamin Franklin.
I had already made the switch from lender to real estate agent. I was into that transition for a few years, and by that point I had completely turned off the nozzle on my loan business—no more loan income. My production as a real estate agent was actually strong, but I found myself in a rut, not liking big pieces of what I was doing.
I sat down with a friend of mine that had been selling property for twenty-five-plus years. He and I have similar backgrounds athletically, and I could always count on him to pull no punches. I told him my moan-and-groan story. Within five minutes, with laser-guided precision, he had an answer to my woes. He told me the quality of the interaction was starting to wear on me. What in the world does that mean, Mr. Mentor Friend? He said, “Jim, what if everyone you worked with 1) trusted your advice, 2) respected your experience, and 3) you enjoyed them on a personal level?” Naturally I said that would be great.
The problem. To make a long story shorter, I was doing sizable volume, but it was coming from all over the place: some warm, some cold, some this, some that, and some I just frankly never figured out where it was coming from. Then came the two-by-four over the head. “Jim, you don’t have to do business with people that you don’t like. In fact, if you don’t like them, there is a high probability that they don’t like you either.” No punches pulled as promised, staying true to form.
Wow, Mr. Mentor, you are right. I do have a choice.
I literally went through my entire database that very next week and reviewed every single person in that database. I asked myself this question: “Do I like them and do I want to work with them?” I did this with my team, of course. Let me tell you why it’s important to do this with your team. We would look at a name (customer), and I would say, for instance, keep him or her, and then someone else would say, no way. Hmm. Okay, let’s hear what you are saying. “Jim, they were really nice to you, and I didn’t want to tell you this, but behind the scenes they were hard on me.” Okay, that’s good that we are doing this together. Then off the list they go. We eliminated over three hundred names from our customer database in one week. Remember, I’m calling this a “customer database,” but these were not all customers. But it didn’t matter who they were; if the consensus was a no, then off the list they went, never to return again.
In parallel, I talked with another friend of mine that same week about this topic. He was about ten years older than me and owned a company with about a hundred employees. Hey, you gotta have a lot of people around you that you respect! He said, “Oh, for sure, Jim, you constantly have to be upgrading your equipment, upgrading your staff, and upgrading your customer lists.” Finally I had a term to correlate with what we were doing.
We were upgrading our customer list and the quality thereof.
We were making a conscious decision to include only those people we enjoyed working with (and for) and that were nice people, in our opinion. By doing so, we were improving the quality of the interaction on a daily basis. By improving the quality of the interaction with our customer, we were improving our enjoyment of the job. By improving our own enjoyment of the job, we were improving our customer service.
When we initially made the upgrade, business dipped a little. It didn’t take long, however, before the fruits of our intentions and labor began to payoff. We roughly dropped a little/went flat for about eight months and then started growing again, but with customers of our choosing.
We all have to make our own business decisions on this topic. I understand, when you need business you need business. I’m encouraging you, however, to be careful. You may love this business; love the service you are providing; have your heart in all right places; but if your customer is beating you up every day, it’s going to dilute your enjoyment of what you do.
Please be slightly selfish and certainly discerning on this topic. You will love this business if you love the people that you are working for and with.
Go get ’em!
Let the beauty of what you love be what you do.
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