Working in real estate presents some unique team and client communication challenges.
By the very nature of the job, your team members are often out on the road and unable to respond to requests immediately. They also tend to be bombarded with emails, voicemails, text messages and other types of communication.
How do you communicate expectations and procedures with your team? How are clients kept in the loop and made to feel valued?
It comes down to having effective communication systems and setting the expectation that your team members will use them…
The overall success or failure of a real estate team often hinges on how well they communicate. As The Real Estate Trainer points out, “effective communication doesn’t just happen, it must be purposefully initiated continuously”.
When and how should you initiate the communication? Here are some basics for every real estate team…
Meetings are sometimes easier said than done given the dynamic nature of the business, yet they are one of the simplest ways to foster open communication in your team. For some team members, meetings may be the only way to get to know others on the team, especially if most of their time is spent out of the office.
A leader in the business should take responsibility for scheduling regular, compulsory meetings without allowing schedule conflicts to interfere. As The Real Estate Trainer further points out; “time must be blocked, protected and enforced”.
That’s not to say that “meetings for the sake of a meeting” should ever become the norm. To ensure that meetings are effective, give everyone time to check in with what they are up to, and to raise any issues they may have. Another vital piece is to devote time to the growth of the business. What ideas does your team have for improving their skills or generating more business?
Effective communication in meetings can lead to better ideas and better teamwork, and better teamwork can mean more skilled team members and an improved experience for your clients.
How often do you sit down with your staff to have one-on-one chats and reviews of performance? This is a vital piece of communication; your staff need to know how they are doing and any improvements they may be able to make.
As we have explored previously, holding team members accountable is important for improving performance and can lead to more business for your firm. To conduct reviews effectively, it is generally better to foster an environment of open communication rather than coming from an accusatory or punitive point of view.
To make sure that your team members get the most from performance reviews, hold them regularly (for example, once per month), record them where they can be easily referred back to and have action points for your team member to take away.
Ensure your real estate firm has documented checklists and procedures to aid communication.
Vanessa Rosenblum states that one of the common mistakes realtors make with their teams is not having written checklists and procedures. What does this mean for them? Often that a lot of time is wasted in following up and getting new hires up to speed with the business.
All administrative hires should be required to document their procedures and produce written checklists of how they go about their work. These should be ‘living documents’ able to be accessed and updated by other team members.
Using a cloud storage service such as Google Drive or Dropbox is a great way to facilitate these documents. They can be easily accessed by anyone and changes can be tracked.
Apart from administrators, new agents may find documented procedures useful too. Consider creating ‘welcome packs’ which include everything they need to know about the guidelines and procedures of your business. Again, make these ‘living documents’ which are regularly and easily updated.
Documented procedures help your agency avoid compliance issues. Brokers and agents must remain in close communication to ensure that appropriate paperwork is not only completed, but completed correctly. Having written procedures setting out how and when communication happens can help you to make sure that nothing falls through the cracks.
Planning for the future
Documented procedures are also about planning for the future. You may expand and need to hire new staff, or current staff may leave and need replacing.
While many people groan at the thought of preparing written documents, they are a wise investment for streamlining your business. Efficient communication procedures allow your team members to focus more time on growth activities and make the onboarding of new staff easier.
Feeling left out of the loop is a common customer complaint in real estate, so much so that having effective systems in place for customer communication could give your firm a competitive advantage over others.
From a client perspective, it’s key to respond in a timely manner and with accurate information. Timeliness includes not only responding to them personally, but conducting time-sensitive business with other parties, such as bank officers during the closing process.
Consider this (unfortunately typical) scenario:
You are the buyer and you’re expecting your loan to close this Friday. You’ve packed, hired movers and are just waiting for the keys to be handed over Friday afternoon. What you don’t know is that, due to [insert issue], your agent is making phone calls on Friday to the escrow firm which are going unanswered. Meanwhile the listing agent is trying to get hold of your agent as well. Come 5pm all offices are closed and you, the buyer are left wondering what is going on with your house packed up and nowhere to direct the movers. You try making phone calls but keep getting the automated ‘outside of office hours’ answering service instructing you to leave a message…
While buyers may be understanding when unforeseen delays occur, they will not be so understanding if you fail to communicate appropriately with them.
Sure, you can’t be on the phone to every party at once, but you can take advantage of systems which allow you to deliver instant messages to all of them simultaneously. Playing phone tag is inefficient and exhausting by comparison.
Follow Up Efficiently
For nurturing leads, software such as Follow Up Boss will help systemize your lead follow-up. You can return messages from prospects in a timely manner and streamline traditionally clunky tasks such as data entry. A quick response could make the difference between them choosing your firm or another.
Technology can help you systemize your whole sales process, including workflows and task management. As we looked at earlier, having a documented process is an important part of maintaining communication and increasing your chances of success.
You never can view a current client as a ‘done deal’, and part of catering to their needs is simply making time for them.
Many agents find that taking a random approach to communicating doesn’t work; what really helps is carving out regular time to make calls or send emails. Carly Jacobs states that the number one trait of a good agent is simply “they communicate”. Rather than leaving it until you can ‘find’ the time, block out set chunks of your calendar to check in with clients.
While technology will certainly help with keeping up with clients, remember that many people still prefer the more personal approach of a phone call. Your agents obviously can’t spend their whole day on the phone, but a balanced approach with the aid of technology can be the answer.
Assuming that your agency has effective lead generation techniques in place, the extent of your success just may rely on how well you deal with communication, both internally and with clients.
Having regular catch-ups, along with documented systems and procedures in place, will allow all of your team members to be on the same page. If you combine this with systemizing your communications with clients, it will keep you on track in a dynamic, fast-paced business.