For Agents August 26, 2012

For Real Estate Agents: How to Communicate with Your Broker or Manager

A small, benign event occurred recently that made me dust off a list I have been compiling as a broker who has had his share of communication fails over the years with the real estate agents in my brokerage. You might be going out of town, need help with a file, or just want to give us a heads up. Regardless of the reason, there are some definite do’s and don’ts in making sure that what you have to say is understood and acted on the right way. The assumption of everything herein is that you are not standing in front of me or sitting at my desk.

  1. Don’t use a text to announce your time out of town or similar matter. A phone call is better, an email and call is best. Text is more casual or conversational discourse. It isn’t easily transferred to the official office agenda, and no one else reads my texts to back me up. An email, on the other hand, is a permanent record and if I answer it, it probably means I am at my computer and have access to the calendar.
  2. Don’t assume that something mentioned weeks or months in advance in casual conversation will be recalled with complete accuracy and acted upon. This prevents situations where an out of town buyer is standing in front of a house wondering where I am, and when I call, you answer from that wedding in the Finger Lakes. Ok, I made that up. But it could happen, and the Finger Lakes are lovely this time of year.
  3. Don’t assume that something said to one manager is automatically known by another. In my own case, I have a co-owner, my wife who is on the administrative side of things. If there is one chronic issue is my own firm, and thank God it is a minor issue, it is when an agent will say to me “but I told Ann,” as if saying something to her transferred by osmosis to me. With over 30 agents, sometimes as many as 60 listings, almost 20 deals under contract, and 4 children aged 5-10, we simply can’t debrief each other on everything agents tell us. Sometimes we haven’t even spoken since you spoke!
  4. NEVER assume that something said to me while I am driving gets past the dashboard. You beeped in on the tail end of a prior conversation, I hung up with you to answer another call, I am driving, and I can’t write anything down. I just talked a client off the ledge, put out your fire as best I could, and then dealt with a lawyer on something right afterward. Follow up. That is your responsibility.

Now, here are some Do’s.

  1. Do have the address and other agent/firm on hand when you call about a particular transaction you are working on. Context is everything, and understanding who and what is on the other side of a problem is a big part of getting to a solution. There is a big difference between a co-op in Scarsdale and a relocation deal on a colonial in Chappaqua. I need the 411 to give you the 911.
  2. Do bug, bother, disturb and otherwise interrupt me. If there is a problem and you are afraid you’ll interrupt my off or family time, it is a far more welcome disturbance than the same problem 24 hours later.  Un-addressed issues are the worst. Err on the side of contacting me.
  3. Do call meetings. Being proactive and planning is better than putting out fires that planning could have prevented. I am eager to help you get out ahead of your active clients and pending transactions so you can minimize drama and do a phenomenal job. To their credit, this is something where my team does a tremendous job.
The term for this is “managing up.” Helping your broker or manager help you is almost always a function of good communication. You avoid problems this way, do a better job for your clients, and learn a ton more than the trial and error that comes with poor communication. All too often, it is the clients’ who carry the water for that, and around here we prefer smoother sailing.