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2008-12-31 19:58:51

The Real Meaning of “Client for Life”


I am certain that we all have heard or read the following phrases over and over in nearly every REALTOR® marketing piece:

“Your REALTOR® for Life!”
Often, the writer will add to this by detailing a scenario that is the object of what the REALTOR wants to see happen;
·         Repeat Business
·         Referral Business
·         Investment Opportunity Business
We seem to be convinced that by just repeating this magical phrase over and over until it becomes our own personal mantra, we will be transformed into successful agents!   It is interesting to note that some might say that “if you feel a great need to say it, it probably isn’t true.” Like the excerpt from Shakespeare’s Hamlet, when he is trying to trick his mother into showing herself as a liar, he says “The lady doth protest too much, methinks.” By saying this, Hamlet is actually saying that he thinks his mother is proclaiming her innocence by relying on too much denial. Like a little kid who says; “I didn’t do it. . . really. . . I am telling the truth.” We hear enough to tell us that he likely DID do whatever IT was.
I don’t mean to say that any agent who proclaims himself/herself to be “your REALTOR® for life” is not a good agent and is not capable of serving your needs into the future. I am just pointing out that if it is true, you probably don’t need to shout it from the rooftops. Also, it is potentially something that clients will view as being self-serving. Think about it this way; we are asking them to do something for us – to commit to us as their only real estate resource.
On the other hand,  maybe we are taking the wrong approach. Perhaps it might be a better and more acceptable approach for us to focus on creating relationships that result in “Clients for Life!” Now, you might be thinking that I am playing with semantics here. You might be right, but consider this: If we truly focus more on the needs of clients and less on our own needs, the clients will recognize that and will react differently.  What we are saying with this approach is that we want to let them know that, if they will have us, we will work very hard to serve their needs for the long run. We are not just looking around the corner for the next commission.
With the former approach, focused on REALTOR® for Life, we will usually not have much meaningful interaction with the clients in between sales and purchases. Sure, we might work very hard at maintaining a relationship – postcards, parties, drop-by’s and the like. But these are not truly real estate related by their nature.
Moving away from this approach and into a Client for Life approach would involve frequent and meaningful real estate specific interactions. Some examples might include calling the client to offer to help them get a reassessment on their taxes if the average prices drop significantly. You could also send to them copies of articles about market conditions, information on loan modifications, some hard-to-believe investment opportunities, annual review of their own property value, etc.
These frequent and meaningful real estate specific contacts could be interspersed with offers to help them with all their needs, whether they are buying, selling or have a need that is not related to a transaction. Remember, the consultative approach widens your offering to include anything real estate related, even the non-transactional activities.
This approach might be viewed better by the clients. After all, you are no longer asking them to commit to you. You are offering to commit to them! This is a huge difference. In the end, I am just suggesting a very minor shift. If we shift our focus away from “REALTOR® for Life” and toward “Client for Life,” we will see a huge change in both our client’s attitude and our own self image.
Jack Harper is a longtime REALTOR® and author who is an avid proponent of the consulting model in today's real estate market. He believes in providing fair and professional service and being paid a fair and reasonable fee for those services every time he is engaged by a client, whether there is a sale involved or not. He advocates allowing the consumer to have full choice in terms of the services and is an evangelist for the consulting model.
Check out the RealTown Consulting Group for more information and to ask questions. Copyright, 2008, Jack Harper, All Rights Reserved

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