This is one of those posts that I write for strictly therapeutic purposes, so please indulge me. Unlike some agents who keep their cell phones a state secret, mine is not. As a matter of fact, when I hear a licensee talk about how they “value their privacy” and prefer that their mobile number not be public, I have to wonder why they are in the business. If you want a career with privacy, try calligraphy. In real estate, fortune does not favor those in hiding. We have to be reachable in real time.
I’ll take it a step further: when I tell someone that I am out and about all day and that the best way to reach me by far is my mobile number, it feels almost passive aggressive when they leave a message at my office, especially if it is accompanied by frustration that they can’t reach me. Baloney! Text me. Lower your eye an eighth of a millimeter on my card and there’s my cell number. Use it. You might get voicemail, true (I have been known to use the bathroom or attend the odd meeting), but I do return calls and texts.
Real estate is not a private career pursuit, nor it is one that is conducive to bankers hours. I’ll be the first to admit that many in our life take it too far and sacrifice too much of ourselves at the expense of family time, rest, and perhaps even sanity at times. That is curable. State secrets aren’t. Being reachable, communicative, and accessible are part of our value propositions to our clientele and public (you didn’t think it was access to listing data, did you?), and if it is more important to you to have time to yourself instead of answering my call to let you know that the key is no longer in your lockbox, you are pretty much obstructing me, my client, and your client from getting things done.
I have stood in the rain or snow with a client staring at a combination lock box when we were told to expect an electronic device. I have witnessed burst pipes, exploding toilets, freshly vandalized property, squatters, home inspections on a home we were told had no offers, and dozens of other scenarios where speaking with the listing agent was not just desired, it was urgent. This business requires agility and access. It would be nice if we could unplug more often, but that’s the job. Weekends are prime time, evenings are when clients are free, and we’ll never be Ward Cleaver. Moreover, Westchester and suburban NYC clientele can be demanding, and rightly so. They deserve fast answers in 2013. If I am trying to reach you, I am trying to help you earn money.
I will readily admit to being more hardcore than most, with a man purse containing two cell phones, a portable charger, spare batteries, an iPad mini and enough wires to jump start a Prius.
Unfortunately, as the market gains health and more properties will sell as a matter of course, more agents will start being secret agents because that’s what they are being told by their life coaches or business gurus. “Start running your business like a business” is one of those abused anthems we hear, justifying non real estate paradigms on a business that has some pretty immutable (ironic term huh?) principles of its own.
I run a company. I have 40+ listings of my own, 30 agents with the firm and growing, and more than my own share of pipe dreams about a day with no calls where it doesn’t cost me. I still have my mobile number out there so I can serve my clients and cooperate with my colleagues. If I can do it, you can do it. I just hope this doesn’t fall on too many deaf ears.