It’s Not Just The Extra Mile; Every Inch Counts

Many years ago the term ‘customers for life’ was bandied about the industry as if it was going to save the world. I have discussed many times with our teams the need to have a marathon runner’s attitude to our clients: long-term relationships, longterm commitment and long-term engagement in communities. Why do some agents approach these critical aspects with a sprinter’s mindset?

MANY agents do not have enough contact with the owners of homes in their territories. But these people could so easily have been – with some structure and process – customers for life.

As it’s nearly October you may be thinking about your Christmas card list. Every year I get Christmas cards from people I have spoken to maybe once or twice in my life. For some reason they think this card is going to build a relationship with me. I can’t help but wonder if these people spend an hour generically signing their name to a pile of cards and send them out in bulk.

If you’re someone who sends Christmas cards every year in the hope that you will miraculously build relationships, then you need to understand that all these cards do is hang on fishing line between the curtains. It doesn’t build a relationship. You need to be consistent for the other 364 days in the year.

One weekend I attended an open for inspection and while I was there I gave my name and my address to the agent. I only live 50 metres from the open home and the agent acknowledged I was a home owner in the street. Yet two days later I received a letter from this agent to my home addressing me as ‘the home owner’. All I ever wanted to be called was Mark.

The best way to build a relationship is to actually call someone by their name.

Like a great bottle of red, relationships take time to develop. A large number of those who live in our suburbs and communities are cynical and sceptical of our roles as real estate agents, and who we are within the community.

Many people in our industry believe that it’s at the prospect stage where the real relationship lives. I believe it’s further on. As you interact with prospects and work with their agenda – not your own – over a period of time, they become clients.

If you ask many agents who their clients are, they would nominate their current listings. The new breed of real estate agents is recognising that their clients are part of a different group. From this existing client list a consistent and strong flow of business can occur, but it’s not the end of the relationship model. You need to continue beyond the sale, to develop advocates. This is where the long and sustaining business lives.

Ask yourself: are you taking the time to develop your relationships through all these stages, or are you continuing to drink cheap and nasty red?

One of my favourite movies, Any Given Sunday, pretty much sums up the point I want to make.

In it, Al Pacino tells his football players that life is a game of inches, the margin for error is so small. He goes on to say that when you add up all the inches gained and lost – in life and football – that’s the difference between winning and losing.

I believe we can apply this theory to real estate. So often the win is so close yet we don’t seize it. Think of an agent who spends the day letterbox dropping. For every letterbox he drops a flyer in, the front door to the home is just a few steps further.

The challenge I would like to give you is to find out what would happen if you went the extra inches, knocked on the door and had a conversation with the homeowners.

Because, even when it comes to real estate, the great Al Pacino was right: the win is most certainly in the extra inches.

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Mark McLeod

Mark McLeod is the Ray White Group's Chief Strategy Officer for Real Estate. He works alongside agents and businesses across Australia, helping them reach their ultimate potential to achieve success.