How to Avoid Getting Sued - My Humble Opinion
In marketing, as you have probably heard many times, perception is reality. In real estate, this is certainly no different. I have always tried to view this career as a service business, rather than strictly as a sales job. To be sure, I use my sales skills every day. I even have to use sales skills on my kids sometimes. However, if you treat your real estate clients strictly as potential sales, you will probably struggle to build a successful business. Instead, take some extra time to show your empathy. Please allow me to explain.
When I am training new agents (and experienced agents, for that matter), I often reference a book that I read a couple of years ago called "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell (he is also the author of "The Tipping Point" - I would highly recommend reading both of them if you have a chance). In this book, Gladwell explores the way that people make decisions, usually based on small things. I enjoy books that make me think and sometimes there is a point that sticks with me, as in this case.
One of the most interesting applications of this book to our business comes from his analysis of doctor-patient relationships, and whom people choose to sue when something goes wrong in malpractice cases. They found that patients almost never sue a doctor that took time to show that they cared about them. In fact, the surgeons in one study who were never sued spent an average of only 3.3 minutes longer with their patients than their colleagues who were sued. Also, patients would usually choose to go after the doctors they like the least, as opposed to those who might actually have been at fault.
A quote from this section says, "When a patient has a bad medical result, the doctor has to take the time to explain what happened, and to answer the patient's questions. The doctors who don't [take time for their patients] are the ones who get sued."
The upshot for this in real estate is: TAKE THE TIME TO SHOW YOUR CLIENTS THAT YOU CARE ABOUT THEM.
I have been in full-time real estate sales in the Austin area for eleven years (the last three years as the owner of my own company), and I have never been involved in a lawsuit, mediation, or a complaint to our real estate commission, nor have any of the agents who work for me. Why? Because I make an effort to show our clients that I care about their issues, rather than simply denying responsibility and becoming defensive at the first hint of a problem.
Sometimes, I have had to admit that one of our agents made a mistake. Is this easy for me? Absolutely not. However, it is the best course of action sometimes, rather than shifting the blame or arguing, neither of which does anything to defuse the situation.
I feel that this is the essence of having integrity and part of succeeding in any business. Also, I can sleep at night because I don't have anything extra weighing on my mind. Do I make mistakes in the course of day-to-day business? Of course. Do I admit it when I do? Absolutely. If you want to have staying power and a stream of happy client referrals, show them that you care and accept responsibility when you mess up. It is my humble opinion that most people think they have integrity, but a precious few practice this daily.
So, do your clients know that you care (or at least perceive that you do)? If so, you will likely have buyers and sellers beating a path to your door.
I welcome your comments. Thanks for taking time to read this entire post.
Copyright 2007 Austin Texas Real Estate