How Real Estate Pros Make Their Customers Feel the Love
There’s a comparison that Terry Conley, president of Lake Mortgage in Merrillville, IN, always likes to share with his loan officers: They’re just like a team of dentists.
“We got to pull teeth every day, and we’ve got to figure out how not to hurt the customer,” says Conley.
Hardly a pleasant picture, sure. But Conley always aims to make the mortgage shopping process a painless procedure for his customer. Doing that means making every customer feel special and for the loan officers, in turn, to see the lending process through their customer’s eyes. By doing so lenders will win the minds and hearts of their customers.
“This is all new and strange and difficult for a person to apply for a mortgage, and we have to have that view in mind as we approach each customer so they understand that we have their best interest in heart,” says Conley.
For lenders and real estate agents, winning a client’s trust is a romance unto itself. There’s a lot of courting, a lot of getting to know you, and a lot of trust building, and ultimately—and hopefully—this will all lead to a fruitful relationship between the two.
“As a lender I have to realize that if I do a great job every day with my customers, those same customers will be an invaluable source of future referrals,” says Conley. “I believe that is the highest tribute to a company and to a loan officer.”
Courting the Customer
One thing Chad Jampedro, president of GSF Mortgage Corporation in Milwaukee, WI, always does to win over potential clients is to offer them free services such as credit monitoring or identity theft protection.
“You want some protection in place while you’re sharing information for a large transaction like a mortgage application. We understand that makes people nervous so we need to give them assurance,” says Jampedro.
Being an expert on credit and interest rates doesn’t hurt, either, as potential clients will always test their knowledge of both.
Communication is key in just about any business relationship, but having the lender ask to start with an in-person meeting can come off as “too strong.”
“Not everybody likes to come in and sit down in your office,” says Jampedro. Instead, lenders might want to play it cool by leveraging email and text messaging.
“Many of our clients won’t even call us until we have exchanged a few text messages,” says Jampedro.
And when a lender does connect with a customer, be up front and transparent about touchy subjects like pricing from day one.
“Lenders should give their customers the absolute best deal you can on the first round,” says Jampedro. “Don’t put them in a situation where they’re questioning the kind of deal they’re getting, and don’t get in a position where there is a need for a counteroffer,” he adds.
“Earning” their Business
For real estate agents like Scott Bird, partner of Stratum Real Estate Group in Cedar City, UT, “sweet-talking” a client is a highly inadvisable way to go about securing business. Instead it often boils down to clear and honest communication between agent and client.
“I always like to reassure my potential clients that I want to earn their business,” says Bird. “I put their needs above my wants.”
Once he does, Bird says his hard work ethic, strong interpersonal skills, and genuine gratitude for their business will eventually earn the trust of his clients. “This trust goes a long way,” he adds.
Bird wants to show to his clients that their transaction is of the utmost importance to him. “Nobody is just another deal or check mark on the stat chart,” he says.
Showered with Gifts
A satisfied customer means a satisfied lender and broker. While both Jampedro and Bird say the business alone is enough to be thankful for, sometimes a customer will send their gratitude in heartwarming ways.
One client sent Jampedro a flip video camera with the instructions of passing the camera around the office so every employee can introduce themselves.
“Then we emailed the client the video because they wanted to put faces to the names that they worked with,” says Jampedro.
A couple Bird worked with spent a lot of time in his car that he didn’t have time to give a thorough clean after his kids had been in the car with him (“they knew I had kids and were patient with my unclean car”). Several weeks after they moved into the home he found for them, he left his office after a long day of work to find that his car had been cleaned inside and out. A thank-you note from the couple was left on his dashboard.
“I still remember the vanilla smell in my car that day, and the note of gratitude. It was so appreciated,” says Bird.
The homebuying process is a strange and confusing one for the uninitiated, which is where good customer service goes a long way for real estate professionals of every stripe, says Conley.
“The customer needs to think to himself, ‘Gosh, I went to the right place,’” says Conley. “That’s the feeling we want to impart with our customers.”