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What does loyalty mean to you?

photo courtesy of Michael Cornelius

loyal
1: unswerving in allegiance: as a: faithful in allegiance to one’s lawful sovereign or government b: faithful to a private person to whom fidelity is due c: faithful to a cause, ideal, custom, institution, or product

Friends and family.

Everyone tries their best to be loyal to their friends and family. The “unswerving allegiance” to those we love and care about goes without saying. When a friend needs help, when a loved is sick; we are there for them. We will do what it takes to make the situation better for them. To take care of them. To fix their problems and help them move on.

What about your business?

Today I had a long talk with my local title company’s business development rep. We were discussing the different actions that are a violation of the law when dealing with lenders and title companies. We were talking about the old days that I’ve heard tales of; where lenders and title companies wined and dined their agents and agents were loyal…to a fault. Agents stopped caring about quality service and instead were caring about where their next free meal, martini, or vacation was coming from. I’ve seen it in the rock ‘n roll industry (it still exists, despite the anti-“pay for play” rules), so I’m familiar with the idea of it. Now, we are much more regulated in how we interact with these other businesses, but I think there are still ways for these businesses to help agents and gain their trust, their business, and their loyalty. When I say loyalty, I guess I am redefining it slightly, as “unswerving in allegiance” is not my mode of operation with these companies, but I do know who I can trust, who will treat my clients well, and leave my clients with a positive experience that leaves them with positive thoughts about me. The people I work with and call upon for advice and opinions are my tools that I can use to make my services better and my client’s experience enjoyable. By using these “tools,” I gain something as well – not gifts or wine or martinis or vacations to tropical islands, but people I can expect to answer my calls, to help with advice on a subject I don’t know enough about, to tell me about new opportunities, technology, and things that I can better my business with.

My local business development rep is just that for me. She is my trusted adviser and friend. We don’t do lunch or go to parties together, but I always talk to her, update her on my business and ask her questions. In return, she “pays” me in kind – showing me things she’s learned over the years from top agents, introducing me to new technology, and always taking my call. Her loyalty? She met me early on in my career and we started talking immediately. I had no business and no need for a title company. By talking to me and helping me understand the world of “title” through my constant questions, she became someone I trust and rely on for help when I have a question I can’t answer. I know when I do bring business her way, she will be on top of it and make sure that the closer takes great care of my clients. She never treated me differently whether I had business for her or not. That’s the definition of loyalty to me.

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So the lesson I learned?

That loyalty she has to me, to treat me fairly and the same at all times, is what I show my clients and potential clients. I want all the people I come in contact with to get to where they want to be, whether they are five days away from making their purchase or 2 years away. By treating them all to the same loyalty as people treat me with, I enable them to build a relationship with me. And as we all know, a relationship is what we’re all after. Once you have the relationship, the business follows all by itself. Its a natural progression. Call it “organic growth” if you will. That’s what I’m after. If I can earn the loyalty of my clients and they can expect the same loyalty from me, then what more can I possibly ask for?

Written By

Matt is a former PA-based rockstar turned real estate agent with RE/MAX Access in San Antonio, TX. He was asked to join AgentGenius to provide a look at the successes and trials of being a newer agent. His consumer-based outlook on the real estate business has helped him see things from both sides. He is married to a wonderful woman from England who makes him use the word "rubbish."

6 Comments

6 Comments

  1. Bob

    December 18, 2008 at 12:27 am

    There are limits to many things, including loyalty, especially in this business. What matters most is fiduciary.

    Some title companies are going to start to pay the price for certain business practices they employed in the past to gain loyalty.

    For example, some lenders will no longer fund a transaction where the title company or escrow company has ABAs, even if there is no ABA involved in the transaction. Just the fact that the title company has them is enough to screw things up.

    In order to close one recent transaction, the escrow had to be moved to a true nuetral 3rd party escrow company. in my neck of the woods, that means all but two title companies can create a problem depending on the lender.

  2. Missy Caulk

    December 19, 2008 at 10:12 am

    Loyalty in strategic partnerships is invaluable. I have one with my title company as well. No gifts or other help that would violate RESPA, just good old fashion service all the time.

  3. Matt Stigliano

    December 19, 2008 at 11:05 am

    Bob – I do agree there are limits to loyalty (you just stabbed me? not feeling so loyal now.). I view loyalty as a two way street. I’m not loyal to those that aren’t loyal to me. I’m not saying that the other person has to send 100% of their business to me and I have to do the same for them. But knowing that I have someone I can rely on to help me whether I am bringing them business or not and knowing they are there for me – to me that’s loyalty. And I return the same. If the title company business development rep needed 5 minutes of my time to ask a question, she would get it. I guess my definition of loyalty is closer to that of what they speak of when they refer to animals (particularly dogs). I am loyal to those that treat me well, not treat me to material things (although dogs do love a giant bone from time to time – this is NOT part of my loyalty).

    Missy – That’s it exactly. Good old fashioned quality service and the reliability of someone who says “Oh wait, that’s Missy calling, I better get this.”

  4. Matt Stigliano

    December 19, 2008 at 11:07 am

    Bob – I was just reading my comment and realized it looked like I was said that YOU stabbed me (and since I used stabbed there’s all sorts of connotations with that, ie, being stabbed “in the back”). Just to be clear (I hate when things get misread or my writing isn’t clear) the “you” referenced is a general “you,” not you, Bob, specifically.

  5. Vance Shutes

    December 20, 2008 at 3:30 pm

    Matt,

    Above all else in my business, I value integrity and loyalty. You’ve summarized the aspects of loyalty very well in this article.

    Earlier this year, a trusted lender with whom I had done business for over a dozen years “retired.” I still miss him, both for the professionalism he showed my clients, and for his unswerving loyalty to both his clients and his friends. While our friendship continues, that business loyalty has ended. You know what they say – sometimes you don’t know what you have until it’s gone.

    You’re very fortunate to have developed that loyalty with your title business development rep. Continue to build and strengthen that business relationship.

  6. Linsey Planeta

    January 1, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    I so loved reading this post. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to see the new regulations in place. I have a long standing relationship with a wonderful title rep. I have become friends with her over the years and have been utterly astonished at what my colleagues actually ask of her. She’s lost business due to an unwillingness to ‘prostitute’ herself to some of these agents.

    The sad thing is that while they asked her for all kinds of illegal favors, they missed some of the most valuable tools that she offered – simple but amazing business planning and brainstorming with her agents, connecting people, and a real partner in their business. The kind of loyalty I have with her allows for mutual enjoyment in eachothers growth and success.

    I’m thrilled to hear about the new regulations and hope to see a much needed difference on that side of the business.

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