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Opinion Editorials

When Life Happens, Refer Them Out

Life Happens

It can be one of the most difficult and agonizing decisions we make. And unfortunately, all too many times, we’re simply not ‘aware’ that a decision needs to be made.

Let’s face it, we’re human, and we’re all susceptible to those traumatic events in life – situations which paralyze our judgment, drain our energy, or otherwise hinder us from diligently representing our client’s best interests.

These events are different for each us, we all have varying thresholds of endurance.

A sudden death in the family. An debilitating illness. Financial woes. Marital stress or divorce.

Doing our ‘Rocky’ impression

We rarely go down without a fight. We compel ourselves to buckle up and persevere. We’re used to adversity, we embrace challenge, it runs in our blood. And so we convince ourselves to keep moving forward, and to ignore the signs.

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Tell Tale Signs

It typically starts out with something small and basic – an unreturned phone call, or a task uncompleted. An seemingly innocent mistake, for sure, but certainly out of character for how we normally conduct our business. Maybe next, we’re late for an appointment, or we miss a deadline on some project. We begin to lose our focus, and eventually, our drive.

Ignorance isn’t Bliss

Our inability to recognize that it’s time to call in the cavalry can cost us clients, revenue, and hard-earned reputation.

Tough Times demand Tough Questions

When you experience these major traumatic ‘Life Happening’ circumstances, take a moment to evaluate your current book. How many clients am I presently working with? Where are we in the process? Can I honestly handle the workload, and represent their interests fully? Does it make sense to refer them out to someone else? How long will this current circumstance affect my production? What can I do now to improve my situation, and work towards full capacity?

These are really tough questions. And unfortunately, all too many times we aren’t willing to confront or address the issue early on, and simply try to avoid it until our business self-destructs.

25% of Something beats 100% of Nothing

‘Life Happens’ to all of us. None of us are exempt. But we can control how we respond to difficulties, so that our business remains intact, and our valued clients receive the treatment they deserve!

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Written By

Writer for national real estate opinion column, focusing on the improvement of the real estate industry by educating peers about technology, real estate legislation, ethics, practices and brokerage with the end result being that consumers have a better experience.



  1. Jessica Beganski

    September 20, 2008 at 12:08 pm

    I recently almost had a transaction with an agent who went on vacation for two weeks and had about 30 listings at once.

    I say almost because she didn’t have an assistant, a team or even a broker who knew anything about her listings. Her approach seemed to be “if it sells, it sells.” I gave her way more opportunties then I normally would to allow her to be a decent agent – return calls, answer questions, respond to the offer in a timely manner, etc. but she was so overwhelmed she just couldn’t do it.

    So, my buyer and I were so frustrated we just walked away. If I ever have a deal with her again, I’ll prep my clients…what agents don’t always realize is that word of mouth also applies to other agents.

  2. Broker Bryant

    September 20, 2008 at 5:15 pm

    Rich, I can certainly relate to this post. I have been struggling for several weeks now to squeeze my business in between personal issues. I’ve managed to hand pick a few deals for myself but have referred out far more. We just do what we have to do and if we are not in a position to service the consumer the way we should then we MUST refer then out.

  3. Elaine Reese

    September 20, 2008 at 8:08 pm

    Well, this is very timely for me as well. Of course, not nearly of the severity of BB as he cares for TLW.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    September 21, 2008 at 3:43 pm

    Rich – This certainly hits home for me as this summer was full of a lot of ups and downs for me personally. I had just gotten a license was trying to get my feet wet and one after another, a string of unrelated events kept coming at me.

    Because of this I feel better equipped to handle the same sort of things when I’ve got a boatload of clients to work for. I know when I’ve got “too much on my plate” with career and personal and know when to step back and call in the cavalry for assistance.

    Seeing it in print always drives the issue home for me though, so I’m glad you wrote this and shared your thoughts.

  5. Missy Caulk

    September 21, 2008 at 8:59 pm

    Rich, this is one of the reasons I have a TEAM, we cover for each other. I have found in my experience that other agents just don’t take as good of care for your clients as you and they expect.

    We all need help at times, and we can’t possibly be available 24/7.

    Last year when Allyssa had her car wreck, I had no worries, my team completely took over. This year one of my team members dad was in U M Hospitals for 6 weeks and we covered for her,

  6. Holli Boyd

    September 22, 2008 at 8:38 am

    I subscribe to this theory – not only when things get crazy in my personal life (and things always seem to be crazy!) but when I get referrals or leads to areas outside of my own local area. With the price of gas it just makes more sense for me to work in one area – to know it inside and out – and to let the other people fight over the rest of the capital district. I recently referred a buyer client who found me online to another agent in my office – it was a hard decision because she was looking in the 500-600k range. However, the area she was looking in was 45 minutes from where I work and the woman I referred her to lives and works there. It made sense – 25% of something is better then 0% of nothing is right! Because I have so many internet leads and refer all of those outside of my area out I have been getting many leads back from agents in kind. So I only work with the leads I want and I am not overwhelmed with travel and clients who I can’t service well. I highly recommend it! Thanks for another great AG article – it’s my favorite site for networking with other agents and I learn something daily!

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