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How To Stop People From Secretly Thinking You’re Full Of Crap

Their Problem = Who To Trust?

Full of Crap or True Blue TrustworthyCivilians secretly think Real Estate Agents are full of crapola. The civilian perception is:

  1. Real estate agents follow-up and follow-through like Donald Trump combs over, spectacularly irresponsible.
  2. Real estate agents behave and screech, “It’s ALL about ME”.  “I’m famous.”  “I’m NUMBER ONE.”  “Dig ME, Dig MY awards, Dig MY bill boards.”  “I exceed your expectations (for egoism and poor performance.)!”  Etc.
  3. Real estate agents spend more money on their Personal Promotion than property promotion.
  4. Real estate agents charge too much and do too little. List it  > plant scratched, crooked, rusty framed For Sale sign > shoot lame photos > deliver William (I have no professional training) Hung service > ignore empty Take-One flyer box > run a print ad > lay low till it sells > collect a commission check.

Let’s face it.  Civilians think most sales people are full of crap. Who can blame them. We have a ton to overcome.  Let’s get started…

Our Problem = Lack Of Trust

Here’s How Untrustworthy Is Created, Reinforced and Forwarded:

  1. Dress like you’re on vacation, a hobo or a hooker.
  2. Speak in shallow generalities.
  3. Demonstrate sloth, ignorance and apathy.
  4. Act inconsistent.
  5. Never apologize, always make excuses, blame and stay the same.
  6. Screech:  YOU are NUMBER ONE.  Talk about YOU exclusively.  Talk more than YOU listen.
  7. Act like YOU are the most important person in the room.
  8. Take phone calls while engaged with clients.
  9. Keep people waiting.
  10. Cut corners.
  11. Take ka-ka photos with cheap equipment.
  12. Create property flyer’s using clashing font styles, garish colors and seat-of-the-pants layout and design.
  13. Sprinkle your MLS listing remarks and property promotion materials with uninspiring, overused and misspelled words.
  14. Do as little as possible.
  15. Keep them un-informed and guessing.
  16. Respond slowly or not at all.
  17. Act moody, whimsical, lackadaisical or all 3.
  18. Have no systems, wing it.
  19. Follow-Up at your convenience, inconsistently or never.
  20. Break your promises.
  21. Ignore your commitments.
  22. Run late.
  23. Make excuses.
  24. Blame others.

The subject is Trust and Credibility.  The question is, how do we earn it?

Earning trust is simple in concept, execution is a challenge. To succeed isn’t easy.  You have to commit hard.  You have to embrace change as the new normal.  You have to lead, encourage, engage, solve and serve.  Here’s  a launching pad for your 2010 Trust Campaign.

17 Ways To Turn Brown-Eyes,True-Blue Trustworthy

  1. Trust is earned when we include facts, details, names, dates, statistics, testimonials, references and sources. Show, don’t tell.
  2. Trust is earned when we avoid answering questions with shallow generalities.
  3. Trust is earned when we employ professional grade tools, systems, techniques and people.
  4. Trust is earned when we communicate with calm confidence.
  5. Trust is earned when we act energetic and enthusiastic.
  6. Trust is earned when we take pride in our work, demonstrate commitment, respond promptly and act professionally.
  7. Trust is earned when we don’t brag or boast, but treat others with respect and courtesy.
  8. Trust is earned when we ask lot’s of questions about what, how, when and they want it and we deliver it.
  9. Trust is earned when we listen more than talk.
  10. Trust is earned when we collaborate, accept responsibility and avoid criticism, blame and excuses.
  11. Trust is earned when we provide a detailed, written marketing plan and share examples, samples and results.
  12. Trust is earned when we keep our clients informed.
  13. Trust is earned when we delight with over-delivery.
  14. Trust is earned when we lead with positive attitude, candid conversation and crisp execution.
  15. Trust is earned when we are consistent in word and deed.
  16. Trust is earned when we admit we don’t know something and we find the correct answer fast.
  17. Trust is earned when we guarantee we can be fired on the spot if we break a promise, slack or suck..  No questions asked. No fees.  No hassles.

Be The Change You Want To See.  Earn The Trust You Deserve.

I’ve been in this whacky business for over 30 years.  Our publicly perceived personas haven’t improved an iota. If anything, advances in technology and societal savvy have spotlighted the pitfalls, shortfalls and opportunities of today’s real estate realities.  I suggest, instead of chasing strangers and churning prospects, let’s develop real relationships and build bridges of True Blue Trust.  If we act trustworthy and work smart, we will attract opportunity and our success and prosperity is assured.

2010 is knocking softly.  What changes will you usher into your New Year and into the hearts and minds of your clients?  Will the trust you attract be weak and rusty or steel-strong, true-blue and shiny?


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PS.  Trust takes time and extra effort to build, it can be broken in an instant.  It happens, we’re human and imperfect.  When it does, don’t dwell.  Rise up and rock on.  It’s a journey not an event.

Written By

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.



  1. Joe Spake

    October 19, 2009 at 8:32 am

    Thanks Ken. The last few years of market decline have brought along a decline in Realtor professionalism. We all probably need to tape this post to the mirror and read it every day. Trust is not something that you proclaim (like “multi-million dollar producer”), but something you must earn.

  2. Susie Blackmon

    October 19, 2009 at 8:35 am

    Hi Ken, I always look to you for great posts and guidance. 😉 A big part of my biz plan has been to be consistent, reliable, and to learn as much as I can along the way from people like you and the AG crew, ultimately drawing people to me (earning their respect), over time, because they get to know me and want to do business with me. This takes a great deal of time, especially when you move from HI to NC, don’t know anyone and get your RE license. My background includes RE paralegal, working for developers, and being Controller for a well-known and large business in Hawaii. Little did I know, [unfortunately] I could have fallen out of high school and gotten my RE license… I’m loving all the talk about requiring an EDUCATION before getting a RE license. What a concept. Maybe then ‘respectable’ will be the rule rather than the exception in real estate.

  3. Jim Gatos

    October 19, 2009 at 9:02 am

    The sad thing is if you actually have to tell real estate agents this advice, that in itself goes to show you how out of it a lot of real estate agents are, and how ridiculous this “profession” can get…

  4. Tyler Wood

    October 19, 2009 at 11:14 am

    It is not just real estate Jim, there are lot’s of professions and people that need to hear this advice. I meet them all the time, doesn’t matter the profession.

    Thanks for the insightful post Ken, I’ll be sure to pass it along.

  5. Ryan Rockwood

    October 19, 2009 at 12:07 pm

    I hear you, for sure. This is the dream. And I wish it played out this way.

    But from my experience, this sort of ‘build it and they will come’ optimism simply doesn’t produce the necessary results in order to make a living.

    And I don’t say that with a snide leer or cynicism. My father and I constantly deliver incredible service. Ridiculous levels of service sometime.

    But the business of selling real estate is inherently capricious, time consuming and complex. The bottom line is tough to leverage well.

    Tangentially, I often find that ‘professionalism’ and ‘lead generation’ seem to be on opposite sides of the real estate continuum. Consider the spectacular response to crummy-looking yellow STOP FORECLOSURE roadside signs. And I accidentally learned that forgetting my Open House flyers will generate more conversations and leads than any other strategy.

    So what do I propose we do? I have no idea. That’s kind of the problem. I experiment constantly and experience ups and downs.

    I sure don’t want to come off as critical of the author’s message. Because obviously it’s the best way to run any business. At the same time, I don’t hesitate to frankly say that the real estate model we currently know is deeply flawed with good honest people going broke everywhere. And without some dramatic change it seems like the industry (as we know it) will ultimately vanish.

    Meanwhile brokerages (at least mine) seem unwilling to address these realities and possibly help. Instead, it’s the same old ‘We will persevere with integrity’ sort of thing. Which seems funny to me considering the savage death of parallel industries such as stock broker, travel agent, and so on.

    Ok. This has gotten really long! And I don’t have a real take-away to offer. These are just some thoughts on reading the above article. Thanks for reading!

    Ryan Rockwood

  6. Ken Brand

    October 19, 2009 at 2:36 pm

    Joe – Thanks and correctomoundo – never hurts to take a long look in the mirror.

    Susie – No doubt, switching professions and starting all over somewhere new is always a challenge. I guess the good news is, all our interaction with new friends, clients, etc. is completely fresh. I think all business suffer from the poor performers, ours is so visible and screw up are so easy to SEE. We’ll keep fighting the good fight I guess. Thanks so much for your compliments and encouragement. Looking forward to giving you a hug in person on day. I bet we have some war stories we could never post.

    Tyler – I think you’re right, Trust is a business issue for all and everyone. Thanks for reading and the comment.

    Ryan – Good points Ryan. As Tyler pointed out, “trust” is an issue for each individual in every business. And yes, it seems so obvious, sorta like “DUH”. But, personally, I think I do a pretty good job, sometimes I’m slightly guilty of slacking on a couple of these. I thought a little list would help keep things on track. Sort of a reminder. Also, you’re right, our industry has a leadership crisis, by brokers and agents alike. I believe there well always be a place of proactive, thoughtful, trustworthy and savvy real estate agents. Thanks for the feedback.

  7. Bill Lublin

    October 19, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Great post – I think it was the better market, not the decline that led to the lack of these basic skills – When you just have to show up to make a living, that may be all you do. When you work through the tough times , you make yourself better.
    Just wish I lived in Texas or you lived in PA so we could work together – always awesome to hang with the big dogs 😉

  8. Ted Jernigan

    October 19, 2009 at 10:18 pm

    No matter how hard you work at being trustworthy, 90% to 98% of your customers will perceive that you are trustworthy and the remainder will never be happy no matter what you do.

  9. Matthew Rathbun

    October 20, 2009 at 8:14 am

    “Act like YOU are the most important person in the room.”

    Look, I’ve seen this transition countless times over the past six years of teaching pre-licensing. A student takes some none nominal amount of training, puts a found thousand in start up fees on a 19% interest credit cards and immediately transform into a monster.

    Even before the first closing, the Association, brokers, lenders, settlement attorneys and market service providers start to try and woo you. Agents are taken to lunch, begged to affiliate or provide a service and then a year later are driving cars we can’t afford.

    Then… if you’re above average (average is $19,000 a year income) you get a trophy and called a “Top Producer”.

    It’s human nature. Agents tend to forget that they are “serving” a client. I think MANY are getting better, but it’s the whole culture.

    I think it’s interesting that according to the NAR Profile of Buyers and Sellers that 68% of clients would use the same agent again. Agents can’t be all that bad…

  10. Matthew Rathbun

    October 20, 2009 at 8:15 am

    Oh… and by the way. Half the time I am full of crap, so if that’s what you’re thinking – you get a cookie!

    It’s up to you to figure out which 50%…

  11. Ken Brand

    October 20, 2009 at 8:55 am

    Bill – Yeah, I’d be cool to grab a beer every now and then, given time and the proper imagination stimulant, I bet we could de-thorn some or real estate prickly pears. As for Big Dog, some times I feel more like the Taco Bell Chihuahua…ha, ha. Cheers Bill. Thanks.

    Ted – I know, it’s like Lincoln said, “You can please some of the people all the time, and all the people some of the time, but, you can’t please all the people all the time.” For me, I try my best (most of the time) and I sleep well. I can’t change who people perceive me, I can only effect how I handle myself. Thanks for the feedback. Cheers.

    Matthew – Sorta sounds like the American Success Story. It’s possible to go from zero to hero, if you build it right, you can stay, if not, you flounder and eventually fail. Yes, most would use the same agent, that’s the good news. The stories of horrific service and behavior are fun to recount and have way more viral energy than the more common “job well done”. The success stories aren’t that interesting and don’t get repeated. Thanks for the comments. I always appreciate your take on thing. Cheers.

  12. Doug Francis

    October 20, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    Last summer some clients who had switched to me (thanks to a personal referral) told me that their previous buyer’s agent showed up once looking a little… slutty. She gave them the creeps, and I wound up helping them buy a house.

    Honestly, I hate it when I run late because I know there is no excuse… and that I am withdrawing from the trust account.

  13. loftninja

    October 21, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    In my experience, the majority of people think real estate agents in general are full of crap. And as an agent, I agree. Most are.

  14. Dana M. Garrett

    October 23, 2009 at 8:33 am

    That was a good article. Thank you for sharing. As an agent I feel that most agents don’t actually, First, run their business like a business. And secondly, they don’t a plan in place or should I say steps in place for sellers/buyers. Lastly, in general they are just not in to working as if it were really is a job!
    For instance, would you go to a job interview without a resume or references? Why should you as an agent go to a listing appointment with out the same? It is a job, work at it as such. Or….get out of the business, there are pleanty of us agents that are full time and really like what we do.

  15. Dave Kinskey

    October 23, 2009 at 1:21 pm

    Ken, you make many good points in your article with great injections of humor. However, it’s also important for agents to use proper grammar and spelling on web sites, e-mails and advertising, plus proofread for typographical errors. (I even had to look up “proofread” to verify that it is one word, not two, because I wasn’t 100% sure as I wrote it.). We should not rush when we compose information or articles. Even your article has a few of those problems. For instance:
    -Their Problem = Who To Trust? (should be “Whom” to trust).
    -Donald Trump combs over (Should be “comb-over”)
    -Here’s How Untrustworthy Is Created (Should be “Untrustworthiness.” Untrustworthy is an adjective, which would modify a noun.)
    -Create property flyer’s (should be “flyers”…plural, not possesive)
    -Sprinkle your MLS listing remarks and property promotion materials (should be “promotional” materials, an adjective modifying the noun “materials.” “Promotion” is a noun.)
    -Keep them un-informed (should be “uninformed” without a dash)
    -Trust is earned when we act energetic and enthusiastic (should be the adverbs “energetically” and “enthusiastically”, not adjectives)
    -Trust is earned when we ask lot’s of questions (should be “lots,” plural, not possessive)

    Sorry, but I can’t help it. My mother (rest in peace) was an English teacher and drilled proper grammar into me, so little things like that stick out to me. Still, even I have to check dictionaries, etc., at times to make sure that I’m saying or writing things properly. My mother always told me, “When in doubt, look it up.”

    I may have even made a typographical or grammatical error in writing these comments (I hope not), because I’m in a bit of a rush. I’ve already found and corrected a few mistakes I made before clicking “submit.”

    I did truly enjoy your article. You made many excellent points and presented them in ways that grabbed my attention and kept it. Thanks very much for taking the time to write it. (By the way, the title was a great attention grabber.)

  16. Ken Brand

    October 23, 2009 at 8:15 pm

    Doug – Good for you. I guess the silver lining is that when other drop the ball, we can pick up and waltz into the end zone.

    Loftninja – I believe the most service and sales professions are fairly and sometime unfairly painted with the brown brush. Actually, I don’t think there are as many as it might seem. I believe that the when people screw up, it’s sorta sensational and easy to poke fun at. All the great work, honesty, extra effort, etc., it’s never talked about, and so it seems nonexistent. Thanks for the feedback.

    Dana – Double check, I’m with you. The world would be a better place if people in sales were service oriented and career minded, not opportunist. Cheers and thanks for the comment.

    Dave K – Amen brother. I attempt proof reading and I have a couple of people look it over, but you’re right, it matters and my writing bleeds with the paper cuts of imperfection.

    Some of my rough edge writing is intentional, if I wrote in perfect grammar, I think my point would suffer. Why? Because I and most (see I bet the beginning of this sentence is completely screwed grammar – but that’s how I talk) people I know, don’t speak in perfect or near perfect grammar. If I wrote that way, my writing would sound lame and formal…that’s not my style. Also, some times I make works up and I hyphenate words to make them stand out…that would make the proper spelling wrong, but my point sharp. Bottom line, anyway you cut it, spelling and double checking your work is wise advice. Thanks for the feedback, the compliment and reading. Cheers.

  17. Phil Hoover

    October 27, 2009 at 1:38 am

    Great post, Ken!
    If you haven’t already read it, get a copy of Todd Duncan’s “High Trust Selling”.
    it espouses many of the same concepts you have so aptly stated.

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