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Top 10 ways to service a high volume of listings – tips from an active broker

A major undertaking

I am the Queen of Listings. That’s not bragging. I personally am carrying 52 listings, including 3 developments where I represent the developer. How do I handle so many sellers, and keep them happy? It’s not easy, and sometimes I do screw up and lose one because they don’t like this or that. I have a 100% happiness guarantee. If a seller at any time doesn’t feel I am servicing the listing the way he/she wants, I will cancel the listing contract. Period.

My Top 10 tips for servicing lots of listings:

1. Ask the seller how they prefer to be contacted. I have a checklist I provide at the time we sign the contract asking for home phone, cells, emails, faxes, etc. Then I circle which methods they prefer. Some love texting. Others want emails mostly. And I just had a guy tell me he hates the phone and he’ll stop in the office to speak to me personally rather than discuss things on the phone.

2. Set up a regular communcation schedule. “Joe, feel free to call or email me any time you have a question. I will reply as soon as I can. Sometimes I’m with a client and just cannot pick up, so know if you leave a message, as soon as I am free I will call back. Also, every Monday I set aside extended hours just to speak to all my sellers. I’ll call to check in with you and see how we’re doing, and I’ll update you on what’s going on with the marketing. Do you prefer I call you in the morning or afternoon?” Key concept: if you say this, make sure you DO IT.

3. Use your assistants/office secretary to help you. Ask for help. If you have an assistant make good use of him/her. If you are allowed to use an office secretary to make calls, do it. If something happens on Monday and you CANNOT make that promised call, have someone–anyone–do it for you. Don’t miss the call or they’ll expect it and be disappointed. “Joe, Mary is out of town today and she asked me to call you to check in. Last week we had 3 showings and here is the feedback….. Mary is wondering if it’s okay if we run an open house this weekend?” Don’t do this every week. But if you are tied up and need to contact the seller it’s okay to ask your assistant to cover it. I usually do this, then send a personal email later.

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4. Switch it up. Besides the weekly or bi-weekly phone calls, send an email or two in between. “Just a note to say ….” If you mainly communicate with one seller by email, then pick up the phone. Don’t rely on just one method of communication. Drop them a note in the mail (snail mail!), personally written.

5. Send copies of ads/marketing. This is time consuming but worth it! Scan newspaper ads and email, or clip and mail. Send ad proofs that ran to them. Send anything you’re doing, to keep them in the loop. Send them the full MLS sheets to they can critique them/make changes. Be open to those changes and don’t get offended. Some sellers will glance at them and file. Others will indeed suggest wording changes. One this week asked me to remove a photo and add others that they had taken. Do it!

6. Make them a part of the process. If a seller wants to send you photos to use in MLS / marketing, welcome that. Don’t take it as a criticism. If they suggest headline changes or features to emphasize in a flyer, go with it. The more involved they feel with you, the closer the bond, the more you’ll succeed. You are a team, not agent versus seller. Work together.

7. Send auto emails. You know how we send buyer prospects auto emails on new listings/price changes? Set your sellers up too! I send sellers New Listings (competitors), price reductions, and SOLDS. Usually after they get an email like this (that they think I’m sending by hand, not on auto send) I get an email back. This creates a dialog. Use it! You may open the discussion to why their house has not sold but the neighbors did. If they see a price reduction maybe you’ll be able to get them to reduce their price too. It works.

8. Don’t disappear. No matter what, don’t just put a sign on the lawn and disappear. I believe 75% of the agents in my area do this. It’s the number 1 complaint when I get an expired or old listing. I know, it’s easy to NOT call when there are no showings and no calls. I am guilty too. But if you do step #7 at the very least, they can NEVER say you don’t contact them. And it’s the easiest step to enact (unless seller has no email). Even if it’s a phone call or note saying we have NO ACTIVITY, SORRY, but here’s what I did this week to try to sell your house, it’s better than nothing.

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9. Apologize. Even when it’s NOT your fault. Buyer’s agent left back door open? Apologize for her lack of attention. Tell them you’ll call her to complain. They’ll say “It’s not your fault” and move on. THey got it off their chests and you acknowledged their complaint. My script is this: “I am sorry that happened. I apologize for that agent’s lack of care. Let me call her now and let her know it upset you.” This week I apologized for a home inspector who walked into an occupied house unannounced, and caught a woman coming out of her bathroom in her robe. I apologized for another agent who insisted on doing a last minute showing, then was a no-show, and didn’t even call to cancel. Whatver you do, don’t say It’s not my fault. No it’s not, but they need to hear the apology.

10. Let them go if they are unhappy. Never keep an unhappy client. Have you ever had a listing where you and the seller just did not hit it off? You felt it at the listing presentation but plowed on anyway, and took the listing. When you left, you knew it. But you did your job, and now they’re not happy with you. They don’t like the photos on the net, they think you should be marketing it this way or that, and they call you constantly to complain. Or they tell other agents they’re unhappy with you. LET THEM GO. Get your broker’s permission to end the listing, or better yet… suggest another agent they might like better. I had a difficult seller once and it just was like butting heads every time he called. Finally I told him there was another agent in the office I thought he’d work well with–and I paired them up. He loved this agent! She sold the house and gave me a referral fee. It all worked out. But if it’s really bad, just cut the ties and wish him best of luck, with a smile on your face. You’ll probably feel a big relief when you do.

Good luck!

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Written By

Erica Ramus is the Broker/Owner of Ramus Realty Group in Pottsville, PA. She also teaches real estate licensing courses at Penn State Schuylkill and is extremely active in her community, especially the Rotary Club of Pottsville and the Schuylkill Chamber of Commerce. Her background is writing, marketing and publishing, and she is the founder of Schuylkill Living Magazine, the area's regional publication. She lives near Pottsville with her husband and two teenage sons, and an occasional exchange student passing thru who needs a place to stay.

33 Comments

33 Comments

  1. Ben Goheen

    November 17, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Simple steps that every real estate agent should do, but don't. Thanks for sharing this Erica.

  2. Richard Gaasenbeek

    November 18, 2011 at 9:32 am

    Thanks Erica for this article. Setting up a regular communication and sending auto emails are especially important and there are great systems out there that allow you to easily do these things!

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