image credit - flickr wwarby - creative commons
Case Study - 10 years to meet my former client
One day in the fall of 2006 I got a phone call from a friend of a friend who had already moved out of town, but who needed help selling her vacant home left behind. We went through all the normal conversations and information exchanges - about the home, the neighborhood, the real estate market, our selling strategy, and of course a recommended price, except we did it all by phone and email.
This wasn't the first, nor last, time I've worked with a client remotely. But it was the only time I did so where I didn't believe my client was totally satisfied with me at the end of the transaction. You see, we had just gone through two years of a red hot real estate market, and then another six months where the prices kept rising even while the market began to slow down. And now we were turning the corner into a huge real estate market crash - only nobody knew how bad the crash was going to be at that time.
So, we were selling her home at a time when prices were falling - each new comp sold for less than the last. After years of watching prices rise, this was hard for sellers to get their heads around - especially a seller who now lived across the country. It felt like a transaction marked by frustration. We never did get to meet each other, and I didn't think she was very happy with the sale.. anything about the sale.
Anytime you feel like you've let a client down, it's a bummer, and this was no exception. I took a good long look in the mirror, and reviewed the transaction in its entirety to find what I could have done differently, or better.
I had been honest and communicated well. I returned phone calls and emails quickly, even when there hadn't been showings and I knew the phone call would be challenging. I kept an eye on all the activity in the neighborhood, and provided the seller with updates. Maybe I could have bee more forceful in demanding, rather than just suggesting, price reductions as the market deteriorated..?
Anyway, I congratulated her on the sale, wished her good luck in her new city, and added her to my email list, where she would receive my monthly newsletter via email for the next, oh, ever.
Here we are, ten years later, and I get a voicemail from an unknown number:
"Hi Chris. I don't know if you remember me, but you helped me sell my home a number of years ago. I have a family member who needs to sell their home, and I wanted to refer you to them because you did a really good job on my house."And a new listing appointment materialized out of thin air, just like that. Even better was my former client was at the listing appointment, so I finally got to meet her in person.
Turns out that time provided perspective. When the market crashed over the two years following her sale, and then took more than half a decade to regain "normal" prices, our frustrating sale looked pretty good in comparison!
All it took was really good customer service during a difficult transaction, followed by 10 years of sending useful information by email, month after month. Simple as pie :)
Email newsletters are a tremendous tool for staying in touch with your contacts. I would love to help you stay in touch with your sphere of influence the same way I've stayed in touch with mine. Give me a call or email anytime!
- Chris Butterworth