Minding Your Manners in Real Estate
Photo by Hamish Duncan on Unsplash
For the past couple of years business in the real estate industry has been exceptional and that has not gone unnoticed by many folks, both young and old, who have chosen to enter a field they perceive to be a great way to make money. After completing all their courses and then hopefully passing the licensing exam the new agent is ready to find a sponsoring broker. They have usually been provided a list of questions to ask when they “interview” several brokers, as they have been advised to do, to ensure they find the right fit for their needs. Since the broker will ultimately be responsible for how the agent performs their real estate activities it behoves the broker to ask the prospective agent a few pertinent questions of their own before agreeing to become the sponsoring broker. These questions might include things like, what motivates you, do you have the time and financial resources available to commit to this new career and is appropriate transportation always available.
Once the new agent becomes affiliated with the broker it is time for the appropriate training to begin and this usually starts with what is contained in the brokerage’s Policy and Procedure Manual. This requirement will certainly let the agent know what is expected of him/her by the company and also what he/she can expect in return from the company. The Manual will most likely address things like the dos and don’ts of advertising, fair housing, equal opportunity, hiring assistants, sexual harassment, RESPA, etc. It is also likely to detail the independent contractor status, office and association fees and the commission structure. It will then be anticipated that by following this training the agent will be ready to begin a successful career and that most of all will be a positive representative for the company and thus the broker.
But, so far only half the training job has actually been accomplished as there is much more an agent can learn, or be tested on, that will keep him/her and the broker from experiencing unwelcome embarrassment. It is one reason so many of today’s business employers conduct their hiring interviews during a meal so they can gauge the potential employee’s skills in one of the major social settings and since the hireling, just like the real estate agent, could often be representing the company, it is essential that those meal time skills already exist or can be honed to perfection. Of course, when it comes to representing our business, table manners are just the tip of the iceberg as there are a number of other areas in which we should all be proficient.
Has the new agent, for example, been shown how to put together a business plan and do they understand the effort it will take to consistently follow it? Does he/she know how to organize their files, their work area, their day and know what it will take to balance work and family obligations? Has he/she been cautioned concerning the permanence of email messages and how important it is to be careful that all their messages are to the point and polite? And does he/she know how to carefully check the source of emails received before opening them and how to also caution their clients as to these same issues?
In subsequent columns in the NewsSource, I will address the issues mentioned above, along with the general subject of proper business etiquette, and will expand upon most of them throughout the year. It is important, for example, when at a formal dinner, that one knows how to properly set the table, which fork to use when and what happens when one chooses to put their bread on the wrong plate. I will also include hints on such topics as making a great first impression, handling communications - both digital and personal, workplace and public etiquette, cultural differences, body language etc. Just a note, prior to writing about manners for professionals, I checked for availability of formal courses on the subject and learned that while information is available online there is also a two-day Business Etiquette course offered locally at the Champions School of Real Estate.