Cell Phones– probably one of your most important assets to your life and your business. But what was once a communication device for urgent phone calls or emergencies, the cell phone has now become an extension of the hand for many; holding it while walking, holding it while talking to someone and or reaching into the pocket or purse at very regular intervals to look at it to check for text messages, email or viewing updates on Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.
Many real estate agents just cannot keep their hand off it! It has become a habit, always reaching for and looking at the cell phone, even though it did not ring or chirp and it was looked at just a minute ago! All that doesn’t matter when you are alone! But what about the times when you are with buyers, sellers and even other agents during the course of business? Is it possible that our professionalism is being judged by our cell phone manners? We take so much time preparing for appointments to provide professional service, but what about professional cell phone courtesy? What about the respect due the person you are speaking with regarding cell phone use?
Yes, the cell phone and smart phone has become a business tool. It fact, it is a mini computer for your pocket, a perfect way to get business accomplished while on the go. Many cell phones are replacing the need to continuously be near a computer to conduct business. In fact, I would also guess that most real estate agents first call the cell phone of another agent when looking for information or updates on a transaction rather than calling them at the real estate office.
Since the cell phone has now become a business tool and is something we never leave home without, personal business decisions should be considered regarding the cell phone and how our clients and customers may also be judging us. Here are a few things to think about regarding the cell phone and your real estate business.
Unknown Caller: It is very common for consumers to screen phone calls to their home by viewing the Caller ID Display when receiving a phone call and not answer calls made from an “Unknown Caller”. The Do Not Call Law requires businesses to display their phone number when making marketing phone calls, among many other restrictions and rules.
If consumers are screening phone calls to their home, would it be surprising that some of our buyers and clients would also screen calls to their cell phone? Have you ever noticed the amount of calls you receive from real estate agents you are doing business with and your cell phone display shows that it is an Unknown Caller? Is it possible that some cell phone calls are not answered and some business opportunities are lost when Unknown Caller is displayed? Are you one of those Unknown Callers? Don’t be a Secret Agent! Check your cell phone to see if there is a setting for displaying your phone number when making phone calls or check with your cell phone carrier to make sure your calls are set to display your cell phone number.
Hands Free Driving: Are you guilty of using the cell phone while driving without hands free capabilities? It is illegal in California, and most other states, to do so. If you are, consider what your clients may think when they are in your car going to look at homes and you answer your cell phone while driving. Could it be something that disturbs them? Could it be something that makes them think twice about driving with you for the next appointment? We do want the buyers in our car, don’t we? There is no valid reason for driving without hands free cell phone capabilities! These hand free devices are now so inexpensive; it just does not make any sense not using one. However, as I drive and watch, there are more people driving with their cell phone in hand than with hands free. Don’t be the one others talk about, use a hands free device if you have to use the cell phone while driving.
Buyer Appointments: When meeting a buyer for the first time, we do want to make a good impression, don’t we? We do want to show that we respect the buyer’s appointment and time, don’t we? There is a lot of conversation during a first appointment and lots of information being exchanged. It has been a very common practice for many agents to have their office phone calls put through to their voice mail while in the office on an appointment to avoid interruptions. Are those same agents treating their cell phone the same way? Wouldn’t it also be professional to turn off the ring tone of the cell phone in the early stage of the appointment with the buyer and make a point in doing so? Mr. & Mrs. Buyer, excuse me, let me turn off my cell phone so we do not get any interruptions. And show them it is being turned off.
In those situations, or on future appointments, and an important phone call is expected, be sure to let the buyer know that you have left your cell phone on as you are waiting for a confirmation call on one of the homes to be shown or you are waiting for an important personal or transaction phone call you must answer. Being courteous goes a long way to developing professional relationships. It has been quite surprising to see how often agents answer their cell phone while in the middle of a home showing or on a contract presentation and the call is personal and not important at all! They start talking, then say, “I am on an appointment, can I call you back? Why did they even answer it?
Listing Appointments: We spend a considerable amount of time preparing for a listing and marketing presentation. We show up on time. We exchange pleasantries. We need to inspect the home, we sit with the owners to review the marketing material and spend even more time explaining the pricing process. Turn your cell phone off in the car before you go the front door to avoid an interruption! Then in the home and at the table, pull out the phone and show the owner you respect their time and the appointment. Mr. & Mrs. Seller, let me turn my cell phone off to avoid any interruption. This goes a long way to displaying courtesy and professionalism. Again, if there is an important call that must be answered, let the owners know in advance.
For example a fellow agent told me about the time when he was going to a listing appointment and he forgot to turn his cell phone off in the car . Right when he knocked on the door and owner opened it, the phone rang. It rang and rang while he was introducing himself to the owner. She was staring at the phone and not at him. He answered it, but it was awkward to say the least. Don’t let this be you!
Yes, the cell phone is important to real estate professionals! But, be professional in how you use it when with buyers, sellers, other real estate agents and the public!
And thank you for making me Your Orange County Real Estate Connection.
Michael Caruso, Broker ABR ABRM CLHMS CRB CRS GREEN GRI
Past President, Orange County Association of Realtors (949) 753-7900