The Basics: Client Care and Hospitality

On today's 175th episode of my Monday Morning Pep Talk, I will discuss the difference between "service" and "hospitality" and how this topic could be the shift you need in 2023 to increase client advocacy of your business. Super achievers in the world of real estate brokerage will tell you that 90% + of their business comes from one form of introduction or another. 

When you look at the word "service," think of it in terms of a "transactional" business strategy. Those who attempt to provide the highest level of "hospitality" are thinking long term - they are running a "relationship" based business model.

You've heard me recommend a new book that was published this fall – Unreasonable Hospitality by Will Guidara. The book outlines Will's 11-year journey of taking a struggling New York Brasserie (Eleven Madison Park) to being named the best restaurant in the world. Bespoke hospitality was the driving factor in their ability to win this award. He shows how every business can turn ordinary transactions into extraordinary experiences. Throughout the book, he references the real estate industry, stating "who knows their client better than a real estate agent after talking to them consistently over the course of a transaction? A chilled bottle of champagne left in the refrigerator is not hospitality.” This book is a great read, a page turner, and will reset how you think about your business.

As it relates to "delighting your clients with an experience that exceeds their expectations,” I can't tell you exactly what to do because each client requires a different strategy based on their personal needs, preferences and interests. Changing your mindset from "selling homes" to "helping a person or family" easily transition from one home to another is a great first step. So team, there is an entirely different level out there for you to operate on. Providing a service is no longer good enough. Jiffy Lube provides a service. To be a "hospitalian," you just have to lean into a new mindset and get creative. Design a transaction and post-transaction experience that will exceed the expectations of your client.

Over this past weekend, I did a brain dump of talking points on the absolute basics that I've learned over the years. I've got 10 of them:

  1. 100 - the maximum number of clients that you can provide an elevated level of care to.  For many brokers, it is 25 to 50. Compared to a restaurant, this is the number of "tables" you can care for in your business. The number you choose as a benchmark should be broken down into segments. On Episode #159:  "How Many People Are in Your Top 100?” I go into great detail about this topic.
  2. Your clients will become advocates at a level commensurate with your level of attention to details and care. Their expectations are low.
  3. Response time - your ability to respond quickly and solve issues is the most important variable that your clients will rate you on. This should be the main focus of the lead agent. When this becomes a challenge, you need to add capacity (transaction and marketing management or assistance in the field). Hint: immediately put the name and contact information of a new client/lead in your phone so when they call you, you can immediately pivot to the version of you they need you to be.
  4. 25 transactions - the most a single person business can handle in one 12-month period of time. Even at that number, there is massive pressure on systems and processes for an individual operator.
  5. The relationship with your client starts at the closing table. Society's expectation of real estate brokers and car dealers is that the relationship is over when one "drives the car off the lot.” Unfortunately, according to Zillow and NAR surveys, 90-92% of real estate brokers are happy to accept that premise. It is so easy to compete in this business because the expectations are so low.
  6. You lose 10% "top of mind" marketing placement with a client each month that goes by without a touch.
  7. All touches are not created equal. I've got another book recommendation for you this week. You should add it to the rotation if you are putting an effort towards this part of your business. It was written in 2016 by Michael Mayer - 7 Levels of Communication. Read it. It's written in a parable format, but it makes some really good points.
  8. If a client expressed that you did an amazing job on a purchase or sale, let them know that you are "open for business" using something like this script (in your own words): "Mr. and Mrs. buyer/seller, thank you so much for saying that. I appreciate that more than you know. If there is anyone in your circle of friends, family or colleagues that could use my expertise, I'd love to be a part of that conversation. Please, just give them my name and I'll take really good care of them."
  9. When speaking with a client, never use the word "referral.” That's our dirty little industry term we can use with each other internally. When speaking to your client, use "introduction.” Words matter.
  10. If you create a relationship-based business through "hospitality," it's much easier to pick up the phone and check in on your client post-transaction. If you provide a "service,” that call feels like a sales call. If you're feeling like your follow up calls feel "salesy," your mindset is wrong. You may be looking at a transactional agent in the mirror.

As you finalize your 2023 business plans and themes, I would encourage to you to focus on building the elevated, relationship-based systems and processes necessary to provide a level of care and execution that will have your clients actively selling your business. The cost is low – it just requires thought and effort. If you think that you are operating incredibly well in this area, there is another level out there for you to hit. There is no better marketing on the planet than a database full of happy and grateful clients.