Entrepreneur.com’s 8 Ways to Offer Stellar Customer Service without any Cost

Entrepreneur.com recently published an article detailing 8 ways to offer customer service without incurring any cost. We thought these were great tips that are especially relevant to those working in the Real Estate industry. We read through these tips and would like to present our own summary! Without further adieu:

Make Customers your Top Priority

Given our industry, this is of utmost importance. We should strive to formulate, present and execute satisfactory resolutions for our customers as they arise, regardless of the client’s budget. Reputation remains one of the strongest influences in selecting a realtor and the best way to build/maintain a reputation is to make customers our top priority at all times.

Put yourself in your Customers’ Shoes

Empathize with our customers and aim to provide resolutions to issues in a manner that will satisfy the client you are working with. Our customers do not want to hear why it took so long to accomplish something, they just want it taken care of. Instead of using your time to tell a story to C.Y.A., brainstorm a resolution to whatever issue you are dealing with.

Remain Calm

Stress is unbecoming and cooler heads always prevail. When the feelings of stress creep into your mind take a step away from whatever situation you find yourself in. Calm your heart rate and breathing before you re-entering the situation. Our clients are usually emotional and can be defensive. Try to remove the emotion from the situation and listen attentively to our client’s grievance and reassure them before seeking out a satisfactory resolution.

Practice Effective Listening

Listen to the entirety of what a customer has to say. Do not cut them off and make assumptions about how they are going to finish their thoughts. Eliminate distractions (phone, computer, etc.) and convey to your customers that you are paying attention by maintaining eye contact and nodding occasionally as they speak. Ask clarifying questions after your customer is done speaking to ensure that both of you are on the same page.

Respond in a Timely Manner

Return customer calls and emails as soon as possible but always within 48 hours. Treat every interaction with a customer as a time sensitive matter that much be addressed. No matter how trivial a client’s interaction may be, responding to them to let them know that you received the message and are paying attention to them can go a long way to providing the customer with assurance that you are doing everything you can for them.

Take Responsibility

When you make a mistake, own it! Acknowledge the error you made and do not attempt to lie or deceive a customer. Offering a sincere apology can be a powerful gesture that helps to build you up in your client’s estimation.

Don’t Wait for a Crisis

Every real estate transaction is a little bit different but in general, use your experience to try your best to pre-empt the crises that can arise. Do your due diligence thoroughly and be aware of possible issues that a transaction might have.

Go Above and Beyond

Under promise and over deliver. Focus on the areas that your client identifies as the most important and be sure to deliver on those items. Do your best to anticipate problems and avoid common mistakes that can detract from your client’s experience.

Thank you for taking the time to read our summary of Entrepreneur.com’s fabulous article. Do you have any other ways that you strive to offer stellar customer service without any extra costs? Please share and discuss!

Negotiating Best Value and Terms

By definition, negotiation is a process in which the involved parties resolve matters of dispute by communicating and coming to an agreement that serves mutual interests.  Sometimes, if not handled properly, negotiation could turn to be unnecessarily combative:  Stay cool!  Go into a negotiation with a positive attitude and a desire to make things work.  Here are some tips to remember:

  • Use your agent as a buffer  between you and your buyers
  • Anticipate your buyers’ moves  and have your responses ready
  • Listen carefully to your buyers’ concerns, offer solutions
  • Do not respond emotionally – an angry response will be counterproductive
  • Do not argue – arguing is likely to drag the negotiation process off course
  • Respond within a reasonable time to questions/suggestions
  • Know when to walk away

A successful negotiation process should accomplish three goals:

  • Selling at the highest price possible
  • Resolving any repair issues fairly
  • Setting the closing to meet your timetable

As soon as the negotiation ends, your attorney will start drafting the Purchase and Sale Agreement and incorporate all that was agreed upon into a binding legal agreement.

Why Homes Don’t Sell

Overpricing – is the price right?  Overpricing is the most common reason homes don’t sell.  Overpriced homes tend to become stale on the market and are usually being ignored by buyers and agents.   The reasons for setting your price too high range from an eager-to-list agent to unrealistic seller’s expectations.

Inaccurate or missing information – accuracy, precision and good quality pictures in the MLS listing is mandatory for successful marketing.  Wrong, disorganized bits of information along with poor photos could have a fatal effect on the marketing process.

Ineffective marketing – placing a sign on the front lawn, posting the house on the MLS and then praying for a sale doesn’t work!  A winning marketing plan requires a multi-level strategy:  Strong internet presentation on multiple sites, virtual tours, open houses for realtors, newspaper ads, public open houses, listing flyers, postcards, door to door listing announcements and more.

Ineffective price reductions – a price reduction must be noticeable enough to create commotion among agents and their buyers:  An untimely and insignificant price reduction will not reenergize the selling process!

Home doesn’t “show” well – all houses, even newer ones, need some makeover in order to attract qualified buyers.    It is important to present a spacious, clean living space, an environment that potential buyers can picture themselves living in.  Preparing the home for sale is an important prerequisite for successful marketing.

Location is not viewed in terms of geography only:  In real estate, location means school system, crime rate, proximity to main roads, railroads and commercial facilities, the visual appeal of a neighborhood and more.  When location is at issue, accentuating the positive and minimizing the negative, along with a proper price adjustment, can help.

Lousy listing agent you have an agent nobody likes!  The agent’s personality could break or make the process.  If the agent is abrasive, arrogant and difficult to work with, other agents may avoid showing the listing to their prospective buyers.

Communication or the lack of it:  Sellers should be continuously informed throughout the process.  Keeping the seller in the dark and being unresponsive to other agents is a recipe for failure.

Accessibility make it easy for the agents to show the house.  Be flexible and allow showings without piling unnecessary hurdles on the showing agents.

Quick Fixes to Increase Value

Home inspections give buyers a second chance to renegotiate their initial offer or, sometimes, to withdraw their offer.  It is important to understand that, usually, inspections bring up some issues that need to be addressed.  In most cases, the initial offer would be amended to accommodate some of the issues.  That means less money for the seller!

In order to minimize the potential impact of an inspection, we recommend to self-inspect the home before putting it on the market.  Sellers can beat the inspector to it by addressing the issues themselves, as part of preparing their house for sale.  Here are basic elements that a home inspector will check:

Exterior:

  • Doors and windows
  • Siding (brick, stone, stucco, vinyl, wood, etc.)
  • Driveways/sidewalks
  • Attached porches, decks, and balconies

Interior:

  • Walls, ceilings and floors
  • Steps, stairways, and railings
  • Countertops and cabinets
  • Garage doors and garage door systems

An inspector will also check the roof, plumbing, electrical, heating/air-conditioning systems, fireplaces.  Knowing what is involved with checking all of these big items, some sellers elect to hire an inspector before the marketing process begins.  The report becomes part of the presentation package, along with the receipts of any repairs that were done as a result of the inspection.

How to Hold a Successful Garage Sale

A Garage Sale Is The First Step Toward De-Cluttering

  • Plan ahead – don’t wait to the last minute!  Planning a garage sale demands time and energy.  After all, you have to sift through all that you have collected over the years!
  • Get a permit – most municipalities require a special permit or license in order to hold a garage sale. Check with the Town.
  • Invite your neighbors to join in – turn your garage sale into a block-wide event and lure more shoppers!
  • Choose the right day –Saturdays and Sundays generate the most traffic, especially if the weather cooperates.  Be ready for early birds!
  • Place ads – online and in free classified papers.   Don’t forget to include the dates, time and address.  Let the public know the types of items to be sold, such as baby clothes, furniture, or weightlifting equipment. Don’t forget the balloons and the directional signs!
  • Price the goods – attach sticker prices to all the items offered for sale.  Be objective as you set the prices.  No pennies!
  • Throw the junk awaynobody will buy your broken appliances and tools.  It will save you time and effort!
  • Eliminate mistakes – make sure that items you want to keep don’t accidentally end up in the garage sale pile.
  • Organize your display – lay out your items neatly by category to make viewing easier for the prospective customers.
  • Get a cashbox – and fill it with ample change.  Keep a close eye on your cash

Everything Sold? You are now ready to prepare your house for sale! 

Showing Tips

When Selling Your House, Think In Terms Of A Home

That Is Sparkling Clean, Uncluttered And Spacious!

First impressions are crucial.  It is important to present a spacious, clean living space, an environment that potential buyers can picture themselves living in.  Here are a few pointers for a successful showing:

  • Scent Control clean carpeting and drapes to eliminate cooking odors, smoke, and pet smells. Open the windows to air out the house. Bake cookies or simmer spices such as cinnamon in water on the stove – enticing scent!
  • Temperature control – turn the heat up when cold; blast the air conditioner when hot!  It gives the buyers a reason to stay in the house longer!
  • Lighting controlTurn on every light in the house, including appliance lights and closet lights.  Put higher wattage bulbs in light fixtures to brighten up rooms and basements. Replace any burned-out bulbs in closets.
  • Mood control – keep the fireplace going, when possible, turn on soft music for pleasant, inviting atmosphere.
  • Pet controlget your pets out of the house!  If that’s not possible, crate them or confine them to one room (ideally in the basement), and let the real estate practitioner know where they’ll be to eliminate surprises.
  • Valuables controlalthough a real estate agent will be on site during the showing or open house, it’s impossible to watch everyone all the time.  Putting away jewelry, money and other small items will eliminate temptations.
  • Image control – remove family pictures, diplomas, etc., from the wall.  These items may cause buyers to form an opinion of you and figure out your occupation, age, religion, family circumstance, etc.   That could affect your negotiating positions.
  • Self Control detach yourself from the process and get out of the house!  It is best if sellers are not at home during the showings.  Let the prospective buyers look around comfortably and form their opinion of your home.

Remember that prospective buyers will be in the house for five to ten minutes and, sometimes, even for less.  Make these minutes count!

Preparing Your House for Sale

The minute you decide to put your house on the market you have to disassociate yourself from your home.  It is no longer your home.  Let go of your emotions and turn it into an irresistible and marketable home.  Present a clean, neutral, spacious and inviting home, highlighting its potential!   Here is where to begin:

Outdoors:

  • Pressure wash the exterior and the sidewalks
  • Spruce up the entrance
  • Remove dead branches and useless objects (junk) from the back yard
  • Mow the lawn
  • Paint faded window trim
  • Place flowering planters in front of the house
  • Trim your bushes
  • Make sure your house number shows clearly

Indoors:

  • Wash windows inside and out
  • Clean all baseboards
  • Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks
  • Polish chrome faucets and mirrors
  • Organize/cleanout closets
  • Clean out the refrigerator
  • Vacuum daily
  • Wax/refinish floors
  • Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures
  • Bleach dingy grout
  • Replace worn rugs
  • Spruce up the bathrooms

Most important:  De-clutter!!!  Get rid of the stuff you collected over the years but never used – you probably don’t need it.  Running out of space?  Rent a storage unit!