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scott farmer, Real Estate Pro in Scottsdale, AZ

How do handle older client sellers who are not tech savvy?

Asked by scott farmer, Scottsdale, AZ Sun Feb 6, 2011

As a busy agent I use a lot of technology systems in my business to keep my clients current on what is happening with their listing and activity in the neighborhood. I do pick up the phone and call as well but not weekly usually bi-weekly. I have an older client who calls me requesting information weekly which has already been provided to him via email (many time weeks earlier). They have an email account but, they never look at their mail? Do you think I should just call them every week? Or, should I expect them to use my service the way I have my business structured?

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23
Easy question - easy answer......Seriously - .Are you really asking if THEY should adapt to YOUR "business structure" ?

We are in the business to list and sell properties, AND to perform a service - a big part of that service is communitcation!!!

So...........you communicate with them on a level they are comfortable with.
There is nothing wrong with actually TALKING to your clients! Try it, you'll like it!

Call them weekly or even more often if it is necessary to keep them in the loop, and updated on the market. Simply adjust your "normal operating procedure" to accommodate their needs. Isn't that why they hired you?

I have a 90 year old seller - she doesn't own a computer.
I actually enjoy speaking with her. It's not a chore, it's a pleasure!
I update her weekly...........I make suggestions.....and we chat. Sometimes she tells me about her grandchildren - I enjoy that too.I am never too busy to take 15 min of my time to speak to her.

It's not such a novel idea.
In this tech crazy world we live in - the personal touch never goes out of style.
4 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 7, 2011
I think most agents will do whatever it takes to make sure the client feels comfortable with the process and to get to the same end.

I have had several clients that needed extra care - going above and beyond. One of my earliest clients was somewhat of a challenge because the hubby was over-the-road truck driver and wife didn't drive. I had another client who came to my open house and wrote an offer on my listing that day. Neither of them drove and it was very difficult for them to get around, so...............I picked them up and took them to the lender, the inspection, the closing etc.

I enjoyed helping them and I received two very nice referral letters from both.

I love email and I love automated systems. They do make our lives much easier. But there will always be that handful that won't fit into our convenient system and that is where true customer service kicks in. Sure hope someone will do that for me some day!
Web Reference: http://www.lindacefalu.com
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 8, 2011
Debbie, glad you picked up on my sarcasm. Of course I go to clients homes, but since the question states they are not up to date with the technology, I am not going to assume they have a computer. Some of the clients I have don't have an internet connection; therefore it makes most sense for them to meet me in the office.

Debbie, I am not going to engage you in a "battle of wills" or a "war of words" here. This is a forum for opinions, I gave mine.

Best of luck.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 8, 2011
Sandy, I apologize I misread the question. Debbie, thank you so very much for pointing it out with so much tact and class. Sincerely appreciate your professionalism.

My answer stands the same, if they are buyers or sellers Sandy, bring them in for a sit down.

Best of luck to you.
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 8, 2011
We can lead them to water, but only they can decide if they want to drink. We know they need the water, but soon as you push their heads in, you can get resentment.

If you want the business, yeah I suggest you call the client and have them meet you in your office Sit them down once a week and show them the listings you think might suit their needs. If you don’t, another agent might and they will be rewarded with their business. This might also be an excellent opportunity to show them first hand out the email works, clicking on it, opening up the link to the exact same listings online for them to view.

I admit, technology in our industry is great. As a third generation Realtor my mother and grandmother are stunned with how far things have come from the days they were in the industry (compared to when they had 1 page purchase contract with the loan on the back).

Best of luck.

Spirit Messingham
Tierra Antigua Realty
Tucson, AZ
2 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 8, 2011
I you have an old school client take the time to give them old school service. Customer service has been and always will be the key to success,
1 vote Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 9, 2011
Linda - as is often the case, I totally agree with you!! Nicely put..........

And don't you find that when you do go out of your way, and do those little 'extras", it really is rewarding!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 8, 2011
Recently I sold a home in California and the sellers lived in a retirement community in Nevada, with no computer/email/fax. Most everything was by snail mail, and phone calls. When they were going to thier bank, they would sometimes ask the bank if they could recieve and use their fax. It was not all the time, as they went there by shuttle at certain times of the week. It wasn't bad, luck was on our side, they were lovely people and they were very agreeable to price the home correctly.

I now have another couple that live here on the peninsula with the same lack of computer skills and it's not a bad experience, it's kinda fun actually. They will move to an apartment that is adult/care and sell thier home. I don't mind seeing them for all the paperwork, sometimes I may pick them up to bring them to my office so they will have copies of everything they sign right away. It is very important to make sure they have copies right. NEVER have a senior person sign something and say you'll bring them copies later.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 8, 2011
You're so very welcome Spirit!

Just out of curiosity, do you ever go to your client's home, or do you always expect them to come to you?

We all do business in our own way, as we are independent contractors, but I always try to accommodate, within reason, the client's needs and convenience.

I don't think I am the only agent who does that, or am I?
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 8, 2011
"If you want the business, yeah I suggest you call the client and have them meet you in your office Sit them down once a week and show them the listings you think might suit their needs".............

First of all , this question is directed in regard to SELLERS, not buyers .

And, no, they don't have to come to you! You can go to them (another novel idea, eh?).

In particular, this question has to do with SENIOR clients - are you really going to force them to come to your office so you can enlighten them?

No - I think not.............If you want to enhance your image and reputation, you're going to make an appointment and visit THEM..........bring your laptop...............bring paperwork, copies of listings, etc........bring whatever it takes to service THEIR needs.
Isn't that part of our job description?
I think it is.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 8, 2011
Every agent decides the business model for their enterprise. Choose the business segment you want to service. If you don't do prefabs, $20K condos or the unplugged, that is ok. But make the choice at the beginning of the client relationship. "I really don' t believe I can give you the level of service you deserve. Can I have Annabelle from my office help you? She has accomplished miracles working with folks just like you!"

If you take the business. Mack's rule prevails: Treat others the way they want to be treated.

It's simply the right thing to do.
1 vote Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 8, 2011
"Old School" clients need to be handled in traditional and throwback ways. After all we will all get there someday. Patience and honesty goes a long way even if it takes a little more time!
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 6, 2011
I rely on e-mail to send weekly reports, market updates & feedback to my clients as well. However, for those that prefer not to be e-mailed or are just not tech savvy I just call them often & mail them personal notes to keep them up to date & happy.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Wed Feb 9, 2011
Yes, Debbie,

I do find it rewarding. Helping people through the home buying or selling process is what I do - whatever it takes.
Web Reference: http://www.lindacefalu.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 8, 2011
Short answer - if you don't have a business model that fits their needs then you probably ought not be working with them. I've been selling in the active adult communities for years ... took me about three days to realize that while the vast majority are far more savvy than we often give them credit for (my mother's on Twitter, for pete's sake), we have to be willing to adjust and not the other way around.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Tue Feb 8, 2011
Hi Sandy,

When you got the listing, was there any discussion about how you will communicate with them during this process. I would communicate with them in old fashined way. I know it may be a lot of work for you but you do need to update them with the progress.
Web Reference: http://www.judysharma.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Mon Feb 7, 2011
I am in this situation right now as well. It is sure different. I am used to emailing clients with feedback and information. This couple wants to start looking at homes in case their home sells. I can't email properties to them to look at in their leisure. Instead, I have to drive to their house with as many printouts as possible and not overwhelm them with information. It is like going back in a time wharp.
I think you should call them each week with an update. It will go a lot farther than expecting them to use a system they are obviously not comfortable with. Hey - at least your client has a computer...
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 6, 2011
There are clients that have to be treated differently than our younger tech savy clients. They have spent too many years doing things a certain way and it is hard for them to change. If you know that they don't check their emails, you don't want them to feel that you are not doing your follow up. In these cases, it is best to make the traditional phone call once a week or the occasional printed report sent through the mail to keep them in the loop.
Good question for all of us!
Vicki Holmes
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 6, 2011
Hello Sandy,
You may also wish to send them updates on the market and their home with a note from you the old fashioned way- by regular mail. That way they have the information in front of them so they have the info handy and won't forget anything you have said that's important. A follow up phone call to confirm receipt would also be in order and allows you to have a conversation about the materials sent.
Good luck!

Laura Feghali
Prudential Connecticut Realty
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 6, 2011
If you want them to refer you afterward, I'd say you'll need to accommodate. I would call him once a week and say, I just wanted to check on you to see how you're doing and also to remind you that I sent your updated report via email on ????? date.

We cannot expect our "older clients" to learn what we already know. Life itself is very difficult for most of them to adjust to without adding more stress. I just do what I can to make sure that I am within THEIR COMFORT level. I find that they are very appreciative of that and your reward is a happy, satisfied client.
Web Reference: http://www.lindacefalu.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 6, 2011
The Golden Rule says, treat others the way you would have them treat you. Clearly, that doesn't work here - what you need is a Platinum Rule: treat others the way they want to be treated.

Personally, I am not a fan of "technology systems," because while I see how they would make my current work load much more manageable, I also think it positions the agent in the role of glorified call-center worker. And I seem to get more referrals from active clients that work out when I talk to them on the phone or meet them in person than when I have my system do the talking.

Anyway. As far as your Luddite sellers go, I'd take the position that we work for them, so I'd either call them every week, or let them go.

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 6, 2011
Hi Sandy,

Here in Yuma we have a very large client base of seniors who are not tech savy and I find they like the personal touch. I too use scheduled e-mail updates, but in addition I "reach out and touch" those who need that form of communication once a week, usually on Friday morning. It also gives me the opportunity to ask for a price reduction before the weekend. It does take extra time but it's worth the results. Good luck!

Brenda Hassler
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 6, 2011
I have an upfront conversation with my clients that I email things to them. Maybe your call should be to chat and then remind them to check their email say on Monday? Just send them their reports on a specific day. Probably easier for them to remember to check it just once a week rather than getting on there everyday.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Feb 6, 2011
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