In real estate, calls that go unanswered doom a sale
Easy email links can also put you in touch for initial meeting.
I was trying to reach a real estate agent for an interview recently, and the number he had given me simply didn’t work.
Now, the agent has been in the business for, as I recall, three decades, so it is unlikely that he is not well-known in his office.
Yet each time I called the main number and punched in the extension, the electronic voice on the other end of the line contended that there was no such number.
When I finally reached the agent a half-hour later, using email to do it, he was apologetic, and perplexed, as well.
“I am going to have to find out what is going on,” he said, emphasizing the immediacy of his task.
Coincidentally — really, coincidentally — I received an email from the “audio branding specialist” PH Media Group, which in a survey of 2,234 Americans found that only 28 percent were satisfied with the way real estate businesses handle their phone calls.
On the other hand, insurance companies performed the best (41 percent), the survey respondents said, while customers of architectural firms are the least content, as only 20 percent of their customers are happy with call-handling standards.
I have my own opinions about this, but I needed a quick one from a Realtor, so I emailed John Duffy, who always replies, it seems, as soon as my electronic missive goes “ding” on his iPhone.
“Doesn’t surprise me,” said Duffy, president of Duffy Real Estate in the Philadelphia area. “I heard years ago that you only have seven to 10 seconds to make an impression on the caller, either favorable or unfavorable.”
There is too much “She’s not in, I’ll put you into her voicemail,” Duffy said, adding that “common courtesy and good phone manners are very important.”
I have always preferred meeting the people I’m interviewing in person, and I do so as often as humanly possible. But time and distance — too little of one, more than enough of the other — sometimes make it impossible.
Email has been a great asset, but I use it principally to introduce myself to people I have never met as a way of making first contact.
Otherwise, they think I’m trying to sell an ad, or a subscription to earn extra money.
The PH Media survey was for a British company that provides targeted telephone marketing messages for businesses, so email wasn’t covered, and that leaves me wondering.
Some real estate agents’ websites make it easy for the public to send emails. Dragging the mouse over the word email brings up the address, which can be copied onto Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo, or whatever.
Other sites make you send a whole lot of personal information to a general address at the brokerage, which makes you wonder who else is reading it and what they will do with what you’ve sent.
Understanding that this is a way brokerages can winnow the real clients, it still must give a lot of people already concerned about Internet security considerable pause.
Perhaps to the point where they are going to agents whose contact methods are less open to unwelcome eyes.