By Michelle Flaherty
Having grown up in a family real estate business, I have seen my parents conduct themselves in certain ways. Now that I’m a REALTOR(R), I try to model their behavior as much as possible. In almost every instance, this has been invaluable to me – I’ve been able to use them as resources for uncharted situations and have adopted the principles and systems on which they’ve built their success.
However, I learned this weekend that the way they actually attract their clients (a pretty important step) is not a strategy that can work for me. My parents grew up in Portland at a time when life was slower. The Internet did not exist, and the only way to socialize was face-to-face. Most of the people they grew up with still live in town, and to this day, my parents remain known, respected, and thought of when people think of real estate. Because of this, they don’t “prospect” at all, yet still enjoy a steady stream of referrals from people they know.
This weekend, I saw an old friend from high school at a barbecue – someone who is my Facebook friend but who I don’t see very often. She filled me in on what she’s been up to, that she and her husband are looking for homes, and asked me what I’ve been doing lately. I told her work’s been really busy, and when it occurred to her that I sell real estate she was genuinely surprised, and bummed that she didn’t know before she signed up with a broker. She was like, “You need to get the word out – everyone would go through you!!”
I had been assuming that after five years in the business, people would hear through the grapevine, read the real estate section of the paper, stalk my Facebook, or somehow otherwise just know what I was up to – and I couldn’t have been more wrong.
After we left, my husband and I talked about it and realized that I have been modeling my parents’ way of doing business because it’s worked so well for them. However, because of the different lifestyles, technologies, and message streams that our respective generations are exposed to – not to mention my parents’ 27+ years in the business – the way they get their customers is the one way that I can’t. As uncomfortable (and expensive) as it can be sometimes, young brokers really can not rely on our acquaintances just knowing and remembering what we do. We need to advertise, promote, and constantly remind the world that we sell real estate.
Michelle Flaherty is an associate broker with Prudential Northeast Properties, serving Greater Portland, Maine. Visit her Web site at www.michelleflaherty.com.