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The Importance of Image and Appearance

Brooke Wolford

Brooke Wolford

By Brooke Wolford

Recently, at the Minneapolis YPN SquareTable event, I had a discussion with a few agents about what type of car you should drive to protect your image as an agent.  It went back and fourth based on where you lived, who you served, etc.  While I agreed with a lot of the responses, I also feel that having a certain type of vehicle does not make you a good agent.  It’s all about what you do for your clients.

Take me for instance.  I live very frugally. I have a nice car and all, but it’s really nothing special.   When I go grocery shopping, I clip coupons.  I rarely shop for novelty items and money really is not an issue with me.  I worry about making sure I’m able to support my family and being able to retire some day — both are very important to me.

While discussing this with the other agents, someone suggested that you talk to your past clients and see what they thought about the vehicle you drove.   I decided to survey some of my clients and see what they said.  I sent an email out to them with the following questions:

1. Is there anything that would have deterred you from using me as an agent?  Examples:  If I had purple hair, tattoos or drove an ugly car, etc.

Client #1- “If you had purple hair, I might have run after meeting you in that open house, but I could care less about tattoos or the car you drove. “

Client #2-“Honestly, was impressed because you drove the same car as me.  I know the quality of the vehicle you drove and I think it says a lot about a person by choosing a high quality vehicle. “

Client #3- “Well, I believe in first impressions.  I didn’t know what type of vehicle you drove when we first met.  I had the opportunity to work with you and my loan officer for a while before I started to view homes, so it really didn’t matter anymore.  I was happy with you.”

2. What are the reasons you used me as an agent?

Client #1- “You just happened to be in the right place at the right time.  I already knew I wanted to but the house.  I knew I was going to walk into that open and make an offer. ”

Client #2- “My brother referred me to you.”

Client #3- “My loan officer referred me to you”

3. What was your first impression of me?

Client #1- “I thought you were very young but very friendly.  You didn’t seem pushy.  I liked that way you handled all the people in the open while I was trying to make an offer. You answered the questions I had.”

Client #2-“I was surprised at how young you were and that you were working with my brother on his rehabs.  I couldn’t picture you showing him the properties he buys.  You were professional and seemed to know what you were talking about.”

Client #3- “I was surprised that you called me back so quickly.  I didn’t get to meet you for a while as I was out of town a lot but you seemed very professional on the phone and by email.”

So what does this say?  Many thought I was young.  Maybe I should reconsider the way I dress. I’m 30-something, so I don’t get this and they all purchased within the past couple of years.  Client #2 did mention my vehicle but it was only because I had the same car that he did.  However he did agree that the type of car I had said a lot about me.  Everyone seemed to say that I was professional.

While  I do agree that yes, you may want to drive a vehicle that you can feel comfortable driving your clients around in, I don’t think you need to go out of your comfort zone to have some vehicle that you can’t afford.

Obviously, your image is important.  You should be concerned about how your clients perceive you.  I did read once that being a real estate agent is in the top 10 career fields where your image is important.  It is what it is.  To me it’s more about what you project to your clients.  Be confident in your work and you will do great!

Success is a state of mind. If you want success, start thinking of yourself as a success.
- Dr. Joyce Brothers

Brooke Wolford is a real estate practitioner with Edina Realty, Hastings, Minn.  Follow her blog at adventuresinrookierealestate.com.

Comments
  1. In small rural markets, if your car is too flashy, it can work against you as appearing not one of the fish. Of having something beyond your customers or they think you are making too much money on each sale. Not going to be another notch on the head board. Clean, parked to be noticed with your logo is not a bad idea. Park it on the end of Walmart lot so it can be seen. You need the exercise any way right?.

  2. Brooke – Well put. It isn’t “what you ‘wear/drive/etc’” it how you take care of your clients. If I lost a client because I pulled up in my Colorado pick-up truck — guess what we probably wouldn’t have worked well together anyhow.

    I have a friend that always wears a tie to closing. Never any other time, just to closing. What does that tell your clients? In my mind, the money is more important than you.

  3. Brooke Wolford

    I agree with you both. My office is in a smaller town and theres no way Im going to be driving a Hummer or a Mercedes. Besides the fact that people would look at me weird, I would hate to mess up a car on back country roads! My car right now can barely handle driving through some of the off roads!

  4. ” Dress to the client”, and “drive to the client”. If your market area is homes in the Million Dollar range then yes a Mercedes or BMW might be appropriate but if your market area is very rural a pick up truck might work better and for the suburbs some type of midgrade 4 door passenger car ,
    SUV or even a minivan might work just right. If I was a Realtor in NYC I might even just use the subways and forget the car!

  5. You cannot change a first impression. It doesn’t matter what you do after that, the first impression stays at a subconscious level and once a client made his mind about you, he will do whatever he can to ratify his opinion and avoid admitting that he was wrong about you. As a broker and a psychotherapist I suggest to any real estate agent to give some thought, care and dedication to his appearance. A client may not mind his pal to walk in flip flops and his date to wear a mini skirt, but he most probably wants the person that will handle one of the biggest transactions in his life to look professional…

  6. Rachel Smith

    I completely understand the point of this article, however, there were a few points that rubbed me the wrong way. I find it completely ignorant to state that if someone has purple hair or tattoos that it may automatically change a clients perspective of you. Someone without purple hair or tattoos could very well give you the worst service and be completely inappropriate, but as long as they look “normal” it’s okay right? Have you ever thought about the fact that having a fun physical characteristic can be a marketing tool and if it is executed properly can work to your advantage? For you to assume that those with a “different” approach to their physical appearance is a negative thing is nothing but pure ignorance. And for that client to say they may have “ran” if they met you with purple hair at an open house but are okay with tattoos also just blows my mind. People are something else! It’s 2017 get with the program! Like the gentleman stated before, if a client has an issue with something about me (car, physical appearance, etc) then we probably wouldn’t have gotten along anyway!

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