Have you ever made reservations at a restaurant and then changed your mind later? Or made an appointment with someone and decided not to keep it? I think most of us have, at one time or another.
Since you and I are both polite people, you know we called to let them know we wouldn’t be there. But not everyone bothers to make that call.
As you can imagine, this causes a problem for busy restaurants. There they stand, with empty tables that they can’t fill because someone has reserved them. So they turn away customers who want to spend money. Not good at all!
Well, one restaurant decided to do something about it. They changed just two words in their conversation with customers making reservations, and their no-show rate dropped by two-thirds.
If you’ve been in real estate for long, you know that prospective buyers and sellers sometimes give you the same problem – reserve your time and don’t show. So there you sit, unable to get started on other work because these people are going to show up any minute. And the newer you are to real estate, the more likely that you’ll sit there and wait for an hour or more – just in case they had some unavoidable delay like a flat tire or an important phone call as they were going out the door to meet with you.
I had one young couple stand me up twice – once in the evening and once on a Sunday. That meant I made a special trip the 8 miles in to town to meet with them and then sat there like a lump on a log while they were off playing. It turned out that both times they decided to go fishing instead of house hunting.
After several years of enduring similar frustrations, I made the decision to wait for only 20 minutes. If they weren’t there and didn’t call, I left the office. Who needs rude customers, anyway?
But, back to the solution.
Reservation agents had been saying “Please call if you can’t make it.”
When they changed that sentence to ” Will youplease call if you can’t make it,” and then waited for a response, it made all the difference.
It seems that once people make a verbal commitment to do something, they are much more likely to follow through.
You may not even be asking customers to call if they aren’t going to show up – and you should start. But follow the restaurant lead, and get their commitmentto call you. It will probably be too late to fill that slot with another appointment, but you’ll have the opportunity to call ahead to cancel listing appointments instead of calling later to apologize for not showing up. The homeowners will appreciate that and remember your thoughtfulness.
Then you can get busy using that time on productive tasks instead of watching the clock hands go around.
Now you have to make a decision. If you follow the script and your customers agree to call if they aren’t coming – but they don’t – will you make another appointment with them? I vote no, unless their apologies are effusive and their reason is compelling. You know, something like: “My son fell out of a tree and broke his arm, and all other thoughts just flew out of my head. I’m SO sorry that I left you waiting like that.”
People like that deserve a second chance, but the ones who just have no respect for your time do not.
Marte Cliff is a Freelance Copywriter and former real estate broker who specializes in writing for real estate and related industries.