Your administrative staff needs to adopt the gatekeeper philosophy. The first step is to set your business up as a fortress, making it hard to get in to see the royalty – which means you. The fortress should be similar to the old castles in Europe. A castle has very high stonewalls that are difficult to climb over. To prevent people from reaching the stonewalls, it has a large mote around the fortress. There is also a large drawbridge that can be lowered to allow only the people in whom you choose to have admitted. The walls are impenetrable and unyielding. You set the standard for access to the castle inside of the walls. Then you grant access only to those who meet that standard.
There is one person who truly controls who gets into or out of any fortress. That person is the gatekeeper. They have total control of the drawbridge that grants access to the fortress. You need to train your staff to become strong gatekeepers. They should have a militant approach to allowing people access to you. There are many people who want into the fortress, but only a few should be let in. You need to clearly identify to your staff who is granted access and who is not. There should be only a few people who pass easily through the gate to you. The rest should be screened thoroughly to see if another team member could assist them first
A highly trained assistant is able to answer the questions of most callers. If you have your assistant ask who is calling and determine what the caller needs, they will be able answer 90% of the calls initially without having you invest any time at all. Too often, the callers who ask to speak to the agent are agents checking for availability, appraisers verifying information, or Realtors® checking on showings – all of whom the assistant can easily help. If, for some reason, they cannot answer a particular question, they can take a message. Taking a message is more than just noting the caller’s name, phone number, and date and time of the call. A highly trained assistant will find out the specific reason for the call and try to handle the question right there on the spot. This is one of the biggest time saving techniques of all.
If unable to handle the situation on the initial call, highly trained assistants will find out the answer and then return the call themselves. Finally, if it is absolutely necessary for the Champion Agent to speak to the caller, their assistant should set a specific time that the Champion Agent will return the call, effectively making a mini-appointment for the return telephone call by the Champion Agent. These steps will create a highly controlled and highly productive environment for the whole team.
It is also important to understand the five-minute rule of telephone calls. This rule states that it will take at least five minutes to complete any telephone call and to refocus on the activity you were engaged in prior to the call. When changing from one activity to another, it takes most people at least five minutes to get refocused to the previous activity. Even if the telephone call is only thirty seconds long, by the time the mental juices start flowing again, you and your staff will have lost at least five minutes of productive time.
I was recently interviewed by the staff at NAR for an article. They asked me this question: “What’s the best sales tool today in real estate?” My response shocked them. The reason it shocked them was because they were expecting some type of technology tool like a website or PDA or calculator or web lead service generator. I said, without hesitation, that the best sales tool is still the telephone. My friends, the Internet isn’t even a close second. The Internet is a great tool, but it’s not the best yet and may never be for the simple reason that the written word doesn’t have the power that the spoken word does.
While this article is valuable, the truth is the material and I are better “live” than on the printed page. We also both know that when you are talking to a customer, client, or prospect, the phone is more effective for communication, which will achieve higher sales results than sending out e-mail with the same material in it.
The phone also has a negative side. It makes you more accessible, especially in the age of cell phones. The telephone is the most valuable business tool, but it is also the distracting if it is not controlled. Gain control of the telephone, and you will have gained control of your time. That’s truly the battle for most agents and teams in real estate.