If you work in the real estate business long enough, you will run into a few troublesome clients. It’s never an easy decision, but sometimes it’s best to move on. Here are some signs that you should consider ending a relationship, along with some tips on how to fire a client.
- They don’t value your time. Is the client chronically late for appointments? Do you keep getting a voicemail every time you call? If a client fails to return texts and constantly keeps you waiting, it’s generally not a good sign. Consider ending things in a tactful way, so you can focus on clients who are courteous and professional.
- They set you up for failure. Does the client write low-ball offers or refuse to keep a listing show-ready? If so, sit down and express your concerns, explaining what needs to change to give both of you a chance at success. If the conversation doesn’t go well, you may need to move on to greener pastures.
- They aren’t realistic. Does your client seem to ignore market conditions? Do they have unrealistic expectations about how much a house should cost or what types of offers they should get? Show them clear market data, so they can adjust their expectations accordingly. If they seem unable to accept reality, it may be best to shake hands and go your separate ways.
- They aren’t in control. Just because a client’s name is on the title, doesn’t mean he or she is the sole decision-maker. If a client is constantly seeking input and approval from grown children, partners, business associates or friends, you can expect a lot of indecisiveness and delays. See if you can work with the client to streamline your professional relationship. If the situation isn’t correctable, consider moving on.
- They don’t take your advice. As an expert, you should expect your clients to heed your advice. After all, that is what they are paying for. If your expert tips and suggestions consistently fall on deaf ears, that’s a big red flag.
- It’s not an exclusive relationship. Some real estate professionals are comfortable with their clients “seeing other agents.” Others are not. Whatever your attitude on the subject, make sure you know what is going on, so you won’t be blindsided down the road.
Making a Graceful Exit
Let’s face it: when you decide to terminate a relationship with a client, you are missing out on an opportunity for a paycheck, along with any subsequent referrals. Before deciding to move on, make sure you’ve done your best to salvage the relationship. If things just don’t seem correctable, you should tactfully move on by:
- Sticking to your guns: Once you decide to end things, do not waffle.
- Providing details: It’s best to write down any specific reasons why you are choosing to end the relationship. This will provide clear answers to any questions the client may have, while giving you something to reference during any times of weakness.
- Formally ending things: Ideally, you should end things in a formal venue, such as your office. If you must, you can also have a face-to-face meeting at a public place. You don’t want to have the conversation in the driveway at the end of a frustrating home tour. If you are dead set on ending things, wait a day or two for emotions to calm. In most instances, it’s bad form to end things over the phone. That said, it may be a good idea if you are concerned that the client may react angrily or even violently to your decision.
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