Since real estate agents are essentially freelancers, many will have to wrestle with one of the trickiest questions facing anyone who is self-employed or who runs a small business: when is it time to fire your client?
There are many kinds of difficult client relationships, and not all of them are bad enough to warrant walking away. But that is exactly the reason why agents need to understand what kinds of client behavior is unacceptable. Clear boundaries protect your business and make sure you’re saving your energy and resources for the client relationships that will truly expand your network.
Here are five strong indicators that it’s time for you and your client to part ways.
- They Become Increasingly Demanding. Any healthy professional relationship should clearly articulate what the client expects from the service provider, and real estate is no different. Many top agents take pride in their flexibility and their commitment to fulfilling clients’ needs and dreams as best they can, but there is a difference between working hard for a client and being strong-armed out of your comfort zone by client demands. If a client repeatedly demands more than you’ve agreed to give, stick to your parameters and explain that the client needs to find someone else if they won’t accept your terms.
- They Want Everything for Nothing. In real estate it can be harder to measure this warning sign than it is in other fields where payment happens more regularly. Keep point 1 in mind when assessing this: do you feel like you will be properly compensated for the work that you’re doing? If the answer is no, reassess how much a client expects you to do. This doesn’t mean never going the extra mile for a client; just be aware of how much they ask of you and how willing they are to respect the price of your services. Don’t waste your time on clients who don’t appreciate the value you bring to the table. If you do good work, and your pricing is fair, don’t worry about a client or two who aren’t willing to invest in your services.
- They Don’t Listen to You—And Get Mad When Things Go Wrong. As a real estate agent, you’ve been hired to help a client make a huge financial and personal decision. You are there to give them advice, and if they consistently ignore or go against it, they’re undermining your expertise and making it hard for you to do your job. If you find yourself in this situation, try respectfully voicing your concerns. The professional way out of this situation is to resolve the client’s issue as best you can, but be careful not to repeat the experience.
- They Lie about Their Financial Situation. This one is a no-brainer. Buying or selling a home is a huge financial commitment, and a client needs to be honest with you about their situation and their means. Any dishonesty puts everyone else involved in jeopardy—not just you and your paycheck but clients on the other side of the deal, their representatives, and any other professionals involved. If you have suspicions about a client’s honesty, sort them out as soon as possible.
- They Show a Basic Lack of Respect for Your Time and Business. Again, working in real estate naturally involves you in intimate aspects of people’s lives, which is part of what can make it such a rewarding career. But if a client takes this as an opportunity to involve you their personal lives or to blatantly disrespect your time, you have the right to walk away. This sort of behavior is often clear early on in a client relationship. Common warning signs are constantly running late, canceling meetings, or divulging an uncomfortable amount of personal information upfront.
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