When Friends Play Hide-and-Seek with Your Business

As featured on Inman News.

Picture this: Sicily... oops, the suburbs 2017.

A bride-to-be is frantically searching for a wedding cake baker. She hears one vendor complain about his job orders (e.g. "they can't make up their minds", "they want too much", "I'm driving all over trying to find the ingredients", etc.). The first vendor unashamedly and openly vents his frustrations about his customers.

She hears a second vendor speak highly of his business with an eagerness to contribute to such special days. She also hears the reciprocal praise being offered by his customers about the second vendor.

Who would you choose for such a special occasion?

I doubt many of us would select the first vendor. But let me throw a "monkey wrench" into this. What if the first vendor was a friend of yours? Now, who would you choose?

Weddings can be expensive and can be the social event of the season for our friends and family so I am sure many of you would find a way "come hell or high water" to work with the second vendor, who is the more professional of the two. That makes sense. We understand it in this scenario because it is our money and our dreams on the line.

So why do we expect our friends to act ignorantly towards us and our real estate business when their money and their dreams are at stake?

Ask yourself in regards to prospective clients, who happen to be friends or family members:

  • Have you ever complained in front them about other real estate buyers or sellers?
  • Have you ever vented your frustration with the real estate process to them?
  • Do you share your money woes with them?
  • Do you verbally express to them you are ignoring a call, text or email from one of the parties of a current real estate transaction for no other reason than just because you can?
  • Are you seen by them as too busy?

I get it. You probably are thinking, "But Lee these are my friends and family. If I can't be transparent with them, then to whom can I let it rip?" If you ever want them to make you their one and only go-to on all things real estate, then the answer is not them! I would rather you have some confidantes in the industry, who will not steal business from you.

Case in point, an agent that I was meeting with for the first time as a coaching client told me that his wife NEVER referred business to him. She had a very well-connected job position and constantly spoke with people that needed to relocate to or from the area. She would share advice on buying or selling a home but would never mention his name to prospects. You are probably gasping, "The nerve!" And you may even start mumbling an old friendship-based song like, "Friends... how many of us have them? Friends... ones we can depend on... Friends" (Whodini, 1984).

But before we "burn her at the stake", labeling her a "frenemy" for her disloyalty, I asked him to gently probe further and he was told something startling. His wife's reason? She said he always complained about his deals and never had time for their family so she knew he could not handle any more business. From then on out, he made me (and a few others) his new business confidantes, at least for venting frustrations.

Likewise, before you crucify any of your friends or family members for not working with you or for considering other candidates besides you, ask yourself do you share too much negativity with them?

If you paint the picture that your business is struggling or that you do not like it, guess what? They will believe you and choose not to work with you no matter how many stats or slides you show. Your friends and family likely are simply following Dr. Maya Angelou's sage advice: "When people show you who they are, believe them the first time". Thus, it is time for some image control and brand management for your business!

And make no mistake about it, word travels fast. So complaining to one family member or friend might be as bad as posting it on Facebook for the whole word to see.

Do some damage control. Make the decision today to find new confidantes to help you weather difficulties and choose to only speak positively about this business that I hope you love!

Sound off - I would love to hear from you!  Give me a shout on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and Google+ or by visiting LearnWithLee.Realtor.  And, be sure to tell the real estate agents you know to get a copy of the 5-star rated workbook, Plan to Win, to transform their real estate sales game plan.  Here's to your success!
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