what do hang-gliding, beer pong, working out, tech tutorials or walking the dog have to do with Manhattan real estate?
not much (d’oh!)
I was going to leave this The Appraisal piece from Liz Harris in Thursday’s New York Times (Agent to Client: Here’s the Apartment; Now Let’s Go Hang Gliding) alone, honest. But then I was reading the Times Sunday Real Estate section on-line last night and it (again) stuck in my craw. And I don’t have anything obviously set up as a ‘diversion’ post for today, so buckle your seat belt….
It is mostly a Look!-some-agents-are-people sort of puff piece, which is fine insofar as that goes. (Not my thing, but unobjectionable, dare I say … morally.) And it works as an-agent’s-gotta-stand-out-from-the-crowd piece. But some poor guy let himself be quoted as though he said first the first thing and then the second thing:
“Buyer loyalty is one of the most difficult things to obtain,” said [the guy], who is a certified hang gliding instructor. “You’ve got to have a gimmick.”
I withheld the guy’s name for his own good, with the (naive?) hope that he did not really say “You’ve got to have a gimmick to obtain buyer loyalty.” I hope he said, instead, something like (a) “Buyer loyalty is one of the most difficult things to obtain”, and (b) “becoming known by and to potential clients is really hard”, and (c) “You’ve got to have a gimmick to be memorable when you are competing against 28,000 other agents in Manhattan.” Because if he really thinks “You’ve got to have a gimmick to obtain buyer loyalty”, he’s in the wrong business.
His hang-gliding schtick is like the beer pong guy’s attempt to bond with his 20-something potential rental clients, and like the agent who helped someone learn to play with her technology tools, and like the agent who goes dog-walking with clients: these are attempts to help clients see the agent as a real individual person (not one of those agents) so that the client remembers to call when she has a real estate need. All good, here. Not my thing, but all good. But if you think a stranger is going to trust you because you stand out in some way … well … that’s a lonely pursuit.
You may begin to buy enough mental time to impress the stranger that you can be trusted with real estate services (like the young woman giving iLessons), but the stranger becomes a client because she is willing to trust you because of some combination of your personal qualities and real estate expertise. That hang-gliding offer might earn a call when a real estate need arises, but the agent still has to earn trust the old-fashioned way: by showing that client that he is someone to be trusted because of his manner, his expertise, his references, and/or his experience.
The rest is just a gimmick. Few clients are impressed by gimmicks, especially if you’ve identified it as such in The Newspaper Of Record.
Again, i assume the hang-gliding guy knows all this, and hope that he said it but that got edited out. End of rant. Have a nice day.
© Sandy Mattingly 2013