Who’s the Boss in your business? You are, of course, right?

Absolutely! But does that mean you should treat everyone you encounter like they are your employees? Recently I had some experiences that reminded me of something that many real estate investors tend to do, that they don’t realize is killing their business.

Not too long ago I was going over some ads and I called on some properties that were for sale, that were owned by investors. Out of 20 calls on different properties not a one of them answered their phone, so I left messages that I was interested in the properties and only 2 people actually got back to me.

So, why didn’t any of them answer their phone and only 2 sellers got back to me? Because many investors who get into this career and start making money, develop a sense of self-importance that people should come to them and that they are so important now and call the shots in everything they do. I have seen this many many times over the course of my career.

Now, I do realize that some people work a job and can’t always answer the phone. I’m also not knocking that as an investor they can become busy and that the whole reason that they got into business for themselves in the first place is to be in control of their own lives and make their own rules. However … when people are calling on a property that you have, they are your customers. It’s not a privilege for people to work with you and buy your properties, they are customers and we need customers in our business to buy our properties so that we can get paid.

Like in any industry, if you don’t take care of your customers, someone else will, and in real estate investing, if you aren’t there to get back to the customers promptly, they will move on to other deals.

On the other side of the equation, when investors are calling on ads on properties, many do the opposite of what they themselves do and expect people to answer the phone when they call, and if they don’t answer, they won’t leave a message, or expect the people to call them back from the caller ID (why they assume that people will just call back rather than leave them a message is beyond me, but they do). Some don’t want to leave their contact because they fear that people will get their name and number and keep contacting them to sell them something. They want to feel “in control” by controlling the exchange of information. Or they feel that if the person can’t answer their call, then they don’t’ want to sell their property very badly (yet do this very thing themselves).

Case in point, an investor friend of mine recently called on an ad for 3 properties for sale by one owner who said he needed to sell. They were priced in the ad way below market – WAY below, so it should have been easy pickings for any investor. Well, my friend called and had to leave a message, and the guy called him back right away and told him that he was the only one out of dozens of calls that actually left a message, and so my friend was the only one that he called back. They are currently working out terms of the deal for even lower than the guy was already asking. All because no other investor was willing to “lower themselves” by leaving an actual voicemail for the guy.

Another example, I contacted a public relations company that specializes in working with speakers for companies – which is something I do – and getting them speaking engagements, and helping promote them. They get paid up front for their services and make money getting the speakers gigs. So I first contacted them, and no one answered and I left a message (sound familiar?). After a week of no one getting back to me, I called again and finally got hold of them and they told me they would love to work with me, but could not see me for a month and a half because they were planning to go to some conferences out of state and were excited about it and would have to make me wait.

Now realize, they get paid by having clients and getting paid by clients – not taking trips to conferences – yet they were too busy to get to me. Then, when I politely said I needed to get moving sooner than that and would have to look elsewhere, they seemed surprised and offended that I wouldn’t wait on them. Uh … I’m sorry, who’s the customer here and who’s the boss?

Time and time again, I have gotten rock bottom deals, and made a ton of money by doing simple things like taking prompt action, answering calls or having someone answer them, returning calls promptly, and leaving a message and contact info when I call on properties. These simple things have made me a lot of money. Why? Because no one else was doing it.

Remember, you may be the boss in your business, and you may have employees and vendors you can “boss” around, but the rest of the outside world is not your employees and they don’t owe you anything. Treat people with respect, and especially, treat customers with respect … they are the ones who pay you.

“Who’s the Boss?” You are – but that doesn’t mean you always have to act like one.

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