The day has come! You’re at the airport about to board your flight to that long-awaited vacation.
You look at your phone and see a message from one of your clients. And right after that comes an image of the house they want to see, and “When can you set up a showing for me? Because this place sounds perfect, and I know I won’t be the only buyer interested in checking it out.”
What do you do?
- Ignore the text, temporarily block your client’s number, and order a few stiff drinks as soon as you board the plane.
- Text them back with, “Sorry, but I’m on vacation. Be back in a week, and then I’ll be happy to set up that showing!”
- Contact your office to ensure someone on your team follows up with the client and helps them while you’re away. Then reply to your client to let them know you and your team are on it.
- Cancel your vacation, eat the cost of your plane ticket, and text your client with “On my way!” (right before they text back with, “Never mind. That house won’t work after all”).
We’re not suggesting you jump right to #4 and give up travel forever. Because, fortunately, there is a way to keep your clients and prospects happy even when you’re on vacation.
The OOO Email
In August, we typically see an uptick in out-of-office (OOO) emails. For those in the corporate world, it could possibly make sense to use an automated message while on vacation.
But for those in the real estate industry, an OOO reply could cause your client to turn to someone else.
Isn’t your email in your pocket, not your office?
August is a notorious month for hiding behind OOO spam replies.
Consumers want a human. Not spam.
2023 transactions in the 2nd half are trending to be one of the lowest in recent memory and even lower than last year’s seasonal decline.
Now is not a good time for auto replies.
Byron elaborated on this last Monday on the Hot Sheet:
Be prepared for less transactions in your market over the next six to nine months than we even experienced last year. It’s devastating to hear, but it’s the truth. Agents need to be really aggressive in being out front center in community and being in the middle of a lot of conversations via text, email, and phone call if they want to add a ton of value through this stretch of lower transactions.
In other words, ghosting your clients is definitely not the right call. And sending an OOO email isn’t much better. You’re essentially telling them you’re unavailable—while other agents in your market will be more than happy to fill the gap you’ve left.
3 Reasons not to send OOO emails
Putting ourselves in the shoes of a client or prospect reaching out for assistance, we can think of three compelling reasons not to send an OOO email. And we’re thinking of those that say you’ll be unreachable without offering any alternative way for your clients and prospects to get the help they need from you and your team.
#1—An automated OOO email communicates laziness or low energy toward your business and the people who rely on you.
Put yourself in their shoes for a sec. If you reached out to your agent, and their only response was an automated OOO email, how much energy would you expect them to put into helping you when they get back—considering they can just disappear and leave you with nothing?
#2—It says, “Whatever you need, you can wait or get help from someone else.”
In any market, it makes zero sense to send the message that, if your client needs help, they’ll have to get it from someone other than you. But if you give them no other option but to wait if they still want to work with you, they’ll go find someone who can help them sooner.
#3—It effectively rules you out as a guide or resource when your client/prospect is ready to take action.
We’re not saying you can’t ever go on vacation—or that you can’t ever let your clients know that you take breaks like a regular human being. You need those, too.
But if they’ve taken the time to contact you by email, do them the courtesy of writing a personal reply, addressing their specific concerns and making sure they know you and your team are always there for them. Otherwise, they’ll drop you and look for someone who is.
Some things should be automated. This is not one of them.
If you’re still unclear as to how you’ll keep your clients happy while you’re taking a much needed and well-earned vacation, read on.
It’s all about the systems
First of all, if you’re going to send your clients a message, make sure the biggest takeaway from that message is their needs and questions still matter to you SO much that you’ve put systems in place to ensure they don’t have to wait for your return to get the help they need.
Because if you don’t have systems in place, and one of your clients (or prospects) can’t reach you or anyone who can act on your behalf, they’ll find another agent who’s ready to serve.
So, how do you balance your need for a break—or your love of travel—with the needs of your clients? Sarah Desamours recently shared her strategy:
To paraphrase Sarah’s post, she shares the four key elements that enable her to balance her love of travel with her passion for serving others as a real estate professional.
#1—Efficient Systems & Checklists
Take the time to create detailed checklists for every aspect of your business. This way, whenever you need to delegate (whether on vacation or not), anyone on your team can step up, look at a checklist, and see what needs to be done.
#2—Trusted Team & Partners
An amazing team and trusted network of lenders, attorneys, and inspectors make sure every step of the process goes smoothly to provide excellent service to each of your clients. Everyone you work with, especially when they communicate with your clients, represents you and can either strengthen or undermine your reputation in the industry.
#3—Daily Updates & Accessibility
While away, aim to stay connected with your database via phone, laptop, and WiFi for urgent matters. Even on vacation, Sarah dedicates one to two hours daily to emails and team updates. She also makes sure she has ample data on her phone in case she can’t access WiFi.
#4—Clear Client Expectations
From the beginning, Sarah introduces each client to her team, letting the former know of their commitment to collaborative work and uninterrupted service, using their strengths to keep the client happy and ensure a smooth and satisfying experience.
To everything a season
If you’re working hard to serve your clients well for most of the year, don’t look at your vacation time as if you’re abandoning them. You’re not. You’re taking time out to tend to your own needs because you know you’re better able to serve others when your pitcher is full.
Vacations are necessary. That said, some times of the year are better than others for taking that time off. Maybe don’t go on vacation during times when buyers are more likely to shop for homes—or when sellers are more likely to sell.
Also, if you’re behind on your sales goals for the year, and you need all hands on deck to correct that, it’s not a great time to make yourself harder to reach.
Good timing can mean the difference between reaching your income goals for the year and wondering where the time went and why you’re always struggling to pay bills.
Put first things first so that when you go to take that next vacation, you can enjoy your time away—even if your clients keep calling.