Bad reputation: How professionalism can help, or hurt, your brand

by Timothy Inklebarger

When it comes to professionalism in residential real estate, Frances Simons, designated managing broker at Baird & Warner’s Lake Zurich office, doesn’t pull her punches.

“I think professionalism is something in our industry that could use a lot of work,” she told Chicago Agent magazine in a recent interview.

Having high standards and working in a collaborative, rather than antagonistic manner, is about more than just doing the right thing — it’s also about protecting your reputation and business, she said.

When Simons was picked to manage the Lake Zurich office after it was purchased from Century 21 in 2017, she launched an initiative to develop the culture at the brokerage. Simons aimed to ensure retention during the transition and also create a highly professional operation.

“I wanted to get to know each agent, their personality, their conduct; we don’t just hire anyone with a heartbeat and a license — we have a 165-year-old brand to protect,” she said. “There’s a number of different things we do when we bring new agents on board. The biggest thing is to model professionalism.”

Professional conduct elevates the role of the agent in the consumer’s mind, and that means not only better business but also repeat business. “I think that brokers, if they really place an intentional focus on their professionalism, can stand out and differentiate with the consumers; there’s a huge opportunity there,” she said.

On a day-to-day basis, that means working collaboratively with others in the industry in a way that represents the interest of the client but doesn’t become adversarial. She said the mindset comes more innately to some, but Baird & Warner follows the Commitments of Conscious Leadership that teaches “living above the line.”

“My goal for my brokers is for them to build relationships with other brokers, and they can have successful outcomes rather than a reputation that works against them,” Simons said.

That could be even more important these days, when many homes are receiving multiple offers. One bad experience and clients could decide to go with another broker, Simons warned.

She said maintaining a professional working relationship with other brokers is about cooperation, as well as demeanor.
That includes things like promptly responding to feedback requests from listing agents. “It’s the buyer’s broker providing professional feedback to the listing agent for sellers’ purposes — how the home showed, how it went, things they liked and didn’t,” she said.

Ultimately, making professionalism part of your brand can help relationships within the industry and bring in more clients. “It’s knowing what your clients deserve and then delivering on that, executing on it every time consistently from client to client, so your brand embodies that professionalism. It’s a component of your brand,” she said.

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