How To Foster Communication and Build Rapport With Your International Clients
Written by Hana LaRock
If you’re an international real estate agent, there’s good news and bad news. The good news is that you get to communicate with potential clients from all around the world. The bad news is, you have to communicate with clients from all around the world.
The job responsibilities of a housing agent can already take up a long list, and the process of helping someone find their home is no easy feat. Taken at the international level, there’s a whole new range of responsibilities and hoops to jump through, one of them being communication and building rapport through communication, which can already be difficult even when you live in the same city as your client. Adding on the fact that in many cases, an international housing agent may not meet their client in person until they come to move into their new place (some may never meet in person), the right level of communication for building that trust is critical.
So, here are some tips to help you out!
1) Have Your Technology Up-to-Date
If there’s anything the Coronavirus pandemic has taught us, it’s that technology can be really helpful when desperate times call for desperate measures. An international housing agent already should have a lot of experience utilizing technology to communicate and build rapport with clients. This may mean you have to walk your clients through how to use this technology if they are not already familiar.
Zoom calls, Google Hangouts, Facetime—these are great ways to keep in touch with your client, as long as they know how to use it. And, it’s a great way to virtually show homes, which may be the only way when you’re miles away, pandemic or not.
2) Sort Out Apps
Speaking of finding common ground with technology, communicating with clients from around the world may be a lot easier if you have the right apps. These apps can save you tons of long-distance phone calls and pricey text messages. A savvy international real estate agent likely is already using these apps, but if your clients aren’t familiar, make sure they know to download Whatsapp, Viber, Facebook Messenger—whatever works! If you’re available to get in touch with via multiple apps, the better!
3) Figure Out Time Zones
Conflicting time zones can make it difficult to regularly keep in touch with clients. That’s why you should have time zone differences memorized like the back of your hand. Otherwise, you could risk missing important meetings.
The same goes for knowing military time and/or standard time—whichever is not your custom. When working with people from other countries, setting a meeting at 14:00 PM—and when you’re coming from a different time zone—can be confusing for you and your client. So, always double check!
4) Manage Expectations
A great way to foster communication and build rapport with international clients is to manage the expectations you have of one another from the beginning. Being clear about how often you should communicate, in what medium, and what their timeline is/versus how soon you can realistically meet their timeline, can help the process move along a lot more efficiently.
5) Set Regular Check-Ins
Part of managing expectations is setting regular check-ins. You’re busy and your clients are busy, and being in constant communication—as much as they might like that—is often counterproductive. So, by setting regular check-ins with important points you’re going to discuss and goals you’re going to set for the next meeting, you can keep your schedule organized while keeping your clients up to date and moving along as best as possible.
6) Be Easy To Get in Touch With—But, Set Boundaries
While it’s important to have clear communication pathways and times between you and your client, it’s also important to set reasonable boundaries. Different time zones could potentially mean that your client calls you when you’re sleeping, and vice versa. And, sometimes, you may need to be willing to make some exceptions if there’s no other time available.
So, be a little flexible and be easy to get in touch with. At the very least, have some type of automation set-up, or let your clients know that if you don’t answer, you’ll get back to them within a certain time frame. Aside from that, set your boundaries. You need a lot of rest to be a successful international housing agent!
7) Have a System Ready to Deploy
On top of the regular paperwork that goes with buying or renting a home, a client from another country may be asked to present a lot more paperwork, simply because they are foreigners. This will be different depending on the circumstance, and the best you can do as an agent to help best foster communication and build rapport with your international client, is to make sure they are prepared and you are prepared.
Having connections with the right people they may need to work with and having a swift and secure electronic system set up to sign documents, contracts, etc. will help prevent any lag that could push your client to work with someone else out of frustration.