Brokers receive odd e-mails constantly, but this from Connecticut is one of the oddest. It reads:
“Apprehension abounds when people move…even more so when they are divorcing. The relationship between broker and client is very personal; brokers actually know what goes on ‘behind closed doors.’ So, in an intensely competitive real estate climate, how do you differentiate yourself? …. By giving your client “The Divorce Encyclopedia & Workbook”… This book gives your client the gift of what, where, when and how of divorce and (also) provides them with the gift of support and friendship during a difficult time.”
“You’ve GOT to be kidding?!” I e-mailed.
“Actually we’re not” the person e-mailed back. “We’ve been in business for three years and our most significant and on-going sales are with agents and agencies whose clients love the books….”
Are we missing something?
The e-mail came from a state with as fancy a zip-code as ours. They have marriage counselors and lawyers there just like we do. But obviously the need exists, so the Connecticut real estate brokers stepped outside the box and began offering one-stop shopping: divorce advice AND house buying. Wow!
I imagined a scenario: you’re showing houses, the couple you’re showing houses to is fighting like crazy; in the midst of their fight you’re invisible. They’re fighting about the house they just saw, which school their daughter should go to, which “Hampton” they should live in and finally about which one hates the other the most. You pull over, reach under your seat where you keep a stash of these books, hand one to each and tell them you’re their friend; there for them if they need you. Then you drive them to the inn where they’re staying for the week-end, tell them to have a drink, a good dinner, a good night’s sleep; that you’ll be back in the morning and the three of you can sit down to discuss their needs and wants and the contents of the book.
“Forget buying a house right now, you say — what’s important is for you to be happy. You can always buy a house (or two) after you’ve resolved the problems in your marriage. I’m here to listen, to go over the book with you and see what we can do to fulfill your personal needs. Not just your real estate needs.”
You could go on. To make them know you empathize, you could tell them about your own divorce and how nasty it was and how much easier it might have been had your realtor been there to help you through it. If only she (with whom you spent so much time), had sat you down and had a real heart-to-heart. She knew you shouldn’t buy a house together, but since you thought a house (like a puppy) might bring you and your husband closer, and not having the book, you ploughed ahead. A year later, the house got sold and you got a divorce. If only you’d had this little book. “I’m your friend…” you tell your customers. “And more importantly, this book is your friend.”
Maybe they’d end up eternally grateful to you for saving them the marriage counselor and initial lawyer’s fees; they’d remain friends, (maybe even stay together) and you’d remain their broker forever. You’d sell not one but maybe two houses and they’d refer all their unhappily married friends to you for books and future sales.
The person who sent me this e-mail assures me that “we have worked with many brokers locally who have found that “The Divorce Encyclopedia and Workbook” is a terrific tool to establish and strengthen relationships with clients.”
And here’s the best part: “For a minimum of 20 workbooks, we can personalize the cover of the book with your and/or your office name and logo”!
The cost: he didn’t say. “Invaluable” would be my guess and worth every penny.