Let me tell you a story

A mother telling her daughter a story

This story is about Deena, who is a lettings Agent. Deena received a call in her office at about 5pm on a February afternoon. On this particular day, it was raining. Being February, it was also virtually dark.

The person on the line was a lady, and it was clear very quickly to Deena that she was upset and in a bit of a state. It transpired that she had just been kicked out of the house where she lived by her now ex-partner. And it wasn’t just her: with her were her two kids, both under the age of 5. Essentially, she was standing there on the pavement outside the house, with a couple of suitcases, 3 boxes, and 2 very young children. Indeed, what a nice guy.

The lady, speaking best she could through her tears, was asking Deena, as a lettings agent, whether she had any properties to let. And obviously, given it was a dark, cold, rainy night in February, was there anything available right now?

Now, I don’t know a huge amount about the world of property lettings. However, I do know that you can’t just click your fingers, and a flat or house will magically appear. There is due process to go through: contracts, payments, reference checking, inventories and plenty more besides, not least of which is whether there is actually a vacant property somewhere.

Clearly, none of this due process could realistically be followed when Deena received that phone call. But she said that she’d see what she could do to help. Fortunately, a flat was available nearby, so she told the lady that she’d happily let her and her kids take the flat for the night. Then, in the morning, they could sit down and sort out the necessary paperwork and payment.

Deena was then just about to finish the conversation when she remembered that the lady was standing outside her old house with her children and all of her possessions. Without even thinking about it, Deena asked her if she would like picking up. Her offer was gratefully accepted!  So she drove over to pick them up, took them to the new flat and made sure they were settled.

So – end of story. 

I have a question for you. Would you, assuming you were in a position to do so, be prepared to refer business to Deena? I’m virtually 100% sure anyone’s response would be yes. 

I now want to ask another question: why? Why would you be prepared to refer business to Deena? My guess is your answer could be any one (or more) of the following:

Great customer service / Went the extra mile / Sorted out a problem / Got a good result / Cared about the customer / Didn’t worry about the money

All of those would doubtless be fair responses. However, I think there is another reason why would be prepared to refer business to Deena. 

It’s very simple: I told you a story. 

Many people spend their time networking telling people what they do. Sometimes people talk about how they do what they do. 

But really good networkers ignore both the ‘what’ and the ‘how’, because they are too focussed on ourselves. It is much better to look to how we help our clients, and how they feel about our service. 

How do you think the lady in the story feels about Deena? 

What you’ll often hear…

Compare Deena’s story to the following, a typical presentation you will hear when networking:

“Good morning, I’m Charlie Lawson, from ABC Lettings Ltd. ABC Lettings Ltd offer a full range of property related services to businesses across the whole of North West London. We’ve been in business since 1954, and are based just on the High Street, just past Maxwell Road. 

We can help you with all sorts of property letting and management related issues: we can market your property, manage your property, and deal with tenants so that you don’t have to. We can help you with inventories, we can sort out contracts, and we can collect the rent on your behalf.

ABC Lettings Ltd covers properties in the Rickmansworth, Watford, Northwood, Ruislip, Pinner and Eastcote areas. ABC Lettings Ltd work closely with brand new property investors, landlords with 2 or 3 properties, and bigger landlords with a large portfolio of properties. Through our many years of experience, we are able to offer unrivalled service and customer support to all of our clients to cover any of their property and property management needs. 

Thank you for listening; I’m Charlie Lawson from ABC Lettings Ltd.”

Let’s ask the same question on refer-ability that we asked ourselves after Deena’s story. Assuming you were in a position to do so, would you refer business to Charlie Lawson of ABC Lettings Ltd? Would the answer be so positive? Despite hearing about literally everything ABC Lettings does, could would anyone really be in a position to confidently refer business to them? 

The presentation also made a point of talking about how good their customer service is. Do we believe this? Would the Lettings Agent (or indeed anyone in business) ever actually say they DON’T offer good customer service? 

Telling your listeners that you offer good customer service isn’t enough: proof is required. Deena’s story doesn’t mention customer service once, and yet her commitment to it is stamped all over it.

So what are you going to do next time you’re networking? Tell me a story!