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Why trust should be the baseline, not the tagline


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The word “trust” has been so overused it no longer means anything. Despite that fact, many Realtors still believe it represents the gold standard and include it in all of their branding.

Recently, a man in a remote rural area suffered a massive coronary. He was rushed to the county general hospital where, despite their best efforts, the physicians were unable to handle the complications.

At the funeral, the daughter was overheard saying, “We trusted the hospital but, unfortunately, they didn’t have the skills needed to save dad.”

The word that was really required in that situation was — “competency.”

Whether a physician or an agent, competency is critical. Unfortunately, many agents focus on “trusted” or “integrity.”

An online search for “Realtor” and “trusted” or “integrity” registers thousands of hits. I even know agents who employ the words, “Your trusted adviser” in their tag line.

“Trust” should be the baseline, not the tagline.

Because Realtors are bound to the Code of Ethics and the concepts of “trust” or “integrity” are implicit throughout, you might assume that would be where the Code begins. You’d be wrong.

It states, “The term Realtor has come to connote competency, fairness and high integrity resulting from adherence to a lofty ideal of moral conduct in business relations.”

Competency comes first

Regardless of your opinion of the U.S. military, one thing is certain: if faced with war, you want the most competent armed forces in the world on your side. The one with the most highly trained personnel, best equipment and largest quantity of state-of-the-art assets. Only one military meets those criteria.

It’s the same in real estate. Training matters. Proficiency matters. The number of homes sold in a year matters. The quantity and quality of online pictures matters.

The depth of talent on the team bench matters. The experience and skills required to safely navigate the most difficult transactions matters. The number of 5-star online reviews — matters.

The problem with “trust” is it’s not the destination; it’s the basic underlying assumption. Whether I have a sore tooth, tax issue or automotive problem, I’m looking for professional help that gets the job handled the best way possible.

When searching for Realtors across the country, I’m reading online reviews, reviewing transaction totals, checking the quality of pictures, talking to past clients, office managers and more.

I believe that anyone looking for a Realtor should be searching for someone committed to being the best.

Someone who is thoroughly “trained up.” Someone known as a successful negotiator, a transaction wizard, a marketing guru, a source of critical market data and a top-shelf performer in all things real estate. Why settle for less?

Life is too short to deal with mediocrity. When I’m looking for a product or a service, I’m not looking for average. I don’t want “OK.” In every arena someone is “the best.” Why not you?

3 ways to raise the bar

I have three recommendations to help you do better than “trust”:

1. Perform an honest evaluation

Search for agents who exemplify the “best-of-the-best.” Evaluate what they do to set themselves apart. Interview them, if possible.

2. Take action to become the best

Meet with past clients, and ask them what they liked about your service and how you can improve. Evaluate their suggestions honestly, and make a personal commitment to improvement.

Identify your core competencies, and then get the training/coaching required to raise your personal bar. Don’t stop or become complacent — mastery is a lifelong pursuit.

3. Update your tagline

Still using the word “trust”? Stop. Focus instead on words that speak to how you are different or better than everyone else.

Trust? Obviously.

Competent? Of course.

Extraordinary? Now you’re talking.

Carl Medford is the CEO of The Medford Team. Follow him on Twitter.

Email Carl Medford

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