We all know those clients. They call you at 7AM on Sunday and launch into their questions without apology for the early call, or regard for what else you might be doing early on a weekend morning. These are the clients who cause that heart-sink when you see their names appear on your phone or in your inbox. These are the clients from whom—no matter how hard you work, how much you do for them, or how many off-hour appointments and phone calls you accommodate—will never offer even a word of appreciation.
But, you tell yourself, they’re going to spend $1M, eventually. Right? Maybe. But even so, is it worth it?
As a broker, I’d wager that the answer, sometimes, is no. Think of the stress and sleepless nights. Think of the high level of toxicity these clients can bring into your life. Think of the days spent with your stomach in knots. As every salesperson knows, this business comes with certain stresses you simply can’t avoid. So why add the totally unnecessary burden of bad clients? You suffer, your other clients suffer, and your family, spouse, friends, and partners all suffer.
Of course, difficult clients are as common in real estate as they are everywhere else and we all know the reason for not firing them. Real estate is a cyclical business with no real guarantee of the next transaction or paycheck. You may feel compelled to take every piece of business you can, because you can never be 100% sure when the next sale will happen—maybe some other broker has even advised you to stick with any client, regardless of their conduct. But my opinion is that there are plenty of things more important than making another sale. Namely, you and your peace of mind. If you were to say to that client, “I don’t think I’m the best agent for you, but I’d be happy to refer you to one of my colleagues,” or “ I don’t think this is working out, and I’d like to suggest another agent,” it would of course be enormously empowering. But the benefits wouldn’t end there. As a broker, I’ve seen how it frees up agents’ time to better serve those clients who remind them of why you do this work—for the pleasure and joy of helping people move towards a home ownership goal. The next time you find yourself being abused by a toxic client, try it. You might be surprised by how good it feels.