Storii Time Ep 3: Relationships are Everything

Saad discusses the how, why and when of formulating strong client relationships with his friend and colleague Sam Robles.

Saad: Hey everyone. Welcome to another episode of Storii Time, where we’re talking about all things real estate.

So, in any service-oriented business, especially any kind of sales role, relationships are everything. People work with people they like, and part of liking someone is trusting them. Trust leads to solid relationships. It leads to repeat business. It leads to referrals. A huge part of how that happens at our firm, Torii, is Sam Robles. She’s our Director of Operations and she’s involved with every single client that comes through the door, and in many cases, way before even I speak with them. So whether you’re in some kind of sales role, running a brokerage, or you’re a new or seasoned agent, Sam and I are going to go back and forth on a bunch of areas related to what we feel helps to create a great client relationship. Welcome, Sam!

No, so the audience can get to know you a little bit, tell us about yourself and what brought you to Torii. 

Sam: Thank you for having me. I’m excited to be on the podcast. What brought me to Torii, actually, was actually you to be quite honest. We worked together in a previous company. When you left the e-commerce firm, I knew where you were going and I decided to apply. So I just knew in my gut instinct that this was a great place because you wouldn’t have gone to a place that you didn’t believe in. That was what initially brought me to Torii. I have now been here for two years–I can’t believe it! It’s been a solid two years and there have been different roles. So, I’ve experienced everything from business development to customer success, and now I’m on the operational side. It’s really exciting!

Saad: Yeah, so as I mentioned, Sam has a role in basically everything that we’re doing on the Torii side. So, if you happen to work with us you’ll definitely be working with Sam, too. So a few rapid-fire questions for you to get things started before we get into the meat of all of this.

Get to know Torii homes Director of Operations, Sam Robles:

Saad: What’s your favorite animal and why?

Sam: Favorite animal. I always admired birds. 

Saad: Any particular bird?

Sam: Just birds in general I think the reason for it, whenever I see them, they just seem so free and they can pick up wherever they want and go everywhere and travel. So i think that’s one of the reasons. I would be a bird.

Saad: Love it! How long have you been involved in the real estate space, even before Torii?

Sam: So, before Torii. So I actually moved to Florida in 2016. At the time, I dabbled in real estate, working with agents and mortgage bankers, just doing various marketing freelance for them. So, it was part-time, but that’s where I really got my itch and also did a lot of events for the Palm Beach County Association, as well.

Saad: Love it. Where is your favorite place in the whole world?

Sam: That’s an easy one. I would say, Costa Rica. I’m biased. My family’s from Costa Rica, but it really is such a special place for me and I’m excited to go back.

Saad: That’s an unfair question because I already knew the answer. What would you say is the most interesting thing about you?

Sam: I spent some time, off the grid, on a sustainable farm in Costa Rica. For several months, living off the land. I didn’t really have a set up like an actual house. It was sustainable living, but it was interesting. I got to learn a lot about growing my own food and where it comes from and just full circle. 

Saad: Love it! If you could have one superpower, and this is the last one, what would that be? 

Sam: If i had the ability to end human suffering, I would do that. And have world peace around the globe. That would definitely be my superpower.

Saad: I don’t even know how to respond to that. Most people would have responses like flying or disappearing or we’re having an invisibility cloak or something and you’ve got that. I mean nobody can follow-up on that.

Let’s get into the weeds.

Saad: So, personally, I would say Sam already has a superpower in how she handles client relationships, and often, she’s handling many at the same time. So, Sam, let’s talk about the components that we find critical to building relationships. The first thing I wanted to talk about was communication. Now, you and I have gone back and forth on this plenty of times. Tell me a little bit about some of the things that are important to you when it comes to communicating effectively with the client.

Sam: Absolutely. I think from the beginning stages, having that clear communication of who we are and what we do here at Torii is important to give that first impression as well, to our clients. So having clear communication and expectations is very important. Hearing what their story is is what is the biggest component for me. What is their story and what are they going through and how we can help them So, that communication piece is vital in everything we do.

Saad: And I agree. Definitely think that walking people through our process early, and sometimes several times, is really really helpful. As you said, it speaks to expectations and also reminds people that we’re going to be in touch along the way. Here’s the process. Here’s how we’re going to keep you in mind. You don’t have to memorize everything, but we’ll be able to remind you when things need to be done. So that consistency, I’ve found is also super critical. I know one thing that would be helpful for the audience: can you tell people how regularly or irregularly we touch base with everyone? Using our CRM and things like that?

Sam: Yes, absolutely. The CRM system is vital to what we do. Especially with our follow-ups. If it wasn’t for our CRM system, I don’t know how we would be organized. The organization is critical. We’re sending emails, texts, and calling at least 2-3 times a week for listings. If we don’t hear from them, we’re definitely following up in 5 days or less than 5 days. The communication and the consistency is there 100%. Because if we let something go, that falls through the cracks.

Saad: One of the things that I think is super important in order to be able to effectively touch people semi-regularly is organization. So, talk to the audience a little about that. How do we stay organized and how do you in your role stay organized?

Sam: So in my role, in particular, following up with the CRM system (Hubspot), making sure that I put in notes in every client file, and our huddles keep me on track. We huddle 3 times a week or maybe more, so having that communication between you and I is important to be able to have that organization with our clients.

Saad: And one other thing I’ll mention is that when Sam and I are meeting with the client, we tend to use the CRM to take notes on every client. We’re in Hubspot, we’re in our CRM all day, every day, so we know exactly what’s happening. If I haven’t touched a client and Sam has previously, I’ll know exactly what’s communicated in that back and forth. 

One other thing I’ll add is, in terms of organization, processes. We have processes for almost everything too. Are they perfect? No. But you know we’re always refining them and we have processes for an initial call. We have processes once an offer is accepted. We have processes  for when we introduce them to a lender or multiple lenders or to an attorney. We know exactly what we’re going to be doing and when. The reason that’s really important for us to bring up is that if those processes are tight, it filters down to the client experience, which directly impacts the client relationships. So having those processes, we’re talking about it from a real estate lens, but regardless of what role you’re in, regardless of what kind of business you’re in, having those price processes tightened is super important. And I’m sure Sam, you’ll agree.

Sam: Absolutely, it just makes everything much easier and flows better. We don’t have to be running around like a chicken with their heads cut off. I also wanted to mention that when we do communicate with our clients, we have various tactics. Let’s say we haven’t heard from someone, you emailed them then you use a different form of communication. We go back and forth using various methods. 

Saad: And that goes to the next couple of pieces, which is less tactical and gets core to the relationship. What would you say are some of the important attributes you need to have as somebody in sales when communicating with clients, and when trying to build relationships?

Sam: There’s so much. Being a great listener. Having empathy for people. We always talk about how everyone has a story and you don’t know what they’re going through, so just being empathetic and respectful and a great listener. You know, people do like to talk and they like when they do talk. I love to listen and that’s how we help them when they tell us more information. 

Saad: And when you’re emphatic and are listening, you understand more. And once you’ve done that and taken copious notes and keep track of them, then clients also notice that you remember those things. That goes a long way to building an effective and strong relationship, I’ve found. And to the point you’ve mentioned, no two clients are the same. Everyone is different. Everyone, especially in the B2C world, you’re working with so many different types of people with different backgrounds. I think it’s extremely important to avoid a cookie-cutter approach. That goes to your point earlier about listening–when you listen, you understand their story, their background, what’s important to them, and what’s not so important to them. When you really harness that and the client understands that you’re really focused on them, and what’s important to them, that goes a long way in building client relationships.

Sam: Absolutely. So it’s easy to ask them for their search criteria. That’s the baseline. Once we start building that trust, they start sharing more and more and more and that’s how the relationships keep building.  So I think that you and I do an excellent job, even more, so you, because you do have more of a relationship with our clients in person. So, I see it. They have raved, and I see it with all of the reviews and it’s really important to continue that ongoing trust and relationship building. 

Talk about honesty.

Saad: Right, one other piece. Let’s talk about honesty. Everyone’s got their own objectives, their own agenda. Talk to us a little about harnessing that concept of honesty when dealing with client relationships. Especially several at the same time.

Sam: Without honesty and trust there’s no relationship, so right from the get-go, we tell them who we are and explain our processes and what they’re going to expect (so there’s nothing unexpected). There’s already a relationship, a trust building, and for those that are not familiar with us, we offer our reviews so that builds trust, as well. So that they can go into our reviews and the trust comes. When you’re being honest with others, they can sense it. And we’ve read that with past leads that we’ve worked with that are not being honest with us. We know. It’s very easy to pick up on that.

Saad: And you’ll bat a thousand, you’ll never hit on every single client that you are working with. But I truly feel like that trust, that honesty is a baseline foundation of any client relationship. And I’ve told you this before, Sam, that as an agent/realtor, my job is not to be my client’s friend and just to open doors for them. My job is to advise them, to guide them, and sometimes challenge them. They may not agree with everything I say. If they did, then I’m just a yes man. I’m just doing what my clients want me to do, which may not be in their best interest. So, my being honest with them has to be there because sometimes that’s what they need in order for me to do a good job for them. And that only helps to build that relationship even more. I think clients find that much more genuine. They find that much more helpful–“he’s being upfront with me based on his experience and his knowledge and not just telling me what I want.” So one other thing I want to mention–you don’t necessarily have to say that you do know.

Sam: That will never go in a positive direction!

Saad: Right, I think people find value in that too. “Hey, I don’t know the answer to X, but I’ll find out for you. I have great people around me to help me out with that.” I find clients really value that, as well.

Sam: Yeah, totally. Whenever I’ve been asked questions and I don’t know the answer, I tell them the same. I’ll come back to you with the answer. If I don’t know myself, I’ll go to you, and we always find a solution. I don’t believe in giving them something that is disingenuine from the beginning.

Why timeliness matters.

Saad: Alright, so let’s move on to the next one. Timeliness. This should be straightforward and I think it’s an important one. Naturally, if you say you’re going to do something, do it. If you promise something, make it happen for the client. Talk to us a little bit about that.

Sam: I think this goes with our processes. We’re very methodical about what we do. So if someone needs a lender intro right away, after the call, I make sure that I’m sending out those lender intros in a timely manner. Even a follow-up, whatever it may be, someone is not necessarily ready to move forward but we are always sending a timely manner, some form of communication. So like you said–keep to your word, say you are going to do something and follow through with it.  If you don’t follow through with it, the trust is gone and the relationship is gone. That’s just how it is. 

Saad: And it’s okay to be late, it’s okay to not do something but just let the client know that it’s going to be late, it’s going to be delayed. You know, it might not be right there at 2:30, you might be there at 2:35. It’s good to share that with clients. I would also say it’s super important on the timelines, and timeliness piece of it, to leverage technology. You can send calendar invites out, you can text people, and you can make things super easy for yourself. If you just leverage technology. Calendar invites are my best friends–it keeps me so organized. I know you feel the same way.

Sam: Whenever we speak to a new lead, that’s the first thing. I send out a calendar invite before I send an email, so it’s already on their calendar so that they know that I’m still there, I’m still supporting them, and that I followed through with what I said I was going to do and make that set-up call.

Saad: And even in our backend is tied into calendars, as well. So if we submit a showing for a client, we set it up on our backend and it immediately sends a calendar invite through to the client because the clients themselves are set up on our back end. That’s something we can talk about in a future episode. But again, leverage technology to make sure that you stay true to your word.

Respect everyone (including yourself).

Saad: Now, moving on to the last piece here: respect. I know we could talk about this forever, but a few tidbits that I wanted to bring up: being in the B2C environment and working with some of the client’s biggest decisions in their lives–purchasing a home, an investment property–respect comes without saying (or at least it should). I think it’s super important, no matter the circumstance, to stay even-keeled and not lose your cool. You never know what the other side is going through, or what is going on in their lives. I think it’s extremely important to keep that in mind. Everyone is going through something. and we have to be respectful of that and keep that in the back of our minds no matter what. And it’s not appropriate to ask what is going on, so sometimes that’s why staying even-keeled and just keeping your cool about yourself is supercritical. I don’t know if you have any thoughts on that….

Sam: And I think that plays a large role in what I do when I speak to leads, right? Because they don’t know me. I’m just a stranger in the world. And I’m reaching out to them and they already think “What does he want for me?” I keep that level head, all the time, and I always believe in kindness. If all else fails, just be kind. You just need to say, “Okay, fine, sometimes it doesn’t work out.” Sometimes people don’t wanna talk to you and sometimes they do. But always being kind and keeping that respect is so important.

Saad: Because people remember that, right? And more so, they’ll remember if you weren’t kind. They will remember if you were unkind. That relationship is gone. It’s almost irreparable. And to that point, even in tough situations, whether it’s tough situations whether it’s a breakup of some kind–I’m talking about client breakups.

Sam: it could go romantic ways too! 

Saad: I guess it could go that way too! So whether it’s breakups, unhappy clients, or difficult clients, these things all happen. If we’re in sales, you’re in any role they will happen. But frankly, if you don’t deal with tough situations, then you probably haven’t been doing this for long enough. It’s just part of the territory. It’s something you need to be prepared for. It’s a simple solution: no matter what, be kind, be respectful. And that includes being respectful of yourself. I have a few thoughts there, but want to let you say a few things first before I jump in.

Sam: I think having that mindset of being respectful of each other and each other’s time. We don’t want to waste your time and I don’t want my time wasted, as well. It comes down to communication. If you’re interested and if you’re not. There are no hard feelings, you just move on. That’s ales and that’s the world. You have to move on in life. So, I definitely believe in respecting our time, and because we’re here to help people. We want to help everyone and in order for us to do that, it’s a give and take to be able to respect us and understand that we have time management. We need to make sure that things are done in a timely manner, especially in real estate when there’re deadlines and offers. As you know, we’ve experienced a lot of different things dealing with different people. But be respectful. 

Saad: And you have respect for yourself. It’s okay to fire a client. I mean we’ve done that. If a client is not a fit, if they are not being respectful of your time or just being disrespectful in general, it’s okay to say “Hey, this isn’t going to work out.” That’s actually a really important thing to do because it’ll keep you sane. If you’re not doing things like that, it can impact other parts of your life. It’s okay to tell a client that they’re wrong about something, in fact, that goes back to the honesty piece. It just shows that you’re being upfront, you’re being honest, you’re sharing your thoughts, you’re not just being a yes man or woman. That’s equally important. It’s okay to speak your mind when you feel like you’re being disrespected, in some way (and that can go down a whole rabbit hole about that). Just having that respect for yourself and knowing what your boundaries are. Yes, you want the client. Yes, you want the deal to happen. But there are ground rules that need to be kept in mind.

And in closing

Saad: Well, thanks, Sam! That was awesome! Really appreciate all your insights. We would really love to hear what the audience has to say and what their thoughts are when it comes to client relationships,  how you handle them, do you disagree with anything we mentioned. Feel free to email us! We’d love to hear your thoughts and we’ll respond accordingly. 

Now, just to close off. Guys this stuff matters! Great service and relationships mean lots of repeat business and referrals from a business perspective, but it also makes you feel good! Of the last 25 deals of so that Sam and I have worked with, two-thirds of them have been referrals through some means, whether it’s a partner, somebody that referred us through a network, or maybe it’s a client referral. Now the question is why is that? And the answer: word of mouth matters! People talk. We ask every client to leave a review for a reason! Our Google reviews and my Zillow profile are an extension of our brand and of my resume, essentially. So people look at these things, focus on creating an amazing client experience, and build relationships with your client, as we promise good things will happen eventually. Nothing worthwhile happens overnight, but if you really put in the effort and stay consistent around creating great client relationships and that great experience, other great things for you will definitely follow.

Saad: Thank you everybody for joining us on Storii Time. Thank you, Sam, for being a part of this episode. I’m Saad Munir. Until next time!