Friday, October 30, 2020

Think for Yourself:  Photos on Business Cards

First in an occasional series

A couple of weeks ago I linked to a Jennifer Allan-Hagedorn video on scripts.  And I absolutely loved what she had to say.  Above is a video with her comments on real estate brokers using their photos on their business cards.

First let me say, at least for residential real estate agents, this debate is over.  I bet you can count on one hand the number of agents you know who do not use their photo.  Get a hundred cards, and what, maybe one or two don't have photos.  So while it is no longer required, Jennifer does as well as anyone justifying the practice.

But I don't like it.

She refers to the familiar But doctors and lawyers don't put photos on their cards argument that we sometimes used to hear.  But I don't like that either.  Brokers are not doctors and lawyers.

The underlying premise for that argument seems to have been:  It's just not professional.  But if essentially all other brokers are doing it, well it has become the standard.  And many people will accept the standard as professional.  This is certainly true for brokers.

It should not be.

There are some other standard practices in the real estate business that I do not like.  Dual agency, coming soon, scripts, coaches, teams, underpricing, high fees based on illusory service, open houses, overpriced commodity marketing, an under-appreciation for negotiation skills, etc.  Just to name some off the top of my head.  All standard or near-standard practices.

So I am unwilling to accept the arguments of standard or professional to come to a personal decision on how to conduct myself in this business.

Let me give you another example of a recently-evolved standard practice:  Trust Accounts.  In my market, many firms have done away with their trust (escrow) accounts.  They will all make arguments based on liability and risk management.  But I will tell you what no one else will:  They got rid of their trust accounts because they are lazy and don't really care about serving their clients.  I could and should write a whole post on this topic.  But for here, I use it as an example of a standard practice, supposedly professional, and yet disreputable at the same time.  And brokers get away with it because, when searching for an agent, no one asks:  Do you maintain a trust account?  So this unworthy practice has become accepted as professional.

So what is a broker to do?  I mean regarding photos on business cards, or maintaining a trust account, or any other standard or non-standard practice found in this business.

Here's my advice:  Think for yourself.

Let me give you an example:

Jennifer says:  People remember faces more easily than names.  Therefore, put your photo on your card.  I say:  You know, if I am depending on someone remembering my face, I am in serious trouble.

So what might someone remember about me?  Well, maybe something insightful I said.  And I think this is the real reason some agents put their photos on their cards.  They don't have anything insightful to offer.  Many cannot even engage in a genuine conversation.  But...they have a pretty (or handsome) face.  Go with what you got, right?

As for the remaining agents?  Well I can assure you of this:  Not all of them want to put their photo on their business card.  Yet they do.  Why?  Well their real estate coach told them it was a good idea.  Or their mentor.  Or maybe their managing broker.  For many, they are simply doing what everyone else is doing.  Mindlessly imitating the behavior of their peers, no matter how foolish it may be to do so.  Warren Buffett labels this the institutional imperative.  But I think we can simply call it broker foolishness.

One final note:  The point of this article, and really of this entire website, is not to tell you what to do or not to do.  Sure, I'll typically give you my opinion.  But more than anything else, these posts are meant to be thought pieces.  So again, think for yourself.  And based on your own thought process, do what makes sense for you.

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