Have you ‘Winked’ at your Client Lately?

We get them all day long.  We get them so much that they can feel annoying and intrusive.  Status updates.  Fee Quotes.  Questions.  Problems.  They come in the way of phone calls to our office or emails to our inbox.  Sometimes it seems that appraising takes a backseat to just keeping up with the lines of communication (one of the many reasons I highly recommend hiring a receptionist).


appraisal BusinessHowever aggravating it can be to have the phone ringing and email notification whistling constantly however, it is part of the job.  The alternative would be to have all communication stop and I don’t think any of us want that.  It is easy when the alarms are going off constantly to forget that there is a human being (well, most of the time anyway) on the other side of that phone call or email message.  We sometimes slip into a mode of robotic or even disgruntled responses.  Don’t do it!  This can kill your business long-term.


About 15 years ago, there was a woman by the name of Natasha who worked for the largest AMC on the planet.  Despite the fact that nearly every time Natasha called it was to ask something of me, the conversation was always uplifting and pleasant.  Why? Natasha remembered to ‘wink.’  What is a wink?  First of all, a wink is not what you think it is.  I am not talking about flirting here.  In fact, I highly recommend you do not go down that road.  It can be disasterous.  I am simply talking about making people smile.


When Natasha would call, she would always say things such as “How is my favorite appraiser?”  Now, I knew she said that to every appraiser, but it didn’t matter.  When she asked me to do something that was hard she might say, “You are such a gem for doing that for me, Dustin” (notice she used my name).  She might also, during the course of the conversation, ask me about my family or weekend or weather.  Oh, and she also did it genuinely… like she really cared.  It made all the difference.  When I got a call from Natasha, no matter what she asked of me, it was a conversation I looked forward to.  There have been several ‘Natashas” over the years, but they are few and far between.  It is seemingly easier to just cut to the chase, get the conversation over, and move on to the next client.  On the other hand, we are not just in business to “get the conversation over.”  At least I’m not.


Business is all about relationships.  For business to last, we must make and keep relationships that also last.  In the seemingly non-personable world of AMCs, this may seem like an unimportant sidenote.  I can tell you it is not.  In fact, it may be the very thing that makes or breaks your business success in the long run.


So, how do you (or your employees) do it?  A simple rule of thumb is to remember that in every interaction you have via email or the telephone, make them smile.  It is even better to make them laugh, but making them smile – at least once during the transaction – should be the minimum goal.


It is not hard, but it takes an effort.  Here are a few phrases that might help you get started:


“I see you are from Philadelphia.  I visited there with my family last summer.  It was wonderful!”

“How was your weekend?”

“Happy Friday to you and your co-workers!”

“It is so nice to hear from you again.  How is the weather for you today?”

“I love your name.”

“Hope your day is going well.  I know work can drag at times, but it is always nice to hear from you.”

“It would be my pleasure!”


Again, it does not take much.  It simply takes a constant and concerted effort to be proactive about making the interaction positive.  Remember to ‘wink’ at least once per interaction and both of you will have a better day for it.  Furthermore, it may just be the thing that sets you apart from your competition and causes you to be a long-term success.

13 thoughts on “Have you ‘Winked’ at your Client Lately?”

  1. Agreed 100%. If you want longevity and to be remembered (positively), you have to stand out (positively). I remind myself it must be a difficult job to call appraisers all day everyday requesting fee quotes, or change “Drive” to “Dr”. Try to stand out with positive words and thankfulness in your tone that they have entrusted you to complete what they are asking for. Sometimes its difficult, like when you are provided 8 comparable sales for consideration, and the time that is spent explaining why they were not included in the analysis. It always seems easier on Fridays 😉

  2. From the headline it seemed to me that a refresher on client vs. customer might be in order. Nothing in the article dispelled the notion. By the way, real estate can be such a totally serious business that humor is inappropriate and upsetting. I like to laugh so I think you should wink at both clients and customers until you get signals that it’s time to get down to business. To know when that happens, it is unfortunate but you have to pay attention to them.

  3. I agree 100%. I stay in tune with all my clients by “winking” at every opportunity I get. My goal to make my clients “want” to call or email me for anything they need or want. Every call or email is another opportunity to advertise your business. You can either make it pleasant or not. The question is: “How do you advertise your way of doing business when you communicate with your clients?” Are you cooperative or not? Are you fun or a drag? Are you genuine or fake? Are you pleasant to talk to or a pain in the …? Bottom line…How you communicate will have an impact on your future orders… and that’s a fact we can sometimes overlook when the pressure is on! Thanks Dustin for reminding us to “wink”.

  4. I have learned being able to break the ice is one of the most valuable and rewarding skills their is. I call it a skill because even though it comes naturally to me, I even thoroughly enjoy it, it does not come easy for all. My wife for instance is a warm and personable person, however she has a hard time breaking that initial ice. I see this a lot. People sometimes think that business needs to be cold or somehow it is not appropriate business behavior. I say poo poo to that. The last line on my website says “Smiles, laughs and thanks free of charge”. Genuine kindness and uplifting conversation is part of good customer service. I find often that once I have taken the step to be the one to break the ice, the other person will let down their guard and open up.

  5. Thanks for the reminder. It is hard to remember to be nice when the AMC is asking for the fourth revision that is no fault of the appraiser! Glad you are here to keep us sane!

  6. Diane Forsberg, CRGA, MNAA

    This is something I have been saying since I went into business many years ago. Just be nice. Don’t take it personally. This has served me well because I was the ‘nice one’ and kept steadily working during the slow times. You don’t have to do everything they say, and you will probably disagree, but if you keep a non-accusatory tone and just tell the truth, everybody’s day goes better. Great post, Coach. Keep up the good work.

  7. Hmm…. Are they robots or human beings? Sometimes it seems a close call. And some of the ones we’ve delt with aren’t noted for their sense of humor. Still, I have to agree with you that it is always better to treat people well. The main problem is that it is just such an impossible situation much of the time through no fault of either the appraiser or the specific person on the other end of the line. There is just this underlying resentment sometimes where the appraiser feels that yet again they’re being asked to do more busy work that has nothing to do with value accuracy and expected to eat the extra time because that’s just always expected. On the part of the AMC person, there has to be a feeling that why in the world are some of these appraisers accepting assignments when they don’t seem to want to do the work and abide by the “rules” of working for AMCs.

  8. A simple rule of thumb I learned a long time ago – smile when you talk on the phone – even if the subject is unpleasant. People can hear a smile believe it or not.

  9. One of the hardest things to do is be cheerful and polite when you have a crushing deadline for a troublesome assignment looming imminently; and this is the sixth interruption in the past hour.

    But STILL the best advice I’ve ever seen from the Coach. I used to forbid me to answer the phone (seriously, don’t laugh). We had a rule that the receptionist or my partner would answer it first. Tell me what it was that they wanted; let me explode, calm down, and THEN let me cheerfully address the problem. A lot of extra steps, but necessary for me. I got pretty fast at completing all necessary stages without the person on the line even having to wait more than a few moments.

    1. I had so much practice that even now I hesitate just a flicker of a moment before answering, and answer so cheerfully that most people mistake me for my own professional sounding answering machine. Ah, for the good old days and a receptionist.

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