“Jim gave me your name. I need to talk to a Realtor who will be absolutely honest with me. I’m in a situation…”
If a Realtor is doing her job properly- that is, helping people with real estate transactions, creating educated, informed, knowledgeable clients, developing happy and satisfied clients- our clients often refer us to their friends and relatives and acquaintances. This is a big deal, not something to take for granted, nor is it something to be expected. I don’t know about you, but I have to be very satisfied with the work someone does for me and I have to trust that the quality of work is consistent in order to refer people here or there, regardless of business. I don’t expect my clients to be any different. I want them to be comfortable referring their loved ones to me, but I understand that I have to have earned that right.
The caller said our mutual friend, Jim, thinks of me as a brutally honest Realtor. I suppose that’s true. I’m more proud of the honesty than the brutal, but either way Jim trusts me to tell his friend the truth. The caller, let’s call him Frank, was in a situation – the economy has created changes in many people’s lives, and even if you are not alone in your struggles it can be a difficult time. I know that he and Jim had discussed the possible outcomes because they both told me in separate phone conversations that Jim knew some details of Frank’s financial situation.
I visited Frank. Toured his property, sat down at the kitchen table and listened to Frank’s story. He had done the right things for years, helping out his family, working hard…unfortunately the economy had taken it’s toll. He shared intimate details of his finances. It’s a delicate situation to be sure, listening to private details of another person’s life. It means I’ve been trusted. Trusted to keep these details to myself, trusted to use these details to help this person above my own needs. I take that seriously, after all – it’s my duty.
After meeting Frank, I called Jim to thank him for the referral.
“Did he tell you about his situation?” Jim asked.
“What do you think? Can you help him?”
“Jim, Frank is a client,” I told him. “I have a fiduciary duty to him, that means I can’t discuss our conversation with you.”
“But I’m on my way to see him right now! He’ll tell me all about it anyway!”
That’s fine. See here’s the thing (which I explained to Jim) – it’s one thing if Frank wants to discuss his business with Jim- it is HIS business after all, but as a Realtor I can’t. Part of my fiduciary duty to my clients is confidentiality. I was trusted and entrusted with information. I’m going to honor that and I suspect that is a big part of why Jim felt no hesitation in referring me in the first place. Jim knows it’s my business to keep confidential information confidential.
Did Frank ever tell Jim about our conversation? I don’t know, I didn’t ask. After all, that is really none of my business.
Photo credit: Teri Lussier, TheBrickRanch.com