Rules for CORE Agents #5: Always Show Up With More Than a Knife and a Fork

Imagine that you were invited to someone’s home for a dinner party.  You ring the bell, the door opens, the host looks out, and sees you standing there with a smile in your face, holding nothing but a knife and a fork in your hands.  “Let’s eat!,” you say, waving your knife and fork.

That’s unthinkable.  Whenever we go to someone’s house for a party, we always bring something: dessert, flowers, a bottle of wine, whatever.  We never show up empty handed. Even if the host insists that she doesn’t need anything, we still bring something.  It’s just the way we’ve all been raised: if you get invited into someone’s house, you bring a gift to show respect.

I remember my Italian grandmother telling me about this custom, explaining that it was an “Italian tradition.”  Then my Irish grandmother would pull me aside and explain that it was really an “Irish tradition.”  What I’ve since learned is that pretty much EVERYONE has this wonderful tradition, and that no culture promotes the idea that you can show up at someone’s house for dinner holding nothing but a knife and fork in your sweaty little hands.

And yet real estate agents try to generate leads every day with just a knife and a fork.  The prospect people armed nothing with scripts designed to try to trick people into setting an appointment with them. And that’s why they fail, not only because they’re not really offering anything valuable or interesting for the prospective client, but because going out day after day to badger people with nothing other than a knife and a fork is a soul-killing regimen that few people can maintain with any kind of regularity.

So whenever you’re trying to cultivate leads, bring something to the party besides a knife and fork. Instead of calling an expired seller with nothing but some boilerplate come-on about how long until they interview a new agent, drop off an up-to-date CMA or market report.  Instead of calling your past client to ask for a referral, send them something about the market that gives you a reason to follow up with them.

It doesn’t matter what you bring, no more than it matters whether you bring flowers or a bottle of wine to a dinner party.  it’s just important that you bring something.

Not only are you more likely to stand out from the crowd of other “knife and fork” agents by actually providing a service to people, but you’re also likely to feel better about what you’re doing: essentially you “earn” yourself the right to contact that client, because you actually did something for her.

In other words, you would never show up at a friend’s house empty handed.  So why would you ever approach a potential client that way?


This post is part of a series of what I call the “36-1/2 Rules for Client-Oriented Real Estate Agents,” a collection of short takes on the CORE concept that I’ve developed over the years of discussing and teaching the system.  We’ll count up to the 36th rule over the next few months, and then the 1/2 rule.  You can get the full list of rules by clicking on the “36-1/2 Rules for CORE Agents” category on the blog – scroll from the bottom if you want to read them in order.