Land Professionals, are You a “Trusted Advisor”?
At the LandThink Summit 2010, Coach Bobby Bowden challenged the audience to be “problem solvers”. He pointed out that our business is to help our clients work through challenges to achieve positive outcomes. This is a concept that I had been reflecting on for several weeks.
About a month before the Summit one of the foremost foresters in Alabama made a comment to me about the importance of becoming a trusted advisor to our clients. He said your goal should be to work hard for your clients and make sure you are taking care of their interests. As you continue to do a good job and work for their interests, you will be placed into positions of increasing trust. When you succeed your clients will be pleased, and eventually that success will serve to advance your business.
A successful farmer and businessman shared a piece of wisdom he learned early in his career. He said, “Jonathan, every rich man needs a son-of-a-bitch.” I have revisited that statement many times as I strive to work hard for those who employ me to help them market and sell their rural land. As agents we have a fiduciary responsibility to place the interest of our clients above all others.
Zig Ziglar has a more polite way of phrasing the farmer’s concept. He says, “You can have everything you want in life if you are willing to help enough other people get what they want.” For those of us in a service business such as land brokerage, forestry, surveying, or consulting this is a proven pathway to success. The people we work for often come to depend on us for more than the task for which they initially hired us. I have been asked for advice about issues with children, cooperating with the FBI, trying to catch vandals and a host of topics unrelated to my areas of expertise.
Dr. Thomas Stanley, in “The Millionaire Mind”, says that one habit that truly wealthy people have is to hire specialists instead of being a do-it-yourselfer. This means high net-worth investors need someone who has the pulse of the land market to offer advice for their next acquisition. In “The Millionaire Next Door” Dr. Stanley says that the wealthy should find the best attorney and accountant that money can buy. His reasoning is when you hire these individuals you not only get their expertise, but their network and resources as well. Land professionals would do well to take note of this concept and find ways to add value for our clients based on what and who you know.
The bottom line is that as we solve problems for our clients we establish ourselves as their go-to person when something comes up. If we do it often enough we become invaluable. This means for land brokers our job isn’t over just because we close a transaction. We can still follow up with clients, make recommendations, and continue to offer valuable services. When the time comes for them or someone they know to seek an expert, you will already be at their elbow.
Solving problems for other people should not approached with drudgery or contempt. This is why we are in our various professions in the first place. If every person knew how to do everything, there would be no need for specialists. This is the aspect of the job that lets your creative energy see daylight. Dr. John Wierengo, my college organic chemistry professor, stated repeatedly that “Every time you solve one problem you create two more.” Think about that for a minute. Every time you help a client resolve one issue, you will have more opportunities to serve them. For example, you just received an offer. Who will the closing attorney be? Who will we use to survey the land? By solving one problem (finding a prospective buyer) you now have two more opportunities to serve your client. If you serve them well, they will use you again or recommend you to people they know.
As a land specialist the level of success we will experience depends on how many satisfied clients we leave in our wake. Our goal should be to work hard for our clients and make the extra effort to become their trusted advisor. Now get out there and help others get what they want; it’s the surest way to get what you want.
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