The first interview is the beginning of the client–advisor relationship and an opportunity to build rapport and gain trust. First impressions are lasting impressions and the first consultation with a client can be one of the most important for you as the property investment advisor. This initial meeting influences how clients perceive you and form their assessment of your professionalism and ability to help them.
Here are some reminders that can be helpful:
Be on time; A lack of punctuality is disrespectful of the client’s time and can be seen as an indication of your lack of respect for the client’s situation. Of course, it is not always possible to be on time, but it is nearly always possible to get word to a client apologising and explaining the situation.
Appointment site; While most appointments are held in your offices or where you also recommend a specific property, at the property site, some clients may be visited in their homes. There are ways of making an impression at either location.
The advantage of holding appointments in your office is that it can provide the perception of professionalism. The office can be prepared in advance, ensuring that relevant forms, documents and other materials are available and as necessary on hand for the client. It can also be more conducive to the discussion of business issues. Holding an appointment in an office, moreover, provides an opportunity to control the flow of the appointment.
Using your own offices enables you to attend to small details such as having a welcome board with the client’s name(s) in the foyer, making sure the receptionist greets them on arrival and ushers them into an interview room, offers them reading materials and refreshments. This attention to detail is about making clients feel welcome, at ease and in the hands of professionals.
If you are using an office, which is less than professional, you may wish to consider meeting elsewhere or even hiring a serviced office or meeting space for the appointment. It may, at times, be necessary to meet at a client’s home or office where there is little control over the environment. This means that planning and preparation must be detailed. You need to think through the requirements in advance.
These are some points that can help:
- Avoid meal times or when children are being put to bed;
- Ensure the presentation material supports the required flow of information and that it is securely bound;
- Ask for an appropriate place to hold the interview/make the presentation if one is not offered (dining table); and
- If necessary, ask permission for the space to be cleared and any distractions to be reduced (e.g. Turn off the television).