Coming in sixth at this year’s Top 100 Agents was Glen Coutinho from RT Edgar – a self-proclaimed service addict who understands that it’s the little things that make someone memorable. Whether it’s sending flowers on birthdays and anniversaries or buttering up clients by sending their children little gifts, Mr Coutinho has been able to create lifelong clients through small but thoughtful gestures.
The Santa Claus of real estate
Mr Coutinho said he has worked with one couple for 27 years and has bought birthday presents for their three children every year.
“The day their kids were born they got a little blanket with their name on it, and ever since then, they’ve had a gift from me every year. The parents have had a bunch of flowers delivered on their wedding anniversary 27 years in a row; I have not missed one.”
By building a strong rapport and friendship with these clients, Mr Coutinho knows they would never sell with anyone else, particularly since they waited for him to return from a holiday in Europe in order to sell their house.
“At the end of the day, I was more expensive than the others and I was ready to drop my fees to match, but they said, ‘Don’t drop your fees’, so they gave it back to me at the fee I wanted. The day I listed that house, they got texts and emails to say thanks for the job, a beautiful $100 bunch of flowers turned up at their house and then the next morning we had three beautiful boxes for each kid saying thanks for helping me get the job.”
Networking never ends…
While Mr Coutinho was on holiday in Europe with his family, he didn’t rest on his laurels or miss a single opportunity to connect with people.
“I was driving my daughter nuts because I wouldn’t leave the hotel without writing a letter to the maître d’, to the receptionist, to the waiter. I would always get their email addresses and write a letter to each one of them and then I would write a letter to their manager to say that they provided great customer service.
By sending emails and small gifts to everyone he dealt with during his time overseas, Mr Coutinho was able to expand his database and even find a vendor.
“Everyone I met overseas knows me. I’m not famous, but I just know that one day they might have a house; you just never know. I’ve got one in Miller Street that we’re selling and the owner lives in Paris. I’ve kept in touch with her overseas, so you just never know where business comes from.”
… not even on grand final weekend
While Mr Coutinho was at a pub with some mates watching the footy grand final, he received a phone call from woman asking for an appraisal for her mother’s house.
“Straight away I sent a text and made sure she knew I was at the footy by apologising for the noise, and booked a time to come around,” he said. “The other two agents that she rang didn’t call back until Monday, so the decision to use me was actually made within that minute of my reply.”
Diligence may have been the deciding factor in getting Mr Coutinho the job, but he went above and beyond by keeping the rest of the family informed about the imminent sale.
“The owner actually has four kids, so all four of them got a letter in the mail to say, ‘I’m selling your mother’s house. I’d like to keep you in the loop’. From one woman, I’ve put her whole family in my network now.”
According to Mr Coutinho, it’s not just about building the database, but creating fans through impressive service.
“When the auction comes, I want the family all on my team; I want them to say, ‘He’s a bloody good agent; he’s emailed me three times a week and his level of service is amazing’. I look at her and think, ‘Client for the rest of my life and friend forever’.”
Creating a service-centric mindset
The key to creating incredible customer service, according to Mr Coutinho, is changing one’s mindset.
“It’s really easy to do and it doesn’t cost you much; it’s just a mindset,” he said.
“How do you get people in the marketplace chasing you? I’ve got hundreds of fanatic, raving fans chasing business for me. I’m a practising, hands-on real estate agent. My mindset is to actually work hard to get the uncontested bid. If there’s three agents in then I’m as good as anyone, but most of my business is uncontested; I’ve earned it over 25 to 30 years.”