Although your showings, listing appointments and open houses may have gone off without a hitch (or a sketchy person) in the past, it never hurts to prepare in case you have to deal with one in the future. Meeting clients for showings and listing appointments is a big part of the business, and while you may find most of your clients through referrals, it’s still possible to come in contact with unsavory characters. The more you prepare, the more confident you’ll be should you ever find yourself in a dangerous situation. Here are some tips to make safety a priority in all types of meetings with your clients.
1. Meet at your office first. We’ve always advocated meeting a client in your office first to ensure that you’re working with a serious buyer or seller. However, meeting in your office first also sets the tone for the relationship, exhibits your professionalism and allows your assistant, broker and co-workers to meet with and see the client as well.
2. Tell people where you’re going. Although your mom may have told you this about a thousand times as a teen, it’s easy to forget it as you get older. Whether you’re meeting a client for coffee or a showing, let people know where you’re going and who you’re with.
3. Note who you’re meeting in your day planner or CRM. Again, this sounds obvious, but be sure to note the contact’s names, phone number and perhaps even a distinguishing characteristic as well as the address of the listing, showing or open house in your planner or in Referral Maker® CRM. The more details you leave, the better the chances of locating you should any funny business occur.
4. Check in with your spouse, partner or other emergency contact. Similar to tip #2, call or text your spouse or another emergency contact and give your location and details about the person you’re meeting. Also include how long you think the meeting will take. Once the meeting is over, call this person again to let them know you’re okay. That way, if they don’t hear from you, they know to contact the authorities.
5. Always take note of your surroundings. This includes the neighborhood you’re in, the layout of the house you’re showing or visiting, and if you’re there for a listing presentation, the people in the home and where they are (e.g., if they have kids or roommates, as where they are and if they’ll be joining you for the meeting). This may sound paranoid, but also look for exits; you never know when you may need to escape.
6. Trust your gut! Your instinct is a powerful tool designed to keep you safe. If you get the feeling they’re a creeper or a dangerous person or that something just feels “off” about them, it’s better to trust your gut and forego their business and be safe than to be sorry later on.
7. Download a safety app. Let technology help you stay safe by downloading a safety app such as Agents Armor, Real Alert or SafeTREC to your smartphone. These free and low-cost apps feature panic buttons and check in tools to notify your emergency contact and the authorities if you run into trouble.
8. Learn self-defense. You don’t need to be a third-degree black belt in karate to keep an assailant at bay. A few self-defense moves can give you the opportunity to disable your opponent and get away if you’re in the situation where you are attacked. Martial arts are not only great exercise, but they can help you in a pinch. The martial art Brazilian jiu jitsu was developed to help smaller individuals defend themselves in an attack through a series of joint-locks and chokeholds, and in many cases by using the tools you have (like the assailant’s clothing) against them. Basically, if you’re a middle-aged female, like most real estate agents are, jiu jitsu will help you put your assailant to sleep long enough for you to escape and call the police. Many jiu jitsu studios offer self-defense classes for women so if you’re interested, be sure to find one in your local area.