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“The key to excellent customer service is making each client a high priority. This transaction is not like buying a car and trading it in a few years later,” says Cathy Freeman of Rod Aluisi Real Estate. Read on as RISMedia’s Lesley Geary interviews Freeman about achieving excellent customer service in today’s market.

Cathy Freeman
Rod Aluisi Real Estate

Years in real estate: 6
Region served: Fresno County and Madera County, Calif.
Time-management tip: Have a plan and stick to it every day.
The one thing you can’t live without: My husband, my family, my clients. The happiness that I see when they get the keys to their new home is the best.

How has the definition of customer service changed?
Technology has changed customer service. People are busy, but because they have so much access to technology, they are able to do incredible amounts of research before they ever look at a house. That is why we promote technology here at Rod Aluisi. That said, beyond the incredible access to technology and all that it does, I spend face time with new customers so they get to know me and I get to know them.

I am very grateful to be an agent with Rod Aluisi Real Estate. The brokerage is very supportive. We are about quality not quantity. Because I work with Rod Aluisi, I am able to deliver first-class customer service.

What does real customer service look like?
I don’t treat new buyers like they’re just buying a house—this will be their home. I understand that buyers are making the most important purchase of their lives. So the key to excellent customer service is making each client a high priority. This transaction is not like buying a car and trading it in a few years later. This is often a home the buyers will live in for perhaps the rest of their lives. With sellers, I find out what their goals are and work to personalize those goals and make them their reality. This is achieved by staging their homes, providing tips on how to best present their home, increasing its curb appeal and then negotiating for top dollar. Our agents still caravan, so each and every one of them knows the home when the phone call comes in.

How have the expectations/needs of today’s real estate consumer changed?
I don’t think their expectations are as high as they once were. Today’s buyer is still looking for a deal. They read the paper and watch television, which makes them believe there are all kinds of deals and an excess of inventory. They are led to believe that they can just snatch up any house at a great price. That’s not the case here in Fresno. I have to educate buyers to the fact that today, in Fresno County, inventory is actually low and we are receiving multiple offers on good properties.

I think the average buyer is more concerned with space and a good price than the structure of the house and the amenities. When this process first started with all the foreclosures, buyers would put up with a home’s poor conditions for a good price. But that’s no longer the case at Rod Aluisi. We take pride in our homes. We send out the cleaner, gardener and the pool man. We go the extra mile to make sure the house looks great inside and out before it ever hits the market.

How does technology play a role in facilitating customer service?
Internet marketing is wonderful because a listing immediately goes to 100 different websites. And then, of course, the Internet has helped consumers become more knowledgeable. Often they come to me with a list of houses they would like to see. But while they can find a home online, they can’t negotiate price. We can help them with the process.

Why did you become a Member of Top 5?
Top 5 represents what I am and what I want to do. It is geared toward excellent customer service and supplying the customer with the tools they need to navigate in the increasingly complex world of real estate.

What is the key to a successful life in real estate?
Enjoy everyone you work with and don’t make a job of it. Make it your life. I love helping people and being able to think outside the box. Being able to put a buyer and seller together is so rewarding. Also, it is lovely to be self-employed. We are in charge of our own schedules and I am able to arrange my schedule around my personal life. That’s key. I do not feel like it is work. I love it.