September is REALTOR® Safety Month, an important time to reflect upon our efforts to promote the safety of you and your agents on the job, as well as the safety of the clients we serve. Even though some agents brush the topic aside thinking, “It won’t happen to me,” or “Our community is safe,” it’s a sad fact that according to 2015 research from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), four in 10 real estate professionals say they’ve experienced a situation that made them fear for their personal safety or the safety of their personal information.
Managing brokers play a vital leadership role in safety discussions, a topic that may stir up images of violent crime, but should address other more common occurrences, including accidents, pet attacks, health hazards, and the theft of valuable possessions or personal information.
Institute a Safety Plan for Your Brokerage
Does your office have standard procedures for agent safety as well as for client information? NAR’s 2015 safety survey found that less than half of real estate brokerages (46 percent) have agent safety procedures, while 64 percent of offices have standard procedures for safeguarding and properly disposing of sensitive client information.
Obviously, the protection of client information is important, but the personal safety of agents deserves equal attention. In its ongoing effort to help REALTORS® understand the risks they face through knowledge, awareness and empowerment, NAR has numerous no-cost educational tools, resources and sample forms that can be adapted to fit your needs, including:
- Recorded Webinars – “Incorporating Safety into Your Business,” one of many webinars archived online, explores specific tools and advice for implementing safety protocols. Register for NAR’s next webinar—September 14, 1 – 2 p.m. CST—by visiting REALTOR.org/safety.
- Presentations – NAR’s three-hour Safety Training presentation covers safety at the office, safety with clients, and safety at home. Download step-by-step presentation instructions, slides and supplemental materials.
- Office Safety Tools – Including sample prospect and agent identification forms, agent itinerary form and an office safety action plan
Keep Safety Top-of-Mind
While an official plan is important, it’s equally vital to ensure that safety isn’t a one-time discussion, but an ongoing conversation between brokers and their agents. A few ways to do this:
Sales Meetings – Keep the conversation going by reviewing your safety plan on a regular basis, or reviewing the philosophies and topics covered in NAR’s product, “The Little Red Book: Safety Rules to Live By for REALTORS®.”
Safety Tips – Create an open dialogue about safety by regularly sharing weekly safety tips (colorful infographics) on NAR’s social media platforms.
Tech Tools – Encourage your agents to explore available smartphone apps and utilize the safety features coming soon on the SentriLock lockbox app.
Support Consumer Education
Even though meeting buyers in public and checking their ID before showings is the safe plan, agents are often reluctant to take these and other safety steps. You can support their efforts by making it a priority to educate consumers about your policies—why they’re important in today’s world, where an agent’s every move may be visible online—and how these procedures are also designed to protect consumers.
To support your efforts, NAR created a three-minute award-winning consumer video, “Real Estate, Safety, and You,” which you can use to explain the need for such precautions. This video and the aforementioned resources can help you and your agents keep safety top-of-mind all year long.
The safety support tools mentioned here, plus many more, can be accessed at NAR’s REALTOR® Safety site: REALTOR.org/safety.