I need your help: Realtors, driving, and cell phones

I’m working on a story about how brokers can be held liable if a Realtor is in a car accident while using a cell phone (talking or texting).

I’d like your help with something.

Take these two pieces of info:

1. The idea that it’s not safe to use a phone while in a car (even hands-free) is slowly sinking in across the country.

2. Realtors often live in their cars, and cell phones are a fact of life.

Here’s my question: What are you doing to reduce your time using your phone while driving?

  • Do you pull into a McDonald’s parking lot to take advantage of Wi-fi?
  • Do you stop at a Starbucks every few hours?
  • Do you tell your clients up front, "I may not be able to talk right away, but I promise I’ll get back to you within an hour"?

I’m looking for anecdotes and best practices — things like, "When I leave a client, I use the time before I hit the road to catch up on phone calls," or any other suggestions I can pass along to readers.

How do you balance the reality of the job and client expectations?

Thanks for any ideas you can share in comments or by e-mail!

About Andrew Kantor

Andrew is VAR's editor and information manager, and -- lessee now -- a former reporter for the Roanoke Times, former technology columnist for USA Today, and a former magazine editor for a bunch of places. He hails from New York with stops in Connecticut, New Jersey, Cincinnati, Columbus, and Roanoke.
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4 Responses to I need your help: Realtors, driving, and cell phones

  1. Joe Hakes says:

    No one ever thinks that they will be the ones to be in an accident because of handling a cell phone while driving. To all my colleagues, it only takes a split second for something to happen that can impact you and the other folks on the road.

    When I went to buy a car this last time, I made sure that it had a built-in Bluetooth connection to my phone that was high quality. If I need to take a call “manually” I pull over into a parking lot or just by the side of the road to make sure that I won’t cause any problems. I think that clients, like most everyone else, understand the sentiment, “I can’t talk right now because I’m driving, but I’ll get back to you.”

    In the new technology that we all enjoy, the expectation of everything in an instant needs to be tempered by common sense and safety. This isn’t just a real estate industry issue but needs to be a commitment to ourselves and each other that we value safety by doing the intelligent thing.

  2. Nancy Prince Jackson says:

    This is still a 24-7 world with clients expecting replies IMMEDIATELY or they move on. I have reaped the benefit of receiving clients that have moved on as previous Realtors contacted never responded or did so days later.

    I use my SYNC system in my vehicles to answer and make phone calls while driving all the time. If the clients are in the vehicle with me, I use privacy mode. If I am unable to answer a call/text then I use the option on my phone to reply automatically, I will call you ASAP, with a client now. My clients appreciate that I respond to them any time of the day and I have received a large number of referrals and repeat business because of my communication.
    I am a terrible sleeper so my clients may get emails or listing sheets from me at 2:00 in the morning. Hey a few of them respond immediately, they are terrible sleepers also. My telephone shuts off at 11:30 p.m. and comes back on at 6:15 a.m. so I am pretty much available all the time. I live in an area where cell phone reception is not the best, so I always tell my clients if you call me and I do not respond within 2-3 hours, call/text/email me again as Verizon is our only choice and not reliable at that. They appreciate that info.

  3. Jimmy Jackson says:

    I have used all of the methods you have mentioned and it depends on the circumstances as to which method is necessary. As I am sure everyone is aware, travel time in a vehicle is a lot of time on some busy days and I feel it is a vital part of our daily routine to use the services as long as we are safe and that depends on the individual.

  4. Lenn Harley says:

    Some years ago an attorney lost control of her vehicle and killed a 16 year old waiting at a bus stop. The family sued the attorney and the attorney’s firm, since she was employed by a law firm and on business when the accident happened.

    When I read about the case in a lawyers new letter, I had my attorney prepare a NOTICE and ACKNOWLEDGMENT to all of the agents in my brokers that

    “It is not company policy that real estate agents employed by Homefinders.com speak on their cell phone while conducting business.”

    I knew that the agents would not abandon the cell phones while driving. At least they would not turn the phones off. I just wanted to be on record that they were violating company policy.

    Fortunately, there were no accidents.

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