Out Of Office

I sent out our Happy Holidays email today. Nothing special there. I am sure many of you either did the same or will be with the coming New Year.

What alarmed me was the amount of out of office replies I received. I pictured myself with my home currently listed or as a serious buyer during the largest financial purchase of my life.

I understand it is the holidays and many of you are spending time with your family. I also understand that we all need to turn off every now and then.

What I want to know is an out of office email something that should ever be set up again?

The technology was invented when we actually had an office, now we all get our email via mobile.

Do you really receive so many emails that you need to automate the reply with an obviously canned message? Would taking a moment and sending a real email letting people know you were shutting down for a few days ruin your “break”?

Just my thoughts would love yours…

Photo courtesy of Flickr

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74 Comments
  1. Michael McClure December 27, 2010 at 11:32 pm - Reply

    I’ve never used an “out of office” auto reply in my life, and I never will. It is totally inappropriate for the real estate industry, where we can NEVER really shut down. I’ve sold houses on every major holiday, and, if I were a client, that’s what I’d expect from my agent: always on, always ready…

  2. Briddick December 27, 2010 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    I try to be completely plugged into the business or completely unplugged, meaning no email, no phone calls, nothing business related. If you don;t set the boundaries, people will take advantage of you, you’ll burn yourself out and most importantly you won’t be as effective when you’re riding the ‘grey’ area of partially on vacation and partially working.

  3. Elizabeth December 27, 2010 at 11:34 pm - Reply

    I understand what you are saying but I know there are still agents in my office who do not have mobile e-mail capability.
    I do use out of office reply when I am out of town and may be delayed in my response to someone. For me, delayed would be anything greater than 2 hours. I usually respond very quickly so I like to let people know I may not respond for several hours as that would be unusual.

  4. Tom Horn December 27, 2010 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    Great take Chris. From a consumer point of view I like to think my agent would be there when I need them, even if it is just to say “hey I’m out of pocket and will get back with you on Monday” or something to that effect. The auto responder makes you seem unreachable. I think the real email is a great idea, as I said, since it would be more personable.

  5. Robin December 27, 2010 at 11:35 pm - Reply

    I only used an “out of office” reply when I actually had a really important job in an office … where it was necessary for people to know that I was available and not responding to messages. But in real estate??? Come on … If I were a buyer/seller and I got that message, I’d say “NEXT”!!!

  6. Leigh December 27, 2010 at 11:36 pm - Reply

    Completely agree. Took time to call clients check in, wish them happy holidays and let them know I would be out of office but available as needed. Sometimes a good ole phone call goes a long way!

  7. Tom Hernandez December 27, 2010 at 11:37 pm - Reply

    An “Out of Office” reply is no longer acceptable. Clients expect that you check your email constantly or at least have access to it through your phone. Sort of a lie when we consider ourselves “mobile.” Not much mobile or “tech savvy” about an “Out of Office” reply. It has NO place in our industry!

  8. Yalda Alawi, Realtor December 27, 2010 at 11:39 pm - Reply

    I agree with Michael, I havent used one. I tried once, years ago, but somehow messed it up and ended up playing “out of office reply” tennis w/ a few of the other emails accounts who were also on “out of office reply” mode. Grrrrr

    There really is no need to use it for emails. They just come in and nicely wait for us in our in box. Urgent ones usually have a phone call accompany it. The other ones are handled in a manner that any person with the ability to prioritize would handle them….

    Heck I went to visit Maccu Picchu in Peru and could access my email close by – an easy $5 at the internet cafe and a hot cup of coffee came with it 🙂

  9. Bob Watson December 27, 2010 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    ‘out of office’ replies are almost as bad as the “Thanks for your call! I respond to my voicemail messages between 11-12 and again between 5-6.” messages. All I have to say about all of this is to’ set the stage’ for working with your prospects and clients when you are face-to-face. Then, keep them informed of your unavailability and instructions for assistance or an alternate contact person/number by calling or emailing them. Assign someone to cover your business and change the contact number in the MLS, at your office

  10. Dillon Rhodes December 27, 2010 at 11:43 pm - Reply

    The only time I’ve ever used an automated response was when I was in the hospital for a couple days. And in that circumstance I believe it was not only necessary, but showed clients even in that situation I was trying to keep them notified (and not blowing off their e-mail for a few days).

  11. Jenifer December 27, 2010 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    I think during the holidays it is okay but most people don’t take their homes off the market from Dec. 24th to Jan 2nd so it may be a turn off for some sellers. What is the worst is when you use one that says the dates you are out and forget to disable it when you get back. That is really unprofessional. Same thing with “I’m out of the office” voice mail recordings.

  12. John December 27, 2010 at 11:54 pm - Reply

    hate them, never use them. as you say with mobile office who needs it and I want to get every lead immediatley and respond. I dont care if I am taking a break, it onlt takes 2 seconds to respond or ignore.

  13. Ken Montville December 27, 2010 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    You know I don’t have an office, I know I don’t have an office but 99% of the consumers (i.e., general public) don’t know I don’t have an office. In fact, many people think they can “drop by” my office (the Broker address on my business card) and catch up with me for this or that.

    I don’t use the “out of office” auto-response myself since I’m mostly always wired. However, for people who do need to unlpug there must be a way to let people know you’re not available and that they can contact [fill in the blank] to meet their needs.

    However, this post addresses a larger question: Can individual (i.e., not on a team) Realtors ever unplug, go on vacation, take time for themselves? Or must they always be ready to connect with someone in the name of customer service or the off-chance someone could be an income producing client.

    If I called you or e-mailed you at 10:00pm on New Year’s Eve with a hint of being a big bucks client, would you call/e-mail me back with a personalized response?

    • Chris December 28, 2010 at 12:00 am - Reply

      Yes Ken the next day.

  14. Mike Long December 27, 2010 at 11:56 pm - Reply

    When I take time off I don’t really use one but not because I don’t like them. If I do take time off I always let my listings and current buyers know and that someone in the office is covering and they can contact them. This is for when I really take time off meaning no phone, no email and no business. Normally about 1 week out of the year.

    The one plus side is not necessarily for those you are currently working with…I could see the “out of office” reply (if done correctly) be useful if you take off a week and somebody new contacts you in the beginning of your time off. This way they know you are out and who is covering our business so if it is an emergency their needs can be met right way from someone I parter up with in the office.

    Now in reality…I’m always checking and always reply but that is because I have no life outside of real estate much to my wifes dismay. While not completely true it feels that way so I do my best to get away and spend family time which I enjoy more than anything.

    I think we do have to charge the batteries more than we actually do to keep sane in this business.

  15. Linnie December 28, 2010 at 12:10 am - Reply

    Out of Office replies are not appropriate for our industry. However, I agree with Briddick. If we don’t set boundaries and personal time, we burn out. Clients will have respect for our needs if we’ve set the expectation from the beginning.

  16. Rick Beal December 28, 2010 at 12:12 am - Reply

    I stopped using it after my HQ sent a lead to another agent before I could respond and say, “I’m on vacation, but I need that lead!”

  17. Benjamin Bach December 28, 2010 at 12:12 am - Reply

    Out of office replies suck. Don’t send them

  18. Geordie Romer December 28, 2010 at 12:26 am - Reply

    I think out of office replies are appropriate given the context. I don’t use them for a short period of time like Christmas or any three day weekend during the rest of the year. However, if I am going to be gone on an extended vacation when I am REALLY out of the office and someone else is covering for me, then I think it’s appropriate. All my active buyers and sellers will be told ahead of time, so it’s only new clients, new referrals, or past clients who are going to see the message.

    I went on a cruise this fall with my finance and her parents. Despite promises of access to email it was pretty poor. I felt better setting up expectations with new clients telling them that I would try and get to email at least once a day when possible.

    Real estate is not 365/24/7. I have worked one of those jobs in the past. Until you get a knock on the door in the middle of the night saying that someone’s bleeding or something’s on fire, please don’t pretend that real estate is that kind of job, it’s not.

  19. Matt Wilkins December 28, 2010 at 12:30 am - Reply

    I agree that they are VERY inappropriate in our business especially the way it works today. My biggest pet peeve with them is when people forget to turn them off. Nothing like sending an email on July 8th and getting an Out of Office Reply saying that they will be out of the office from June 24th through July 1st. #fail

  20. Hal Hovey December 28, 2010 at 12:32 am - Reply

    I use out-of-office replies when I will be out of cell phone coverage (on a plane, etc.), but I always leave a name, number and email address of somebody covering for me who they can “speak” to immediately.

  21. Sue December 28, 2010 at 1:05 am - Reply

    When I’m on, I’m on; and when I’m off, even a call to let someone know that I’m off can turn it all back on. So much of our work is in our heads that when we finally get to turn it off, we need to keep it off. Just one return call can turn into a 10-minute conversation and, bam!, back in work mode. To illustrate my point, I was at my family’s house Sat and Sun and had taken that time off. I got a sign call Sunday morning that had gone to vm and, being a good Realtor, called them back because my clients are very anxious to sell their house. I answered all the caller’s questions, etc., etc. Then he said they had to see the property that day. I explained I was at my family’s and could try to get someone else to show it or I could be available the next day. His response was that he’d find his own Realtor who was available. Disconnect. That call bugged me for quite a while – I don’t understand peoples’ rudeness and disrespect for a holiday weekend. I can’t imagine how they’d feel if their boss called unexpectedly and demanded that they drive hours to come in to work on a day off. So, to end this rant, when I’m off, I’m going to be off.

  22. Cecilia De Villiers December 28, 2010 at 1:58 am - Reply

    Some people really use it inappropriately but I do believe there is a time that justify the use of it. Yes, I also agree that you can connect almost everywhere but the time I think to do it is if you are out of he country and maybe check emails once every day or so. I am taking care of an agents business while she is in Fidji and her auto responder basically tell the person contacting her that I’m the one they can reach with my info. That way I think clients feel that they are being taken care of.

  23. Matthew Tringali December 28, 2010 at 2:11 am - Reply

    Have to disagree with most of the comments here. I do not let my clients dictate my schedule to me. If they need to do that, then I am not the REALTOR for them. I set up boundaries. One example of this is that I do not work on Sundays. I always tell all of my clients this up front. To date, to my knowledge, I have only ever lost one client (in 8 years) due to the boundaries I set up.

    I do use a vacation auto-responder… on it I usually say something like: “I am out of town from X until Y and will be checking email and voicemail periodically during that time. If your need is urgent, please contact my associate So and So.”

    Contrary to popular belief, in my opinion, we are not important enough that we have to always be on. We shouldn’t put that expectation on ourselves and we should not set up that expectation for our clients.

  24. Bob Webster December 28, 2010 at 2:13 am - Reply

    It might not be fair, but the public doesn’t care about us having a life. So you are either “on call” or you have someone covering for you. Can’t agree with the use of an out of office Email, unless you want to give ’em an excuse to call your competitor.

  25. Runa December 28, 2010 at 2:34 am - Reply

    Out of office does imply you are gone for awhile, at least few days.
    I did use few years ago, and the comment I got from clients and associates, caused me never to use again.
    Even when you have a message in the reply stating you will be back that night, most people only see the “out of office”.
    It is ok to get back with people at the end of the day, they do understand, or they will call you, with an “out of office” they do not call you, you are “out of office”

  26. Rick Tannenbaum December 28, 2010 at 2:42 am - Reply

    I understand what you are saying, however, when I go on vacation, or if I am taking time with my family, my family deserves 110% of my attention. Even if it only takes a minute or two to reply from my phone, I need to be with my family. What I do is I let all my clients, both buyers and sellers, know that I will be out of reach for a few days. If they have a need that needs immediate attention, they know they can call an agent that I refer them to in my absence. They like the idea that there is someone they can call on if needed. That being said, I have never had a client call on that referral while I am away, but they like to know they can.

  27. Jeffrey Brooks December 28, 2010 at 2:50 am - Reply

    Chris, you hit the nail on the head with your statement about “out of office” replies being used prior to mobile email. The only time I would consider using is if I was out of the country with extremely limited access to WiFi or cell service.

  28. Tom Cox December 28, 2010 at 2:52 am - Reply

    My phone is off on Sunday mornings. Almost without exception, I am in church with my family and just make it a point of discipline to turn’er off.

    Otherwise, I make every reasonable effort to answer or reply asap.

  29. Bobbie Files December 28, 2010 at 2:53 am - Reply

    I hear both sides of the debate and agree with both. We are NOT on duty 24/7/365 and I do NOT need to give the opinion that I am. I do not see the necessity of returning an email at 10:00 pm, it can wait until the following day, and a serious buyer will have the ability to wait and the understanding to do so. That does NOT qualify as poor customer service, that is self-respect and self worth. That being said if I am going to be gone and I mean away for several days someone else should be getting my emails for me. NEVER an autoresponder, just my email being fowarded to someone else. Auto responders are just horrible.

  30. Dab December 28, 2010 at 2:53 am - Reply

    I have to agree with those who say NO WAY to Ooo.

    When I leave town, I send an email to all of my clients letting them know that there are 2 top agents covering for me who fill different shoes for the coverage, what their cell phone, office #’s and email addresses are, and that if there is an emergency and those 2 cannot be reached, my Team Leader and Broker are available. If that does not work, call me, and I will respond as quickly as possible.

    If I can absolutely not be reached (very rare), I leave a referral agent with my team leader.

  31. Jim Sparrow December 28, 2010 at 2:56 am - Reply

    OOO canned responses are not appropriate for anyone in a full-service industry such as RE. They are artifacts from another time, and make me think of the people using them as ludides from another generation (like the wanna-be agents who were so eager to put “ePro” in their signatures)

  32. Nancy Schlegel December 28, 2010 at 2:56 am - Reply

    I think you are putting your business at risk when you do an out of office reply, especially for the holidays. Most people recognize that it is the holidays and your work schedule may be reduced, taking some time with the family…but, you probably told them when you took them on as clients that you work 365 or 364 days a year…and there you are out of office. You are out of office when you are out showing homes, not when you are taking time off. You should always have someone you can trust to cover for you when you are truly taking time off, away from your job. Your family deserves your full attention at times, and with email, voicemail and such being so mobile…you can choose what you want to respond to and hand off to a trusted real estate buddy, what you can have them handle. Reciprocate when they need time off.

  33. James Trano December 28, 2010 at 3:03 am - Reply

    I did this when i worked corporately; seeing as my car os my office and work is 7 days a week…. there is no reason to post myself as “out of office”. I have to be available, I am my company…

  34. Nick Smoot December 28, 2010 at 3:12 am - Reply

    Just asked a good buddy of mine and his response as he looked up from the MNF game was…

    “Total crap. I don’t care if you are out of the office. Just email me when you get this!”

  35. Andrea Geller December 28, 2010 at 3:17 am - Reply

    I would like to address 2 points here. #1: In my opinion an effective Realtor and their team members/assistants all must have some sort of smart phone. I think it is the expectation of our clients and fellow professionals. I don’t think you can say to anybody “I have not been at a computer all day and have not read emails”.

    #2) It is not just our industry, in many industries the boundaries of office hours are a thing of the past. Our customers and fellow professionals are expecting a quick response via text or email.

  36. Jeffrey Douglass December 28, 2010 at 3:26 am - Reply

    I think an auto responder in the real estate business should only be used if you are “off the planet.”

  37. Jose E. Humaran December 28, 2010 at 3:32 am - Reply

    If a prospective client calls you at 11:00pm (your local time) he doesnt have respect for you and your work; do you think he will work with you after you have give the information he desperately needed at eleven oclock at night? what guarantee you that?
    Yes, you should advice your clients at least two times in advance before you will take real-time off (i.e. vacations) and if it is possible leave your business with one of your collegage preferable have your broker involved to make sure that everything runs according to plan.
    Yes, you should leave your OUT-OFFICE on advising the public that you are off and they can contact the respective colleage . This will avoid any misunderstanding with your clients.
    Where is the value of you business if you not respect it and dont let others to respect it?
    If the client dont respect you and your business, should you do business with him/her?

    • Chris December 28, 2010 at 3:40 am - Reply

      I think my point Jose is that I would rather get a REAL EMAIL the next day than a fake email right away.

  38. Irina December 28, 2010 at 3:34 am - Reply

    The only time an OOO reply is acceptable is when you are out of the country with no cell or email capabilities… and only AFTER you’ve called all your clients to tell them that you were away so don’t email to begin with. That way if any new clients contacted you by email they would know you would be OOO.

    If you’re within cell phone or email range… there is never a good time or place for OOO responders.

  39. Michael @ Bellingham Real Estate December 28, 2010 at 3:49 am - Reply

    I think this is a bad idea for real estate agents to use an out of the office auto responder, I don’t care to see them, just get back to me when you can.

  40. Ira Serkes December 28, 2010 at 3:58 am - Reply

    So many comments someone may have already said it.

    I LOVE Autoresponders … and I love those CAPTCHA codes which make clients jump through flaming hoops to send you an email.

    Why do I love them?

    Because other agents use them … and when other agents use them it make me look great because I’ve never used them.

    We just came back from two weeks in Buenos Aires and Montevideo; last year we spent a few weeks in Florida, two years ago a month in Asia.

    And except for our listings and escrows, which were covered by other agents in our office with “feet on the ground” I don’t even tell people I’m out of town.

    Doesn’t bother me at all (though does bother Carol, so I make calls in the lobby if I have to) to check email for 30-60 minutes a day. The 3/5/12 hour time difference actually makes it easy to keep on top of things late or early.

    And if there’s something important, I just email who ever is covering for us .. or call the person directly on Skype.

    I emailed a client from an Alaska bound cruise ship. He said “emailing when on vacation on a cruise ship is above and beyond the call of duty – call me when you get back in town” I did, and he bought a home from me.

    Some agents want to be away when they’re away – I respect that. In that case, simply have all your phone calls and emails forwarded to someone else.

  41. Jose E. Humaran December 28, 2010 at 4:04 am - Reply

    An OOO is not a email it is a commutation that I’m not available and letting the public known my current status, and who can be reached or how I can be reached. At the end is how Realtors wants to conduct their business, I think.

    Good subject by the way, you should do more so we can share and benefit each other

  42. rob aubrey December 28, 2010 at 5:03 am - Reply

    To the agents that think you are never off you are pathetic!

    Those agents typically do not do enough business and that is why they are available.

    By allowing yourself to be on call 24/7 conveys to the public your time is not valuable.

    I have learned that by having a schedule and living by it, you actually have more freedom than by not having one.

    Yes I have worked holidays before, but doesn’t mean I am on call for every Tom Dick and Harry that has a question.

    I know I will catch some heat from some folks, but then they have mistaken me for someone that…

  43. Yalda Alawi December 28, 2010 at 6:11 am - Reply

    Why do people think that ‘receiving’ an email in your inbox means you are on the clock 24/7? I dont know of any email that needs an immediate response – thats why it is an email. A timely response, which anyone in this fully connected world can get to with in a reasonable time.

    We arent talking about voicemails, we are talking about Automated Out of Office emails.

  44. Karen Goodman December 28, 2010 at 6:41 am - Reply

    When I am going on vacation or out of town and will have limited access to email or voicemail, I let me clients know in advance. They know what my availability will be and who will be covering in my absence if needed. They also know that if it isn’t pressing, I will get back to them when I return.

    I might still shoot back a quick email while I’m gone, even if it isn’t pressing. I would just rather deal with email a few minutes per day than to come back to hundreds of emails to clean up.

    But somebody needs to be accessible every day whether it’s just a holiday or an out of town trip. Not 24 hours a day, but at least available to give a return phone call the following morning if it is pressing or a contract is coming in. Anyone who wants a regular 9-5 job with vacations that you can completely get away, either needs to get a partner who can cover in their absence or needs to get a regular job.

  45. Angie Perez December 28, 2010 at 7:03 am - Reply

    I didn’t send out a Holiday mass greeting. Anything in mass isn’t personal anymore (imho). You sent me that email not to wish me a Happy Holidays but to get me to click on your link and visit your site. I guess its an element of marketing but that email didn’t give me a reason to say thank you. It was spam in my opinion because I already read the post. I follow you on multiple platforms and getting the email of stuff that you’ve already exposed me too kind of irks me. It doesn’t show appreciation for my time. Just thinking out loud.

    I see no harm in using an out of the office email responder on occasion when you have no intention of replying in a timely manner. A great agent let’s his or her clients know ahead of time how to make contact if a response is needed immediately, especially when an agent unplugs.

    A canned message sucks but it’s an easy solution to remind people that you may not respond in a time manner. Perosnal message is generally better, I dare say better.

  46. Deb Orth December 28, 2010 at 11:59 am - Reply

    As a real estate professional, I have never used nor will I ever use an out of office auto responder. Years ago when I worked in Corporate America I used them but those were different times.

    As others had posted, we are in a 24/7 world and our clients know it. Does that mean I answer every email or call when I’m off? No. If I’m going to be off for an extended period, I will set up email forwarding to whomever I have asked to watch out for my business. I let my calls go to voice mail and will return any that I feel need my personal attention, otherwise I send a text to my back-up asking them to return the call for me.

  47. Janie Coffey December 28, 2010 at 12:35 pm - Reply

    This is probably the one and only time I will ever disagree with Michael McClure and Chris Smith. I strongly believe that we, as real estate agents, do not need to be always on. We, like everyone else need down time, need vacation time, need family time. And this is just not answering emails and phone calls later in the day, it’s not at all. There are no “real estate emergencies” and as someone said on the FB Fan page, we are not ER Doctors. When we open ourselves up to 24/7 availability, it will be taken advantage of. I personally have on my outgoing message that I am available until 7 PM and Saturdays until 4 PM and not Sundays. I have lost ONE listing client in 5 years (who still hasn’t sold, 3 years and several agents later) and no buyers. They get it, they respect it, and in their eyes, my time becomes valuable. They treat me as a professional and not a store clerk. However you choose to let your clients know you are going to be on vacation and how you plan to have it covered is up to you (OOO or personal email), that isn’t my dispute, but I do dispute that we need to feel obligated to be available 24/7, even when on a family vacation. Make sure you have things in place to cover your absence and do check in daily on your own terms to make sure the house isn’t on fire with whomever is covering your work, but do let go, do break free and do relax. If not, you will burn out sooner or later and that is not good for anyone. I lived and worked in Germany for several years where we had a very generous vacation time (I think it was 4-6 weeks a year). Being the American I am, I would make little long weekends here and there, to stretch out my vacation and was called into the boss’s office who told me I “had” to take at least one two week straight time off as everyone needs/requires a break for their mind to fully relax and reset. If I didn’t, I wasn’t going to be good for the company.

    I am not advocating abandoning your work and clients, but to value your time and your time off and not become a slave to the digital age of 24/7 availability. There are no real estate emergencies, we are not ER doctors.

    Sorry for the rant, I feel very very strongly about this.

  48. Janie Coffey December 28, 2010 at 1:42 pm - Reply

    one caveat to the above rant, I did show property on Christmas Eve, I do show property in the dark with flashlights (no electricity in REOs) and I have climbed more than a fence or two in my stilettos, I am not saying to not be a 120% agent. But be a 120% professional, go the extra mile, but don’t be a doormat or a Brew-Through. Not one of my clients will EVER say that I don’t go the extra mile, but they will also say that they respect me as a real estate professional and we work as a team to get their transaction done. Sorry, had to add that for fear my above post might not come across as intended.

  49. Ira Serkes December 28, 2010 at 2:09 pm - Reply

    It’s only real estate. And real estate funds our life, it isn’t our life.

    Jane Coffey’s email reminded me of the time I lost a listing.

    I’d flown back from speaking at CRS, the people I’d planned to meet a few days later came down to Berkeley a few days early.

    I emailed them about 8 pm the night before saying that I’d be happy to meet them after 10 am the next day.

    Having come back from CRS in Las Vegas, I slept in till 8:45 am the next morning, and read their email. PLEASE be here by 9:00 am.

    Emailed them I simply couldn’t do it – be happy to meet the next time they were in town. Also called the number I had

    When they finally emailed back a few weeks later they said:

    “Since you weren’t here at 9:00 am, we assumed our business wasn’t important to you, so listed with someone else”

    It’s still for sale 6 months later.

    Sellers and Buyers who EXPECT me to be on 24/7 are not MY kind of Sellers and Buyer!

    Wishing you all a HEALTHY (all caps) and prosperous New Year!

    Ira

  50. Sue Adler December 28, 2010 at 5:19 pm - Reply

    I’ve never used an out of office reply, however, I do have my email and phone forwarded to my executive assistant when I’m unavailable.
    On Christmas Day or similar, no one expects an immediate response that day anyway.
    There is no right or wrong – it’s all personal preference, but for those of us who have teams, it’s much easier to have coverage than for the single agent.

    • Chris December 28, 2010 at 5:26 pm - Reply

      I agree Sue. I think the reason OOO is or should be dead is #1 it was created when we all literally had a work CPU and that was all. #2 I dont think anyone who emails you on Christmas will be offended by a response the next day. #3 a genuine response that takes 3 seconds from your mobile
      Beats a canned response every day of the week.

  51. Darin December 28, 2010 at 9:02 pm - Reply

    I think Angie Perez’s comment is interesting.

    She is calling an email that you sent SPAM.

    Assuming that she “opted in” aka gave permission to get email from you TSA, I wonder why she would call that SPAM?

  52. Jolenta Averill December 28, 2010 at 10:49 pm - Reply

    No doubt ignorance or oversight is at play here. There is simply no excuse for it unless you’re going to be out of the office for an extended period of time (even then, like you said there’s always mobile). Great photo of an empty chair in a field, by the way!

  53. Cal Carter @ Atlanta Real Estate December 29, 2010 at 1:52 am - Reply

    Never used one, those are for clock punchers….

  54. Colin Storm December 29, 2010 at 5:38 am - Reply

    There are two angles here (in the comments anyway). The current clients and the leads. At the end of the day the Out Of Office reply SHOULD be irrelevant for one, and is likely irrelevant for the other.

    For a current client, you are a good business person, and good at client care. SO, your clients already know you will be away. They know who they can reach in your stead, and who will be handling the active marketing responses, showings, opens, etc. And all involved know they can reach you if anything gets sticky. An OOO for them is just silly and annoying b/c they already know that. You are just reminding them of the distance they had already forgotten about because you set them up so well in advance.

    For a lead, at least the one I am seeing referred to here (hot to trot) the OOO vs. a personal email response is likely irrelevant. If they are that anxious to see a property, list a property, etc… what are you going to do, fly home and take care of them? You are out a referral fee at best. I am not saying have the OOO up for these folks, I am just saying that the reasoning for not having one up is off if it is because we think we are protecting our shot at a hot lead. That said, giving a solid referral to someone is still service, and good business, and I think we should be available to do that under the following context…

    If you are away for a vacation you block time to check and respond to messages that mater. I agree that you don’t sit there checking your phone all day. Even my 7 month old knows that me on my phone means I’m not actually with her in that moment. But you create those times, and your family will likely appreciate that, especially versus the alternative.

    For instance, my wife is far more adamant than I that an Out of Office reply for someone in our business is just unacceptable.

    One thing I did see in the remarks over the last day or so was the idea that, yes I always respond and am always on because that is what makes us Tech Savvy. I think that is way off. If anything our Tech Savvy should help us make it feel like we are active and available, but in actuality enable us to unplug a bit.

  55. Virginia Dean December 31, 2010 at 3:21 am - Reply

    I think your current clients will be aware of your schedule, for instance if you have a trip planned and have coverage.
    Any new leads will need to be contacted and you can do that wherever you are.

  56. Lauryn Eadie January 4, 2011 at 6:24 pm - Reply

    Chris, I HATE the out of office reply! I never use it and to me it just gives the client the message I would not want them to get!

  57. Christine Khoury January 4, 2011 at 6:29 pm - Reply

    It’s so easy now to stay in touch, even when we are away. As Chris said, it’s easy to just send a quick note responding you are with family, etc. and if there is a particular question that you cannot answer be sure to have a colleague available to answer for you. There is no reason to use OOO!

  58. Katherine Karr-Garcia January 4, 2011 at 6:44 pm - Reply

    I couldn’t read all the comments due to the advertising on the side. The only time I have ever use the out of office auto message is when I leave the country. I leave a message on who to contact during my absence, otherwise I deal with the calls/emails via mobile. It is perception, folks! If someone has their house listed with me, I want them to think there is coverage 24/7 where there is or not. I believe this is what they want whether they tell you that or not, this is expected norm in today’s world.

  59. Brad - Home Loan Artist January 4, 2011 at 6:50 pm - Reply

    The out of office reply can actually work to your advantage. How would a buyer/seller feel if right after they receive the out of office reply you call them…or send a personal email?

    They will feel very special since you took the time to respond.

  60. Leslie January 4, 2011 at 7:08 pm - Reply

    Out of office- if done correctly- can be reassuring to the person receiving the out of office reply. As a recipient of one, I am usually thankful to know why I haven’t heard back from someone, who I can contact in the interim and how long I should expect to standby.

  61. Janis Hartley January 4, 2011 at 7:14 pm - Reply

    I rarely, if ever, use auto responders. If I am away and absolutely cannot respond to email I call my sellers and my buyers and let them know upfront that I may be out of touch for a day or two and my assistant will be available for them. For buyers/sellers who can’t understand that sometimes life doesn’t allow us to be connected 24/7 – I guess they aren’t my kind of people. Life happens and 99% of the time I am available at all hours and respond as quickly as possible. I’m willing to lose the 1% of the people 1% of the time who simply cannot wait. I personally find out of office responders a tad annoying – unless they will be gone and completely out of communications for 3+ days, I want someone, anyone, to be available for me and my clients. Basically, it all depends upon how long the absence is and how it’s phrased. Bottom line.

  62. Ramona Strojevs January 4, 2011 at 7:30 pm - Reply

    Just a question…. Why is the right side cut off?? I’m only seeing maybe 2/3 of each line.

    Ramona. (on my iPad if it matters)

  63. Gunna Voigt January 4, 2011 at 7:33 pm - Reply

    All I can say is I do not understand. When I’m out of town or out of state, it’s a piece of cake to answer, at least briefly, all my important communications. When I’m out of the country, I take care of what I definitely need to do myself (what is so difficult about doing a quickie CMA from Germany?
    I pay an agent in my office to take care of all other emails, so either way, people get an answer.
    THIS IS MY BUSINESS AND MY LIVELIHOOD!

  64. Steve Olson January 4, 2011 at 7:49 pm - Reply

    I wouldnt use one either…. It is all about expectations from the get go. We set the calling times…

  65. Bob Bickel January 4, 2011 at 8:05 pm - Reply

    I can understand why so many of the agents and businesses to reply back with a out of office message.
    I personally wish they would not as it is just another email to delete that is junk.
    I believe in the era of today that you should stay connected to your business. Whether you hire some assistant during your break to answer your mail and calls and then contact you about the ones that are to important to wait, Or you just check your voice messages,texts,and email once or twice a day and respond back to the needed.
    I am always showing properties or fielding calls after hours or on weekends or holidays. Personally I see no wrong in this if this the business model that is chosen.
    However using this business model arises issues that need to be resolved at times and it makes me look bad if I can not get a answer to a question or into a house because a licensee decides to use a combo box without let someone know the code.
    Do yourself and others like me. Answer your phone or your email, texts.

  66. Frank January 4, 2011 at 8:46 pm - Reply

    I think the out of office message still has a place provided it gives options or information and does not leave the recipient with a deadend.

    A message that indicates:
    You are out of the area
    When you will be back
    Who is covering your business
    Other links or resources that might be valuable in your absence.

  67. Angie Perez @AgentKnowHow January 4, 2011 at 9:09 pm - Reply

    @Darin I think it’s possible to inadvertently SPAM someone on your opt-in list. As I mentioned in my comment above, I follow Chris or TSA on multiple platforms and part of the Holiday email was part of a link to something I already read.

    I would have preferred that a Holiday Greeting simply sent well wishes for a nice Holiday, but that’s just me and I guess its a matter of preference.

    In general though I believe a recipient can feel like someone is spamming him/her when the sender is not sending out anything new.

    I asked Chris to create categories for his list knowing that I am a die hard fan of TSA, he could have changed up the email a bit as to not expose me to the same material. I am not expecting TSA to be perfect nor am I when I send out emails but I am thinking one question in large part to TSA which is: Does my ________ give my clients a reason to say thank you?

    @Colin, I think you hit the nail on the head, which is that we work with people that we know ergo we may prep our clients ahead of time, in which case they never receive an OOO and people we don’t know who would see an OOO as what it is: a time for people to wait for a reply.

    As Sue said, it’s a matter of preference.

  68. Teri Camacho January 4, 2011 at 9:35 pm - Reply

    I used it a few years ago. But now with technology I don’t. I let my clients know ahead of time when I am out of town. My office is where my phone is. I rarely go into the office and work out of my home and phone. Technology is great!

  69. Julia January 31, 2011 at 3:45 pm - Reply

    I went to Ethiopia for two weeks in 2009. No cell phone & spotty internet access at the occasionally cafe. That’s the only time in recent memory that I’ve used an OOO auto reply.

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