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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?Out of Office 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. Ira Serkes says:

    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

  2. Sue Adler says:

    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.

  3. Chris says:

    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.

  4. Darin says:

    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?

  5. 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!

  6. Never used one, those are for clock punchers….

  7. Colin Storm says:

    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.

  8. 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.

  9. Lauryn Eadie says:

    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!

  10. 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!

  11. 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.

  12. 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.

  13. Leslie says:

    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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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)

  16. Gunna Voigt says:

    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!

  17. Steve Olson says:

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

  18. Bob Bickel says:

    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.

  19. Frank says:

    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.

  20. @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.

  21. Teri Camacho says:

    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!

  22. Julia says:

    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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