Originally published in the Boulder Daily Camera and the Longmont Daily Times-Call.

For sale signs in front of homes are popping up like May flowers. The signs represent new chapters, new adventures and the chance to invest in something that will grow over the years.

Certain signs, however, remind me of how unpleasant the experience can be.

Years ago my husband and I were looking for our first home. We started the way that many people do. We looked at what was available, we discussed what type of home we would like, what location we would prefer, what schools we wanted to be near, etc.

One day we saw an open house in our neighborhood. The event was being hosted by one of the top Realtors in town at that time. I was thrilled to see her sign and looked forward to talking with her further.

We’d been out walking and were hot. I was far along in my pregnancy and overall I’m sure we presented a poor sight. When we entered the house, the Realtor gave us the stink eye. It soon became clear though that she was less than thrilled to see us.

As her eyes moved quickly over the two of us she inquired if we had prequalified for a mortgage loan. When we expressed that we were just starting out and were looking for information, she shooed us out of the door and suggested that we do that first, to show that we were serious. We received her message loud and clear. “I don’t think, by the way that you look, that you can afford this house. Therefore, I’m not going to waste any time with you,” her eyes screamed.

I never forgot this experience. It was very insulting. Years later the same woman approached me on numerous occasions. She wanted me to know that she wished to be my Realtor if I ever needed one. Why the change? I guess she saw me in a new light when we met professionally, and she could see that I could afford to buy one of her listings. What she didn’t know is that I would never work with her because of the way I had been treated. I never gave her my business, not for my first home purchase, or any of those that followed.

Judging potential customers or clients based on their appearance is risky. I’m not going to address the social issues involved, but from a marketing perspective this kind of activity is likely to damage your business – whether you know it or not.

Colorado is an interesting state in many ways. One of things that I appreciate is how different we all are. Millionaires dress like college students, and college students dress like Millionaires. The way people dress is not related to their ability or desire to do business with your business or organization, so don’t be fooled.

No business wants to waste time with people that are not going to buy advertised products or services. Sometimes we know our time is being wasted. Sometimes we suspect our time is being wasted. But if you get this wrong your time will certainly be wasted because the person(s) that you didn’t spend enough time with just may be the perfect customer. Your reaction to them isn’t likely to be forgotten.

Treating everyone as if they are your best client or customer is likely to provide big benefits. It isn’t hard to do and it makes everyone feel better about their experience.

As for poor behavior – I’m not buying.

Stacy Cornay is the owner of Communication Concepts Public Relations & Advertising. 
She may be reached at 303-651-6612; scornay@comm-concepts.com; www.comm-concepts.com; Facebook.com/Communication Concepts; Twitter @CommConceptsPR; or Linked In.

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