How to Leave a Proper Voice Mail Message

realtor voice mailAs a Realtor, I leave and receive a lot of voice messages. Sometimes dozens a day or more if I’m showing a lot of occupied homes, or have a hot rental listing in Central Austin. The most I’ve ever had to return was seventy-something. One learns to get to the point when you have more calls to return than you have time to make them.

I’ve noticed that many people don’t leave very good voice messages. There is a lack of voice mail etiquette in the world today. Problems included garbled speech, fast speech, bad cell connection, no phone number, no information, no name, etc.

I actually delete a lot of voice messages without returning the call. Sorry, but after I listen for the 2nd or 3rd time and still can’t understand what you’re saying or a phone number, I move on to the next message.

As someone who has to weed through a lot of voice messages, here are Steve’s Tips on how to leave a good voice message.

1) State your name (first and last) and phone number in a slow clear voice at the very front of the message.
“Hi, this is Steve Crossland with Keller Williams…301-5811 …” (include area code if calling non-local).

This let’s the person write down these two most important things right away. How many times have you received a long, 60+ second rambling voice message and still the person hasn’t provided their phone number (and sometimes never do)? This is when I want to scream into the phone “ok! I know who you are and why you’re calling! Now shut up and tell me your blasted phone number!”

2) State the purpose of your call in a short, succinct manner.
“I’ll be showing you’re home at 123 Elm St. today sometime between 3PM and 5PM…”

Don’t say anything more than is necessary. For example, I don’t need to say “I have some buyers in from out of town, a nice young couple, and we’re going to be viewing homes in South Austin today, and your home is one of the homes I’ve selected to show, and my best estimate of when we might be coming is about 3PM or sometime after, maybe as late as 5PM, it depends on …blah blah blah”
ALL of the extra detail is unnecessary. Be succinct and to the point.

3) State whether a return call is requested or not.
“If you need to reach me, call 301-5811 and press 2 to ring my cell phone. Otherwise, if it’s ok to go ahead and show, I’m coming over 3 to 5 and will leave a card so you’ll know I was there…”

This is an example of a “no-return-call-needed” phone message. I don’t want a return call unless there is a problem with showing. Still, when out showing, I receive a lot of calls from sellers saying “Hi, this is Jane Doe at 123 Elm St. I got your message and 3PM to 5PM will be fine.” It’s nice of them to let me know, but unnecessary.

4) Conclude with a good-bye and a repeat of the name, number and reason for the call.
“Thanks a lot. Again, this is Steve Crossland, showing your home between 3-5 today, 301-5811 if you need to reach me”.

OK, so I provided my phone number 3 times. Isn’t that a bit much? NO! You can never make it too easy for the person listening to your message to write down your name and phone number. Your cell phone signal may have farted the first time you said it (ever get those messages – “my phone number is 555-1(blip)34” And since they only said the phone number once, you don’t know the number unless you’re willing to try all 10 variations.)

So, again, without the commentary, here is an example of a message I might leave.
“Hi {name}, this is Steve Crossland with Keller Williams…301-5811…confirming our appointment for 10AM tomorrow at my office on S. Mopac. If we’re still on, no need to return the call, otherwise please call me at 301-5811 and let me know if you can’t make it. Again, this is Steve Crossland, 301-5811, confirming our appointment for 10AM tomorrow. Thank you.”

Cell Phone users: listen to the danged message before you return the call.
Another one of my pet peeves are the people who see my caller-ID and call back in the middle of me leaving them a message. The message I am leaving answers the questions their message (the call I’m returning) asked ,so we don’t need to talk. You know what I’m talking about?

I dial, phone rings 4 times, no answer, I’m in the voicemail, “Hi this is Steve Crossland, 301-5811, returning your call about the house for rent (beep – call waiting shows the person I just called is calling me back) on Elm St. No, we don’t accept pets (beep) … uh, on that one and I don’t have anything else available in the area. Again, this is Steve Crossland 301-5811 returning your call to let you know we don’t accept (beep) uh, we don’t accepts pets on the Elm Street house”

For those of you who do this, it’s rude. Wait 60 seconds longer, see if a new voice message appears, listen to the message, then call back only if you need to. I’ve stopped truncating the messages I leave mid-stream to answer these types of calls. What’s even worse are the people who call back an hour later with “I see that someone called from this number but I haven’t checked my message yet”. Oh, please.

Lastly, what is a reasonable amount of time in which a voice message should receive a return call? On some Realtors forums, I’ve seen hard core agents proclaim that anything under 3 to 5 minutes is too long. Sorry, I don’t buy that. The day would be utter chaos if I tried to do that. I try to return calls in the morning and by late afternoon when possible. But I’m still old school and think that one business day is reasonable unless the call is of an urgent nature.

8 thoughts on “How to Leave a Proper Voice Mail Message”

  1. When someone returns my call in 3-5 minutes tells me they are screening calls so who are they hiding from. I much rather be told as you stated will return calls late am and pm within 24 hours.

    Speaking effectively is important as reception on a call can be poor and to many detail loose track of the point.

  2. Good information. It amazes me how often someone will leave a message and rattle off their phone number so fast and only once that it is at times impossible to understand. Always state your number twice and at a speed that someone can write it down.

  3. I agree with steve on leaving messages. I also hate it too when those knuckleheads call me back while I’m leaving them a message. I often just tell people in my messages what hours I can return phone calls. That has cut down on people getting to antsy to call back.

  4. You should always say that people should speak slowly and clearly to insure call back, always allow paging, and in additon to this, mention to the person that you can text me, sometimes a few texts will cut back on a 15min convo.

  5. Great read, personally I alway say my name at the beginning and end of each voicemail while making sure to repeat the number twice but not in a insulting “commercial” manner. Being personal in the real estate game is keyyy! Any ways, thanks for the great article!

  6. Thanks for the posting. How about people that keep calling without leaving a message? They would prefer to call all afternoon than leave a message. This is the worst! I don’t know if I should admit this publicly, but there are times when I know these people have called a few times (I was not able to talk when they called) and now I am available and still don’t answer because I don’t want to give in to their “no message” tactics. My voice message clearly says, “Your call is very important to me, please leave me a detailed message and I will call you back PROMPTLY.” No message, no call back. I suppose I am old school as well and don’t give in to the 3-5 minute call back pressure.

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