Real estate telemarketing isn’t exempt from federal, state, and local compliance regulations. Here’s how to make sure you and your teams stick to the law.
Like many sales professionals, real estate agents often rely on telemarketing to enhance and maintain their business. Like other phone sales, real estate telemarketing is bound by the various laws that govern how, when, and to whom telemarketing calls are made. While this can present a challenge to real estate agents, the penalties for failing to comply are hefty and not worth the risk.
The most important law regarding telemarketing practices is the federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA), passed in 1991 and updated a few times since then. The act does several things, including restricting the use of auto-dialers, putting guardrails on the time of day that you can make calls, and establishing a national Do Not Call (DNC) registry. Fines for violating the TCPA can amount to upwards of $1,500 per violation per agent. All it takes is a few mistakes to bring some serious financial disruption to your business, so it’s in everyone’s best interest to adhere to this law and others.
But how can you ensure that your real estate telemarketing is compliant with TCPA and the DNC registry? On the surface, it seems like it would take a lot of work, but in actuality, there are simple things you can do and technology you can use to help minimize the risks. Here are some ways to guarantee you stay in compliance with these and other laws surrounding telemarketing.
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Discover 7 ways your real estate telemarketing can stay compliant (and win you more sales!)
1. Use software to scrub your lists
One of the most helpful tools available today in remaining TCPA compliant is using call management software like Call Logic, which has a built-in DNC scrub feature. All you have to do is upload your list of contacts, and the software will compare the phone numbers against the national DNC list, so you’ll be notified anytime a number comes up that you shouldn’t call. You’ll need to purchase a “key” to the DNC registry to ensure you have full access to the list. Still, both the software and the list are worth the investment given the way they can help you reduce the risk of significant fines.
2. Know when to call
It was once tempting for real estate telemarketing professionals to make calls at times when they knew people would be home, say early in the morning or late at night. The TCPA prohibits this. If it’s before eight a.m. or later than nine p.m., don’t even pick up the phone. This still leaves a pretty big window of time to make calls when people are generally available, so it’s imperative to stick to this rule since people are probably more likely to file a complaint if you’ve reached them at an off-hour.
3. Maintain written do-not-call procedures
Whether you work for yourself or a larger agency, real estate telemarketing will be easier if you have written policies in place for TCPA and DNC compliance. These policies should address how to handle people who request to be on a DNC list, how to handle numbers that are on DNC lists already, and what to do if you accidentally call someone on the list. It can also be helpful to note what the company does to maintain and comply with all DNC lists, and it probably wouldn’t hurt to restate some of the most common and important aspects of the TCPA as an internal policy. Having this information will help reduce the risk of violations and demonstrate a good faith effort to be compliant in the event that there is a violation.
4. Maintain your DNC lists
We already mentioned purchasing the national DNC list, but purchasing state lists can also be a good idea if you do business in states where they keep their own lists. (Those states are Colorado, Massachusetts, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Texas, Tennessee, Wyoming, Florida, and Indiana.) Someone who appears on one of these lists but not on the national list is still protected by law from being contacted outside of the limits of the TCPA or equivalent state law.
We also recommend keeping an internal DNC list when people ask you specifically to be removed from a call list. Just because someone isn’t on the national or state DNC doesn’t mean that you have a right to call them if they’ve asked you to be removed from your list. They can still file a complaint or lawsuit in most cases, so make sure that your internal list is updated, maintained, and scrubbed often.
5. Become familiar with state and local laws
If you’re working in one of the states mentioned above, become familiar with their specific laws around telemarketing. Typically state laws are even more restrictive than federal laws, so don’t assume that because you’re compliant with the TCPA that there aren’t other restrictions you’ll need to consider in other states. Even if you’re not doing business in the states mentioned, it might be worth checking on state laws to make sure.
6. Enhance employee training
All the technology and written policies in the world won’t do much good if your employees don’t know or understand them. Train employees regularly on TCPA compliance and DNC compliance. Don’t assume that they’ve been trained before, and don’t assume that they remember what they learned if they have been trained. For optimal real estate telemarketing compliance, consider offering training to employees at least once a year as well as one-off training for all new hires to ensure that even veterans coming into your business know what you expect of them in terms of compliance.
7. Seek legal counsel when unsure
Finally, if you have questions or aren’t sure if your real estate telemarketing practices are compliant, find good legal counsel you can trust to guide you in this area. Most specialized attorneys will know the law inside and out, and they can give you peace of mind that you are as compliant as possible.
Remember that even though this may seem like a lot, the basics are pretty simple. Don’t call people too early in the morning, too late in the evening, and don’t call people who don’t want you to call them. Honestly, that’s pretty good advice for life outside of work, too!
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