December 26, 2008

Adding Up Your Scores

Time To Turn In the Scores

Okay, so you completed the Self Assessment and now you're wondering where you go from here, huh? Well, let's dissect the results and see what they might say about you and your real estate business.

As you look at your scores, you'll notice they are bunched - some at the high end (7-10) that we'll refer to as your "strengths" and others down at the other end of the spectrum (1-4). We'll call these your "weaknesses." If you're like most people you also have a few of the lines where you weren't exactly high or low so you gave yourself a 5 or 6?

Well, as you saw from the self assessment, there were some questions about your business sense (goal setting and planning), your prospecting skills and systems, time management, follow through and technical skills. So as you look at your cluster of scores, you can probably identify areas where you are strong and areas where you score low.

Now the question becomes - do you focus on your areas of strength or try to elevate your areas of weakness?

I have always been a proponent of focusing on your strengths because I felt if you could continue to stay strong in those areas, your weaknesses would have no choice but to improve. The more I study and read about the subject, the more strongly I feel that you must focus on your strengths.

Long Drives, Three Putts and Your Success

Let me tell you a story about my days as a golf professional...

I used to work as a golf professional at a private club outside of Cleveland. After the members would play a round, they would venture into the pro shop to post their scores prior to heading to the locker room, lunch room or bar. Inevitably, one of the players would ask me if I had time for a lesson.

"I'm tired of getting beat by these guys," they would say, in despair over a lost $10 Nassau to their buddies.

"No problem," I'd respond, eager to have an opportunity to help someone with their game. "Let's meet at the putting green after you have lunch. Shall we say thirty minutes?"

And then I would hear it - the ego-filled excuses of why we needed to meet at the driving range instead of the putting green.

"These guys are out-hitting me..."
"I need to be able to hit the ball farther..."
"I want to learn how to control my driver better..."

They figured that if they could only learn to hit a longer ball that their score would drastically be affected. My response was always something along the lines of "how many three-putts did you have in your round today?"

For those of you who golf, you know that if a golfer has four or five "three-putt greens" in his round, his score will be those same four or five strokes higher than the golfer who two-putts every hole. So by improving one's short game, we could more drastically affect his score than by adding a few extra yards on to a tee shot.

In fact, the average golfer will only hit a driver on 14 holes each round (typical courses have 4 par three holes, usually requiring a tee shot with an iron) but he or she will use the putter on every hole. By strengthening one's short game, a golfer will have more opportunities to reduce scores, thereby saving strokes and this case...winning a few more bets.

Drive For Show and Putt For Dough?

How does this relate to real estate? Well, learning how to hit a long drive is sort of like the real estate agent who spends much of his time creating pretty fact sheets or surfing new listings on the MLS. It may look pretty and you're sure to impress the fellow agents in the work room but it's not necessarily going to help you get to a closing. A good putter is like someone who prospects effectively, has great time management skills and delivers results time and again.

Hopefully that analogy will help you determine how to leverage your strengths and weaknesses on the real estate course. In the next post, we'll take a look at how learning to harness your strengths and manage around your weaknesses just might be your "ace in the hole."

December 15, 2008

It's Time for a Self-Assessment

As we wrap up 2008, it’s a good time to self-analyze your results over the past twelve months and see how you are running your business. The following self-assessment is part of my signature class - The Realtor's Toolbox - that I created in 2005 and have delivered to numerous audiences, including several Coldwell Banker International Business Conferences. The assessment and the class focus on "tools, tips and techniques to build your real estate business."

Read each statement below and give yourself a score between 1 and 10. A 10 means the statement applies to you 24 hours a day and 7 days a week. A 1 means the statement might as well be in another language. Grade yourself as honestly as you can. Only you can determine what areas you will need to improve to become a better Realtor.

1. I have specific written goals (both short term and long term) for the things I want to accomplish

2. I have a regularly scheduled time to prospect for new business

3. I know my personal statistics and have a system in place to track them
(e.g. avg. sales price, avg. days on market, source of business, etc.)

4. I have systems in place to track where my business comes from so I can evaluate the effectiveness of my marketing methods

5. I have established a marketing budget and stick to it

6. I have a personal website or blog promoting myself and my business (not counting your local company site)

7. I hold open houses (Give yourself a 10 if you hold an open house every week; a 1 if you don't hold open houses)

8. I increase my chances for success with my open houses by advertising on the web, preparing personalized information packets and following up with all visitors.

9. I feel I am an expert on my primary market (e.g. inventory available, market values, builders, schools, neighborhoods, etc.)

10. I have a mailing list or sphere of influence of at least 250 names

11. I feel confident with my current level of technology

12. I plan to take classes in 2009 to increase my understanding of technology

13. I currently use some form of technology for my data base management (Top Producer, Outlook, Palm Pilot, etc.)

14. Rate your level of knowledge with your area’s MLS system

15. I check my email a minimum of four times a day and feel comfortable returning email to clients and potential clients

16. Rate yourself on your negotiating skills – that includes your ability to get full-fee commissions and listings priced right from the beginning

17. I feel comfortable with my telephone techniques – both incoming and outgoing

18. When using the telephone, I know how to “close for the appointment”

19. I manage my time wisely and efficiently

20. I always prioritize my tasks so my time is spent focusing on the most profitable activities.

21. I always prepare a “to do list” for daily activities

22. I am on time for all appointments, meetings and events

23. I have a system(s) in place for follow up with clients, past clients and prospects

24. I do my best to take time for personal and family enjoyment

25. I look forward to my job on a daily basis and am excited about my potential to achieve my goals in 2009.

Once you've added up your score (max.possible is 250), begin to analyze where your strengths and weaknesses are. We'll cover where to go next in our next post.

Until then, keep building relationships, solving problems and having fun!

December 9, 2008

Hindsight is 20/20?

If you're working with Buyers who are "hemming and hawing" about a decision you might want to send them this story from last week's New York Times.

December 6, 2008

A "Note of Thanks" Affects the Writer and Reader

As many of you know, I am a huge proponent of personal notes. These can be thank you notes, birthday wishes, anniversary greetings or just because notes.

I was recently made aware of a really cool website from the folks at Xerox that allows visitors to send a free "greeting card" to a member of the United States militray currently serving somewhere in the world. It's called "Let's Say Thanks."

If you want to take a few minutes to feel really good about yourself and make someone else feel good too, visit this site and send a card of your own. Then send the link along to someone else so our men and women serving the country get a little piece of home for the holidays.

November 28, 2008

What Realtors can learn from "Black Friday"

As I stood in line at Wal Mart to get my "Door Buster Deals" early on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving, I began to realize all the things a Realtor can learn from shopping's Super Bowl.

Remember My Name - I am not sure when the name "Black Friday" was assigned to the unofficial first day of the holiday shopping season - I always thought it was "The Busiest Shopping Day of the Year"? You have to admit however that "Black Friday" has a cool ring to it. And that might be the first lesson - Realtors need to be descriptive in their marketing. It's not about the 3BR, 2BA anymore. People want to hear a story. We need to be "selling" instead of just "telling."

Build the Buzz - I am always amazed at the amount of buzz and planning that goes into both sides of this day. The retailers have the marketing blitz ready weeks in advance, staffing everyone on the payroll and hiring security to keep the crazed shoppers in line. The consumers usually have established a plan of attack - many times bringing multiple people to search out various items from different corners of the store or even multiple stores at once.

Realtors need to think of new ways to create interest in their listings. "Just Listed" doesn't have the same urgency anymore. Why not hold an "invite only" Open House for the neighborhood prior to the first scheduled public open house? People will always want something that is "one to a customer." Create Buyer urgency by following the "hot sheets" in your local MLS and contacting them before lunchtime.

"What are you doing on your lunch break? I think I might have found your new house!"

Utilize the Web - This one seems like a "no brainer" with the latest NAR statistics showing that 87% of consumers are using the web in the real estate searches. Can you cross promote your products or services on local company sites, national sites? Are you reaching out to potential customers through blogs and social media outlets? Remember the rules of the web - make it fresh and make it relevant but most important...make it visible.

Toss in "Extras" - offers free shipping. Some stores offer free wrapping or even gift cards with certain purchases. What other services could you offer your clients? Complimentary consulting? Individualized web sites for searching? Mailing labels after closing?

Sure these things aren't much and it's stuff you might do anyway but people always love to feel they are getting more than they paid for. Four words will help you succeed more than you know - "Under promise...Over deliver."

Set "Limits" - If people could get the same price at 5pm that they can get at 5am, what is the point? By creating urgency, today's marketers have figured out that today's consumer thrives on competition. The "thrill of the hunt" or the "battle for supremacy" creates desire. Desire needs to be satisfied. What can you do to create urgency for your clients? Do you have a "call to action" in your marketing?

Fish Upstream - What do I mean by this one? It's simple. The holidays are a stressful time of year for many people. This year will offer more stress with the faltering economy but people will fight to hang on to their traditions and gift giving opportunities. If you're like me, waiting until the last minute to complete your shopping list can be a bit hectic and frustrating. By creating "Black Friday" retailers have helped move the decision making process up 30 days. I overheard shoppers boast that by dinnertime tonight they would be done with their shopping.

Realtors need to be looking 30 days ahead for our clients sake as well. Do your marketing efforts help identify sellers before they receive the foreclosure notice? Are we encouraging buyers to look three months before their lease expires while they still have the leisure of finding the right house instead of waiting and finding the only house?

I must admit, I am not a huge fan of getting up early to do things I could normally do during daylight hours (and not have to fight pajama-clad women) but the opportunity only comes around once a year. I would consider my "mission" a success today; products purchased, discounts received, "honey do list" for the rest of the weekend waived. Goodbye "Black Friday." Hello "Slack Saturday."

Wouldn't it be neat if you could create the same kind of excitement in your business?

November 18, 2008

Talking Heads - Do They Ever Get It Right?

I follow a few blogs regularly. I still don't have the discipline to use a RSS feeder because then I have to go and check it each day. I prefer the blogs that allow me to register my email address and it send me updates each time a new post is added. (FYI - You can do this on The Realtor's Toolbox by adding your email address in the box on the side column).

One of the first real estate blogs that I began to follow is Jim Duncan's blog about the real estate market and happenings in and around Charlottesville, Virginia. Now I don't have any pressing need to learn about the town of Charlottesville or the real estate market in central Virginia but this site offers a lot of cool information for both real estate agents and aspiring bloggers. I fit into both of those categories.

Mr. Duncan is a Realtor with Century 21 and a very successful blogger. He is often invited to sit on panels at various real estate conventions and events to discuss his experience with blogging and I have even reached out to Jim for assistance in figuring out this whole "blogosphere" gig.

With the hyperbole that is spewed from many of the talking heads on the thousands of TV news channels these days, it's hard to keep score of who's predictions of doom and gloom are right and who's predictions of "sunshine and Skittles" are right. If you have two people predicting different things about the same topic, someone is going to be wrong, right?

In my first attempt to "re-blog" I'd like to suggest you read this post from Mr. Duncan on his site. Please understand that The Realtor's Toolbox did not create this content but felt it is a very valuable message that might make you think twice before you "buy in" to the positive or negative rhetoric. Be sure to watch the video at the end of this post - Are You a Complete Moron? It is truly amazing at how "right" one of these talking heads turns out to be yet you see the ridicule, contempt and general lack of credibility that the "positive Petes" seem to offer.

Thanks to Jim Duncan for his insights on the real estate market in general as well as his skills as a blogger. If you have any real estate needs in the Charlottesville, Virginia area, I might suggest you reach out to Jim.

November 15, 2008

Now Serving? Take a Number

How's business? It's a very common question Realtor's receive on a daily basis but how should you respond when the answer isn't positive? I suggest you take a page from McDonald's and speak in terms of all your customers...not just the one's you've worked with recently.

It all starts with some research on your part. You need to know how many transactions you have closed in your real estate career. I'm not talking about how many this year, I am talking about since you were licensed. Now for some of you that might not be too hard to figure because you're new to the business but many of you reading this have been licensed for 3,5 or 10 years. Some of you even longer.

Do you know how many transactions you have closed? The next seven weeks between now and 2009 would be a great time to put on a comfy pair of jeans and "cop a squat" near your file cabinets or log in to the ol' MLS and start counting every buyer and seller you have helped.

So what does McDonald's have to do with this? Well, remember when you were little and you would travel with your family? It was always neat to stop and get a hamburger, french fries and Coke at McDonald's, wasn't it? I always liked to watch the number of burgers they sold grow and grow each summer.

Now what does their sign say? "Billions and Billions Served"

I know that is a pretty impressive number. I also know that in 2007 if I knew that McDonald's served 1.875 million burgers and then, I found out that in 2008 they served only 1.65 million burgers, I would wonder why their business was off in 2008. Was Wendy's and Burger King taking their customers? Was their customer service slipping? Were more people becoming vegetarians?

Is it possible that your sphere of influence might ask the same thing about your business if they knew you closed 25 deals in 2007 but only have 12 in 2008? Would they thing the market is slow? Would they think you aren't working as hard? Would they question your levels of service?

By following McDonald's lead, you could instead say that you have helped 37 families in the last two years. Now I am no Rhodes Scholar by any means but I do know that 37 is more than 12 and more than 25 too. Remember the old adage...perception is reality.

So get to work now and figure out what your marquee should say? How many sellers have you successfully marketed? How many buyers have you helped to achieve the American Dream?How many families have you "served" in your career?
Send me a reply and either tell me that number or tell me that you're going to go back and figure it out. I think you'll be surprised by the numbers.
It's time to begin 2009 with the facts. Here's to your McSuccess.

November 7, 2008

To blog or not to blog...that is the question

I recently viewed a speech from the Ted Talks about blogging that I really enjoyed. It wasn't the best speech I have ever heard but much like blog posts...I didn't expect it to be. What it did was share one person's story. I don't know who the speaker is but obviously she is someone who is passionate about the topic and that is what blogs are all about.

I am by no means an expert on blogging. Heck, I consider myself a follower when it comes to this form of communication and am always looking for new message to send and new reasons to send them.

The more I learn about blogs, the more I learn there is to learn. You're obviously reading this blog...but why? Do you have your own blog? Why? ...or why not? Do you read other blogs? What type of blog isn't out there that you would like to see, read or be a part of?

When I discuss blogging, people often ask me why they should blog or why they should even read blogs. I don't know that I have a "stock answer" for that question but here are a few I could think of:

  • To educate
  • To inspire
  • To laugh
  • To vent
  • To escape
  • To pretend
  • To provoke
  • To motivate
  • To share
  • To tease
  • To share sorrow
  • To recognize
  • To challenge
  • To support
  • To find a friend
  • To feel important
  • To be a part of something
  • To remember
  • To forget
  • To energize
  • To get it off your chest
  • To be someone you're not because you can
  • To be someone you're not because you can't outside of a blog
  • To be free
  • To be silly
  • To be raunchy
  • To be connected

There are plenty of other reasons that I am sure I haven't thought of. What would you add to the list? Please add your reasons why you read blogs or write blogs as a comment below.

November 5, 2008

Real Estate is Like the Weather - It's Local!

Do you have potential buyers who are kicking tires and waiting for the markets to hit bottom? Do you have buyers who spend their days surfing national websites, reading USA Today and The Wall Street Journal and listening to talking heads on MSNBC and Fox News? Do you have listing inventory priced aggressively that will make a hesitant buyer kick himself later because they didn't buy it now?

If you said yes, you're not alone.

So what can you do? Well, maybe share the following article called Buy Real Estate Now from Forbes Magazine's web site and see if that makes any sense to them?

Print it out and send it to those buyers on the fence. Leave a few copies on the counter next to your fact sheets at those listings. Be "the source of the source."

Good luck!

October 26, 2008

It's Different Every Day

Realtors and waiters have something in common and it's not taking orders from their customers. Anyone who has ever worked in the food service industry knows that even if they worked in the same restaurant and waited on the same 4 or 5 tables day in and day out that it would never be the same things twice. There would be different customers, different orders, different stories and different needs. You'd work different shifts with different people - fellow waiters, bartenders, busboys, hostesses and kitchen staff.

Doesn't that sound a lot like being a Realtor?

In our line of work, we not only don;t know what is going to happen each and every day, we don't know who we will encounter or be working with. Wherever we work or whomever we work with we can know that we will have a company behind us that supports our efforts. Our 14th and final Business Principle states just that:

We foster a culture where diversity is valued, quality of life is enhanced and individual aspirations are encouraged and fulfilled.

The real estate community must constantly be displaying skills, services and salesmanship that makes us different so we don't become a commodity in the eyes of the public. That all begins by having a diverse sales team that works with a diverse clientele.

We learn from our differences how to handle different situations. We learn from our differences how other people wish to be treated. We learn from our differences that people desire courtesy and respect in almost every situation.

When we follow the 14 Business Principle that we have discussed over the last several months, we will continue to provide "truly remarkable service" to our customers and clients. If we deliver "truly remarkable service" to our customers and clients we will achieve our Vision Statement of "being the preferred gateway from exceptional real estate experiences."

I am very proud to work for a company that has these guiding principles and try use them in my daily decision making processes. I hope you will too.

Starting next post we going to begin looking at our individual real estate businesses and see how we can enhance and improve them. So get your tool belt's time to get to work.

Until then...Build Relationships...Solve Problems...Have Fun!

October 17, 2008

T.E.A.M - Together Everyone Achieves More

Anyone who has ever been involved with a team activity - sport, work group, organization, etc. has heard the saying "There is no I in team." The catchy acronym T.E.A.M stands for "Together Everyone Achieves More."

Our final Business Principle echoes these ideas:

We foster a culture where diversity is valued, quality of life is enhanced and individual aspirations are encouraged and fulfilled.
Everyone on the team holds equal importance to the overall mission. Regardless of color, ethnicity, background, level of skills or tenure of service, everyone is encouraged to succeed and everyone adds to the total efforts.
Lou Holtz says "it's amazing to see what a team can accomplish when nobody cares who gets the credit."There is so much individuality in a real estate transaction it makes sense that we should appreciate and respect each other's differences in style, service and effort.
Each and every deal has it's own unique aspects. Each and every party to the deal has their own unique aspects. That's what makes this job so rewarding and fun. You'll never experience the same transaction twice.
How does Business Principle #14 affect you and your business? Now that we have reviewed the Vision, Mission and 14 Business Principles, will you think about how your actions will be guided by them?
I am very proud to work for a company that has committed their ideals to paper for all to see and always try to make my decisions so my actions will support these principles. Can I count on you, diverse as you may be, to support, believe in and live these principles with me?
Until next time...Build Relationships...Solve Problems...Have Fun!

Using Photo Story to Create Community Tours

If you're looking for a new way to create some attention for your listings or the communities you serve, check out Photo Story3, a free tool from the smart people at Microsoft. It allows the user to create slide shows from digital photos that can be arranged to music or voice overs. It's easy to use and the videos can then be uploaded to public sites like YouTube, personal websites or blogs.

Check out this "Community Story" that I created for the town where I live, Upper Arlington, Ohio and see if it gives you some ideas on how to use it.

October 9, 2008

Communication Ideas in Today's Tech Saavy World

It's funny how sometimes you get the feeling that certain messages are destined to be received or sent because everywhere you turn they are coming up.

In the last few weeks I have delivered several sessions on technology and how people can harness the power of some very cool tools that are available to today's Realtor and general public. Among these cool tools are:

  • Blogger - An easy to use blog system from the fine folks at Google
  • EyeJot - Video email in a blink. Log on, sign up, connect a web-cam and start communicating with your friends, family and clients in a much more personal way
  • Jott - This really cool messaging system assures that you won't forget ideas and appointments anymore because you don't have a pen, paper, calendar or a good memory.
  • Flip Video - These easy to carry and easy to use videos cameras allow you to get pictures, on the spot testimonials or video tours of your newest listings.
  • Social networking sites such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Myspace and Meetup

We'll explore some of these in later posts but today the message I seem to be directed to post is about our overall usage of technology. Sure, there is a lot of it out there and sure, it would take a lot of time to learn how to effectively use it. But if you just blocked out 20 minutes a day to read a few blogs, 30 minutes a week to post to a blog, one hour to explore the public side of real estate web sites and stay updated on what the consumers are seeing and doing, you'd be a better Realtor.

Marketing guru and author Seth Godin has a fantastic blog and in a recent post he shares a simple quiz that you can take to determine your level of competence when it comes to succeeding in today's Web 2.0 world. Be sure to read his "Email checklist" that we should all begin to adhere to, myself included.

One other message on the same topic I received today in my blog feeds was a message directed specifically at Realtors and their email replies they commonly send to clients or potential clients. It is called "Five Phrases to Drop From Your Emails" and it comes from the very useful website

I hope you can visit some of these links as they may help you see some opportunities for you to enhance your levels of service, both internally and externally.

Until next time...Build Relationships...Solve Problems...and Have Fun!

October 5, 2008

The One That Might Cost You Business?

Have you ever heard the saying "easier said than done"? One might apply that comment to a physical task such as high jumping, swinging a golf club or running a marathon. They might use that statement when speaking of time management, financial savings or political claims. You might also see how that statement could be uttered when people read our 13th Business Principle.

As people of integrity, we conduct ourselves with the highest ethical standards.

I have found it certainly is one of those principles that everyone wants to piggy back on and say that is how they run their businesses as well as the way they live their lives. I have also been alive for almost 41 years now and a full-time Realtor for over ten years and I see too many people who live "below the line" or have selective amnesia of this concept.

In most situations in real estate there is black and there is white. Anytime you have a system with black and white, people love to find areas of gray. There might be some things that are light gray while others are very dark gray.

I just know this...if you truly run your business by holding firm to your ideas of integrity and ethical standards, it will cost you business. Are you okay with that? I hope you are because these definitions seem to be very subjective to each person.

Do you review your Code of Ethics each year when they are published in REALTOR Magazine?
Have you ever questioned another Realtor's behavior or business practices?
If you felt they were acting in a manner inconsistent with the Code, did you utilize the proper protocols provided by your Board of Realtors to report this potential violation?

I often wonder why people feel they have been treated in an unethical manner by Realtors of other companies yet aren't as quick to point the finger at fellow agents within their own company. I would like to think that is because our own agents act ethically 100% of the time as that would mean our leadership, training and culture is doing what it is supposed to do.

But I also know that we are all humans and our perceptions and realities differ from person to person and from day to day.

In my humble opinion, it comes down to two things; The Golden Rule (Do unto others as you would have done to you) and Personal Accountability. Worry about yourself first, second and third and only then should you spend your time worrying about another.

I challenge all of you to continue to hold your expectations and services high above the line of ethical integrity. It will make you, your company and your industry better. And if an opportunity comes along that tempts you to go "below the line" have the courage, strength and trust in yourself to walk away and find the opportunities that are plentiful and await you "above the line."

Pay attention the next time you sit in one of the mandatory Ethics CE classes, read the Code of Ethics when it arrives in your mailbox next January, and most importantly, live the Code of Ethics in your daily activities.

What's your take on this Business Principle? Do you think there is a "line" when it comes to ethics? Are you comfortable walking away from those situations that might tempt you to go against your beliefs? Please leave me a comment.

Until next time...Build relationships...Solve Problems...and Have fun.


September 26, 2008

What Are you Waiting For, Mr. Buyer?

It's hard to be a Buyer in the current market because you're not sure if we're at the bottom yet. Most people would love to "time the market" but that's virtually impossible because you won;t know when we actually hit the "bottom" until home prices start going back up.

This could cost you a lot of money and cuase a bit more stress than is necessary.

Check out this article from Rasmussen Reports and see why now might be a great time to buy.

September 17, 2008

Thanks for a Job Well Done

Isn't it nice to hear "Thanks for a job well done" every once in a while? It really doesn't matter who says it, how they say it or when they say it or even why they say it. The sheer fact that someone has taken a moment in today's fast-paced "what's in it for me" world makes your day.

Obviously it means a lot more when you are recognized for your efforts by certain people in your lives - spouses, parents, children, managers, staff and customers. This is such an important key to success in today's world that it is one of our 14 Business Principles:

We seek opportunities to recognize excellence.

"Don't worry when you are not recognized, but strive to be worthy of recognition.“ This quote comes from Abraham Lincoln and certainly points out the important fact that we should never be doing good work just to earn recognition. We do good work because that is our job. Remember...people don't usually recognize average or poor performance so you must strive to be "excellent. A quote hanging on the wall in my office reminds us that "Doing what's required only prevents customer dissatisfaction. We must do more than is required to truly satisfy a customer."

What type of recognition excites you? Public praise?

"The rewards go to the risk-takers, those who are willing to put their egos on the line and reach out to other people and to a richer, fuller life for themselves.” --Susan Roane

In our company we have started the Gotcha! program where agents, managers and staff can recognize those employees who have gone "above and beyond" the call of duty. Have you been "caught doing something good" yet? Have you observed someone doing something that made you stop and say "wow!"? If so, be sure to recognize them.

If you seek more of the private type of recognition, be sure to be visible in what you do and look for people's praise and recognitions in their reactions and facial expressions. Maybe just someones laughter or smile will be the recognition you need.

Finally, if financial reward is what makes you strive for excellence, never under value yourself. You must believe in your product or service with all your heart and then put a price on it that makes you feel excited to deliver everything you have. It's been said that in the absence of value price will always be a factor so believe in yourself and the value you bring. Aim for a full fee on your next listing presentation. You will be glad you did.

"We will receive not what we idly wish for but what we justly earn. Our rewards will always be in exact proportion to our service.” --Earl Nightingale
Please leave me your comments on this post or the idea of recognizing excellence in general. Who have you seen providing "truly remarkable service" this week? What did you do to recognize their efforts?
Until next relationships...solve problems...and have fun

September 3, 2008

We're All In This Together

As the father of a "tweener" daughter I have been subjected to my share of Hannah Montana, Jonas Brothers, Total Drama Island and High School Musical. These are all shows on The Disney Channel that are aimed at that "tweener" age group - not old enough to be teenagers but older than a toddler. I guess this would officially be 7-12 year olds.

My daughter Riley is a nine-year-old falls right into that group so I am quite familiar with the likes of Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana's alter ego) as well as High School Musical's stars, Zach and Gabriella. They are today's equivalent of Danny Zuko and Sandra Dee from our generation's summer "tweener" classic, Grease.

I know what you're probably saying, "Okay Sean, what the heck does The Disney Channel, pre-acne pop culture or High School Musical have to do with real estate and our continuing look at the company's 14 Business Principles?" Relax...I'm about to get there.

In our day we had songs like "Summer Lovin", "Greased Lightning" and "You're the One That I Want" to sing along to. The main song from the High School Musical soundtrack is a song titled "We're All In This Together" and it talks about how working as a team allows people who may offer different things to come together, do things right and help each other. It sounds quite similar to our Business Principle #11:

To provide the highest level of customer service, we support our
family of companies and strategic partners

The real estate experience has become very intricate and in order to provide the highest level of customer service to our customers and clients, we must continue to focus on the area of the transaction that we are best trained to handle, the real estate portion. In fact, our Code of Ethics demands it. See Code of Ethics, Article 11

Our company has made this easier by creating a "one stop shopping" experience for our customers and clients. Not only does this make sense from a business sense allowing for added revenue sources in a belt-tightening industry but the consumer is demanding it. Today's client doesn't have time to go to a real estate office, financial institution, lawyer, title company, insurance office and inspection location and still try to handle the other aspects of their move try to live their lives. They want to get it all in one spot so let's try to "give the people what they want."

Spend more time prospecting for new clients or developing deeper relationships with your current clients while your mortgage advisor from Coldwell Banker Home Loans assists your clients with their mortgage approval process. Attend to your personal obligations, hobbies or community interests with a peace of mind knowing that our title partners are handling the details that will assure a smooth closing. Take advantage of the relationships that have been built over the years by referring people to our Concierge, Insurance and Home Warranty departments.

When you support your "teammates" you can do so knowing that everyone has the same goal - to get your clients to the finish line in the shortest time, with the least amount of inconvenience while keeping the lines of communication open to all parties.

Give them an opportunity to earn your continued business each and every day just like you would appreciate their continued efforts to build, support and maintain your business. It's an old adage but in this case it certainly applies - T.E.A.M - Together Everyone Achieves More.

How have you leveraged your relationships with our strategic partners and family of companies to grow your business? Add a comment to this blog and share your success stories with me.

Until next time...Build Relationships...Solve Problems and Have Fun

Check out the video from the movie High School Musical of the cast singing "We're All In This Together"

August 19, 2008

All the Ingredients We Need

You'll probably never see an episode of Emeril Live or Bobby Flay's Boy Meets Grill where they spend the hour making good old fashioned peanut butter and jelly, beef broth or scrambled eggs. The Food Network also supplies them with unlimited ingredients, tremendous equipment and materials to supplement their skills and a fabulous facility in which to prepare their creations.

Now, I am no Emeril or Bobby Flay and I wouldn't even consider myself in Chef Boyardee's category when it comes to culinary creativity. Heck I still have to look at on-line cooking instructions to see if I am supposed to butter my grilled cheese before or after I put it in the pan. But one thing I do know is our company offers some pretty darn good tools, technology and training that we should all be taking advantage of. Business Principle #10 talks about it when it says:

We utilize our superior tools, resources and systems to provide our customers with exceptional service and guidance

Let me ask you...Do you ever take for granted the stuff you have in your daily job or life in general? If someone of lesser opportunity or means had ten minutes in your office or house, would they find something they might be able to use that you haven't touched or used in the last five years? The last year? the last week? Have you ever caught yourself staring over the fence at "the Joneses" and neglected to realize how pretty your own grass was?

Let's not forget that we not only have "tools, resources and systems" to help us do our jobs, these are superior tools, resources and systems. Start taking advantage of the ingredients that are right in your own kitchens like CBOLT, Performance Coaching and CBWorks. Attend your scripting sessions, activity workshops and company offered educational programs. As VP of Marketing Jim Stevenson always says, "Take care of the brand and the brand will take care of you!"

We've all been a part of building a custom-built house. Our kitchen has a walk-in pantry the size of Rhode Island with the best ingredients from floor to ceiling. We can create whatever culinary specialities we choose so let's not continue to order out for pizza.

Until next time...Build Relationships...Solve Problems...Have Fun!

August 18, 2008

A New Way to Look at the Housing "Crisis"?

As the local and national media continues to pound away at the dreaded state of real estate in our country, check out this very simple, easy to understand viewpoint from CNBC's Dennis Neale.

Re-Framing the Housing Crisis

August 6, 2008

Protecting Our Assets

Are you like most people in today's tightening economy? Trying to save a buck here or there?

  • Do you find yourself combining trips so you don't have to drive any further than needed? At $3.89+ per gallon of gasoline, that's a wise move. (It's still not as expensive as bottled water per gallon but it's getting close)
  • Are you re-learning how good a brown bag lunch can be instead of visiting the local Panera for lunch?
  • Relax...Starbucks will not go out of business because you cut back on your daily double shot half caf low fat mocha frappachino.
  • Sure, Coors Light ain't exactly Sam Adams but you don't need the extra calories anyway, right?

Are you finding yourself cutting back on some expenses, exercising better judgement when it comes to spending and making better business decisions? If you are, you'll see why Business Principle #9 is so important to the future success of our company.

We are responsible for protecting the assets and resources of our company.

As an independent contractor, your "company" is you. You are the CFO of your company so you are undoubtedly watching your expenses in relation to your income, right? Well, you're also a vital part of the larger company (your "partner") so hopefully you're just as conscience about the choices and decisions you're making when it comes to our financial future.

Now, I am not talking about turning off the lights when you leave the bathroom or anything silly like that but we all need to think twice about how we are "spending" the company's money. How many copies are you making for that overpriced listing where the Seller isn't being realistic about the price? Do you really need to print full version MLS print outs of the 83 homes available in the buyer's price range or would it be easy enough to email them the link to the MLS feed? Will it really make your weekly business meeting ineffective if the bagels aren't available anymore?

I think it is easy to take for granted many of the tools, technologies and training tools we have available but we should always remind ourselves that these things cost money. If we can find ways to succeed while saving a penny here and one hundred dollars there, that all starts adding up.

Every once in a while, ask yourself this question - "Would I make this same decision or take this same action if I was the one in charge? If I was the one paying the bills?" We all win when we try to make decisions that are in the best interests of the whole, not just the parts.

Thanks for thinking about it.

Until next time...Build Relationships...Solve Problems...Have Fun!

July 22, 2008

Pretty Good…But Can We Make It Better?

It’s been said that “good is the enemy of great.” It’s a common cliché that just challenges those among us who are satisfied with being “good” at something. Why not take things to that proverbial “next level” and strive to make things “great”? How much more effort, knowledge, skill, financial investment or luck would it take?

Remember the old television show from the 70’s called “The Six Million Dollar Man”? It starred Lee Majors as Steve Austin, the former astronaut that was outfitted with bionic legs, a bionic arm and a bionic eye after a near fatal crash. Major Austin was used as a crime-fighting opponent of evil. In the opening credits the narrator spoke the words that all of us who were raised in the 70’s will remember – “Steve Austin, astronaut. A man barely alive. Gentlemen, we can rebuild him. We have the technology. We have the capability to build the world's first bionic man. Steve Austin will be that man. Better than he was before. Better, stronger, faster.”

Those words, uttered on over 100 episodes in the mid 70’s remind me a lot about this week’s Business Principle #8 which states:

We are committed to identifying inefficiencies and communicating concerns, thus enabling us to improve our performance and systems

Now that doesn’t mean we spend our waking hours looking to find fault with people or systems within our control. It also is important to realize that if we identify areas of concern that we are empowered to communicate those concerns to the appropriate people within our organization. (See Business Principle #7)

We are constantly striving to make things better. Former Notre Dame head football coach Lou Holtz said in his 1991 video If Enough People Care that “loyalty doesn’t mean just saying good things about your company.” We need to look at every aspect of our industry, company, office and individual business platforms to identify what is working and what isn’t. Much like the gentlemen at the Office of Scientific Investigation (OSI) felt with Steve Austin, we have the technology. We can make things better than before.

Technology is just one of what I call “The Five T’s of Coldwell Banker” that makes us great. The others are Tools, Training, Teamwork and Traditions. Let’s all remember this Business Principle as we are continuously observing and fine-tuning our services and skills to succeed.

I’ll end this post with one of my favorite quotes I have seen in recent years and it comes from one of our generation’s biggest successes – Tiger Woods.

“I do not seek perfection because it is unattainable. All I strive for is professional excellence.”

Watch the video clip below and you'll see a great example of Business Principle #8 in action. Tiger Woods - the world's #1 golfer - is always trying to "become better."

I challenge you to do the same by consistently living Business Principle #8 in your daily activities. What do you think? Can we “make things better than before”? Add your comments to the end of this post and share your thoughts on the topic.

Until my next post…Build Relationships…Solve Problems…Have Fun!

July 9, 2008

Brainstorming 101

What is the one question that kids learn to ask as soon as they can speak?

Their use of it will diminish when they reach their teenage years because they then begin to feel they know everything.

Use of the question continues to drop in adult years for several reasons - people either feel they already know the information or should know the information but are too afraid to ask.

The answer to my question is "why." "Why is the sky blue?" "Why is grass green?" "Why does corn on the cob taste better than corn off the cob?" "Why don't school busses have seatbelts?" "Why do I have to go to bed now?"

"Why?" "Why is that such a great question?" Because it is a perfect introduction into our 7th Business Principle:

We encourage an open exchange of ideas throughout our organization

As independent contractors our success and failure rests squarely on our shoulders but that certainly doesn't mean we have to "go it alone." There are plenty of people available to assist you and help you accomplish what needs to be done to achieve your business goals. Sometimes all you have to do is ask

Ideas are shared every day between agents in an office. Ideas are exchanged everyday by staff members seeking to find more efficiency with specific programs or job tasks. Ideas are shared everyday from one manager to the next. That is how one can be so powerful...because you actually end up latching on to the knowledge and power of others.

If you need to know how to hold better open houses - seek out the best holder of open houses in your office and buy them a cup of coffee. ask them what they do to get such consistent traffic at their open houses.

If you notice another agent sells her listings quickly at 98% of asking price and you want to know her trick, offer to buy her lunch and learn what she does differently.

Can't decide which marketing campaign might work bets in your farm area? Ask for help and advice from a successful agent in your office who has some great personal marketing campaign success.

Just remember...the "open exchange of ideas" isn't a one-way exchange. You can assist people as well.

Say you learn of a great opportunity being offered at one of your local establishments and you think others in your office might benefit from it. Could you share that news at your next business meeting? When you come across that great new website or blog, could you forward the link to the rookie agent in your office who one day wants to be "in your league"? Have an idea for the company to improve? Reach out to your manager or sales advisory representative and discuss your thoughts.

One way we can always exchange ideas is through our virtual suggestion box. If you have an idea, thought or comment that you feel might benefit our local companies, don't forget about these addresses:

Coldwell Banker King Thompson -
Coldwell Banker West Shell -

Emails sent to these addresses will be read by the company president and will be addressed. While not ever suggestion can be accomodated, every one of them will be read.

Most of us will agree that the more you learn in this business, the more you learn there is to learn. That means we must constantly be looking for help, guidance and wisdom from others and also being ready to provide the advice, assistance and feedback that others may need.

I want to know about an idea or tip that you may have learned from another associate, manager or staff member in our company. Reply to this post and tell me about it. Remember - Business Principle #12 says "we seek opportunities to recognize excellence." This might be one of those opportunities.

Until next time...Build Relationships...Solve Problems...Have Fun!

June 22, 2008

"Everybody's Crazy 'Bout a Sharp Dressed Man"

Don't take it from me...take it from Billy Gibbons and the boys of ZZ Top.

How would you react if your attorney showed up for your day in court wearing flip flops and a Hawaiian shirt?

Would you return to an establishment if they treated you rudely, sarcastically or with contempt?

When you are on a road trip or family vacation, would you rather take your rest room breaks at a small, off freeway service station where the key is attached to a painted 2 x 4 or do you stop at a McDonald's because you usually know what you'll get as far as cleanliness in their bathrooms?

These all relate to our 6th Business Principle:

Our demeanor, appearance and facilities reflect our high standards

This business principle is pretty self-explanatory and doesn't need a long post. I am certainly not advocating that one needs to wear a three-piece suit everyday to work in order to be successful but I am not suggesting that we become Abercrombie & Fitch catalog models either.

One thing we all need to remember as we approach our daily activities is this - it's not always about us. Sure, you may just be popping into the office to check your email so you feel comfortable in your shorts, t-shirt and ball cap that you wore to the kids soccer game. The problem is that one of your fellow agents may be meeting clients for the first time in the office. Is that a fair impression of how your office conducts itself?

I recommend men always wear a shirt and tie for their first meeting with clients. Ladies - the equivalent. Once you have had your first face-to-face, use your best judgement and dress to the comfort level of your client while still maintaining a professional appearance and demeanor. Just remember, you may be dressed casually with one client when you happen to run into another.

Does this sound familiar? You're running late for a listing presentation and you're throwing the CMA together at the last minute. A few extra copies here, a couple of scrap pieces of paper there. No need to worry about them. You're sure someone will clean up after you. After all, they always have in the past.

Newsflash!!! That's not their job. You are an adult and your actions are your responsibility. If everyone helps maintain the office, workspace and common areas, everyone will reap the benefits of a clean, well-functioning office.

The Coldwell Banker brand carries a 96% brand awareness among consumers. That's a good thing as people know who we are and what we do. Let's all work hard to make sure the things we can control are always in our favor. Act nice, look nice and clean up after yourselves.

What does Business Principle #6 mean to you? Send a response to this message if you have any thoughts on the subject.

Until next relationships...solve problems...have fun.

June 10, 2008

Are you Committed?

In a career like real estate, every day you need to ask yourself that question. Are you committed?

This job is too difficult to try and operate on a different level of commitment each and every day with each and every client. Does your attitude match your effort? Are you consistent in your services and treatment of customers? Do you rely on a team and can they rely on you? Are you committed to do what it takes to provide "truly remarkable service"?

GDP is defined as the total market value of all final goods and services produced within the country in a given period of time (usually a calendar year). It is also considered the sum of value added at every stage of production of all final goods and services produced within a country in a given period of time, and it is given a money value.

If we apply this ECON 101 theory to the business of real estate, we have Business Principle #5:

We are committed to personal growth, professional development and innovation in the pursuit of excellence.

What is your GDP? Growth, Development and Pusuit of Excellence?

Are you committed to personal growth? What are you doing to gain knowledge, skills or confidence in the services you provide? Are you taking classes? Do you take advantage of coaching from your manager? Do you attend company and industry training events and conventions?

Are you committed to professional development? How often do you practice scripts and dialogues to continuously present the best image and message to customers and clients? Are you focused on your health and physical fitness so you maintain the levels of energy required in today's fast-paced society? Do you spend time each day in self-reflection, finding personal achievements to be proud of and identifying opportunities to better yourself, your company and your industry?

Are you committed to the pursuit of excellence? It has been said that "the easier you are on yourself when no one is looking, the harder life will be on you; the harder you are on yourself when no one is looking, the easier life will be on you."

Let me know what some of your specialized services or skills are that help you achieve Business Principle #5. We'd love to hear and share with others.

Until next time...Build relationships...Solve problems...Have fun.

May 29, 2008

Do You Believe In Yourself?

Some people thrive in the spotlight while others are at their best in the background. Certain personalities excel when the pressure is on and others can crumble when they feel people are watching their actions.

Examples are obvious in the world of sports because that's where we see pressure being faced on a daily basis. Who wants the ball in their hands when the game is on the line? Michael Jordan and Larry Bird were two of the most clutch players in basketball history. Joe Montana or John Elway come to mind in the NFL. If you're a baseball fan and your team needs a big hit, give me Derek Jeter.

In the world of real estate, "clutch players" as they are referred to in sports might not be that obvious. Maybe that's because we don't really think of real estate as a team sport...but we should.

  • You create a team with your clients, their lender, inspector, attorney and anyone else involved in the transaction.
  • You are part of a team with your local office, your local company, your local Board of Realtors and so on, all the way up to the brand you are affiliated with.
  • If we use the name "Realtor", we are all part of the National Association of Realtors and that is a team that has been intact for over 100 years.

So how do we "step up to the plate" as independent contractors and still carry the weight of our team on our shoulders? We understand Business Principle #4:

"We embrace our Vision and Mission believing that our individual performance affects the success of everyone"

If everyone agent, manager and staff person within our company focused everyday on providing "truly remarkable service" - our Mission - then there is no doubt in my mind that we would "be the preferred gateway for exceptional real estate experiences" - our Vision. Do you believe that?

Every one of us has a chance to shine in the spotlight and when we do it affects every one of us. When we answer the phones professionally and with enthusiasm, it shows the caller how Coldwell Banker treats customers. The way a potential buyer is treated at an Coldwell Banker Open House in Atlanta can affect their impression of the Coldwell Banker company in Cincinnati. The services delivered by a listing agent in Columbus will impact the Seller decision to work with a Coldwell Banker buyers agent in Santa Fe.

In one of my favorite books of all time, QBQ! The Question Behind the Question by John Miller, the idea of believing how you impact the company and how the company impacts you is crystal clear in Chapter 24 titled "An Integrity Test."

"Here's an integrity test for anyone who's part of an organization: Does what we say about our organization while we're at work match what we say at home? If it's positive at work and negative a few hours later at home, we have a choice to make. Here's an idea we should all consider:
Believe or leave.
Sound harsh? Maybe. But if the organization is no longer a vehicle to help us reach our life goals, why would we stay?
Answering that question honestly is part of practicing personal accountability."

The book by Miller, along with the follow up Flipping the Switch are both high on my list of suggested reads so perhaps you could check out the rest of the messages in these books and see how they apply to your business...and mine. (For more information on The QBQ!, visit their web site here)

If you haven't been reading all of these posts, it might be a great time to go back and review the early posts about the Vision and Mission statements. Business Principle #4 doesn't even begin to make sense until we know what it is we are trying to embrace.

What do you think? How does your actions affect other people in your office? The company? Our industry? Reply to this post with your thoughts.

Until next time...Build relationships...Solve Problems...Have fun.

QBQ! The Question Behind the Question and Flipping the Switch are both written by John G. Miller and published by Denver Press

May 15, 2008

Bobby Fischer, Gary Kasparov and You

Chess is a game of strategy and tactics. So is real estate. One of the basic skills a good chess player has intuitively or will develop as they gain "game experience" is the ability to anticipate their opponents next move. Many times, a game of chess is lost by jumping to conclusions or not taking the time to clearly review the board and determine all options in front of you.

The chess analogy is perfect for this week's Business Principle. It's number #3 on our list of 14 and it's one of the most important to master in order to achieve our "truly remarkable service" Mission.

We identify and anticipate the needs of others and are empowered to take actions that exceed their expectations.

1. Today's consumer doesn't want a "product focused" salesperson to assist them, they want a "needs focused" salesperson. Consumers are more concerned with "what is in it for me" as opposed to "what do you have to sell me?" It is for this reason that we need to survey our chess board before making our first move. Identify... the needs of others


  • A waiter promptly fills your glass of water before you can even turn to look for her.

  • The hostess brings a booster seat with her as she seats a family with a small child.

  • The car dealer has pre-arranged for a rental car when you drop off your automobile for service.
All of these are examples of people anticipating the needs of their customers. When we can take a "under promise, over deliver" approach, our clients will remember us. Anticipate the needs of others

3. Realtors love to bask in the concept of being an "independent contractor." No boss man to answer to, no time clock to punch, no assembly-line protocols to follow. The feeling of control in our industry is powerful yet at many times can leave us looking for some guiding light. Today's agents must be confident in their own skills and knowledge that they can do the right thing. The training you have received should help you overcome any obstacles you may face.

If you are going to wear the "independent contractor" badge then you should know that you have the power to do what it takes to make things right. Warren G. Bennis once said, "Managers are people who do things right; leaders are people who do the right thing." We are...empowered to take actions

4. Successful sales can probably be boiled down into three simple rules: Give the customer what they want, when they want it and at a price they are willing to pay. Now please re-read that statement. I didn't say at the lowest price or the "price you think they want to pay of they could get it at the lowest price possible." We must always be showing the "value" we bring to the transaction because in the absence of value, price will always be a determining factor.

Meeting someones expectations and exceeding them are too different issues. There is a sign on my wall that says:

The 57 Rules to "Delivering the Goods"

#1 Deliver the goods

#2 The other #56 don't matter

If we don't do what we said we were going to do, "truly remarkable service" will never be an option. What we must do is find every opportunity to "wow." Find out if the client drinks coffee and show up at the appointment with a fresh cup of Starbucks. Send Happy Birthday cards to their children. Call and wish them Happy Anniversary. Send a hand written thank you note for every referral they send. Exceed their expectations.

How do you identify your clients needs? What do you look for to anticipate ways to assist them? How can you increase your feeling of empowerment? Tell me some of the things you might do to "exceed expectations." Please add your comment and let us know what you think.

Until next time...Build relationships...solve problems...and have fun!

April 28, 2008

Goodwill Should Be More Than a Charitable Concept

Let's open up the toolbox and analyze our next Business Principles this week. It's #2 and it's one of my favorites because in today's ever-changing market, it is so important.

We are Goodwill Ambassadors who always speak positively about our industry, our company and each other.

Now, saying we are "Ambassadors" of anything is a pretty high expectation to set but one I think everyone should be happy to strive for. Are you willing to accept the new role? It doesn't come with diplomatic immunity or a swanky residence in foreign country but it does come with some responsibility to rise above the stereotypes and preconceived ideas of what a Realtor does for a living.

  • Has the media painted a negative picture of our roles in today's environment? You bet.
  • Do frustrated homeowners blame Realtors for their irresponsible spending and weak financial management skills? Yes Sir!
  • Is the lending industry grabbing anything they can to pull down with them for years of poor business practices? Yes they are.
  • Houses aren't selling so it's easy blame the real estate community the way an obese kid's parent blames McDonald's.
  • "My home's value has dropped," cries the unmotivated Seller. "Why can't the Realtors earn their fee?"
  • "I heard it was a Buyer's market so I'll just send over some insultingly low offers" says the tire-kicking buyer.
  • Realtors charge how much????? But I thought selling your home is easy, isn't it?

It doesn't matter where you turn, the song remains the same. It appears to me that each morning when we wake up these days, we should be adding a review of Business Principle #2 to our shower, shave and tooth brushing routine. We need all the help we can get and we are going to have to toot that horn ourselves because no one else is going to do it.

It starts with "speaking positively about our industry." Be sure you are updated on daily statistics such as current days on market, average sales price and list to sales price ratios. Do you think the average person knows just how many homes sold in 2007? Are you keep your ears to the ground for new loan programs or government support programs for struggling homeowners? Remember, the New York Giants couldn't have won the Super Bowl if the NFL wasn't a strong, viable league. We must continue to be proud to wear the "R" from the National Association of Realtors.

We "always speak positively...(about) our company" is the next part of the Business Principle. Let's all take some time to count our blessings for what we have here at Coldwell Banker. As far as the "Five T's" we've got the best of the best: Tools, Training, Technology, Tradition and Teamwork. Let's not spend our time looking at the things we don't have, let's focus on what we do have. John F. Kennedy said it best when he said "Ask not what your country can do for you but what you can do for your country." The "Power of Sold" is more than a campaign... it's becoming a crusade against negative news in today's markets.

And finally, we "always speaking positively...(about) each other." This job isn't easy, there are lots of emotions involved and plenty of moving parts we must maintain. However, those are not reasons that we should ever spend our time, efforts and energy criticizing or castigating each other. If more and more people worried about themselves and less about others, this final aspect of the Business Principle would be easier to accomplish.

It's been said many times by our local President, Joe King - "Each one of us represents all of us." I'll do my best to represent you...What will you do today to represent me?

How do you interpret this Business Principle? How can you make your role as "Goodwill Ambassador" an important, respected position of authority? Will you "walk the walk and talk the talk"? Please add a comment to this blog and tell us what you think.

Until next time...Build Relationships...Solve Problems...and Have Fun

April 17, 2008

The Golden Rule?

Let's start exploring the 14 Business Principles that should help form our experiences, strengthen our beliefs and guide our actions. The first Business Principle is...

We consistently treat everyone with courtesy and respect

It's a great one to start with but it almost sounds too simple to put in writing, doesn't it? I mean, in the words of Rodney King, " why can't we all just get along?"

Before we look at how this principle should be interpreted and applied, let's look at some of examples of why it might have been written:

  • Agents show up late for showings (or sometimes they don't even show up at all).

  • Homeowners requests for all visitors to remove shoes during showings. "This doesn't apply to me," thinks the inconsiderate visitor.

  • Judging people by their appearance, clothing or vehicles. This could be customers, clients or fellow co-workers.

  • Yelling at hourly employees when the fax machine doesn't work, a file is missing or a phone call is mishandled.

The previous scenarios are examples only and do not represent specific actions of any particular agent or broker

I think the reason why this specific business principle is consistently applied every day in our offices, company and industry is because it isn't something new that people need to learn. For most, it's been a rule we have known since childhood. It is simply the Golden Rule written a different way, isn't it? ~ "Do unto others as you would have done to you."

We all want to feel like we apply this 100% of the time, regardless of our situations, positions or locations but we continuously need to ask ourselves if we do. Each day, simply ask yourself this question - "what can I do to make other people feel special or important?"

There is a sales associate in our Newark office with Coldwell Banker King Thompson who epitomizes this principle. Patrick Guanciale has been an agent for decades. His father is an agent and his son is now in the business following in his footsteps. Patrick knows his business inside and out. He is well known in his hometown of Newark by residents old and new and his is active in his community. Patrick is one of our top associates but I can tell you his success has little to do with his knowledge of how to write a contract or holding open houses. Patrick is successful because he makes everyone he encounters feel special.

I had the privilege of attending the wedding of Patrick's son Andrew. You couldn't help but be amazed at the reception that followed the wonderful ceremony. Sure, every person at that event was there to celebrate the marriage of Andrew and Jill Guanciale (and it was a great celebration) but everyone was also returning the courtesy and respect that Patrick and his family had given to them at one point or another.

Whether he knew these people from charity work in Licking County, supporting Andrew's school and sports teams, friends of Andrew and Jill's, assisting the Newark Fire Department or perhaps they were just one of the hundreds of families - many second and third generation clients have been helped by the Guanciale family - they all had one word that would describe Patrick Guanciale. R-E-S-P-E-C-T.

Aretha Franklin couldn't have said it better herself.

Patrick certainly isn't alone in our company as someone who demonstrates the qualities of principle #1. There's Michael Hinckley in Hyde Park, Mike Carruthers in Bexley, Randy Wax in the Marketing Department and Cheery Malone in Crestview Hills. Leaders like Joe Reis from NRT and rookies like Charity Foster in the Ohio/Indiana West Regional Office, we all can offer courtesy and respect.

  • Deliver your showing feedback before the co-op agent requests it. (So simple yet so seldom done)

  • Say please and thank you - especially to the office staff who often are taken for granted.
    Keep the negotiations between the Buyer and Seller. It may not turn out like you hoped but that's no reason to make it personal.

  • Answer each question like it was the first time it was asked. Even if it is really the fortieth time you've heard it. probably was this person's first time asking.

  • Invite your office manager out for drinks after work. Yep - they can have bad days too.

  • Remember how sacred and nervous you were on that first day in the office? Remember it and welcome the new team member to the company. He or she will know they made the right choice.

  • And if nothing else comes to

We have a pretty cool job, don't we? We get to help people solve some of the biggest, most important problems they will face in their lives. Sure it can be tough at times but as the old saying goes - tough times don't last, tough people do. We'll make it through this changing market and we'll certainly enjoy it a whole lot more if we consistently treat everyone with courtesy and respect.

Next post we'll explore Business Principle #2 - We are Goodwill Ambassadors who always speak positively about our industry, our company and each other.

Until then, let me know of a specific time when you were able to apply B.P.#1 or maybe when it was applied on you?

Remember...Build relationships...Solve problems...Have fun.

April 13, 2008

Exploring our Business Principles

Now that we have defined the concepts and details of Vision and Mission statements, let's spend the next few posts looking into the 14 Business Principles of Realogy. They are:

1. We consistently treat everyone with courtesy and respect

2. We are Goodwill Ambassadors who always speak positively about our industry, our company and each other.

3. We identify and anticipate the needs of others and are empowered to take actions that exceed their expectations.

4. We embrace our vision and mission statements believing that our individual performance affects the success of everyone.

5. We are committed to personal growth, professional development and innovation in the pursuit of excellence.

6. Our demeanor, appearance and facilities reflect our high standards.

7. We encourage an open exchange of ideas throughout the organization.

8. We are committed to identifying inefficiencies and communicating concerns, thus enabling us to improve our performance and systems.

9. We are responsible for protecting the assets and resources of our company.

10. We utilize our superior tools, resources and systems to provide our customers with exceptional service and guidance.

11. To provide the highest level of service, we support our family of companies and strategic partners.

12. We seek opportunities to recognize excellence.

13. As people of integrity, we conduct ourselves with the highest ethical standards.

14. We foster a culture where diversity is valued, quality of life is enhanced and individual aspirations are encouraged and fulfilled.

A pretty good list of principles that, when reflected upon regularly, help to guide our actions towards the vision of becoming the "preferred gateway for exceptional real estate experiences."

Over the next few weeks, The Realtor's Toolbox will take a detailed look at each of the 14 principles and explore how they can be interpreted and utilized to impact our services and eventual success.

Until then...Build relationships...Solve problems...Have fun!


March 31, 2008

Mission Possible

If a “vision statement” describes where you see yourself (or your company) in the future – one year, five years, ten years – then a “mission statement” should be a description of how you’re going to get there.

I like to think of it this way; The "vision” is where you want to go on vacation. You should also have some answers to “why” you even want to go to that place to begin with. Great beach, excellent restaurants, grandparents will let you stay for free.

Determining a motivation for wanting something is a good place to begin. Motivation can be defined as “an inducement or incentive” so identifying what this particular incentive might be could be your first step. Is it profit? Personal recognition? Making a difference in someones life? Leaving an imprint on society?

Now that we have figured out a destination – in Realogy's case, “to be the preferred gateway for exceptional real estate experiences,” it’s time to establish how we’re going to do it.

How will we make that proverbial trip? Will we drive, fly, walk, ride a bike? Will we travel with friends, family, alone?

Mission statements don’t have to be long soliloquies or egotistical blather. The can be succinct statements that are understandable to the reader. Here is athletic apparel giant Nike’s mission statement -

"To bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world. If you have a body, you are an athlete."

Now, I’m no Tiger Woods, but that seems easy enough to understand. Employees, shareholders and certainly customers can understand what Nike’s goal is. And I really like the fact that I am included in their mission. I might not have the body of Derek Jeter or LaDanian Tomlinson, but I do have a body and I have been known to patronize the Nike empire. By the way, something tells me that the guy in the boardroom who suggested “making bazillions of dollars” as their mission statement was shot down. Although true, it just doesn't sound like a benevolent statement, does it?

Let’s look at one more from a major company in today’s society, Coca-Cola.

Everything we do is inspired by our enduring Mission:
· To Refresh the body, mind, and spirit.
· To Inspire Moments of Optimism...through our brands and our actions.
· To Create Value and Make a Difference...everywhere we engage.

I don’t know about you but that just makes me proud to be a loyal Diet Coke drinker. What’s that old jingle from the 70’s commercial…”I’d like to teach the world to sing, in perfect harmony…”

So, what do you do? Do you have a statement, either internal or on paper that describes what it is that you need to do on a daily basis to get where you want to be? If you don’t, you might be walking down a road to anywhere...or nowhere. Maybe your plans have changed since originally booking that "trip" and now you really want to go to the mountains instead of the beach. Are you sure you still want to go to that destination you originally planned to go to?

Let’s look at my company Mission Statement with Realogy:

Coldwell Banker West Shell is dedicated to creating exceptional real estate experiences for our customers and communities through the passionate delivery of truly remarkable service.

We pledge to promote a fun, fulfilling and respectful environment, one that is open to change and innovation, providing personal growth opportunities for all.

I really like this mission statement because I feel it boils down to three words – truly remarkable service. If I can find a way to deliver truly remarkable service each and every day to each and every person I come in contact with – prospect, client, agent, staff member, etc. – then I can further the chances that we will become "the preferred gateway for exceptional real estate experiences" that our Vision Statement would like for us to be. It speaks about what “we” must do as a company and also addresses what “I” must do as an individual. What’s the old cliché? The whole is greater than the sum of its parts?

I have a personal mission statement that I attempt to adhere to in my role as Director of Training for the Coldwell Banker companies in Columbus and Greater Cincinnati that goes like this:

“I teach with passion and enthusiasm instilling confidence and excitement in my students.”

Your personal mission statement doesn’t have to be written in stone. It could be re-written every year or as often as needed. Your “destination” may change. A good friend of mine, national speaker Bryan Dodge says it best… “If your why is big enough, you’ll figure out the how.”

I challenge you to ponder what your mission statement might be. Figure out your “why” and then it makes it easier to achieve by determining your “how.” Maybe you’ll find your destination is easier to get to than you once thought.

Need some inspiration? There is a pretty cool blog out there that lists mission statements from lots of well known companies. Check it out yourself at

Until next time...

Build relationships...solve problems...have fun!

March 17, 2008

"We Go Where Our Vision Is"

These words, spoken by Irishman Joseph Murphy, certainly ring true. Many times, where we want to go and what we focus on are not one and the same. Murphy was preaching the power of the human mind before The Secret phenomenon ever began.

Have you ever actually figured out what your vision is? Where do you see yourself in one year? Five years? Twenty years?

The ability to see your future, if only in your mind’s eye, is extremely important if you truly want to get there. For many, individuals or corporations alike, a vision statement is one way to begin to see where they’re going.

The company I work for, Realogy, has a vision statement that is pretty simple –

"To be the preferred gateway for exceptional real estate experiences."

Well, it may be simple in its wording but not simple in its execution.

"A vision without action is called a daydream; but then again, action without a vision is called a nightmare.” ~ Jim Sorenson

So how can you live up to your vision statement? We’ll explore the power of “mission statements” in our next blog but for now, just ask yourself these questions:

  • What do you need to do on a daily basis to achieve your vision?
  • What actions can you take that will lead your customers and clients to make you their “preferred gateway” for real estate and how can you ensure that their experience is “exceptional”?

Do you need to sharpen your market knowledge? Can you return all calls and emails promptly? How hard is it to dress professionally and show up time?

“Vision - It reaches beyond the thing that is, into the conception of what can be. Imagination gives you the picture. Vision gives you the impulse to make the picture your own” ~ Robert Collier

Your vision can be anything you want it to be so why not make it big, exciting and fun? Do you want to become the top agent in your office? The neighborhood expert in your marketplace? The “go to” source for all things real estate amongst your friends and family? Who says you can’t?

“You are not here merely to make a living. You are here to enable the world to live more amply, with greater vision, and with a finer spirit of hope and achievement. You are here to enrich the world. You impoverish yourself if you forget this errand.” ~ Woodrow Wilson

I encourage you to sit down and consider your vision or that of your company. Can you fulfill the daily obligations it will require to live up to it? I think you can. You just have to believe it in your mind and in your heart. As the Dillon Panthers say on NBC’s Friday Night Lights… “Clear Eyes, full heart…can’t lose.”

Do you have a vision statement for your business? Do you believe in your company’s vision statement? Let me know what vision you have for yourself and we’ll talk about how you can get there next week.