December 19, 2009

Hey Independent Contractor - Are You Outstanding?

"Last Call"

It's about the time when the bartender will kick on the house lights and let people know that it's almost time to go. As the band Semisonic sang in their hit song Closing Time, "You don't have to go home, but you can't stay here."

These next few weeks before the end of the year are an exciting time for most people. Of course there's the holiday festivities and the many different celebrations, events and activities that go along with them. There's the beginning of the winter weather season, bringing excitement for the skiers among us and dread for the golfers. Depending on household makeup, you might have some kids who are excited for a few weeks out of the classroom.

But for those of you reading this who might be classified by our friends at the IRS as an independent contractor, there's really no rest for the weary, is there? We're trying to tie up those loose ends of 2009 and perhaps secure a few more closings on this years ledger while preparing our marketing ideas and business plans for 2010.

As the temperatures get cooler and the television shows transition into rerun after rerun, it just might be time to hit your local bookstore and grab a good book. I'd like to let you know about a new one that should make it into your "must read" pile. It just might give you some ideas, inspiration or items for your "to do list" in the new year. It's all about making your company or organization exceptional. As an independent contractor that means making "You, Inc." exceptional.

Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional is by John G. Miller. Many of you may recognize that name. That's because John is also the author of, probably, my favorite book. It's one that I recommend to all my students and audiences. It's called QBQ! The Question Behind the Question and it's all about personal accountability. (Perhaps both of these would be great additions to your bookshelf? And no, I don't make any royalties off these books)

I always enjoy Miller's books for their simple messages and easy to read style. I respectfully refer to them as "Treadmill Books." The print is large enough and the chapters short enough that you can read it while your walking on the treadmill. For those of you who will get back to the treadmill on January 1 as part of your annual "This year I mean it" resolution, test it out and see if you agree.

Most Realtors, managers brokers and owners are always seeking to "become better." Making those concerted efforts at the turn of a new year seems like a fresh start (although there is never a bad time to start a "become better" campaign). If you're ready to strive for more "outstanding" service, experiences and feedback in 2010, go out and get the book - Outstanding! 47 Ways to Make Your Organization Exceptional

To give you a feel for the book, a few of my favorite chapters in the book are:
  • Chapter Five - See Everyone as a Customer

This sure is true in our world of real estate, isn't it? We never really know who our next customer will be or where they will come from. It also speaks to treating our co-workers, staffs and affiliates with the same respect and professionalism as we would those who will help us reach a commission check in the near future.

  • Chapter 15 - Do What You Promise

Once you've been in this business a while, you really become amazed at how appreciative people can be when you just do what you say. It's a simple concept that shouldn't be too hard to figure out but you'll quickly realize how often it doesn't happen. What can you do in your daily routine to make people feel that you walk and talk the "under promise, over deliver" motto?

  • Chapter 18 - Make No Excuses!

Here a great message from this chapter - "In truth, there actually are reasons things go awry: people make mistakes, the ball gets dropped, stuff happens. Life can be complicated, confusing, and complex. Because of this, any one of us on any given day could go on and on with "reasons." But when we attempt to exonerate ourselves with explanations, all they sound like are excuses - and, of course, that's all they really are. What we need to do, instead, is look to ourselves and ask, "What can I do?" and get to work solving the problem."

I'm pretty sure I said "Amen!" to myself after that paragraph.

  • Chapter 38 - Be Coachable

How many of you are actively coaching with your manager, broker, owner or some other mentor? How many of you allow yourself to listen to their words, thoughts, wisdom and feedback with an open mind? Seek out coaching in 2010 and be open to the possibility that you could achieve even more with some help from others.

  • Chapter 42 - Treat Vendors Like People

Sure, you're an independent contractor but your success in getting clients to the closing table is rarely a one person job. You rely on lenders, inspectors, appraisers, service providers, title companies, attorneys and many more to "get the ball across the goal line." If you really want to be outstanding in 2010, read this chapter more than once.

So what are you waiting for? The lights just came on. It's time to order that final libation of the year, raise a toast to the successes of 2009 and get ready to be outstanding in 2010.

Grab the book and a warm spot on the couch or close to the fire and enjoy! Outstanding! is going on my suggested reading list for 2010. Who knows, maybe it will go on yours as well?

Happy Holidays to all my Toolbox readers. Until next time...Build Relationships...Solve Problems...and Have Fun!