August 29, 2010

Are You Ready for Some Football?

I am a big believer in people setting a schedule and then following it. Plan ahead and then prepare for the next thing on that schedule each day, week and month. One of my favorite days each year is when my friend and former classmate at The University of Florida Pete Blank from Birmingham, Alabama, sends me the newest College Football Helmet Schedule. (Pete writes a great blog on leadership in case you're interested)

Now that the 2010 college football season is finally upon us, you need to get your College Football Helmet Schedule.

It resides on your computer's desktop (or wherever you might want to store it) and has all of the Division I college teams schedules, by team and by conference. Ever need to know who Akron plays? Click on the MAC tab and you'll know they battle Gardner Webb on September 11th. Unsure whether TCU is at home or on the road against Colorado State? Just visit the WAC tab and you'll know the Horned Frogs go to Ft. Collins for that game.

If you're like me and you need your college football fix at your fingertips, email me at and I'll send you the excel schedule so you can start following your 'home' teams immediately.

Enjoy the season! Good luck to your alma mater or favorite team.

August 26, 2010

Are Your Peers Putting Pressure on Traditional Marketing?

At last week's Coldwell Banker Summer Technology Summit, keynote presenter Stefan Swanepoel discussed many of the top trends in real estate today. As one would expect, he spent a significant amount of time talking about the impact of social networking and the new opportunities people have to build vast relationships with more people than they ever knew they really "knew" through the use of networks like Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter among others.

Here's a brief video from the event where Swanepoel discusses the impact that social media (and the social marketing aspect it has created) has had on the "old fashioned" way of marketing to and through consumers. He also talks about how a relationship on Facebook (peer to peer) can now deliver more of the trust and credibility that the traditional media used to provide.

Are you just amassing friends, followers and contacts on these sites or are you leveraging the massive power of these sites to "build relationships, solve problems and have more fun"?

August 23, 2010

Monday Morning Match - A Powerful Combination

Monday Morning Match is a short post - maybe a quote, inspirational story or idea - intended to spark some motivation inside of each of you so your week gets off to a fantastic start on Monday morning.

"Positive thinking is how you think about a problem. Enthusiasm is how you feel about a problem. The two together determine what you do about a problem."

~ Norman Vincent Peale

Make it a great week of building relationships, solving problems and having fun!

Monday Morning Match - Facing Your Fears

Monday Morning Match is a short post - maybe a quote, inspirational story or idea - intended to spark some motivation inside of each of you so your week gets off to a fantastic start on Monday morning.

This week, I challenge you to identify what it is you are afraid of this week.

Is there something in your business life? Prospecting for new business? Seeking that price reduction on the listing that will never sell at it's current price? Starting to rebuild that bridge that was burned between you and past clients of years gone by because you stopped communicating? Maybe it's taking the plunge into social networking, starting a blog or going mobile?

Is there something with your physical health that is holding you back from success?

How's your family life?

Are you avoiding an honest look at your financial situation?

Satisfied with your spiritual efforts?

"The hero and the coward both feel exactly the same fear, only the hero confronts his fear and converts it into fire"

~ Cus D'Amato, boxing manager

August 22, 2010

Monday Morning Match - Two Kinds of People

Monday Morning Match is a short post - maybe a quote, inspirational story or idea - intended to spark some motivation inside of each of you so your week gets off to a fantastic start on Monday morning.

"My grandfather once told me that there were two kinds of people: those who do the work and those who take the credit. He told me to try and be in the first group; there was much less competition."

~ Indira Gandhi

Start out your week by deciding which kind of person you'll be. Come Friday evening, I hope you're satisfied with your choice.

Have a great week. Remember to build relationships, solve problems and have fun!

August 21, 2010

A View from The Summit

What a fabulous day it was on Thursday, August 19th as over 550 sales associates, managers, staff members and special guests converged on The Roberts Center in Wilmington, Ohio for the Coldwell Banker Summer Technology Summit - Trends, Tools and Technology. This was a huge event with lots of moving parts but all the people who helped put it together really worked together to make it a special day for all who attended.

After kicking off the event with some upbeat tunes and a montage of photos from the 19 branch offices that make up the Ohio NRT Companies - Coldwell Banker West Shell in Greater Cincinnati and Coldwell Banker King Thompson in central Ohio - it was a constant whirlwind of great speakers and plenty of great information.

Leading with the Leaders

Company President Joe King kicked off the day by welcoming NRT Central Region Vice President Joe Reis to the stage. Reis facilitated a panel discussion with two of the real estate industry's most powerful leaders - Jim Gillespie, President and CEO of Coldwell Banker Real Estate Company, and Bruce Zipf, President and CEO of NRT.

These three men shared their thoughts, experience and overall wisdom on today's market and where we may be headed in late 2010 and beyond. Both Gillespie and Zipf were optimistic about the housing sector's ability to help lead the country out of the economic challenges but stressed that we must continue to focus on the right activities each day and stay engaged with today's buyers and sellers. Zipf shared his four areas of focus for a strong conclusion to 2010; Prospecting, Pricing, Communication and Embracing Technology.

Tracking the Trends

What a perfect segue Zipf's final area of focus was as our keynote speaker, Stefan Swanepoel, took the stage. Swanepoel is considered by many the finest authority of today's real estate trends. As well as being a fantastic speaker, Swanepoel is also the author of 17 books including the definitive book on what's happening in today's (and tomorrow's) real estate world, The Swanepoel TRENDS Report.

Swanepoel spoke about the constant change our industry struggles to accept - from the game changing fax machine back in the mid '70's to the social networking and inundation of video today. He discouraged the audience not to think they've got it all figured out, reminding them that mega sites like Google, You Tube, Facebook and Twitter weren't even mainstream ten years ago.

Give Me a Break(out)

The event featured twelve breakout sessions and all the presenters shared great information with some tremendous energy that was greatly appreciated by the attendees. To see what the topics and sessions were about, check out the descriptions here.

Special guest presenters included Sara Bonert from Zillow, David Siroty, Senior Director of Public Relations for Coldwell Banker, Evan Matteson from Coldwell Banker Apex in Rockwall, Texas and Andrew Eklund & Dawn Hepper from Ciceron. Other breakout presenters included some "home grown" talent with Dori Gehling, Michael Jones, Sarah Poston, Marty Soller, Michelle Barnett, Sue Price and Stacy Serey.

Video Killed the Radio Star?

There was also a fabulous closing session presentation on the power of video in today's real estate environment facilitated by Coldwell Banker VP of Marketing, Michael Fischer. Fischer's message to the audience was that the power of video to "tell the story" is so much more powerful in today's "digital, on demand world" than the cold, black and white text found in newsprint or MLS print outs could ever be. Fischer then welcomed CB Apex's Matteson and Coldwell Banker Pinnacle Properties (Florence, Alabama) top agent Mike Randall to the stage for a great panel discussion about how the use of video has changed these two agents businesses. (See samples of Evan and Mike's video styles below)

Evan Matteson, Coldwell Banker Apex

Mike Randall, Coldwell Banker Pinnacle

It really was a wonderful event with plenty for every attendee to leave with something to add to their "technology toolbox" of services and systems to help their Buyers, Sellers, past clients and also to reach new customers.

Roll the Credits

I personally would like to thank all the special guests, panelists, presenters, attendees and invited guests as well as some of my teammates who helped make this event so wonderful.

My Training Coordinator, Jaimie Shaffer, was fantastic at keeping all the logistics organized and maintained a calm demeanor from early March when planning started through 4:35pm on Thursday when the event concluded.

A big thanks also to the hard working staff at our Central Region Hub who provided much of the behind the scenes details - Lisa Morrow, Amy Eiduke, Charlotte Irrrang and Prabu Gopalakrishnan. Thanks also go out to the following people for making this a great event - Joe King, Jerry White, Glen Wilson, Sarah Poston, Michelle Barnett, Susan Trefilek, Randy Wax, Rick Walker, Julie Verne, Marlene Price, Janet Davis, the management teams at CBKT and CBWS, Diana Schneder, Walt Saxe and all the hard-working staff at The Roberts Center in Wilmington, our friends at Coldwell Banker Home Loans, Quality Choice Title, Residential Title, and American Home Shield for sponsoring, Cardinal Transportation and all the attendees.

I am excited to see the creative, innovative, trendy ways our associates and managers are going to implement what was learned at the Tech Summit. Much like a climber who scales the mountains, it's always amazing how much clearer you can see when you've been to the summit.

August 13, 2010

Give the People What They Want?

"Give the people what they want, you gotta give the people what they want

"The more they get, the more they need, and every time they get harder and harder to please."

So sang The Kinks back on their 1981 album by the same name. I am beginning to wonder if that song or album applies to a lot of companies some 30 years later. It should...but I'm not so sure it does.

I just had the lovely experience of speaking to a credit card company on the telephone. If you've ever had the pleasure, you know what fun the process can be. (It appears that Blogger doesn't have a "Sarcastic" font available so take my word for it). Entering your information via the phone keys only to have to repeat the information to the human operator is one thing but some of the other hoops seem to be added these days just for bonus frustration.

After applying for the new card (and being approved) I asked the lovely operator to remove me from any additional mailings and call lists. Unfortunately she couldn't do that for me. Obviously, that would be too easy?

Hoop Jumping 101

I had to contact an entirely different department just to ask to not receive any additional mailings, phone calls, emails or other "stuff" that I don't want. If I wouldn't have taken this step, it is certain that I would have begun to be inundated with offers, affiliate mailings and who knows what else from this unnamed credit card company that would be undoubtedly "CHASE"ing my business.

After contacting the "Privacy Center" - which ironically was very difficult to get in touch with - I spoke to a more than friendly lady (insert "Sarcastic" font here) who was able to help me. "Was I sure I didn't wish to receive emails, phone calls and/or direct mailings?" she asked.

"Yep," I replied.

"Would you like for me to remove you from all nine mailings or would you like me to read a description of each mailing for your review?"

Yes, you read that right. NINE DIFFERENT MAILINGS were coming my way if this additional call was never placed. Nine? The last time I remember receiving nine pieces of mail from one company without my asking was when Columbia House was looking for a Jim Shue back at my fraternity house address.

Why would anyone want to get nine different types of mailers from a credit card company? Where's the value? Where's the personalization (beyond the "Occupant" label)? Where's the permission?

I opted out of all calls, emails and mailings except for my monthly bill. I was notified that my request would be honored but they would not guarantee that any mailers wouldn't be sent as some mailers may have been mailed within 90 days of this request. Goodness gracious...I applied for the credit card, was approved and spoke to the "Privacy Center" all within 20 minutes! How many postal carriers could have been summoned between them saying "You're Approved" and "Cease All Mail"?

Credit Cards and Realtors - The Connection?

When it comes to real estate, I am a strong proponent of direct mail, email, phone calls and personal visits. I also believe that these "contacts" should always be "permission based" and contain something of value. Any person requesting no more contact should be respectfully honored.

Hey Realtors - Always seek to provide people with value, whether that is personal advice, guidance or actual things. This is one case where "asking forgiveness isn't easier than asking permission."

Listen to The Kinks..."Give the people what they want. You gotta give the people what they want."

August 11, 2010

Hey Realtor - What Sea Creature Are You?

Photo of sunset over Dafuskie Island and Calibogue Sound

I recently took a much needed family vacation. We travelled to Hilton Head Island, South Carolina for the tenth summer in a row. It's always a fun trip filled with time on the beach, fun in the pool, plenty of bike rides and some great family dining spots on the island.

In recent years, the family has gone down for two weeks and then I met them halfway through the first week to enjoy about ten days away. This year we only went for a week so it was a challenge in trying to squeeze two weeks of relaxation into one week.

Maybe that's why I couldn't stop seeing connections to the real estate life every time I looked at the sea life? See if you see any of these connections to the beach habitat and that of a typical real estate office.

Sea Gulls - These creatures will take anything they can get and really don't worry about what others might think of them.

They'll talk to any expired listing. For Sale By Owner? They're not afraid. They'll show bank-owned properties all day long. Size or dollar amounts don;t matter to them because they love to eat and getting in front of as much food as possible is what makes them flap their wings.

Jelly Fish - With the high temperatures in Hilton Head, the jelly fish were out in full force. Numerous swimmers - including yours truly - were stung by these sea creatures. Jelly fish just kind of hang around, don't do much but every once in a while they really piss some people off.

You'd love an opportunity to rub wet sand on them or douse them with vinegar but really you'd just wish they weren't around at all. Go float somewhere else with all that negative energy.

Hermit Crabs - Moving around from one shell to the next, these little guys are always on the move. they never really seem content to stay where they are at.

Some Realtors just never seem to settle down, always chasing a better commission split or more desk space. Maybe they need a smaller office or a bigger office but one thing's for sure. You'll see them in a new "shell" sometime soon.

Starfish - I am not really sure what to think of these creatures. They're nice to look at and seem to be so simple. The problem is, they are like those Diva Realtors or hot shot rookies that you may know. They are "stars" on their local beach but they get a bit lazy and rest on their laurels, forgetting to stay out in the current and then they end up washed up on the beach, picked off by the next Sea Gull.

Sharks - Hilton Head has a high population of sand sharks that swim in the shallow waters around the island. Don;t worry - they really don't bother the swimmers and it's not like they stalk the beaches and show the menacing fin like we all remember from Jaws. But they are aggressive hunters for smaller fish and will often get hooked on a local fisherman's line.

The sharks in your office aren't bad either but they are always on the move, rarely sleeping as they look and listen for their next opportunity to feed. For these high producers, it's all about business development, finding more prey and avoiding the "hooks" of bad leads and over-priced listings.

Dolphins - These crowd favorites make appearances throughout the vacation and everyone is usually excited to see them coming. They're playful, energetic and make others around them happy.

Having fun at what you do is so important but just like the dolphins, remember to come up for air every once in a while. It can't be all work or all play but a happy mix of both.

I hope you're staying afloat as you ride out the tides of this crazy business. Enjoy the rest of your summer.