March 31, 2011

The Power Is In Your Hands

I think everyone who is a regular reader of The Realtor's Toolbox knows that I am a big proponent of hand written notes to help you "build relationships" in this buisness. Heck, I've written plenty of posts that suggest the idea.

Bobby Fischer, Gary Kasparov and You

Looking for Things to Do?

I'm Certainly Not Trying to Be "Mean" But...

It's Time to Raise Your IN-10-SITY

What Realtors Can Learn from Oak Trees

It's Better to Give than Receive

Be Sharp - Think CARP

Itching for a Lead? Scratch It

Some of you who are subscribers to this blog may have received a hand-written note from me at some point in time and many of you have been kind enough to send me a hand-written note for one reason or another.

Throughout my career, I have kept a number of those cards as they are so nice to be able to re-read and reminisce about the good times, experiences or success stories wirtten about within them. I even keep a file folder of old cards, pictures, emails and other thinsg that clients, customer, family members and friends have sent me over the years. If you've attended one of my Toolbox sessions in person, it's the #2 tool in the Toolbox - My "Good Vibrations" folder.

Have you created yours yet?

I saw this video below earlier today on Cheri Hottinger's blog Naple's Girl Blog (via Pat Guanciale's blog) and it really encapsulates the impact of a hand written note. Click here if you do not see the video

If you want to "build relationships, solve problems and have fun," start writing more hand written notes.

Start today.

The power is in your hands.

March 30, 2011

Why Can't All Gate Agents Be Great Agents?

First, let me say that this post is about three weeks late. It's one of those posts I probably should have pounded out as soon as it happened but then life got in the way.

I am sure everyone who blogs knows just what I'm talking about. But just like the old saying goes, "Better late than never," right?

This is Linda.

Linda works for Delta Airlines at Port Columbus International Airport. I am hoping that Delta will use this photo in their employee handbook under the definition of "Great Gate Agent." Let me tell you why.

I was travelling a few weeks ago on a Sunday morning, bound for a meeting in St. Louis. It was a busy morning at Port Columbus, usually a pretty calm and steady airport, but certainly nothing like the hustle and bustle of Hartsfield in Atlanta, O'Hare in Chicago or LaGuardia in New York, just to name a few.

It was the final day of the Arnold Schwarzenegger Sports Festival, one of the largest body building/fitness conventions in the world. Picture if you will, thousands of extra travelers descending upon the airport, many with huge, bulging muscles, interesting tattoos and carry-on luggage the size of a small Volkswagen.

The check-in kiosks were three deep, the security lines were long and painfully slow and the gate areas were filled with people sitting, standing and laying in various states of consciousness. When I checked in, the computer said my flight was overbooked and asked if I would consider giving up my seat. I clicked through the series of questions and was asked to type in a dollar amount I would consider in exchange for a later flight. (Think but this time I'm the Seller, not the Buyer). I entered in a # not really knowing what was fair or the "going rate" and proceeded to the gate.

As I said, the gates were swarming with travelers and there was a long line of people hoping to get a confirmed seat on the flight. They were all waiting to speak to Linda. Linda was the only agent assigned to this gate. Every other gate seemed to have two or three Delta agents but Linda just stood behind the desk smiling, thanking people for their patience and doing the best she could with the resources she had.

Linda called my name over the intercom (because I must have been one of the few people who chose the "possibly" option when the computer asked about my willingness to change flights) and asked me if I was willing to give up my seat.

"It depends," I said. "What would Delta be prepared to do for my assistance?"

An offer was made to accommodate me on a later flight that would have included three legs instead of two. I politely declined and returned to my seat. I quickly called my wife Ronda, who earlier in her life had been a corporate travel agent, to see what she thought I should do. My schedule was actually somewhat flexible so she suggested I return to see what other options I might have. If I could get a voucher for a flight I could use later, that might be a good decision to consider.

Linda was happy to see me re-approach the counter because it was almost time to board the flight and they still needed "volunteers" or she was going to have to tell some passengers that they wouldn't be on this flight. Barely knowing this woman, but having a good sense of her personality, I am guessing she didn't want to deliver this message to anyone on that Sunday morning.

I asked her if there was anything else that might be available if I accepted the change and she offered an upgrade to first class on the later flights, a food voucher for use in the airport while I waited and a voucher for a round-trip flight to be used in the next 12 months. I willingly became the 4th and final volunteer to help Linda get this plane off the ground with a full manifest of happy travelers.

The way Linda handled the commotion and congestion of the gate was incredible. Her demeanor was steady and calm and her smile never wavered. She never asked for assistance from another gate attendant. Finally, one of the nearby gates realized that between the passengers deplaning off the newly arrived plane, the tagging of carry-on's and re-ticketing of passengers and the boarding process, Linda might need a helping hand.

Do You Like to Travel?

When you stop to think about it, there are a lot of people involved in a passenger's experience while travelling; From the sky caps to the check-in staff, the TSA crew to the airport staff and servers, airline employees on the ground and in the air and certainly the pilots who fly these large metal tubes through the sky from one place to another saving us time getting to our destinations.

Imagine if all of them were as helpful, kind, polite and knowledgeable as my friend Linda was. Wouldn't travel be a truly enjoyable experience? Wouldn't it be something you would tell others about? Wouldn't it be a great example to have every service provider learn from?

One of Delta's slogans in the 80's was "Airlines Are the Same; Only People Make the Difference." I'm not sure when Linda started working for Delta but I guarantee that she was the type of person they were talking about when they coined that slogan, that's for sure.

Thanks for helping me Linda. I hope the rest of your day got easier. And I know that the next time I fly Delta from Port Columbus, I hope my plane departs from your gate.

March 28, 2011

How to Beat Vegas...Fifty Cents at a Time

I returned from my recent visit to Las Vegas with tons of new knowledge, a lot of new business connections and several new friends. I'll write a blog post later about my experiences at the Coldwell Banker Generation Blue event. I also left Las Vegas with a little money...

Sadly, I forgot to cash in this voucher. I found it at the bottom of my luggage when I unpacked last night.

I'm guessing that I will not be added to the "Whale" list at The Mirage anytime soon, huh?

March 23, 2011

How Well Do You Know "Your People"?

Thanks to the folks at Chick-fil-A for this moving video. It really helps you understand how powerful it is to "build relationships, solve problems and have fun."

Every Life Has a Story from Dan T. Cathy on Vimeo.

March 20, 2011

Why Do You Do What You Do?

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

Why do you do what you do?

As Stephen Covey says, do you "start with the end in mind?"

Why do you work so hard? Do you have a clear, specific target of what you're trying to selling, earn or accomplish?

Are your goals S-M-A-R-T?

S is for Specific - Do you know exactly what you want to happen (and what you don't want to happen?

M is for Measurable - Will you know when you accomplish it? Is there a visible "scoreboard" to show when you've "hit your mark"?

A is for Attainable - Who determines whether your goals are attainable? That's right... you! Not your peers, your family, your coach or your managers. Just you. Don't set any goals to impress anyone. Set things you believe are attainable and then do what is needed to achieve them.

R is for Reward - Why do you do what you do? It's been said that when you figure out the "why" the "how" becomes much easier. What is it that you're working for?

T is for Time Frame - When will your goal be accomplished? Remember, "a goal without a deadline is just a dream." What will you get done by the end of this week? This month? This year?

I'm on "Island Time"

This week I am enjoying a week on Sanibel Island. It's a small island just off the coast of Fort Myers in Southwest Florida. It's quiet, peaceful and has no traffic lights on the island. It's the perfect place to "revive the batteries" for a busy second quarter. I'm enjoying spending the week with my wife and children, sleeping in late and staying up later. It's nice to head out to dinner and order what you want, knowing you've worked hard all year and you deserve the best.

What is your "get away"? Where is your "escape"? How will you get away from "it all"?

When was the last time you ordered whatever you wanted off the menu because "gosh darn it, you have earned it"?

Remember, when you figure out the "why", the "how" becomes easy. My friend Bryan Dodge always says, "Those who ask the "how" always work for those who know the "why."

Where is your Sanibel? What needs to happen to help you "get away"? What do you plan to do to get some time away after all the hard work has been done? How good will it feel to "turn off" for a few days to rev up the batteries?

What are you waiting for? Surf's up! Get out there today and start building relationships, solving problems and having fun. The quicker you can do that, the quicker you'll be sinking your toes in the sand...

March 13, 2011

Itching for a Lead? Scratch It

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

Looking for a great way to keep in touch with some of your favorite clients and other important members of your sphere of influence?

Here's an idea I still do that just might bring you some good "buzz" or word of mouth marketing.

Stop in to your local convenience store and pick up 10 $1 scratch off lottery tickets. Send them in individual hand written notes to people today or tomorrow so they arrive on St Patrick's Day with a simple message:

"I'm lucky to have clients like you. Here's a chance for you to find some luck today too"

Who wouldn't like a chance to "hit it big"? Sure, it's true that the odds aren't great that they'll win anything but perhaps a few bucks. At least they will have one chance to think of you that day the get your card and that's probably one more time than if you wouldn't have sent anything, right?

What are you waiting for? The luck of the Irish might be with you.

And as the ad says..."You can't win if you don't play."

March 8, 2011

Hood Ornaments, Hospitals and Having an Objection-proof Business

"In the absence of value, price will always be a factor."

When it comes to handling objections, remember that the best technique is to deliver a well polished presentation.

In order for it to be "well-polished" you should practice it daily. You should make every potential client feel like it was tailor-made just for them. Can you insure that you are highlighting the aspects of your services that mena the most to your clients?

When you "hit your marks" throughout, use dramatic and relevant visuals, demonstrate a deep knowledge for the market and share your passion for what you do and how that will help the clients get what they want (usually the highest net possible), you will rarely need to answer the very objections you once feared.

Ask yourself...

What is your value?

Do you believe in your brand? Your office? Your team?

Do you believe in yourself?

Learn from the Market Leaders

Mercedes has more than their hood ornament standing behind their value. People gladly pay a lot of money for smooth ride, some bells and whistles and a feeling of pride as they drive from home to work and back.

The Mayo Clinic gets people to travel across the world to Rochester, Minnesota for a chance to experience their "value" in hopes that it might save their lives (or the lives of a loved one). When the bill comes in their mailbox, they know they are paying for the "best in class" service they received and hopefully benefitted from.

Hyde Park Steakhouse in Columbus or Gibson's in Chicago (as well as many other fine steakhouses of the world) use visuals of their cuts of meat to "show" guests what they will get with each delectable cut of steak they order (not to mention the great service and experience they will have during their meal). What are you showing your clients what ytou talk about "what you will do"?

Do you believe you are the "top shelf" agent that can help your clients "solve their problems"?

Are you ready to provide the full service your clients desire without apologizing for the cost of your value or will you lower your fee and possibly your standards at the same time?

Okay, Now What?

If you had to list your house today, would you hire you? And most importantly, would you pay yourself what you're worth?

If the answer is "no, probably not," that's okay. Keep working at sharpening your saw and getting better.

If the answer is "yes, I am the best agent for the job," that's great, but take it from me...keep working at sharpening your saw and getting better.

Start delivering the smooth ride, the sensible treatment and the great taste that goes with truly remarkable service.

March 6, 2011

Do You Value You?

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

Spring has almost officially arrived which means that in addition to flowers blooming in gardens everywhere, there will also be a burst of "For Sale" signs across the yards of America. Your ability to gain appointments with potential Sellers is critical to having your best year ever, however, just getting face to face with Sellers is not the goal.

It's time to sharpen up your listing presentation as well as your objection handling dialogues. A well presented marketing plan, delivered with skill and confidence, will eliminate many of the objections and requests for you to lower your fee. If you cannot leave your appointments with a listing that has the right initial price position, the best terms for all parties and a full commission, you might not be as efficent and effective as you could be.

Below is one of my favorite "essays" on value. I encourage you to read it, internalize it and then read it again. This needs to be what your clients hear in both your words and your actions.

By John Ruskin

It’s unwise to pay too much.
But it’s worse to pay too little.

When you pay too much, you lose a little money,
that is all.

When you pay too little you sometimes lose everything,
because the thing you bought was incapable of doing
the thing it was bought to do.

The common law of business balances prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It can’t be done.

If you deal with the lowest bidder it is well to add something for the risk you run.

And if you do that, you will have enough to pay for something better.

There is hardly anything in the world that someone can’t make a little worse and sell a little cheaper –
and people who consider price alone are this man’s lawful prey.

Have a great week.

Keep building relationships, solving problems and having fun.

Lather, Rinse, Repeat

While instructions aren't on every bottle of shampoo, the concept of what you're supposed to do with the liquid soap while in the shower is pretty easy to understand. It's a 3-step process - Lather, rinse, repeat. Many times the third step is completely optional unless your hair is very dirty or you just love to rub your head.

It's too bad that there aren't such easy steps to follow to achieve success in life, isn't it? If there was, perhaps they would look like this...

Step 1. Begin dreaming with no specific parameters. The wilder, the better.

Step 2. Consciously start thinking about what you want to accomplish or achieve.

Step 3. Flush some of the more concrete ideas out of your head and onto paper in writing. It doesn't need to be (and shouldn't be) your final draft but start a mind map of notes, rough ideas or concepts.

Step 4. Create a "plan of attack." Prioritize the items in your plan so the logical, necessary tasks are completed first.

Step 5. Start executing items off the list.

(This is the equivalent of the "lather" step in the title. How hard you rub isn't as important as covering everything that needs to be covered)

Step 6. Make corrections as needed to achieve the desired outcome.

Step 7. Enjoy the outcome of your process.

Step 8. Review the process. It always makes sense to me that you would want to analyze how the process went to see if there is anything to add or takeaway from your efforts next time.

Step 9. Repeat as necessary or return to Step 1 and start on your next effort.

"People often say that motivation doesn't last. Well, neither does bathing - that's why we recommend it daily."
~ Zig Ziglar

March 2, 2011

Back to Basics?

It’s a common phrase uttered by all real estate agents when the going gets tough. “It’s time to get back to basics.”

Have you ever said it? Have you said it more than once?

It amazes me that this simple statement about a renewed focus on basic activities is uttered by experienced agents year in and year out and usually the timing of the statement follows a period of inactivity or low results.

Here’s the question – “If the basics work so well, why do we ever have to get back to them?” Why don’t we just stick to the basics?

Major League Baseball players like Derek Jeter of the NY Yankees and Albert Pujols of the St. Louis Cardinals will be practicing things like throwing and catching and hitting and bunting and all of the other things that little league baseball players will learn and practice this spring and these guys are among the best baseball players in the world. They will focus on the basics throughout the spring and they will warm up before each regular season game with stretching, a game of catch, fielding some grounders or pop flies and batting practice.

When was the last time you practiced your listing presentation? I’m guessing it was the last time you delivered your listing presentation, right?

How about the last time you reviewed your objection handling dialogues? How about wrote a FHA mortgaged purchase?

Have you sat down and focused on business development activities for 30-60 minutes a day with no interruptions, seeking appointments with Buyers or Sellers?

These are what most would consider among the “basics” of a successful real estate business. Shouldn't these activities be as easy as playing catch?

The spring market is here.

Let’s “Play Ball!”