June 29, 2011

Respect, Relationships and RBI's

Many times in a real estate environment we're battling against someone. The co-op agent we're competing against for the listing. Maybe it's a fellow licensee who is also showing the same property to their buyer that you are showing to your buyer. Perhaps it's all boiled down to negotiations and we feel like its "us" versus "them"?

It's Not Always About Competition

I was travelling this week for work so while spending a few nights in Cincinnati to spend some time with my Coldwell Banker West Shell associates, I wanted to catch my alma mater, The University of Florida, play in the College World Series. The Gators were playing the Gamecocks of the University of South Carolina so grabbing a spot at a local restaurant to catch the game was a high priority.

I walked in to an establishment expecting to find the game on all the main screens but that wasn't the case. The Cincinnati Reds were playing in a nationally televised game so the College World Series was relegated to a smaller screen in the corner. I quietly found a seat and looked around for other Gator fans but found none. As I surveyed the crowd, I did notice one patron wearing his garnet and black, the signature colors of South Carolina.

The "competition" made eye contact with me and quickly sensed we had something in common - SEC fans in the middle of Big Ten Country. He invited me to sit with him and watch the game together so I quickly agreed. (Remember...I am a big believer that the most important thing we can do in a sales position like real estate is "build relationships" and it's not like I am known to be shy). Just step up, make eye contact, give a firm handshake and introduce yourself.

"Hi, I'm Sean Carpenter. I'm a Gator fan. You mind if I join you?"

"No problem. Happy to have you join me. My name is Joel. Let's watch some baseball."

Joel is a production and safety specialist for a paper/box manufacturing company located here in Cincinnati. He hails from Greenville, South Carolina, is happily married and is the father of three kids (two of his own and a step son). As it turns out, Joel and I have a lot in common and a passion for college sports was the key that opened the door.

As we sat and watched our two teams battle, we enjoyed a great discussion about our careers, our industries, our families, our hobbies and interests and a small glimpse into our future dreams. The Gators and Gamecocks were playing a great game and it went into extra innings. As we each had a job to do the next morning, we left after the 10th inning but planned to connect again tonight for Game 2 of the College World Series (best of three event).

Long story short - Gamecocks win in 11th inning to take a 1-0 series lead.

Game 2 was tonight and I was desperately hoping for a Gator victory to force a deciding game 3. Joel and I met up again at a different local spot and watched the first few innings together. It's kind of funny how quickly you can "catch up" with an "old friend" you've known for less than 24 hours. We discussed my workshops I taught today and his plant visits and staff meetings he attended. Really, we have nothing in common when it comes to our jobs but we have everything in common when it comes to our careers.

Who's Your Competition?

If you're going to wear your "independent contractor" status like a badge of honor when you're doing well, will you wear it as proudly when you're struggling?
When you head out into the real estate world tomorrow, who is your competition? Is it the other associates in your office? The agents working down the street for the "other broker'? The person who has decided to sell their house themselves?

Or is it you?

Are you friends? Can you carry on a conversation? Do you know anything about each other?  If you did, would that threaten your success or enhance your career?

When you aren't getting all those listings, is the competition beating you out or are you falling short in your listing presentation? When the other agent's client gets the house, were you beaten by a better negotiator or did you just not bring your "A game"?

Work With vs. Work Against

Joel and I had no control over what happened on the field in Omaha between "my Gators" and "his Gamecocks."  We were pulling for our teams but we weren't hostile or derogatory to each other. We cheered each other's team's great plays and laughed at the errors made.

We left with a new relationship and a little bit more pride in our schools.

As you head into the second half of the 2011 year, will you earn more business by working with or against your fellow man or woman? Are you going to focus on your company's strengths or will you divert the attention to your competitor's weaknesses? Will you make it about what you can do or what your competition can't? Will you negotiate "against" the other agent or "for" for own client's best interest?

We refer to our fellow agents as "co-ops" because it is short for "cooperation." We don't call them  "comps" for "competition." Working with them, instead of against them, sure does make things go easier and helps you think that the more you give, the more you will get.

Game Over

South Carolina won tonight 5-2 to secure their second College World Series title and second straight National Championship. Sure, I am bummed out that Florida didn't win but I now have a new relationship to build upon, some new respect for Gamecock baseball and some happy friends who would be considered "competition" including  Joel T., Joe E., Bryan V., Fred K. and Mark S - all of them loyal Gamecock fans through thick and thin.

Congratulations to South Carolina on your big win. You have just made the Gators and all of your competition want to work that much harder...which means you need to work harder too.

I respect that.

I better get out there and start building relationships, solving problems and having fun so I can keep up with my competition.

June 26, 2011

Gone Fishing

Monday Morning Match is a quick 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.

Wanna Go Fishing?

Today my son Ryan was invited by one of his neighborhood buddies to go fishing. Garrett and his father were headed up to one of the new ponds in our city to do some fishing and thought Ryan might enjoy joining them. He raced home with excitement to ask permission and I told him to "have fun and be polite." (Isn't that good advice, no matter who it's being given to?)

A few hours later, Ryan burst into the house to announce that he had caught 13 fish. Yep, with no skill or previous "market knowledge," Ryan was able to catch something just by "showing up." He told me all about how he learned to cast the line and bait the hook and just kept casting and reeling and casting and reeling until he got a bite.

They were using hot dogs for bait and it was obviously working well because Garrett was hot too, catching 12 fish - probably many of the ones that Ryan had just thrown back. The key thing to realize is that regardless of how many lines were in the water, fish were biting. There were other people fishing around the same pond who were catching fish too but that didn't stop Ryan and Garrett from tossing in their lines.

Is It Time to Grab Your Pole?

How will you start out this week?

Will you need to wait for someone to invite you to start fishing?

Will you get up early and get your tackle box ready?

Are you going to check the weather forecast and make sure everything looks perfect or will you just grab a cap, toss a jacket in the back seat and head out to the pond, knowing that the fish aren't going to care about the weather - when they are ready to eat, everything looks like a worm...or a hot dog.

Will you show up at the pond and complain that there's already some people fishing and moan that there probably won't be any fish biting today?

And please don't tell me your plan is to expect the fish to just jump out of the lake, drive themselves to your office and flop up on your desk. 
Baiting the Hook

Garrett and Ryan used hot dogs to get the fish to bite. What will you use?

Market knowledge? Well rehearsed dialogues that are delivered with confidence and competence? A varying mix of contact methods such as email, phone calls, hand written notes, in person meetings and social networking sites?

Quit worrying about the bait and get your line in the water.

The following section is specifically aimed at anyone in a leadership position such as a manager or broker

Who Deserves Your Angler Award This Week?

Right before we ate dinner, Garrett's mom came down to give Ryan something. You see, Garrett's dad knew this was Ryan's first time fishing where he had actually caught something and he wanted to recognize him for his efforts. They had created a certificate naming Ryan with the "1st Place Angler Award" for catching the most fish. As you can see from the photo, Ryan is quite proud of his accomplishment.

So how are you recognizing and rewarding your "fishermen" and "fisherwomen" who are out there casting their lines each day? Are you providing good "bait" with your training, technology and tools? Are you helping them learn how to be aggressive when the fish are biting yet patient when they're not?

I don't know about you but it just might be a great time for a fishing contest in your office. Get some excitement "on the line" and plan a night out at the end of the event when everyone can gather and tell some great "fish stories" about the one's they snagged and of course the ones that got away.

As the old saying goes - "Give a man a fish, feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, feed him for a lifetime."

Now who's ready to play some hooky from work and sneak out to the ol' water hole?

June 23, 2011

Adding to Your Story

You met your clients, signed the agreement and listed their home. Or maybe you met your clients, signed the paperwork and agreed to help them find their new home.

You achieved your goal and were able to assist and guide them all the way to a successful closing and everyone is happy.

Now what?

How can you continue to keep the releationship alive after the end of the story?

Well, for all those Harry Potter fans out there (count me and my son Ryan among those millions of Muggles), author JK Rowling is coming up with another way for them to "add to the story." Check out the video below. ( Click here if you can't see the video)

There's nothing like getting your "fans" involved with your product line, your brand or your personal business. The more you can keep them talking, the better chance you have of success.

So start thinking about it. What's going to be your magic spell to keep customers and clients wanting more?

June 20, 2011

Make It or Take It?

You have an opportunity to learn a new tool, technique or system that could help you with something you're working on, either professionally or personally.

There are two ways you can approach this opportunity. Both ways involve asking questions.

You could ask yourself (or anyone who will listen) questions like:

"What's wrong with it?"
"Why doesn't it do the things I think it should do?"
"How much will this cost me?"
"Won't this take more time?"
"Why can't I just use __________________? It's always worked fine for me in the past?"

The second, and some may argue, the better  approach would be to ask "How can I learn and apply this new tool (or system, dialogue or enhancement) to the benefit of my clients, my company and my industry?"

I guess it comes down to whether you like to focus more on the risk or effort you have to take or on the potential return on investment you stand to make.

Choose wisely.

June 19, 2011

Isn't It Time For You to Make a Splash?

Monday Morning Match is a quick 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.

As Van Halen lead singer David Lee Roth once said, "Summertime's here babe, you need something to keep you cool," so with that said, just a quick message about having fun over these next few months.

This is the busiest time for almost every real estate market across the country because with schools out, there are lots of families who will decide that now is the time to sell their house and buy a new one. That means there's plenty of opportunities out there for you to generate business.

Summer is also the time when lots of people will be grilling out, holding neighborhood picnics, attending sporting events or community events like the 4th of July parade just to name a few.

So how does that apply to you?

  •  It means you've got to expand your efforts when it comes to business development activities.
  • It means you've got to "make hay when the sun shines."
  • It means you've got to get out in front of people building relationships, solving problems and having fun.

C'mon. What are you waiting for? Get out there and make a splash!

(If you don't see the video below, click here)

June 18, 2011

50 Reasons Why It's Cool to Be a Father on Father's Day (and Every Other Day of the Year)

It's Father's Day 2011. Today doesn't get near as much attention as Mother's Day but that's okay, because most mother's out there have had to put up with a lot more than most fathers. There are some pretty cool things about being a father so today's Realtor's Toolbox is dedicated to all the fathers out there who get a chance to influence their kids each and every day.

Here are 50 Reasons Why It's Cool to be a Father

1. A limitless number of chances to answer the question “why?”

2. You get to be the “all time fish tank cleaner” and “dog poop picker upper.”

3. You get the honor of packing the car before all family vacations.

4. You also are lucky enough to get to unpack the car when you arrive at your vacation destination and when you get home.

5. You are called upon to kill any large bug, spider or bee that may find its way into the house.

6. You’re allowed to eat all the left over pizza crusts and half-eaten burgers when the kids get “full.”

7. You will almost always be the second contact on the Emergency Contact forms at school (behind Mom, of course)

8. Having the honor of staying up late when the kids are out babysitting, at a friend’s house or at a movie.

9. You’re the official “sampler” for things coming out of the “Easy Bake Oven” and "Snoopy Sno-Cone Machine."

10. Being the “on call” parent when one of you children is at a sleep over in case they don’t make it through the night.

11. You get to talk your kids out of spending their money on things you know they don’t need.

12. You get to sometimes let your kids spend their money on things they don’t need, just so you have something to remind them of the next time they ask for something they don’t really need.

13. The challenge of not really knowing if or how “mom” answered a child’s question.

14. Reading Harry Potter (or any book) to your son.

15. Tucking your kids in each night.

16. Playing catch, pitching batting practice and hitting ground balls to your son before baseball games.

17. Cheering on your kids sporting efforts – win, lose or draw.

18. Being authoritative enough to “talk to your children” on the telephone when you’re away from home and they aren’t behaving nicely for Mom.

19. Running to the store for aspirin or other medicine when someone is sick at home.

20. Receiving deductions for your dependents on your annual tax return.

21. Finding places in your office or on your desk for artistic creations made by your kids.

22. Being the adult your spouse sometimes desperately needs to talk to after spending an entire day talking with nothing but children.

23. You get to check out all the "scary sounds" at night time.

24. You get to set examples.

25. You get to say “because Dad said so!”

26. You get to embarrass your kids in front of their friends. Dancing and singing seem to work the best.

27. It’s easier to sneak the first piece of pizza when you go to pick it up

28. Serving as judge and jury when the kids have fights.

29. You get to smile at those times when you think to yourself, “that’s the same way my Dad would have done it.”

30. You usually get the remote when the entire family is all in the same room watching TV.

31. You get to have a chair that is known as “Dad’s Chair” in the family room.

32. You get to light up with pride when people ask about your children.

33. You're the “chief troubleshooter” when things don't work - like the grill, the toilet, the sink and anything electric in the house.

34. You actually get some say on the d├ęcor in the house. Well, that's only if  it’s a room called "the basement" or "the garage."

35. You get to coach your kid’s sports teams.

36. You get to teach your children how to build a fort using just pillows, blankets and furniture.

37. You’ll always have the chance to demonstrate your toughness if a jar is too difficult to open by anyone else in the household.

38. It’s a really cool feeling of pride when you take your family on a well deserved vacation.

39. Explaining sporting events to your kids.

40. The chance to be “the fun Dad” who goes off the diving
boards at rest period and splashes the kids on the side of the pool.

41. It’s okay to chill out with the kids and watch shows like SpongeBob, Wizards of Waverly Place and iCarly.

42. It’s neat to get the kids to watch educational shows with you like those you’ll find on The National Geographic or Discovery Channels.

43. You get to proudly say “I remember this one” when watching Looney Tunes.

44. You get to decide if the kids have been good enough to deserve dessert when eating out.

45. You get to be a “safety blanket” after bad dreams, when someone hurts themselves or during thunderstorms.

46. Counting to three actually makes people listen.

47. Chance are you’re in more vacation photos with the kids than the wife is.

48. Nobody goes in the attic or the crawl space without you.

49. You realize that your own Dad was right about more things than he was wrong…even though you didn’t think so back then.

50. You get to be the “guest of honor” on days like today.

If you're lucky enough to have a father who's still alive, I hope you'll take a moment to reach out to him and tell him you love him. Be sure to reach out to your father-in-law and thank him for any guidance and support he has shown to you since you've been a father of his grandchildren. And if you really want to enjoy your day, be sure to thank your kid's mother for all she does to make you a better father.

Sadly, this will be my 11th Father's Day without my Dad. I'll get a chance to spend some time with him when I visit him at the cemetery later today. Earlier this year I had a chance to honor him in a blog post that has become one of the most read Realtor Toolbox posts of all time.I hope you'll take some time to read the 11 Years of  Lessons from Sean's Dad .

May you continue to build relationships, solve problems and have fun.

Happy Father's Day

June 16, 2011

You Hold the Key

The world is constantly changing. There's new things to learn, new people to meet and new things to do every day. It can be a bit overwhelming if you let it. Yet always remember that you hold the key.

Do you listen to the media? Do you watch television? Are you engaged with news shows (local, national or international), documentaries, sports, knowledge based shows (Discovery, National Geographic, etc.), sitcoms and dramas or do you just bury yourself in trashy reality shows?

Are you trying to stay up to date with all that "social media" provides? Are you engaged in Facebook and Twitter? Do you try and share relevant content and engage in two-way communication with your friends and followers or are you simply more of a listener or voyeur?

Do you read blogs? Do you participate in on-line discussions on topics that interest you, inspire you or maybe even challenge you?

Are you leveraging video to reach your clients? You need to be watching them, sharing them and creating them to get in front of more people.

Have you upgraded your technology so you're using the newest phones, cameras, computers, tablets and navigational devices?

The world is constantly changing. Are you changing with it?

I urge you to take the key that you hold in your hand and open your mind to some of the new possibilities that are in front of you.

Instead of waiting for the "old days" to return, start moving outside of your comfort zone to try new things.

Rather than do things the way you've always done them, seek help from someone who seems to have a grasp on a new technology or tool.

Expand your network so you're constantly building new relationships, solving new problems and having fun in different ways.

The future is bright. You've just got to be willing to turn the key that will open the door to some awesome possibilities.

June 12, 2011

The Power of Chocolate

Monday Morning Match is a quick 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.

It's amazing the inspiration you can get from a good piece of chocolate, isn't it?

I was sitting on the patio this weekend after a tasty grilled burger, just enjoying the cooler temperatures and sunshine. I had some tunes on the Sirius Satellite Radio and was sipping a cold beer when I decided to have a few pieces of chocolate for my dessert.

We have a package of the Dove Caramel Milk Chocolates and if you've ever had a Dove candy, they're good. They also have a simple little quote or thought on the inside of each wrapper. Sometimes it's a corny statement while other times it really hits you as a good thought, idea or concept. Tonight's wrapper inspired this blog post, not so much for me, but hopefully for you, the Realtor's Toolbox Reader.

"You should charge for your great advice."

That's it. That's all it said.

Pretty simple and straight-forward but so, so true when it comes to a commission sales business like real estate (or mortgage, title, insurance or many of the other occupations that read and follow this blog).

Are you charging what you're worth each time you have a chance to "agree to terms" with a client? You should be.

I've had some interesting comments with some of our newer sales associates who seem hesitant to charge a full commission to their clients, almost as if they haven't earned the right to ask for a full fee. I really believe it all starts with the salesperson believing in themselves. Believing that they are truly worth whatever the fee is that they are charging. If you don't think you're worth a full fee you can rest assured that no customer will think it.

You bring tremendous value to today's real estate transactions (which have become harder than ever to get from beginning to end) and that's what your fee should be based on - value. It's been said that "in the absence of value, price will always be a factor," so make sure you are constantly striving to show and deliver value to your clients. Otherwise, the lowest bidder will usually get the call.

New doctors don't charge less for their medical advice or procedures and new pilots don't charge less to transport you from one end of the country to the other. Neither should you.

Remember what the all-knowing candy bar wrapper said - "You should charge for your great advice."

Get out there this week and start building relationships, solving problems and having fun. Every time you do one or all of these with or for people you know or somebody new, you're laying the foundation of value you one day will be able to provide them.

Success, like chocolate, tastes great.

Unwrap your success today.

June 10, 2011

What Realtors Can Learn From Tom Sawyer

June 9, 2011

What's Your Reason to Reach Out this Month?

Realtors are always looking for good reasons to reach out to members of the sphere of influence lists which might include clients, friends and family.

If you really need a reason for a phone call, an email, a Facebook message, a tweet on Twitter, a text, a direct mail campaign, a hand-written note or a personal visit, here are a few you might be able to use in June.

  • Fishing for leads? June is Aquarium Month.
  • Reward your most recent referral giver with some chocolate. June is National Candy Month.
  • Trying to find out who might be moooooo-ving? Got Listings?
    It's Dairy Month in June. get out there and start milking some of those relationships. First call, then go see 'em. Get it? Cal-Ci-Um?
  • Squeeze in a few more calls each day - It's National Accordion Awareness Month.
  • Looking for the purr-fect reason to "cat"ch up? How about National Adopt a Cat Month?
  • Prospecting is part of any good agents healthy diet. It makes sense in June because it's National Fresh Fruit and Vegetables Month.
  • June 1st was Dare Day - I dare you to knock on that FSBO's door.
  • June 1st was also Flip a Coin Day. Heads you call expireds. Tails you call past clients.

  • June 3rd - National Doughnut Day. Bring Dunkin Donuts Munchkins or Tim Horton's TimBits to your local firehouse or school teacher's lounge.
  • June 6th - National Yo-Yo Day - Explain to your clients that it's normal for the market to be going up and down.
  • June 14th - Flag Day? Quit waving goodbye to opportunity that is passing you by. Get out there and show your colors.
  • June 18th - Go Fishing Day. Gotta get up early if you're gonna catch a good lead today.
  • June 18th - National Hollerin' Contest Day. Might be a perfect time to work on that short sale negotiation with the lender.
  • June 22nd - National Chocolate Eclair Day - They say the cream rises to the top. Are you filling your pipeline with valuable leads?
  • June 23rd is National Pink Day - Those must be the clients who don't have a lot of equity but aren't completely in the red either?
  • June 25th - Log Cabin Day. Hold an open house and show off the great craftsmanship of your newest listing.
  • June 26th - Beautician's Day - Send out "Top Ten Ways to Prepare Your Home to Sell" fliers to local for sale by owners.
  • June 28th is Paul Bunyan Day. I think the person who keeps "chopping wood" (i.e. making calls) will be the biggest story around town at the end of the month.
  • June 29th - Camera Day. Post some local photos from around your town on Facebook and have a "Name the Place" contest. Post a new photo every hour from 9-5 and make the last one a local happy hour spot. Invite your followers to meet you there for a cold drink on you.
  • June 30th is Meteor Day. People need to always be prepared so reach out and provide them with a "How to Make My Home More Energy Efficient Checklist." 
Sure, this might be a corny blog post but you've got to appreciate my sense of humor. After all, it is Turkey Lovers Month.

What will you do to reach out to your fans in June? Share an idea or two below and get to work building relationships, solving problems and having fun.

June 5, 2011

Why Wait?

Monday Morning Match is a quick 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.

It's been a while since my last post. In fact, I didn't even make an effort last week.

Now, of course, I have an excuse. Don't we always have an excuse?You see, I really was busy with some things that we had going on at the company so I just didn't have the time to sit down and plan out a blog post in my mind.

Have you ever "been there and done that"? You have plans to do something proactive in your business but you spend the week being reactive. You allow other things to get in the way and you begin to justify why you didn't get done what needed to be done?

We don't attend a company event or training session because we "might have a buyer" that needs help that day.

We skip making calls one morning because we're waiting for a home inspector to call us about a walk through.

We cancel a coaching session with our manager so that we can prepare for a listing appointment that is a week away.

Procrastination is the friend of failure

There is an old Spanish proverb that says "Tomorrow is often the busiest day of the week," and I think it may just be true. We allow procrastination to get in our way because that's the easy thing to do.

Our exercise and health can wait until tomorrow. We'll just run more on the weekend or we can start eating healthy next week.

Our financial decisions aren't thought out the way they need to be because it's often easier to spend based on impulse instead of planning and foresight.

We fail to spend a proportional time of our week engaged in business development activities and instead we hide behind the business support activities because they are usually easier and don't involve any challenge or adversity. (Managers - are you focused on the "business development" activities that will help your office's bottom line? Recruiting, retention and agent development?) 

So what will you achieve this week. Instead of completing a "things to do" list, why not create a "make it happen" list. What can you "make happen"? Instead of saying you are "going to do" something, believe that you're going to "make something happen."

Why wait? I think now is a perfect time for you to take that next step closer to success.

Get out there now and start building relationships, solving problems and having fun.