September 25, 2011

The Days Are Getting Shorter

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.

"I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read, and all the friends I want to see."
~ John Burrough

Today's post and message is really simple. Up to this moment right now, you have worked hard to build some incredible relationships. Among all the people you have in your life right now, who would say are your 5 closest friends?

Think about that for a second. Look at the fingers on your right or left hand right now. Starting with your pinkie, name one of your closest connections. Ring finger? Middle finger? Pointer? Thumb?

My guess is you have some incredible memories rushing onto your head right now and it's hard to contain the smile from your lips, right?

Do yourself a favor this week and commit to calling each one of them this week, for no other reason than to just say "hello," "I miss you," "how's life?" or "let's get together soon."

If you have more than 5 that is awesome. Call all 10... or 20... or 50. I am sure that many of you would have a hard time narrowing it down to a "top five" but you probably don't have more than 5 of what you would consider your "best friends." It could be a spouse, parent, child, grandparent, former client, childhood buddy, high school classmate or college friend.

Whoever you're thinking of right now, call them.

After you've reached out and connected with those five people, trust'll have plenty of time to put on your real estate hat and start building relationships, solving problems and having fun.

This time it's not's personal.

September 22, 2011

Confused by Social Networking? Don’t Stress…Do L.E.S.S

The following post was originally posted in the Inman NEXT blog - a collection of posts from some of the best minds in real estate. They asked me to submit a guest post and this was my first submission.

The rip tide warnings have been posted.

From the beach, it looks pretty choppy out there.

Visitors are advised to “enter the water at their own risk.”

The social media ocean is vast and wide and can certainly swallow up a new visitor quickly.

Even though many people reading this are what would be considered “early adaptors” of social sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ and are power users of technology tools like video, mobile devices and analytic research systems, think back to when you first started. It was probably a tidal wave of bleeps, pings and “must see” websites that must have been a bit intimidating at first, no?

So here you are now, riding the wave of the social network evolution with confidence and consistency and there on the beach is a new youngster (or “oldster”) hoping to learn to catch a wave and join the party. They timidly approach you and ask for your advice on how or where they should start to “get” the best ways to get on board.

Before you overwhelm the novice social networking user with tips, tricks and tweeters to follow, suggest they slow down and actually do L.E.S.S.

L is for Listen

One of the best ways to get engaged in a social site like the “Big Four” – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ - is to not try and do everything at once. Assuming you have created an account and populated your profiles, find some people to connect with and just start listening.

You’ll quickly find out who speaks up a lot. You will learn who carries a strong voice and which subjects they preach and/or teach about. Some will have voices that clash with yours and others will seem to be saying exactly what you would say.

The more you listen, the more you will learn. Some people listen for weeks or months before they feel comfortable being a part of the conversation. Once you have spent enough time actively listening to people and their conversations, you will feel ready to join the conversation.

E is for Engagement

When the Web first started it was a one way medium. Visitors went to websites and digested the information or message the website creators provided. Looking back now, it was really a one-way street and it was very difficult for the user (a.k.a the customer) to interact with the company. We often went to websites to seek out the phone number so we could call and get help or answers.

Now with social media, it’s much less of a monologue and more of a dialogue. Communication is the basis for the majority of the biggest, most popular sites and if there is relevant, timely content being shared by the users, it sparks engagement.

As the sender of information you’re hoping to engage with the receivers of your message, developing relationships, generating discussions, garnering feedback and, for a probable desired result, generating a lead that can be converted into a new client or sale.

If you are the “listener” on social media sites, engaging in the discussion (commonly referred to as the “thread”) allows you to build new relationships or further strengthen existing friendships. Your answers or input may solve some problems and at the same time allow viewers and other “thread participants” to learn about your personality and professional acumen and may begin to increase your “on-line trust” as a valuable participant in the conversation. The more you engage, the better chances you have of increasing your following and influence on others.

S is for Share

Not many people like someone who takes but never gives. Don’t let this be you in the social network environments. The beauty of sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google+ is the possibility of learning new and cool things that could help you or someone you know and the opportunity for you to share things as well.

You could share tools, tips or techniques that have worked for you in your business. You may share systems or sites that have served you successfully that others may not know about. Many people enjoy sharing inspirational or motivational content like videos, blog posts or photos. Sharing doesn’t have to be limited to business. You could share feedback on travel, products or services. Sites like Foursquare, Gowalla and Yelp! Are built around others sharing their input to help others make decisions.

Remember the days of “Show and Tell” in your elementary days? Wasn’t it neat to find out what you had in common with other kids from your class when they shared their GI Joe collection or perhaps their photos from the family vacation to Cape Cod? Sharing becomes a great way for you to identify other people who are similar to you in interests, beliefs or goals. That can create some powerful relationships that go far beyond the “virtual walls” of the on-line world as we know them.

S is for Support

When you have built relationships with people it just seems natural that you would want to strengthen them in any way you can. Being a supportive friend, co-worker or family member is a very desirable trait. Social networking has many ways for you to be supportive.

Following people, “liking” their posts and pages, +1’ing their comments and sharing their stuff are all great ways to support people. Did you like what someone you follow on Twitter said today? If so, ReTweet their message to your followers. Maybe you enjoyed a video posted on-line? You could always write a blog post about it and why you like it and what others can or should learn from it. Add your comments to people’s new blog posts or even subscribe to blogs that interest you or may help you become better. I have yet to meet a user of social networking that didn’t enjoy seeing their name, message or materials shared, spotlighted or spoken about.

Showing your support doesn’t mean that you always have to agree with the post, concept or issue. Many times people are using the medium of social networking to hear all sides of the story. If you have a thought on the subject, put in your two cents and debate with manners and modesty.

Surf’s Up!

Don’t over think your strategy in the sea of social networks out there. Paddle out into the conversation and start acting like a professional surfer. Relax, chill out and lose the stress. Log in and start doing L.E.S.S .

Come on in. The water’s fine.

Photo from Flickr by vxla vai Creative Commons

September 19, 2011

Getting on the Same Page

I had a good meeting with my boss today.

We are both busy people who have a lot on our respective plates and are never really without something to do. It is just a fact that one of his "plates" is making sure I am doing all I can to provide assistance, support and value to the associates and managers within our organization so they can continue to deliver outstanding service and memorable experiences to their clients and customers. 

When you start getting busy it becomes easy to think you're on track with your actions and on schedule to deliver what is expected but having some check points along the way is always a good idea.

How do you make sure you're on the "same page" with everyone and anyone who might be reading from the same manual?

Servicing Your Sellers

How are you "touching base" with your Sellers during the listing process? It might be a wise practice to schedule weekly "check ins" with all of your Sellers so you can discuss your marketing efforts, any changes in the market (new listings, price changes, new pending deals, buyer activity) and upcoming events you may have planned.

Doing this weekly allows you to create open communication with your clients and let's them always know what you're doing to not only maximize exposure on their home and generate potential interest, but eventually earn your fee they will pay you when it sells.

Another thing this might do is eliminate many of those "got a minute" interruptions that some Sellers might bother you with throughout the week if they knew they could count on your weekly call. Be sure to put it in your schedule and be diligent about making the call. Prepare your thoughts the morning of these calls and anticipate any questions or concerns they may have for you.

Scheduling these "check ins" at the time you take the listing will start your relationship off on the right foot and show them that they have listed their home with a true sales professional instead of someone who just sits back and waits for the market to deliver an offer. These weekly calls also eliminate the possibility of your Sellers saying they "never hear from you."

Positioning Your Purchasers

If you're a full time Realtor in today's challenging market, you know you don't have time to be a chauffeur and spend your day working with "lookers." You want to work with people who are ready, willing and able to buy, right?

We spoke in The Realtor's Toolbox earlier this year about the 5 Reasons for a Buyer Counseling Session (see video blog series here) so let's assume that this is where your relationship truly begins with each Buyer. How are you making sure that you're always on the "same page" with your clients who are searching for that next place to call home?

Are you what might be called a "Pop Tart Agent" who just jumps and runs when a client wants to see a house or do you have a system to identify the right listings that match what the client has identified as their needs and wants? If you don't get control of your schedule don't be surprised if your schedule grabs control of you.

Schedule your showings and don't be afraid to ask your clients after each session if they want to explore moving forward on any of the houses you showed - also known as "asking for the sale." If you feel that you're spending too many sessions just "looking" don't be afraid to schedule another "mini" Buyer Counseling Session to verify that what you're showing them and what they are looking for are still in alignment. Otherwise you're not only wasting their time, you're wasting your time!

Get in Tandem with Your Teammates

Do you keep in touch with your lenders, inspectors, attorneys and title companies? How do your systems you have in place ensure that you and your office staff know what is going on with your transactions? If you have a team of agents you work with, do you schedule regular meetings with each other so everyone knows what going on with your clients? Does your manager have a good idea of what your current "pipeline" looks like so he or she can help you keep all the deals you're juggling from falling at your feet?

Constant communication, dotting every 'i' and crossing each 't' can be a good idea because you never know when a question or emergency might arise.

Don't leave success to chance. Make sure you're utilizing systems and scheduling regular meetings with anyone who has a chance to affect or impact your business. That way you can focus on building relationships, solving problems and having fun.

Photo via Flickr - courtesy of Horia Varlan

September 18, 2011

What Did You Expect?

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 finally football season and we're a few weeks into the season in both the professional and college game. Not everyone is a football fan but there probably aren't many people that don't have at least a passing interest in a team somewhere. It may be a local organization or perhaps a team from your childhood days or a former city where you used to live. Many of us are passionate fans of our alma mater or a team with ties to a family member.

Most of the college teams are one quarter of the way through their schedule while the NFL will complete Week 2 tonight. So let me ask you football fans...How's your team doing?

  • Are they undefeated and creating some excitement about what might happen this season? 
  • Are you pleasantly encouraged by what you have seen so far?
  • Or are you utterly disgusted with the effort displayed by the players and coaching staff?
While there is still a lot of season to be played, there is something to be said about expectations and how quickly they can be surpassed or squashed.

It's almost time for the 4th quarter in our business. Take a peek at the scoreboard.

Have you lived up to your expectations?

If you answered yes, keep it up. It's time to run up the score and build some momentum for the new year ahead.

If you can't say with confidence that you're on track to reach your goals, remember that the game isn't over yet. Don't give up. Keep executing the game plan, rely on the basics and focus on what is ahead of you.

Here's a cool video to kick off your week. Isn't it time you get in the game?

Expect success!

(Click here if you don't see the video below)

Have a great week building relationships, solving problems and having fun.

September 15, 2011

Hope, Hamburgers and The Half Blood Prince – What’s Your Business Strategy?

There are lots of different ways to run your real estate business and it’s pretty safe to say that there is no “best” way. Success depends on many factors such as the market you’re practicing in, your financial ability to dedicate funds towards personal and property marketing, your discipline and frankly, a little luck just to name a few.


While there may be no “best” way to succeed, there is strategy that almost certainly won’t work…at least not consistently; Hope.

“I hope my buyer finds the right house today”

“I hope I get a call today from someone who wants to sell”

“I hope my friends and family members remember that I am a Realtor and will call me if they need any help buying or selling a home.”

When you are leaving your chances for success in someone else’s hands, it doesn’t tend to work out well. As we’ve talked about before in The Realtor’s Toolbox, you have two things to focus on every day - business development and business support. You must actively make enough contacts each day or week to schedule enough appointments that might lead to buyers or sellers who are motivated to act in the immediate or very near future. Hoping that happens just isn’t a good strategy.


How consistent are you in your business? Do you utilize systems and protocols that are repeatable day in and day out? If there’s something in your daily or weekly routine that you do more than once, there should be a system in place for it. Everyone should have a thorough and detailed checklist for Buyers and Sellers from the very first call or meeting all the way through the closing. These checklists should even have a detailed plan for what happens after the deal is done.

Do you know what’s in a Big Mac? I do.

Two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun.

It doesn’t matter whether you order a Big Mac in Nebraska at noon or in Detroit at dinnertime. You can grab the signature sandwich at McDonald’s on a Saturday in San Diego or a Monday in Montana and you’re always going to get two all beef patties, special sauce, lettuce, cheese, pickles, onions on a sesame seed bun. The folks at Mickey D’s have figured out that the system works and when people can count on getting what they expect, both parties win.

What might happen to your business if you were able to do the business support activities with a systematic approach? How about if your business development activities followed a similar, repeatable routine and you stayed disciplined to it, regardless of the outcomes each day?

The Half Blood Prince

Are you a Harry Potter fan like my 9-year-old son Ryan turned me into? We spent the last few years reading the series of books by J.K. Rowling about a young boy who is a wizard in England. The 6th book in the series is called Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince and it is a thrilling adventure with intrigue and mystery…much like a career in real estate these days.

In the story, Harry takes a class at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry that he wasn’t originally scheduled to take. As he enters the class the first day he tells the teacher that he doesn’t have the necessary text book to use. The teacher directs him to the bookshelf to use one of the school's copies. It is inside this copy of the book that Harry finds mysterious writings and notes from someone known as “the Half Blood Prince” who had scribbled this nickname inside the book’s cover.

These scribbles seem to give Harry an edge over the rest of his classmates because it turns out that this “Half Blood Prince” figured out some short cuts, tricks and sure fire ways to conjure up the right potions and spells and Harry quickly learned to use them effectively for classroom assignments, frolic and fun and even personal protection.

Who is your “Half Blood Prince” in the real estate business? Is there a mentor, coach or manager who has “been there and done that” before you who could provide some much needed tips and techniques to get more deals to the closing table? It could be a fellow Realtor in your office or company. Perhaps lenders, title agents, home inspectors or anyone who might have something to share that could lead to more success. Would it be worth it for you to reach out to the veteran agent who recently retired? That could be the most valuable lunch or dinner you ever eat.

How often are you looking for the "writing on the wall" or "reading between the lines" so you're ready to find the magic potion that leads to success?

How’s Business?

If you are not on pace to achieve or surpass your goals for 2011 then it might be a good time to look at your business strategy. Don’t get discouraged if you’re falling short of your expectations this year. You certainly aren’t alone, so just pick yourself up and get re-focused on what you can control these next 3+ months. Other agents begin to “slow it down” or “wait ‘til next year” around this time of year which creates some wonderful opportunity for you to find some clients who need help.

It's time to Super Size your attitude, shake off the invisibility cloak you’ve been wearing lately and get out in front of people. don’t have to be a Wizard to start building relationships, solve problems and have fun.

September 11, 2011

When Fear Keeps You Down...Get Up!

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.

In the shadow of the anniversary of 9/11, I felt this was a great quote to share...not just because of the meaning for those of you in the real estate business but also anyone of you who enjoys the "American way" in general.

"We learn by courageous action going forward whenever fear urges us back. A little boy was asked how he learned to skate. 'Oh, by getting up every time I fell down' he answered."

~ David Seabury, How to Worry Successfully

  • How does that statement apply to your career?

  • How does that statement apply to your life?

In real estate, like in life, you're going to get knocked down far more than you're going remain standing tall. Are you willing to get up every time?

There is no doubt that in your career you will be rejected more often that you will be selected so decide now if that will make you or break you.

Are you ready to say that "nothing will keep me from building my business" or will you take the easy way out and say "I'll wait for business to come to me."

If you get knocked down, stop pointing fingers, belly-aching and making excuses. Get your ass back up and start marketing solutions to the necessary people that can help you win the "game."

The time is right to start building relationships, solving problems and having fun.

Why are you still just sitting there? Success starts bright and early.

Get your ass up!

September 7, 2011

This Guy Really "Gets It"

With all the scandal and negativity swirling in college football and the NCAA, it’s always nice to hear a young man who is appreciative of where he is and respectful of how he got there.

If you haven’t seen this speech by Michigan State Senior QB Kirk Cousins from the Big Ten Media Day events earlier this season, do yourself a favor and watch this 7 ½ minute speech.
If you don't see the video below, click here

I have never claimed to be a Michigan State fan and probably will never be one, but I will root for this kid to succeed in whatever he chooses.

Something tells me he’ll be successful on the football field, in the classroom, in is future career and in his personal relationships.

I would be honored to have my daughter Riley marry a kid like this someday.

Good luck Kirk Cousins and your Michigan State Spartan teammates. May you all have a successful season and have many opportunities to build relationships, solve problems and have fun.