November 27, 2011

Cure Your Mistakes with a Crumple

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 a good thing to have all the props pulled out from under us occasionally. It gives us some sense of what is rock under our feet, and what is sand.”
- Madeleine L'Engle

Have you made any mistakes this year?

Sure you have. We all have. But did it get you in any legal trouble? Did the mistake you made cause any harm to a client or force you to neglect your fiduciary duties? Hopefully not because you take this job very seriously, don't you?

What have you learned from those mistakes? 

Did they help you learn a better way to do something? Maybe they showed you how "not" to do something? Mistakes are sometimes the best way for us to learn so as long as you don't keep making the same mistakes over and over again, you'll probably be okay.

What were the mistakes?

Here's an idea. Take out a blank sheet of paper.

Seriously, grab a blank sheet of paper and think back to the beginning of the year. Write down all of the mistakes you have made. You're not going to be sharing this with anyone so be honest. Big or small, silly or serous, write down what the mistake was in as much detail as possible.  Look through your calendar or day planner, think back to each client and transaction or try to remember all of the other activities you were a part of in 2011.

If you made a mistake, own it and write it down. If you made hundreds of mistakes, write 'em down. Scribble down the one or two memorable mistakes or fill the entire page, front and back, if you must.

Now that you've done that, review the list and make sure you know what you should have or could have done differently. Learn something that, if you repeat this exercise next year at this time, you won't make it again.

Look at the list one more time, take a deep breath...and then crumple it up.

"Did he say 'crumple it up'?"

Yep, that's right. Tear it into pieces, shred it, burn it or simply just crumple it up.

Then toss it into the trash can and forget it because today is new day. It's a blank slate

Forget your mistakes and move on to a new sheet...a clean sheet of paper.

November 24, 2011

Get Ready Realtors - It's Black Friday

This is one of my more popular blog posts from November 28, 2008. This was written before many of you were loyal subscribers to The Realtor's Toolbox so, much like many of you who will be pulling out old holiday decorations and Christmas lights this weekend, here is a Thanksgiving classic. Perhaps some of you will be reading it on your mobile devices while waiting in line.

As I stood in line at Wal-Mart to get my "Door Buster Deals" early on the Friday morning after Thanksgiving, I began to realize all the things a Realtor can learn from shopping's Super Bowl.
 Remember My Name - I am not sure when the name "Black Friday" was assigned to the unofficial first day of the holiday shopping season - I always thought it was "The Busiest Shopping Day of the Year"? You have to admit however that "Black Friday" has a cool ring to it. And that might be the first lesson - Realtors need to be descriptive in their marketing. It's not about the 3BR, 2BA anymore. People want to hear a story. We need to be "selling" instead of just "telling."

Build the Buzz - I am always amazed at the amount of buzz and planning that goes into both sides of this day. The retailers have the marketing blitz ready weeks in advance, staffing everyone on the payroll and hiring security to keep the crazed shoppers in line. The consumers usually have established a plan of attack - many times bringing multiple people to search out various items from different corners of the store or even multiple stores at once.

Realtors need to think of new ways to create interest in their listings. "Just Listed" doesn't have the same urgency anymore. Why not hold an "invite only" Open House for the neighborhood prior to the first scheduled public open house? People will always want something that is "one to a customer." Create buyer urgency by following the "hot sheets" in your local MLS and contacting them before lunchtime.

"What are you doing on your lunch break? I think I might have found your new house!"

Utilize the Web - This one seems like a "no brainer" with the latest NAR statistics showing that 87% of consumers are using the web in the real estate searches. Can you cross promote your products or services on local company sites, national sites? Are you reaching out to potential customers through blogs and social media outlets? Remember the rules of the web - make it fresh and make it relevant but most important...make it visible.

Toss in "Extras" - offers free shipping. Some stores offer free wrapping or even gift cards with certain purchases. What other services could you offer your clients? Complimentary consulting? Individualized web sites for searching? Mailing labels after closing?

Sure these things aren't much and it's stuff you might do anyway but people always love to feel they are getting more than they paid for. Four words will help you succeed more than you know - "Under promise...Over deliver."

Set "Limits" - If people could get the same price at 5pm that they can get at 5am, what is the point? By creating urgency, today's marketers have figured out that today's consumer thrives on competition. The "thrill of the hunt" or the "battle for supremacy" creates desire. Desire needs to be satisfied. What can you do to create urgency for your clients? Do you have a "call to action" in your marketing?

Fish Upstream - What do I mean by this one? It's simple. The holidays are a stressful time of year for many people. This year will offer more stress with the faltering economy but people will fight to hang on to their traditions and gift giving opportunities. If you're like me, waiting until the last minute to complete your shopping list can be a bit hectic and frustrating. By creating "Black Friday" retailers have helped move the decision making process up 30 days. I overheard shoppers boast that by dinnertime tonight they would be done with their shopping.

Realtors need to be looking 30 days ahead for our clients sake as well. Do your marketing efforts help identify sellers before they receive the foreclosure notice? Are we encouraging buyers to look three months before their lease expires while they still have the leisure of finding the right house instead of waiting and finding the only house?

I must admit, I am not a huge fan of getting up early to do things I could normally do during daylight hours (and not have to fight pajama-clad women) but the opportunity only comes around once a year. I would consider my "mission" a success today; products purchased, discounts received, "honey do list" for the rest of the weekend waived. Goodbye "Black Friday." Hello "Slacker Saturday."

Wouldn't it be neat if you could create the same kind of excitement in your business?

November 22, 2011

You've Always Got Choices

Paper or plastic?
Coke or Pepsi?
Draft or bottle?
Left or right?

Every single day we are faced with decisions. Some are insignificant in the big scheme of things while others could drastically impact our results. The Canadian rock band Rush sang in their classic song Freewill, "If you choose not to decide you still have made a choice." 

So as you continue to mull over your business plan drafts for 2012, you are probably faced with some tough decisions, aren't you?

Is my success more about the service I provide or the number of sales I can collect?

Should I be more focused on the results I enjoy each day or the reasons I did or didn't achieve them?

Am I okay being good or do I want to strive for great?

Will I be happy delivering satisfactory service or do I really want to be truly remarkable.  - Remember, "doing what is required only prevents customer dissatisfaction. You must do more than is required to truly satisfy a customer."

Can I get away with just going through the motions or do I need to bring passion and enthusiasm into what I do...every day?

If my hands and feet are doing the job, isn't that enough? Or should I really engage my hand and feet along with my head and my heart?

Can I stay in the comfort zone of the status quo or will I need to take some risks to truly advance to the next level?

People may pay for generic but will they pay more for creative?

The world feels safe with people, places and things that are common but the world talks about people, places and things that are unique.

Forgettable is gone in a second. Memorable lasts days, weeks, months, years and even lifetimes.

Perhaps my three favorite choices to make each and every day...

Keep to yourself or build relationships.

Make problems or solve problems.

Be miserable or have fun.

And finally, in the words of Jedi Master Yoda from Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back,

"Do or do not. There is no try."

(Click here if you do not see the video below)

The choice is yours. Choose wisely.

November 20, 2011

Are You Ready to Give Thanks?

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.

Give Thanks

As we approach the Thanksgiving holiday, think of all the things you have to be thankful for.

  • A spouse or partner who supports your efforts every day to build relationships, solve problems and have fun.
  • Children and parents, living or dead, who love you unconditionally whether you close a deal this week or not.
  • Extended family members who want your success almost as much as you want it yourself.
  • Clients who have trusted you to assist them with their real estate needs in 2011 or years previous.
  • Anyone who has referred you a lead, whether it came to fruition or not
  • Your branch manager who coaches and supports your efforts
  • The hard working staff (full time & part time) of your branch and company whose work behind the scenes helps you do your jobs better and more efficiently.
  • Your company leadership who provides you with tradition, teamwork, tools, technology and training in your local marketplace.
  • Local affiliates such as lenders, title company personnel, home inspectors, builders and any other vendor or might have an impact on your transactions.
  • Your local board, state associations and National Association of Realtors for continuing to support and work hard to protect private property rights of all residents.
Who else?

Leave anyone I forgot in the comments below or drop me an email. I'm curious to know who you're thankful for this year?

 "None is more impoverished than the one who has no gratitude. Gratitude is a currency that we can mint for ourselves, and spend without fear of bankruptcy."
~Fred De Witt Van Amburgh




November 17, 2011

You Say You Want an Evolution?

Have you ever thought about the stages between where you are now and where you want to go? How will you go from the beginning of the process all the way to that sometimes indefinable "success" you seek?

When you start to hear about a subject, concept, system or process it causes you to focus in a little bit deeper. Your hearing the "buzz" becomes an actual "on purpose" listening to what is being said.

As you listen more, you start to understand. When we understand things, we gain the confidence to start doing that activity required.

Through hours and hours of "doing" we can eventually master a task, action, concept or process. Or can we?

Do we really ever master something or will that pursuit of excellence continue to force us to hear new things?

And then the process starts all over again...

November 13, 2011

Why "No" Can Be a Very Good Word to Hear

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.

"Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure."
~ Thomas J. Watson, Founder of IBM

What's on your agenda for business development activities this week? Do you have some time penciled in to proactively build your business?
Seriously. As you're reading this on your desktop, mobile device or tablet, what are you planning this week to grow your business ON PURPOSE?
If you don't already have at least two appointments scheduled with prospects to potentially secure new business or if you're not meeting with clients of yours to generate referral business, you might not be spending your time wisely.
Change Your Focus
Instead of picking up the phone or knocking on doors expecting or searching for someone to say "yes" to you, I suggest you change what type of answer you're looking for.
Start looking for the "no's."
Why? Because I'm positive that you'll have more success finding "no's" than you ever will finding the "yeses."
It's been said that it takes about 9 "no's" to get to one "yes," so there's going to be a lot more failure than victory unless you are looking to get nine people to say "no" to you each day. When you are seeking a positive response it can get discouraging to constantly hear "no" or "not now." If you start aiming for the negative replies to your inquiries you will get on a roll and the only thing that could derail your efforts is if someone actually says..."yes?"
Can you imagine actually being upset by a prospect having interest in meeting with you to discuss the purchase or sale of a home!!! The nerve of some people. (sarcasm intended)
"Hey Mrs. Manager. I have had a horrible day. I came in today to make calls until I heard nine people say "no" to my inquiry. I figured I could knock those nine calls out in less than 30 minutes.
"You know what happened? 3 of my first 6 calls actually were glad I called. I had some great conversations with them and I even was able to set up 2 appointments. The other is heading out of town but said we should get together when they get back because they might want to look at some investment opportunities to take advantage of these great interest rates they have been reading about.

"I sure do hope the next few people I call just tell me "no." I've got things to do!"

Change Your Results

Are you willing to keep making calls to hit your quota of "no's" you were looking for. How bad would your luck be if you kept reaching people who have a need instead of just rejecting you so you can go on with your day?
Not a bad problem to have, huh?
Find some people to build relationships, solve problems and have fun with. Or find people who don't want to do any of those three things.
Either way, you're going to win.

November 6, 2011

Make It, Take It

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.

The days are shorter now that most of the country as "fallen back" thanks to Daylight Savings Time. That means it gets darker earlier and it really seems like the work day flies by quickly.

So how can you make sure you get everything done that you need to in order to succeed?
Here's some simple advice:

Quit trying to "save time."

You can't do it. There is nothing you can do to "save time." There are 24 hours in the day today, there were 24 hours yesterday and there will be 24 hours tomorrow. I'm pretty sure until something major happens (and I'm not talking about the Chicago Cubs winning the World Series) that the hours in a day won't be changing.

So why do people think that some things they do will allow them to "save time." Do they think if they can do something in 15 minutes less than normal today and they'll be able to take that quarter of an hour, put it in their pocket and use it another day? Wouldn't we all want to find ways to cut a few hours out of the work week and stack them onto the weekend? Or drop them out of our pockets on our last day of vacation?

Here a fact that you should all be aware of; If you want to make time for something, you'll need to take it away from something else.

Start assessing your schedule between now and the end of the year. Are there activities which seem to take a lot of your time that don't help add results? Do you spend time doing things that really don't lead to appointments, contracts or closings?

The key element in time management is a conscious decision.

Start getting serious about your time. Spend it all up.

As they can't take it with you.

November 4, 2011

Where Did All the Candy Go?

Earlier this week I shared a post about Trick-or-Treat and how kids have a unique way to handle rejection. It was both a message about our business development efforts and routine and our attitudes.

Well, what happens to those kids who worked hard to fill their big orange plastic pumpkins with candy, if they found out their parents ate all of their candy? That's what ABC late night talk show host Jimmy Kimmel wanted to find out.

Watch this funny video to see how kids reacted to the sad news.
(Click here if you can't see the video)

Have a great weekend!

November 1, 2011

Can Others Feel Your Passion?

Passion is a fun thing to see in action. No, I'm not talking about the kind of passion that makes teenagers blush or television executives cringe. I'm talking about seeing people do what they love to do. When they are great at it, it just adds to the intensity of those experiencing the action, service or performance.

For example, I have some buddies who love to play basketball but they'll never be mistaken for Michael Jordan. They love it...but they aren't great at it. I love to golf but even if I play well on a given day I am not going to make people "ooh" and "ahh" at my shot making ability like a Rory McIlroy or a Phil Mickelson.

I've written a bunch about passion. I've written about P-A-S-S-I-O-N as an acronym; I've written about people's passion for what they do.

Today, I got to see passion in action.

I had lunch today with my Mom and Kevin, my brother, and Lindsey Margaroli. Lindsey is the Interim Executive Director for Advancement with the College of Engineering at The Ohio State University. In layman's terms, I guess you could say she is a fund raiser...but in even more basic terms, she is a salesperson. And she is proud if it.

Her job every day involves building relationships, solving problems and having fun. Her job involves "selling" people on The Ohio State University, the College of Engineering, the dream of becoming an engineer, the growth and development of the school and really, her job is to sell "being a Buckeye." You're going to be a Buckeye," "you are a Buckeye" or "remember what it meant to you when you were a Buckeye?"

You can just tell by spending a few minutes with Lindsey that she loves what she does. She knew people in the restaurant by name and many knew her by name too.  At the very least, many knew her by her face and her smile. In just one quick pass through the seating area before we ordered, she connected with the Chair of The School of Architecture and the interim Chair of the School of Landscape Architecture (the same department my father proudly served in from 1971 through 2000). Lindsey knew the server who was waiting on us by name and knew of his progress through school to this point. They even discussed his choice of post-graduate plans. 

This wasn't Lindsey "stacking the deck" to impress us. She has dealt with much bigger donors that The Carpenters and was even off to a privately hosted dinner with a big school supporter in Cincinnati later in the day. This wasn't about securing a check today. This was about a chance to further develop a relationship.

She is just really good at what she does. People can feel that.

It also wasn't about her.

She was genuinely interested in my Mom's upcoming trip to New York City to see the Book of Mormon on Broadway. She asked about Kevin's current workload in his engineering career and his family. She inquired about my reasons and decision to attend The University of Florida. She was eagerly engaged with our answers and we knew it.

Do people feel your passion for what you do?

Do your clients sense your desire to help them "solve a problem" or can they hear you calculating the commission in your head before the deal has closed? Does your body language and tone of voice let people know that you are "on your game"?

The more you can do every day to make people feel special, the better chance you have of success today, tomorrow and into the future. Whether Lindsey gets donations, sponsorships, endowments, or agreements from her clients or not isn't going to threaten the Ohio State University from staying open for a long time to come. A lot would have to happen for OSU to shut down and close it's doors.

Along the same lines, whether you list another home, sign another buyer or close another deal isn't going to determine if the real estate industry is alive tomorrow or not. Someone is going to buy a house tomorrow and someone is going to sell a house tomorrow. And the day after that...and the day after that...and the day after that.

Lindsey's efforts and passion each day will however, insure that the students, faculty and staff get the best opportunity to become and create successful engineers and members of society and that the alumni and supporters of the school will be proud of their Alma mater and what it represents.

Your efforts and passion each day will insure that you can show up each day and head home each night knowing that you did your best...because that's all you can do.