Somethings will just NEVER go out of style. The need for a great doctor, a great lawyer, a skilled and honest mechanic, a great meal at a fine restaurant, and the one thing that all of those have in common that defines them… GREAT SERVICE! Whether it was 100 years ago or yesterday, people will willingly and happily pay a premium for great service. With that said, they will just as willingly and happily discount the absence of or even the perception of the absence of great service. The one thing about great service is that the ONLY person who could decide if the service being provided is truly great is the person receiving it. And this is where the breakdown begins and ends and exactly why great service has become something many talk about but rarely actually deliver. For this reason, some customers have just decided that it’s easier to find someone who will be cheaper vs spending so much time searching for truly great service. Conversely there are many “service” providers who have decided that it’s easier to just reduce their fees than to pursue actually delivering great service. This is as simple as supply and demand. There is a demand for cheap and there are those who are happy to meet that demand. But common sense dictates that there is a demand for premium service and the existence of those who will meet that demand as well.
I’ve dedicated my career to delivering world class service. Whether as an Air Traffic Controller responsible for providing safe travels to aircraft where less than world class service can be deadly, or as a real estate professional tasked with representing home sellers and buyers in the largest transaction of their lives. An almost obsessive dedication to delivering extraordinary service has been at the core of my success. While so many are focused on how much money they’re making or winning awards, I’ve simply focused on delivering great service to those I serve. As a result, I’ve not had to spend as much time justifying my value to people. No, I’m not bragging. I’ve just found that as professionals, we all have the opportunity to choose how we conduct ourselves in our businesses. If we constantly strive to be the best at our profession, seek knowledge, improve, and relentlessly focus on delivering incredible service to our customers, then we will be paid accordingly. If we constantly look for shortcuts, let our egos get in the way, meet our customers expectations rather than exceed them, spend little time working on improving our knowledge, and make excuses, then once again, we will be paid accordingly.
So, the first thing you need to decide is whether you are going to be the BEST or the SAME AS EVERYONE ELSE or just the CHEAPEST. If you decide to be the BEST in your profession, then you’re going to have to really work hard at it. This means that you are focusing on going above and beyond ALL the time, not some of the time, ALL of the time. I put together a list of some of the ways that you can stand out as a real estate agent in today’s market and literally blow your clients away in comparison to what they’ll get from the average agent out there.
-Stop or at least dramatically reduce the amount of texting and emails and start actually calling people or meeting face to face with your clients more.
-As a listing agent, require that buyers agents present their offers in person to your sellers with you there of course. In multiple offer situations, have them all show up at the same time and show your seller what a great negotiator you are.
-Physically BE at every inspection, appraisal, and walk thru appointment. While other agents are “too busy” or “too important” to be there, you raise the bar and be there. Selling or buying a home is very stressful and scary for many, and your presence shows that you are there for them and representing their best interests.
-Answer or respond to ALL availability calls from buyers agents. These calls allow you the opportunity to SELL the home to the agent and provide them with solid positive talking points with their buyers while setting up expectations and instilling confidence in your professionalism as a listing agent.
-Communicate often, answer your phone, and respond to messages fast.
-ALWAYS remain calm and professional regardless of the co-op agent/client behavior.
-Demand and deliver the highest quality in every aspect of the marketing of the home. No detail is too small. No shortcuts.
-ALWAYS check lock box showings and call showing agents prior to countering or accepting an offer to ensure no other offers are coming in. Do this to encourage more offers too.
-As a listing agent, recognize that your job is not just to sell the home, but to sell the home for top dollar. And one of the best ways to accomplish this is with multiple offers. So encourage ALL offers. Contingencies, low offers, etc.
-Whenever possible, be at every showing as the listing agent. Don’t depend on a buyers agent to adequately “sell” your listing and all of it’s benefits and features.
-Become an expert at articulating your value and your company’s value. Don’t “wing it” on listing presentations. The clients deserve to know what they are paying for so tell them.
-Always go out of your way to help your sellers find their next home. Whether referring out of the area, or helping find a rental, you need to be part of this solution for them.
-Ask lots of questions to get to know and fully understand your clients situation and primary goals and objectives. Don’t try to guess at this. Talk less and listen more.
-Be CONFIDENT but not ARROGANT. Even the slightest perception of arrogance can be deadly.
-Have EMPATHY. Put yourself mentally in their situation so you can understand what they are going through better and genuinely CARE.
-“100/0” —Accept 100% responsibility and make ZERO excuses during the entire transaction. Never blame others.
-Be an expert on the market. Knowledge is power and your clients expect you to have it. They would almost always prefer facts over opinions.
These just a few things that you can do to stand out in today’s market place. While some of them may not be very convenient and could be difficult to accomplish, the alternative is compromising your service and standards. And as I eluded to earlier, this is a slippery slope and a one way ticket to mediocrity.
In closing, just focus on your customers more than anything else. They will appreciate your extreme attention and they will never question what you charge. Be the BEST, believe you are the BEST, and be able to articulate WHY you are the BEST in extreme detail. And remember, if you’re ever asked to discount your fee, then always respond with this common sense question “Are you looking for the Cheapest, or the Best? Because there’s a huge difference that I’d love to sit down and explain to you.”
Thank you for taking the time to read this and don’t forget to SUBSCRIBE above!
So anyone who knows me, even just a little, knows that I am a huge believer in Social Media, and I’m a total tech nerd. I have so much technology in my car that I could land the space shuttle from it if I needed to. So this may come as a surprise to you when I say it…. Ready? STOP OVER RELYING ON TECHNOLOGY TO DO YOUR JOB! Yep, I just said that and I meant it. Let me explain. I jumped on the band wagon early on. Before Facebook was a big thing I was on there with a handful of friends. I had Foursquare when that was big and was the “Mayor” of any and every business I frequented, and, well, I hate to admit this but I was a MySpace master back in the early 2000’s. If it’s new and has anything to do with technology, I’ll probably buy into it. I spent $2400 on a GPS in car aftermarket navigation system in 1999 when people were still using Thomas Guides and the DVD/CD’s were out of date the day they arrived. I even bought the first Bluetooth headset before cellphones had Bluetooth in them and required a wired adapter and holster. So why the anti-tech blog post? It’s pretty simple. At this point everyone on the planet is using technology. Its not really that impressive anymore. Everyone has their version of the hottest and coolest tech and in the Real Estate business they all think it’s “revolutionary”, “modernizing”, and/or the answer to all of the woes of the average agent. “There’s an app for that” has gone to the furthest extreme. They even make an app now called Slydial that enables you to make sure you don’t have to talk to the person your calling and get their voicemail. Seriously?!
What I see is missing more and more nowadays is the Personal Touch. When it’s someones birthday now, we wish them Happy Bday on Facebook or text message. I’m guilty of this too! It’s like we’ll do anything to avoid actually having a live two way conversation with people anymore. In this world of super impersonal and flippant interactions, I can’t help but to see a HUGE opportunity that will actually yield some pretty great results when it comes to business growth.
Just think, in a world full of distant communication strategies, text messaging, instant messenger, emails, fancy CRM programs, etc. what do you think would happen to your business if you just picked up the phone and called to wish someone a happy birthday or just ask them how they are doing? What about the good old fashioned “pop-by” on the weekend? Or a kindly handwritten personal note? Think of the look on an expired listing homeowners face if you showed up to their door. Remember when we used to send a get well soon card to someone who was sick? Here’s a crazy one. Remember when we used to ask people “how have you been?” and we actually wanted to know how they’ve been?
In this short post, I just simply want to maybe spark some thought about how overplayed technology is becoming. Yes, I’ll still use it and I’ll still leverage it’s benefits and I do see value in it so let’s not go overboard. But with every agent in the world buying into every new hot tech thing that’ll “transform their business”, I’d just propose that you may stand out in a really good way if you just picked up the phone, wrote a personal note, or stopped by someones house more often. One thing will never change no matter how many cool devices exist. People like to connect offline as much if not more than they do online, and relationships, trust, and confidence can all be built faster and better when we make that effort. And please don’t tell me that “millennials don’t want to communicate by phone or in person”. Baloney! Just because someone was born at a different time doesn’t mean that they are aliens from another planet. Despite their hot pink hair, or permanently implanted Beats headphones, they will still be impressed, likely even more impressed, when you go out of your way to treat them like human beings and just talk to them. And in this day and age, it’s almost becoming a “revolutionary” idea again to actually talk to people outside of text, email, and social media. What a crazy concept. Talking to people, writing notes, and just sitting down and actually listening to people is on the verge of becoming the greatest secret business strategy out there.
So, in closing, feel free to call me a “revolutionary” for proposing these crazy ideas. 🙂 No need to abandon all of your technology, that’d be just stupid as there are a lot of good things that come out of it still. But take the crazy out of the box step to make things much more personal with your sphere of influence, past clients, and new prospects. It’s OK to like a post about someones kid who got honor roll, but imagine the impact when you call them to congratulate and esteem them for being great role models and parents.
Now I’ve got to go check my Facebook notifications, emails, and then order my groceries on Amazon so I don’t have to go into the store. 🙂
Thanks for reading!
Chicken Little said it and it’s become a great analogy for the perpetual fear and panic that has spread throughout the Real Estate industry since long before I got my license almost 25 years ago. Since I got into this business, I’ve heard the panic almost every single year. Whether it was the “Banks are going to take over”, “Internet is going to replace us”, or the seasonal discount broker that shows up with plans to “disrupt the industry”, so far, none of these things have managed to replace the skilled customer service oriented full service real estate agent and firm.
With that said, this is NOT a post about other business models, and it’s certainly not a post designed to discredit or discourage the entrepreneurial spirit and competitive nature of our business or any business for that matter. Over the years I have seen many businesses succeed and fail but I have always appreciated how these business attempts either prove me wrong or validate my beliefs.
So what is this post really about? It’s about VALUE vs COST! Most of the attacks on the full service brokerage model have been almost 100% focused on attacking the COST rather than the value of a real estate agent/firm. Oh yes… They try to diminish the value of the competitor by implying that they are overcharging for what they offer, but in the end, all that’s being sold is COST. Sometimes it’s because the market shifts up or down that drives the emergence of these COST focused businesses, but whatever the reason, the common sense is that no matter what business it is, there will always be a large majority of people who demand VALUE over COST. IF cost was all that mattered to the general public then expensive doctors, lawyers, engineers, and frankly every luxury auto maker would disappear in light a cheaper/less expensive option. Think of any business, service, or product… There is a low cost version and a high cost version and in every single case there are significant differences in their offerings/products. It really is about common sense. An entire industry like the real estate business would not be dominated by full service brokerages if there was such a demand for low cost/discount brokerages. It’s not like real estate or real estate agents are something new. And regardless of whether it is a company like Zillow offering “Instant Offers”, Discount Brokers, or a Tech Company wanting to automate the entire transaction on an APP or website, the ONE business model that has been sustainable and withstood the test of time has been the FULL SERVICE REAL ESTATE BROKERAGE model. The fear surrounding the “instant offers” offering by Zillow is not worth the drama either. Almost every home seller wants TOP DOLLAR for their home so those few who don’t, are willing to sell “under market” to an investor, and that is NOT the Full Service brokerage customers. So Zillow is welcome to do what they want but until they figure out how to replicate what the Full Service brokers offer and deliver on, they aren’t really our competition. I’d even venture to say that since Zillows model is to sell leads to real estate agents, that their “instant offers” program is likely a ploy to gather seller leads to sell back to the real estate agents at a premium… Sound familiar???
So the bottom line is this… IN THE ABSENCE OF VALUE OR EVEN PERCEIVED VALUE, PEOPLE WILL SEEK OUT COST. And overall, our industry has done a great job not only proving that we are worth our fees, but we have demonstrated it in our overall results over a very long period of time. Selling a home is NOT easy, and closing the escrow is even harder in many cases. The amount of skill, patience, strategy, & experience it takes to get through most transactions is staggering. In most cases, there are more things that could go wrong than could go right and it takes incredible insight, anticipation, and problem solving abilities to get these transactions closed. Furthermore, the amount and quality of marketing, advertising, and over all exposure necessary to drive the demand to achieve the top dollar price cannot just be duplicated by anyone. Some brokerages and agents simply do more than others and some do it better. This is an unarguable and easily proven fact.
So who do these other business models have any success at all? They literally bank on not having to compete with the top brokerages and agents in a competitive listing presentation. They often count on a seller just seeing a lower COST and assuming we’re all the same and calling them. Or they hope that a seller is so focused on saving money on real estate commissions that they don’t apply their normal way of considering VALUE in every other aspect of their life to this huge decision to sell their home. And lastly, they hope that if they do end up competing with a full service real estate agent that he/she will not be skilled enough to articulate their value proposition and justify their fee, leaving the decision to COST where they can always win.
What’s my advice to the full service real estate agents out there? BECOME EXPERTS AT KNOWING YOUR AND YOUR COMPANY’S VALUE PROPOSITIONS that WILL benefit the sellers and buyers. Don’t just say that Exposure Creates Demand and Demand Drives Price, but know how to showcase the specific dramatic difference in the amount of exposure that you and your firm can deliver to attract more buyers. Be able to articulate HOW you are able to deliver a higher level of service, safety, and overall end result to them when they choose you as their agent/company. And be able to help the customer realize that there is a significant difference between agents and firms.
If you can do that then there really is nothing to be afraid of. People demand VALUE… They demand SERVICE… And they demand RESULTS. These things are hard to deliver at a low COST.
I want to leave you with this great quote that really does make it clear as day. And it’s one that is nearly impossible to argue with. I would even go as far as to say it is a “law” in our society:
“There is hardly anything in the world that someone cannot make a little worse and sell a little cheaper, and the people who consider price alone are that person’s lawful prey. 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 balance 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.” -John Ruskin
In the end and in closing, I believe there’s enough business for everyone. There is a market and a customer for every model. And what makes our country so great is that the customer is given choices. For me, I will always be a VALUE guy when it comes to large and very personal decisions that will affect my family. I drive a nice, safe, and expensive car, I seek out the best doctor, we have a great, but pricey family lawyer, I pay a little more for great insurance from a large company, and yes… I shop at Nordstrom almost exclusively because of their service. But I don’t fault those who choose the opposites of those to save money as that is a decision we all should be able to make for ourselves and options that should always be available for those who want them.
Thanks for reading!
What if you were unknowingly lying by omission to your clients every time you went on a listing appointment? Well, if your not paying Realtor.com, Homes.com, and others to be the ONLY agent being offered on your listings, then you may be lying by omission. I realize this could come off a little harsh, but it’s true, when you list a sellers home, it’s reasonable to believe that THEY believe and assume that when they sign a listing contract with you that YOU will be fielding all incoming buyer inquiries from the most common and trafficked websites like Homes.com and Realtor.com, among others. My point of contention is that any agent who is not ensuring that they are the ONLY agent being offered on the major websites for THEIR OWN LISTINGS, has a responsibility to TELL their perspective listing client that up to 4 different agents will be offered on their listing and that there is a 1 in 4 chance that they will get the call/inquiry from a buyer searching these sites.
Think of it this way…allowing up to 3-4 agents names and contact information to be offered on your listing is almost as absurd as allowing 3-4 different agents/company’s For Sale Signs to be placed in front of your listing. With nearly 90% of buyers beginning their search online, these calls are the modern day sign call.
While some sellers may not care, and some won’t realize the impact, it’s more likely that they do and will. Let’s deal with reality here. So it begs the question; Would they still list with you if they were told this information before signing? Maybe, or maybe not… But I believe they should be able to make an informed choice.
The reasoning is pretty simple and based in undeniable logic… Who’s the best person to field the incoming inquiries on a listing? A randomly selected agent who purchased some geographic area to get buyer leads or THE LISTING AGENT? Some would argue that a buyer shouldn’t work with the listing agent and should seek out individual buyer representation. And that’s not a bad argument or point in some cases and worthy of a healthy debate. But to make that argument the assumption/accusation must me made that the listing agent (who is legally allowed to represent both buyer and seller in California) won’t provide adequate representation. I’ve found that the vast majority of Realtors are good and honest people who work to create a win win scenario when representing both buyer and seller. So this leaves us to acknowledge the undeniable logic that the LISTING AGENT is generally the single best person and most interested person in ensuring that every buyer inquiry is responded to quickly and with solid information about the details and availability of the property.
So now one more question has to be asked…. Why wouldn’t EVERY listing agent pay the fees to ensure they are the ONLY agent being offered on THEIR listings on major websites? Here’s the answer: IT’S EXPENSIVE. For an agent listing between 25-50 homes per year, the cost could exceed $12,000! For agents doing less, the cost still is significant. So what we see is very many agents and companies just don’t do it.
FINALLY, I can’t go without mentioning this of course. At Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage, our sales associates ALL have the ability to accomplish this for free with the MAXIMUM program! Because of our size and belief in this program, we have made every effort to make this affordable for the benefit of both our Realtors and their clients. When one of our great agents are on a listing presentation it simply
goes without saying that the seller can be assured that online buyer inquiries will be handled quickly and professionally.
In closing, I want to commend you if you are one of those agents with Coldwell Banker or any other firm, who have made the decision make the investment in ensuring that your sellers expectations are met and that the buyers are only being presented with ONE choice and in my opinion the BEST choice of who to call for information on your listings.
As always, thank you for taking the time to read my posts and be sure to subscribe if you haven’t already!
If you are a Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage sales associate, then thank you for being part of our amazing customer focused company! If you are not and are interested in learning more about possibly affiliating with us, then send me and email at Brad.Pearson@camoves.com, or give me a call at (714)782-2723
I’m here to help you grow your business!
Congratulations and thank you to our amazing group of Coldwell Banker agents in our North OC office on an outstanding last 12 months! From Aug 2015 to Aug 2016 we closed 734 transactions with $400,000,000 in total volume! Less than 2 years since our new office officially opened in Yorba Linda, we have experienced incredible market share growth and continue to break sales record after sales record! And a special thank you to all our clients and co-op agents who made this success possible!
So, it happens a lot… Probably the single most often asked question when I’m rolling out a new product or business growth strategy… “If I do this one new big thing, how much new business should I expect from it?” Along the same lines, this is just another twist on the same question “What does Mrs. TopAgent do to be so successful?” hoping that there’s one magical secret strategy that she’s discovered. Many of you know that my initial response to that question is “She works her &%$ off!” because it would take hours and hours to breakdown all of the things she does in a day, week, month, year, which by the way is why ongoing COACHING is so important too (Visit: https://bradpearsonsblog.com/2016/04/08/youre-paying-for-a-good-coach-whether-you-have-one-or-not/ ).
Whether I’m talking about implementing an Expired Listing strategy, Social Media marketing, or a new product like our $20,000 Giveaway campaign, too often, agents get overly focused on the single tool or strategy and begin to dig, question, and even investigate other past results, to determine whether they should do it and whether it will work for them. The BIG problem with this thinking is that they aren’t focused on the bigger picture when it comes to growing a successful business. There is almost NEVER a single thing, strategy, or tool that has lead to any agent experiencing massive life changing success. A good example is a website. We all know that we absolutely MUST have one to be in the Real Estate business, yet I’ve NEVER met an agent who’s entire success can be attributed to a website, heck, I’ve never met one who can share with me any “direct” significantly measurable results from one. Yes, someone reading this will think, “I got a listing from my website once”, and again, that is missing the entire point and I would argue that something else you did, lead them to the website that actually lead to getting the lead. But without a solid over arching online strategy with print, networking, direct prospecting, testimonials, self promotion, open houses, door knocking, cold calling, notes, follow up, and good presentation skills, then the website would almost be worthless.
The point I want to drive home in this post is that all we need to do is look at other super successful businesses and how they were built and grew in massive name recognition, reputation, and overall success. THEY ALL HAVE A SERIOUS UBIQUITOUS APPROACH TO MARKETING TO THEIR POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS. Take a business like McDonalds as an easy example. They’ve taken a very simple and focused business objective and continuously drive it out to the public so it reaches us from every direction. From billboards, TV, radio, bus benches, direct mail, strategic product or ad placement, newspaper, magazines/print media, social media, internet, etc. etc. etc. they are literally OMNIPRESENT in our lives. We couldn’t avoid McDonalds if we tried. Whether you eat there or not is not the question, but EVERYONE knows about them and knows what they’re business is all about.
From a Realtor’s perspective, all we need to do is to continuously strive to be omnipresent in our farm areas, communities, and online. We need to continuously ask ourselves if what we are doing is reaching our prospective customers in enough ways to where they cannot avoid us and will think of us when they decide to buy or sell a home. So if you’re a master telemarketer, if that is all you do, you will burn yourself out from calling if you don’t have a solid strategy to grow your business organically from your past clients, local community, referral sources, online image, social media, direct mail/print, expireds, FSBO’s, etc. etc. Recognizing that all of these strategies, and any other strategies you decide to implement must OVERLAP with your other activities, IS the SECRET SAUCE to building a massively successful business! This is also why geographical farming works so well when everything an agent does is focused in a relatively small geographical area. Becoming ubiquitous is much easier when you pick 500 homes and 4 or 5 different strategies to get in front of them regularly! This is also why there are agents out there who have been mailing (and nothing else) for a year and have gotten nothing and are frustrated and discouraged. It takes much much more than that one thing.
Now, once you’ve figured all of this out and implemented a multi-faceted approach that supports all other activities and overlaps in an omnipresent way, then you MUST master one more thing…
You’ve built the machine, the machine is delivering leads, now the leads need to me followed up on and nurtured until they result in a contract! You must have a great CRM program. (At Coldwell Banker we provide a powerful one for free that covers online, print, mail, and pre-built/branded campaigns with email/text reminders so you can make your calls on schedule!).
In closing, I offer my support and guidance after spending over 20 years in this great business and over 17 in leadership and business coaching, so don’t hesitate to post a comment, ask a question, or just reach out to schedule a meeting to discuss how you can grow your business and even find out why so many great agents have chosen Coldwell Banker Residential Brokerage and if you should consider the change too. Call, text, or email at 714-782-2723 or Brad.Pearson@camoves.com
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