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Dick's thought's February 6th, 2019
Time to get Serious!
(This is the opening article/blog in my "Raise the Bar" series)
Working in the real estate community the past 19 years as an independent contractor I have worked with many major vendors and services successfully. I am not representing any companies at this point in my career so I have no conflicts.
After a week of following speakers at Inman Connect in New York, my fears and concerns about the direction of our industry is shared by many. Compass CEO Robert Reffkin advocates a national MLS. Business models outlined by Opendoor, Offerpad and Knock with sellers having companies buy and putting homes in inventory. Knock CEO and Co-Founders Sean Black estimates within 5 to 10 years more than 50% of homes will be sold to companies. PurpleBrick business model of a low fixed listing fee is taking off and new versions are springing up locally. In my area, a lender has started his own real estate company offering 1.5% listing fee and pay closing cost if you use their services.
Fact = More companies are very interested in the estimated $100 Billion paid in 2017 in residential commissions. To prove this point according to PitchBook, an analysis firm owned by Morningstar, the amount of venture capital invested in real estate technology companies was up to $1.2 billion in 2017 from just $31 million in 2012. Anytime Wall Street and Silicone Valley can find an industry to disrupt by throwing money and technology at it watch out.
My goal is to wake up agents, brokers, associations, MLSs and vendors to the fact our business model is changing which when we drop 30 to 40% agent population how that effects bottom lines. Travel agents = Expedia, Taxis = Uber and Lyft, Hotels = Airbnb, Used cars = Carvana.
Now that we have identified what the future could hold for our industry, how do we combat the Wall Street and Silicone Valley attack on the way we have been doing business? We have over one million ambassadors serving the public, if we raise the bar on training, customer service, supervision and agent professionalism in every community large and small it will be much harder for outside influences to change our industry.
Let’s talk about how together we can “Raise the Bar” to strengthen our place in the buying and selling of real estate!
Growing up in a small town in south central Pennsylvania with a population of 10,000 I watched how times changed. I lived in that town from 1951 until 2001, yes, I am old but hope wise.
Today let’s talk about one business in particular grocery stores. Growing up within two blocks of my house we had three let’s call them living room grocery stores. You might remember the type 400 to 600 square foot with all kinds of groceries. One man normally the owner wearing a white apron worked the business. Mom would give me a quarter and tell me to go to Naugle’s or Crist’s and pick something up, if any change I could spend it on penny candy. Life was simple until a "Super Market" came to town I believe it was a Safeway or Acme but it was big, maybe 5,000 square feet. The small corner grocery stores starting closing as they could not compete with the “Super Market”.
Fast forward a few years and all of a sudden, a new type store started opening replacing the old greasey gas stations I worked at during high school pumping gas, washing windshields and checking oil. Convenience stores, with gas, small selections of groceries, tobacco products, drinks all quickly available and much easier than the Super Market. Yes, I can run in and grab a bottle of Coke for maybe $1.50 to $2, or I can go into the Super Market and buy an 8 pack for $5.69. We all know what is our first choice!
My point on this trip down memory lane is many times what goes around comes around. If Mr. Naugle could have survived some lean times he might have been able to keep his store open when the buying public understood convenience and time over price. What if Mr. Naugle reached out to everybody within a few blocks of his store and reminded them he stocked what they needed, he knew the families, he cared about the neighborhood and wanted to remain a part of it.
So, let’s think about it this way, if Mr. Naugle and all the other living room grocery stores had worked the few blocks around them before the Super Market came to town maybe the Super Market might have decided my little home town would be a very difficult market and moved on to the next town. My REALTOR® friends “Raise the Bar” today and don’t wait until it’s too late!
One of my joys pre-10 years old was my Saturday morning trips to Beck and Benedict Hardware Store with my dad. Loved that store, it was founded in 1900 and no changes were ever made to the store. Wood floors, embossed tin ceilings, big heavy oak counters, shelves and bins. Dad would be looking for that special piece of hardware and as soon as we walked in the door somebody greeted us, took the part and lead us through the maze of hardware to that special section that had that part.
My experiences with Beck and Benedict Hardware really changed my life and my expectations to the point 30 years later I would open my own hardware store. Found the location, came to terms with Ace Hardware, arranged the financing, did all the legal stuff and ready to hire my staff. The interview process started with “are you prepared to take a dirty sink trap, grease loaded parts and lead the customer through the maze of hardware to find the needed part or hardware item?” My goal was to be just the opposite of the “Big Box” home improvement stores where finding help is almost impossible. Yes, my hardware might cost a few cents more but service, service and service made visits worth the cost. Customers loved us including the lady that made 6 trips to our hardware store to fix a sink and surprise her husband, she brought sandwiches during the 4th or 5th trip.
Certain industries and businesses still need to be driven by customer service. We all have our businesses or professionals we quickly recommend for products and services. Why, because we had a good experience with them, they went above and beyond to make sure our needs were fulfilled. Hey my REALTOR® friends, get the picture? “Raise the Bar”
Before you ask, after working 6 years, 70 hours a week for about $12,000 a year my urge to own a hardware pasted! Oh, today by golf cart I have a Home Depot, Lowes and an Ace Hardware, you know where I start! #raisethebar
If you have heard me speak in the past you might have heard this story. I was crisscrossing the country doing my Contact Management Seminar which included my F.O.R.D. system, more about that in a future article/blog. Anyway, as I was standing in the hall outside the room I was going to present an elderly (my current age now) gentleman asked if was the teacher, prefer the term presenter and I said yes. He says do you think I need this class? I asked him what system he was using for contact management, Top Producer, Outlook or some other system?
He pulls a stack of 3” x 5” index cards from his shirt pocket and says this one. As I gazed at the cards I saw paper clips, rubber bands and most were rather tattered. I wanted to learn his system, needed know how this gentleman was doing his contact management, I asked. He says these cards are divided up by prospects, current transactions, past clients and people I need to be a REALTOR® like home inspectors etc. Each section was bound together by a rubber band and I asked him to explain the prospects and past clients stack. He showed me the card, it had all the information needed about the person, family, dates, interest and so on. He explained when he called one of these people he took notes and moved the card to the back of the bundle after noting the date and anything new. I noticed some had paper clips holding more than one card, I asked and he said he talked to them a lot. He told me he had free time during the day and evening and just pulled the stack out, read the top card and called them.
With great admiration, I asked if he was available to teach the class I was about to present! He did stick around but he left me with one giant lesson. It’s not the system it’s the person and part of my theme was taking a lead or prospect to a higher, better relationship! Maybe 3 x 5 cards are the answer for some of you! REALTORS® “Raise the Bar” #raisethebar
Developing and Deepening Relationships is your Paramount Duty
Contact Relationship Management (CRM) is one topic more people spend money on but yet fail to invest the time or practice what is needed to have a successful system. The pipeline, the sales funnel, the projections all point back to a maintained CRM. When lean or slow times hits your industry that is not the time to try and catch up, if you are up to date you will be rewarded for your effort.
Times have changed our method of communications. How many times have you been asked “did you talk to so and so today?” You quickly answer yes, did you really talk to them or did you use text, email, Facebook, etc. to communicate with them? Well in business we must understand a few things:
* A friend is not somebody you check their Facebook status * Your network is not who you are connected to on LinkedIn * Conversation can’t happen in a blog or post on social media * Is Twitter where you want to have a discussion with a friend
So, let’s do this, let’s drop the Contact and Management from Contact Relationship Management and let’s just call it Relationship Marketing. Our new system is designed to grow leads into trust, once we have developed trust it completely changes the way we do business. Trust turns work into fun, trust removes any uncomfortable feelings in the sales process and finally trust helps us to get to YES.
It’s time to stop looking at people as a means of making a sale rather as someone you can build a relationship with for the outcome you both desire. Become the farmer who feeds his family year around from the bounty of their labor and not the hunter that goes and gets one meal at a time!
Folks I am very passionate about contact and time management. I will be writing many more articles/blogs about both moving forward. My “Raise the Bar” campaign is to help REALTORS® maintain their place in the real estate industry and not be pushed out by technology and money from outside influences. PLEASE feel free to share, this is article number 5, you find them all on my Timeline or website DickBetts. #raisethebar
It looks so simple when you look at sales with the above formula, but we all know it’s not that simple! So much has to happen from the time you get that lead until you finally get to commission, in an earlier article I shared my take on not Contact Relationship Management rather Relationship Marketing. Let’s dive into this, the biggest difference between Management and Marketing is building trust and elevating relationships to a higher level and maybe even friendship.
Let me explain the F.O.R.D. system and how it can help build relationships. This system will work with any type of CRM you are using including 3 x 5 cards, on your phone, it doesn’t matter. Here we go:
Family – Name of spouse, children, pets and others important in the process Organizations – Find out if they spend time with a group, charity, religion etc. Recreation – Play sports, gym, fun activity Dreams – Where do they want to be? Vacations, retirement
In past seminars, I have divided the room into pairs and sent one group out of the room. I then explained the F.O.R.D. system and bought the group back into the room to practiced using a three-minute conversation. I asked each person to capture as many of the points from the F.O.R.D. system without beating the person with a rubber hose. We went around the room and asked those who knew the system to share what they learned about the other person and then ask the person not knowing about the system whether it was a conversation or interrogation. It always amazed me the number of friendships that started that day as a result!
The most important part of this is documenting the information you collected into a CRM. This provides great ice breakers and lets the person you are working with know they are important to you not only as a business relationship but as a person.
This is article number 6 in my “Raise the Bar” campaign. Feel free to share, add your thoughts as a comment or PM me. The past 5 articles are available on my Timeline, my new FB page Dick Betts Blogs (still fine tuning) and my website DickBetts.
There’s an interest grabbing title! If you have been following my blogs you would know I am hitting contact relationship and marketing hard. I feel that is the fundamental step in building any business to be successful. So, what is a 4C? I can explain it best below, stop and think about both business and personal relationships.
Chemistry – Finding something you share with the other person, I like to think of it as a fist bump. We can always find common ground whether it’s professionally or personally. You golf, sew, gardening, hobbies, children, lifestyle there is always something!
Character – Who you really are, we all can put on an act for a while but eventually your true personality will show. Do you care? Are you reliable? Are you relatable?
Competence - Are you good at what you do? People will challenge you to test your competence, are you somebody I want or need in my life.
Consistency – Many of us look at a person and see consistency, whether in their job, the gym, there relationships. We all desire consistency in our own life, display it!
Now let’s look at the other side of my title, 3F’s. Too many times I hear from the public they just wanted their commission check. “We were buds and I thought friends until they got paid and then gone.” Here are the 3F’s:
Find them – Online leads, social media more than likely NOT referrals
Fleece them – Yes, get them to buy from you at any cost, promises, saying the right thing
Forget them – Burn that bridge, hide from them when you see them, not a life I want
I do hope you become a 4C if you are not one already. Most professionals I run into are or close to being a 4C. Yes, I have had 3F’s in my life who only wanted what they could get out of me, use me, abuse me then toss me aside. When I see them at functions I can tell they are very uncomfortable, but you know what? I’m NOT!
This is article number 7 in my “Raise the Bar” campaign. Feel free to share, add your thoughts as a comment or PM me. The past 6 articles are available on my Timeline, my new FB page Dick Betts Blogs and my website DickBetts. #raisethebar
I wanted to sum up my past seven articles/blogs before moving into new areas of being successful both in business and in life. Posting these articles has led to many conversations from folks around the country some have more years in the business then me, some are high ranking people in the real estate community. Universally they all agree we need to change if not we risk what has happened and is happening to other industries. I’m not sure we can completely stop the Wall Street and Silicone Valley invasion of the real estate industry but we can bend the curve.
As of today, we have 1,331,829 ambassadors of real estate, better known as REALTORS®. Just imagine all those ambassadors touching as many people in their community as possible, taking time to learn who they are, what they need and start Relationship Marketing. We have discussed the F.O.R.D. system, we have discussed modern day communication, we have discussed developing and building relationships. We have also discussed what NOT to be which hurts the entire industry.
My hope is that leadership from the broker level to the elected officers of an association and MLS to the staff and education directors, the YPN’s, local CRS chapters, WCR groups all add to the agenda identifying and building an action plan. Please share my first article/blog titled “Time to get Serious” with any of the above-mentioned people, ask them what we can do locally together to educate our members.
I have been asked lately why am I writing all these articles/blogs. My answer is so simple, I have been involved in the real estate support industry for 19 years and have made many friends across the country. I want to see the industry continue for another 19 years proceeding successfully for the many friends that will remain in the industry.
If I can help in any way possible please contact me! This is article/blog is number 8, if you have missed any they can be found on my FB Timeline or my FB page Dick Betts Blogs. My website has all my blogs plus more information.