Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Breaking up is no longer hard to do!

Remember the days in the old school yard where if you wanted to break up with your boyfriend or girlfriend you had to do it face to face. It was hard to do but it on reflection it made us responsible for our actions and gave us an insight into how the other person felt.

Fast forward 30 odd years and today I can send a text message simply saying ...sorry moving on, it was fun while it lasted, see you around. Or even worse, please accept this text as my resignation, I will not be returning to work.

At the horror of sounding like my parents...what on earth is this world coming to! If you type in breaking up via text into Google you come up with 148,000 hits. Am I really that old fashioned and is it really too much to ask that people behave with a level of dignity.

There are two ways of communicating these issues face to face or via the phone; the first is far more acceptable. If you have really cared about the person or want a decent reference from your last employer then unless you want to be labelled lazy, hurtful and have bad karma slap you in the face at some stage in your life I suggest you face into your issues. People and their emotions are not disposable.

By choosing not to discuss your issues and how you will move forward dis-empowers the other person creating a lot of hurt, confusion, anger and even the danger that they may choose to hurt themselves. Part of moving on from a relationship is the ability and opportunity to discuss what is happening and supporting each other through the process.

As adults or humans we do need to take responsibility for people who we choose to share moments of our lives with and act in a way that enables us to find a way forward despite the pain we may be in.

Text is an informal method of communication, there is no way you can build emotion into the message. But worse still it is cowardly because you don’t see the level of pain you may cause the person receiving your text.

Treat others as you would want to be treated and respected. Think before you hit the send button.

Friday, June 26, 2009

Is your business a donkey on the edge?

Harsh title I know but we are close to end of financial year and the question I want to put out to my peers and colleagues is how many of you have made the investment in developing, changing and reviewing your strategic business plan for the next 12 months. In fact many businesses I know don’t even have a business plan. If you haven’t made this investment then indeed your business is a donkey on the edge!

A colleague of mine makes a point of changing and reviewing his business plan every 90 days. Now potentially he drives everyone around him nuts however I do know that he runs an extremely successful business that has had growth despite the GFC.

Here is a concept for you; why not challenge yourself and your people to start with a clean slate every year? Take the learning from previous years and apply them to this year’s strategy then apply changes across the board from the vision of your business right down to the actions or implementation plans.

What you will find that overall your vision, mission, and values actually won’t change that much however you would have “refreshed” them. However you will find the gaps your business has had that have the potential to hold you back.

So where do I start I hear you ask? Well the best and most powerful way to conduct a strategic planning day is to get key members of your team together, bring in an outside facilitator, look at the data and ask the tough questions.

• What is our current reality in terms of our market share, overall growth,
profitability, competitors, branding, employee engagement, culture, systems,
process and what do our clients think of us?
• How did we get here? What have been our success factors, what has held us
back and what were the results of the actions from our last SWOT analysis.
• What are our future goals? Projects we want to implement over the next 12
months, the impact this will have on our budget/bottom line, what will be
the return on investment over what time frame?
• Have you mapped out our yellow brick road – how do we intend to achieve our
goals? What forces are in play e.g. market that will hinder us, do we have
the capability to overcome them, what do we believe will be our key success
factors and have we mapped all of this back to our budget.
• Assessing your success? What measurements can put in place to ensure that we
meet our goals within set time frames and at the success rate we
anticipated. Find a business that you want to become, what do they do well
and then do it better... we call it R & D i.e. rip off and duplicate.

Once you have clarity on the above you can then focus on what you need to invest in today to get there.


Without the right people the above is a fairly useless exercise as you are bound to fail. Take a look around your office do you have the right people in the right roles with the right skills sets and an overall right mix of people. They can’t all be like you! It is so important that you have people on your team who will challenge you...do not surround yourself with yes people.

Successful businesses today are agile, flexible and change driven therefore the people who choose to work for you must display the same characteristics.

Doing things the same way every year and expecting a different result is insanity so is doing the same as everyone else. We don’t need to change how we do real estate we just need to do it better.

Whether you play AFL or Rugby to win the game you don’t need to change the rules you just need to play a better, smarter, more tactical game with players who are committed, focused, passionate, play as a team, understand what the end game is and are trained and skilled to an inch of their life!

My tips for businesses today is
1. Look beyond real estate for ideas and apply these back to your business
2. The saying if it ain't broke don’t fix it... let me ask you what if you have
become so complacent that you don’t know if it’s broke. I always tell the
teams I train make sure you are sitting on a chair that is prickly and
3. “We have always done things this way” damn that I say... if everyone is
doing the same thing or if it is what we have always done then the chances
are every other agent is doing the same thing and we are probably all doing
it in a mediocre way.
4. Don’t forget we make our own rules in business.

I am constantly being accused of cheating at games like Pictionary and Monopoly against my kids. However I say I am changing the rules to make the game better and more interesting and of course the end aim is to win. But it keeps my opponents on their toes, they watch me like a hawk to see what I will get up to next and they all want to take me on... does this not make me the market leader!

All the best for the new financial year and may the GFC not have an impact on your business.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Twitter – helping fight a war in Iran

There was a time when if a revolution occurred in a country and the foreign media were asked to leave all reporting of what was actually happening on the ground ceased.

Today what is happening in Iran is just incredible. The use of Twitter has just shown how powerful technology is. It has rapidly become the go to source to the point of organising people on the ground, where to go, areas that are safe, how to clog up internet traffic etc.

I watched in awe a few days ago as almost every few seconds there was a tweet or a picture posted on what was happening on the ground.

I can only but imagine what the old guard in Iran thought. They expelled all foreign media and yet news was still getting out. Twitter has become the new CNN or the on-line protest tool for the world on what is happening in Iran.

Twitter even cancelled a maintenance downtime to enable people to get their stories out. Although social media outlet like face book has been blocked somehow Twitter has remained on line. Despite the fact that users can only use 140 characters to get their stories out it has not stopped people from providing quite graphic details of what is occurring on the ground.

There are many who do not understand the power of this social networking site and there are many businesses in our industry (real estate) yet to embrace it.

I read recently that doctors used twitter to ask for help and share information during an operation to remove a brain tumour from a 47 year patient in the US.

Twitter makes people and businesses smarter, faster and more efficient. It allows your customers to talk to you, give you feedback and for you to share information. It is like a online feedback or suggestion box for your clients to use.

It is certainly an evolving technology and it will be interesting to watch how it is used over the years and in two years time how we are using it.

Monday, June 15, 2009

The why, what, who and how of winning business!

Whenever we evaluate something we tend to go through 4 common stages; if as sales agents and property managers we can understand what these stages are and how to respond we are more likely to build better relationships with our clients and obtain listings.

The first stage is WHY. Whenever we make the decision to move it is usually because we are upgrading, downsizing, re-financing or considering a lifestyle change. If the why is compelling enough it propels us to make decisions which takes us to the next stage. From an agent’s prospective this is a key qualifying question and will provide an indication whether they are hot, warm or cold prospects.

The second stage is WHAT options are best for me. I can rent my home out but I can also sell it. I can auction it or put it up for private sale. Once I make this decision however the next stage is who will execute it for me. This is where the client does their market research; they may attend auctions, visit your websites, talk to friends, neighbours or rely on their own experiences. How informative is your website, is every open for inspection done to company standards, how do you stand apart from your competitors?

The third stage is WHO, regardless of what I decide who will rent or sell the home is extremely important to me as I need to believe that they can provide me with the best level of service. Remember service is what we want clients to base their decisions on, it is what enables us to stand apart from our competitors, if they see no difference between agents they make the choice on price. So evaluate your service delivery and standards are all interactions with client’s memorable experiences for them.

The fourth stage is HOW, will they work with me to ensure that I get the price I am looking for in the shortest time frame and what will it all cost me. How much feedback do they give me during the process and once they have found a tenant or a prospective buyer how do they ensure that they get commitment and negotiate the best price and terms. How well do they represent me during the course of our relationship? These are some of the questions that the client will need reassurance on.

So the next time you are talking to a client who is looking at renting or selling their home focus on these four stages and you just may have better luck in getting the listing. Build these into your agenda and scripts, prove to your client that you see the process from their point of view and they are not just another appointment and listing for your business.