Monday, November 28, 2011

Are you focused with a game plan?

Take a look around you, are you surrounded by people who are just going through the motions, too busy worrying about things they can’t control, blaming the market, the brand or the weather for their lack of success. Let’s take a quick reality check for these people - It’s not the market, it’s not your brand or the weather it’s YOU!.
So what characteristics do you want to see in people around you at the moment… For me it would be are they focused, they have a game plan to the end of the year and more importantly how do they intend to start the new year. That plan needs to be in place now before you go away on the Christmas break.

I read an article last week that I found fascinating about a documentary called “Yes Madam Sir”. It's about Kiran Bedi, India’s first woman to join the Indian police force and who later made her mark as a fighter for social justice. Evidently she was fearless in facing her challenges which ranged from saving people from burning buildings, creating community schools or running India’s toughest prison with 10,000 inmates. She was the first and last police office to tow away the Prime Ministers car because it was parked illegally. As described in this article in one situation, where angry rioters brandishing swords had run amuck and her own police regiment had scattered, Bedi armed with just a baton, single-handedly faced off the rioters. When a BBC reporter later asked her “Were you scared?” Bedi responded “Not at all...because my mind was focused.” (taken from newsletter – Greg Nathan Franchise Institute)… The movie Yes Madam Sir is a must see.
I caught up with my previous CEO from the old firm the other day and he said something interesting to me. The tedious tasks are actually the most dollar productive and when we are working in a market that is buoyant we don’t really need to do the tedious tasks however in a changing market focus on these will make the difference.

What are these tasks well here are few you could consider:

· How awesome and up to date is your database. By this I mean that every person you come into contact with is on the system with a category and a contact plan in place. Data is the key to your success.
· You call every person from your OFI list and qualify them, enter them into your database
· If your OFI numbers are low then work your database of potential buyers
· You put potential buyers into your car and drive them around the area looking at options on properties, you need to make sure that every buyer who walks into your sphere of influence is qualified
· You are constantly working on your negotiation skills
· You are pricing your properties correctly and keeping your vendors up to date with what feedback you are getting from opens and inspections. There should be no surprises for vendors on auction day or during the private sale process
· You intend to have long term marriages with your clients not love affairs – by this I mean that once you have sold the property you don’t just move onto the next client. You ensure that you have a contact/communication plan in place to keep in touch with all past clients.
· Have in place a one page plan that keeps you focused on the key numbers, how many calls do you need to make, how many face to face appointments per week, listings converted, sales made. Tick these off every week, if you are off track you will know and you can make adjustments no point in getting to the end of the month or quarter and then reviewing your performance – its too late by that stage, you cant make any changes.

Like Kiran Bedi you need to have complete focus on what you need to do to be successful. No point in focusing on things you can’t control such as the market, what is occurring in china or Europe or interest rates. Your focus needs to be on the plan you have in place to be successful and remember the basics of real estate always work no matter what market you are working in.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Is it faster – better – cheaper or better with a great experience?

Are consumers looking for faster, better, cheaper or are they looking for better with great experience and value for money?

I was catching up for a coffee with a very successful real estate friend of mine last week when the conversation - as expected- turned to real estate and fees. How do we maintain our fees in a tight market when our competitors are constantly dropping their pants?

Now for the purpose of this story and to protect identities lets name my friend Bill.  

Bill mentioned how he recently bought a new home and was looking for a fridge. He did his research on the internet and local paper prior to going to the shops. In his own words “after looking at so many providers and fridges it got blurred and confusing." 

Sound familiar?

As Bill wanted to get the best product on the market at the best possible price he firstly set about going to each shop and meeting the sales person who sold him the benefits of the fridge and provided him with a price.

The experience was described as here is the fridge, this is what it does, this is the price, here is my card with my details.

Now Bill was going into these shops with only one thing in mind how much could he crunch the price because the product and service were all the same to him. So Bing Lee, the Super Centre, etc - they were all the same.

Consumers today are all about getting a bargain, getting the best deal and we will research on the internet, ask our friends and have a strategy in mind before we engage with the provider. Like Bill the providers at the point of research all look the same.

However based on my own experience, my colleagues, friends and general research most of us will be prepared to pay more for better levels of service.  This part of the transaction is dependent on human interaction, where we are able to connect, gain trust, set ourselves apart, be understanding and empathetic.

So when as an agent we are faced with a client who like Bill has researched agents on the internet, face book and friends, is focused on crunching our fees to the same as the other agent we need to make sure we have shown them value and provide them with service that is memorable.

If their response is I know you do much more and I like you but I only want to pay the lower price they don't see your value. If we look the same as all the others we will be competing on the price they have set and often it is much lower than ours.

Mostly you will need to do a deal, we all want win/win but we don't have drop our price down as low as our competitors.

And remember sometimes it is better to walk away

I remember walking through markets in India where you are expected to bargain, however amongst the best bargain price shops were those who had a fixed price, they did not bargain. Their product was the same however their service and the shopping experience was different and people were prepared to pay for it.

So what happened to Bill well he was off to Harvey Norman this weekend to buy the fridge - why from them... They weren't the cheapest; they had provided him with the best level of service compared to the other providers – so it was better service and experience at a slightly higher price but still value for money.

Bill if you work out who you are always great to have a coffee and thank you for the inspiration of this Blog.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Its all the about experience - how memorable is yours?


I have had the fabulous pleasure of going to two different health retreats over the last 3 months, self-indulgent perhaps yes, required absolutely.

However the experience at both of these has been vastly different as you would perhaps expect but the difference in the experience is what has confirmed for me what I believe to be the better health retreat.
The differences were subtle yet obvious, the outcomes were the same yet the experience to get there vastly different, the staff had the same technical qualifications however the delivery in service was lacking, award winning chef but the food wasn’t as tasty nor was there the variety, information provided similar but delivery poor and not engaging.
More importantly I had something else to compare to!
Who are you being compared to and what are the differences?  In fact do you actually know what the differences are and how your team are communicating these to clients?
A potential vendor/investor may call anywhere up to 5 agents into their home. How are you standing out? Or is the experience you provide from the clients prospective the same? In fact are you even being called in?

Remember today your point of difference in terms of prelisting kits, websites, how you conduct your opens, feedback to vendors is very similar, in fact from your vendors prospective they may struggle to really see a difference.
However where you can stand out is the experience you provide vendors during each of these interactions. It comes down to you not so much the brand or the offerings, they may be reason you were called in but you get the listing because they connected with you.