When you think of an entrepreneur, what do you imagine? A determined individual working late each night forging a living out of determination? Somehow we got this idea that successful business people are awesome enough to do it all on their own.
We couldn’t be more wrong.
Who is that one person who became a lone guru? Really. Bill Gates? Any of the ‘dragons’ on Dragons’ Den? Oprah? Jerry Seinfeld? Billy Graham? They’re all successful in their fields. Not a single one though, would have become anything without the people they surrounded themselves with.
These intelligent people know the secret: success is teamwork.
I’ve learned this is true for me too. I’ve worked hard, invested time and money, and built my business as big as I can on my own. I have decided to move my business forward by doing what successful people do – work with a power team.
And I do mean team, not staff. I don’t want to hire people to work for me, though I do that too. What I really want partners to work WITH me. I want to work WITH them to build up their business too. The difference is motivation and passion. As I’ve prayed and searched, I’ve found them! This group of like-minded, dynamic professionals is just what I’ve been looking for. I feel super blessed to work alongside of them!
And the best part is that nothing about my business has to change. It’s still my own, I keep the same signs, agency, phone number and ads… I’m not replacing or starting over, I’m adding to what I’ve already built. I can’t tell you what a relief this is.
The set up is different than the industry standard of hiring staff. Basically, we are all like-minded in our high standards of service. We all want to serve our clients even better, but without running faster. It’s a synergistic approach I guess, which is a fancy way of saying we’ll help each other. We’re all skilled in different, complimentary areas, so helping will really help.
It’s kind of like… if you and I are friends, and you adore paper work. Nothing makes you happier than filing. And I hate paperwork, and it makes me want to cry. But you hate writing property descriptions, and I love it and do it well. Because we’re friends and care about each other’s success, I would eagerly help you with writing property descriptions and you would happily do my filing. And we don’t have to move in together. We can continue to live our separate lives while cheering on each one’s success.
Simple. Synergistic. Super efficient.
Stay tuned for the introduction to my professional, like-minded peers that I will be teaming up with.
It’s finally happening – the business break through I’ve been working for is here! And on my birthday no less! I will be getting a scheduled day off!
Every week. You know, like most of the population? I’m SO excited!
Have you ever worked an entire year with no scheduled day off? It’s madness. Four years of it is… well,(what is madness multiplied by four?) Basically, I’m ready for an intentional, scheduled, even – dare I say it – regular day off. And I finally can!
I know, you’re probably wondering why I couldn’t before? I could. A day off would have been possible. As long as I would be willing to…
- hand my clients, inquiries and hard-earned commissions over to someone else -who, by the way, is not personally invested in my business but is actually competition! Would you trust your business to your competition?
- Entrust my client relationship to another agent who may not care about them like I do
- Trust another agent to handle inquiries – that is, potential new clients – and present the professional, high quality service my brand is about.
- Share my hard earned commissions with another agent if a deal happens to close on the day they are taking my place. Percentages are high for shared commissions. Would I give away 50% of my profit after marketing a property for 4 months?
- Or, I could forget about hiring or partnering with anyone and simply turn off my phone. It would mean my reputation for excellent service would be compromised, I would be unavailable to new and existing clients for any reason – even to sign a deal -and I would lose business. But at least I would have a day off…
These have been non-options. I am not in business just for something to do. I love people, and want to give the best doggone service humanly possible. To have someone else take over for a day, that person would have to represent MY business, not allowing their own goals and ambitions to flavor the way they treat my clients. It would require someone who is selfless and has integrity. No stealing? No pressuring? No doing whatever it takes to push someone to a decision? That is hard to find in this business.
But I found it!
I found someone I trust to serve my clients with the same zeal I would. In fact, I found someone who, just like me, highly value quality service, integrity, and honesty even at great personal cost. THAT is the kind of person I would entrust my business to for a few hours. I know she will bring her best to the table, and my clients and business will be well taken care of.
So, starting this July 5th and every Wednesday after, I plan to enjoy a day off.
If you’re a collegue, a reader or a client, know you will be – for that one day – in the excellent care of a hand picked professional of integrity. Then I’ll be back the very next day. No worries, k?
Now… what will I do with my glorious, fabulous day off?
Whatever it is, it will involve me smiling. Alot.
I’ve always hated paperwork. Work got done, but my personal paperwork I put off as long as possible. Maybe you can relate. (Oddly, when left alone, those papers seemed to multiply. Like weeds…)
I’ve been able to curb this nasty habit at work though, by going paperless.
For two years I’ve been trending toward making my office paperless. I’m finding it not only helps me escape inevitable paper piles, it also has other benefits. The change has helped me to stay organized – I do better with e-filing. It has also reduced my office supply costs, and saved me the time of printing and copying. And, going paperless also saves space and is portable.
Huh. That’s actually alot of benefits when I stop and think about it! Who knew?
I haven’t fully trusted the e-filing system so far, and have been making paper copies of some super important things. You know, just in case. But more and more I’m getting used to the paperless idea, and trusting more in my efiles. (Backing up the data helps) I aim to master this by the end of the year, becoming completely paperless. (Minus the mandatory print-contracts and offers and such as required by law of course).
How about you? How paperless are you?
Do you struggle with piles of papers too?
Many people wonder what succession planning is. Succession planning is simply the process of transferring your business to your children. However, there are many different ways of doing it.
As parents we all want what’s best for our children and we want them to be treated fairly. This is probably one of the hardest things to do when it comes to succession planning. The children that are not involved in the business usually feel left out and that when the business is transferred they will not receive anything which usually leads to family quarrels or the business being sold to a third party. The key to any plan is communication between parents and all their children. Lack of communication will certainly lead to fighting within the family. There is an efficient tool that can be used to financially take care of the siblings that are not involved in the business upon succession and it’s called life insurance. Most people will stop reading at this point because life insurance for most is a negative thing when in fact it is one of the keys to a great and efficient succession plan. The reason life insurance is such a great tool is because it is the cheapest way to pay out the other siblings that are not involved in the business and it comes at the exact time that it is needed. In every succession plan I’ve done the insurance was always cheaper than getting a loan and because the cost is so low it does not affect the cash flow or equity in the company to allow it to continue to grow until the succession plan needs to be settled. I would be happy to explain in detail and show examples of how the entire process works as there are many other aspects to a succession plan such as proper valuation of a company, taxes, capital gains, as well as the legal and accounting process to complete the plan.
Bourgouin & Associates
2A – 423 Main St.
Steinbach, MB R5G 1Z6
F: (204) 320-9167
Sometimes it’s the expectations of clients that need tweaking. Other times it’s the perception of Real Estate agents that needs a reality check. But sometimes we agents need to shake off our own expectations.
In this industry, working hard is great. Working even harder and faster though, is super effective. Maybe it’s not just our industry, but our cultural belief that the busier someone is the more accomplished and successful they are. Either way, there is a definite pressure for more -more clients, more sales, more team members or staff to help us work even more. Even when I think I can’t take it another day, and I’m worried I might burn out from this crazy pace, the answer suggested is to get more -more staff, more technology…
As I’m working toward getting a day off (Yes, it really is that hard to get a day off!), I’m allowing myself to dream about what I would do with it. Some dedicated, hard working people have suggested that, with my ‘extra’ day, I could accomplish even more – market more, serve more clients, and make more money. And it’s true.
I don’t want to be busier or have more responsibility though. And it feels like confessing a secret to say so because, as much as we talk about wanting to ‘enjoy the moment’ and ‘live simply’, we really do prefer to dash around, and respect those who do. But I do not want to run faster and work harder – actually, I’m not sure it’s humanly possible! I want to rest occasionally, to recharge so that I can serve my client base with the highest quality of care possible and do this long term.
So what would I do with a day off? Mmm, I would play in the flowerbeds – that’s rejuvination right there. I might go on a lunch date with my hubby, or have coffee with a friend, knowing we would not be interrupted by showing requests. Oh. I know. I would leave my phone at home. Yes I would.
How about you? If you had … a maid let’s say – how much time would that save you each week? More importantly, what would you do with that extra time? Would it free you up to make more money? Take on an extra project? Sun bathe on the beach?
Work’s high pace has made recent months a blur. But things are clearing up, and not at all like I would have thought.
This industry demands 7-day-a-week availability. It could make me cuckoo sometimes if I had time to go crazy. I thought the answer was to hire the standard team of employees – admin. assistant, data entry, photographer, ad writer… I didn’t like that idea though – all the commitment of maintaining staff, the pressure of making sure there is enough work to keep everyone busy seemed like heaping another huge thing on my plate. So I dropped the idea and continued to feel stuck.
Then I delivered some papers to my new bookkeeper, suggested an idea to my graphic ‘designasaur’, and I realized a ‘team’ really doesn’t have to look a certain way. These two business people are helping me with my business while running their own. Borrowing their professional skills, I get much more done – and get it done well! I can delegate some of my tasks to them and trust their best efforts will be on it. Ooh. I think I’m on to something here.
I need more! By surrounding myself with more professionals like this, the workload is shared and I can specialize. I can also then give my clients more focused attention. It means I might be able to hand off work for a day and.. oh, I don’t know, have a day OFF? More professional ‘on-my-team’ people means less harried distraction. It means less time dedicated to tasks and more time for people. After all, (say it with me)
“It’s a people thing.” – Tina Plett
Managing social media can be tough. It’s addictive -like cocaine according to this– and can even change our brains according to this. This is dangerous stuff.
But so is gasoline. Still, everyday I speed down narrow lanes sitting on or near a tank full of the explosive liquid. Dangerous? Maybe. But I’m not about to start riding a horse and buggy to appointments.
Social media is necessary to my business. Without it, listings & a whole lot of messaging would be impossible and acquiring clients would be a challenge. (You know 68% of people look for agents online, right? And that 91% of buyers would like to receive info from their agents via social media?) To go without social media would be to kill my business. Or at least severely maim it.
So how does one use the addictive social media tool without becoming addicted?
There’s hardly one way that applies to all lifestyles, but here’s how I manage it. Maybe you’ll find it helpful too.
Basically, I try to keep social media in its place. There is enough in this life and about this job that can keep me hopping. I don’t need to add another. I check Facebook at coffee and lunch breaks. When coffee break ends, I’m done. That’s it. Then I check it again just before bed – it’s a relaxing wind-down time for me.
I was going to write this as a separate post – and I might still – but I’ll say it here too. If you’ve seen my Facebook page, you’ll notice I don’t ‘sell’ a whole lot. I’m being me, sharing my heart, joking around, and just being a person – not a salesperson. This is intentional. And it is a kind of marketing – the kind that works. If you’re on social media blasting readers with what you have for sale, you’re going to annoy people. Be yourself. Genuinely care about others. Help, entertain, inspire – whichever, just make it about them. Then you’ll have a chance at getting some attention.
So how about you? How do you escape the vortex that is social media?
I’ve been a reflexologist. I’ve also been a hairdresser. Check out my handiwork here.
Sweet eh? Hey, it was the 80s. That was high style at the time, okay?
Even back then, I was sought for my quality customer service. Clients stayed loyal, and were like friends – they shared their hearts with me, and I took seriously the responsibility of speaking into their lives.
My clients at the salon did not necessarily know I was having a bad day. My reflexology clients were unaware that I was going through some rough times at home. Our time together was about them. I put myself aside to serve. That is customer service. It’s sadly becoming a rare thing, this serving attitude. But, good news for us who win clients by going the extra mile – there is not alot of competition at that level, but there is a whole lot of customer loyalty. But we have to work to get there.
It doesn’t seem to matter what industry a person works in, principles of stellar customer service apply. The kingpin though – the thing that holds it all together – is consistency.
Anyone can give fabulous service to a customer once. Everyone can serve happily and willingly when they feel great and their customers are easy to love. But when service becomes inconvenient, or the clients are unlikeable, most businesses (and their staff) forget about customer service.
What does this look like practically?
Do what you say you’re going to do. Every time.
When you’re on the clock, put your client’s needs above your own. Every time. Even when it’s inconvenient.
Give the same level of service to all clients. Ugly, beautiful, smelly, rural, city, rich, poor, foreign, … doesn’t matter. Treat them well. Consistently.
For me, the most difficult time to do this is when a difficult client demands the extra mile. I give it, but it’s a whole lot easier to serve someone appreciative, isn’t it? But in the interest of consistency – integrity really – I do it. And I do it with a smile on my face.
What’s the hardest thing about being consistent with your clients?
What can you change to improve your level of consistency?
Real Estate agents suffer alot of disdain and catch alot of annoyed glances for keeping their phones on.
In the bathroom (Admit it)
In the doctor’s office
At a wedding
At a wedding reception recently, we sat around ornately decorated tables. Glass shimmered, centrepieces sparkled, and guests chattered, waiting for braised chicken to arrive. Then my phone, laid discreetly on my lap, buzzed. With bowed head, I checked the text message. My client needed to meet with me that night to sign papers. My stomach growled as I imagined the braised chicken and buttery herbed potatoes I would miss. Then a voice growled from behind me. “You’re at a wedding” He rumbled. I looked up just in time to see the scowl before he turned and walked away, shaking his head.
Even if it’s on vibrate, people seem annoyed that Real Estate agents dare to work. Maybe it’s the misconception that we’re a greedy bunch who care only about money. Whatever the reason, people don’t seem to get that the Real Estate business is a 24-7 one.
The constant advice to “Just turn it off” and “take one little evening off” while it sounds sane and good… doesn’t work for several of reasons. The laws that dictate how quickly we must reply to clients, sign offers and submit paperwork are just one reason. And it’s a good one. We don’t want to lose our license just to have a night off.
But, if that’s not enough of a reason for you, here’s another one.
Let’s say you called a Real Estate agent on a Friday at 6:00pm to view a house on Sunday.
How would you respond if they didn’t reply until Saturday at 4:00? Really. Think about it. Would you have waited until then, or would you have called someone else so you could at least have a chance at that Sunday showing?
Or what if their answering service informed you that they don’t work on weekends, but they’ll be happy to get back to you on Monday? What would you do?
I know exactly what you would do. You would call someone else. Everyone would. Because making you wait is pathetic service, and unacceptable in this industry.
So, this week if you see an agent on their phone, please don’t choose to see a money hungry beast. Don’t see disrespect. Choose to see someone who cares about obeying the laws that govern their industry. See someone who is willing to be available to their clients as much as humanly possible, so they can deliver stellar customer service. See the level of commitment to their job and clients. Most of the time, that’s what it’s about. The ones who don’t care – those are the ones with the answering service who get back to you in a day or two.
I’m so glad we had this chat. Thanks for listening.
…I’m going to go and return some calls now.
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Sometimes people ask me why I have a white picket fence on my Real Estate signs.
I wish I could tell a big romantic story, or reveal some compelling moment when I suddenly knew this was the sign for me.
It’s much simpler than all that. I’m selling the dream. I help people find that perfect-for-them home, the dream lifestyle they hope goes with it. That’s what I’m doing this for.
White picket fences have long represented an ideal lifestyle. The boy, girl, dog, tree with a tire swing, and the white picket fence. To put it on my sign sends the not-so-secret message that I want to help clients find that dream property.
I’ve had all kinds of clients with all kinds of lifestyle dreams too.
Some wanted a love nest in which to grow old together.
Others wanted a backwoods cabin with a recycled bus bar.
Another wanted to leave his crowded country to plow a patch of prairie.
I love all their dreams, and adore helping them hunt for that perfect fit.
I think for myself the ideal lifestyle would be close to what I’m doing now, just less busy. I love dashing into the frey every day and meeting lots of new people – that energizes me. But I also love to retreat to my flower garden, chill on the deck, and enjoy my cabin in the country.
How about you? If you could live anywhere – any country, any property, and have any lifestyle, what would you choose?