Steinbach Real Estate Tina Plett
Whatever your business, slow markets or a sluggish economy can make things tough.
It’s natural to respond in fear and shift into self-preservation when that happens.
And it’s the worst thing you can do.
For one thing, it reveals that deep down inside, you believe you can’t make it. Which is a problem, and probably means you’re self-sabotaging in other ways to.
It is also really bad for business.
People operating in a fearful state of self-preservation often cut marketing dollars and put a stop on any investment in their own education.
Flipping on the autopilot and just trying to hang in there is a weak strategy for any business.
Even when money’s tight or when things aren’t selling as quickly as you’d like, it’s still important to invest in your business, your marketing, and yourself.
In fact, during market lulls may be the most important time to do that!
While everyone else is hiding under their desk, hoping the same old strategies will keep them safe, you will be perfecting your skills and understanding of the very things that distinguish your business from the rest.
You’ll lay down a power card while everyone else is lying down.
You’ll pay handsomely with time and money to learn new skills. As you apply what you’ve learned, you’ll surprise your colleagues.
Here’s another point.
Keeping up with the latest trends is critical to your business, no matter what the market is doing.
Even now, where and how people shop for homes is changing. It’s critical to be aware of it, and then know what to do about it. As a real estate agent, I need to know where people are shopping, and how to get in front of them.
When times are tough, don’t hunker down and hope for the best.
Work to understand the trends in your industry. It will require an investment of hundreds of hours of reading and listening to podcasts and attending seminars and workshops. It will also take time to practice using the related new software, platforms, and technologies you’re bound to discover.
Then get out there and be surprisingly generous.
I’ll bet you’re still wondering how this helps one to win clients.
Here’s the thing.
With your keen understanding of the market and trends, (and after some practice and troubleshooting) you’ll know where the clients are and how to get in front of them. Once you’re in front of them, your reputation as a knowledgeable and generous professional will attract people.
I know because it’s how I am attracted to businesses and leaders and authors and speakers.
I also know because as I’ve been generous and applied what I’ve learned, colleagues, competitors, and even clients notice. And they seek me out to ask questions.
Strangers will walk up to me and say “Hey! You’re Tina! I read your blog.” Or they’ll hire me because they found me easily exactly where they were looking. (You know where that is, right?)
What about you?
How do you weather slow times in your business or industry?
I live on an acreage in a thirty year old two bedroom bi-level, and it’s perfect. Our old pine cabinetry, pine board walls and wood looking vinyl floors are just my kind of rustic. Adirondack chairs are the only seating in our livingroom for now, because we’re still looking for that perfect-for-us couch. Until then, wooden deck chairs it is. (Don’t worry, we have a couch in the basement.)
I sell modern homes, and love to show them off, but would probably never choose to live in one. I wear a suit to work, but when I get home, I trade it for comfy home clothes – mostly because we have pets. Lots of them. Two dogs, and eight cats. (Only two in the house) No partridge in a pear tree though, so I think we’re still okay. But, with all these furry pals roaming around, pet hair is part of our life …and wardrobe. I don’t mind, our fuzzy buddies are worth all the lint rolling they necessitate.
My house may not be perfect with its excessive cat hair and lack of sofas, but my yard – now THAT is perfect! I LOVE my yard. (Remember those awesome “ gardening before and after” photos?) The challenge is getting outside. After spending winter indoors, I get used to being inside, you know? Suddenly it’s this big feat to even make it outside. You know what I’m talking about. If we don’t intentionally get our butts outside, we can get stuck on our computers.
I am really looking forward to summer though – not because I’ll do more of something, or less, but because I feel more… me somehow. Personally and professionally, I feel like this is going to be the best year. I feel more comfortable in my own skin than ever before. Personally, I’ve worked through some frustrations and bad habits that have held me back. Professionally, I’ve reached some kind of balance between work and home – which is dang near impossible for a Real Estate agent! And the continuous work I’ve put in to build my business is yielding more and more reward. Between getting okay about who I am and seeing some big progress in my business, I’m excited for the opportunities this year will bring.
Well, that, and I’ll get to garden.
What are you excited about for this year?
Every workplace has its ‘Staff Only’ closed door. Each industry has its seedy underbelly.
Do you ever wonder what happens when the professionals take down their showy smiles? And how can you know what they’re saying behind the scenes?
I just happen to be the fly on the wall. And I’m dying to tell you how you can know whether or not you’re about to hire a bad Real Estate Agent.
9 Clues You Might Be Hiring A Bad REALTOR®
1) They approached you after your listing with another agent expired. They tried to sign you. That kind of thing flies in the States, but here in good ole Canada, it is federally not okay.
2) They know that you have a verbal agreement to work with another agent, and continue to try to get your business anyway. Translation: they do not respect other agents
3) They intimidate or pressure you in any way, especially to get your signature. Translation: they do not respect you.
4) They tell you negative things about specific competitors. “Ah, they don’t know what they’re talking about” or “That agent isn’t even local”. Competent business people don’t find it necessary to put someone down to climb their way up.
5) A name-dropping gossip will as easily splice you verbally as anyone else they’re bashing. This is how they talk about everyone, everywhere. Translation: You’re next.
6) If you feel guilty – about hiring or not hiring them – there is a possibility you are being manipulated. Either they are pushing emotional buttons, or you easily feel guilty about a lot of things anyway. Translation: don’t let guilt make your decision. It doesn’t usually lead anywhere good.
7) They lie. Even white lies. A business professional that places a low value on honesty and integrity- do I need to say this? – can’t. be. trusted. Please stop trusting them. Translation: If you’re okay with someone lying for you, just know they will also be lying to you.
8) They refuse to talk to, look at, or work with a particular agent. This is a sign of a huge power struggle. It could be a whole-office boycott against a particular agent (these things happen), or it could be their own control issues.
Translation: They won’t take offers from an ‘enemy’ agent because of their own office attitudes. You will lose out on offers and showings in these games. In this game, you are the pawn.
9) They tell you to break contract and hire them instead. Translation: umm… illegal counsel… theft… need I go on?
What clues would you add to the list?
It’s a question that burns in the mind of many an entrepreneur: How can I generate customer loyalty? Points programs and rewards, freebies and other ‘added-value’ may help. But it’s not enough. Think about it. Who are you loyal to? Why? Chances are the ‘Buy 7 Get the 8th Free’ promo won’t keep your business if your experience is tainted by poor product or service.
“No matter how delicious the food, no matter how safe the jet travel,
if it’s presented in a way that doesn’t show care for the customer,
it’s not going to be a hit.” –Forbes
There is one simple yet difficult key to cultivating customer loyalty. Be hugely customer-centered. Devote your entire business to their happiness. That’s what it takes.
3 Secrets to Boosting Customer Loyalty
1) Recruit the right kind of customer from the start
Know who your ideal customer is – their dreams, interests, personalities, lifestyles – and then work to attract them. My customer base is largely rural home owners for example, so I don’t focus on timeshares or high-rise condos. Knowing your customer is the first step to finding them.
2) Treat that ‘right customer’ like royalty once acquired. Once you’ve found your ideal client, cultivate that relationship. Go over the top to serve them. Make them feel like the most important customer –your only customer. Woo the daylights out of them until they’re so in love with you that to go anywhere else is unthinkable.
3) Devote yourself to high quality service. There is wooing and then there is marriage. This is the marriage part of customer service. This is where you commit to high quality service as a lifestyle – a part of who you are. The heart of your business. This is the difference between winning and keeping a client. “Excellent customer care is the most important method for improving customer loyalty.” – Data Base Marketing Institute
This stuff is so simple, and so effective. It’s also difficult because it’s not natural. It’s not what we learn in our marketing courses and sales seminars. We’re told buzz words and hanging a carrot on a stick is enough. Sales are the ultimate goal and we are trained to pursue it single-mindedly. But it’s not about arm twisting and manipulation. It’s about integrity. Relationship. It truly is a people thing.
“True customer loyalty means
making the relationship more important than making the sale.”
– Yes Sales Recruitment
What is one method you use to recruit the right customer, or keep your existing clients?
Or, what is one new method you would like to try soon?
I adored watching my client fall in love with a house. She gazed lovingly at the polished hardwood like it was a newborn. She caressed glass drawer pulls. Every room she entered evoked some kind of sigh. I didn’t have to ‘sell her’ on the house. She was in love and couldn’t wait to live there.
Ten showings before that, if I would have tried to reason her into buying another house, she might have gone along with it. There were other houses that met her requirements. They were okay. But they didn’t have that feel – they weren’t for her. So we kept looking, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.
I am not a salesperson – not the way one thinks of a salesperson anyway, ready to flash a smile and wink someone into buying my wares. That kind of selling is about me; my smile, my sale, my powers of persuasion.
No. Life is a people thing- ‘other people’. The greats say it all the time because it’s true. Besides, if I would focus on the sale even at the cost of pressuring my client, we would both miss the joy of that discovery. She would miss the joy of falling in love with that perfect-for-her house, and I would miss the joy of watching.
“Happiness doesn’t result from what we get,
but from what we give.”
I recently had the pleasure of showing a house to a wonderfully happy couple. As we toured the house, she was clearly imagining herself already living there. He, on the other hand, was not quite ready to picture himself in this house.
I’ve got to pause here to tell you how beautiful this couple was. And I mean more than how they looked. I’m talking about the way their hands secretly brushed against each other as they sauntered down the hall. I love the way their mouths hinted a smirk when their eyes met. They had been married for years, and were madly in love. I adore that.
Okay, back to our tour of the house. We finally wandered our way to the master suite which featured a gorgeous ensuite. While she was inspecting the jet tub, he stood in the middle of the bedroom checking out the baseboards. As soon as he turned his eyes toward the ensuite – where his wife was – his mouth dropped open. All he could say was, “whoa”. She must have struck quite a pose. I guess he was suddenly able to imagine himself in the house, because they made an offer that day.
I love how comfortable with themselves and each other they were. I don’t know what exactly happened there, but I’m glad they were able to find the perfect house for them. One they could see themselves in for years to come.
Enjoy the tub you two!
Sometimes this ‘available-7-days-a-week’ pace catches up with me. Recently I found myself collapsed on the couch, spent, drained, and wondering how long this can go on. And there, staring at the ceiling, unable to resist gravity’s pull, I knew I can’t face the day. The thought of making one more phone call was almost enough to make me cry. And I don’t cry.
It is there, in that near-catatonic state, it hit me. It was a profound thought; a deeply insightful and life-altering thought. An epiphany really; I need a day off. I let the thought dance around freely, too tired to restrain it.
Maybe I could even have more than one day off…
Maybe even a regularly recurring day off! Oh, glorious thought!
But wait. It’s not like I can just find someone to take my shift. I operate under the umbrella of an agency, but I am an entrepreneur. The Tina Plett biz is owner operated, and she has no staff. Who does an entrepreneur call?
My head fills with plans to co-ordinate with other agents, and ways to serve my clients even on a day off… Gravity pulls again, making even this quiet space harried with urgent planning.
With closed eyes I take a mini-holiday, disappearing to some sandy beach and sip icy red from a glass, refreshed in the shade of a palm tree. The peaceful lapping of the waves soothes me until lunch. I’ll be back after lunch, refreshed and ready to take on the day. Hopefully returning to a head full of ideas on how to implement that wonderful dream, the day off.
In the past, I have been asked –as a condition to a sale – to reduce my commission.
Think about that for a second.
In order to make the price more affordable for the buyer, I should forego my wages? I am constantly baffled by the widespread belief that a Real Estate agent should somehow work for free.
I wonder how that theory would pan out in a different industry. Let’s run that scenario, shall we?
I sit down in a restaurant and order a meal from the menu.
I understand what is offered on the menu, and can ask questions and make adjustments. I can request off-menu specialties like ‘Does this come in a half-order?’ and ‘Do you have that in available in whole wheat?”
We discuss terms, reach an agreement, and I await my order.
After I’ve consumed every tasty morsel, the waitress brings my bill. The bill includes a mandatory 15% tax and 15% gratuity. I agree to pay the bill as long as the gratuity is waived.
She expected that fee as promised by her employer, but that’s not my problem. I view the gratuity as optional- an extra. And why should she get paid extra? Her wages, I decide, are enough for her to live on without exorbitant ‘extras’. When I became an expert on her finances is none of her business. She owes me in a way. I could have gone to any restaurant in town, but I chose this one. She should be thanking me for being a customer at all. And I don’t need to explain that to her either, since it’s none of her business anyway. I want to pay less and that’s all that matters. She should really wipe that annoyed look off her face before I decide to take my business elsewhere…
If that logic makes you want to throw something, congratulations – you have common sense and are aware of the needs of those around you.
If that logic makes perfect sense to you, then I suggest becoming a waitress. Or a Real Estate Agent. Or a missionary. Or any number of professions where one is expected to work and then not get paid.
Thanks for reading.
Remember to tip your waitress!
You’re ready to sell your property. You’ve done the math and know what price you hope for. The agent interviews are done and it’s time to sort through the options. Who to choose…
Wait! Before you sign, let me ask you a question. Did different agents give you different price suggestions? Probably. Because pricing a property is an art, so there will be variations. Can I let you in on a little secret? The biggest mistake you can make is to hire an agent based on price. The most common reason is that agents can use a price estimate to “buy your listing”. Basically, an inflated price is used to attract a new client. (The price can be dropped later after all) It’s not nice or even ethical, but it happens. I don’t mean the highest price an agent gives is automatically inflated. It’s just one of those things to be aware of.
If price is your big qualifier when choosing an agent, you’re missing the forest for the shrub.It’s not just about price!
The market determines price. Your agent estimates and advises. (Translation: Agents can’t promise you a price.)
Agents know they’re competing with other agents. Notice how, if agents know the prices others are giving, the price estimates will climb the more agents you talk to. Is the value of your home climbing, or their attempt to win your business with inflated numbers?
You’re not securing a price, you’re hiring a person – Who are they? What will they do and not do for you?
See past the promises, and choose a reputable agent who wants to serve you, not trick you.
“A seller who choose an agent based on which estimate is highest is the ultimate loser. Yet almost every seller operates in this manner.”
“Agents who tell the truth often lose business to agents who tell lies”
– 1st Place Realty
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Since 80% of clients interview multiple Real Estate Agents before choosing one, I know some must be wondering, ‘What should I ask?’ I’d love to help you with that.
As a REALTOR® I have a unique behind-the-scenes view that clients wish for. After all, how do you sift through interview answers to find the truth? I posted about that here, and highly recommend reading it before choosing an agent. As for what to ask during the interview, there are questions to ask and also questions that, while some say they are ‘must-asks’, I think they’re a waste of time.
What To Ask:
- What are the top 3 things that separate you from your competitors?
- What marketing do you plan for my property? (if you’re selling) Ask how many open houses they plan, where and when they plan to advertise, and how often. What kind of online marketing do they do?
- Do you have references? (ask if references are related and if you can call them with additional questions)
- How much do you charge? Commissions are negotiable, but starting off with negotiating is poor form for either of you. For more on commission negotiation, check out my post on it here.
- How available are you during the process? Some agents work with a team, and clients are sometimes surprised to find their calls fielded by the team members rather than the agent themselves. Knowing ahead of time will minimize confusion.
- How will you help me find other professionals needed for this process? The agent should have available a list of people to recommend for various services. Mortgage brokers, lawyers, or home staging for example. Also, the agent will hopefully be working with a professional photographer, and may have staff to assist with administration.
- What else do I need to know? Pay attention here, because there is always more you need to know. The agent should have something helpful to say at this point.
Questions That Don’t Matter
Article after article advises the following questions be asked. Some articles even advise it and in the same breath say, “Don’t put too much emphasis on it.” Here are some of those highly-recommended questions whose answers really don’t matter.
- How long have you been in the business? Veterans can be highly skilled and connected. They can also be complacent or lazy. Newbies can be eager to serve and have time to dedicate to you. They can also have few resources to invest in marketing for you. This question reveals nothing of the agent, though it may reveal the assumptions of the one asking.
- What is your listing price to sales price ratio? Pricing properties is an art, and markets vary based on countless factors. To boil an agent’s value down to a single number is inaccurate and not useful. To quote the writer advising people to ask this exact question, “Sometimes market value has no bearing on the asking price and, in that that event, ratios are meaningless. Don’t put too much emphasis on ratios.”
Once you’ve interviewed the agents (hopefully you do this individually; all-at-once can create a less helpful cat-fight environment), it’s time to sift through their answers. My post on how to choose an agent helps you uncover who the agent really is behind their smile.