Sutton Group-Kilkenny

Top Rated Agent

In 2016 Tina Plett made the top ten list in the office at Sutton Group and made the top 10% list of the Wpg Realtors.

2016 Awards

“Let’s Buy a House” They Said…

computer coffee and purse

 

Online house hunting can only do so much.

You cannot smell a house online.

Or open that mysterious door in the basement, or inspect the walls and ceilings for water damage.

You can rule out many homes online, but there are things about a property that you won’t know till you arrive.

This is where, with your own personally retained agent, you begin looking at houses. Lots of them. Sometimes lots and lots of them.

One such (fictional) couple was at the stage of looking. They had smartly retained me to represent them, and off we went looking for that perfect-for-them house.

Here’s how their search went down.

House one: He loved the garage but the master bedroom wasn’t big enough for her.

House two: She loved the kitchen but he didn’t want to be bothered with making the basement windows bigger so the children could safely sleep downstairs.

House three: The wood stove was something he had always wanted but she thought it was not safe for the toddler to be around. I suggested they could remove it but that would create a renovation project they didn’t want to pay for.

House four: She loved the character in the old house but he wasn’t interested in a property that only had a holding tank. It would be an added monthly living expense that they didn’t need.

House five: The floors had all been replaced, which was hugely appealing to both of them. However, the laminate floors had been poorly installed and already had areas separating and swelling from moisture. They both were super disappointed.

House Six: The backyard was amazing. They could both see themselves enjoying summer out here. Too bad the ceiling had been dripping and was causing mould in the upper level of the one and a half story home. Their son’s allergies would not work with that.

House seven: The ad in the magazine said it was a few minutes from the city. It took forty-two minutes to drive to the property and there were eleven miles of gravel road to travel. It was just too far to drive.

House eight: The open-concept living area appealed to both of them. She loved the large windows… until she saw who lived next door. She would not live next door to his ex-girlfriend. Not happening.

House nine: The smell of cigarette smoke was so strong they never even looked through the entire house.

House ten: The backyard photos were the reason they wanted to see this one. The towering apartment blocks next to the home put a damper on the private backyard life they had imagined. They ruled it out before we even looked inside. That was a quick walk though.

House eleven: Ten acres. Finally. They could have horses and other pets. The current owners enjoyed pets also. They just were not very attentive about cleaning up the cat litter. The rugs were torn in the doorways and in the stairs, apparently having been used as a scratching post. There were snakes, lizards, ferrets, hamsters, dogs, and birds living in the house.

The grass on the ten acres had not been cut in years and the grounds had become a dumping ground for old car parts. They certainly could not see their son playing on these grounds. How long would it take to clean the place? I think I saw her gag at the thought.

House twelve: They wrote an offer. They just wanted to move already. We went back to do a home inspection and when we arrived we found the basement flooded. There was no sump pit or sump pump.

The spring melt was coming up through the floor and the beautiful new rug was soaking wet. Thankfully, because they had the offer subject to a home inspection, they were able to get out of the deal.

Houses thirteen to thirty one: They compared each of these homes with the one they had fallen in love with and written an offer on. None of them compared. After a while, all the houses started to look the same.

House number thirty two: Adequate size. Treed yard with a garden. Finished basement. Bi-level with large basement windows. The floors were about five years old but they looked nice. The garage was not insulated but it was attached to the house and they liked that. The kitchen wasn’t as big as she wanted but it had a huge walk-in pantry. They could picture their life here.

I watched them as they quietly took it all in. They were in no hurry to leave. They started picturing where they would place their furniture. It all just made sense. Finally, they had found their home.

 

You might be wondering if I’m exaggerating. I don’t actually show that many houses before closing a deal, right?  I must have just gotten caught up in the fictional storytelling.

YES, I’ve absolutely shown upwards of thirty houses to a single client. It’s happened a few times.

The fact is, house-hunting takes time. Lots of time.

If you take anything away from this story, I hope it is an appreciation of the buyer representative who dedicates themselves to you and your process.

We work hard, and are glad to show you loads of listings, regardless of whose sign is on the yard.

Photo 2010-08-09, 12 32 36 PM

Accredited Buyer Representative

-Tina Plett

Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate

The Surprising Story Behind Sutton Group-Kilkenny’s Start

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Recently my boss, one of the founders of Sutton Group-Kilkenny Real Estate, passed away. As I reflected on the great employer he was, and all the things I appreciated about him, I remembered how I loved listening to him tell the same story over and over again about how Kilkenny Real Estate became a Sutton Group franchise. So I thought I’d share it with you.

Blaine Campbell was a bit of a rebel. Don’t let his friendly, helpful ways fool you – he was a forward thinking guy who would gladly rock whatever boat needed rocking if it was the right thing to do. How Sutton Group – Kilkenny Real Estate started, for example, had everything to do with bucking the system.

Generally, being a real estate agent comes with a whole lot of expenses. Office space and administrative staff are an expected cost. Back in Blaine’s day, it was also standard to pay high commission splits. No one ever questioned it – like gas or hydro prices, it’s just the cost of doing business. People just accepted the status quo.
Blaine wasn’t interested in status quo.
He knew there had to be a better way. He found three other like-minded agents to join him in his plan to break from status quo, and together they shared the expenses of office space and an administrator. Kilkenny Real Estate was born. Maybe that doesn’t sound earth shattering, but one does not typically get close and cozy with one’s competitors, especially not entrepreneurs, and especially not in a dog-eat-dog industry like real estate. It would be like Sobeys and Safeway partnering to share a building, office supplies and personnel, but still be individual, competing companies. It just doesn’t happen.

But he didn’t care. This was, to him, a logical improvement. Beyond logic though, he also believed that relationships in the work place should be built on honesty and integrity. When that happens, sharing goes smoother, and synergy happens. (Synergy is the proven idea that a number of people working together can accomplish more than that same number of people working individually)

Other agents heard about this new arrangement and wanted in. Lower costs? Trustworthy team mates? Synergy? Everyone wanted a piece of that. Blaine welcomed them. And more came. And more. … and more. Suddenly the office was filled to capacity, and then some. As demands on their office and staff increased, so did pressure. Synergy slowed, frustrations rose.
Something had to give. Blaine had to either send everyone on their way, and return to the small four agent arrangement or a big change would have to happen.

He then heard about the Sutton franchise. The Sutton pay structure was much like the original agreement between the original four agents. Basically Sutton Group frees the entrepreneurs to keep their income and decide how they want to run their own business. After all, we are independent contractors.

After looking into Sutton Group a little further they decided to go for it. “And you should have seen what happened then!” he told me one day, grinning. Oh, how his eyes lit up whenever he got to this part. The company grew hugely and quickly after they partnered with Sutton group. He never regretted that decision.

I love that story – it is exactly everything I love about Sutton Group-Kilkenny. Integrity, relationship, synergy, and especially freedom to steer my own money, and innovative thinking. It’s everything I ever wanted in a workplace.
And it gets better.
All that innovation and freedom was not just given to the agents, it was also for the administrators. I remember how Blaine told me one day, “The best thing that happened to the office was the day we hired Roberta Talmage.” She is the office manager now, but in her starting out days as administrator, she too had that innovative streak. Roberta created an entire new system of operations and had all the paperwork organized in record time. She didn’t mind changing everything if it was needed. I love that. And the relationship bit was there too. Blaine appreciated that he could rely on her, and that she was not only his valued employee, but also trusted friend.

Even after the huge business growth, Blaine Campbell humbly served his staff. He helped make the feature sheets, the Just Listed and Sold cards, and did all the printing and marketing for us. It was his way of staying in touch with staff. Even though his poor health kept him from the office in recent months, the business was his pride and joy.

 

I recently sent him a thank you email, and think it’s fitting to close with his humble, team-minded words.

“I’m fortunate to have the best people in the business running the office.

They are the ones who make everything great.”

-Blaine Campbell

I’m gonna miss him.

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Tina Plett partners with Eniko Crozier

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Real Estate Humor – 5 Property Descriptions You Won’t Ever See.

Crafting the perfect property description is… an art. To paint with words all the beautiful things about a house is easy when the house has many beautiful things. But sometimes it’s harder to find the gem beneath the dirt. And then polish it to such a shine that no one notices the dirt. There are ways. Sometimes it’s not what we say, but how we say it that matters…

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What You Won’t Ever See:

Tiny, windowless hut. Poor lighting, roof may leak.
Little room for expansion, but at least it’s cheap!

little house

What you would see: 

Affordable starter! Cozy home with a beautiful yard.
Opportunity to increase value.  Prime location.
Won’t last long at this price!

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What You Won’t Ever See:

Abandoned cabin. Features one straight fence.
Overgrown yard. Roof issues. Perfectly suited for demo.

old-house-13186084721wl

What you would see: 

Little house on the prairie!  Rustic log cabin
boasts hand-hewn timbers. Fenced, treed yard.
A handyman’s retreat!

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What You Won’t Ever See:

Floating picnic table. Features roof and flag pole.
No oars. No motor. Must be moved.

picnic-house

What You Would See:

Rare offering! Bohemian houseboat now available.
Vessel features solid wood construction. Newer roof and flagpole.
Simple floor plan allows room to grow.

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What You Won’t Ever See:

Prison-like brick cube. Features creeping moss.
Freshly painted-over windows create a sense of mystery.
Dual chimneys reminiscent of German labor camps.

stone house

What You Would See:

Own your very own castle in the country!
Turn of the century cobble stone beauty features
solid construction,  some recent paint, and two fireplaces.

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What You Won’t Ever See:

Attention carnies! Circus themed party house just for you.
Complete with fun house mirrors. Features colorful row of beehive holders.

het-klompenhuis

Calling all artists! This whimsical haven
features turn of the century shutters, wood heat
and a whole lot of bling.

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Free Event – Don’t Be Alone This Christmas Eve!

 

Tina Plett EventYou know how much I love people, right?  It pains me to see when people are taken advantage of, hurt or lonely. It especially tugs at my heart to see people lonely at Christmas. I’ve been there.

I used to ADORE Christmas – think ‘crazy Christmas lady’ and you’re close. I’d decorate early, play music and bake cookies… I’d be the one beaming crazily in the store (maybe even giggling) as I shopped for gifts.  And I L-O-V-E-D spending Christmas Eve with my family.

But divorce changed it – took it all away. Christmas Eve became the loneliest night of the year for me. I understand now why some people don’t like Christmas – it can be excruciating for the lonely. It can be positively joyless.

But I’m taking the joy back! No more lonely Christmas Eves for me – and hopefully, not for you either. For the second consecutive year, I’m hosting a free, public  event for anyone who is alone on Christmas Eve. Adults are welcome to attend this free Christmas dinner. It’s a great opportunity to meet new people, get together with friends, and surround yourself with people. You are not alone! Come on out to the Lions’ Club on Christmas Eve from 6:00-10:00pm. Admission is free, and all adults are welcome. The feast will be supplied by Pioneer Catering, there will be gifts too! You are invited! Please come out and join us.

Don’t be alone this Christmas.

Stop Being So Wimpy!

business-card or else

Yes, I’m talking to you, my precious reader, client, family, friend. Because I care, I’m gonna tell you straight – stop being a pushover!  Far too often you let others tell you where it’s at. 

The doctor tells you what to do, so you do it without question or research.

The store clerk says ‘we don’t carry that’, so you leave without double checking the shelves.

The banker tells you the best plan for you (which is, of course, found only at their bank), so you go with it, not researching or checking around.

And there are REALTORS® who push and pressure you – to sign with them, to reduce your price, to hurry, hurry before the market changes and you lose out… and you just do it.

Too often I see people choose REALTORS® of ill repute because they were too afraid to stand up and say ‘No’. I’ve seen people get pressured into and out of sales they were not ready for. It pains me deeply to watch people suffer this way. And I’m not sure which is worse– pushy sales people who get the job done at any cost, or the pushovers who reinforce this behavior by succumbing.

I care about you, and plead with you – stand up for yourself! Don’t be afraid to ask questions. (Anyone who would mock you for asking is likely intensely insecure and proud. Do you really need to impress someone like that?) Ask!! Find out for yourself! Check around! Research! And then think carefully – is the advice you’ve been given really best for you?

 

Look, most of the time the advice we receive is coming from someone with something to gain. Yes, they may be trained in their field. Yes, they may even know more about their ‘area of expertise’.  But there is one thing they will never know that you dowhat is right for you.

You are the only one who will ever know that.

Think about it.

When No One Comes To My Open House

Ever host an Open House and have NO ONE show up? I have. Sitting in an empty house alone for hours makes a person question; Are Open Houses worth the effort? Why bother?  knocker-on-the-white-door I still host open houses. I think they’re important and even effective. That might sound a little crazy when we know we’ve made very few sales off of an open house. But here are a few reasons why I think

Open Houses are a key marketing element: Natural Selection An Open House can help separate the serious shoppers from the curious. ‘Tire-kickers’ can check out the property without having to call you later for an extra showing. This is especially helpful for unique homes. I recently listed a one-of-a-kind octagonal house. I’ve never seen one like it, and neither had anyone else in the area. That was the busiest Open House I’ve ever hosted! Everyone was curious to see the inside of the ‘round house’.

Advertising I know you know this one already. An Open House event will get your face and your client’s home in front of people. Advertising is about maintaining presence; staying on people’s mind.

Give ‘Em What You’ve Got Clients expect their REALTORS® to host an Open House. When we don’t, they may wonder why we’re holding back our services. I want to give my clients everything I’ve got. It’s part of the stellar customer service I recently posted about. Open Houses are part of the complete package. As a bonus (for me) some REALTORS® believe Open House events are a waste of time and refuse to do any. To my clients, my available services then becomes more attractive.

Then There’s The People Thing And, because the Real Estate biz is really about people, we can’t forget that Open Houses also afford us a fantastic opportunity to meet new people. That’s the part I love. It’s not about meeting new clients necessarily, but I get to make that initial connection that maybe down the road becomes a friendship, a client, a collegue… we never know what seeds we’re sowing. And yes, there are the odd ones where no one shows. Even those are useful though. Those two hours are the only ones I’ll get to myself all day! So I soak them up. I’ll sing, read, message, make phone calls, or just enjoy the property. (One time, I sang myself nearly hoarse in a vacant house. The acoustics were irristable, and I had the time, so I gave ‘er.) Whether people come to your Open House or not, it is not a waste – you’re sowing some important seed. The challenge is enjoying the process.

Providing legendary customer service-part three

 

Discover What Your Client Really Wants

You’re not going to like this.

4<a href=”http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=16468&picture=scared-lady”>Scared Lady</a> by Vera Kratochvil

The irony of this series is that Providing Legendary Customer Service can not be taught. Not really. There are tips and methods to employ, yes. And, one could fake it for a semi-result. But to authentically pull this off, the desire to satisfy and keep loyal clients needs to become a lifestyle; an attitude.

So what do your clients want? There’s one great way to find out:

“You learn when you listen.
You earn when you listen – not just money, but respect.”
– Harvey Mackay

But…

“There’s a big difference between showing interest and really taking interest.”-Michael P. Nichols, The Lost Art of Listening.

With that in mind, here are a few tips on Listening To Our Clients:

  1. Give Undivided Attention
    Don’t try to guess what they will say. Hear what they are actually saying.
  2. Ask Questions
    Encourage them to continue talking, and clarify your understanding of what they mean.
  3. Let Them Finish
    Interruptions and distractions prevent them from getting across what they’re trying to say.
  4. Respond With Your Whole Body.
    Leaning forward, eye contact, facial expressions and gestures demonstrate you are engaged with what they are saying.
  5. Don’t React
    If highly charged words or tones are being used, resist reacting. Hear them out and respond calmly.

(* These tips are taken from John D. Geddie’s Listening Checklist.)

But the best advice I can give when trying to find out what your clients want is to want to know your client.
“The desire is to understand the client and not to make her agree to something or to change her opinion. If you get this, the rest are all details.”–Chaitanya Sagar of P2W2.com

How have you improved your listening skills lately?

http://tinaplett.com/about-me/blog/ for part one and two

PROVIDING LEGENDARY CUSTOMER SERVICE-Part Two

 

Maintaining Contact With Clients Without Loosing Your Mind

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So you got some clients. Now how do you keep them?

“Being on par in terms of price and quality only gets you into the game. Service wins the game.” – Tony Allesandra

Lowball pricing and gimmicks won’t keep a client loyal. Stellar service will. And it’s easier than you think. It doesn’t have to require hours of social media, writing blog content and sending out newsletters and birthday cards and phoning everyone on your list every month. *deep breath* It can be as simple as being you.

Check out this client’s answer when asked why she switched to me from another agent.

“Basically, it was a lack of trust. As a client, I was shopping for properties. As an agent, she was trying to sell me on her importance. Name dropping and office gossip peppered our conversations. Integrity and service were not as important as her looking powerful. I felt incidental – like a task, not a person.”

“The worst perception a client can have is to feel insignificant or forgotten. The salesman is accountable for the health of any client relationship.” –wikihow

This common customer experience, spells out opportunity for us. Stellar customer service gives us a huge advantage over our competitors! Okay, I know you’re looking for a list of what to do, so here are some stellar service tips that will keep your clients coming back for more!
Listen. – -No, Really Listen!
“Spend a lot of time talking to customers face to face. You’d be amazed how many companies don’t listen to their customers.”-Ross Perot

Integrity Costs, But It Sells.
Do what you say you’ll do. Be honest even when it’s hard. This does not just apply to your client, but to everyone. Your collegues, competitors, the gas attendant. Your familiar face is connected with what you do. If you are known as honest in all things, your reputation becomes an asset.
Personal Attention
This is the crown jewel of customer service, and we’ll talk more about later. For now though, it’s the personal flair that really builds loyalty. Give tips, info and bonuses to your client that meet their goals and desires. Really think about them and their needs, and then exceed their expectations

Aha! You were expecting me to talk about newsletters, emails and social media, weren’t you? Those are great tools. But these tips are the real deal. It’s what a loyal client looks for.

And, unlike the ‘to do list’ approach, these things don’t really take extra time. It’s about character, not tasks. Remember. Your client is not a task, and your goal is not the sale. It’s a people thing.

People will never forget the way you made them feel.”

 

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