Tina Plett Sutton Group-Kilkenny
The rich taste of eggnog and aroma of delectable spiced ginger cookies have faded away.
Some people think that once the tree and lights are put away, winter’s sparkle is gone, and the grey must inevitably settle on us. Buckle up, it’s all dim and sad until spring…
Here’s the thing.
January shimmers with the romantic splendor of no other month.
At each country property I show, soft white snow trims the evergreens. Snow stretches atop fences like a garland and frost sparkles on branches like crystal fireflies. It’s almost as though the properties heard we were coming, and excitedly dressed up in their Sunday best.
It’s impossible to feel grey and dull when glimpsing that kind of dazzling display.
The other day the most stunning sun dog blazed in rainbows around the sun. I stopped in my tracks to admire them. It amazed me to think that their incredible beauty is simply light reflected by ice crystals.
That’s what I want. I want to reflect Light – to be the clean, clear crystal that reflects all the colors light contains.
What the heck does that mean, right?
I guess to me it means sharing. I want to share what I know and how I live and work so that my colleagues can gain success. Watching my peers grow and succeed gives me great joy. The joy is immensely more if I get to participate by helping somehow – even if it’s as an example seen from afar.
January’s clean, crisp freshness is its splendor.
I feel … like January.
I’m clean and free of the clutter of resentment and bitterness I once carried.
Before me is 2016 – a fresh layer of snow on which I get to make new tracks.
Wait – do you smell that?
Yep, it’s adventure.
This is gonna be good…
What new tracks do you hope to walk this year?
The photos didn’t lie.
I flipped through pictures on my iPad, and a grin spread across my face as I watched the story they told.
Not that long ago I felt like I would never have a life, and I would work until I was a hundred and my feet were worn down to nubs.
But the proof stared right back at me – I did indeed have a life.
And it’s an awesome one!
The year began with my mom’s life-changing hip replacement surgery. It’s given her incredible pain relief and she could finally go out and about again. I can hardly describe what an immense blessing that was – to all of us!
Then there was the mansion tour. While attending a negotiation class in Minneapolis, I was able to tour the James Hill House.
(Want to see how a $63 million man lived back in the day? You can take the video tour of his home right here! He was impressively ahead of his time.)
In February I celebrated 12 years as a non-smoker! (Aaah, I love breathing…)
The biggest change to my business this year was partnering up with Eniko Crozier.
I remember the first days and weeks we spent our mornings together with coffees and our various techno gadgets, training so we were both familiar with the same apps and web programs. Our communication is now seamless as a result – from shared schedules to shared virtual file cabinets, we’re in sync.
In May I celebrated being in real estate for five years. Yay me! *clink*
Mom turned seventy this June. Seventy! Even now, she still enjoys my sarcastic sense of humor, and I still enjoy kicking her butt at rummy. (Love you Mom) My Mom and I spent a weekend in a cabin by moose lake making memories.
I scrolled through a few more pictures, and came upon some from the week that Wendell and I spent at a cottage in Grand Beach . Aah, it was so refreshing.
We walked the shoreline at the beach, enjoying the sand push up between our toes and feeling the breeze in our hair. Sharing coffee every morning with my man (who just happens to look like Sam Elliott, only handsomer) is always a treat, but somehow it’s a double treat when we’re away from everything.
Did you know I officiated a wedding?
This summer I officiated for none other than my partner Eniko Crozier and her husband Chris Petrychen.
At Hecla Island, right there on a rocky plateau by the shore, with the background sound of water lapping, they were married. (After everyone left, Wendell and I got our own little romantic moment by the water…
There was the time I got in a plane with my girlfriend Randine. We flew over the Lake of the Woods just for the heck of it. We just had to know what it looks like from the sky.
I really enjoyed attending a nine-week sales class where I got to build relationships with other agents.
Okay, I also really enjoyed winning the award for the most listings during those nine weeks. *smirk*
Oh – and check out this sweetheart in my arm!
We just added her to our life this summer. I LOVE having another dog! She is so affectionate. I get so many hugs. No wonder they’re considered a form of therapy!
And you remember the conference where I hobbled around with my zebra-striped cane? Well, one of the sights we saw during our touristy evenings was the Coronado Beach. It was a shore I wanted to walk whether I was exhausted and in pain and hobbling around with a cane or not.
… and I did. It was awesome, and totally worth it.
I highly recommend you do it sometime! (Minus the pain and cane if possible)
I laid the iPad down, surprised at the truth it told.
My life is rich and full. Not only had my business grown to such a point that I can take a vacation (!!), but my life outside of work is brimming with people I love and experiences I treasure.
I’ve spent countless hours preparing for the new year, and I know it’s going to be great. I can feel it. And I can hardly wait.
As you reflect on your past year, what has surprised you about it?
What’s going to be awesome about next year for you?
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?
Eniko and I are attending the National Association of Realtors Conference and Expo in San Diego, California. We will be away from November 9-18, 2015 and staying at the Hilton San Diego Bayfront Hotel.
This is my third time attending the conference and each time I have had the privilege of seeing a part of the world I have not seen before. There is 100 classes with varying topics to choose from. I cannot think of a better time to educate ourselves and to encourage ourselves. In this transitioning market, when agents are grumbling, we need to be positively stimulated. I hope to come back with a refreshed enthusiasm about my career.
I am tremendously blessed to work with some very trustworthy agents and several have been there for me when I went away before. Bruce Kroeker, Wes Dowse, and Clare Braun have helped me out in the past. This time I have confidently left my workload to Ann Lemon and Rose Schroeder.
See you when we return.
(Picture from my flower garden)
This week I’m celebrating my one-year anniversary! It’s been one glorious year since I had my first scheduled day off. That might sound weird to some people, but self-employed people know how difficult it can be to not work when people expect you to.
It’s been an adjustment, but I don’t plan to go back! I went from doing it all on my own to joining a team of professionals, to customizing my own team with Eniko as my right hand woman.
It’s sometimes a challenge to share work with a team mate when I’m perfectly capable of doing it. I’ve done it on my own for so long, I’m used to just doing… everything! But it’s getting easier to share the load – and what a brilliant invention team work is! We can each operate in our strengths, and get help with the things we’re terrible at, or just hate doing.
Probably the biggest adjustment has been letting go of the pride of being busy. We tend to wear busyness like a badge of honor. As an eager, goal-oriented person, it’s tough for me to sit still sometimes.
It helped to read a blog lately, where Tyler Ward said, “Busy isn’t respectable anymore”. I was challenged by that, but also relieved. Being overly busy is not the accolade it once was – now it’s seen more as an inability to manage time, or a self-control issue. (are you squirming? I was!)
So I’ve been intentionally working toward a lifestyle of less busy.
I don’t respond like a paramedic anymore, just because someone calls. Sometimes I’m at a wedding or a funeral, and that’s okay.
Working with a partner frees me to take a day off, so I use it to garden, go to the beach, do housework(groan), or whatever I feel like. I try very hard not to use it for working!
I also make a point to put everything aside when hubby gets home, so I can give him my undivided attention for a while. It’s my way of loving and honoring him, and it doesn’t cost anything. Just setting myself aside for an hour? I can do that.
As I practice these, I find my stress level has dropped considerably. I also find it easier to be in the moment, enjoying wherever I am, even if it’s an open house in the middle of a thunderstorm.
I can’t wait to see what the next year has in store! …How do you avoid the busy badge?
A friend asked me one of those questions that instantly empties the mind of all ideas – you know the kind I mean?
Her question was, “What inspired you this week?”
I was surprised by how empty my mind suddenly became. I won’t say whether or not my mouth hung open while I waited for a thought – any thought – to come.
(( cricket sounds ))
But… eventually the gears started turning again, and I remembered a few things. Not big, earth-shattering moments, but interesting moments all the same. As I recalled them, I felt more connected with my life somehow, and refreshed by seeing the good. What a great exercise!
One of the small moments was when I worked with a young couple who had offered on a house. Their offer was conditional on the sale of their own house. They were so in love with this new property, and eagerly awaited the approval.
Someone else came along and offered though, with no conditions. The seller chose that offer of course, and my buyers had to move on. What I loved though, was the maturity this young couple demonstrated. They did not whine or mope or even complain. They took it in stride, wisely understanding that’s just life. They reminded me of that other sweet couple who seemed to know the secret to life’s happiness.
Probably the most moving for me was a meaningful moment I shared with a friend. She lives in Alberta, and we were chatting on the phone about my mom’s 70th birthday party. Two hundred people had shown up to celebrate with our family. She, on the other hand, was missing her mom that Mother’s Day week. She had wanted to place flowers at the gravesite in memory, but the grave was in Manitoba and she couldn’t make the trip. I offered to bring flowers to the site on her behalf. She was deeply grateful.
There I stood at the grave of my friend’s parents, lain side by side. Clasping a bouquet of Daisies, I realized how blessed I am to still have my mom. I can still hug her and touch her hand and hear her voice. We laugh and smile and celebrate together, and I know whenever it ends, it will feel like our time together was not long enough.
I laid the Daisies in front of the headstone, and imagined what it might feel like to do this on my own behalf one day. I felt a deeper empathy for my friend, and left with a refreshed appreciation for my family and friends, and for being alive.
Like I said, they were not earth shattering moments, but they did grab my heart in their own ways.
Now it’s my turn to empty your mind – what inspired you this week?
This week at the bank, I stood in line just like people in bank lines apparently should – facing forward, avoiding eye contact, and trying not to feel like herded cattle. As we all stood there, slowly shuffling forward, the woman next to me turned and we realized we knew each other. We started chatting and it didn’t take long before the conversation turned to something I’d said online. (Online presence comes up a lot!)
She had read about how Eniko had recently partnered up with me. Apparently she’d been reading my blog for a while because she smiled and said, “So you made another change.” Then, with a smirk and head shake, she added, “Man, you’re just not scared of anything.”
Oddly, I felt a sudden need to defend myself. What? Of course I’m scared of stuff. I WAS scared to include Eniko – oh wait. No. Actually I wasn’t. If anything, I was afraid not to.
That evening at home I came across a Facebook personality quiz. I love personality profiles, so I took the quiz. The result made me laugh. It revealed what I already knew- that the reasons I’m perceived as fearless are my strengths – innovation, team work, and staying ahead of the curve for example. It also pointed out my weaknesses accurately.
The cool part was seeing how Eniko’s and my strengths and weaknesses compliment each other perfectly. It was a shot of affirmation that made my week. What a perfect pairing!
I do enjoy change. It’s part of who I am. Lucky for me, it’s vital to success in business. A business can’t grow without change. How would that work? I mean, growth IS change.
So here’s to growth (and, consequently, change) – personal growth, spiritual growth, and business growth.
What changes are you expecting this year? Are you excited, or nervous about them?
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.”
I’m gonna miss him.
Things change, and fast. Just eight short years ago, iphones didn’t exist. (Who can remember such a world?) Google changed its algorithms again, and will continue to tweak it until the end of time. The Winnipeg Real Estate Brokers’ Act is poised for change too, that will impact the entire industry. One thing that doesn’t seem to change though, is the resistance to change. We like comfort, and change is uncomfortable.
Whether the change affects marital status, the national economy, or the price of fuel, there are ways to handle it like a pro. I find many changes thrilling, and enjoy being at the forefront of business change, but like anyone else, there are some I resist. These three methods have helped me cope with such changes.
Find the Good In It
Everyone wants to be that cheery person others enjoy being around. To have a positive outlook and attitude of thanks is exactly what makes that happen. Every change has some redeeming quality. A trembling national economy draws people together, and compels ingenuity. High fuel prices encourage thrifty driving and make us thankful for lower prices when they return. There is always something to be glad for – so be glad for it. It’s a refreshing experience to hear positive, encouraging words.
It’s tiring to walk through a day and hear only whining – and about such mundane things as rain! Yes, it’s raining. Yes. This is what it takes for plants to grow. Yes, this happens every year. Get over it. When there is nothing nice to say, there is one sure-fire cure for complaining: shut up. Try it – even silence can brighten someone’s day! No one wants a reputation as a complainer (or the pinched face that eventually befalls complainers). This one’s a quick and easy fix.
Give Up Control – You Never Had It Anyway
This is the part where we humble our little North American selves and admit we do not control global oil prices, or the way our siblings or children or parents behave. This is where we admit to ourselves that God knows better than even we do, whether it’s how much rain should be allowed, how big earthquakes should be, or how much money people should be able to earn. We can’t control it, and never will, so why hold on to it? It’s a waste of time and energy to try climbing onto His throne. Let it go. Peace follows, I promise.
Change doesn’t change – get used to it.
Change is always around the next corner. So why let it catch you by surprise? Expect it. Watch for it, and you’ll have the excitement of discovering it instead of dread.
What change are you weathering these days? Which of these do you think will help most?
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They say word of mouth is the best source of new clients. I’ve said it too. And it’s true… to a point. But here’s the thing. Everyone gets referrals. Even the most unreliable, unprofessional business person will occasionally satisfy a client. Those satisfied clients will gladly recommend them, because their experience was pleasant. Try this – put out a call on Facebook or Twitter for a professional they’d recommend. (It will be more interesting if you experiment with a trade or industry where you know some of the professionals and their reputations.) You’ll get all kinds of names. The funny thing is, you won’t know any more about those businesses than before you asked. You’ll still need to look them up, do your research, and make a decision. As a business person, how will referrals set you apart then?
Let me share a story. I recently hosted an open house in Niverville, when this young couple came in. We had never met, but as soon as they slapped eyes on me, they said, “You’re Tina!”
It’s a weird feeling when people do that by the way. For a half second I feel like I might be in trouble. I said something clever like, “Yeah…?” and tried not to look too confused.
She smiled and continued, “You sold the house adjacent to our back yard. We see your name and face everywhere – and you blog too!” They were complete and total strangers, and are not on my list of Facebook friends. I wondered how they’d seen my blog posts. She said a friend of hers had shared a post on her Facebook page. “Do you remember the subject?” I asked.
“Yup – For Those Who Smoke After” she smirked.
At this point her husband piped up, “What?”
“I’ll tell you after…” she leaned over to him, and winked at me before continuing, “In one of the last posts you talked about working with crazy people”
The husband joined in, “I’ve seen your ads in the Property Guide. It seems like your advertising is more… upper class.” I thought about a recent ad I’d put out that had this picture of a shrub mooning a neighbor. The caption read, “Time to Move?” I wondered if he had seen it.
“Ah, thanks. It looks professional because I hire professionals to help me with my marketing.”
This couple was considering hiring me before we ever met, and it was not because someone referred them. It was because of what they’d seen in my marketing, and on my site. And this happens all the time. People come over from China and choose me. When I ask other clients – complete strangers who hired me out of the blue, “How did you get my name?”, they often answer, “I did a Google search.”
Here’s the deal – whether or not people are given recommendations, 68% research real estate agents online. When your potential client arrives at your site – and they will come – what will they find? What they hope to find is who you are. They don’t care about salesy photos and impersonal how-to tips. Tips, tricks and hacks can be found anywhere. They want to know about YOU. Are you trustworthy. Are you successful. Are you professional. Are you real. Will you treat them with respect. And they want to find this out online.
The most overlooked source of referrals is a real estate agent’s website. Most don’t have one, and of those who do, few blog. Nearly three quarters of potential clients research agents online. You need to be as personable and friendly and professional there as you would be in person.
Whether they’re coming to your site because of word-of-mouth, or because of Google rankings, potential clients are looking for you. …Are you there?