People weave in and out of our lives. Whether because of job relocation, offense, or plain old growing apart, relationships change. Sometimes the change is a relief, and other times we don’t want to say goodbye. It can be hard, but often make it harder…
Before I tell you how, let me share a quick story.
One of my favorite relationships in life lasted only two years, after which we parted quickly and permanently. During this friendship, I learned much, growing spiritually and emotionally. It changed my life. I am a different person because of our time together. Every time we met, I left encouraged and motivated. After two years, job relocation ended it abruptly. It never resumed. I think we both would have enjoyed continuing, but also knew it was time for the mentorship to conclude.
I mourned that relationship for months. I thought every day about our conversations, and missed my mentor terribly. I ached to have the friendship again. I remember reaching a point of decision though – I had to choose between staying fixated on the past, and moving forward glad for the time that was.
I chose to move forward with gladness. That choice has saved me a great deal of pain.
I’ve seen people wrecked over the choice to stay fixated on the past. If only this, and I wish that. The biggest mistake we make in the midst of sadness, is staying in it too long.
Healthy sorrow, with enough time, rots to become discontentment.
Mourning is valid – essential actually. But even mourning runs its course. After that, it become toxic, blinding us to the present. Suddenly all the relationships, health and possessions we have are not enough. The future looks bleak and lonely, and our face can no longer support a smile. We become discontent, and can find no joy.
But it doesn’t have to be this way.
If you’ve held on to mourning to the point of toxicity, you need to know there is joy waiting for you. Kiss the past goodbye, appreciating it for what it was. Then (and only then) will you be available to enjoy what’s right in front of you. Let go to grab on to something new.
Do you find joy in the job, health, and relationships you have right now?
If not, rancid sorrow may be why.
How have you found this to be true in your own life? How did letting go of the past help you embrace – and enjoy – the present? I’d love to hear about it.
Once upon a time I was young, slender, muscular, and beautiful. Maybe even sexy. One day I decided to go through my photos to find pictures of myself when I was 30 something, young, slender, muscular, and beautiful. There were very few photos of me in those years. I knew why. A Single mother is always the one behind the camera taking the pictures. Sigh. I really wish that I had pictures of myself when I was 30 something, young, slender, muscular, and beautiful. That thought made me sad. Now I am the heaviest I’ve ever been and I’ve turned 50. I still have an hourglass figure- It’s just got a lot of extra minutes!
Then I had a new, fresh thought. Maybe one day I’ll be 70. I don’t want to say, “Man, I sure wish I had pictures of myself when I was 50.” Then I had a little argument with myself. One part of me didn’t want any evidence of how overweight I’ve become. But my reasoning side said this: Maybe this will be your before weight-loss pictures! Think about it. When I see before and after pictures of weight loss, the before picture is usually a really terrible picture. Those pictures emphasize the idea that we can’t feel beautiful when we’re overweight.
This is youngest I am ever going to be. I hope this is the heaviest I’m ever going to be. That being said this may also be the time when I’m the happiest I’ve ever been. And that my friend makes me beautiful.
So I booked the photo shoot. I told the photographer Ashley Kaboha that I want the real thing. No wiping away wrinkles. I want the real me. The me that people see. My hair and makeup the way I do it daily (except maybe on my day off). However, I didn’t want her to aim the camera at my rolls. I am not celebrating fat. I am celebrating that I can be happy and beautiful regardless of my age or weight. I have lost seven pounds since the photo shoot. I have decided to share the photos with you anyway.
MY FAVOURITE ONE I SAVED FOR LAST. This one has the best smile. This one may not be repeated when I am 70. I wish I had a bikini picture at 35 but I wouldn’t want one now. THIS ONE IS A KEEPSAKE. I am confident that anyone who remembers me from my years between 16-49 will picture me in stilettos. I hope I can learn to love two inch heals like I loved four inch heals.
I hope I have inspired you to remember your past you, celebrate your present you, and embrace the future you. Be yourself and feel good about it. Put a smile on your face. It’s the best camouflage for your not so good features.
Imagine a pick-up truck parks in your driveway. You don`t know the men who climb out, but they smile and wave. You wave back, confused. They slip on work gloves, pull open the tailgate and begin unloading their heap of junk and garbage onto your front lawn. It crosses your mind this could be a joke. It isn’t. The two burly men smile as they climb back into their truck. You’re stunned into silence. You do notice though, that the heap left behind is a mangled mess of dish racks, lamps and old paint cans. As the men drive away waving, you hear them sing, “You’re welcome!”. They seem to think they have done you a favor.
This kind of thing happens all the time. Usually though, instead of using two guys in a pick-up truck, people use the sale of their property.
Maybe you’ve had this happen to you. Or maybe you’ve been the one to leave behind old paint cans thinking the owners will appreciate the thoughtful gesture. Maybe you’ve even blessed them with a few other things you no longer need – a couch or deep freeze perhaps.
Garbage is not a blessing.
One man’s junk is only another’s treasure if they want it. Most home buyers do not want their new home filled with someone else’s things. I have had buyers insist that the seller come back and remove whatever they left behind.I have had sellers consider ‘removing’ items as placing bulk items by the street for the sanitation crews to deal with. Garbage crews do not take tires. Or couches. Or mattresses. Or a hundred other things.
If you’re selling, you are responsible for cleaning up your property. Leaving it at the curb and thinking it will be alright does not count.
Calling it a present does not count.
What kind of garbage have you received as a present?
I would tell you stories- hilarious tales-
but I am too busy trying to make sales
the phone won’t stop ringing, emails clog my PC
I drive ‘cross the nation ‘till my tank is empty
dishes and laundry piles grow ever higher
‘When will you clean us?” they seem to inquire
‘I’ll get to it later’ I think as I’m leaving
and hope it gets better just by my believing
my husband and I see each other.. not much
when I’m running and selling and showing and such
“Then where is the money dear Liza?” he’ll croon.
“the sale from five months ago should pay out soon.”
and now I must leave to dash hither and yon
I would tell you stories but… too late
If you read my latest post about the Biggest House Hunting Mistake you’re probably wondering what kind of advice I give exactly when I say “don’t call the listing agent”. Did I really mean that I don’t want people to call me when I’m the listing agent? Yes and no… allow me to clarify.
Yes, Call the Listing Agent When…
– They are your agent already
– The agent is someone you know and trust
– You’re willing to be represented by that agent (remembering that they represent the seller too)
– You haven’t called any agent yet. About anything.
No, Don’t Call the Listing Agent When…
– You have no intention of buying or selling with that agent
– You have an agent already
– You have already called another agent with even one question (read why here)
– You do not want the listing agent (who represents the seller’s interests) to represent you too.
– The agent is not of good reputation
If, according to these lists, you shouldn’t call but do anyway, it creates opportunity for chaos. It invites trouble for you, the agents, and others too.
For example, if you call the listing agent even though you have a REALTOR® you usually work with (perhaps because you’re trying to be ‘helpful’ and not waste your own agent’s time), here’s what happens:
a) you waste the time of the listing agent.
b) you compromise the commission of your own REALTOR® by establishing an “Implied Relationship” with the listing agent (do you really want to make your REALTOR® beg and fight to get paid for working for you?
c) the chances of litigation go up (see below)
Conversely if you call ‘when you should’, the agent you hire does not have to fight for their commission, and there is clarity about who is representing who and what their motives are.
One more thing – at the workshop I’m attending, we learned this shocking statistic. Of all the Real Estate litigation cases, 53% are where the agent represents both the buyer and seller. An additional 33% of those cases arise when someone from the same brokerage represents the other party. That’s 86% of legal actions taken when there is joint representation. (Does that make you as a buyer prefer your own representation?)
I know I’m really hitting this point hard but, like I said, it is the BIGGEST mistake house hunters make. One phone call or email legally creates an ‘implied relationship’ between you and the REALTOR®. Do yourself (and everyone else) a favor – think before you call.
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 do – what is right for you.
You are the only one who will ever know that.
Think about it.
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? 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.
The crowning jewel of service
<a href=”http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=46636&picture=flower”>Flower</a> by Bartosz Kossakowski
One of my favorite deals almost drove me crazy. A vendor, an aging widow with dementia who had recently lost her husband, was kicking out REALTORS one after the other. My client and I were no exception. But, wanting to help the widow too, I was able to speak with her and we were able to reschedule.
My client adored the house at first sight, and quickly made an offer. The vendor then informed us that the water was ‘bad’ – a potential deal breaker for lenders. We thought the deal was lost. But I really wanted to help both the widow and my client to get what they wanted, so we immediately had the water tested. The water, it turned out, was fine. The vendor was able to sell her house, and my client was able to buy the house she wanted.
Our clients deeply appreciate our going the extra three miles. They can tell when they are a priority, and are cared about. That’s what they remember.
“I’ve learned that people will forget what you said,
people will forget what you did,
but people will never forget how you made them feel.”
– Maya Angelou
Personal attention is basically the culmination of everything mentioned in this series. We start and end with this crowning jewel in mind: valuing all people. Collegues,competitors, vendors, sellers, the gas attendant. My clients -whether a $50K home owner, or $500K vendor – receive the same personal attention from me.
A client’s experience with us needs to sparkle with the jewel of personal attention. They will feel valued and respected, and they will tell their friends about it, and that is exactly what we hope for.
“Loyal customers, they don’t just come back,
they don’t simply recommend you,
they insist that their friends do business with you.”
–Chip Bell, Founder Chip Bell Group
Your turn: What has grabbed you the most about this series?
http://tinaplett.com/about-me/blog/ to see part one, two, and three of this series.
Discover What Your Client Really Wants
You’re not going to like this.
<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
“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:
- Give Undivided Attention
Don’t try to guess what they will say. Hear what they are actually saying.
- Ask Questions
Encourage them to continue talking, and clarify your understanding of what they mean.
- Let Them Finish
Interruptions and distractions prevent them from getting across what they’re trying to say.
- Respond With Your Whole Body.
Leaning forward, eye contact, facial expressions and gestures demonstrate you are engaged with what they are saying.
- 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
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Maintaining Contact With Clients Without Loosing Your Mind
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.
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.”