Are you a Fraud?

When I first became a Realtor fifteen years ago, I was excited about the prospect of helping so many consumers realize the “American Dream”. But, as I actually began to approach prospective clients, a terrible sinking feeling hit the pit of my stomach. I had begun to question everything that had brought me to that point. Was I really trying to help others achieve a lofty ideal, or was I just trying to make a quick buck? Was I good enough? What if a client knows more about the situation than I know?   Believe me, there’s nothing quick about making money in real estate, but these questions often enter a new agents mind… veterans too! These are normal anxieties that most people experience at one time or another in their lives. It just means you’re human.

A magician will take the stage, with the intent of dazzling his audience. He makes sure his first effect is a big hit to quickly win his audience over with his demonstration of skill. After a few minutes, even the most hardnosed skeptics stop trying to catch the performer commit an error, and simply sit back and enjoy the show. The magician is delighted to know he has the audience in the palm of his hand. However, delight eventually turns to guilt. “These people actually believe I can perform miracles” the illusionist will think to himself. “My entire show is built on lies, deception and optical illusions. I’m a fraud”! It’s what magicians call the Impostor Syndrome.

The Impostor Syndrome is something often attributed to over achievers, as well as novices. An actress makes a few movies that are well received, and the performer is in high demand. She now has the means to purchase a large home with all the furnishings, as well as that fancy sports car she always wanted. Then when she considers all those other people who are without the extravagant creature comforts, she feels guilty for her success. To alleviate the negativity, she offers to work FOR a worthy charity. This is a wonderful way to channel the energy into a positive. She then receives worldwide acclaim for her good works, and again, feels guilty for receiving the notoriety. She then rationalizes in order to find peace; she needs to lash out AGAINST something… anything. This explains why we have so much social commentary from the Hollywood elite these days.

What the magician’s audience doesn’t see is the countless hours researching, studying, and practicing in front of a mirror to get each and every effect just right. He will also experiment with different methods, and ask for guidance from other professionals. Similarly, a brand new real estate agent devotes themselves to their craft. Consider the hundred hours of formal training one must attend in order to achieve his or her license. Respect the fact most people would not endure sitting through the classes, studying for the test, taking the test (maybe more than once) and subscribe to an code of ethics in order to call themselves; Realtor. Yet, we feel ashamed if a member of the general public states information they found on Zillow or Trulia that they say is contrary to our research and professional opinion. One should never question their own abilities when confronted by those who are not willing to put in the hard work.

The magician is not paid to perform “miracles”, he’s paid to ENTERTAIN, which is what he does. Similarly, an agent is not compensated for “knowing everything”, but rather to research a specific situation to help the clients achieve their goals. Still, there are some things we can do to overcome a fraud complex. First, understand by being committed to your industry, you already know a lot more than you may think. Second, when someone pays you a compliment, accept it. “Thank you” is an appropriate response. Also, fresh knowledge by way of continual training and keeping up with current industry issues is a good way to kill off the “impostor” inside. When it all said and done, you are a professional with a conscience. After all, a true con artist never has an issue with integrity, or the lack thereof. So, remind yourself, you are there to help consumers realize the “American Dream”.

http://MomentumSeminars.com

The 8 Most Common Mistakes of New Managers

Recently, I was speaking to a group of business owners. It was a luncheon, and I was brought in as the guest speaker. The topic that day was on turning new managers into effective ones. It was a portion of my one day management seminar I conducted the month before. Entrepreneurs want to know how to get their management team up and running as quick as possible.

Almost as important as what to do, it to know what NOT to do. With so many people, procedures and other considerations in any organization, mistakes are sometimes made.  It is not enough for a leader to continue to develop his or her skills. The boss must also be mindful to avoid potential obstacles that could derail an otherwise positive environment.

1) Leading all members of a team in the same manner.

One size does not fit all when it comes to dealing with human beings. And if you’re in management, THAT is the job; dealing with human beings. Everyone responds different to the chief motivators of pain or pleasure. To uncover what motivates a person, a manager must first have an individual relationship with all members of the team.

2) Offensive, obnoxious, rude or abusive behavior.

Being offensive simply isn’t acceptable in the 21st century workplace. Truth is, it wasn’t acceptable in the 20th century or any other. Being loud or issuing threats will simply repel good employees. For those who are motivated by achieving pleasure and reward, this tactic provides neither.

3) Failing to show appreciation when it is deserved.

One thing that keeps good employees in place for years when perhaps the title wasn’t as glamorous or money wasn’t as good compared to somewhere else, is a sense of satisfaction. Simply Receiving a paycheck isn’t enough for someone to take pride in their work. Employees need validation from the boss.

4) An inability to gather or give information due to poor communication  skills.

If you don’t have a TEAM, you are not really a manager. You are a specialist. A siloed technician can get away with not speaking much or constructing emails in bullet points devoid of adjectives, a manger cannot. Issuing edicts like a monarch doesn’t work in the American culture. People need to know what, how and even why.

5) Not being a role model or leading by example.

It is not necessary for managers to DO everything alongside the rest of the team every day. However, it is necessary illustrate that the manager CAN. This is not only good for esprit de corps but it also allows the boss an opportunity to exhibit what the standard of work is to be.

6) Blurring the lines of management and being too friendly.

Managing friends and former co-workers is always tough. But if the position has shifted, so should the relationship. Notice, I did not say there is no relationship, it has simply transformed. Those who will call on the loyalties of “friends” in their new corporate rung will always fail. It better to establish what the new relationship is on the front end.

7) Being absent or otherwise detached from the organization.

A good boss has to be present in mind and body. Yes the mice will play, so it is imperative they physically see a manager. Though it is not just a matter of work ethic, but teams need to know they have the support of management. Support given from a distance may not be perceived as support at all. Morale, whether good or bad, stems from leadership.

8) Micro-managing; not delegating responsibilities or trusting the team.

I could go deep here, but the bottom line is: nobody likes a control freak! If the boss is hovering over the collective shoulder of the team, the team will essentially give up. Why should they try so hard if everything is to be critiqued and modified later? It also teaches employees to not engage their own ingenuity.

The relationship between employer and employee is just that, a relationship. As such, it must be cultivated by both parties. Proper interaction is a must to achieving organizational goals.

 

Time for Faith

A local dining favorite is about to close it’s doors in Murfreesboro, Tennessee. Peter D’s American Southern Bistro will close it’s doors on 4/18/2018. It’s named for Peter Demos, a prominent businessman in Tennessee.  It was said to be “Upscale, casual dining”. I’m not sure what that means, but the food was pretty good.  My  family and I went there several times since it opened about four years ago. You could find things on the menu there that were  hard to find elsewhere. Things like candied ribs and a quinoa salad. The foodpeter-d-s was good, the service was good and so was the atmosphere.

When you first walked into the restaurant, you could not help but notice the THOUSANDS of copper pennies inlaid into the floor of the foyer. I once asked the owner exactly how many coins there were and he told me. I have since forgotten that number but I was struck that he knew it down to the penny. The interior was rustic with rock walls and bourbon casks. But one thing in the decor that really fascinated me was all the “broken” clocks hanging in the waiting area. It looked like a scene from American Pickers.

The first time we visited, I didn’t ask about the odd timepieces as I was just taking it all in. When we went back, curiosity got the better of me. When I finally asked the hostess; “What’s with the clocks”, I was expecting to get some philosophical response about how time is money, the mortality of man or even the restaurants hours of operation. What I got instead was a little card that explained the meaning of each and every clock. The “times” correspond to a different bible reference.

The first clock was set to 6:33. This represented Matthew 6:33, “But seek first the kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” I thought this was pretty bold, especially in a day and age when it is not politically correct to be a Christian, let alone a Christian business. 3:05 was Proverbs 3:5, Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”  I was amazed to see such a witness in a time when there are those who grossly misinterpret the United States Constitution to read as a separation of church and… well, EVERYTHING.

Peter Ds ClocksYeah, this guy is a radical alright. In fact he even went so far as to remain closed on Sundays, so the employees could go to church that day.  A couple of years ago, I heard Mr. Demos’ testimony one Good Friday at a function sponsored by another public speaker in town, Coach Micheal Burt. He related how difficult it was to open this particular restaurant though he had been a restaurateur for decades. Nonetheless, God showed him the way. A way which would ultimately bring glory to the Lord if for no other reason than to share his story. That’s appropriate as it is a part of the restaurants purpose statement.

According to the Daily News Journal, which shot the main photo of this post, the Demos’ received an offer from a national deli chain to lease the property which was too good to turn down. The Peter D’s name will go on as the family’s catering business. Already, Peter has his sights on his next venture this Summer in Nashville. I’m sure my family and I will visit one of his many establishments for years to come, but I will personally remember how bold the Demos family is in their faith.

Blaine Little

http://MomentumSeminars.com

For the entire DNJ article, visit; https://www.dnj.com/story/money/business/2018/04/14/peter-ds-closing-murfreesboro-demos-restaurant/517178002/

The NASHVILLE TORNADO; How Dr. Pepper Saved My Life

Having lived over a decade of my life in the Mid-West, I had heard all sorts of stories about the odd happenings during a tornado; the “freight train”, whole houses lifted intact and sat back down, playing cards splicing half way into light poles, etc. So, when my family moved back to Tennessee, I just thought that was all behind me, we were no longer in “Tornado Alley”.

Twenty years ago today, I recall I left a little early to make it to a per-marrital counseling session with my pastor and fiancé, now my wife, Hannah. As I left the State office building in Nashville where I worked, I noticed how gray and bleak the skies were. I didn’t think much of it, because it wasn’t raining… how bad can it be? You will realize in this story, just how slow on the uptake I was that day.

Nashville-TN-Tornado-4-16-1998I got in my car, put in a CD, and left the State parking lot on Charlotte Avenue to make my way back to Murfreesboro. As I pulled under the I-40 overpass, I noticed the red light was swinging violently in the wind. The idea of a tornado never crossed my mind; after all, it was Tennessee! As I sat there, I noticed several other cars lining up behind me as we waited for the light to change. Then I watched as a plastic box fly by which was followed by a tree branch about four feet long. I still had no idea what was happening but remember thinking; “Wow, this is going to be a really bad wind storm, I better protect my car”. Realizing other motorist would like the relative safety of being under an overpass; I ran the red light, bypassed the on-ramp, and gunned it to the gas station across the street. No way was I going to have flying debris hit my car on the interstate. I would go to the convenient store, get a Dr Pepper and just wait it out.

I parked near the carport to protect my car from this “wind storm”. As I opened the car door, I was struck by how hard it was to open my door. I STILL didn’t understand this was a pressure issue, I just thought it was heavy wind pushing against my car but when I got out, I was stunned at how little wind there actually was. I noticed there was a lady who was apparently trapped in her car next to me. I went over to her and pulled on the door handle as she pushed. Together we were able to get her out. I stated “I don’t blame you for waiting out this storm”. Apparently, she was actually listening to the news on the car radio, because she gave me a funny look.

We went in the gas station and there was a man who appeared to be of Indian decent ushering us into the back storeroom. I asked him, “Do you think it’s going to be that bad and can I get a Dr Pepper first?” To which he replied in a thick accent; “Get in the storeroom!” I had stopped here for a soft drink several times before and this reaction was very uncharacteristic for him, so I responded “Okay”. After all, I didn’t want to upset him more than he was already. I guessed his fear was broken glass from tree branches and other debris hitting the windows.

The shopkeeper and I were the last to enter the narrow cinder block room, where to my surprise there were about half a dozen other people all facing forward. I guess a lot of other people had the same idea I had. It was deathly quiet in the tiny space, except for me humming and rolling back and forth on the balls of my feet, waiting this thing out. It was a lot like being in an elevator with strangers waiting for the doors to open. Then the lady I helped out of the car asked “Did anyone hear WHERE the tornado was on the radio?” Several people shook their heads in silence. “Tornado, where?” I thought. This was Tennessee, we don’t HAVE tornadoes. “There’s a tornado in the area” I asked her. She nodded in silence.

Then out of the silence, I heard a hum NOT from me. Roarrrr, roarrrrr, roarrrrrrrr. It’s a cliché, but I could hear the whistle of a freight train blowing in the distance at different intervals. Having a better understanding of the gravity of the situation from those who were listening to the news a few minutes before I made a profound announcement; “I hope the tornado doesn’t hit that train.” Two or three people looked over their shoulder to me and gave me a look as if to say; “You moron!”

Once the “train” had moved on, we all made our way out of the small storage space. As I041698map stepped into the main room of the filling station, I could see all the chip bags, candy bars and aspirin bottles had leaped from the shelves and were now on the floor. The windows however, were still intact. No explanations for that other than odd happenings occur in a tornado. I realized the poor store clerk would be cleaning up this mess for hours, so I felt it was a bad time to ask for a Dr. Pepper.

Fortunately, my car was not hit by any of the storm debris but the shop across the street was a mess. As I drove up the interstate on-ramp, I looked over to the other side and saw not one, but two semi trucks knocked over on their sides. Several other cars were pushed into the ditch. It was complete mayhem. That’s the point at which it finally stuck me; I was actually IN the tornado! Had I not been in that little storeroom, I could have been killed.

Each year on this day, I run the scenario over again. Though my car and a soft drink were the only things on my mind, I behaved pretty well. I did at least have consideration for other motorist behind me, I helped a lady into the store and had empathy for the shopkeeper. I’m not patting myself on the back; all I wanted was a Dr Pepper to wait out a storm. But what if I had listened to the weather report instead of the Stone Temple Pilots that day? How would I (or any of us) have reacted if the exact same conditions were under the banner of “natural disaster”? Labels can make people react in funny ways. Would I have told the shopkeeper “Don’t tell me what to do”? Would I have helped the woman out of her car? Would I have taken the attitude of “I was here first” for the cars not under the overpass? I guess in my situation, ignorance is bliss.

 

 

Does Your Customer Service… Suck?

I’ll be blunt, customer service in the 21st century, pretty much sucks! Like small children, we have become a self absorbed society, and lost touch with the idea that the consumers of our product or service are ultimately responsible for our paychecks. In a word, our “BOSS”. But in a world filled with selfies, web addresses that begin with the word “MY…”, and an ever increasing use of unidirectional communication, i.e. texts, our focus has shifted from the true money makers. Large businesses, it seems, are more concerned than ever about taking in more than they give out. You can imagine the strain that would create on their relationship with the public.  Where is the pride so many companies use to tout when it came to their customer follow up? Do we understand the public’s expectations of us? Do we care?  Are we conceited, or have we just forgotten HOW to talk to customers?

The other day, an associate of mine commented on how great the customer service experience was with Amazon. To which, I replied how shameful it is that an “upstart” organization online, or over the phone can deliver better service than someone across the counter. It seems each year, dealing with a breathing body at the point of sale is becoming less, and less enjoyable. In fact, it’s more and more one directional. Do you hear that sucking sound too?

A month ago, I needed to get a new cellphone, so it was just a good time to change carriers altogether. I knew the headache I was in for, but felt assured someone at one of the world’s largest department store would be able to educate me as to the proper service that would fit my lifestyle. Typically, I go for the face to face transaction, though I am starting to rethink that. I looked at the in-store map for Plan A, and my entire State appeared to be covered in bright orange. That’s a good thing… I think. However, after waiting two days for “coverage to kick in” at my home, I took the product back to the store. I was informed though the coverage map was correct, it apparently just didn’t reach my home address, which, by the way, is in the geographic center said State. Really? Yes, they implied that the problem was somehow with me.

Undeterred, I switched to Plan B, however none of the four employees including a member of management could easily facilitate me in the switch since I was so newly in the system. Something about a vendor policy that would not allow them to manually fix the problem. Their solution; dial a toll-free number and hand ME the phone. Pathetic, but true. I first spoke to a man who explained the clerks earlier actions at the register deleted the phone number I had for the past decade, and he asked if I wanted him to see if he could retrieve it again. Obviously, my answer was “yes”. Why he even hesitated solving what was an apparent problem, I don’t know. Two hours later, after speaking to several voices, including Mary, who informed me she would need “two minutes of SILENCE” on my part while she typed in everything we discussed. Apparently, she was using pen and paper before. “Yes, Mary, I will grant you two minutes of silence”, I responded. Anything to get it over with. A college buddy of mine told me I should have done business with a company that specializes in cellphones. He’s right of course, but nonetheless, this mega corporation had forgotten what I was told the first day of business school; “If you cannot service the product you sell, don’t sell it”.

Corporations are at fault as much as individual employees. In the “me” generation of business, we tend to think once a product is out the door, or contract signed, we are done with our part of the sale. However, we need to wake up, grow up, and recognize the establishment of a business relationship that will carry on for several days, if not years. A distance transaction may go smoothly, because management has empowered their employees to make certain decisions. Of course, they are being closely monitored when there are electronic means being utilized. So, why are the counter clerks not empowered at the brick and motor storefront? Perhaps it’s a trust issue on part of the company which might not be able to eavesdrop on every conversation.  More than likely, it just goes to poor training. It’s no doubt, the mega store was running scared during Amazon’s recent attempt at a “Christmas in July” promotion. It’s assurance. Even if they get it wrong, Amazon will fix it.

So, who are customer reps? Anyone who deals with potential customers on behalf of the business itself. Whether you are an independent contractor, sole proprietor, or just one cog in the spokes of a billion dollar machine, if your interaction has the ability to put a smile or frown on a clients face, you are a customer service representative. That being the case, you are the eyes and ears of business. You also have the power to effect whether that business thrives or dies. Oh, did I mention your actions effect your paycheck? Payroll departments tend to stop issuing checks when their companies go belly up.

Customer service is not easy. But neither is business itself. It never has been, which is why so many fail. Last century’s giant could very well fall to next year’s upstart which fills a void; delivering or surpassing customer expectations. A third-world country may surpass America in overall sales of widgets and thingamajigs! Though, it may not be too late if we train, empower, and promote a higher standard of customer satisfaction among those who have the ability to raise it. With a shift from “me, me, me”, to “the customer is always right” (remember that?), a business just might survive. We might make the process “suck” a little less. In fact, we could BREATHE new life into an organization that was almost on life support.

MomentumSeminars.com

Professionalism Begins Online

We have all had bad days, but is that a license to blab to the world about how much you hate your job because we’re just not “feeling it” that day? SPOILER ALERT; the crux of this article is that no one cares! Nonetheless, there will be teachers, CPAs, Realtors and even doctors who will spill their guts on the internet through social media. The individual may feel a little better after a purge, but his or her audience is aghast.

A couple of weeks ago, I was with about a dozen veteran real estate agents who were mortified by some of the recent posts of fellow Realtors. Things that apart from just being in bad taste, could actually get the licensee in a lot of hot water. Of course, I immediately pulled out my smartphone to see who was doing what. Oh yes, you will get reactions, but will you get business? I will confess just when I think no one is reading my feed, I may drop a quick comment about an elected official or some new government policy and inadvertently start a firestorm controversy. Right there on MY page… YIKES! Well, if you are alright with that, than that’s your business decision to make.

It really is a business decision. Most people with a professional license are independent contractors. That being said, they are small business owners. To which they are THEIR OWN boss and responsible for taking measures to avoid liability. If one agent tweets out their own resentment toward a fellow Realtor, the overall process or heaven forbid, their own client, repercussions are soon to follow because literally everyone on the planet can read it. As in the case of Realtors, the NAR Code of Ethics, Article 15 reads…

“REALTORS® shall not knowingly or recklessly make false or misleading statements about other real estate professionals, their businesses, or their business practices.” 

The supporting standards go on to state the professional could be made to remove the post and, essentially, apologize. In the case of clients, they could sue over a careless post as it is a breach of agency. So why would someone want to air their dirty laundry online in the first place?

Rachel Albertson, with InfoRule Social Media, a Murfreesboro based marketing firm states; “You do not have to be friends with clients on social media. In fact, I do not recommend it.”  Apparently, Disney thinks that’s a good idea as well. Their employees are NOT permitted to mention they work for Disney. To violate this policy could be grounds for termination. So, be mindful of how you intermingle your private life with business.

Legal issues aside, remember what your mom told you about “conversation in mixed or polite company”? Do not discuss sex, politics or religion. Mom was right! Yet, here is where a lot of people miss it. To spare you the details here, MASHABLE has compiled a list of people who were let go over social media posts. I am not suggesting we have no opinions or never share our ideas, that’s not my place. Though I will offer a friendly reminder if you post something political, you stand the chance of alienating half of your audience.

Professionalism begins online. In the 21st century, the majority of consumers start looking for an insurance agent, mortgage broker, Realtor or dentist through the internet. The search is actually a funnel. The buyer asks a question of a search engine, follows the answer to an industry publication, then a geographic company and then YOU! They already have a vague idea of what a professional is suppose to be before they ever click your name. When they ask a serious question, they anticipate a serious, coherent answer. If what they find instead is an agent posing with a sock monkey, they may not take that professional as one who is serious or would be responsible with their money. In short, the agent appears UNprofessional. Don’t get me wrong, I love sock monkeys as much as the next guy, but if there is no marketing tie-in or a picture of a give away at a children’s hospital, no one would take me serious. They certainly would not trust me with their biggest financial investment. Time to take down the cutesy avatar.

Blaine@realtracs.com

 

Where Are Your New Year’s Resolutions?

Well, how have you done so far? We are well into the year. Are you well into  your goals? Do you even remember what they were? Be honest. No, my intention is not to pour salt into an open wound, but merely to pose a very simple question; Where are your New Years resolutions? We put a lot of stock in our dreams, and we give a lot of significance to the plans we make for achieving them, but do those plans actually move us closer to where we want to be in life.

According to a recent article in Forbes Magazine, only 8% of Americans actually achieve their resolutions. Yikes! Statistically, speaking (92% to be exact) I will NOT achieve my year-end goals. Now what? Anything but admit defeat! I know… I can “kick start” my goals anew. Re-energize my vision. Re-discover my purpose. Re-align my chakras. Maybe get in touch with my inner child?

What is a “goal” anyway? It’s a dream we write down on a piece of paper to make us feel like we have accomplished something, or that we’re at least on our way. It’s something we can tangibly hold in our hands in lieu of the actual situation. And as soon as that ink on paper becomes a reality, we’ll be happy. We post it on our bathroom mirror to remind us of it every morning, or better yet place it in our purse or wallets so we can review it a few times a day.  In short, we get a certain short-term satisfaction for having done something positive that day. We begin to take charge of our lives! Sadly, reviewing our little wish lists, is NOT taking action.

A world-famous motivational speaker once said “set the type of goals that excite you to get out of the bed in the morning”.  Of course, you could scrap those goals all together, and simply BECOME the person you want to be. That’s right, simply take on the disciplines and behaviors of the top sales rep in your company, act as if you were already regional manager, or someone who has already lost 50 pounds. We can incorporate the aspects of a positive personality TODAY, and that will get us to where we want to be a whole lot faster than a slip of paper. In order for us to redesign our lives, it’s going to take… wait for it… CHANGE. If we’re being honest with ourselves, the average human, not coming out of some sort of traumatic experience, simply does not want to change. There’s too much work involved, and we have to look at the not so positive habits currently in our lives. I think we avoid change not only out of complacency, but more the fact that change today is to admit we were WRONG yesterday.

Thomas Edison didn’t create hundreds of inventions because he ran on a treadmill, made solid hedge fund investments, nor because he got out of bed any earlier. In fact, he was well known for taking naps. He made the world a brighter place simply because he was, well, Thomas Edison. He accomplished all he wanted not by wishing on a star, or waiting for his ship to come in, or win it big in the lottery. He just did what the inventor of the light bulb WOULD do to achieve success. He failed hundreds of times just on this one endeavor, but he continued to change, alter, and modify the process. He was flexible, and not afraid to admit he failed along the way. There was a passion inside who he was that he would never find on a sticky note.

Where are your new years resolutions? If they are nowhere in sight, don’t worry, you can essentially achieve them today. You just have to become a little better version of yourself and do things outside of your comfort zone, that includes admitting failures along the way.  If you’re in the magic 8%, far be it from me to pour cold water on your endeavors. Go get ’em!  But you better hurry, it will soon be October, and I will ask you the same question again.

MomentumSeminars.com

BlaineSpeaks@gmail.com

Talk a Good Game!

I have long said, “real estate is a people business”! Oh, I can hear the rumblings now… “But Blaine, didn’t you swear off cliché’s and erroneous business maxims in this blog”? Good catch! I knew I could count on you to keep me honest.

What I mean by realty being a PEOPLE business, is that it actually has little to do with real estate, or the property itself. Unless you are a builder, or investor, your commodity as a Realtor is in the service you provide, not brick and mortar. How many times have we been contacted by a potential buyer wanting THAT particular house, only to realize for one reason or another, it was not suitable for them? At that point, do we camp out on the front porch of THAT property, or begin to work with the buyer?  You see what I mean by it being a “people” business.

That being said, there is a whole new kettle of emotional problems in working with clients versus a house. Yes, emotions come into play when you work with people. It’s not so much a buyer wants THAT house, but rather what they think it represents. How will their family be affected by the move? Are their children safe here? Does this dwelling allow the family to accomplish it’s goals? And those newly single may not wish to be reminded of times at their prior residence, or the pain of losing a member of their family either through separation or death. We think of the experience being most emotional for our buyers, but we must remind ourselves, sellers are people too. Typically, we just don’t see them as often, and may not consider what is going through their minds.

But, unless we are also clinical psychologists, how do we deal with all these feelings, which aren’t even ours? The answer to this complex problem is simple; we talk. We ask questions of our clients, understanding their first response may not be the most accurate. We advise, tell stories, give feedback, and ASK for feedback. We must constantly “take the temperature” of those we are trying to help. Which means asking some of the SAME questions throughout the process to ensure our clients needs and wants haven’t shifted once they receive more information about the real estate process. I learned early in my career to not WAIT for my people to offer comments, or ask questions of me. Often times, they don’t know what to ask, don’t want to look ignorant of the process (which is why they hired us), or feel a bit overwhelmed and simply don’t know where to begin.

As the professional, it is up to us to anticipate problems and ask questions before they get too big. For some of us, this does not come easy. There are those in real estate who are very good with numbers, and willing to do whatever it takes to hammer out a good deal for the people they serve. But, is that enough? These are the left-brain people (much like myself), who don’t understand why someone would seem disappointed when “the numbers look really good”. We must continue to probe, and pull the details out of the minds of others.

For those of us not suited to reading the impressions of our listeners, it may be a good investment to enroll in a public speaking course at a community college. There, you will learn to judge your listeners’ reaction to the information you impart, to see if they are following what you are saying. Or for that matter, to better analyze whether what you are saying is even relevant to your clients. Dale Carnegie Training and Toastmasters International are also wonderful organizations to help you with speaking, listening, and critical thinking.

The fact that you asked the exact same question a week ago is completely irrelevant! All people change their goals to accommodate what obstacles life throws their way. It is OUR JOB as professionals in the business to keep up with our clients shifting desires. A house doesn’t change its wants and ambitions, people do that. Life would be so much easier if real estate were truly a housing business.

MomentumSeminars.com

BlaineSpeaks@gmail.com

You Are Out of Control!

This past year, a recurring theme in the Sunday School Class of my wife and mine, has been that of “control”. At no point have any of the lessons contained the word in its title, but in analyzing the root cause for relationship issues, lack of humility, unhappiness at work, or just plain being a curmudgeon, the “C” word keeps popping up.

I’m a self-confessed ‘control freak’, just ask my wife, or the other two people in my family to which I issue commands. It’s not that I think everyone should use their turn signals each and every time they change lanes, but rather that they just need to stay home if they don’t intend to do so. That makes perfect sense to me; freedom of choice. Abide by my way of how things should be done, or stay at home! In fact, the world would be a much better place if every inhabitant subscribed to my rules of the road, believed the way I do, joined my Political Party, and enjoyed Indian cuisine. Yes, six billion clones of Blaine Little would make the world a better place… for me.

Awakening from my dream-state, I realize that will never happen. I will never have the honor of issuing an edict providing for the backs of hands to be smacked by a ruler should they not pull the little lever on the steering column. Children will never stop doing things that embarrass their Controlparents, and parents will never stop doing things that embarrass their children. Though, I do savor the opportunities to make my kids cringe.

What we are all chasing, that to which we all feel entitled, is control. Control of society, the political process, our family, our work, and even from time to time, God Himself. Oh yes, we like to espouse what God would or would not do. Well, it’s a good thing none of us are Him. Corporate CEO’s, Generals, and Doctors all look good in their respective articles of clothing, but none of them are in control. They just want you to think they have it all figured out, which is the reason for suit, uniform, and lab coat. The harsh reality is none of us are in control. We never were. I will not even go so far as to say we are only in control of ourselves… because we’re not.

Attempting to gain control is a futile exercise which ends in anguish. It’s a workshop on self defeatism. Putting our hands on those things in our environment in order to change the course in which our circumstances lie is like teaching a cat to fetch a stick. Well, have you ever tried it? All you do is wind up aggravating yourself; I have the blood pressure pills to prove it.

What we really want is; peace, love, happiness, and a certain amount of satisfaction in our work. Here’s the irony; we don’t need control for ANY of those things! We can find peace by knowing God is in control, and living the way He would truly have us to live our lives. We can start by “loving our neighbor”. Some will even love us back. We can find happiness in our family, so long as we are willing to accept all their imperfections. We can feel satisfied by taking the right attitude into work with us.

Good things will inevitably come our way, but if we hold on so tight to things in our present, we will completely miss the opportunities of the future. The sooner we stop trying to gain control, the sooner we can just start living. Perhaps they just didn’t make turn signals on that model of car.

http://MomentumSeminars.com

BlaineSpeak@gmail.com

Can We Talk?

I have long said “Real estate is a people business”. Yes, I know it sounds cliché, and I guess it is, but don’t let that deter you from the truth, and simplicity of the statement. I personally have nothing to sell you other than myself and the services I provide. When it comes to selling, a “widget” is something much easier to retail than is the concept of home. The buyer wants to have the pride and security of owning a three-, or four-bedroom house. Convincing them that we have the knowledge, and years (or months) of experience to make their dreams come true, is a much more delicate sales pitch.

So with that in mind, why would we not grasp the importance of good communication with our clients throughout the entire process? Whether they are buyers or sellers, they need the reassurances we give them. Reassurances that technology in and of itself simply does not provide. As an instructor, I teach a two-hour continuing education class entitled Professional Courtesy; Etiquette and Consideration in the Real Estate Industry. In it, one of the concepts I briefly convey the importance of remaining “high touch” in a high-tech world. Today, we have so many modes of communication at our disposal, but is it one size fits all?  Be it good news, or bad, from time to time (and many times), we simply have to look our clients in the eye and give a status report. But how is it best done to convey a message or update in a way that is still personable?

My personal preference is; in person. Though the restrictions of time and distance dictate many of these occasions are over the phone. As of yet, I have never taken on a client without first meeting them, or having an in-depth dialogue, so I just assume they expect a certain amount of face, or talk time throughout the entire experience. For the first home buyer or seller, real estate can be pretty intimidating. Yes, even in the 21st century, a certain amount of “hand-holding” still has to take place. As Realtors, perhaps that’s our most important skill; assuring people we didn’t forget about them, and that everything is going to be O.K.

Much communication in the past few years, whether business or personal, has taken place through short message service (SMS) or “text messages”.  These are short, one-way electronic notes. We have seen instances where teens, college students, and many of us may send texts back and forth a dozen times or more. So, the question begs to be asked; why not just make a phone call?

Texting has two distinct advantages by its very nature. A text is fast and convenient. But does every communiqué have to be fast and convenient? Should it be? Some of its downfalls are that it does not provide the details of an email, nor is it a true conversation. Perhaps the biggest disadvantage to SMS is you cannot see the face of the person reading your words.

I have often been overheard stating that “texts are of the devil”, but I’m not going to say that here. You can’t see it right now, but I promise you I’m giving the “winky face”.  So, when to text, and when not to text? Consider your expected outcome of the communication. Is it to update a minor point, or to impart important details for your customer or client which with to make a decision?

There is a place, time and subject matter for everything and that includes texting. Some acceptable texts, provided you are not driving, mountain climbing or delivering a baby, could include…

“I’m running a few minutes behind”

“I had your flyers made, and will place them in the box this afternoon.”

“I updated your online photos” 

These messages are routine, almost mundane in nature. At no point does it require the client to make a decision or otherwise stop what they are doing. However, on the other hand…

“Your loan was denied”

 “The house has termites”

“The contract fell through,… I’ll call you Monday afternoon”

…should probably never be texted. And no, a smiley face does NOT make your clients feel better

after any of these quips.

After all how would you feel to realize your dreams were potentially shattered in a note that was limited to fewer than 150 characters? We’ve all heard of the boy who breaks up with his girlfriend through a text message. It’s just considered… well, inconsiderate. So many times, we truly don’t know what our clients think or feel. Though we can get a sense if we see how they react or at least hear the inflections in their voice.

So, before you fire off that short electronic note or private message someone through a social media site, consider the receiving side might not read it exactly as you thought you wrote it.  At least with an email, you have the length to better clarify your message.

BlaineSpeaks@gmail.com