Posts Tagged ‘FSBO’
The dreaded Goal Setting Blog and assignment, My marketing reps hate it. They hate trying to be specific, they hate justifying time spent in the office, when they could be out drumming up business, they hate giving themselves rewards for meeting goals, they hate sitting still to be honest. Come to think of it, I’m not fond of it either. I always feel like setting a goal is like selling myself short, what if I can do more. If I write down, “go out and get 10 contracts by Friday”, I could get it done, but what if there were 15 out there and I just left 5 on the table, who’d I help there? I see articles where Goals should be attainable, “Who says?” is there a real negative to not reaching every goal? Don’t tell me to reach for the sky when there are foot steps on the moon, the sky isn’t enough for me (I totally stole that from someone else). The other problem is Goals seem to Fade, looking at last years goals January, and February were strong, in March we waned a little, by April Goals got replaced with mere suggestions and by May we were flying by the seat of our pants. Is it any wonder that by the end of the year we are all just reacting to what is happing around us? If Goals for an entire year are going to work we have to shorten the year to 6 months instead of 12, but I don’t even know who to talk to about that.
I think part of the problem is we have complicated Goal Setting, Heck there is an entire goal setting industry out there, if you google “Goal Setting 2011” the first 3 pages are companies who want to charge you to set your own goals. What if one of your goals was to save money, the first thing you would have to do is fire you newly hired official goal setter, and now you’re back to square one. I had an employee a few years back who had to set a goal AND reward for everything. He would write it down the day before for the next day, “January 3, 2011 Goal # 1 – Get out of bed; Reward – say nice things to yourself in the mirror “, Geesh, I can only imagine the look on my Grandfather’s face if you even suggested something like that.
A quick search through the World Wide Web shows that to reach your Goals you need to be S.M.A.R.T (Because goals should be Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Something that starts with R, and Trackable) also you need a M.A.P. to reach your goals (I couldn’t find what MAP stands for, It cost $299). It would seem to me that in today’s feel good, P.C. , need to be Fluffy and Happy Right Now society, goals are as individual as each of us, just like lovely little snow flakes, unique, special and wonderful. Blah Blah, gag me. Look, it takes work, it takes planning, and to be successful at anything you need be able to say, “Get up stupid, you picked the wrong Lotto numbers again, let’s make something happen… today”. Unless of course you picked the right lotto numbers, then stay in bed, and think about what color your Maserati is going to be. And remember I saved you $299, I am partial to Red.
So we figured out Goals don’t work, they’re too complicated and even if we write them down, in 4 months we will have covered them in bills, and Calvin and Hobbs Comic strips about setting goals. On the other hand, we can’t just do nothing, and wait for NBC to announce that everyone gets to be successful this year. So what DOES work? What if we break down Goals? What if we allow them to change throughout the year? What if we don’t focus on getting to an end result but focus on the stops it takes to get there?
Don’t take this the wrong way I do know people who make goals, write them down, and reach them, but for the most part these people are already driven, already organized and have experienced success with Goal Setting in the past. So if it works, by all means continue, this Blog is for the rest of us. The ones who dream more than execute. The ones who think a pile of papers on the corner of the desk is organized as long as it is stacked in according to the color of the paper. You know, NORMAL PEOPLE.
For the most part I feel Goals tend to 1: Limit, 2: Set people up for failure, 3: They tend to be what a person thinks they want, not what they want to be. Let’s take for an example the most obtuse goal possible. “GOAL: To be a good person” alright now how do you do that? Well good people do good things so in theory you would set yourself an attainable amount of goodness and a measurable amount of time to do it. So this week I will do 7 good things (one per day on average, don’t want to reach too high) and will schedule a time each day (3 hours should be plenty) to find people in need of a good person. That seems like an awful lot of work to be good, why not “JUST BE” a good person. Someone needs help, help them (without expecting something in return). Even worse, what if you don’t find 7 people who need a dose of your Goodness, you just failed your first goal of 2011, and you’re not even a good person. How depressing is that? Hang it up fella, how long before 2012?
Let’s not use the term Goal, besides if we go back to the road map they wanted $299 for, isn’t a map just a series of stops and intersections that form a route and get you (in theory) from where you are to where you think you want to be. So let’s break each route down into stops or objectives. Objectives are easily changed, If your Goal is head to Best Buy to get that 50” Samsumg LED HD TV for $1099 that you didn’t get on Christmas day, but on the way the radio says that same TV is at Cohn’s for $999, I would think you would make a U-turn and save the $100, but in turn would be failing your goal. (Just an example, I’m not sure how much the TV is at either store). Or another one, and more specific, “ I want to lose 22 pounds by February 2, 2011 so I can be skinny in Cozumel”, Is this a SMART Goal?(Ignore the health issues of attempting to shed the equivalent of a 18 month old in 37 days) It seems to be specific enough, it is measureable, some might think it is attainable, I am sure it is whatever the R stands for in SMART, and tracking comes to .5945945 pounds lost each day which is 4.1621215 pounds in a week. Well what if I only lose 3 pounds this week, and then only 3 pounds next week, well at that point I only have 2 weeks left and still far from my goal weight loss. Forget it, give me a Quarter Pound hamburger with ice cream on top, and a Budweiser. How about my Objective for January is to stop drinking soft drinks, or to walk the neighborhood 4 time a week, or to actually imitate Tony Horton on the P90X dvd’s and not just using them as coasters. I have no idea if I will lose 20 pounds, but I will be healthier, I won’t have failed my goal and I may even be third of the way to “That EXTREME body I always wanted” (according to Tony Horton anyway).
It is important to remember that Objectives should turn into a way of life, if an objective is to always end the week by clearing off my desk on Fridays, after some time it will just be habit to clean off the desk, and no longer an Objective. Also I believe Objectives should be quarterly, that way you are forced to update them, by definition Objectives are short term anyway. And while a list of 15 Annual Goals will look daunting, 15 small objectives will be much easier to accomplish and you will be surprised at the positive effects of just changing a few small objectives. There is even an app for it (crazy right), for the droid and Iphone. Search Objective Tapper and put it into play.
Prioritize, Prioritize, Prioritize
I am the biggest proponent of priorities (Now a lot of times, what is important to me is not important to anyone else). But because you can’t fail an Objective they don’t expire either. So if something important comes up. Move it to the top of the list. I have a day planner that I carry wherever I go. And it is completely empty, not a stitch of wording in the entire thing. Not even a doodle, what is in it is a sticky pad. And whenever I have something to do I write it on a sticky and stick it to the inside cover. Then at various times I re-evaluate the importance of the sticky. Some get tossed because they are done, some get moved to the top of the stack. I am looking at the bottom one now, apparently get references for daycare wasn’t that important because my kids have been in that daycare for over a year. The Top Sticky now says write Blog and clean out day planner.
More cell phones are sold with SMART features than ones that are not. It has become the norm to be connected to the office, to three different websites, and several email accounts 24 hours a day 7 days a week. It amazes me that at the last 3 Social Networking functions I attended people spent just as much time buried in there Iphone than they did Actually being Social (I received a text from someone I was talking too the other night). This is the new norm. We can’t fight it, it is a battle we won’t win. But the one thing that is still difficult to do from a phone is real work. So we decided to help, several months ago Choice Title opened up WIFI rooms in each office. These are secure connections that agents or lenders can use to work while you work (Or check up on your Farmville crop if needed). So stop on by, bring you laptop and continue to work away from the office, or play Angry Birds all day the Choice is yours.
Recently I found myself in a Fast Food Establishment, This particular restaurant (I know it was technically one because it said so on the sign) has 12 pre-established meals. It has been the same 12 meals since I was in High School some Twenty years ago, minus the occasional rib burger thingy or kids movie character sandwich. So you can imagine my frustration when the couple in front of me couldn’t decide between a # 3 and # 6, to say they where undecided would be an insult to people who have no cognitive activity at all. Apart from my general aggravation at this particular chain a # 3 and # 6 are no where near similar at all, “I can’t decide between buying a hamburger or a Parakeet”. So I started thinking how these people make it through a day, we all have to make choices, some lead to prosperity and some don’t”. But if you are one of these non-decision makers, think of the opportunities that you didn’t get (or actually never had a chance of getting). Whether it’s a hiring issue, or a customer service issue or one of the hundred other decisions you have to make each day, your ability to move forward will impact your short term business more than anything else.
To be honest, your ability to make these decisions have already impacted the business you currently have. These decisions you have made (or more importantly avoided making) have consequences. Are you missing out on opportunities, or advantages over competitors by simply NOT.
I have been dwelling on whether or not to Post on this subject, but I think it is fitting right now. First we will work on identifying current Fans, and keeping them, then we will start work on transforming clients into our Company Fans. In recent years we have all seen a shift in the real estate industry from efficiency, and speed to service and assistance. While the 10 day process from contract to closing still occurs, it is now the exception not the rule. I don’t believe this is a bad thing, but an opportunity to make some life long clients instead of customers who get in and out as quickly as possible and develop no real relationship, and no real loyalty. While this process is not an easy one, it is something we can all do with no specific skills, or classes, it is something that takes time more than anything else.
What is a Fan?
Well it seems silly to ask this question in South Louisiana right now, because we see evidence of it every day. Whether it is the Saints Flags fluttering above car windows or LSU decals on every single car’s back glass (My European relatives thought that all the cars came like that from the factory). Baton Rouge is the only city I have been in, where it is perfectly natural to see grown men wearing bright Purple and Gold from head to toe on a daily basis. Fans by definition are supporters, enthusiasts even, in some aspect of your business or company. There is something about the way your company works or a specific employee that is essential to that fans business. Identify what that trait is, or why your current fans became fans in the first place.
Products don’t make fans, service does.
While I agree with about 90% of the above statement, there are some people who this does not apply too. MAC heads come to mind, not the guy who has the Ipad and the Iphone, but the guy who has the pad, the phone, 9 different Ipods, a Mac top and an Apple Tattoo. If you sell PC’s, don’t talk to this guy. But for the “normal” people service is where it starts, and in today’s economic outlook, it is a good place to concentrate on as well. But you will need to expand your search from just “customer service”.
Service doesn’t make Fans, Individual Service does!
We tend to group people, especially in business. It makes life tidy and easy to organize. This is something I am trying to break from in my own work day. Realtors, Brokers, Lenders, Agents, Bankers, Developers, FSBO’s, these are all groups that are made of individuals, who want and require different things. It is impossible to look at that list and imagine making Fan’s out of them. Does every Lender want 24/7 access into our online GFE calculator. I doubt it, there are some Lenders that I could say, “if you use the GFE calculator I will give you a Buick,” (which I wouldn’t because that would be a RESPA Violation) and they still wouldn’t trust the computer to give them accurate numbers. And that is Okay, we have processors to give that information as well. Don’t force the Fan into the Process, adapt your process to the Fan. Then educate Fans on why your company uses that process. A Fan will trust you, and allow you to serve in his/ her best interests. Make sure as your business grows, you don’t leave out the Fans who got you there.
Fans Can Be Profiled.
Profiling has gotten a bad rap here recently, but when it comes to gaining Fandom, it is essential. You might know a client likes coffee, but a fan will know where the pot is, and know how you take your cup as well. As a sales rep, it is a good idea to share your fan’s profile. Whether you store it in the company contacts database or just tell others in the office, the important thing is to let everyone know when a Fan is coming in. It is an opportunity to share a fan, it is a lot of work to maintain a client let alone a Fan, so share the load with the office. The more relationships the Fan has, the less likely that Fan is to stray.
If it sounds like Fans are a commodity or an asset, well lets be honest they are. Keep them YOUR commodity. I promise you the competition is eyeing your fans, and why wouldn’t they? If a Builder only uses one realtor for all of his properties, there are several other agents waiting for a mistake to be made. Track your fans happiness, and give some appreciation when needed. If your fans start using the competition, find out why, IMMEDIATELY. Don’t wait 6 months, and then wonder why you didn’t get invited to the Christmas party. When a fan makes a switch, they tend to get very vocal about it, they want everyone they know to use their “NEW GUY”, they need to know they made the right decision, and will work to prove it. This is great if you’re the “NEW GUY”, not so much if you’re the one without the Christmas Card.
Make sure your sales force has internal Fans, those people in the office who work hard to actually deliver the product or service on time and correctly. This isn’t always easy, communication, respect and appreciation is Key. If the sales force doesn’t have fans in the office, it is difficult to develop new ones outside the office. Just as No one wants ME processing closing documents, most processors have no desire to give a presentation to a room full of agents. But we can’t deliver the service fans require without the trust that our fans are being taken care of.
Treat office/ admin employees well. Those fellow employees are your internal customers and need a regular dose of appreciation. Thank them and find ways to let them know how important they are. It sounds silly, but I used to walk into each office and give a small round of applause, what started as silliness turned into me just letting the people who made my paycheck know I was thinking about them. Treat them with respect and chances are they will have a higher regard for your fans. Appreciation stems from the Outside In and from the Top to the Bottom. Treating customers and employees well is equally important.
Next: Turning New Clients into Fans!
A few weeks ago, the Senate left town for the Easter recess without voting on extending the NFIP (National Flood Insurance Program), thereby resulting in the program’s expiration. The House had previously approved, by unanimous consent, a $9 billion measure containing one-month extensions of several programs including unemployment insurance, COBRA subsidies for health benefits and flood insurance. Senate leaders of both parties hoped to have their chamber approve the same bill before the Easter break, but Sens. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.) and Jim Bunning (R-Ky.) objected to the House bill saying it was not funded. A similar scenario occurred in early March. Congress approved legislation last night that reinstated the National Flood Insurance Program. President Obama signed the measure into law within an hour after the House passed the measure.
The provision is effective until May 31. It is retroactive from March 28, when the fourth temporary extension since the program’s authorization originally ran out on Sept. 30, 2008. This will rectify and lapse in coverage and allow people living in flood prone areas to move on with their lives.
Officials of the American Insurance Association said the goal of congressional leadership is to finish work by May 31 on a so-called tax extender’s bill, H.R. 4213, “thus precluding the need for another short-term extension of the NFIP.” This Bill will extend and fund NFIP thru Dec 31, 2010.
According to officials of the Independent Insurance Agents and Brokers of America, “in theory, the NFIP will now return to normal operations and since the extension is also retroactive, any new policy applications or renewals that were signed and submitted during the hiatus will be effective from the date of application (or in the case of waiting periods, the waiting period will start from the date of application).”
At the same time, the House Financial Services Committee plans to unveil legislation today providing long-term reauthorization and reforming of the program.
Understandably agents are “frustrated by these repeated one-month extensions and the periods of expiration that sometimes result from them.” The NFIP is meant to provide a level of stability and protection “for homeowners and businesses against dangerously unpredictable and costly flooding events, not to be an unpredictable ‘here one minute-gone the next’ program subject to monthly congressional action. The IIABA strongly urges Congress to pass a long term extension of this critical program,” Charles Symington, IIABA senior vice president of government affairs said.
This past week I was talking to an agent and of course the regular questions came up, “You Busy?”, “Whatcha working on?”, “How’s your business?”. Then she said something profound. She said, “I am not waiting anymore, I’m going to Create a Market!”. The more we discussed it, the more concentrated her market became, until she had a laser point focus on what her niche was going to be. While I don’t want to give her hard work away, I will share the process. And next week discuss what I see my Niche may become.
As a professional you have to separate yourself from everyone else. You need to determine what YOUR focus is going to be…YOUR niche. By targeting your business to a few markets you not only protect yourself from the competition, but you shield yourself from the state of the economy. If you do this successfully, your clients won’t now what they did without you. I know of an agent in our area that was/ is the “short sale expert”. Even when times are good you will get referrals for your specific market. In an arena of generalists, people in need will seek out the specialist.
What is your Niche? First ask yourself, what is the competition NOT doing? Is there a Niche they have failed to fill? It is very easy to become the expert of something no one else is doing. Then determine if what you are currently doing relates to this “prospective niche”, you can’t be an expert in one area one day and a completely different area the next. Then ask yourself, how can I differentiate my business from others? How can I create the perception that my market simply cannot live without me. What do I have to offer?
Time to Focus…Decide what your client looks like, define who they are, and more importantly where do you find them. Too many times people stop focusing before they reach their client. “First Time Home Buyers” is not a niche…”Young, Married, plant workers in the Ascension Parish Area” is a niche. You know who they are, you know where to find them, and better yet, it is easy to ask other people to market your niche. Make sure your niche is different, and make sure your niche is viable. No point going after “Young, Married, plant workers in the Ascension Parish Area” if all the plants are laying off workers.
The Unpaid Sales Rep… Ask yourself where is you client? Does your niche have an association? Where do they gather? How do you get to as many of them as you can, efficiently? I know a Disability Insurance sales rep whose niche is dentists, at the end of each graduating class guess who is making presentations at the state school of dentistry? As you position yourself as THE expert, the leaders of these groups will seek you out.
The only constant is change… Re-evaluate your niche, when it gets old go through the process again. Look where you market has been, how it evolved (and it will) and where it is going. Develop new products and services to add to your Business, competitors will respond to your success and you will need to grow to stay ahead. The secret to niche marketing is being able to evolve with time.
New Orleans Saints more of a litmus test than you may think
“It’s Just a Football Game, is it really going to change your life”, That’s what was being said to me as I kneeled on my hands and knees hoping that the football Gods would somehow speed up the fabric of time and end the Super Bowl with the Saints leading. It got me thinking this morning, would the New Super Bowl Champs change my life? Well maybe it would change my life in a 6 degrees of separation kind of way. Stick with me because this could get messy.
I am sure everyone noticed the roadside Saints merchandise tents popping up all over town. Well there is a reason that they are there, people are spending money. I myself spent $112.00 on new hats for the kids, a more feminine jersey for my wife, the NFC championship hat (the Super Bowl hat is notoriously ugly, and once again they didn’t disappoint) and some sort of car flag that lets everyone know I am a card carrying member of the “Who Dat Nation”, and please don’t steal my car. All this before the Saints even won “The Game”. Who knows what I will be purchasing now, Reggie Bush Bobble Head, Lock of Drew Brees’ hair in a super dome locket, Colts toilet Paper?
So if I’m typical of the middle class, mid thirties, balding, chubby (in a good kind of way) family man, and I’d like to think that I am, then we all went out spent some money on frivolous Black and Gold Stuff. Why is this out of the norm? Well for the last 8 months to a year I, like my chubby brethren have been hording our dimes and nickels like the Monopoly Banker holds on to blue 50’s. I’m talking meatloaf instead of New York Strip, hitting the 89 button instead of 93 button at Shell, the whole nine yards. Heck I re-gifted kids Christmas presents. Not that I made any less money, but I watch Television and by the looks of things I thought by now we would be half-way to Mad Max Beyond Thunder Dome type living (if you haven’t seen it, you should). Now before you do something crazy like eating your one year emergency food supply, I am no expert on world economy. But it felt good, putting the brand new Saints cap on my son’s head, and I went one step further this week and booked a weekend to take my wife to a Mardi Gras Ball. The Saints Winning the Super Bowl, makes us feel good. Maybe good enough and for long enough, that some people who have been too petrified to buy a house, actually pull the trigger and purchase that house that they are qualified to buy. Even if it was previously owned by Tina Turner’s hair dresser (Ubiquitous Mad Max reference).
I don’t really care what tax credits, or incentives the federal government gives. If purchasing a home doesn’t FEEL right, people aren’t going to do it. And lets be honest things haven’t FELT right for a while around Southern Louisiana. Maybe all that talk about Normalcy that politicians and pundits were talking about isn’t what we needed at all. Maybe what we all needed is a good ‘ol shot of feel good Saints the whole time. I can give no guarantees that the real estate business will go into hyper drive, or even that in 6 months we all won’t be eating dog food out of unmarked cans, driving cars with chicken wire across the windshield, and running from Mohawk clad renegades (really go rent the movie). But driving around town today, no one was complaining about the New HUD-1, or the Chaotic nature of the new Good Faith Estimate, everyone was just happy to be living in area blessed to be part of the “Who Dat Nation”.
Oh and getting back to the original question, how will this all change my life…well I DO work on commission. “BLESS YOU BOYS”