Monday, November 27, 2006

Crazy Idea or Ahead of the Curve?

New ideas sometimes come dressed up like clowns or fools. It can be hard to tell whether you're looking at the next great innovation or just another flash in the pan.

A hundred and three years ago, a couple of bicycle mechanics were considered nut cases. Until they flew at Kitty Hawk. Thirty three years ago a marketing executive packed pebbles in boxes, gave them names, and became a millionaire selling Pet Rocks. Genius or just plain clever, they had crazy ideas that placed them out in front.

So you can understand why I was feeling pretty smart the other day when I heard about a new website called that lets sellers search for buyers. According to an Inman News story, "The site allows prospective home buyers to create a free profile that describes the home they are seeking." Hmmm…sounds a lot like the Buyers4YourHome feature that's been on my website for several years! My B4YH allows sellers to scroll through a list of potential buyers. It includes information about area, price range, school system, and other features the buyer is seeking. I keep the buyer's information confidential and make the connections for interested sellers.

When I first created the page, some people thought it was a slightly crazy idea. Now, after several years, the Buyers4YourHome page is one of the most visited on my site. People looking for a specific home go there to post their needs. Sellers scan for a possible match for their home, often before they even sign the listing agreement. Even other agents use it.

Crazy idea? Maybe. But don't dismiss it. You just might be ahead of the curve!

Thursday, November 23, 2006

The Five Dollar Haircut

Once upon a time there was a thriving upscale hair salon. Businessmen, business women, and society people from all over came to have their hair styled and cut.

But then a big chain of discount hair cutters came into town. They advertised $5 haircuts. Their signs were everywhere. They had bill boards. They advertised on radio and on TV. And they were doing a tremendous amount of business with $5 haircuts.

The stylists at The Salon were losing customers. They went to the owner and said, "We have to reduce our prices. We cannot compete. We are surrounded by these $5 haircut people!"

The owner just smiled a wise smile and assured them he had a solution. He knew that his salon was first class, that his stylists were the best, and that reducing his fees was not the answer. He had another plan.

The next morning when the operators came to work they saw this small sign in front of the The Salon:

I would love to find this sign for real estate.

What would your sign read?

Monday, November 20, 2006

Time to Recharge?

What do you do when life piles on? When every way you turn it's one challenge after another, and you never seem to get caught up? My answer is to walk away for a few hours and "recharge my batteries." That's just what I did a couple of days ago.

And what a fabulous day it was, spent with one of the greats in real estate. This man is a legend in real estate sales training. I have known and followed him since my first year in the business.

So of course, when I learned that Floyd Wickman would be giving a seminar just 45 minutes away, I was there. About a hundred agents filled in the room, and Floyd was at his finest. A showman and a fabulous presenter, he had the audience mesmerized. It wasn't fast talk or sleight of hand that held them – it was the strength of his message. He has a wonderful philosophy, and his caring and integrity are well known in the industry.

I own everything he has ever sold, and never once have I been disappointed. This time Floyd's subject was his 101 Greatest Dialogues which he distributes on a set of DVDs. He always under promises and over delivers! But the best way to get the Wickman effect is in person. Promise yourself that if you ever get to see Floyd live, you won't miss the chance.

The bonus was spending time with some other terrific and caring agents: Nelson Zide (ERA, Framingham, MA), Norman O'Grady (Prime Realty, Brighton, MA), and Bill Bissonnett (Riverdale Realty, Somerset, MA). That's our happy group in the photo, with me and Floyd between Bill on the left, and Nelson and Norman on the right.

Next time life piles on, do as I did and walk away for a few hours. Did I recharge? You bet!

Friday, November 10, 2006

You CAN Turn a Sow's Ear Into a Silk Purse

Or a FSBO into a listing and full price sale. My second sale ever was like that.

A friend of mine had a small home she needed to sell and had already tried the do-it-yourself route. She ran ads in the paper and put up flyers in her neighborhood, but no one had been to look at it. This was back in the dark ages before the internet and websites changed the world of real estate, so her choices for getting the word out were limited.

One day she told me what she was doing, and that she'd offer me the listing but couldn't afford to use a real estate agent. I said, "You can't afford NOT to use me!" It took some convincing, but once I explained that my commission would come out of the extra I would sell the house for – making sure she got the amount she needed – she agreed.

Where I got the chutzpah back then, on only my second listing, I don't know, but I priced the property well above what she was asking on her own. And after only a couple of showings, we had a full-price contract!

And it still works. Not long ago I listed a condo that the owner had tried to sell by himself…but couldn't. He thought I was crazy for increasing the price by almost 20%, was sure no one would even look at it. You know what happened. Yep, full price contract, 30-day settlement.

When talking with a seller, whether they've tried to sell on their own or not, I always ask one important question. "You tell me what you need from the sale, your bottom line; if I can get that for you, what difference does my commission make?" The answer is, of course, that the commission is not really the issue. What matters is that the sellers receive the payout they want and need.

One of the nicest results is that these sellers – who were skeptical to begin with - become some of your best sources of referrals. And sometimes, good friends.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Networks, Friends, and an Afternoon in New England

When does a business lunch become an afternoon with new friends? For Lee and me, it was when Jay Burnham, a special CyberStar® and Coldwell Banker Realtor®, learned we would be in Boston. As soon as he heard we were coming to his area for a few days each week, Jay contacted me and asked what he could do to help. He arranged for glorious fall weather and lunch at a wonderful restaurant near the aquarium. We sat down as professional acquaintances, we talked nonstop, and at the end we three parted as good friends.

As Jay said in a letter to the CyberStars, "What would normally be at best perhaps a one hour lunch turned into 2 1/2 hours and even then the time seemed to have flown by all too quickly. By the time we parted, I knew I had made friends for life.

"I am talking, of course, about Lee and Margaret Rome…I only met them both yesterday. I live just north of Boston so I made arrangements to meet them in town for lunch at one of my favorite restaurants. I came away energized with ideas that Margaret kept throwing at me without hesitation or relief during our entire time together. According to Lee, that's just simply status quo for Margaret as she is a true type-E personality. If you're not sure what that is, take a look at her blog to find out."

Jay made that day so special for us, and if he came away with ideas, we came away with the delight of finding a new friend in a man who took the time and care to make us feel special.

Here it is again – I'm starting to sound like a broken record, talking about networking and the value of communities like the CyberStars and ActiveRain. Yes, it's important for your business. But these connections can also lead to friendships when you need them most. Right now, I know there are people all around the country I can reach out to - it is an extended family of the best kind.

Without the CyberStars, I would not have met Jay. Without Jay's thoughtfulness, I would not have received a letter from Rick Loughlin, Coldwell Banker's Central New England President and COO, offering the use of their office and services while I'm in Boston. Without the ActiveRain community, I would not have received so many warm and wonderful calls and emails. Without all of you, I would not be supported by this strong network of friends.