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A Slice of My Life…Together We Accomplish More

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A slice of my life

Sitting in a coffee shop with a past client, several years ago, my friend Bruce told me one day I would have a big TEAM. “No, I said,” emphatically. “I don’t like to manage, and I just don’t see it.” I really enjoy working with both buyers and sellers.

That statement has come to haunt me, as I now have a rather large team. I never really planned to grow a team, but when you get so busy you can’t take care of the clients you have, the past clients you want to stay in touch with, and the leads that come in you are forced to leverage.

Growth was necessary.

The first person I hired was an Assistant to help with the follow-up of contracts, the showing feed-back, scheduling my own home tours, client appreciation parties, sending out birthday and anniversary cards.

As the internet became more of my focus, my Assistant starting uploading all my listings to our web-sites, sending out the electronic newsletter, and all of our new listings (if they checked the box to receive new listings.)

Then one day, out of blue, my daughter came to me and said she wanted to work with me and get licensed. Ahhh… my first Buyer Agent. We hung around like this for a couple of years and all was good. But, then I started my Pay per Click campaign and once again, we just couldn’t handle the business so I hired two more Buyer Agents. Ahhh………life is good. I’m doing the listings and the marketing and they are working with the buyers. I had a life back.

Fast Forward.

Fast forward the last two years, and in a very struggling Ann Arbor Area market I had to hire four more buyer agents. I am currently interviewing for two more buyer agents. Growing a TEAM is a step-by-step process, I had no plan to do it, no goal to do it but it became necessary to handle the leads.

Last Friday, I taught at a seminar (on blogging) at the Keller Williams office in Ann Arbor, we had lots of agents from outside companies come and someone asked me, “How do you have time to blog with all the other things you have to do in Real Estate?”

My answer was blogging IS my job. I love what I do, I love to make it rain. I’m not an expert in growing a team, it just happened. It was important to me to not only grow wide, but grow deep. We grow deep by maintaining the relationships with past clients and continuing to serve them after the transaction. We get our lives back when we admit we can’t do it all and we hire people to help us.

The Shift

My stats in past years were approximately 82% past clients, 18%  buyers or sellers from the internet. That has shifted dramatically over the last few years with this year the stat’s being currently 45% new internet buyers and sellers and 55% past clients or people referred to us from our sphere of influence.

We have had to adjust as more people in my market are not moving up to bigger and better homes with the economy as it is in Michigan. So we had to reach out and find those buyers moving into our community.

Sometimes our plans change, we do things we didn’t think we would ever do. We market differently, we grow, we change, we shift. We find a way to make life work both personally and professionally.

And that is a slice of my life.

Written by Missy Caulk, Associate Broker at Keller Williams Ann Arbor. Missy is the author of Ann Arbor Real Estate Talk and Blog Ann Arbor, and is also the Director for the Ann Arbor Area Board of Realtors and Member of MLS and Grievance Committee's.

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9 Comments

9 Comments

  1. Holli Boyd

    October 27, 2008 at 11:12 am

    Missy great article. I am in a similar position – added an assistant and have 2 buyer’s agents coming on board. Never thought I would have a team but times are a changin. I am also with KW and teach a blogging class. I have other agents from other offices who have expressed interest in coming to the class. How do you get them to come without the fear of being recruited? Do you do it in a neutral location?

  2. Missy Caulk

    October 27, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Holli, my team leader sent an announcement out to all the agents. No we did it here in the office, it was a great turnout. Even some people who heard on Twitter came. I think people were curious about blogging, because of my SERP’s.

  3. Paula Henry

    October 27, 2008 at 12:01 pm

    Missy – You are an inspiration to me. I follow your guidance and see the growth, only I am going a bit slower and on a smaller scale. It is all coming together; like you, I like to make it rain. I actually never thought of that as my job. I recently hired someone to upload all my listings online and what a time saver. Thanks for sharing a slice of your life, both here on AG and personally.

  4. Teresa Boardman

    October 27, 2008 at 1:57 pm

    LOL I have been asked the same question for three years . . where do you find the time and I give the same answer. blogging is my job or sometimes i say my blog is my business and my business is my blog. I have felt the same shift. all but one of my sellers came from the internet this year and all of my buyers.

  5. Missy Caulk

    October 27, 2008 at 2:44 pm

    Paula, ahhhh thanks.

    Teresa, you could have heard a pin drop. I guess they were thinking IF they wanted blogging to be there job.

  6. monika

    October 27, 2008 at 5:01 pm

    Missy..Isn’t nice to see the fruit of your labor? Better yet when your “labor” is something you love to do..like blogging and working with people you enjoy. I’m so happy for you!

  7. Bee | Writing Articles

    October 28, 2008 at 1:50 am

    Blogging is an integral part of branding yourself when it is done correctly. It is a great way for potential clients and customers to see you in a way a typical web-site cannot show. It allows you to share your expertise while allowing your target market to interact with you through commenting on your blog.

    When your blog has become an authority site in your niche, you have really made a name for yourself.

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Business Marketing

10 must-listen-to podcasts for business owners

(MARKETING) If you’re a business owner and want to learn something…anything…give one (or all) these podcasts a listen.

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As podcasts grow more and more popular, it has become increasingly difficult to sort through the sea of excellent options out there.

From interviews with business leaders to industry-specific advice from experts, podcasts are an incredible free and convenient way to get a small dose of inspiration and knowledge.

This short list offers just a taste of the myriad of business podcasts available. Whether you’re an aspiring entrepreneur looking for some tips on breaking into a new industry or a seasoned vet hoping to get some new inspiration, we hope you’ll find something here worth listening to.

How I Built This, hosted by Guy Raz.

Podcast fans will recognize Guy Raz’s name (and voice) from TED Radio Hour. While that show can be a great source of inspiration for businesses, one of the most consistently inspiring shows is his new project that shares stories and insight from some of the biggest business leaders in the world. In just four months, Guy has talked to everyone from Richard Branson and Mark Cuban to L.A. Reid and Suroosh Alvi. While there are plenty of excellent interview-driven shows with entrepreneurs, if you want to hear about the world’s best known companies, this is your best bet.

The Art of Charm, hosted by Jordan and AJ Harbinger.

The Art of Charm is a business podcast by definition, but the advice it provides will definitely help you in other parts of your day-to-day life as well. With over three million listens a month, the incredibly popular show provides advice, strategies and insight into how to network effectively and advance your career and personal life.

StartUp, hosted by Alex Blumberg and Lisa Chow.

If you’re an entrepreneur, there is no excuse not to be listening to StartUp, the award-winning business podcast from Gimlet Media. The show’s talented hosts come from incredible radio shows like Planet Money and This American Life and bring a top-notch level of storytelling to the show, which provides behind the scenes looks at what it is actually like to start a company. Now on the fourth season, StartUp is one of those business podcasts that even people not interested in business will get a kick out of.

The Whole Whale Podcast, hosted by George Weiner.

One of the best things about podcasts is the wide variety of niche shows available that go in-depth into fascinating topics. One of those shows is the Whole Whale Podcast, which shares stories about data and technology in the non-profit sector. You’ll get detailed analysis, expert knowledge and can hear from a long list of social impact leaders from Greenpeace, Change.org, Kiva, Teach For America, and more.

Social Pros Podcast, hosted by Jay Baer and Adam Brown.

Navigating the surplus of social media guides online can be a nightmare, so look no further than Social Pros. Recent episodes talk about reaching college students on social media, the rise of messaging apps, and making better video content for Facebook. Plus, there are great case-studies with companies doing social right, like Kellogg’s, Coca Cola and Lenscrafters.

Entrepreneur on Fire, hosted by John Lee Dumas.

One of the original entrepreneurship shows, Entrepreneur on Fire has logged over 1,500 episodes with successful business leaders sharing tips, lessons and advice learned from their worst entrepreneurial moments. Sometimes humorous, sometimes heartbreaking, always inspiring, this show is sure to have at least one interview with someone you can learn from.

The $100 MBA, hosted by Omar Zenhom.

Think of The $100 MBA as a full-fledged business program in snack-sized portions. The daily ten minute business lessons are based on real-world applications and cover everything from marketing to technology and more. Cue this show up on your commute to or from work and watch your knowledge grow.

This Week in Startups, hosted by Jason Calacanis.

This is your audio version of TechCrunch, Gizmodo, or dare we say The American Genius. Each week, a guest entrepreneur joins the show to talk about what is happening in tech right now. You’ll get news about companies with buzz, updates on big tech news and even some insider gossip.

The Side Hustle Show, hosted by Nick Loper.

This is the show if you want answers for the big question so many entrepreneurs face. How do I turn my part-time hustle into a real job? Featuring topics such as passive income ideas, niche sites, and self-publishing, host Nick Loper is upfront and honest about the tough world of side hustles. The show features actionable tips and an engaging energy, and may just be that final push you need to grow your gig.

Back To Work, hosted by Merlin Mann and Dan Benjamin.
Focused on the basics that you don’t think about, Back To Work looks deep into our working lives by analyzing things like workflow, email habits and personal motivation. Somewhere between self-help, and business advice, Back To Work takes on a new topic relating to productivity each week.

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Business Marketing

Why your coworkers are not your ‘family’ [unpopular opinion]

(MARKETING) “I just want you to think of us as family,” they say. If this were true, I could fire my uncle for always bringing up “that” topic on Thanksgiving…

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family coworkers

The well-known season 10 opener of “Undercover Boss” featured Walk-On’s Bistreaux & Bar. Brandon Landry, owner, went to the Lafayette location where he worked undercover with Jessica Comeaux, an assistant manager. Comeaux came across as a dedicated employee of the company, and she was given a well-deserved reward for her work. But I rolled my eyes as the show described the team as a “family.” I take offense at combining business and family, unless you’re really family. Why shouldn’t this work dynamic be used?

Employers don’t have loyalty to employees.

One of the biggest reasons work isn’t family is that loyalty doesn’t go both ways. Employers who act as though employees are family wouldn’t hesitate to fire someone if it came down to it. In most families, you support each other during tough times, but that wouldn’t be the case in a business. If you’ve ever thought that you can’t ask for a raise or vacation, you’ve probably bought into the theory that “work is a family.” No, work is a contract.

Would the roles be okay if the genders were reversed?

At Walks-Ons, Comeaux is referred to as “Mama Jess,” by “some of the girls.” I have to wonder how that would come across if Comeaux were a man being called “Daddy Jess” by younger team members? See any problem with that? What happens when the boss is a 30-year-old and the employee is senior? Using family terminology to describe work relationships is just wrong.

Families’ roles are complex.

You’ll spend over 2,000 hours with your co-workers every year. It’s human nature to want to belong. But when you think of your job like a family, you may bring dysfunction into the workplace.

What if you never had a mom, or if your dad was abusive? Professional relationships don’t need the added complexity of “family” norms. Seeing your boss as “mom” or “dad” completely skews the roles of boss/employee. When your mom asks you to do more, it’s hard to say no. If your “work mom or dad” wants you to stay late, it’s going to be hard to set boundaries when you buy into the bogus theory that work is family. Stop thinking of work this way.

Check your business culture to make sure that your team has healthy boundaries and teamwork. Having a great work culture doesn’t have to mean you think of your team as family. It means that you appreciate your team, let them have good work-life balance and understand professionalism.

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Business Marketing

Market your side hustle with these 6 tips

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle paperwork and technology

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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