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Funny Thing Happened On My Way To The Office



photo courtesy of sarah-ji

I work for a huge brokerage.  We have branch offices up the wazoo.  Until recently, my little 8×10 room at the back with the stunning parking lot vista sat in what was the Central office.  In our office complex, however, were those Commercial folks, across the breezeway, waaaaay over there. 

And we didn’t mix.  Commercial doesn’t come to Central parties, and as far as I know, Commercial doesn’t throw parties.

And those Commercial people, I tell ya.  Talk about those with stars on thars.  You pass them in front of the escrow office, they don’t even smile, not even a little wave.

Until last weekend, when the Commercial office closed and all those Commercial agents had to find a new home among us unwashed residential resale masses over in the Central office.

Suspicious eyeballing abounds.

Nervously, they say hi.  We nod, an attempt to be gracious, each with a tight grip on our staplers behind our backs, lest these strangers lay claim to our stuff.

We each learn new vocabulary.  The residential agents learn “CoStar” and “cap rate.”

The Commercial people learn “multiple counter offer” and how to deal with “what do you mean, my guy took the light switch covers and now your clients are canceling?”

There are skirmishes – quickly put down – regarding custody of the conference room.

But slowly, we learn about each other.  How they deal so well with the facts only, hard business, investor client.  How we deal well with Ma and Pa selling the family home in financial hardship. 

Our skill sets don’t always overlap, but our residence does, so we’re adjusting.  They learn that their hard-line tactics don’t always work with Ma and Pa.  We learn not to talk about our feelings so much.  They learn that the liquid coffee creamer is only brought out for special occasions, and we pick up some of their business-like approach to the business.

Eventually, we’ll find a way to co-exist, and although our businesses will always be vastly different, we can still smile and compare notes and share insights over the fax machine – and eventually, maybe some day – we’ll show them where we hide the liquor.

Or my name isn’t Zanzibar Buck-Buck McFate.

Kelley Koehler, aka the Housechick, is usually found focused on her Tucson, Arizona, real estate business. You may also find her on Twitter, where she doubles as a super hero, at Social Media Training Camp, where she trains and coaches people on how to integrate social media into successful business practices, or at, a collection of all things housechick-ish. Despite her engineering background, Kelley enjoys translating complex technical concepts into understandable and clear ideas that are practical and useful to the striving real estate agent.

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  1. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 10, 2008 at 11:49 am

    Kelley, I used to work for a major commercial developer (headquartered in Phoenix, btw) and I can’t tell you how close to home this hit… the two worlds are DRAMATICALLY different.

    Flip flops for me today, Ferragamos back then. “Word up” typed out on Twitter now, “I anticipate with great excitement the synergy that this collaboration will create” on formal letterhead back then (okay, just 2 years ago). The pace was much more breakneck, but seeing the largest shopping venue in all of central Texas’ grand opening was so rewarding so the efforts have a big payoff (not to mention payday). I don’t miss not sleeping, I don’t miss going to ICSC, I don’t miss the phone calls at 11 at night because construction thinks the stone work is designed improperly, and I don’t miss having to order office supplies through bitchy Betty.

    I look forward to hearing how these two MASSIVELY different worlds cohabitate an office together. I’m chuckling here just picturing it. And I’m also wondering why the hell they’re even doing residential- change brokers if commercial’s gone… if residential shut down, that team would be out of a job, there’s no way a transition would ever be invited. The assumption is poorly made that *anyone* can do residential or *anyone* could do commercial… they’re ridiculously different worlds in every single way. Oh Kelley, good luck dealing, girl and watch your staplers!

  2. Ken Smith

    June 10, 2008 at 12:10 pm

    Commercial agents bring different skill sets to their business then residential agents. They are more strictly business and that is what is needed in their world. But there is no reason that everyone can’t be under one roof and learn from each other. Learn what you can from them.

  3. Frank Jewett

    June 10, 2008 at 12:38 pm

    Commercial agents often look down on residential agents. Commercial agents wouldn’t dream of slapping their face on their business card, much less a shopping cart… with their dog in the picture!

    The phenomenon I’m seeing here in Santa Clara County is big residential brokers opening commercial divisions while individual brokers and agents are also “moonlighting” in commercial real estate. This is likely to increase tensions between the two camps. I suspect residential brokers and agents will eventually discover, as they did with short sales, that it isn’t as easy at it looks to reinvent your business model. It isn’t as if residential is completely dead. In fact I’ll bet those who stay focused on residential actually find it easier to compete for business as their rivals get distracted by what they think is the next low hanging fruit.

  4. Eugene

    June 10, 2008 at 1:02 pm

    “…each with a tight grip on our staplers behind our backs.” haha, if they were only red, the picture would be complete.

  5. BawldGuy Talking

    June 10, 2008 at 2:00 pm

    Having been on the ‘commercial’ side since Carter was Prez, I can attest to the spherical voids of which most of those on that side belong as a species.

    Don’t show ’em where the booze is Kelley. It’ll be the end of spontaneous office parties forever. 🙂

  6. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    June 10, 2008 at 2:02 pm

    Weird, usually when I mention designer shoes, Kris Berg shows up…..

  7. BawldGuy Talking

    June 10, 2008 at 2:06 pm

    Check with Steve, but I think she may be at her therapy appt. re: MLS down due to ultra crappy Tempo5 ‘improvement’ recently. 🙂

  8. Rebecca Levinson

    June 10, 2008 at 2:16 pm

    That’s a different twist on desegregation. Sounds like you all are making friends though:-)

  9. Bob Schenkenberger

    June 10, 2008 at 5:00 pm

    Zanzibar, the liquor cabinet is not safe! Do not, under any circumstance, let that cat out of the bag.

  10. Maureen Francis

    June 11, 2008 at 2:53 am

    When we first started, people would ask us to do commercial stuff. Small, like find a retail rental. After not too long we realized that it actually is quite different, and stopped trying.

    I like selling houses.

    What do we have to do to get the liquid creamer? We never have that!

  11. Paula Henry

    June 11, 2008 at 6:46 am

    Two things you have in common, coffee and liquor – does that something about the stresses of our profession, whether commercial or residential. Just wondering……

  12. Kelley Koehler

    June 11, 2008 at 10:45 am

    Hrm. Well, that sort of failed as a parable, didn’t it?

    Maureen – we get french vanilla creamer in those tiny little onsie servings on Wednesdays before the wednesday meetings as a bribe to come, along with bagels. But the Broadway East office has a cuppachino machine EVERY DAY. I may have to bring that point up to our office council.

    The commercial folks have seats among us, but they’re still sort of their own group. They had a huge space on the other side of the complex that was always larger than they needed. Central had enough empty desks to accomodate them, so we consolidated areas, stopped leasing that huge wasted space.

    We’ve always had a standing referral agreement with the commercial agents that says if we give them commercial business, that they’ll send that person back to us for any residential stuff they want to buy or sell, so in that regard, we’re all on good terms – as we can’t do commercial and they’re allowed to do residential as well as commercial!

    What’s interesting to me is that, with all the sort of snootiness that the commercial agents appeared to have, semingly wheeling and dealing in large transactions, they had to adhere to our desk assignment standards – which are awarded according to production. Lots of those agents ended up at shared cubicle desks. Seems for some, there was a whole lot of talk, and not so much action.

    On the whole, we’re getting along. There’s like 100 of us and maybe 20 of them, so they’re a bit overwhelmed. Central is also the “out-there” office, where just about anything goes, and often does, and most of the commerical agents are, ah, old dudes – but we’re also serious about our business. We have one of the lowest average sales prices per branch, but we often beat out the office with the highest average sales price in volume – sheer dollar volume – nearly every year. You can’t hang at Central unless you’re good at what you do.

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Business Marketing

Hiring managers keep you on your toes – make them take the 1st step

(MARKETING) If you want to stand out from other job applicants, weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – or it could backfire.



hiring managers interview

According to research by employment search website Simply Hired, hiring managers get an average of 34 applications per job listing, but they spend time genuinely considering an average of only 12.6% of them – that’s less than 1/3. Some applicants may feel the need to go above and beyond the average application and do something unusual or unexpected to grab the hiring manager’s attention.

Simply Hired conducted a survey to find out whether or not “nontraditional” strategies to stand out are worth the risk, or whether it makes sense to stick to a traditional resume and cover letter. They surveyed over 500 hiring managers and over 500 job applicants to find out what sort of outside-of-the-box approaches applicants are willing to take, and which ones do and don’t pay off.

Most notably, the survey found that over 63% of hiring managers find attention-grabbing gimmicks totally unacceptable, with only 20.2% saying they were acceptable. Hiring managers were also given a list of unusual strategies to rank from most to least acceptable. Unsurprisingly, the least acceptable strategy was offering to sleep with the hiring manager – which should really go without saying.

Interestingly, hiring managers also really disliked when applicants persistently emailed their resumes over and over until they got a response. One or two follow-up emails after your initial application aren’t such a bad idea – but if you don’t get a response after that, continuing to pester the hiring manager isn’t going to help.

While sending baked goods to the office was considered a somewhat acceptable strategy, sending those same cookies to the manager’s home address was a big no-no. Desserts might sweeten your application, but not if you cross a professional boundary by bringing them to someone’s home – that’s just creepy.

Another tactic that hiring managers received fairly positively was “enduring extreme weather to hand-deliver a resume” – but waiting around for inclement weather to apply for a job doesn’t seem very efficient. However, hiring managers did respond well to applicants who went out of their way to demonstrate a skill, for example, by creating a mock product or presentation or completing their interview in a second language. A librarian who was surveyed said she landed her job by making her resume into a book and creating QR codes with links to her portfolio, while a woman applying to work at the hotel hopped behind the counter and started checking customers in.

It’s worth noting that while most hiring managers aren’t into your gimmicks and games, of the 12.9% of applicants who said they have risked an unusual strategy, 67.7% of those actually landed the job.

Still, it’s probably a safer bet to stick to the protocol and not try any theatrics. So then, what can you actually do to improve your chances of landing the job?

Applicants surveyed tended to focus most of their time on their resumes, but according to hiring managers, the interview and cover letter are “the top ways to stand out among the rest.” Sure, brush up your resume, but make sure to give equal time to writing a strong cover letter and practicing potential interview questions.

In the survey, applicants also tended to overestimate the importance of knowing people within the company and having a “unique” cover letter and interview question answers; meanwhile, they underestimated the importance of asking smart questions at the interview and personality. In fact, hiring managers reported that personality was the most impactful factor in their hiring decisions.

It appears that the best way to stand out in a job interview is to wow them with your personality and nail the interview. Weird outfits, stunts, and baked goods will only get you so far – and in fact, may backfire.

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Business Marketing

Use nostalgia as a marketing niche for your business today

(MARKETING) A market that is making waves is found in the form of entertainment nostalgia. Everyone has memories and attachments, why not speak to them?




Is it just me or does it seem like there is something for everything nowadays? Let me clarify, as that is a rather broad question…

With the way communicating through technology has advanced, it’s become much easier to connect with those who have shared interests. This has become especially evident with interests in the entertainment community.

Entertainment nostalgia

It now seems like there is an event for every bit of nostalgia you can imagine. Autograph shows, meet and greets, and memorabilia collections of all kinds are held in convention halls all around the world. (To give you an idea of how deep this thing goes, there was a “Grease 2” reunion convention sometime within the last five years. Being that I’m the only person I’ve ever met who likes that movie, it’s amazing that it found an audience.)

This idea of marketing by use of nostalgia is something that is becoming smartly tapped and there are a variety of directions it can go in.

For example, the new Domino’s ads feature dead-on tributes to “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.”

What’s your niche?

If you’re a fan of anything, it’s likely that you can find an event to suit your needs.

And, if you want to take it a step further, you can think outside the box and use nostalgia as a marketing tool.

I recently began dabbling in social media gigs that have brought me to a few different fan conventions. One was a throwback 80s and 90s convention that featured everyone from Alan Thicke to the members of N*SYNC. Another is a recurring convention that brings together fans of sci-fi, horror, and everything under that umbrella.

I was amazed by the number of people that came out to these events and the amount of money that was spent on the day’s activities (autographs, photo ops, etc.). I was energized by the fact that you can take something you have a great appreciation for and bring together others who share that feeling. Watching people meet some of their favorite celebrities is something that is priceless.

Hop onboard the nostalgia train

If you’re a fan of something, you don’t have to look too far to find what you’d enjoy – going back to the aforementioned “Ferris Bueller” example, there is a first-ever John Hughes fan event taking place in Chicago next month that will bring fans to their favorite Brat Pack members.

In the same thought, if you have an idea, now is the time to find others who share that interest and execute your vision.

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Business Marketing

5 tips to help you craft consistently high-converting email marketing

(MARKETING) Email may seem too old to be effective but surprisingly it’s not, so how can you get the most out of your email marketing? Try these tips.



Email marketing

Email marketing might seem archaic in comparison to modern mediums like social media, blogging, and podcasting; however, it actually remains one of the highest converting options marketers and small businesses have at their disposal.

But Why Email?

Hopefully, you believe in email as an effective marketing channel, but in case you have doubts, let’s hit the reset button. Here’s why email marketing is worth investing in:

  • Email is one of the few marketing channels that you have total control over. Unlike a social media audience, which can disappear if the platform decides you violate their terms, you own your email list.
  • Email is considered very personal. When someone gives you access to their inbox, they’re telling you that you can send them messages.
  • From a pure analytics perspective, email gives you the ability to track behaviors, study what works, and get familiar with the techniques that don’t.
  • The ROI of email marketing is incredibly high. It can deliver as much as $44 in value for every $1 spent.

5 Tips for High-Converting Emails

If you’ve been using email, but haven’t gotten the results you’d like to, it’s probably because you’re using it ineffectively.

Here are a few very practical tips for high-converting emails that generate results:

  1. Write Better Subject Lines: Think about email marketing from the side of the recipient. (Considering that you probably receive hundreds of emails per week, this isn’t hard to do.) What’s going to make you engage with an email? It’s the subject line, right?If you’re going to focus a large portion of your time and energy on one element of email marketing, subject lines should be it.The best subject lines are the ones that convey a sense of urgency or curiosity, present an offer, personalize to the recipient, are relevant and timely, feature name recognition, or reference cool stories.
  2. Nail the Intro”: Never take for granted the fact that someone will open your email, and read to the second paragraph. Some will – but most will scan the first couple of lines, and then make a decision on how to proceed.It’s critically important that you get the intro right. You have maybe five seconds to hook people in, and get them excited. This is not a time to slowly build up. Give your best stuff away first!
  3. Use Video: Email might be personal, but individual emails aren’t necessarily viewed as special. That’s because people get so many of them on a daily basis.According to Blue Water Marketing, “The average person receives more than 84 emails each day! So how do you separate your emails from everyone else? Embed videos in your emails can increase your conversion rates by over 21 percent!”This speaks to a larger trend of making emails visually stimulating. The more you use compelling visuals, the more engaging and memorable the content will be.
  4. Keep Eyes Moving: The goal is to keep people engaging with your email content throughout. While it’ll inevitably happen with a certain percentage of recipients, you want to prevent people from dropping off as they read.One of the best ways to keep sustained engagement is to keep eyes effortlessly moving down the page with short and succinct copy.One-liners, small paragraphs, and lots of spacing signal a degree of approachability and simplicity. Use this style as much as you can.
  5. Don’t Ask Too Much: It can be difficult to convey everything you want to say in a single email, but it’s important that you stay as focused as possible – particularly when it comes to CTAs and requests.Always stick to one CTA per email. Never ask multiple questions or present different offers. (It’ll just overwhelm and confuse.) You can present the same CTA in multiple places – like at the beginning, middle, and end of the email – but it needs to be the same call. That’s how you keep people focused and on-task.

Give Your Email Marketing Strategy a Makeover

Most businesses have some sort of email lists. Few businesses leverage these lists as well as they should. Hopefully, this article has provided you with some practical and actionable tips that can be used to boost engagement and produce more conversions. Give them a try and see what sticks.

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