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Funny Thing Happened On My Way To The Office

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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 KelleyKoehler.com, 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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12 Comments

12 Comments

  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

Spruce up your product images with Glorify (just in time for Black Friday!)

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want professional, customizable product images for your company? Consider Glorify’s hot Black Friday deal.

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Glorify app lets you create beautiful designs for your products.

Glorify, the app that creates high converting, customizable product images for your business, is offering a lifetime deal for $97 this Black Friday. In just a few clicks, you can transform one of Glorify’s sleek templates into personalized, professional-looking content – and now, you don’t have to pay that monthly fee.

Whether your business is in electronics, beauty, or food & drink, Glorify offers a range of looks that will instantly bring your product images to the next level. With countless font styles and the ability to alter icon styles, shadows and other elements, you can access all the perks of having your own designer without the steep price.

In 2019, Glorify was launched – the app was soon voted #2 Product of the Day and nominated for Best Design Tool by Product Hunt. Since then, they have cultivated a 20k+ user base!

Glorify 2.0, which was launched last week, upgrades the experience. The new and improved version of the app is complete overhaul of intuitive UI improvements and extra features, such as:

  • background remover tool
  • templates based on popular product niches and themes
  • design bundles for your website/store, social media
  • annotation tool
  • upload your brand kits and organize your projects under different brands
  • 1 click brand application
  • & much more!

“But the most important aspect of Glorify 2.0, is that it comes with a UI that sets us up for future scalability for all our roadmap features”, said CEO of Glorify Omar Farook, who himself was a professional graphic designer.

Farook’s dream was to provide a low-cost design service for the smaller businesses that couldn’t otherwise afford design services. Looking through reviews of the app, it’s evident that Glorify does just that – it saves the user time and money while helping them to produce top-notch product images for their brand on their own.

Glorify is one of the many new design-based apps that make producing content a breeze for entrepreneurs, such as Canva. As someone who loves design but doesn’t have the patience for Creative Cloud, I personally love this technology. However, Glorify is unique in that it is the only product-driven design app. All you have to do is upload your photo!

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Business Marketing

This new Chipotle location will be fully digital

(BUSINESS NEWS) In the wake of the pandemic and popularity of online delivery, Chipotle is joining the jump to online-only locations, at least to test drive.

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Chipotle exterior, possibly moving to a fully digital restaurant space soon.

A lot of industries have switched to an online-only model in the wake of the pandemic. Most of them have made sense; between abundant delivery options and increased restrictions on workers, moving away from the traditional storefront paradigm isn’t exactly a radical choice. Chipotle making that same decision, however, is a plot twist of a different kind—yet that’s exactly what they’re doing with their first online store.

To be clear, the chain isn’t doing away with their existing locations; they’re just test-driving a “digital” location for the time being. That said, the move to an online platform raises interesting questions about the future of the restaurant industry—if not just Chipotle itself.

The move to an online platform actually makes a lot of sense for businesses like Chipotle. Since the classic Chipotle experience is much less centered on the “dining” aspect than it is on the customizability of food options, putting those same options online and giving folks some room to deliver both decreases Chipotle’s physical footprint and, ostensibly, opens up their services to more people.

It’s also a timely move given the sheer number of people who are sheltering in place. A hands-on burrito assembly line is not the optimal place to be in a pandemic, but there’s no denying the utilitarian appeal of Chipotle’s products. To that end, having another restaurant wherein you have the option to order a hearty meal with everything you like—which is also tailored to your dietary needs—is a crucial step for consumers.

Chipotle’s CTO, Curt Garner, says he is hoping this online alternative will offer a “frictionless” experience for diners.

As a part of that frictionless experience, consumers will be able to order in several different mediums. Chipotle’s website and their mobile app are the preferred choices, while services like GrubHub will also be available should you choose to order through a third-party. The idea is simple: To bring Chipotle to you with as little fuss as possible.

For now, Chipotle is committing to the single digital location to see how consumer demand pans out. Should the model prove successful, they plan to move forward with implementing additional digital locations nationwide.

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Business Marketing

Your business’ Yelp listing may be costing you more than you think

(BUSINESS MARKETING) The pay per click system Yelp uses sounds good in theory, but it may be hurting small businesses more than helping.

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Man browsing Yelp for his business listing in open office environment.

We all know Yelp – we’ve probably all used Yelp’s comment section to decide whether or not that business is worth giving our money to. What you might not know is how they are extorting the small businesses they partner with.

For starters, it’s helpful to understand that Yelp generates revenue through a pay per click (PPC) search model. This means whenever a user clicks on your advertisement, you pay Yelp a small fee. You never pay Yelp a cent if no one clicks on your ad.

In theory, this sounds great – if someone is seeking out your product or service and clicks on your ad, chances are you’re going to see some of that return. This is what makes paying $15, $50, or even $100 a click worth it.

In practice, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be. When setting up your Yelp account, you are able to plug in keywords that correspond with your business. For example, owner of San Francisco-based Headshots Inc. Dan St. Louis – former Yelp advertiser turned anti-Yelp advocate – plugged in keywords for his business, such as “corporate photographer” and “professional headshots”. When someone in the Bay Area searches one of those terms, they are likely to see Headshots Inc.’s Yelp ad.

You are also able to plug in keyword searches in which your ad will not appear. That sounds great too – no need to pay for ad clicks that will ultimately not bring in revenue for your business. In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan plugged in terms such as “affordable baby photography” and “affordable studio photography”, as his studio is quite high-end and would very likely turn off a user who is using the word “affordable” in their search.

How Yelp really cheats its small business partners is that it finds loopholes in your keyword input to place your ad in as many non-relevant searches as possible. This ensures that your ad is clicked more and, as a result, you have to pay them more without reaping any of the monetary benefits for your business.

If you plugged in “cheap photography” to your list of searches in which your ad will not appear, Yelp might still feature your ad for the “cheap photos” search. As if a small business owner has the time to enter in every single possible keyword someone might search!

In the case of Headshots Inc., Dan ended up paying $10k in total ad spend to Yelp with very little return. Needless to say, he is pissed.

So what does this mean for you if you use Yelp for your business? If you don’t want to completely opt out of Yelp’s shenanigans, try these 3 tips from Dan:

  1. Try searching some potential irrelevant keywords – are your ads showing up in these searches?
  2. Do your best to block the irrelevant keywords. It’s impossible to get them all, but the more you do the more money you will ultimately save.
  3. Keep an eye on the conversation rate on your profile – does more clicks mean more client inquiries? Make sure Yelp isn’t sending low-quality traffic to your profile.

Ultimately, it’s about protecting your small business. Yelp is the latest in big tech to be outted for manipulating individuals and small businesses to up their margins – a truly despicable act, if you ask me. If you don’t have tens of thousands of dollars for ad spend, then either boycott Yelp or try these tips – your company may depend on it.

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