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I Shall Call Him… Mini-Me.

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you know you want to do the voice... go ahead.I was talking with my father the other day – a mutual acquaintance had called us both, an agent in a different city who in the course of conversation was bragging about his success, that he had just brought on his second Buyer’s agent.

My father was adamant: he would never want to list his house with someone who separates Buyers and Sellers to different people.  Last time Dad sold a house, he listed with a guy who just lists and lists and lists and passes off all buyers to his team.  Pop’s impression was that his agent listed his house and was never seen from again.  I have a feeling there were major lack of communication issues there, but regardless, that’s how he sees it.

I was trying to explain the division of labor and the reasons behind having a team set up that way, but he wouldn’t hear of it.  No way, he says.  I want to list my house with the people who work with Buyers.  Those are the people who know house values and are more likely to know a large group of Buyers who might want my home.

We didn’t get to finish that conversation, but it was something that got me thinking.  Should we be specialists?  Or more well-rounded?  In a successful growing business, you eventually run into human limits and have to hire help in order to satisfy growing demand.  So does Team Housechick have a listing specialist and buyer specialists?  Or do I create a couple of mini-me’s who can handle either side with ease?  And more importantly, what’s best for the consumer?

(and then – can I hire a dude under team housechick?  what if they turn out to be ill-tempered?  have i limited myself to only half of the agent population?)

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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5 Comments

5 Comments

  1. Athol Kay

    November 5, 2007 at 3:13 pm

    I think it sounds like the listing agent did just disappear into the sunset as soon as the listing was signed. Bad communication there.

    Your Dad is wrong on the needing to know the buyers front. Agents and buyers are just getting their info from the MLS, the odds of “hey I know a guy” are pretty slim these days. And then, even if you “know a guy” you should still put the house on the MLS anyway and see what other buyers get interested.

    At some point you’ll need to group it up to develop business beyond what you can do yourself. It’s the way I think all RE business will head. Be a team leader, join a team, or start missing out.

    >>can I hire a dude under team housechick?

    /raises eyebrows…

  2. Daniel Rothamel

    November 6, 2007 at 4:49 pm

    I agree with Athol on this one. If the agent your Dad worked with had tons of buyer clients, would his experience have been any different? Probably not. As an agent, I have worked with other agents who specialize, and those that do both almost equally and very well. Does it make a difference? Not in my experience. Good agents are good agents, regardless of the nature of their clients.

  3. Toby Boyce

    November 7, 2007 at 2:16 am

    This is a great topic, and as a single agent — I believe that there is a difference between the two. Of course, the key being that GOOD agents are good agents regardless of what they are doing.
    However, I’ve seen too many “listers” that don’t have the communication skills or management system in place to balance the volume of listings.
    Of course, the same can be said (and is true) of single agents.

  4. Benn Rosales

    November 8, 2007 at 7:40 am

    I do not agree with a team approach. I think it has its place, but personally, I think there are better ways to get from a-b. Your dad likes the old way of doing business- he isn’t into being a product, he wants to be respected with a handshake and a cup of coffee, a gentlemans agreement, and results by reputation. That’s back when an agent earned his 3-6, it wasn’t maximized into fastfood real estate.

  5. Ken Jansen

    July 28, 2009 at 5:23 pm

    I think it would be funny to be the guy on the housechick team. You could were a kilt to the office. Ok, maybe not. I have seen both sides of the team argument played out well and poorly. There are some teams in Kansas City that are great and I would and have referred friends and family to them. There are other teams where they operate just like your dad envisioned and I can’t stand to work with them. The same is true of individual agents. It really depends on the professsionalism, systems, and abilities of those involved.

    Thanks!

    Ken

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Business Marketing

Restaurants might actually lose money through Grubhub and similar services

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Restaurant owners are asking themselves if third-party food delivery apps are nothing more than a good, old-fashioned shakedown.

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If you haven’t seen the GrubHub receipt that has everyone outraged, you probably should. It exposed the food delivery apps for their unreasonably high commissions and excessive charges to the restaurants (on top of the changes to the consumer).

Many people, in an honest attempt to support local restaurants while staying home and safe these days, have started ordering out from their favorite small, local eateries. And they should! This could be the lifeline that allows those restaurants to survive being closed for upwards of a month. However, if they order through a third-party food delivery service, they need to know that a good chunk of their money goes to the service, not the local business. Plus they are paying extra for the service.

It’s a big bummer, to say the least, a bamboozle some might say. Why would restaurants agree to use these services at all, then, if they aren’t beneficial? Well, they initially served the purpose of helping smaller restaurants and food trucks sell to a wider customer base without having to incur the cost and manage the logistics of offering delivery. Not all of the charges are immediately apparent, either, although I am sure they are in the business agreement.

GrubHub, DoorDash, Postmates, UberEats all charge eateries a commission between 15%-30% to even work with them. This is for the most basic level of service. When GrubHub, for example, wants to stimulate more sales, they may offer a deal to consumers. This could be a dollar amount or percentage off of a customer’s order or free delivery.

Everybody loves a deal, so these promotions are effective. They drive more sales, yay. The restaurants, however, incur the full cost of the promotion. You would imagine GrubHub would share that cost, but no, they don’t. If that weren’t unscrupulous enough, GrubHub then charges the business the commission on the full, not discounted, price of the order. Unctuous, right?

Sure, restaurants have to opt in for these specials and other promotions the third-party apps are marketing, so they know there’s a fee. Yet, if they don’t opt in, they won’t appear as an option for the deal in the app. It’s deceptive, feels like a bit of extortion to me. All of these delivery apps have some sort of similar way to rack up fees. For a mom-and-pop food truck or restaurant, the commissions and fees soon eat away at the already small profit margins restaurants usually have.

It’s simply wrong, so wrong. But wait, there’s more! Another nasty, duplicitous practice GrubHub (specifically GrubHub) has implemented, with Yelp’s help, is to hijack the restaurant’s phone number on Yelp. This means if you look up your favorite restaurant on Yelp, and call in an order from the Yelp platform, your call will actually go to GrubHub instead. And get this–they charge the restaurant even if you pick up the order yourself, not only for delivery.

These third-party companies have even started buying up domain names similar to the restaurants to further fool patrons into ordering through them. They also have added restaurants to their platforms, even if the restaurants haven’t agreed to work with them. They seem willing to do anything to get a cut of restaurants’ hard earned dough (and ours). Loathsome! How are these scams even legal?

It happened to me recently. I kept trying to order for pickup at the restaurant, but somehow the order kept going through GrubHub. Bamboozled!

RVB bamboozled

This boils my blood and breaks my heart for these restaurants. In my other life, I am a blogger for a hyperlocal blog whose sole purpose is to highlight, celebrate, and promote local everything. I’m also the internal marketing chair for the Austin Food Blogger Alliance, where we work with local restaurants, distilleries, breweries, and such to promote them and help raise their visibility in the community.

I only bring this up, because I’ve sat with these restaurant and food truck owners, listened to their stories, seen the fire in their eyes as they talk about their recipes. They’ve regaled me with stories of how they got started, what inspires them, and when they had their first successful day. It’s delightful to see the intensity of their enthusiasm for sharing good food with people and how much of themselves they put into their restaurants.

In the original post that lifted the curtain on this shady practice, the Chicago Pizza Boss food truck owner Giuseppe Badalamenti, says the money he got from his GrubHub orders was “almost enough to pay for the food.” Badalamenti had participated in some promotions, which admittedly reduced his cut dramatically, yet the whole premise came as a shock to customers who have been spending their dollars to keep these local businesses afloat. Then here comes the third-party apps, poking a hole in the floaties.

It comes across as downright predatory. Thousands of people have sworn off these apps in favor of calling the restaurant directly for pickup if you are able. This way, you ensure the business you want to support gets the full bill amount. You can get the restaurant’s number directly from Google Maps or the business’s social media or website. This is the best way to help your favorite places stay in business.

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Business Marketing

TikToks new augmented reality ads seeks new audiences

(BUSINESS MARKETING) TikTok product developers hustle to roll out a new augmented reality brand effect to compete with Snapchat and Instagram.

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augmented TikTok

TikTok is getting ready to launch a new ad feature to level the playing field with Snapchat and Instagram. The unofficially named “AR brand effect” will allow TikTok users to incorporate augmented reality brand advertisements in their videos. The ads will create visual effects that interact with the filmmakers’ physical environment as if it exists in real life. The ads will include music that can be played over the film.

TikTok also offers an ad product called Brand Effect, a 2D advertisement filter that users can add to their videos. The in-house product development team at TikTok created this feature for a reported cost of $100,000 according to Digiday.

Snapchat already has its AR brand experiences called the Sponsored Lens and Word Lens, which allow brands to create augmented reality filters to advertise via Snapchat’s users and their interactions with friends.

Snapchat charges anywhere from $50 to $500,000 for augmented reality advertisements. The lower tier starts with a 10-second ad between videos that users can choose to “swipe up” and interact with. The higher tiers get advertisers a day-long spot with a Sponsored Lens.

Though the efficacy of this advertising strategy appears to be hit-or-miss, the creative opportunities for advertising to a wide audience is attractive enough to keep this product development relevant. TikTok and its Chinese counterpart Douyin clocked in two billion downloads in the month of March. Its users skew young with 41% between the ages of 16 and 24, and its global following boasts 800 million users worldwide.

TikTok is moving with adept agility to roll out new products to keep its increasingly large user base engaged. “They are doing it a lot quicker [than competitor social media platforms],” media agency Starcom told Digiday. “Their ability to scale and move forward is frightening, really. If they get it right they’re going to be a huge player in the next six months to a year.”

TikTok is also working on new ad products that allow advertisers to connect with prominent influencers. With the future of stay-at-home orders looking to turn into an interminable cycle, it will be telling to understand how these advertising strategies will effect e-commerce and digital brand experiences.

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Business Marketing

Bistro owner rewards 1 star reviews to beat Yelps ‘algorithm’ racket

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Botto Bistro Restaurant owner gives absolutely no f***s and recruits negative Yelp reviews for sport. Maybe yelp should be “persuaded” to chill.

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Botto bistro pizza

Chef Davide Cerretini is a legend. If you don’t know his name, maybe you have heard of Botto Bistro, the Richmond, California restaurant that once held the honor of worst-rated restaurant on Yelp.

In 2014, Cerretini offered pizza discounts in exchange for bad Yelp reviews. Yes, you read that right – one star review earns you 25% off your pizza. When Yelp complained, Cerretini upped the ante to 50% off.

Doesn’t Yelp punish restaurants for exchanging incentives for reviews? Yes – but don’t forget Cerretini does not give a flying fart what Yelp thinks. In fact, he started the ploy to beat Yelp at its own game.

According to Cerretini, and many other small business owners, Yelp participates in what amounts to extortion of restaurant owners. Sales reps reach out to these businesses and urge them to buy an ad for a monthly fee. Upon buying the ad, some mysterious algorithm filters more positive reviews to the top of the restaurant’s page. No one knows what the algorithm is or how exactly it works, but it seemed no coincidence to Cerretini that his best reviews disappeared and bad ones rose to the top after he refused to participate.

“I came from Italy, and know exactly what mafia extortion looks like,” he says. “Yelp was manipulating reviews and hoping I would pay a protection fee. I didn’t come to America and work for 25 years to be extorted by some idiot in Silicon Valley,” Cerretini told the Hustle.

Cerretini’s plan worked. In one day he attracted a month’s worth of business in response to the discount incentive for a one-star review. After a few more days, there were 2,300 one-star ratings.

Botto Bistro has since been sold to Mountain Mike’s Pizza. But Cerretini’s legacy is far from forgotten. In fact, he kept the website as a monument to his success: “We would like to thank Yelp for being so stupid and arrogant that they tried to extort the Italians. In doing so they allowed us to have fun, increase our business and our popularity, troll them for the last 6 years, sell our place at a profit, and forge a new career that took us all over the world exposing them for the idiots they are.”

Botto Bistro has a 2.5 star rating on Yelp from 283 reviews. Italy 1, Silicon Valley 0.

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