Why’d You do it?
Many of you know that Rick and I left Coldwell Banker in July of this year. We get all kinds of questions from friends and colleagues, the main ones are “Why did you leave?” and “How did you do it?“. ( I apologize for the length of this article in advance….so unlike me.)
Before I explain, let me first say that Coldwell Banker was good to us, we learned a great deal the 4 plus years we were there, their corporate structure fit our business model and we would not have changed a single thing. The decision to leave came about because of a shift in our business due to the fluctuating real estate market where Coldwell Banker was no longer meeting our needs and was not helping our goals. We left doors open and were so glad that neither locks were changed nor ugly communications sent out as we had seen many times when colleagues left big brokerages.
Decision to Leave
With big corporations come rigid rules. We joined a big brokerage for the big name and the corporate backing. Rick and I both had corporate backgrounds and appreciated structure and set rules. There were procedures for everything, had to follow a chain of command and it was a relief not to be penny picked for signs, desk fees, copies, office assistance, open house ads, business cards …….(the list can go on forever with some brokerages).
But as the real estate market started to change and main-stream marketing was no longer effective, we had to work on our brand more than ever before and were making sales from our own Internet marketing, not so much from The Mega Brokerage National Marketing efforts.
After months of not getting leads from our brokerage, not seeing results from their marketing efforts, and starting to see resistance from our office with regards to our methods, we knew we had outgrown the Mega Brokerage. Our business model had changed from right under our feet and Coldwell Banker was no longer a good match for us.
Where to go?
We started researching several local brokerages to see who would be the best fit. Would it be a virtual office? Could it be another Mega Broker with less rigid rules? or would we go with a boutique company that believed and would compliment our efforts?
The third one won. Priding ourselves in customer service and having learned the importance of engaging people with blogging and social networking, we were impressed when the CEO of Majestic Properties took time from his day to meet with us and give us some F2F (that’s Face-to-face time for the text challenged ones).
It was not a hard decision, we then had to figure out how to make it happen without the move killing our bottom line.
How did we do it?
Rick and I are the most black and white people you will meet and everything we do has to be by the book. We are not the sly people that can slither through situations but had a challenge before us. We knew we could not take our listings if we left (about 18 of them at the time), and any pending transactions would be capped and loose a lot of money. We also knew that if we announced our departure, there could be a possibility of being asked to leave on the spot and would not have a chance to breathe.
We decided to speak to all of our listing clients and tell them the truth; we had outgrown our mega brokerage and the listings did not belong to us, but CB. We told them that although they were our clients, we were not allowed to solicit their business. If they wanted to continue to work with us, they would have to wait until their listings expired. We explained that our listings would be reassigned to another agent who would be thorough and would handle the sale of their property. (We knew this from an agent that had left our office the previous year and we had been assigned as the “handling agents” in the interim).
I had to admit I felt good when a lot of our clients were outraged that they had hired us not the brokerage and felt cheated that another agent would be assigned to them. We told them that we could not solicit their business and it would be up to them to make the request.
I am happy to say that all but one of our listings wanted to stay with us. There is no price for Loyalty in our business and was so happy to hear our clients wanted us, not the brokerage.
Breaking the News
We broke the news to our manager the day we decided to leave. We had grown very fond of everyone in the office and it was not an easy thing to do. No locks were changed, doors remained open for us and our manager was sad to see us go. She explained what would happen with the remaining listings and pending deals and asked us to reconsider. We already knew the steps and there were no surprises, we had made the decision to make the change and live with the consequences.
Fast Forward 4 months
It was not easy and there was a lot of stress involved. I think what made the move smooth was the fact that we knew what to expect and we did not try to fight it. We followed protocol when it came to split changes and loss of commissions. The fact that all but one client stayed with us was more than we would have expected. Some of the clients that remained wrote letters to the broker and were released, others had to wait for the listing to expire.
We are so happy with our new brokerage and see such a different attitude when it comes to bending the rules and understanding that in a challenging market, flexibility is key. In addition to all the red-tape we had to to through, we see camaraderie in our new office and people learning from each other instead of always being on the defensive. The fact that we can now talk to our broker when we have an idea and don’t have to go through a chain of command and wait days for a response is huge for us. We have grown in 4 short months and although we ask ourselves why we did not make the move sooner, we know that we had to wait for the perfect time
I was waiting for things to cool down to tell this story in order to give you a more objective viewpoint of the process. To make a move from a big brokerage you need to really plan and make sure you are making the right decision.
- know what protocol is for your current brokerage when someone leaves (where listings stay, if there is a change in commission structures, what happens to pending deals, what communication will be allowed with all parties once the change is finalized).
- Do a little research and find out how others that have left have been treated and learn from their mistakes
- Be honest – always keep in mind the Code of Ethics and make sure you don’t violate any laws or rules
- Have realistic expectations
- Be upfront and communicate the process to your clients
- Have a solid plan and schedule
But the most important piece of advice I can give you is to really analyze the reasons you are looking for change and make sure you assess the consequences to make sure it is worth the trouble and aggravation. I take a deep breath 4 months later when I look back at all the obstacles we had to go through – for us it was worth it and if I had a chance to do it differently, I would not change a thing.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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:
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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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