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The Great Debate

The great debate continues: Open houses, blogging, cold calling, door knocking, postcards, coaching, newsletters, drip email. If you listen to vendors, they have the answer.

Seems to me Realtors will buy anything – including myself. I’m always looking for the magic key and I like to check out new products. If someone has an idea, I want to hear it. RE/MAX has a whole catalogue of stuff to buy. They call it the Approved Supplier Catalogue. I used to think that that meant I should buy what’s in there, it was approved! Oh brother, have I come a long way since then, but I still may not be all the way there – wherever there is.

Some Things We All Need

There are some things that we all need. Business cards – check. Laptop – check. Car – check (there was an agent in my office who didn’t). Cell phone – check. Website – check. Pens – for how often I accidentally/on purpose lose them, they’re worth buying a box. Signs – check. Personalized letterhead – check. Name badge – check – do I wear it? That’s another post. Brand clothing? Um, if the company gives it to me, I’ll wear it. Moving van? Liability, gas, parking – that would be a no. Car wrap? I want to be able to make illegal u-turns, speed and inadvertently get too close to other cars with anonymity – that would be a no. Blog – love it – double check. Camera – not for houses, for the blog – check.

Once you get past the obvious, it gets a little blurry. When the phone solicitors call and say, “If you make ONE DEAL off of our product, it will be worth it.” I came back with: If I made all of my business decisions that way, I’d be out of business. Then I’d get, “It’s not that expensive.” I went to: It’s not in the budget or I’ve already made my budget and that’s not in it. They don’t have a come back for that one – give them time.

So Then What?

So how do you determine what you need to operate a successful business? That depends. I say get the essentials, make some money then research, research, research.

If you hate doing open houses, don’t. You won’t be good at them. I have a great time. I like to turn them into social events. I invite my friends and clients, have food and music. I typically have another agent or mortgage person there to keep me entertained when there aren’t any visitors or I bring something to do. If no one comes to the open, I try to be satisfied with the fact that hundreds of drivers have seen my name as they pass my signs – I use as many as possible. Do opens work for me? Of course they do. What is the ROI? I have no idea. I like doing them. If I didn’t, they wouldn’t work.

Time Spent Prospecting

That’s not to say you shouldn’t do what you don’t like. I was in a focus group the other day. There was some banter with a struggling agent about how to get business. I said, “70% of your time should be spent prospecting.” He responded, “I don’t like prospecting.” Okay, now, if that’s the case, get another job.

I have to agree with Jonathan; hearing go back to the basics is like the Macarena. It was catchy when it came out. Now it’s just annoying. Any time I read the subject line of an email similar to “the key to selling homes in this down market,” I think here we go again. I’ve got to see what the pill is; but if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Making Millions In Real Estate

The true answer to making millions in real estate: Work your a** off. It’s not pretty, but it’s the truth. Sorry to disappoint any of you get-rich-quickers.

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate Blog.com.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Jacksonville Florida Realtor

    February 13, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Real Estate has always been about getting in front of people who want to buy or sell homes.

    This can be done through the use phone calls, networking groups, a blog, etc. I have seen different Realtors succeed with each.

    Just make sure your chose method is something you enjoy and then do it everyday. Because you do have to work you’re a** off in this business.

  2. Athol Kay

    February 13, 2008 at 10:15 am

    I think the great problem with the get rich quickers is that there is a whole industry that exists off of training a bunch of real estate newbies before they quit the business. So there are very few people actually saying real estate is actual work to people before they get into the business.

  3. Mark Harrison

    February 13, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I’d intended writing about business cards, but having read comment number 3, I feel I have to respond. I’m speaking as someone who runs (UK) training in real estate here.

    I _do_ say that making money is a lot of hard work over a long time. This means that I’ve not had the stellar success of some of my “competitors” who preach a “make money fast” approach.

    Interestingly, 5 years in from starting that business, most of my competitors have vanished, but I’m still around, pretty much entirely working on referral business 🙂

    The best filter question I’ve found for the property trainers:

    – Do you, personally, make more money from rental property, or from running training courses?

    Right – now to business cards – I stopped using them about 2 years ago. Instead, I now COLLECT business cards, or hand out forms inviting people to signup to my free newsletter. In either case, once I have a potential customer’s contact details, I can make sure they get updates about the property market, legal changes and the like. It typically takes 6-12 months before someone is comfortable enough with the way I think for them to buy a book or go on a training course I run. I realise that the Realtor experience is different – when people KNOW they want to buy / sell a house, they know where to go. When people THINK they want to start investing in real estate, they don’t really know where to turn.

  4. Mack in Atlanta

    February 13, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Vicki, your last paragraph sums up this business the best. It is amazing but “The harder I work the luckier I get”. There are no magic pills as we would be led to believe. It blows my mind how many of the telemarketers to the real estate industry start their spill with would you like to do more business or can you stand to sell a few more homes every month.

    What each agent needs to do is select several prospecting techniques that they are comfortable with and utilize them.

  5. Vicki Moore

    February 14, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Thanks for your input, guys. I think there’s a lot more to this topic that needs to be said. I’m going to work on that.

  6. Steve Simon

    September 24, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Nothing real Earth Shattering to add, I just liked reading your post; it must be your style of writing, it was entertaining 🙂
    I have been telling students for over twenty years;
    “Work at the business half ass and you should be OK, because most I see are at about a quarter ass…”

  7. Vicki Moore

    September 24, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Thanks Steve. I think I’m pretty funny – glad you do too. I’ve never heard about the “quarter ass.” That’s a good one.

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Business Marketing

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

These tools customize your Zoom calls with your company’s branding

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Zoom appears to be here to stay. Here are the tools you need to add or update your Zoom background to a more professional – or even branded – background.

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Zoom call on computer, but there's more options to customize.

If you haven’t had to deal with Zoom in 2021, you may be an essential worker or retired altogether. For the rest of us, Zoom became the go-to online chat platform around mid-March. For several reasons, and despite several security concerns, Zoom quickly pushed past all online video chat competitors in the early COVID-19 lockdown days.

Whether for boozy virtual happy hours, online classes for school or enrichment, business meetings, trivia nights, book clubs, or professional conferences, odds are if you are working or in school, you have been on a Zoom call recently. Many of us have been on weekly, if not daily, Zoom calls.

If you are the techy type, you’ve likely set up a cool Zoom background of a local landmark or a popular spot, a library, or a tropical beach. Comic-con types and movie buffs created appropriate backgrounds to flex their awesome nerdiness and technical smarts.

Many people have held off creating such an individualized background for our virtual meetings for one of any number of reasons. Perhaps it never occurred to them, or maybe they aren’t super comfortable with all things techy. Many people have been holding out hope of returning to their offices, thus seeing no need to rock the boat. I’m here to tell you, though, it’s time. While I, too, hope that we get the pandemic under control, I am realistic enough to see that working or studying from home will continue to be a reality for many people for some time.

Two cool, free tools we’ve found that can help you make your personal Zoom screen look super professional and even branded for business or personal affairs are Canva and HiHello. While each platform has a paid component, creating a Zoom background screen for either application is fairly simple and free.

Here’s how:

Canva is the online design website that made would-be graphic designers out of so many people, especially social media types. It’s fairly user-friendly with lots of tutorials and templates, and the extremely useful capabilities of uploading your own logo and saving your brand colors.

Using Canva, first create your free account with your email. It functions better if you create an account, although you can play around with some of the tools without signing up. The fastest way from Point A to Point B here is to use the search box and search for “Zoom backgrounds.” You now can choose any one of their Zoom background templates, from galaxy to rainbows and unicorn to library books or conference rooms. Choose an inspirational quote if you’d like (but really, please don’t). Download the .jpg or .png, save it, and you can upload it to Zoom.

To create a branded Zoom background in Canva, it will take slightly more work. It was a pain in the butt for me, because I had this vision of a backdrop with my logo repeated, like you see as a backdrop at, you know, SXSW or the Grammys or something. Reach for the stars, right?

OK, the issue with this was that I had to individually add, resize, and place each of the 9 logos I ended up with. I figured out the best way to size them uniformly (I resized one and copied/pasted, instead of adding the original size each time (maybe you’re thinking “Duh,” but it took me a few failed experiments to figure out that was the fastest way to do it).

Once you have your 9 loaded in the middle of the page, start moving them around to place them. I chose 9, because the guiding lines in Canva allow me to ensure I have placed them correctly, in the top left corner, middle left against the margin that pops up, and bottom left. Same scenario for the center row.

Magical guide lines pop up when you have the logo centered perfectly, so I did top, middle, and bottom like that, and repeated for the right hand margin. Then I flipped them, because they were showing up in my view on Zoom as backward. That may mean they are now backward to people on my call; I will need to test that out! Basically, Canva is easy to use, but perhaps my design aspirations made it tricky to figure out.

Good luck and God bless if you choose more than 9 logos to organize. Oh, and if you are REALLY smart, you will add one logo to a solid color or an austere, professionally appropriate photo background and call it a day, for the love of Mary. That would look cool and be easy.

HiHello is an app you can download to scan and keep business cards and create your own, free, handy dandy digital business card. It comes in the form of a scannable QR code you can share with anyone. Plus, you can make a Zoom background with it, which is super cool! It takes about five minutes to set up, truly! It works great!

The Zoom background has your name, the company name, and your position on one side and the QR code on the other. The QR code pulls up a photo, your name, title, phone number, and email address. It’s so nifty! And the process was super easy and intuitive. Now, If I took my logo page from Canva and made that the background for my HiHello virtual Zoom screen, I would be branded out the wazoo.

Remember there are technical requirements if you want to use HiHello on a Mac. For example, if you have a mac with a dual core processor, it requires a QUAD. However, on a PC, it was really simple.

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Business Marketing

Finally: A smart card that manages employee spending with ease

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Clever credit cards make it easier for companies to set spending policies and help alleviate expense problems for both them and their employees.

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Spendesk showing off its company credit cards.

Company credit cards are a wonderful solution to managing business expenses. They work almost exactly like debit cards, which we all know how to use, am I right? It is the twenty-first century after all. Simply swipe, dip, or tap, and a transaction is complete.

However, keeping up with invoices and receipts is a nightmare. I know I’ve had my fair share of hunting down wrinkled pieces of paper after organizing work events. Filling out endless expense reports is tedious. Plus, the back and forth communication with the finance team to justify purchases can cause a headache on both ends.

Company credit cards make it easier for companies to keep track of who’s spending money and how much. However, they aren’t able to see final numbers until expense reports are submitted. This makes monitoring spending a challenge. Also, reviewing all the paperwork to reimburse employees is time-consuming.

But Spendesk is here to combat those downsides! This all-in-one corporate expense and spend management service provides a promising alternative to internal management. The French startup “combines spend approvals, company cards, and automated accounting into one refreshingly easy spend management solution.”

Their clever company cards are what companies and employees have all been waiting for! With increasing remote workforces, this new form of payment comes at just the right moment to help companies simplify their expenditures.

These smart cards remove limitations regular company cards have today. Spendesk’s employee debit cards offer companies options to monitor budgets, customize settings, and set specific authorizations. For instance, companies can set predefined budgets and spending category limitations on flights, hotels, restaurants, etc. Then they don’t have to worry about an employee taking advantage of their card by booking a first-class flight or eating at a high-end steakhouse.

All transactions are tracked in real time so finance and accounting can see purchases right as they happen. Increasing visibility is important, especially when your employee is working remotely.

And for employees, this new form of payment is more convenient and easier on the pocket. “These are smart employee company cards with built-in spending policies. Employees can pay for business expenses when they need to without ever having to spend their own money,” the company demonstrated in a company video.

Not having to dip into your checking account is a plus in my book! And for remote employees who just need to make a single purchase, Spendesk has single-use virtual debit cards, too.

Now, that’s a smart card!

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