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OK For a Monday

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Photo Courtsey of Ben Just Ben


Not For Me!!!

“Hey Rock, how are you today?” I was often asked when I first entered real estate in 2002. I would follow up with, “I’m ok for a Monday Morning.” After a couple of seconds of silence the person I was speaking with would ponder the date and time. After they realized I was in the wrong, I would get “Rocky, its 6:30 p.m. Friday!?!?!?!?” After these exchanges of banter I’d come back with, “Not for me, it’s ALWAYS Monday, I am a REALTOR!”

After the chuckles subside, I am talking real estate and how I work 24/7, a virtual all night drive through for your real estate needs. This always ended with me handing out a business card with office number, direct line, pager, cell phone, fax, email address, web site, shoe size, and eye color. I was begging to receive phone calls at 2 a.m., and of course, I did. There were nights at the office until 4 a.m. finishing listings, writing offers, and organizing paperwork. I would go on vacation and would be tied to my cell phone and laptop.

An Ultimatum…

That was back in the summer of 2005. I had been an agent for 3 years, and married for 7 months. My new bride had had enough. She hated the fact I was missing dinners, dates, and working, when we should have been visiting her family in Kansas. In a very stern tone she told me “it’s either real estate, or me!” So I took a 9-5 job, Monday through Friday, as an Onsite Representative for a title company.

I was flying along and doing well, my wife was happy, and I had vacation time, sick time, a boss that was over 200 miles away that I saw twice a year, and HEALTH INSURANCE! All was well in the VanBrimmer Land. Suddenly, it all came to a screeching halt. The mortgage meltdown started, and I was let go August 2007. I was on the beginning of a “state sponsored” sabbatical. What was I going to do?

It Dawned On Me

Then it dawned on me, REAL ESTATE. But there was a catch…I had to have SET hours per the boss. I thought to myself, “That’s it? That is all it takes for me to get back in to real estate? SWEET!

Due to my wife’s request, I now share my hours with my clients right off the bat. I have a sheet of paper with my hours of operation:

Monday, Tuesday 8am – 9pm
Wed, Thurs 8am – 6pm (I have obligations in the evening)
Friday 8-6:30ish
Sat 8-2
Sunday, I take selective phone calls. Everyone deserves a day of rest.

At the end of that statement, I let them know I have 2 phone numbers (local to my service areas) on my card that does it all. Call one number and it will find me at my office, home, or on the road. It bounces all around until it finds me. If for some reason I do not pick up, leave a message. I promise you, I will call back as soon as humanly possible. Of course, I include my email address on my card, and even debated adding my twitter ID.

It Works!

The surprising thing is…it WORKS! My clients respect and appreciate the fact that I have communicated when I am available and how to reach me. I have instilled trust in them that I am available to them when they need me. Even better, they do not expect me to have my flashing neon light on saying “ALWAYS OPEN!”

A good night’s rest and harmony in my home makes me a better agent for my clients.

“So Rocky, how are you doing today?” “I’m ok, for a Monday morning!” It is still a great line to let people know I am in real estate. I guess I still need to work on that!

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34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Jim Duncan

    July 24, 2008 at 7:51 pm

    Setting limits was the best thing I ever did. I tell people my story – of watching my mom – single mom, Realtor with two kids – working her tail off to support us, but always making my soccer games.

    I do the same; when I coach, I tell my clients I have appointments that are non-negotiable – practice and games. I have yet to meet a customer or client who overtly does not understand or respect that; if I do, I’d rather not work with them.

    ‘course, clients do tend to call me at all hours now, and in this market, I’m grateful for the ringing. 🙂

  2. Sherry Baker

    July 24, 2008 at 7:52 pm

    Rocky, I couldn’t agree more! I have a family member who argues that I should be available 24/7 to my clients. In a former life I was on-call 24/7, which made for NO LIFE doing a job I loved, but burned out on. When I left that world I said ‘never again!’. Now my clients know when I’m available and all seem to be just fine with it.

    Love your first post! I see why you’re one of the AG Chosen Few. Keep it up, man!

    Sherry

  3. Matt Stigliano

    July 24, 2008 at 8:01 pm

    Rocky – Love the “Ok for a Monday morning” line. I can see where that would open up a lot of conversation. Great thinking!

  4. BawldGuy Talking

    July 24, 2008 at 8:03 pm

    Absolutely unbelievable. Thanks so much for this post. You’re gonna be a hit for sure. Talk about breakin’ in big time.

  5. Jason Sandquist

    July 24, 2008 at 8:12 pm

    Great Idea, although I am still young and not yet tied down. That is something that I need to work on because I can tell what the biz does to people, I guess it is sort of like an addiction. Time is needed to disconnect and enjoy life.

  6. Jamie Geiger

    July 24, 2008 at 8:25 pm

    It is great you have set this schedule, and I think, as long as you communicate it with your clients, they will be very respectful of your personal time. I am “starting” to set some limits- I no longer spring for the car keys as soon as someone calls and says they want to go see a house. I do a lot more pre-qualifiy. Great post!!

  7. Teri Lussier

    July 24, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    You are a smart guy Rocky!
    Listening to your wife is always a good idea. 🙂

  8. Rocky VanBrimmer

    July 24, 2008 at 8:33 pm

    Terri, she would beg to differ at times! 😉

  9. Faina Sechzer

    July 24, 2008 at 8:41 pm

    Very smart practice. I am trying to be like that, but not quite there yet. The funny (or may be sad) thing, I got a call today from someone out of state, who said I was the only one who answered the phone. Go figure:)

  10. Steve Belt

    July 24, 2008 at 9:13 pm

    I love the “Monday” line. Gotta agree that it seems like that would work very well. I too have put some control over my availability. There’s absolutely no way I will schedule over my karate time on Monday and Wednesday evenings, nor will I schedule over any cycling time on weekend mornings. And Friday night is date night.

  11. Bob

    July 24, 2008 at 10:19 pm

    When i started in this biz many moons ago, i was in a similar situation. Newly married, newly licensed, and in a down market where you were thrilled when the phone rang. Few had cell phones, so you gave out your home phone. Three years into it and one of the top agents in the country hired me as a buyer agent (the first one in my market to do so).

    He laid down the expectations, then told me I had to pick one weekday to take off, and every third week it would be a Saturday or Sunday off. I was not to come into the office on a scheduled day off and unless it meant a deal was dying, no one from the office would call me. I was floored.

    He told me that without a regular day off and a semi regular schedule, I would burnout and be of no use to him and this was strictly a selfish, but smart business decision on his part.

    Now I book all activities as appointments, be it a listing appointment or coaching a ball game. Unfortunately, there are still people who don’t give a hoot about my family time, but most can handle “I’m booked at the time”. Those that can’t are not worth it.

  12. bill lublin

    July 24, 2008 at 10:48 pm

    Rocky,Great point that you make- No matter how you do it,you need to put aside time for your family. My style was to schedule my family time as part of my week, and to make them priorities. Never missed my son’s school or life events, and managed time to maintain a relationship with my wife. However you do it, you need to maintain balance

  13. RonOrr.com

    July 24, 2008 at 11:12 pm

    You definately have to balance fun, work, play, family all together, and real estate agents have a lot of crazy hours. I have been an agent for 6 years, so I know what it’s like. I try to always educate people on time saving stuff on my blog whenever I can, I have met a lot of great people in the business though. I like the photo above.

  14. Carson

    July 25, 2008 at 12:53 am

    I like the idea, because even if you cheat you know you can do it somewhat undisturbed. I think it may send a deeper message, invoking professionalism and good business behavior… shows you are organized and a mover. Unless you are really best buds, I think any worthwhile client should understand and respect that you would prefer email over a phone call past 9PM.

    The cool factor of a client twittering you at 2AM would be hard to resist.

  15. Mike Taylor

    July 25, 2008 at 4:59 am

    I make myself very available to my clients, however there are times when I do need to just shut it off or I will go insane. Making myself as available as I do, I find people are more than respectful when I tell them I am not available that time or day.

  16. Glenn fm Naples

    July 25, 2008 at 5:26 am

    Rocky – congratulations to you for taking back control of your life. There are few if any true emergencies in real estate that we have to work 24/7/365.

  17. Chuck G

    July 25, 2008 at 5:40 am

    To repeat what a very well established agent here once told me…

    “A happy wife is a happy life.”

  18. Vance Shutes

    July 25, 2008 at 5:43 am

    Rocky,

    Welcome aboard! It’s great to be reading you here. What a great way to start – by setting limits. As real estate professionals, we can learn well from other professions. You certainly wouldn’t expect a doctor to take your call at 2am. And let’s hope you never have a need to reach an attorney at 2am, either. By setting limits, we’re telling the world that deserve to be treated as the professionals we most certainly have become.

  19. Jim

    July 25, 2008 at 8:25 am

    Nice words Rocky. I think the key is “control”. Also, by setting a work time-frame, it gives a normalcy feeling to work. The hardest thing for new people coming into real estate or any self-driven business is to stay focussed and to have a plan (and follow that plan of course).

  20. Molly

    July 25, 2008 at 9:26 am

    Beautiful! Boundaries work. I have heard from more agents about how they can not set a schedule-that their clients would go else where-people have no patience….you name it. I have heard it.

    I find it extremely refreshing that you have set a schedule, stick to it and it works. You have given me hope for humanity….mmm…ok, well at least some of the people I work with at any rate.

    Thanks!

  21. Bill Lublin

    July 25, 2008 at 10:33 am

    @Chuck G – My wife enjoyed your last comment – life is good! 😉

  22. Matt Stigliano

    July 25, 2008 at 10:54 am

    @Bill Lublin and @ Chuck G – My wife would applaud too. She reminds me of that quote every once in awhile just to make sure I don’t forget it!

  23. Mike Gray

    July 25, 2008 at 1:18 pm

    Great post. I dropped 40lbs. by setting up a scheduled appointment on my calendar to work-out. It was the only way I found to force myself away from work to get a work-out in and to not allow people to schedule meetings for me that would conflict. If you are having difficulty making time for something, schedule it as an appointment for yourself.

  24. Melina Tomson

    July 26, 2008 at 7:54 pm

    I have always taken a weekday off to volunteer in my kids school. I have NEVER had an issue with a client over my schedule. I think the thing is just letting them know how you work.

    I personally don’t understand agents that take phone calls at all hours. What possibly needs to be answered at 9:00 at night that can’t wait until 9:00 am.

  25. Jim Gatos

    July 27, 2008 at 8:34 am

    Just don’t have one of those cornball “Brian Buffini” messages on your voicemail greeting .. “I only return calls between 11 to 1 and 3 to 5”. I find them insulting and a rather pathetic attempt to try to control others…

  26. Paula Henry

    July 27, 2008 at 9:46 pm

    Guilty here! I have a horrible schedule; no, actually – I have no schedule. I have recently decided to take most of my work to the office, instead of having it before me all the time at home. I’m hoping it will help control the urge to work when I should be having fun. It’s a start.

  27. Glenn fm Naples

    July 28, 2008 at 7:18 am

    Chuck G – your saying is very true

    , but couldn’t this be true for the ladies involved in the real estate profession as well?

  28. Glenn fm Naples

    July 28, 2008 at 7:21 am

    Paula – you have to commit to leave the work at the office. I have personally found that having an office outside of the home means I leave the work at the office – just have to learn to be more reasonable about the hours spent in the office. 🙂

  29. Chuck G

    July 28, 2008 at 7:25 am

    Glenn,

    You are absolutely correct….but I’ll leave it to you to find a jingle that rhymes with “husband.” 🙂

  30. Glenn fm Naples

    July 28, 2008 at 7:30 am

    Chuck G – thanks for the assignment. Will have to find some ladies to think about that one. LOL

    Also wishing that I can figure out the blockquote cite command properly. LOL

  31. Jeremy Hart

    August 4, 2008 at 10:31 pm

    I find that if I don’t set boundaries, I can go about six or seven days straight before I just have to take a break. I need a mental, emotional, physical break from real estate; some time to just unwind. I know that’s my limit, and that I have to be consistent with setting boundaries.

    Well done Rocky, welcome to AG!

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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?

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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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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.

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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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Here’s how one employer was able beat an age discrimination lawsuit

(MARKETING) Age discrimination is a rare occurrence but still something to be battled. It’s good practice to keep your house in order to be on the right side.

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Jewel age discrimination

In January, the EEOC released its annual accounting for reports of discrimination in the previous year. Allegations of retaliation were the most frequently filed charge, which disability coming in second. Age discrimination cases accounted for 21.4% of filed charges. As we’ve reported before, not all age discrimination complaints rise to the level of illegal discrimination. In Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores, Inc., the federal court dismissed the claims of age discrimination, even though seven (7) plaintiffs made similar claims against the grocery store.

What Cesario v. Jewel Food Stores was about

In Cesario, all but one of the seven plaintiffs had spent years with Jewel Food building their careers. When Jewel went through some financial troubles, the plaintiffs allege that they began to “experience significant pressure at work… (and) were eventually forced out or terminated because of their age or disability.” Jewel Food requested summary judgment to dismiss the claims.

The seven plaintiffs made the same type of complaints. Beginning in 2014, store directors were under pressure to improve metrics and customer satisfaction. Cesario alleges that the Jewel district manager asked about his age. Another director alleges that younger store directors were transferred to stores with less difficulties. One plaintiff alleged that Jewel Food managers asked him about his retirement. The EEOC complaints began in late 2015. The plaintiffs retired or were fired and subsequently filed a lawsuit against their company.

Age discrimination is prohibited by the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, (ADEA). The ADEA prevents disparate treatment based on age for workers over 40 years old. However, plaintiffs who allege disparate treatment must establish that the adverse reactions wouldn’t have occurred but for age. Because none of the plaintiffs could specifically point to age as the only determination of their case, the court dismissed the case.

A word to wise businesses

Jewel Food was able to demonstrate their own actions in the case through careful documentation. Although there was no evidence that age played a factor in any discharge decision, Jewel Food could document their personnel decisions across the board. The plaintiffs also didn’t exhaust all administrative remedies. This led to the case being dropped.

Lesson learned – Make perssonel decisions based on performance and evidence. Don’t use age as a factor. Keep documentation to support your decisions.

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