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sell it on ebay


Our Changing Industry

We spend a lot of time on discussing new business models, social media, technology, and how we all think the consumer wants to buy. We prognosticate endlessly about how each idea we have or new technology we observe is going to revolutionize the real estate industry, and agents are going to either evolve or die (Whenever I hear things like that I think of the old Comic Book Alien with a Huge Head carrying off a struggling woman who looks well dressed for either work, a cocktail party OR an alien abduction).

Sometimes I think we forget about the basics that are involved in our business. No matter how much time people spend on their computer looking for property, they need to walk the neighborhood, see the property, experience the home and the neighborhood. And they want someone they can trust , who is knowledgeable about those things to help provide them with guidance in finding a property that has the right location and appropriate physical attributes in a community that they have chosen.

And then they still need help with negotiation, the physical inspection of the property, the contractual portion of the purchase, obtaining financing etc. And no, I don’t think attorneys negotiate worth a damn in real estate (unless they specialize – and have a great deal of knowledge about real estate valuation and the current market, in which case they are a real estate professional with a law degree).

We Still Need Boots on the Ground

And with all due respect to all of the on-line real estate models I’ve seen to date, they still end up with an agent meeting a consumer and providing the on the ground service that all of us provide to our customers and clients. No, I’m not a Luddite. I love technology and think that its a very useful tool, and I am constantly looking for new ways to use technology to make me better at my job and my company more efficient. But I don’t think that we’re going to wake up anytime soon, and find out that we need to be retrained for new jobs.

Let Me Give You an Example

The store pictured above is an amusing business model that represents IMHO the contradictions of the thought processes found in much of the real estate business and the RE.net

People have always had stuff they didn’t want. We have all heard that one man’s trash is another man’s gold. And we all know that when we have trash, we want to sell it and turn it into gold. At first people would sell things from their house , or on local physical bulletin boards in stores and schools, on their own. Then there were enough people recycling things that antique stores and thrift shops became their venues of choice.

Technology improved, and people started by posting things on Electronic Bulletin Boards for Sale. But these were limited enterprises commercially, until someone got the bright idea of building an on-line auction site know as EBay. EBay changed the way people sold their junk. It was easy to buy on EBAY, and there was tremendous exposure for your junk. But some people found it unsatisfactory, and the store above was born (and it is only one of a number of such stores, and franchises around the country. People are now going to a physical location to sell their stuff on the Internet. (There is a great conversation about this business model in the Steve Carell movie The 40 Year Old Virgin, but I just couldn’t find the video clip to add here- But what the heck its a funny movie go see it and you’ll remember this post when you see the scene) Is it just me or is this a huge ironic circle?

The More Things Change

Maybe its just because I’ve seen so much in the industry over the years which have brought some tremendous changes in How we do What we do, but the basics are still the same. We take Buyers and Sellers through one of the most traumatic events of their lives, protecting them as best we can, helping them to reach their goals, and making the process as smooth as possible for them. We reach farther, get more information faster, and transmit it to clients in distant places, but we still add value to the process, and I believe its a value the consumer wants and looks for, So far I haven’t seen a technology that changes their needs or our ability to satisfy it – as hard as that seems to us some times. So I guess we’ll keep on needing to go to work for at least a little while longer.

Bill is an unusual blend of Old & New - The CEO Century 21 Advantage Gold (Philadelphia's Largest Century 21 company and BuzzBuilderz (a Social Media Marketing Company), He is a Ninja CEO, blending the Web 1 and 2.0 world together in a fashion that stretches the fabric of the universe. You can follow him on twitter @Billlublin or Facebook or LinkedIn.

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. BawldGuy Talking

    June 29, 2008 at 10:55 pm

    Funny thing is, you’re right even if the belly to belly turns out to be virtual. I think that’s what my English teacher called ironic.

  2. robin | fort Lauderdale Real Estate

    June 30, 2008 at 6:06 am

    Bill..Bill.. Bill..just when I think we’ve turned the proverbial corner….

    While I doubt seriously that the real estate agent as an animal will go extinct, the business model is on the endangered species list. Adaptability may be a word to add to the repertoire.

    Like Kelly wrote yesterday, real estate agents, IMO, need to stop speaking in the terms of what they want and what they feel.

    For instance when you say “they need to walk the neighborhood”…Bill, I live in a waterfront community on the east side of Fort Lauderdale. People don’t walk neighborhoods when they look to buy here. They barely even drive the neighborhood. In fact seldom are there even open houses.

    When people buy here they are doing so from previewing homes online and then contacting a Realtor who they also found online.

    That’s not an anti-realtor factoid, it’s just the state of the market. Sure, the old 5 and Dime was a great place. I used to love the neighborhood feel of yesteryear. Kids could actually grab a bottle of Pepsi and parents felt safe letting us go down to the corner store.

    Then it got torn down and they built a Walmart!

    I miss that corner store and the way life was, I truly do. However, I got over it. I changed, as most realtors are going to have to do as well or be left behind.

    As the service providers before them, Stock brokers, Insurance agents, Travel Agents, etc…(oh yes, there is still a place for some of them as well) the rest wither and go away because they did not adapt.

  3. Greg Cremia

    June 30, 2008 at 6:36 am

    While the web is changing the initial phase of the buying process the actual purchase is the same as it always has been. True, buyers can now do their own research before we ever meet them, and they know what houses they want to see, but they still end up looking at all of the properties available. Always have, always will.

    Before we see the demise of real estate gents we will see the demise of car dealers. If people are not comfortable buying a car without a test drive then there is no way they will ever get comfortable buying a house without doing a walk through.

    Real estate agents are not going anywhere. At least some of them. Those who are ignoring these changes will be replaced. Nothing new here.

    What has changed is the playing field between agents and brokers. Little brokers like me can now compete with the mega brokers. The web is the great equalizer.

  4. Bill Lublin

    June 30, 2008 at 9:12 am

    Robin I agree with Kelley also, and I make that statement based upon my experience as a tech savvy buyer who purchased a second home last year in West LA near the beach. We had the choice of all the communities from Santa Monica to Redondo Beach, and had spent so much time at the Ritz Carlton in Marina Del Rey that they would ask where our dog was when we didn’t bring him.
    But when I was going to be putting hundreds of thousands of real dollars into a property, I wanted to knwo what I was buying and what it was going to be like to walk out my door everyday.
    And I buy a heck of a lot more property annually then most consumers.
    So I still think, becuse our products are so unique, and each area so different that consumers will still have a need for some physical connection with the area before they complete a purchase. 🙂

  5. Frank Jewett

    June 30, 2008 at 10:06 am

    One real estate comparison to that eBay store would be transaction management systems like SureClose, TRPoint, and RELAY. Some agents may have their transactions on those systems, but most of them refuse to learn how to use those systems (even to look up vendor contact information), preferring instead to visit or call the “corner store” of their transaction coordinator.

  6. Paula Henry

    June 30, 2008 at 9:21 pm

    Bill – I agree! While there are some clients who will buy sight unseen, the majority want to “feel” what the home is like. Even if they don’t walk the neighborhood, they will drive through.They check out the schools, parks, shopping and amenities.

    When we moved back to Arizona from California, we knew the city, yet we still looked at homes. We wanted to walk through, we did walk the neighborhood before we decided on the exact home for us.

    While we need the online presence, we still do our business face to face.

  7. Holly White

    July 1, 2008 at 1:52 pm

    Fortunately or unfortunately we get about 85% of our business from the leads our website generates. Fortunately because I am thankful for our ranking and traffic, but unfortunately because I haven’t spent as much time developing other advertising and marketing avenues and pray that we never lose our ranking… but I digress….

    We’re not trying to sell homes online (rarely have we sold homes sight unseen), we’re merely giving people the opportunity to do some research prior to physically looking at them. It saves everyone time and money. With gas prices the way they are nowadays I’m pretty sure the general public is welcoming the ability to take some of the leg work out of finding an area they want to be in.

    I will say however, that from time to time I’ll get someone who doesn’t want to look at all online, they want me to personally find homes for them to look at after we’ve talked about their criteria (which is fine)…. but they still found me as their Realtor ONLINE. I am a full service Realtor who is thanking God I latched on to the internet several years ago. I’ll always have an office and I’ll always have that one on one time with my clients. Those Realtors who don’t “get it” though will more than likely disappear sooner than later.

  8. Bill Lublin

    July 1, 2008 at 8:55 pm

    Paula and Holly – if you guys agree with me I must be right 😉
    And I think you make the points effectively and appropriately – thanks for commenting.

  9. Jennifer in Louisville

    July 2, 2008 at 6:00 am

    Theres 2 ways to look at – from a human perspective, and from a business perspective. From the human perspective, people are still people. Buying/selling a home is generally an emotional roller coaster and we help guide them through the entire process. From a business perspective, there are dinosaurs among us. Either you are adapting to the constantly evolving business, technology, and expectations from your clients, or you are going to become extinct.

  10. Holly White

    July 2, 2008 at 8:35 am

    @Bill – Thanks! And you are right on! First and foremost, we’re hands on Realtors. Nothing is going to take the place of that. Gaining those clients to hold the hands of is where the internet comes in (for me anyway).

    @Jennifer – Well said!

  11. Jonathan Dalton

    July 2, 2008 at 8:43 pm

    Real estate is local, folks …

    The Phoenix real estate market stretches about 75 miles from one side to the other. Many buyers from out of state have no concept of how expansive the area is until they get here.

    Last month, one of my buyers who started their search in Glendale ended up in Chandler after side trips to Fountain Hills and Gold Canyon. They drove several hundred miles just checking out different areas.

    Sight unseen might work if someone knows a particular community or subdivision they want, but if they just want to be in the Phoenix market in general they are, as my Canadian friends say, hooped.

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Business Marketing

Buffer’s four-day workweek experiment: Boost or bust?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) After trying out a four-day workweek last year, Buffer is moving forward with the format going into 2021, citing increase in productivity and work-life balance.

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Man working in office with headphones on, making use of flexible four-day workweek.

The typical five-day workweek is a thing of the past for Buffer, at least for now. The company has decided to implement a four-day workweek for the “foreseeable future.”

Last year, the company surveyed its employees to see how they are dealing with the ever-changing landscape of the pandemic and the anxiety and stress that came along with it. They soon learned employees didn’t always feel comfortable or like they could take time off.

Employees felt guilty for taking PTO while trying to meet deadlines. Juggling work and suddenly becoming a daycare worker and teacher for their children at the same time was stressful. So, Buffer looked for a solution to help give employees more time and flexibility to get adjusted to their new routines.

Four-Day Workweek Trials

In May, Buffer started the four-day workweek one-month trial to focus on teammates’ well-being. “This four-day workweek period is about well-being, mental health, and placing us as humans and our families first,” said Buffer CEO and co-founder Joel Gascoigne in a company blog post.

“It’s about being able to pick a good time to go and do the groceries, now that it’s a significantly larger task. It’s about parents having more time with kids now that they’re having to take on their education. This isn’t about us trying to get the same productivity in fewer days,” Gascoigne said.

Buffer’s one-month trial proved to be successful. Survey data from before and after the trial showed higher autonomy and lower stress levels. In addition, employee anecdotal stories showed an increase in worker happiness.

With positive results, Buffer turned the trial into a long-term pilot through the end of 2020. This time, the trial would focus on Buffer’s long-term success.

“In order to truly evaluate whether a four-day workweek can be a success long-term, we need to measure productivity as well as individual well-being,” wrote Director of People Courtney Seiter. “Teammate well-being was our end goal for May. Whether that continues, and equally importantly, whether it translates into customer and company results, will be an exciting hypothesis to test.”

Trial Results

Company Productivity
Buffer’s shorter workweek trials showed employees felt they had a better work-life balance without compromising work productivity. According to the company’s survey data, almost 34% of employees felt more productive, about 60% felt equally as productive, and only less than 7% of employees felt less productive.

However, just saying productivity is higher isn’t proof. To make sure the numbers added up, managers were asked about their team’s productivity. Engineering managers reported that a decrease in total coding days didn’t show a decrease in output. Instead, there was a significant output increase for product teams, and Infrastructure and Mobile saw their output double.

The Customer Advocacy team, however, did see a decline in output. Customer service is dependent on customer unpredictability so this makes sense. Still, the survey showed about 85% to 90% of employees felt as productive as they would have been in a five-day workweek. Customers just had to wait slightly longer to receive replies to their inquiries.

Employee Well-Being
With more time and control of their schedules, Buffer’s survey shows an increase in individual autonomy and decreased stress levels reported by employees. And, the general work happiness for the entire company has been consistent throughout 2020.

What’s in store for 2021?

Based on positive employee feedback and promising company results, Buffer decided it will continue the company-wide four-day workweek this year.

“The four-day work week resulted in sustained productivity levels and a better sense of work-life balance. These were the exact results we’d hoped to see, and they helped us challenge the notion that we need to work the typical ‘nine-to-five,’ five days a week,” wrote Team Engagement Manager Nicole Miller.

The four-day workweek will continue in 2021, but the company will also be implementing adjustments based on the pilot results.

For most teams, Fridays will be the default day off. For teams that aren’t project-based, their workweek will look slightly different. As an example, the Customer Advocacy team will follow a different schedule to avoid customer reply delays and ticket overflow. Each team member will still have a four-day workweek and need to meet their specific targets. They will just have a more flexible schedule.

Companies who follow this format understand that output expectations will be further defined by area and department level. Employees who aren’t meeting their performance objectives will have the option to choose a five-day workweek or might be asked to do so.

If needed, Fridays will also serve as an overflow workday to finish up a project. Of course, schedules will be evaluated quarterly to make sure productivity is continuing to thrive and employees are still satisfied.

But, Miller says Buffer is “establishing ambitious goals” that might “push the limits” of a four-day work week in 2021. With the world slowly starting to normalize, who knows when a four-day workweek might reach its conclusion.

“We aren’t sure that we’ll continue with the four-day workweeks forever, but for now, we’re going to stick with it as long as we are still able to hit our ambitious goals,” wrote Miller.

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Business Marketing

10 easy steps to get into Instagram marketing

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Want to up your social media marketing game? Start better with Instagram for your business using these easy tips to quickly get established.

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Instagram post open on a tablet

When Instagram first came on the scene, it was simply a place to share pictures of your cat or a pie that you just baked. While it still is a place for that kind of content, it has also grown into a platform where one can influence others and build an empire.

So, if you’re looking to step up your social media marketing game through use of Instagram, look no further than using these 10 steps from Neil Patel.

  1. Switch to a business profile: This is super easy and can be done in just a few clicks. Switching from a personal to a business profile gives a better look at your followers through Insights, allowing you to see analytics and impressions. It also adds a contact feature that takes a visitor right to an email draft to you – just like it would on your website. All this and it makes it possible to publish ads.
  2. Use free marketing tools: Because Facebook owns Instagram, they operate kind of similarly. As mentioned in #1, Insights allows for a deep dive into personalized analytics to see what kind of posts are clicking with your audience and which aren’t. That way, you know what kind of content to continue with and what to do away with.
  3. Post product teasers: There are a variety of ways to do this, including posting about flash sales or linking business platforms that sell your product to make it easier for your customer to shop. The trick here is to not be pushy, but instead be enticing and make the post convenient for your consumer.
  4. Create a sponsored ad: Like Facebook, you can post ads and include a specific budget of what you want to spend. You can showcase one ad or multiple with the carousel feature. You can also target the exact demographic you’re looking to hit.
  5. Instagram stories: These last 24 hours and don’t have to be as “fancy” as a regular post. Give followers a glimpse into your brand with behind-the-scenes shots, polls, fun questions, etc. Make them feel like they’re part of the experience and use this as a way to tell your brand’s story.
  6. Partner with influencers: Work out a deal with influencers who have a decent following. Send them one of your items in exchange for them posting a photo of the item and tagging your brand. This will reach their whole followership and build your credibility.
  7. Collect user-submitted photos: Share photos posted by customers loving on your brand or product. Either share them to your story, or use a regram app to repost customer photos to your feed. It’s basically free advertising for your product.
  8. Hashtags: Come up with an interactive hashtag solely for your brand. Think in terms of verbs (a la Nike’s “Just Do It”). It can be punny or practical, but something that people attribute to your brand and your brand only.
  9. Timing and over-posting: Look into the best times to post – this is when your users are most active. It will be helpful to use Insights to understand when your time to shine may be. According to SimplyMeasured, the worst days to post on Instagram are Wednesdays and Sundays, while Mondays and Thursdays are the best days to post. Also, don’t over post. It’s annoying and it’s always best to err on the side of quality over quantity.
  10. Track the right metrics: Insights do no good if you aren’t looking at the right data. You need to keep tabs on whether or not what you’re doing is increasing your follower growth as well as growth for your interaction. With research, use of Insights and a little trial and error, you’ll get yourself to where you need to be.

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Business Marketing

Unpopular opinion: Coworkers are not your ‘family’

(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 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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