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Selling Your Soul For Half A Sandwich

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Sheeple and Sandwiches and CookiesBroker Open House – Serving Lunch 11am – 2pm

Fire in the hole! Will you sell your soul for a half-a-sandwich?

This is a flecked spit rant. Yes, if I was lucky enough to be sitting next to you, I’d serve a towel with this shower.

My spittled rant is sprayed at sheeple who attend Broker Open House for the price of half-a-sandwich. Grazers with no clients, no prospects, no suspects and no sense. What they do have, is a keen nose for free lunch and an annoying habit of bleating philosophical about the ins and outs of nothing important. Gah!

Don’t hate yet. There’s plenty of time for that. Hear me out.

I’m Cool With Broker Open Houses.

In our market, The Woodlands TX, Broker Open Houses provide an opportunity for agents to expand their market and neighborhood smarts. The more you know, the more valuable you are. Amen!

Tribe members of the listing agent would be wise to support and attend a team members Broker Open House. Amen.

I’m on the teeter-totter when it comes to serving food. It does draw a crowd. A crowd makes the seller happy. Happy seller’s boost probabilities for referrals and recommendations. Cool.

Here’s my pet peeve.

I’m Not Cool With Sheeple Sandwich Eaters

I’m an embarrassed witness. They aren’t previewing to get smarter. They’re previewing to get fed. And bleat about all the biz they never did. The only positive. They eat and run. [Secretly, I wonder if some of these sheeple have purses and pockets lined with plastic baggies?]

I bet you can name 3 or 4 or more who are famous Open House Grazers. What a tragic personal brand. We can’t help these lost souls.

But wait, there’s more. I would like to share an opportunity with the “I haven’t thought it through” crew too.

Souls For Half Sandwiches and Thinking It Through

Don’t sell-out for half a sandwich. Or a gift card. Or a few dollars drawing.

DO tour your company/office listing and tour competitor listings to grow your knowledge and value. This is smart and strategic.

Don’t grab the tour sheet and map your path based on where the food is.

Here’s why. When we tour a competitors listing their traffic count goes up. When their wildly successful Open House results are reported to their seller, congratulations, we’ve just amplified the star-power, remarkability, referability and recommendability of your competitor. All for half-a-sandwich.

When we sell your professional soul for half-a-sandwich, you’re strangling your future success and polluting opportunity for your team members. When we preview for the purpose of amplifying our personal ocean of market knowledge, it’s a fair exchange.

Let me be clear, previewing with purpose is smart and strategic. Previewing for half-a-sandwich is selling-out and self-destructive.

Wait. There’s more: Filling out a “Comment Sheet” can kill opportunity too!

Open House Comments – When A Positive Turns Negative.

All we have to do is kindly fill out a comment/feedback sheet and the host agent will feed us and or enter us in a drawing for cash or prizes.

They’d like to know how we feel about the price and condition of the property. What recommendations and wisdom pearls will you share?

If it’s an office/company listing, by all means, let’s fill out the comment sheet. The seller hired our teammate and our team for our expertise. Let’s share it. All good!

Stop! If it’s a competitors listing, whoa, let’s politely decline to fill-out the comment sheet. Let’s respectfully leave a card. If pressed, here’s what I’d say, “You’re a smart agent, you know how to market, congratulations on the listing, I’ll show it if it matches my buyers. Good luck:-)”

Why?

The Business Of Business

Do you run your business like a business, a charity or a hobby?

Riddle me this scenario.

Would the whiz kids at Apple, gift wrap their shiny new 3GS iPhone and deliver it to the Rainmen at Microsoft, with a note that read:

“Dear Rainmen, Please find enclosed a gift certificate for half-a-sandwich and our soon to be released, white 3GS iPhone. We’d love it if you would give it a test run and tell us what you think. How should we price it? Is it easy to use? How about the design, do you have any advice? We’d love to hear from you. We’re going to use your feedback to gain market share and well, let’s be honest, we’re going to swing your foolish-feedback like a Steel-Stupid-Stick and beat the living crap outta your feedback sharing dumb-ass. Thanks.”

Seriously! That would never happen in business, a competitor asking another competitor for advice and feedback. Nor would any sane business respond with feedback if asked. Right?

So let me ask again, why would we want to help our competitor position for a faster sale and amped neighborhood recognition against us, our team members and most importantly, our sellers?

I say, “Don’t help competitors, position and out-sell your sellers, you or your team members.”

Broker Open House Tips

Ok. My mini-rant is spent. Here’s a couple of tips on previewing properties. These might seem obvious, but I’ve seen some accidental disasters in my day, so here you go.

1. Sellers are curious people. Curious enough to set up recording equipment. Sometimes the seller is quietly working in the study. What ever you say in the home, say it as if the seller was standing there. You never know who or how, where or when people are watching and listening.

2. When leaving written comments, don’t puke. This is an opportunity to use your shiny communication skills. Don’t say, “The place stinks of cat piss”. Say, “There’s a distracting odor”.

3. I’d love to hear what Tips you have. Share them in the comments.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thanks for reading.

Photo Credit

PS. Perhaps I’ve over stepped my bounds and my post is insensitive, arrogant and heavy handed? If so, I ask your forgiveness. I did not intend to insult, I did intend to use sarcasm as a sharp stick to jab my point.

Ken Brand - Prudential Gary Greene, Realtors. I’ve proudly worn a Realtor tattoo for over 10,957+ days, practicing our craft in San Diego, Austin, Aspen and now, The Woodlands, TX. As a life long learner, I’ve studied, read, written, taught, observed and participated in spectacular face plant failures and giddy inducing triumphs. I invite you to read my blog posts here at Agent Genius and BrandCandid.com. On the lighter side, you can follow my folly on Twitter and Facebook. Of course, you’re always to welcome to take the shortcut and call: 832-797-1779.

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36 Comments

36 Comments

  1. Chris

    June 15, 2009 at 7:07 am

    What, no breakfast muffins? 😉

  2. Marcie Roggow

    June 15, 2009 at 7:51 am

    Great article! I once had a guy come in (yes same 4-6 grazers every time) and went right for the food! I stopped him and said….no food until the house tour is complete. I might say, he was a bit taken aback! We discuss this at great length in the Sellers Representative Designation Course…which by the way will be held in Houston, July 24-25 at the Houston Associaiton offices! Come join me!

  3. Joespake

    June 15, 2009 at 7:52 am

    Ok, I am printing this post and anonymously leaving a few copies at every agent open I or anyone else hosts in the future.

  4. Tara Jacobsen

    June 15, 2009 at 8:32 am

    When I was an agent I LOVED doing broker’s opens. I got to impress the seller, meet agents who could bring a potential buyer to my property AND improve my relationships with the other agents in my marketplace.

    That having been said, WOW, great thoughts on competition in the marketplace. I tend to come from a place of abundance (sometimes to my detriment) BUT have never thought about the comments in that way. Not sure I agree but definitely understand what you are saying!!!

  5. LesleyLambert

    June 15, 2009 at 8:39 am

    I like broker open houses as a chance to let the other agents and brokers see the property and yes, I confess, I bribe them with food. It is a great tool to get feedback on the pricing, etc. I agree that when we attend we should be aware of the power we are presenting the other agent.

    Maybe it is my area, but competing agents tend to respect other top agents and offer respect based on experience and professionalism more than office affiliation. It has never bothered me, especially since most of those listings aren’t ones that I was competing for, anyways.

    I see the point you are making and can even agree with much of it, but will still utilized the broker open as a tool for my listings.

  6. Chuck G

    June 15, 2009 at 8:48 am

    “When we tour a competitors listing their traffic count goes up. When their wildly successful Open House results are reported to their seller, congratulations, we’ve just amplified the star-power, remarkability, referability and recommendability of your competitor. All for half-a-sandwich.”

    I guess I don’t agree. In the end, it’s the quality of people you bring in, not the quantity, regardless of whether its buyers or agents. Top producing agents aren’t coming to your broker’s open house for the food, trust me. In the end, they’re likely the ones who will buy your listing, not the grazers.

    If you apply the logic above, I guess I shouldn’t be reading any other agent’s blogs either….don’t want to jack up their page rank 🙂

  7. Erion Shehaj

    June 15, 2009 at 8:52 am

    I found this post to be waaay to general. First, you didn’t tell us what KIND of sandwich are we talking about here. Perhaps a nice po-boy or a toasty sub? Furthermore, are we to imply that there is a bag of chips and soda involved ?!

    I’m sorry but until I know all this vital info, I’m witholding judgment 🙂

  8. Matt Stigliano

    June 15, 2009 at 8:57 am

    Ken – We don’t see as many of them here in San Antonio – either that or everyone forgets (or refuses) to invite me. We do get tons of builder open houses and they are always lavish spreads filling with free gas cards and other goodies. When I first became an agent I went to many of them in order to familiarize myself with some of the areas of town I knew little about. It wasn’t a bad idea as a new agent to get a free lunch once in awhile either. Every penny counts. The more I went to them, the more I started seeing the same faces. The more I realized there was a whole sub-culture to these events. The same people won the prizes, the same people sat with the same groups, the same people got their faces in the Newsline with their smiling head next to the builder strategically standing next to the communities giant sign (with lots of the builder’s logo in there too – don’t want to miss an advertising chance). I haven’t been to one in ages and will never say I won’t go to one, but I will do it only when I need the info, not the free lunch. Free lunch might save me some cash, but it will also waste some time. Which is more valuable to me?

    Here’s why. When we tour a competitors listing their traffic count goes up. When their wildly successful Open House results are reported to their seller, congratulations, we’ve just amplified the star-power, remarkability, referability and recommendability of your competitor. All for half-a-sandwich.

    Certainly food for thought (pun intended). I’d be curious to see the effects if everyone refused to attend them anymore. Would those top agents see their “topness” slip, because they couldn’t draw a crowd anymore? Having spent many years watching crowd mentality from the stage, I know it’s power. Nothing attracts a crowd, like a crowd.

  9. Matt Thomson

    June 15, 2009 at 9:11 am

    I appreciate your thoughts. Broker’s opens in our little town are very popular, food is definately served, and it’s a big social party. We plan our tour with 3 criteria: 1. Office listings 2. Listings of interest 3. Food. And 3 isn’t a distant 3rd, either. Each week we average about 25 listings on our tour. 2-3 of those will be from our office. In a typical day, 5-6 homes is about all I can stomach or have time for. So I’ve got to narrow 22 listings down to 3 that I’ll tour (roughly). Food matters to me!
    The other listings I’ll preview on my own time. I find private previews to be a great thing. Sellers hear your voice when you set the appt, they see your card alone rather than in a stack of 30, and they know you’re out previewing the market rather than chasing food.
    So I’ll continue to follow the food on Thursdays…but 1/2 a sandwhich? Come to Gig Harbor and taste the chocolate covered strawberries and fresh salmon!

  10. Gigi Green

    June 15, 2009 at 9:26 am

    Maybe things work a bit different up here in Cold Lake….I get where you are coming from as we definately do have a few meal chasers for these open houses but in a community our size (approx 15000 people and 40 realtors) everyone knows everyone else and the home owners know and recognize the cards left. They expect to see us even though not everyone goes. Owners will go so far as to say, why didnt so and so from (office name) come, or why didn’t the rest of your office come? And in a small town remember everyone talks.
    For me – lunch or no lunch. I take it as an opportunity to familiarize myself with the properties so that when my client asks – “yes Ive seen it – it has this and this and this” it only takes a few minutes (you can grab the snack as your’e leaving) And I think it helps me to appear better prepared….And I always make a special extra effort to get to ones held by my own office.

  11. Tim Ayres

    June 15, 2009 at 9:28 am

    For the love of everything that is good in the universe, don’t use the term “sheeple” ever again.
    Otherwise, an interesting article. We do lots of agent’s/broker’s opens here in my town, and sad to say, the food is often the only reason people go.

  12. Chuck G

    June 15, 2009 at 9:33 am

    Yes, using “sheeple” would be a baaaaaad choice.

    Sorry, couldn’t pass that one up.

  13. BawldGuy

    June 15, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    Broker’s Opens, like public Opens, are listing tools. I could’ve written this post, just not nearly as well.

  14. Lisa Sanderson

    June 15, 2009 at 1:28 pm

    So…the share and share alike, good karma, add value to the community, lift the level of industry professionalism idea applies only online and not IRL? I’m not sure I buy it. But thanks (as always) for making me think, and for reminding me about an article that’s been bouncing around in my head for some time now.

  15. BawldGuy

    June 15, 2009 at 1:38 pm

    Lisa — Your point, as usual, is well taken. the Kumbaya approach anywhere consistently falls on its face. Helpin’ folks is one thing — hurting your own business is another entirely. This is where the concept of so-called transparency goes off the tracks. IMHO

    How transparent do you think I was with the content of my direct mail content when they produced an average income of $30-50K per mailing?

  16. Lisa Sanderson

    June 15, 2009 at 2:02 pm

    Who said anything about transparency? I’m talking about giving feedback and advice, and showing the public that we are professionals who don’t cut each others’ throats over sandwiches. You exaggerate my point, but there *is* a happy medium in there somewhere that just might make us all look better in the eyes of the public.

  17. BawldGuy

    June 15, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    Lisa — Should I then infer you reject Ken’s example of the iPhone?

  18. Lisa Sanderson

    June 15, 2009 at 2:34 pm

    Reject, no. However it is important to keep the point in perspective with the unique system of cooperative competition we have in the real estate business today. It’s more complicated than the us against them mentality of other businesses.

  19. Ken Brand

    June 15, 2009 at 6:31 pm

    Thanks for you comments. When I penned this puppy I thought might raise a brow or two.

    To clarify and bottom line my sentiment: Broker Open Houses have beneficial potential. Previewing listing inventory grows market knowledge. If I held a Broker’s Open House, I’d serve food and consider it a personal branding strategy in the real estate community. I DO feel that attending an open house for food is lame.

    Also, I’m going to expand on my Feedback Fau Pax or Kumbaya in next weeks post.

    Chris – Classic! “Thanks for the free food, can I give you feedback on what you should serve me next time?”

    Marcie – Good for you. At least pretend you’re there for the right reasons. You’re class sounds interesting. I’m going to write about “Showing Feedback” next week. I’d like to hear what you think of that.

    Joe – What? Please share….for the repeat offenders, staple it their forehead and forget the annon. My 2 cents.

    Tara – Thanks. Yep, it’s a great way to network and build relationships with the Realtor community. I’d hold them and do a great job at them. Plus as you shared, it can really impress the seller. Especially if I am able to wrangle a great turnout from all the top offices in the area. My point is exactly that, the people who are only attending for the food are helping smart agents out shine the average and ordinary. Crazy biz.

    Lesley – I would hold them too and I’d visit properties that would help grow my knowledge. I never leave feedback except for team members. Rock On:-)

    Chuck C – Whoa! Wait a minute, I want everyone to read my blog post. I think that most people read interesting blogs because they are either entertained or educated, they don’t read them for a cookie or a sandwich. I thin that attending B/O/H is a great way to expand market savvy and when it’s done for food alone, well, it’s short sited.

    Erion – Reminds me of the punch line, “Now that we know what you are, all we have to do is negotiate the price.” 😉

    Matt – Interesting thought, the power of “Crowd Creation”. I’m not advocating abolishing B/O/H, I’m not cool with the idea of viewing properties for a free bite to eat. I’m gonna write in more detail about “Showing Feedback” next week. I think it’s a tradition that most sellers, if they understood, would ask their agent to NOT help other sellers our position them.

    Matt – I practiced in Aspen for a year. I bet the spreads you speak of look shockingly as scrumptious.

    Gigi – Wow, that’s one tightly knit market you serve. Sounds to me like you’re doing the right thing where you are.

    Tim – I know. I had to really think it through. I double cocked and clutched a few time before pulling the “sheeple” trigger. In the end, I thought there wasn’t another word that would quite convey the sentiment. If you have a substitute, I’d love to hear it. I’ll hold in reserve the next time I’m fumbling.

    BawldGuy – Thanks for the compliment.

    Lisa – I’m looking forward to you’re post. Like you, I’m a believer in good karma, adding value to the community and lifting professionalism. I’m gonna expand on my “Feedback” take next week, my basic take is that a seller hires and agent and their brokerage to help them compete with other sellers for qualified buyers. If one of my team members or I help another broker’s sellers out position our sellers, I don’t think our sellers would thank us. I’m looking forward to hearing more from you on the subject – it’s an interesting topic with twists and turns and shades of grey. Sometimes I think that’s what makes it great and what makes it so lame too.

  20. Missy Caulk

    June 18, 2009 at 3:06 am

    Ken, if you don’t have food here, they don’t come.

    Well, the large brokerages have their own and ALL the new agents go to learn inventory. I did the first year in the business, but haven’t done it in many years.

  21. Paula Henry

    June 18, 2009 at 4:00 am

    We don’t have a lot of Broker Open Houses here since the state decided Title Companies could not help with the party.

    If there is no food, agents won’t come. So, do you spend hundreds of dollars to feed agents and get their opinion or is the money better spent on other marketing?

  22. Vicki Lloyd

    June 18, 2009 at 9:25 pm

    Broker opens seem to be a local custom – important in some areas, and not so much in others.

    When a new listing comes on the market that might fit my buyer, I get over there the first day to check it out, and wouldn’t consider waiting for broker open. Our usual showing instructions are to call first then go direct & use lockbox.

    In other areas, (more exclusive & expensive) where the norm for showing is appointment-only, no lockbox & listing agent to accompany all showings, the broker open is very important to both marketing a home and for buyer agents to become familiar with values.

    I used to do broker opens until I realized that only the hungry mooches who couldn’t afford to buy their lunch were coming. I find it a waste of my time, and tell my sellers why. (It hasn’t been an issue for me.)

  23. Allison

    June 9, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Wow, I have to say, as a non-realtor and past/potential future customer, your suggestions about using broker open houses to further your own selfish ends (promoting self and agency) over those of your COLLECTIVE customers serve to do nothing other than detract from the credibility of the industry in which you work.

    Your analogy about I-phones is flawed. Real estate is a cooperative industry, where you sell each others' products. Your competition's customers are also a potential source of revenue for you. If someone else's listing doesn't show well, providing that feedback might make it attractive to one of your buyers, and you could close a transaction and make a little money. Withholding feedback in hopes that your competition's numbers look worse (in stats that likely no one outside your industry pays any attention to) is at best childish and unprofessional. Don't you all benefit from a market where homes are priced well, show well, and thus sell well?

    Thanks for confirming my emerging view that the whole realtor thing is basically a self-serving racket that's very outdated in this internet age. If you didn't have a monopoly on the MLS, you'd have gone the way of travel agents.

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