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Un-Real Estate – The Caravan From Hell

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The Caravan From Hell

Yes, we have all had those caravans that were not exactly successful. But there reaches a point when a gal just wants to burn her license. My friend from Nelson Shelton told me a tragic story (hilarious to my sick mind, of course), about a Caravan gone so wrong that Right was just a burg in another galaxy. The agent had advertised, prepared a luncheon, purchased flowers, lit candles, and even said a few Hail Marys before getting her listing ready for the first Brokers Open.

Smoking Will Kill Ya!

The agent decided that a fire in the fireplace would be the final touch in setting the ambience. She lit the fire and went back to her food prep. When she smelled smoke, she realized that she had forgotten that little fireplace device called a ‘flue.’ The instant she opened it, something out of the depths of Hell flew past her face…something too dense to be smoke. In a moment of disbelief that could rival only a Hitchcock film, she looked up to see three bats overhead, freaking out from the smoke. Apparently they had taken the fastest path out of the chimney – the open flue – rather than the upper path to freedom. Or maybe they were just blinded by the smoke. The ratlike creatures were absolutely manic. She reckoned that the screams that were erupting from her prolapsed jaw were not helping matters.

Is There a Continuing Ed Course For This?

Being the brainy agent that she was, she grabbed a broom, opened the wall of French doors, and managed to scoot two of the flying vermin out of the house. Then came the showdown. The remaining bat hovered against a skylight, eyeing her coiffure with a taste for vengeance. In the nick of time, the first agent on caravan arrived at the scene of the disaster. Being the macho sort, he sized up the sitch, told the listing agent to grab a towel and stifle her screams, and then he mounted a chair. Carefully…oh so carefully, he grabbed the bat with the towel and ran for the door. By this time, he also was screaming like a girly-man. He threw the towel onto the patio, and waited for the bird to break free and head back to Lucifer’s den. The OK Corral had better results.

Some Visitors Just Can’t Take a Hint!

The bat had other plans. Its foot, or talon, or whatever those creepy things have attached to those vampire-like bodies, was stuck in the towel. It tried to launch itself, but the heavy towel kept the evil thing tethered. (Back off, PETA – no vermin was harmed in this rumble!) Now both agents were yelling as they helplessly watched the horror show. Soon a few more agents arrived (packing loaded business cards); and then the Police rushed in (armed with high-tech donuts, no doubt), having heard reports of screaming. Last to join the soiree was the seller, having been alerted at work by a neighbor who was sure a homicide had occurred in their normally tranquil neighborhood.

Eight Heads Are Not Always Better Than One

The cop offered to shoot the bat. (Joking) The agents all vied to sell it a condo. (Half-joking) And the seller was pissed about the Egyptian cotton towel used for extrication purposes. (Not joking) Finally one brave cop, not content to wait for Animal Control because his coffee was cooling in the squad car, approached the weary bat. Reluctant to use his pepper spray on such a breezy day, the Man of Law shook the towel a few times as everyone scattered, screamed, and looked for a nearby bush where they could empty the contents of their stomachs. But no could drag himself away from the adrenalin rush. More agents arrived, too curious to keep driving after seeing the squad car. (Hey – cops are prospects, too!) Finally the bat, having had about all he could take of the noise and hysteria, broke free and escaped. Alas, no one was quick enough to get his email address.

Moral of the Story

(Yes, Virginia, We Agents Still Have Morals.)
Check fireplaces before burning anything, especially the Living Evil. Carry your own towels – you never know when you may need to soak up something nasty. If you ever have bats in a fireplace – or anywhere – be sure to get the bat pre-qualified for a loan. In this economy, everything breathing is worth your time.

I wear several hats: My mink fedora real estate hat belongs to Sotheby’s International Realty on the world famous Sunset Strip. I’M not world famous, but I've garnered a few Top Producer credits along the way. I also wear a coonskin writer's cap with an arrow through it, having written a few novels and screenplays and scored a few awards there, too. (The arrow was from a tasteless critic.) My sequined turban is my thespian hat for my roles on stage, and in film and television, Dahling. You can check me out in all my infamy at LinkedIn, LAhomesite.com, SherlockOfHomes, IMDB or you can shoot arrows at my head via email. I can take it.

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Elaine Reese

    March 20, 2009 at 7:40 am

    Well, I’ve heard funny Realtor stories, but this one is the best! I truly empathize with the agent as I grew up in an old home that had bats in the attic. Occasionally they would get into the home. We did the screaming as well.

    Loved your embellishments!

  2. Matt Stigliano

    March 20, 2009 at 8:38 am

    If you ever have bats in a fireplace – or anywhere – be sure to get the bat pre-qualified for a loan. In this economy, everything breathing is worth your time.

    I finished reading your post about 5 minutes ago. Thanks to the above quoted lines, I’m still laughing.

    Thanks Gwen.

  3. Austin Smith - Goomzee.com

    March 20, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Ahaha nice work!! You have a gift for embellishment…not too much, not too little.

    …”By this time, he also was screaming like a girly-man.”…

    Look forward to reading more of your stories in the future!

  4. Melina Tomson

    March 21, 2009 at 8:11 pm

    This was hilarious. I look forward to future installements…

  5. Vicki Moore

    March 22, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Super excellent writing – what a hoot!

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Business Marketing

The Body Shop’s new policy is first come, first employed

(BUSINESS MARKETING) An issue that has been on a lot of peoples minds recently is fair hiring standards, be from sex, race, or age discrimination to former prisoners.

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The body shop hires prisoners

Anyone who has tried to get a job in the last decade can tell you that hiring is getting near dystopian. Everyone has heard jokes about needing 5 years of experience for an entry level job or the combined skillset of 3 positions to get one job. Things have gotten to the point where even some large companies are wondering if maybe hiring (and getting hired) shouldn’t be so complicated?

The Body Shop is making a radical change in the way they hire their retail employees this summer. They will be hiring on a first-come first-serve basis. Employees must meet three criteria to apply, but beyond that it’s open season – or “open hiring” as they are calling it.

1. Must be authorized to work in the U.S.
2. Can lift over 50lbs
3. Can stand for 8 hours

The company will not be performing drug tests or background checks for this “open hiring” round. The goal is to remove some of the barriers to entry for people seeking employment. This move will be hugely beneficial to the formerly incarcerated and people who have minor offenses on their record.

The Body Shop’s U.S. GM, Andrea Blieden, said, “When you give people access to something that they’re struggling to find, they’re very committed to working hard and keeping it.”

This isn’t the first time The Body Shop has tested out this hiring strategy. In December 2019, the company ran a pilot program at their distribution center. According to them, their employee turnover rate dropped from 43% to 16% and productivity improved.

This change could be equally beneficial to both employers and employees. According to PrisonPolicy.org, formerly incarcerated people are unemployed at a rate of 27%. To put that in perspective, that is higher than the overall national average during the Great Depression.

When established brands make big moves, people pay attention. If they continue to report success, The Body Shop’s hiring practices could be used as a case study for other businesses looking to shake up their hiring process. Perhaps in a few years, this type of hiring could become more common place among retailers.

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Business Marketing

Stay ahead by decluttering your Instagram accounts with this new feature

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Get a head start on your spring cleaning with Instagram’s newest feature. It may become your favorite way to views others accounts.

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instagram accounts

In a plot twist you weren’t expecting this week, Instagram is looking to make your life a little easier. Their newest app update includes a feature that groups accounts you follow into curated lists such as most and least interacted with or earliest followed to latest.

If you’ve ever looked at the number of people you follow on Instagram and wondered, “who the heck are these people?” then this update will make your heart sing. Instagram has been around for 10 years now, so it’s understandable that some of our follower lists have gotten a little out of control. Your friends and interests shift over time and it can be difficult to find time to actively curate your social media accounts.

Working with this new feature is simple. To access it just head on over to your Instagram profile and click “Following.” You should see a couple of categories above the list of accounts you follow. As an added bonus, you can also change the sort feature on your follower list. It can be set to show oldest accounts followed first or latest accounts firsts.

instagram accounts

For entrepreneurs and freelancers who don’t have the luxury of a full social media team (or any team at all) small features like this can be a game changer. If this feature sparks you to finally clean up your Instagram, here are a few questions to ask yourself when you’re trying to decide who to keep and who to unfollow.

Why did you originally follow this account?

Does this account still serve your business interests?

What was your main purpose behind following this account? As a business owner you might follow an account on Instagram for any number of strategic reasons. Perhaps this account is a fellow business owner in your area, but they’ve since closed their doors. Chances are you’ll find more than one of these cases in your least interacted with group.

Were you looking for business advice or inspiration? When you’re just starting out with your business, you might have followed a few accounts that aimed to give advice to new business owners. Well, if you’ve been doing this for a few years, you probably already know the basic advice these types of accounts are pushing. It’s time to move on.

Do you know this account IRL? Maybe your business has moved locations or changed niche in the last few years. You might have made some great connections with fellow business owners back in the day, but you may no longer run in the same circles. If you know the person who runs the account IRL and you still want to stay connected there are two options. You can either go follow them on your personal account or you can continue following, but mute the account so it doesn’t clog up your Instagram feed.

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Business Marketing

2020 marketing calendar – plan this year’s marketing strategy

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Have you ever wondered when is the best time for your ad campaign, well look no further. This marketing calendar has every event listed, even weird ones.

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When you work for a small business or non-profit, marketing is one of those essential tools that can make a difference in your monthly bottom line or fundraising take. And yet it’s often a challenge for busy owners and employees to find — and take advantage of — fresh promotion opportunities.

Add this to your toolkit… a 2020 Marketing Calendar from the team at Liramail, making note of big events and days that you can use online and IRL to engage customers and donors.

February marketing calendar

Some dates are obvious… major holidays, for instance, particularly the gift-giving ones. But you can find success around other events as well. The Central Texas Food Bank uses the Super Bowl as a driver for one of their most visible annual events, the “Souper Bowl of Caring.” On a smaller scale this year, restaurants and shops around the Austin area and all over the country used January 25, Australia Day, to raise funds for bushfire relief—drawing customers into their businesses, creating community ties and doing good all at once.

This marketing calendar compiles dates both big and small, providing plenty of opportunities for tie-ins and promotions. Running a clothing boutique? Play with Fashion Week. Looking for a good cause to support? World Wildlife Day and International Women’s Day are just a few weeks away. Valentine’s Day, Mardi Gras, St. Patrick’s Day… and that’s all just in the next six weeks.

The calendar is as useful for engaging your social media audience as it is promoting IRL events. You don’t have to own a pizza place to make a post with your team celebrating International Pizza Day and quizzing your followers on their favorite topping. You don’t have to be a veterinarian to turn Love Your Pet Day into a way to engage people by encouraging them to share photos of their pets.

And if you do have a direct tie? Absolutely use it. Each March, for instance, the small Austin well-building non-profit Water to Thrive observes World Water Day with a quick Facebook fundraiser. One of the Austin-area businesses that participated in Australia Day, Bee Cave coffeehouse/boutique Runaway Luna Lifestyle, did so because of family ties there, raising several thousand dollars with an in-store event and social media promotion of a GoFundMe fundraiser.

So page through the marketing calendar, making notes of days that you can take advantage of. And don’t forget, if you’re inspired to create an in-store event or other promotion, be ready for it. Get the initial date on the calendar, and then work backwards to create a long-range plan to support your event. Check your inventory, possibly looking for related items to feature. Book your advertising, draft your newsletter, schedule your social posts. Let your audience know that something special is coming up.

Have fun with it. Add your own dates. Whether you zero in on Talk Like a Pirate Day or Make a Difference Day, you can create new opportunities for your business or non-profit and for your customers as well.

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