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Daddy Dearest

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My relationship with my broker is like a father and his 15-year-old.  He makes a point; I look for a way to argue it.  I used to believe everything he said; then I grew up.  The problem with his opinion is that he’ll take it to his grave.  His belief for a time was that postcards were the way to success.  Not making enough money?  Mail more postcards.  Still not making enough money?  Mail more often to more people. 

He hated cold calling, door knocking and open houses.  Stupid waste of time.  Then I got a listing as a result of an open house.  The sellers were jumping from open to open one Sunday interviewing agents.  What a concept.  Not having my consumer hat on, I hadn’t thought of that.  I did cold call for awhile.  I don’t have the stomach for it, so it didn’t last.  Door knocking?  I really enjoy that.  I’ve met a lot of super people and it’s great exercise.  It’s amazing how much nicer they are when you’re standing at the door.

Then open houses became the way to make money.  Not making enough money?  Do an open house.  Weekend open house.  Weekday open house.  Twilight open house.  Lunch time open house.  He suggested that my business plan should include 15 hours a week of open houses. 

Cold call?  That’s disgusting.  How intrusive, annoying and agressive.

Don’t do business with family.  They’ll hate you no matter what you do.  You’re too involved to be able to advise them professionally.

Then he jumped on the Buffini bandwagon.  Got the whole company involved.  48 agents were taking the 100 Days to Greatness class.  Oops.  Buffini says hit up your family – backpedal on that one. 

Not making enough money?  Notes.  Notes are the way to make money.  Write lots of personal notes.

Not making enough money?  Pop-bys.  Pop-bys are the way to make money. 

Floor time?  Doesn’t matter that you’re sitting at a desk anyway.  Oh, you got a sale from a walk-in?  So what.  Stupid waste of time.

Business cards!  That’s the answer.  Standing in line at Starbuck’s?  Hand out your card to everyone in line.  After the meeting, hordes of attendees run over to get coffee and scare the crap out of the barista.

My answer to making money is a multi-thronged approach.  I like variety.  I get bored easily.  I recently read that 70% of my time should be involved in prospecting.  So I call my clients regularly.  Send birthday, anniversary, house purchase anniversary cards.  I send a monthly newsletter – used to do the Buffini CAP, but I got bored with that one and changed to a newsletter promoting not only myself but my clients’ businesses.  That’s a fun one.  Client dinners/parties are awesome fun; inviting several clients to have a chance to meet each other and have a great time too.  

Still not making enough money?  Maybe I should reconsider those 15 hours of open houses.

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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8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. ines

    December 19, 2007 at 9:02 am

    I wonder what your broker has to say about Blogging.

    I agree with you – it’s about variety and finding a balance. If you rely on one method to get business, you will be left in the dark standing by yourself twiddling your thumbs.

  2. Mariana

    December 19, 2007 at 3:11 pm

    Oh! I like to do all kinds of stuff. Mix it up a bit, as I get bored too. I am pretty consistent about our newsletter: I always have some random trivia question where I give away free gas. That is fun. I will go door-to-door in may farm/neighborhood, but nowhere else. I can’t cold call. Not in my nature. Charity involvement is one of my favorite (benign) ways of working my business into my life …

  3. Wade Young

    December 19, 2007 at 10:30 pm

    One of my plans for 2008 is to call accountants, financial planners and family attorneys. I got started a little early, so I’ve already had meetings with quite a few professionals. NO ONE is calling these people. Right now they are referring business to some guy or gal they met at a tips group — no one they really have an established relationship with. I am a mortgage broker, but it might work for realtors too.

  4. Vicki Moore

    December 20, 2007 at 1:59 pm

    Ines: I had to explain to him what blogging is. 🙂 I’m glad you agree with variety. I made the mistake of focusing my business on first time buyers; doing classes, etc. Ooops. Not working well for me right now.

    Mariana: Free gas!?! That must be so popular. Very fresh idea.

    Wade: Funny you mention that. I’ve actually made it a plan for next year to contact divorce and probate attorneys. Glad to hear you’re getting some action from it.

  5. P in CO

    December 20, 2007 at 4:48 pm

    Mariana, how do I get on your newsletter. I’d like to win free gas!

  6. Mariana

    December 20, 2007 at 7:26 pm

    Vicki – I only give away $20-$25 worth of gas, but in this gas economy, every little bit helps! You know, it HAS become rather hard to find Gas Gift Cards though …

  7. Vicki Moore

    December 21, 2007 at 9:23 pm

    Only! It’s a great gift.

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Business Finance

How to survive a recession in the modern economy

(OPINION EDITORIAL) Advice about surviving a recession is common these days, but its intended audience can leave a large gap in application.

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There’s no question of whether or not we’re in a recession right now, and while some may debate the severity of this recession in comparison to the last major one, there are undoubtedly some parallels–something Next Avenue’s Elizabeth White highlights in her advice on planning for the next few months (or years).

Among White’s musings are actionable strategies that involve forecasting for future layoffs, anticipating age discrimination, and swallowing one’s ego in regards to labor worth and government benefits like unemployment.

White isn’t wrong. It’s exceptionally important to plan for the future as much as possible–even when that plan undergoes major paradigm shifts a few times a week, at best–and if you can reduce your spending at all, that’s a pretty major part of your planning that doesn’t necessarily have to be subjected to those weekly changes.

However, White also approaches the issue of a recession from an angle that assumes a few things about the audience–that they’re middle-aged, relatively established in their occupation, and about to be unemployed for years at a time. These are, of course, completely reasonable assumptions to make…but they don’t apply to a pretty large subset of the current workforce.

We’d like to look at a different angle, one from which everything is a gig, unemployment benefits aren’t guaranteed, and long-term savings are a laughable concept at best.

White’s advice vis-a-vis spending is spot-on–cancelling literally everything you can to avoid recurring charges, pausing all non-essential memberships (yes, that includes Netflix), and downgrading your phone plan–it’s something that transcends generational boundaries.

In fact, it’s even more important for this generation than White’s because of how frail our savings accounts really are. This means that some of White’s advice–i.e., plan for being unemployed for years–isn’t really feasible for a lot of us.

It means that taking literally any job, benefit, handout, or circumstantial support that we can find is mandatory, regardless of setbacks. It means that White’s point of “getting off the throne” isn’t extreme enough–the throne needs to be abolished entirely, and survival mode needs to be implemented immediately.

We’re not a generation that’s flying all over the place for work, investing in real estate because it’s there, and taking an appropriate amount of paid time off because we can; we’re a generation of scrappy, gig economy-based, paycheck-to-paycheck-living, student debt-encumbered individuals who were, are, and will continue to be woefully unprepared for the parameters of a post-COVID world.

If you’re preparing to be unemployed, you’re recently unemployed, or you even think you might undergo unemployment at some point in your life, start scrapping your expenses and adopt as many healthy habits as possible. Anything goes.

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Opinion Editorials

How strong leaders use times of crises to improve their company’s future

(EDITORIAL) We’re months into the COVID-19 crisis, and some leaders are still fumbling through it, while others are quietly safeguarding their company’s future.

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Anthony J. Algmin is the Founder and CEO of Algmin Data Leadership, a company helping business and technology leaders transform their future with data, and author of a new book on data leadership. We asked for his insights on how a strong leader can see their teams, their companies, their people through this global pandemic (and other crises in the future). The following are his own words:

Managers sometimes forget that the people we lead have lives outside of the office. This is true always, but is amplified when a crisis like COVID-19 occurs. We need to remember that our job is to serve our teams, to help them be as aligned and productive as possible in the short and long terms.

Crises are exactly when we need to think about what they might be going through, and realize that the partnership we have with our employees is more than a transaction. If we’ve ever asked our people to make sacrifices, like working over a weekend without extra pay, we should be thinking first about how we can support them through the tough times. When we do right by people when they really need it, they will run through walls again for our organizations when things return to normal.

Let them know it’s okay to breathe and talk about it. In a situation like COVID-19 where everything is disrupted and people are now adjusting to things like working from home, it is naturally going to be difficult and frustrating.

The best advice is to encourage people to turn off the TV and stop frequently checking the news websites. As fast as news is happening, it will not make a difference in what we can control ourselves. Right now most of us know what our day will look like, and nothing that comes out in the news is going to materially change it. If we avoid the noisy inputs, we’ll be much better able to focus and get our brains to stop spinning on things we can’t control.

And this may be the only time I would advocate for more meetings. If you don’t have at least a daily standup with your team, you should. And encourage everyone to have a video-enabled setup if at all possible. We may not be able to be in the same room, but the sense of engagement with video is much greater than audio-only calls.

We also risk spiraling if we think too much about how our companies are struggling, or if our teams cannot achieve what our organizations need to be successful. It’s like the difference in sports between practice and the big game. Normal times are when we game plan, we strategize, and work on our fundamentals. Crises are the time to focus and leave it all on the field.

That said, do not fail to observe and note what works well and where you struggle. If you had problems with data quality or inefficient processes before the crisis, you are not fixing them now. Pull out the duct tape and find a way through it. But later, when the crisis subsides, learn from the experience and get better for next time.

Find a hobby. Anything you can do to clear your head and separate work from the other considerations in your life. We may feel like the weight of the world is on our shoulders, and without a pressure release we will not be able to sustain this level of stress and remain as productive as our teams, businesses, and families need us.

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Opinion Editorials

Declutter your quarantine workspace (and brain)

(EDITORIAL) Can’t focus? Decluttering your workspace can help you increase productivity, save money, and reduce stress.

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It’s safe to say that we’ve all been spending a lot more time in our homes these last few months. This leads us to fixate on the things we didn’t have time for before – like a loose doorknob or an un-alphabetized bookshelf.

The same goes for our workspaces. Many of us have had to designate a spot at home to use for work purposes. For those of you who still need to remain on-site, you’ve likely been too busy to focus on your surroundings.

Cleaning and organizing your workspace every so often is important, regardless of the state of the world, and with so much out of our control right now, this is one of the few things we can control.

Whether you’re working from a home office or an on-site office, take some time for quarantine decluttering. According to The Washington Post, decluttering can increase your productivity, lower stress, and save money (I don’t know about you, but just reading those three things makes me feel better already).

Clutter can cause us to feel overwhelmed and make us feel a bit frazzled. Having an office space filled with piles of paper containing irrelevant memos from five years ago or 50 different types of pens, has got to go – recycle that mess and reduce your stress. The same goes with clearing files from your computer; everything will run faster.

Speaking of running faster, decluttering and creating a cleaner workspace will also help you be more efficient and productive. Build this habit by starting small: try tidying up a bit at the end of every workday, setting yourself up for a ready-to-roll morning.

Cleaning also helps you take stock of stuff that you have so that you don’t end up buying more of it. Create a designated spot for your tools and supplies so that they’re more visible – this way, you’ll always know what you have and what needs to be replenished. This will help you stop buying more of the same product that you already have and save you money.

So, if you’ve been looking to improve your focus and clearing a little bit of that ‘quarantine brain’, start by getting your workspace in order. You’ll be amazed at how good it feels to declutter and be “out with the old”; you may even be inspired to do the same for your whole house. Regardless, doing this consistently will create a positive shift in your life, increasing productivity, reducing stress, and saving you money.

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