Pushing the River
It is sometimes amazing how it lightens one’s load to find out that you weren’t alone in having a particular problem. The downside of course is if one is seeking agreement on having that problem the people they find in agreement with the problem can become a support group for the problem. And that can equal agreement with being a victim. Not really where I am wanting to go with this thought. I’ve written before that from the time the Phoenix market crashed at the end of August last year until March of this year I had to feed my business a bit over $500,000. I didn’t like it but wasn’t really concerned. My wife and I had dinner Friday night with one of the other most successful agents in Arizona (also a couple) and she confided that they were out of pocket just over $300,000 for the same time period. They work a higher price range than we do (their average sale is 550k, mine is 250k) and they didn’t have to start feeding their business until November. We got hit earlier as our price range was instantly effected by the sub-prime meltdown. Well, we went into the black in April and so did they. Not for the year but for the month of April. Home sales in Phoenix were up April 2008 over April 2007. That is the first time that kind of stat has been true for over a year. When you have a really big operation (read: marketing based) you can get a nice rise from a rising market. You can also get a brutally big bump from a falling market. None of this is to suggest that one’s stats are not caused by themselves. But none of us personally pushes the river.
When one’s business is based on prospecting they can turn it around much much faster than if marketing based. Surveys are the key to stats. That is such an important concept that if you were to memorize it and learn to teach it to others it would be a good thing. Surveys are the key to stats. When you are marketing or selling anything – if successful – you are delivering a message or making an offer that the public you are trying to reach will respond to. If you are offering the "wrong" thing (they don’t think it is valuable) your efforts won’t be successful. If what you are offering is what they want – success. For example, I am currently promoting "we can sell your home even when others are giving up". In today’s market that is an acceptable message. If I were to have run an ad like that three years ago it would have been absurd. Most cab drivers could have sold a home in the market we had three years ago. So when the phone stops ringing it isn’t that "marketing no longer works", it is the "button" or offer being made isn’t current any longer. When you are talking to someone it is almost instantly obvious if what you are saying "doesn’t survey well with them". You can change your message on the spot. All agents successfully listing and selling homes are quite skilled at doing these "surveys". They just have never thought of what they were doing as gathering survey data. It is faster and easier to change your message if your communication is mostly live. Finding the correct buttons for a marketing campaign takes much longer, not to mention the ad production time.
The Truth Is…
Agents all across the country have taken a beating this last year. And many of them have felt like they were in the wilderness all alone. Most agents don’t have accurate data on what other agents and companies are doing. As most real estate agents tend to present themselves as "I’m really really really successful" – even when they are not – there can sometimes be a very false picture. The agent knows they aren’t doing very well (compared to how they were doing) but doesn’t have that same subjective reality on how the other fellow is doing. I am surprised when I answer someone about my stats and they experience relief that "I was honest". They had been talking to agents who were telling them, "I’m doing great". We all like to think of ourselves as buzzing along like the green line on the graph up top. Truth is almost all of us – when highly successful – have stat graphs that look much more like the red line. Periods of survive, followed by periods of thrive. We make the bulk of our money during the thrive periods, when the stats are moving up. The goal isn’t to have a great year. The goal is to have a great career.
Imagine the Discount Brokerages
If you think traditional Realtors have had it rough imagine what it is like for the discount real estate companies. In my area, with my stats way down (a little over 75 million production in the past 12 months) my group outsells all of the Help U Sell offices here combined. They have 14 offices (that someone is paying rent on) showing in our MLS and my group does more business than all 14 of them combined – and this is a national company. The small discount companies aren’t even doing that well.
Thrive – Survive – Thrive
Lower commissions aren’t the "thing" now. Results. Can you sell my house? Do what you have to do, learn what you need to learn to be able to convince a seller to price their house correctly, so you can answer that question, "YES", and you too will see that your very best years are yet ahead of you, not behind you. Survive until you can thrive.