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Real Estate Agents Beware: Cute Kids Are Lurking!

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Agents, beware! We all know children are darn cute…but they can do more damage than a Claymore mine. They are lurking everywhere, ready to set off small explosions while flashing irresistible, angelic grins. Be especially vigilant at open houses, or YOU may be the poor sucker who ends up on a milk carton. I offer you this report as proof:  

The Clock Was Ticking

Marcia is a dedicated real estate agent who tries very hard to balance her roles as mother and business woman. We all know that sometimes the real estate Gods are MIA or out playing eighteen holes, so sometimes the juggling becomes precarious. Thus was the plight of our friend, Marcia. 

 

Marcia was packing her van for a Brokers Open when the nanny called to say she could not make it. Marcia immediately called her husband, but he was on the golf course – apparently fraternizing with the irresponsible real estate gods – so he didn’t answer. Unable to rouse anyone else, she gathered up her adorable three year old son, Liam, and went off to show her listing.

 

 Marcia was setting out a luncheon and warming quiches when Liam decided the crayons in his pocket would improve the minimalist design of the kitchen walls. Upon discovering Liam’s bold mural, Marcia’s voice went from zero to sixty as she reprimanded the young artist (freedom of expression for younguns be damned) and told him to eighty-six the crayons. She then grabbed the cleanser and attempted to repair the wall. As distracted Marcia tried to remove the wax road map before her, the compliant child ditched his weapons. Unfortunately, he disposed of the crayons in the sink. Clever little guy. 

Beware the Silence 

Believing (foolishly) that disaster had been averted, Marcia went back to her prep work, peeling cucumbers and piling the peels in the sink.  Liam played with a toy that was loud enough to rouse the dead…but nothing was rousing Daddy. As “go” time was closing in, she ran the garbage disposal and checked the quiche. The disposal churned for a moment or two, and then it did a Hail Mary and decided to lie down and die. Marcia had no idea what had caused the contraption to expire until she noticed a Crayola paper amongst the remaining garbage. 

 

 Ever the patient mom, Marcia pressed her throbbing veins back into her temples. She dialed hubby again while instructing Liam that “Mommy really needs your help.” Hubby was still AWOL, and the real estate gods must have been doing shooters in the bar, because someone was concocting a disaster that could rival an Italian soccer match.

 

 Marcia hung up and frantically tried to clean up the septic hole that had once been a sink. Unable to find a straight jacket for herself or a cage for her child, she distracted Liam by telling him to watch out the window and tell her when any big people arrived at the scene. 

Be Careful What You Wish For 

The little fellow tried to help – he really did, but a three year old has different criteria for helping than us adult types do. For instance, did you know that if you spit on a window and then draw in the spit, you can make pictures? And if you wipe the slobber off, you can then make the window clean? Perhaps you didn’t know that one should not use the owner’s sofa pillow to wipe off the spit. It’s true. Drool pillows are only popular in retirement homes.

 

Marcia, flabbergasted at this point, yanked her little darling off the couch and gave him a serious lecture. Many tears later, while looking over her shoulder, little Van Gogh spotted the caravan arrivals and yelled, “Mommy, it’s time!” As luck would have it, it was PAST time for the quiches.

 

Marcia’s consciousness finally made room for the smell of burnt food in the kitchen. She ran to the rescue, only to discover that actual flames were coming out of the sides of the oven door. It seems Van Gogh also had delusions of growing up to be Emeril, because he had “helped” Mommy by turning up the oven knob to 450 degrees. Ah, what a cute little kid. 

A Sprinkle of This…A Sprinkle of That… 

 

Marcia pushed Liam to safety and yanked open the oven door. A cloud of smoke and flames licked the air like dragon’s breath. Marcia jumped back and reached for the sprayer from the sink. That’s when she first became aware of a feature in the house she had not noticed before. The house had a sprinkler system, thank you very much.

 

When the first agents arrived, they abruptly recoiled. The house was raining inside, smoke was rolling out of the oven, and Marcia had her kid in a choke hold. The visitors stepped aside in unison as Marcia ran toward the door with the little beast in tow and tears streaming down her face. Or was it just the unplanned shower that had left its liquid trails on her flushed cheeks?

 

According to Marcia, one heroic agent ran into the rain storm and duly put out the fire, while another called the fire department. Marcia thrust her delinquent child at an agent from her office and told the nonplussed agent to corral the kid before Mommy dismembered him.  Marcia then sat down on the patio for a good cry just as her phone began to ring. Hubby was finally calling, but no words were ever exchanged. Instead, she threw the phone across the yard and waited for a hunky fireman to show up to relieve her of her misery, her husband, her kid and her life. 

When the Dust Finally Settled: 

The sellers were very understanding, in spite of the crayons still stuck in the sink.  Insurance covered most of the damage, but I don’t believe it covered the anti-psychotic medicine Marcia considered taking, the new set of golf clubs to replace the ones Marcia threatened to break over hubby’s skull, or the reform schools she was researching when last contacted. 

Moral of the story: 

You are better off taking a panther to an open house than a three year old. Panthers don’t have opposable thumbs, so they cannot use crayons or turn up oven knobs. Panthers do not draw pictures in spit.  And your odds of survival are probably better – you can shoot a panther.

 

 Thanks to all my colleagues at Sotheby’s International Realty for their stories. For more Tales from the Trenches, be sure to visit SherlockofHomes.blogspot.com.

 

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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17 Comments

17 Comments

  1. Missy Caulk

    June 13, 2009 at 8:22 am

    So typical of 3 year olds. Funny but true.

  2. Kari Battaglia

    June 13, 2009 at 8:34 am

    I am a mother of 3 so I can relate but my stories don’t even come close to this one. Juggling work and children is definitely trying and sometimes requires medication!

  3. Gwen Banta

    June 13, 2009 at 12:47 pm

    At least with a three year old you can pick them up and hold them still…with a sixteen year old, all you can do is fill your martini glass 🙂

  4. Gwen Banta

    June 13, 2009 at 12:48 pm

    A mother of three deserves a medal, Kari – and a nap.

  5. Austin Smith - Goomzee.com

    June 15, 2009 at 10:35 am

    This is the scariest story I have read in a long time. “Ah the terrors of parenthood…”

  6. Gwen Banta

    June 15, 2009 at 1:48 pm

    Hi Austin (love the name) – On NewsGeni.us.com this week, there was a story about someone who pulled a prank at their neighbor’s open house by planting some pornographic objects in the house. It actually became a police investigation until the neighbor (who often traded pranks with the seller) finally confessed. These were adults – not children. I guess some kids NEVER grow up. At least you can sit on a three year old and hold them down until they surrender!

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Business Marketing

Snapchat’s study reveals our growing reliance on video

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Snapchat released a report that shows some useful insights for future video content creation.

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Snapchat is taking a break from restoring people’s streaks to publish a report on mobile video access; according to Social Media Today, the report holds potentially vital information about how customers use their mobile devices to view content.

And–surprise, surprise–it turns out we’re using our phones to consume a lot more media than we did six years ago.

The obvious takeaways from this study are listed all over the place, and not even necessarily courtesy of Snapchat. People are using their phones substantially more often than they have in the past five years, and with everyone staying home, it’s reasonable to expect more engagement and more overall screen time.

However, there are a couple of insights that stand out from Snapchat’s study.

Firstly, the “Stories” feature that you see just about everywhere now is considered one of the most popular–and, thus, most lucrative–forms of video content. 82 percent of Snapchat users in the study said that they watched at least one Snapchat Story every day, with the majority of stories being under ten minutes.

This is a stark contrast to the 52 percent of those polled who said they watched a TV show each day and the 49 percent who said they consumed some “premium” style of short-form video (e.g., YouTube). You’ll notice that this flies in the face of some schools of thought regarding content creation on larger platforms like YouTube or Instagram.

Equally as important is Snapchat’s “personal” factor, which is the intimate, one-on-one-ish atmosphere cultivated by Snapchat features. Per Snapchat’s report, this is the prime component in helping an engaging video achieve the other two pillars of success: making it relatable and worthy of sharing.

Those three pillars–being personal, relatable, and share-worthy–are the components of any successful “short-form” video, Snapchat says.

Snapchat also reported that of the users polled, the majority claimed Snapchat made them feel more connected to their fellow users than comparable social media sites (e.g., Instagram or Facebook). Perhaps unsurprisingly, the next-closest social media platform vis-a-vis interpersonal connection was TikTok–something for which you can probably see the nexus to Snapchat.

We know phone use is increasing, and we know that distanced forms of social expression were popular even before a pandemic floored the world; however, this report demonstrates a paradigm shift in content creation that you’d have to be nuts not to check out for yourself.

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Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.

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While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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Business Marketing

There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.

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The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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