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Op/Ed

Everything the tech gurus are telling you is bullshit

Tech gurus have fun tools to sell you and tricks to teach you, but I can tell you first hand that it’s mostly bullshit.

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technology

I am known as a technologist. An avowed geek. An unapologetic adopter of shiny new objects. My passion is finding out how technology – specifically the internet, can make my job better, faster, and more profitable. It is also figuring out how the consumer intersects with the internet and how I can leverage this to create more business.

In years past, I bet heavily on internet lead generation, customer relationship management (CRM) systems, and video email marketing. I researched the best platforms and practices, sought the counsel of the foremost experts, and hired the best talent.

I had some great wins and surprising losses this year. I’ll get into that in a bit… but I realized that the real estate industry often markets tech on the internet as a replacement for human connection, as a convenience for the agent, and as a crutch for a basic lack of knowledge and expertise. In the real estate industry, technology is marketed as a shortcut to profits and that is complete bullshit.

Fair warning- this post is likely to get you riled up and deny that any of it applies to you. That’s cool. It probably doesn’t, so move along. I am not trying to derail your successful train. But this category of business tools creates stress for a lot of agents who feel left behind or “less than.”

About those gurus on stage at your favorite conferences

Listen to the gurus on stage and the vendors hawking their wares. According to them, the internet can provide a never ending source of people who want to buy and sell (leads). It can eliminate the need to chase signatures or show homes. It can sell homes without the need to open it to strangers or tell you a home’s value instantly and automatically.

Wow. Get clients without dealing with real time rejection. Show and sell homes with no physical effort. Find values with no expertise or local knowledge. Makes you wonder what human Realtors are going to do. Flip burgers, maybe?

Internet-based tools are an amazing enhancement to traditional skills and techniques, but it is often promoted as the miracle cure and wholesale replacement of skills and knowledge. I call this bullshit – but our industry is buying it.

The enticement of internet lead generation

Let’s start with internet lead generation. The surface promise is very enticing. Write a check and get a never ending stream of people interested in real estate who have given up their contact information. No physical effort. No skill required. No face to face rejection. Who wouldn’t sign up for that program?

But here is the problem. It takes a lot of money to do internet lead generation effectively. It takes a lot of resources to follow up and it generally takes time to create a sale. When you factor in all of these resources, internet lead generation is far sexier on paper than in practice.

Now, this does not mean lead generation isn’t a viable way to run a business. But it is best done in a team setting with proper resources to handle these leads effectively. In a team setting, internet lead generation is less likely to divert attention away from relationship building. And, for a single agent it is a very dangerous place to “bet the farm”.

So I can pay more but get the same results?

The number of portals and agents competing for attention increases every month, so the resources required to stay level will also increase. This means it continually takes more money to get the same result… and this is where I call bullshit. The average agent is only seeing the tiny fraction of people making a profit from internet lead generation and they have no clue how costly internet lead generation actually is.

And that is another problem. How many agents use internet lead generation as a replacement for the much less “sexier” work of face to face prospecting? My guess is quite a few. I’ll confess. I tried replacing my traditional prospecting with a lead generation site. It was bullshit.

Another bullshit problem: social media

Here’s another technology coming between the consumer and the agent. Facebook, Twitter, and email marketing- loosely categorized as social media. When used as an easy, thoughtless, broadcast machine (as most agents do) the agent is following the idea that being seen- frequently- is the way to make the phones ring.

Agents have been doing this sort of “look at me!” advertising with postcards and print advertising for years. However, print cost lots of money and most will give some thought and attention before doing each piece. Social media is essentially free and nearly effortless, allowing agents to completely alienate their audience with their avalanche of tone deaf posts and emails.

Now, at least this stuff is nearly free and the agent has resources left over for traditional relationship building. But, how much damage is done to potential real life relationships with poor and uninformed social media tactics? The bullshit part is that free and easy should not mean tacky, thoughtless and loud.

E-sigs aren’t the next coming of Christ

Here’s another thing. I thought electronic contracts and e-signatures were the best technology tool since sliced bread. And, used properly, it still is. Contracts can be signed at the consumer’s convenience and that can be a huge benefit for busy lives. All too often, though, e-signatures serve the agent or brokerage more than the client. There are situations where the client is best served with an in-depth explanation of the documents, but they are given an e-signature package instead.

This was one of my hardest realizations – I was completely guilty of choosing convenience over great representation. I told myself it was for the convenience of the client, but it really made my job a lot easier. This is not cool, it is bullshit.

I love technology, but…

Now, don’t get me wrong. I am still the technology fan girl you know and love. But with each passing day, I am convinced that a lasting and enduring business is made with an authentic connection to the people in my community. Technology simply gives me the opportunity to make more of those connections.

I meet and interact with hundreds of people on local Facebook groups and these interactions have led to wonderful real life meetings and lasting relationships. It is an amazing and efficient layer to my traditional community building and prospecting. But it is a layer. Nattering on Facebook all day long does NOT create enough engagement to create a business.

So, what were my wins?

I used technology to publish my internal checklists to my clients, bringing a new level of transparency and accountability to our transactions.

I went deep on an unreasonable number of CRM systems and I am getting close to having a system that enhances both the creation of business as well as the transaction.

I went even deeper into the concept of the paperless office. There are a lot of benefits to a paperless office, but for the consumer, it means anyone on my team can answer any question, anytime, anywhere.

And my losses?

What were my losses? The biggest loss was my investment in internet lead generation, and that was a real surprise. I invested heavily in the platform, in the tools and in the human resources necessary to make a profit.

I learned what it takes to make this business strategy work, but I also learned that I would rather use my resources to build a local community.

Another “loss” was the lesson learned on e-signatures. I have retooled my process to make sure that certain critical points in the process- the purchase contract, escrow instructions and going over disclosures, are no longer a simple e-signature packet.

Moving forward – join me?

As I enter the next year, I am focused on a few principles. Belly to belly rules. Technology done right is invisible. Build a community to build long term trust. Make a difference.

Wanna join me?

This story was originally published in January 2015.

Kendyl Young is Division Chief at DIGGS, and an industry veteran. She has been named to the Inman 100 Most Influential Real Estate Leaders, contributed to industry books and speaks about social media and technology. However, her purpose is to help people buy or sell their perfect home in Glendale, La Canada and La Crescenta, CA.

Op/Ed

10 small things you can do for your business while Netflixing

We know the holidays are a time to relax, but before normal working hours have returned, you can still do things for your business in between episodes on Netflix. Here’s 10 simple things that won’t cut into your holiday.

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For many real estate agents, the holidays can slow business down. It’s time for some #ProductivityAndChill.

Instead of spending all day binge-watching Hulu or Netflix, in between every episode take 10 to 15 minutes to do something for your business. Here are some great ideas for things that don’t take long, but provide some long-lasting benefits.

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Productivity and chill

1. Get inspired by your favorite websites. Where do you like to shop or get your news information? Browse through their site with one purpose in mind, to see why it draws you in and how you can implement their methods into your own business.

2. Catch up on the news. Read some articles here or at The American Genius that you might have overlooked or passed by because you thought they didn’t pertain to you. Keeping up with various industries can benefit you.

3. Use your social media tools to set up posts on Twitter or Facebook.

4. Improve your webpages by writing new product descriptions or to optimize images for SEO.

5. Go through the App Store to find new apps which can help make your life easier.

6. Learn to use a new social media platform to reach out to new customers.

7. Go through your social media feed. See what people are talking about and what’s trending. Make notes when you get inspiration.

8. Clean up the documents in your laptop. Organize them more effectively so you can always find what you need.

9. Clean up your email. Unsubscribe from newsletters that you don’t ever look at. Delete messages that are old. Set up folders to save information that you may need at a later date.

10. Customize your email. Set it up to pre-sort emails into different folders to allow you to work more productively when you get back to work after the New Year.

These little tasks can eat away at your time when you’re busy trying to get things done, but when you’re relaxed and just want to feel more productive, take a few minutes to do something that won’t overtask your brain, but needs to be done to keep you more organized throughout your week.

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Op/Ed

How calendars can stop your procrastination, boost productivity

(PRODUCTIVITY) As the old method of pen-to-paper planning comes back in style, see how its use can help with time management.

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writing pen paper productivity

My favorite part of writing for this publication, by far, is the fact that it always has me keeping my eyes and ears open for inspiration. The simplest comment from a friend can snowball into an idea that becomes beneficial to others.

Such was the case this past weekend when my best friend, Haley, stopped by to help me unpack my new house. Haley is a graduate student, pursuing a master’s in interpersonal communication, and is a much smarter version of myself.

We got to talking about what was on tap for Haley’s final semester and she told me about a workshop she’s creating for the graduate school on the topic of how using planners/calendars helps with time management. The girl has an affinity for pen-to-paper planners, and has created an organizational structure for her daily life through their use.

Naturally, I thought, “hey, sometimes I attempt to give people advice on time management and planning, let’s bounce some ideas off of each other.” Haley then gave me a rundown of the bullet points she’s planning on covering for her interactive workshop.

1) Take everything as it comes. As a new task pops up, put it down on your calendar (whether paper or electronic) so that you don’t forget to do it later.

2) With these tasks, schedule deadlines for yourself. It can be tough to be self-motivate and have tasks completed by your own assignment. However, putting them down in writing will help you stick to them.

Only work on something if you’re being productive. If you stop being productive, you should take a step back and work on something else for a while,” says Haley. “This is why my personal deadlines help because it makes me work harder but I still have my own time.”

3) Schedule out your week starting with events that you cannot change. Start by writing down your work schedule, then appointments, meetings, etc. Then schedule in tasks that have more flexibility in time.

4) After doing this, take all of these tasks and prioritize what must be completed first and assess how much time each task will take. Be sure to give yourself an appropriate amount of time for each task.

5) For bigger projects, considering breaking them down a bit. “For bigger projects I break it down into steps, normally using a concept map to understand the core aspects of my task and what needs to be accomplished within each of those to make it more digestible,” says Haley. “Once I have the pieces, I place the pieces into my weekly schedule of events I cannot change.”

All of the pieces of this puzzle come together to create a calendar that will help you juggle every aspect of your life and boost your productivity. By implementing these ideas in my own planning, it has definitely helped me to become more of a self-starter.

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Op/Ed

5 reasons teaching your kid magic could inspire them to become a Realtor

(EDITORIAL) Teaching your child could inspire their career track, perhaps even inviting them to follow in your footsteps!

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magic

There’s nothing quite like a good magic trick. You know there must be a solution, an easy explanation, but putting your finger on exactly what sleight of hand just happened can prove difficult with a seasoned magician. If you are the magician, you know it takes a great deal of practice, confidence, and persistence to keep an audience engaged in your magical wonders.

As captivating as magical skills are, many of the same skills that make a great magician, also make for a great Realtor®!

Here are five amazing ways learning magic as a child (or adult) can actually help someone become a successful real estate professional:

1. Build confidence

To skillfully and successfully pull off any feat of magic, you must have confidence in what you’re doing. No sleight of hand or magical illusion will be effective without the confidence of the magician. By practicing magic, you are in fact, practicing and reinforcing confidence both within yourself and your audience. A confident magician will create a confident audience – an audience that believes the magician is capable of impossible illusions, magical machinations, and captivating concealments.

This same skill set can be applied to real estate. You must have confidence in your ability to find the right home for your client. The ability to foster your clients’ trust is essential, or they will likely go elsewhere because let’s face it, the competition in the real estate world is nothing short of fierce. Starting your children out early in something like magic, builds confidence and having confidence in any industry they choose to venture into is always a good thing.

2. Hone social skills

Again, look at the audience – a good magician will have an audience practically mesmerized. The audience will be so transfixed on what the magician is doing or saying, they miss the sleight of hand. A good magician can read their audience. They know what the audience expects and will deliver appropriately. Many magicians also become well-versed in the art of nonverbal communication as well; reading people’s body language and social cues are an important part of an effective magic illusion.

Not surprising, these skills are also part of being an effective salesperson. A good Realtor will know and understand their clients’ requirements for a home, their budget, and how to effectively get them to their end goal with the fewest obstacles. Interacting with an audience is much the same as interacting with clients daily; be personable, be confident, and know your stuff.

3. Develop an eye for detail

Along with improved dexterity from manipulating cards and coins, magic routines can help improve hand eye coordination, timing, reflexes, as well as develop an eye for details. As new tricks are mastered, the eye becomes more sensitive to details of the objects being used and the magician’s surroundings. The same keen eye can readily be applied to real estate.

An attention to detail can help when staging homes, gauging your clients’ reactions to their surroundings, minimizing errors on contracts, and ensuring your safety when entering a new area. Attention to details means less errors, which in turn means happier clients and more sales completed – a win-win recipe.

4. Research

One area that you may be surprised to learn that magic can help you improve upon is research. Magicians are constantly researching new tricks to add to their routines or watching other magicians perform to see if they can implement any of their gestures or tactics to their own routines. After all, we wouldn’t remember Houdini as the greatest of all time if current magicians weren’t constantly reinventing and revisiting his tricks.

In real estate, you may be researching what your fiercest competitor is doing differently that you might be able to adapt. Are they using a different marketing platform? Are they networking in a different manner? Is there something they’re doing (or not doing) that might make a difference in your sales figures? The ability to research an adapt is another great tool to have in your box of skills.

5. Self-discipline and an ability to take criticism

When you’re first learning any new hobby, you typically “practice” on your family. They give you constructive criticism and you take that criticism and use it to improve. The more you practice, the better you get. After a bit of practice, you’re ready to give another practice run. Through continually trying to improve your skills, you’re learning self-discipline as well as the ability to accept and implement constructive criticism.

These are both skills that are necessary to excel in the professional world. You must continually hone your craft if you want to continue to excel. Continuing education, professional seminars, and workshops all exist so professionals can receive criticism on what they’re currently doing and learn what they might do better to improve themselves and their business. While you’re never too old to learn, beginning to lay the foundation for these skills in your youth with a simple hobby like magic, could be giving you more than just a way to entertain friends and family.

The takeaway:

Magic isn’t just for children; it’s never too late to have another hobby. If you’ve never dabbled in magic before, you might find you really enjoy it. If nothing else, you may find that magic teaches you and/or your children some patience, coordination, or at least a few good laughs. If magic teaches you nothing else, remember what Rumpelstiltskin said, “all magic comes with a price” and so does real estate – so hone your skills with some magical fun; you never know when it’ll come in handy!

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