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Op/Ed

Ratings companies have evolved into two camps that couldn’t be more opposite

(EDITORIAL) The ratings and reviews game has evolved considerably in recent years, and now, two clear camps have emerged… which do you think is better for consumers?

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five star wars ratings

Nearly every industry today is either participating in or being assessed by ratings and reviews. It’s what consumers want – it has become a consumer-centric fundamental.

Because time is scarce, consumers are increasingly seeking what they hope are reliable, trusted sources that collect and post both product and service experiences of real customers. The idea is that having access to the actual experience of others will lead to making better, more informed decisions and choices in selecting their next product or service provider.

In meeting this consumer interest, a pursuit of five star ratings has created a Star Wars battle line with two distinct camps:

  • Marketing Spin Camp – best foot forward, filtered results, selected feedback, and heavy bias of positive news
  • Transparent and Accurate Camp – reliable, measured, complete, unscrubbed and unmanipulated information from real past customers

So one camp chooses to Photoshop the picture while the other offers untouched results; one camp chooses pleasant fiction and the other chooses the reality of non-fiction; one camp elects to edit and cleanse, the other offers accountability and transparency with some blemishes; one camp seeks an immediate, short-term, gamed advantage to win customers while the other trusts that truth is the foundation of long term relationships; one camp doubts its ability to deliver great results and chooses marketing spin while the other camp believes consumers can be discerning and their service providers can deliver.

Facts sure can ruin a good story

In response to Brad Inman’s comment in an April 19th, 2016 interview, “…what I’d love to see here… (is) a higher-quality agent… better ones”, the former president of an organization promoting the Marketing Spin Camp stated, “Ratings are not the way to a higher-quality agent because ratings are a marketing tool… I don’t care what anybody says about that.”

The power of Marketing Spin is in telling a tale. Since the facts can ruin a good story, those in the Marketing Spin Camp often find it more convenient to avoid, ignore, omit, or not even bother to learn the facts. These facts have been researched and available for some time now, including in a 2008 report, before most in the Marketing Spin Camp entered the North American real estate market.

Transparency, accountability, and feedback both change and positively alter behavior in sports, business and politics. The evidence is clear, empirical, and unambiguous.

Ratings and reviews when properly designed, delivered, and data aggregated (scientific methodology with research expertise) do create the kind of accountability, transparency, and feedback that influence and alter professional behavior creating both measurably higher quality and a more satisfying customer service experience.

Spin a story, discredit the real estate industry.

The facts – Here are the measurable results that are specific to the real estate industry and related to how service quality assessment of every closed transaction can influence agent behavior, the quality of service they provide and make them better (data based upon more than 2,000,000 customer satisfaction assessment surveys):

• 54% more Very Satisfied customers with the overall service experience than the national average
• 86% fewer Dissatisfied and Very Dissatisfied customers with the overall service experience than the national average
• 400% greater likelihood of agent making a post-closing service follow up call than the National Average
• 65% greater Satisfaction with quantity and quality of communication
• 72% greater Satisfaction with attention to transaction details
• 78% greater Satisfaction with negotiating assistance
• 54% increase in sales of returning past customers
• 56% increase in referral sales from satisfied past customers

Star Wars – the battle for five star ratings is bigger than the quest to win today’s customer. Honest and accurate ratings and reviews are about TRUST and long-term customer relationships.

Adopting practices of misleading information, selected feedback, and manipulated data are a “win the battle lose the war” strategy that also sacrifices the opportunity for ongoing improvement, real service excellence and true five star results.

Presenting manipulated, selective, or cleansed customer feedback as accurate and honest is also likely a violation of the Code of Ethics.Click To Tweet

You have the power to do the right thing.

The 2015 independently commissioned D.A.N.G.E.R. Report identified agent service inconsistency and the invisible interactions between agents and consumers as the highest threat to the survival of the industry and the value of Realtor® services.

Believing that ratings are only about creating positive messages or merely a marketing tool that cannot influence professional behavior is factually incorrect and a sad surrender in the face of what can and is actually being done.

“Like them or not, reviews are now central to the consumer decision-making process. Go all in or stay out of the game. People will sniff BS a mile away if you try to peddle filtered or otherwise less-than-open reviews.” -Brian Boero, Founding Partner, 1000Watt Consulting

While we may frequently feel that events in business and life are beyond our control, each of us has the power to do the right thing, to do it well and to do it now!

This editorial was first published here in February of 2017.

Kevin is a Co-Founder, President & COO of Quality Service Certification, Inc. (QSC) and earned an MBA from The University of California – Irvine. With over 20 years of Real Estate experience, his primary focus is on consumer research, developing better service management systems, and sharing the importance of consumer-centric service standards, transparency and accountability to create measurable and meaningful differentiation and long term advantage for those professionals that put customer needs first.

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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