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How you can capitalize on any recession

(BUSINESS) Some see their local market struggles and have fear, but this is a case for quality control and accountability as the cure.

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In October of 2000 three Americans, George Ackerlof, Michael Spence and Joseph Stiglitz, were awarded the Nobel Prize in economics.

Their work essentially focused on information economics and the implications of asymmetric information – when the party on one side of a transaction has much better information than the party on the other side i.e. producer vs. purchaser, seller vs. buyer, insider vs. outsider.

In other words, a service provider possesses greater information regarding his/her true capabilities than the consumer deciding which provider to choose.

How does the side with the greater information effectively use and benefit from information advantage?

These three Nobel Laureates demonstrated more specifically that consumers prefer, have higher confidence in and are willing to pay more for products and services backed by a “guarantee.” The assumption on the part of the consumer is that value and quality are related to assurances of consistency and reliability. Consumers believe that the manufacturer or service provider presenting a “guarantee” is more likely to perform. This greater certainty offers greater value.

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The notion that consumers prefer and will pay more for services and products that are guaranteed is not difficult to understand. Taking advantage of this principle to attract more clients and earn higher fees by guaranteeing service performance is, however, not easy to execute. It is especially difficult in an Independent Contractor culture.

The risks associated with guaranteeing a product or service only make sense when systems, processes, and controls are employed; when accountabilities are increased and problems or defects are reduced.

In the case of real estate service, how can any organization manage, control and otherwise influence behaviors where most activities take place “out of sight and beyond reach” by independent service providers? And if imposed standards, processes and controls solve one problem might they not create another – agent retention?

According to the three Nobel Laureates, attracting more clients and earning higher fees as a result of offering a greater certainty of better service is not a hopeful business assumption… it is an economic reality!

How can you capitalize on this reality?

The first step is to provide the leadership team, sales professionals and support staff with a clear understanding of the principles of consumer-centric service – presenting foundation education. In an industry that is frequently provider-centered, this is not an automatic.

From here it’s basically an eight-step process:

  1. Develop consumer based standards of service
  2. Create and implement a defined service process (each step)
  3. Implement a system for delivery consistency
  4. Measure performance with detailed metrics
  5. Commit to benchmarking and ongoing analysis
  6. Provide timely, multiple level performance feedback
  7. Offer recognition, awards and rewards for high achievers

But does this really work?

During the past two years thousands of real estate sales people and their managers have voluntarily elected to implement just such a process. They are attracting more clients, keeping them longer and creating higher levels of service satisfaction.

For example, the Quality Service Certified® (where I am the President and COO) real estate professional follows a defined service process, delivers it in writing to every client (every time), guarantees performance and submits to a service evaluation survey at the end of every transaction for heightened accountability. Do prospective clients see any advantage? As a consumer wouldn’t you!

The breakthrough: Service

When service performance results are compared between QSC agents and non-QSC agents who are from the same company, some interesting differences are noted. QSC agents are achieving 15-35% higher levels of client satisfaction and reducing dissatisfaction by as much as 80%. Additionally, clients are indicating a 50% greater likelihood of doing business with and referring business to their QSC agents over non-QSC agents in the same company, in the same markets at the same time.

Independent validation of service results through outside organizations such as Quality Service Certification, Inc. and Leading Research Corporation add the kind of credibility that is very difficult for an organization to generate when judging itself.

Quality control and greater accountability are essential ingredients in delivering measurably better service. In these uncertain times, prospective clients prefer and will pay more for products and services that offer greater certainty. But certainty requires more than a promise to perform.

Quality control, greater accountability and the systems supporting these objectives, can be developed through your own investment and creative efforts, or you can partner with an organization that understands your business and possesses existing resources.

Rx for recession… control service quality and raise professional accountability.

#accountability

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.

Real Estate Brokerage

The psychology behind why customers blame you for everything

(BROKERAGE) When things don’t go our way, we search for a cause, and tend to blame others. Psychology explains why customers point the blame at you.

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Man texting on phone representing client psychology.

The customer is always right – Is that real psychology?

We are all too familiar with the old adage, “the customer is always right.” While we know that it is virtually impossible for the customer to always be right, we play along because it is our job to do so.

Psychology attempts to offer some explanation as to why customers may behave the way that they do and why they love to blame “us” for everything (note: I use the term “us” in a universal sense, as it is not reflective of The American Genius).

Some complaints are warranted, but…

Retailers, restaurant workers, and everyone in between has dealt with a difficult customer or two. While sometimes their anger may be warranted, there are often times where the customer is projecting anger onto you.

There are behavioral theories within psychology, Attribution Theory, and Jones & Davis Correspondent Inference Theory, that may help to shed some light onto why people behave the way that they do.

Attribution Theory explains how we judge behavior

Attribution Theory is simply how we attach meaning to our behavior or the behavior of others. Fiske & Taylor explain that Attribution Theory tends to explain how humans judge behavior. If they are judging the behavior of someone else they are assigning internal attributions, while if they are explaining their behavior, they are making external attributions.

For example, if you are driving and someone cuts you off, you may assign an internal attribution that the person is a horrible driver. On the other hand, if you were the one to cut someone off, you would externalize your behavior as unintentional.

It is natural for people to always look for a cause behind an event. Searching for a cause could explain why customers place blame on us. Using the ideas from the example above, if you are at a restaurant and see that your order is wrong, you may attribute blame to the server in saying, “they don’t know what they’re doing”, when it was simply a mistake.

Inference Theory attributes behavior to personality

Jones & Davis Correspondent Inference Theory takes the idea of Attribution Theory a step further, and deals with how people pay particular attention to internal behavior rather than accidental or unthinking behavior.

The Jones & Davis Theory suggests we attribute a person’s behavior to their personality. This means that you would take the aforementioned assumption that the person who cut you off earlier is not only a horrible driver, but also a horrible person.

When something goes wrong at the (usually) unintentional hands of someone else, we internalize that behavior for them. This goes back to our initial claim that, if something bad happens, we search for a cause.

Easier to blame others than ourselves

Sometimes, it is much easier to place blame on others than onto yourself. The idea of attributing something helps to assign a meaning or a cause to let us organize our lives. Being that customers do not always see us as individuals, it is easy for them to cast blame if something goes wrong.

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Professionalism

Recognize and use free time at work like the gift it is with these tips

(BROKERAGE) Free time during your workday can lead to furthering your mind and productivity. Learn how to use it wisely.

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Woman writing in journal representing free time.

Clocked in but clocked out

We’ve all had those slow days at work where we’re looking for ways to kill the time until the clock strikes five.

While it can be tempting to use this time to text or mess around on the Internet, there are much better ways to use that free time that will make your future so much easier.

Cleanliness is next to godliness

First off, tidy up your workspace. Papers and items have a way of accumulating and may be distracting you even if you don’t realize it. By organizing your stuff and throwing away what you don’t need, you’re able to breathe and focus within your workspace.

It also does wonders for your work brain to clear up your email inbox.

Once that’s all done, plan out the rest of your work week. Make a list of the major goals you’d like to accomplish and then a sub-list of how you’ll knock those goals out. Update your calendar and make sure everything is on track.

Social media, networking, and research

It’s also beneficial to use this downtime to further yourself and your organization. Three ways you can do this is through: social media, networking, and research.

If you have access, take some time to look through your company’s social media and see what can be done to enhance it. Either throw up some posts yourself or pitch ideas to the social media manager.

Networking can be done in this small amount of time by sending out “catch up” emails to old colleagues, “welcome emails” to new clients or introduction emails to LinkedIn contacts.

Send them a “how’s it going?,” tell them what’s new with you, and see what they have going on. You never know where networking can lead so it’s always good to stay in touch.

With research, see what the latest trends are in your field and study up on them. This may give you new ways to look at projects and tasks at hand. And, it’s always beneficial to have continued learning.

Get Smart(er)

While on the subject of continued learning, take this time to mess around with something you may not feel completely knowledgeable of. Maybe dig around RPR data, perhaps practice using different computer programs it is never a bad a idea to nourish your brain.

Having free time during the workday is something of a gift. If you can help it, try not to waste it.

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Real Estate Brokerage

How you can stick with your habits and actually achieve your goals

(BROKERAGE) Sticking to new habits can be tough, but there are ways to train your brain. We’ve got the deets on the best way to beat fatigue.

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Person typing on computer representing habits in our workday.

Just about every Sunday night I say to myself, “This week, I am going to eat better.” And, just about every Monday afternoon, I find myself cooking the same frozen pizza I always eat. Why is it so difficult for us to stick to our guns and really follow through on developing better habits? Well, if you’re anything like me, it’s mostly because doing what you’re used to is so much easier.

Trick of the trade

Each year I find myself being notorious for skipping out on my New Year’s resolutions, my fitness goals, and my attempts at reading one book per month. Right when I was beginning to feel completely fed up with myself, I found a trick that has helped me form habits and maintain behavior to accomplish my goals.

And, this trick is quite simple: accountability.

This can be found in the form of a friend or in the form of a planner or calendar.

Creating accountable ideas

I have thousands of ideas per day, many of which are fleeting. However, some ideas are about self-improvement.

For example, I often have the idea of beginning a workout routine. While I know that I should be doing daily exercise to increase my overall health, it can be a difficult task to stick with.

By developing this idea into something that I am accountable for, it makes me much more likely to stick with this habit. Let me explain…

Accountable for others

The two aforementioned methods of accountability, a friend or planner, can be used for the given workout example.

If you find a friend who can daylight as your workout buddy, you have someone that will motivate you and that you can motivate.

Now that you’ve made this friend your workout buddy, you have someone to hold you accountable if you miss a day. Gone would be the days where you could skip a workout and have no one to answer to.

Accountable for yourself

But, if you are a solo exerciser like myself, it can be difficult to find a method of accountability. What I have found works for me is taking my thought of, “I should workout,” and putting my goals down on paper.

By writing down a workout plan and the attached goals, it fosters a sense of tangibility.

I then create a calendar where I write down what exercise I want to do on what day, and, after I complete my goal, I am able to check it out.

For the accountability aspect, I like to put this calendar somewhere in everyday eyesight, so that I can’t ignore it. And, sure, I could easily throw it away and pretend it never existed in the first place, but I promise the act of writing out your goals will motivate completion.

In the end…

While sticking to habits can be a tricky business and different methods work for different people, developing an environment in which you hold accountability helps to inspire motivation.

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