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Quit Being a Valet and Be THE Concierge

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For years, agents and brokers were valets. Their value proposition was that they held the key to the room with all the information in it and you had to go through them to get in. They also held the key to get into any house that was on the market. Basically, they just opened doors.

Though there are still many agents that still want to be valets, the days of valet agents is coming to an end.

 It’s time to be the concierge of real estate in your area as well as your area in general.

Not the mediocre one at a mediocre hotel who grabs your bags from storage or hands you a pamphlet with stuff to do in the area and says “Here you go. Good luck.” I’m talking about the concierge that knows everybody in town and can get you into places that only the ones “in the know” know about and can get into. The concierge that knows every club doorman, every hostess and restuarant manager and every tour director in town. The one who everyone wants to turn to to get the “insider” information on what’s going on in the area, where to go and how to get in.

A great concierge will ask you, “What are you looking for?”, suggest one or several places to go or things to do and make sure you get in and are taken care of. At the end of the day (or night), you’ll be saying, “That concierge sure picked the right place to go to based on what I was looking for. He/she is definitely the go-to person for finding out what to do and where to go in this town!”

How do your clients view you?

Your clients should view you the same way when it comes to real estate and your community. You should be the one that knows everything and anything real estate and community related in your area that people can turn to for answers and guidance.

If there’s a rumor of a new shopping mall being built in the future, you should know whether it’s true or not and what stores are going in and when.

If a house just came on the market, you should know what all the ones that sold before it on that street looked like, how much they sold for and how they compare. 

If there’s going to be a lot release by a builder in your area, you should know about the release date, which models will be available and what incentives you can negotiate before anyone else.

If there are foreclosures and short-sales in your market place (which is most likely the case), you should know the ins and outs of how the process works and how to effectively negotiate an offer with the bank.

If someone in your area wants to know this kind of information, they should automatically want to turn to you because the word on the street is that you’re the one “in the know”…the one who’s got their finger on the pulse of real estate in the area…the one who knows how to negotiate more effectively and better than the rest of them.

Work at it to earn it…

In order to earn this type of credibility and notoriety, you have to put in a lot of work to earn it. That concierge didn’t stumble into those hook-ups and strong connections by accident. That took, and continues to take, a lot of dedication and effort. It takes up a lot of time each and every day. It requires constant communication with those in the community. It takes staying on top of what’s going on at all times. And then it takes satisfied people telling all their friends and even those they don’t know about him/her.

If you want to a be a great concierge agent rather than just another valet agent, you have to put in the same type of work and dedication. You have to impress your clients with your knowledge and expertise so that they tell their friends, coworkers and even those they just met, “(your name) is the one to talk to when it comes to real estate in (your town) and to find out what’s going on”.

Much like a great concierge makes a ton of tip money from people coming in to pick their brain for advice, you’ll find yourself with a steady stream of clients and commissions as the local expert. And just like the valet watches the concierge’s success in disbelief, the agents who think that opening doors is enough will wonder why you have so many clients and how you’re closing so many deals in this market.

Danilo Bogdanovic is a Real Estate Consultant/REALTOR(R) in Northern Virginia and author/owner of LoudounScene.com and LoudounForeclosures.com. Danilo serves on various committees with the Dulles Area Association of REALTORS(R) and the Virginia Association of REALTORS(R).

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20 Comments

20 Comments

  1. Bob

    October 8, 2008 at 8:13 am

    If there’s a rumor of a new shopping mall being built in the future, you should know whether it’s true or not and what stores are going in and when.

    If a house just came on the market, you should know what all the ones that sold before it on that street looked like, how much they sold for and how they compare.

    If there’s going to be a lot release by a builder in your area, you should know about the release date, which models will be available and what incentives you can negotiate before anyone else.

    This isn’t practical in a large market.

  2. Heather Elias

    October 8, 2008 at 8:21 am

    Absolutely. Taking ‘local expert’ to the next level…when your client asks a question and you can say “I talked wth that builder’s rep last week, she said..” or “the Five Guys pizza is going to open in three weeks” without having to say “Let me find out and call you back” ; that’s instant credibility and they appreciate it.

    Bob, maybe you are covering too large of an area if you can’t keep track of local information? I know Danilo covers a large, growing county, and still knows all those details. No, it’s not easy, yes, it’s time consuming. But it sure does pay off…

  3. Danilo Bogdanovic

    October 8, 2008 at 8:32 am

    Bob, Not sure what you mean by “large market”. I’m in a huge market (Northern VA), but my focus is on Eastern Loudoun County. If I were to try to know the entire Northern VA market, I would never be able to be an expert.

    Perhaps you should focus your farm area and be the “master of one trade” rather than the “jack of all”. That’s how you become the expert and the go-to-agent in your area. Much like you go see a specialist rather than a general medecine doctor when you have a specific ailment, consumers are seeking out agents who specialize in the specific area they’re moving within/to.

    Just my .02.

  4. Steve Simon

    October 8, 2008 at 8:37 am

    I will probably be flamed for this but after you’ve had twenty thousand students you are aware of the background of more than a few lawsuits. That being said I agree with the gist of the post. It is however extremely easy to raise yourself from “FOK” (fountain of knowledge) to target for someone with buyer’s remorse.
    If the buyer’s decision to buy was based in part on something you said will happen, and it does not happen, the buyer only has to persuade the court that the information you relayed to them was a material factor in their mind when they decided to buy. It is very subjective, and may not be easy for the buyer to prove, but you (the agent) will not want to be in this game…
    So, practice good risk avoidance procedure:
    If you are telling people about malls in the future, make it abundantly clear that any future development is not guaranteed. Do not speak for the intentions of developers you’ve never met.
    Once you start spouting off, it is very easy to get carried away…
    I’ll leave it there for this comment, I’ll wait to tell you about “Gratuitous Agency”, and “Attraction Nusance some other time:)

  5. Benn Rosales

    October 8, 2008 at 8:43 am

    Steve, I’ll concur on that, our expansion in the burbs very early on taught everyone in the profession and even those that arent to use the word proposed because it seems the politics in each little city would virtually stem even for sure things. So if it’s not complete and opened, it’s proposed, but the broader point I certainly agree with here.

  6. Danilo Bogdanovic

    October 8, 2008 at 8:47 am

    Steve and Benn – You are correct and I’m sorry that I didn’t touch upon that in the post. I always use the words “proposed” and “possibly”. I even share my source(s) with the client so that they understand that I’m just relaying what’s been told to me and so that they can chat with the source(s) on their own.

  7. Lani Anglin-Rosales

    October 8, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Danilo, so many people are using hyperlocal blogging as a means to show a tangible expertise and I love your examples of how to show your true knowledge. I’ve made moving decisions based on proposed expansion and taken that chance that the city would eventually expand out to the burbs and knowing what is proposed will always help OCD people like me help to make a decision because some people want as much control as possible over their biggest investment, and having an idea of what a neighborhood COULD look like in the coming years helps tremendously. Whether it’s knowing proposed retail, a home that isn’t on the MLS yet, or the new dress code of the local school, it all paints a broader picture- as an agent, if you have the ability to paint with a detailed brush instead of a mop, why wouldn’t you?

  8. Jim Duncan

    October 8, 2008 at 8:58 am

    Be the source of the source.

    I tell all of my clients that while I feel I know more than the average Realtor because of my involvement and writing, I still want them to verify and vet everything I tell them (they do anyway).

    Be definitive and confident, yet hedge everything. Much of planned development is rumor anyway … until they start pouring footers.

  9. Danilo Bogdanovic

    October 8, 2008 at 9:09 am

    “Be definitive and confident, yet hedge everything.” – Very well said Jim!

    “…having an idea of what a neighborhood COULD look like in the coming years helps tremendously.” – That’s the mentality 90% of the buyers I work with have. Seems like the same is true for you Lani.

  10. Rich Jacobson

    October 8, 2008 at 11:25 am

    Oh so true! There’s a boatload of dumbfounded valets out there right now, scratchin’ their heads, wondering why today’s sophisticated consumers aren’t asking them to park their cars. Differentiation through details.

  11. Brian Block

    October 8, 2008 at 11:57 am

    Danilo, what a fantastic analogy! While there’s nothing wrong with opening doors, those agents who only do that may feel it slam them in their behinds on their way out of the industry

  12. Missy Caulk

    October 8, 2008 at 1:33 pm

    Danilo, one way to stay on top of “potential” condo’s, Whole food stores, or new restaurants is being active in the Chamber, in my area they always know the skinny. In this market we are should be a source for the consumers or at least know where to point them.

  13. Rod Rebello

    October 8, 2008 at 1:59 pm

    “…Much of planned development is rumor anyway … until they start pouring footers.”

    And even then, not a sure bet. There’s a shopping development just down the road that made it just past framing stage, and is dead in the water since they ran out of funds.

  14. Bob

    October 8, 2008 at 8:15 pm

    I learned from one of the best – Gregg Neuman. When asked where he sold real estate, Gregg would respond, I’m licensed in California, but I specialize in San Diego. I would bet that Russell Shaw would say something similar. No coincidence that they are both in Keller’s Millionaire Agent book and sell 100s of homes year in and year out.

    I suppose that if one thought this was the way a buyer agent should approach it, there would be some merit, but in a market like mine where buyers will look in 10 different zip codes, they would starve given present market conditions.

    With all due respect, it’s sounds good and high minded, but it isn’t practical. I don’t know any high powered teams that have their buyer agents follow this strategy.

  15. Danilo Bogdanovic

    October 9, 2008 at 5:21 pm

    Bob,

    Gregg (and Russell) sell more in a year than some agents do the entire time they have their license so you definitely learned from some of the best. I learned from another one of the best too – Chris Cormack, also in Gary Keller’s Millionaire Agent book. I was on her team as a buyer’s agent for 4 years during which time 5 other agents and I sold up to 350 homes per year. And we did this in a farm area that only had about 200K people in it. (To give you perspective, the neighboring county, Fairax County, has over 1M people in it alone)

    The reason for our success was in fact because we focused on a specific area and followed the very strategy I described in my post. With all due respect, calling this strategy impratical is inaccurate and false.

  16. Bob

    October 12, 2008 at 9:49 am

    Danilo,

    In an area of 200,000, fine, but it is impractical in a market of 2,000,000.

    Like you said, it takes time and hard work to develop that knowledge. How easy was it to replace you when you left the team? How many excellent buyer agents would be passed over because they don’t have that knowledge?

    The more important question is how do you know that the same results couldn’t have been obtained with a team that just knew how to sell and close?

  17. Danilo Bogdanovic

    October 13, 2008 at 10:29 am

    It is impossible to be an expert of an area of that size (2M) so yes it is impractical.

    Neither the lead listing agent nor I have been replaced and their sales reflect that. And you can’t be an excellent buyer’s agent if you don’t have that knowledge. Just because you have great closing skills doesn’t make you a good buyer’s agent (nor listing agent).

    Being able to close is great. But if that’s all you can do, then you should stick with inside sales where people come to you (e.g. retail). Real estate is an outside and relationship sales business. You’re basically selling yourself and your expertise (e.g. lawyers, doctors). Being able to close is great, but you have to attract clients to you first. That’s where being able to sell yourself comes into play. That’s where being an expert is key. And the definition of what makes you an expert is where we differ in opinion. That is where we can agree to disagree.

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Opinion Editorials

The truth about unemployment from someone who’s been through it

(EDITORIAL) Unemployment benefits aren’t what you thought they were. Here’s a first-hand experience and what you need to know.

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Have I ever told you how I owed the government over two grand because of unemployment in 2019, and only just finished paying it back this year?

This isn’t exactly the forum for memoirs, but this is relevant to everyone. So I’ll tell y’all anyway.

It all started back in 2018 when I came into work early, microwaved my breakfast, poured coffee, and got pulled into a collaboration room to hear, “We love you and your work, April, but we’ve been bought out and you’re being laid off.”

It was kind of awkward carrying my stuff out to the car with that Jimmy Dean sandwich in my mouth.

More awkward still was the nine months of unemployment I went through afterwards. Between the fully clothed shower crying, the stream of job denial, catering to people who carried rocks in their nostrils at my part-time job (yes, ew, yes, really), and almost dying of no-health-insurance-itis, I learned a lot!

The bigger lesson though, came in the spring of the following year when I filed my taxes. I should back up for a moment and take the time to let those of you unfamiliar with unemployment in Texas in on a few things that aren’t common knowledge.

1: You’re only eligible if you were laid off. Not if you had quit. Not fired. Your former company can also choose to challenge your eligibility for benefits if they didn’t like your face on the way out. So the only way you’re 100% guaranteed to get paid in (what the state calls) “a timely manner”, is a completely amicable split.

2: Overpayments have to go back. Immediately. If there’s an error, like several thousand of Texans found out this week, the government needs that cash back before you can access any more. If you’re not watching your bank account to make sure you’re getting the exact same check each time and you have an overpayment, rest assured that mistake isn’t going to take long to correct. Unfortunately, if you spent that money unknowingly–thought you got an ‘in these uncertain times’ kinder and gentler adjustment and have 0 income, you have a problem. Tying into Coronavirus nonsense is point three!

3: There are no sick days. If ever you’re unable to work for any reason, be it a car accident, childbirth, horrible internal infection (see also no-health-insurance-itis), you are legally required to report it, and you will not be paid for any days you were incapacitated. Personally, my no-health-insurance-itis came with a bad fever and bedrest order that axed me out of my part time job AND killed my unemployment benefits for the week I spent getting my internal organs to like me again. But as it turned out, the payment denial came at the right time because–

4: Unemployment benefits are finite. Even if you choose to lie on your request forms about how hard you’re searching for work, coasting is ill-advised because once the number the state allots you runs out…it’s out. Don’t lie on your request forms, by the way. In my case, since I got cut from my part-time gig, I got a call from the Texas Workforce Commission about why my hours were short. I was able to point out where I’d reported my sickness to them and to my employer, so my unpaid week rolled over to a later request date. I continued to get paid right up until my hiring date which was also EXACTLY when my benefits ran out.

Unemployment isn’t a career, which is odd considering the fact that unemployment payments are qualified by the government as income.

Ergo, fact number five…

5: Your benefits? They’re taxed.

That’s right, you will be TAXED for not having a job.

The stereotype of the ‘lazy unemployment collector burdening society’ should be fading pretty quickly for the hitherto uninformed about now.

To bring it back to my story, I’d completely forgotten that when I filed for unemployment in the first place, I’d asked for my taxes NOT to be withheld from it–assuming that I wasn’t going to be searching for full time work for very long. I figured “Well, I’ll have a tax refund coming since I’ll get work again no problem, it’ll cancel out.”

Except, it was a problem. Because of the nine month situation.

I’d completely forgotten about it by the time I threw myself into my new job, but after doing my taxes, triple checking the laws and what I’d signed, it was clear. Somehow…despite being at my lowest point in life, I owed the highest amount in taxes, somewhere around the 2k mark.

Despite being based on a system that’s tied to how much income you were getting before, and all the frustrating “safeguards” put in place to keep payments as low and infrequent as possible, Uncle Sam still wants a bite out of the gas-station Hostess pie that is your unemployment check. And as I’m writing this, more and more people are finding that out.

I’d like to end this on a more positive note…so let’s say we’ve all been positively educated! That’s a net gain, surely.

Keep your heads up, and masked.

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Opinion Editorials

COVID-19 acts are unfortunately too short sighted

(BUSINESS NEWS) The biggest flaw in the CARES act is simply that it won’t last. Numerous issues have extended the life of COVID-19 but the act hasn’t matched it.

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The CARES act gives an additional $600 weekly to those on unemployment assistance. The idea being that, combined with the $380 already granted by unemployment, the payments would roughly equal the wage of the average worker prior to the pandemic- about $1,000 weekly.

But on July 31st, the expansion that CARES provides will expire, and benefits will return to pre-pandemic amounts. Those currently receiving the maximum payment will see a 61% decrease in their income. In states that offer lower benefit payments, that percentage goes even higher. All of this comes during a national rental crisis, and moratoriums on evictions across the country are also nearing their ends or being extended last minute.

This isn’t the first or only “yuge” hole in the federal government’s COVID-19 safety net. Many Americans (this writer included) have seen neither hide nor hair of their promised stimulus checks. The HEROES act, which is being billed as a second round of stimulus money, remains under debate- as it has been for several weeks.

And the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which requires certain businesses to provide two weeks of paid leave to workers who may be sick (or caring for someone who is) has plenty of problems too, namely the laundry list of exceptions to it.

This is just the most recent push to return to the pre-virus economy before effective protective measures have been put in place for workers and consumers alike. After all, with cases of COVID-19 spiking again in the US, it’s apparent that the act is still absolutely necessary. Our lawmakers either lack patience, or compassion – take your pick. Frankly, I say it’s both.

Not only have countless health experts warned that reopening too early will be disastrous, but if a second lockdown is in our future, all of the time, money, and human lives that went into reopening will be wasted.

There is a silver lining among the storm clouds on the horizon. Because ballooning unemployment has created long wait times for benefit applicants, unemployment assistance programs are shelling out retroactive back payments to those deemed eligible.

Good news, at least, for laid off workers who have been waiting months to hear their fate.

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Opinion Editorials

Women-owned businesses make up 42% of all businesses – heck yeah!

(EDITORIAL) Women-owned businesses make a huge impact on the U.S economy. They make up 42% of all businesses, outpace the national growth rate by 50%, and hire billions of workers.

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Women entrepreneurs make history in the U.S as female-owned businesses represent 42% of all businesses, while continuing to increase at DOUBLE the national growth rate!

Women are running the world, and we are here for it! The 2019 American Express State of Women-Owned Businesses Report, states 13 million women are now self-employed entrepreneurs. From 2014 to 2019, women-owned businesses grew 21%. Think that’s impressive? Well, businesses owned by women of color grew 43% within the same timeframe, with a growth rate of 50%, and currently account for 50% of all women-owned businesses! Way to go! What this also means is that women employ over 2.4 million workers who together generate $422.5 billion in revenue.

What can we learn from these women that’ll help you achieve success in your businesses?

  1. Get informed: In a male-dominated business industry, women are often at a disadvantage and face multiple biases. So, know your stuff; study, research, and when you think you know it all…dig deeper!
  2. Stay hungry: Remember why you started this journey. Write down notes and reminders, goals, and inspirations, hang them up and keep them close.
  3. Ask for advice: Life is not meant to go through alone, so ask questions. Find a mentor and talk to people who have walked a similar path. Learning from them will only benefit your business.

Many of these women found ways to use their passion to drive their business. It may not be exactly what they thought it would be when they started out, but is it ever? Everyone has to start off small and rejection is part of the process. In fact, stories of rejection often serve as inspiration and encouragement to soon-to-be self starters.

Did you know J.K Rowling’s “Harry Potter” book was turned down TWELVE times? Seven books later with over 400 million copies sold, the Harry Potter brand is currently valued at over 15 billion. While you might not become a wizard-writing fantasy legend like J.K Rowling, you sure as heck can be successful. So go for it, and chase your dreams.

If you want to support women-owned businesses, start by scrolling through Facebook or doing some research to find women-owned businesses in your community. Then, support by buying or helping to promote their products. Small businesses, especially women-owned, black women-owned, and women of color-owned, are disproportionally affected by the current economic crisis ignited by a health pandemic. So if you can, shop small and support local. And remember, there’s a girl (or more) doing a happy dance when you checkout!

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