For some of you, it’s merely the first days of fall (whatever “fall” is … it’s not something that exists here in the Phoenix metropolitan area.) For others, including myself, it’s a few days shy of the beginning of a new year. (And for those folks, l’shanah tovah.) And this new year traditionally carries with it more introspection than soon-to-be-broken resolutions.
Here’s what I discovered over the past few months. My business was broken. Not irretrievably broken – I’m on pace to shatter my own personal records for sides, for total dollar sales and for gross commissions – but broken nevertheless. Broken in the same way that a car with one faulty spark plug still will get you from point a to point b, just not in the smoothest manner possible.
What did I do to fix it? I asked for help from my friends. And then I set to work on fixing the preconceptions and methodology I had used that were causing the journey to be more bumpy than necessary.
What’s Your Name?
For the first nearly four years of my various websites existence, I never required registration of any sort. Search for homes as often as you want, I was simply the vessel. I was adamant to the point of being belligerent in defense of not requiring registration … No! No! A thousand times no! When someone was ready to buy, the theory went, they would contact me.
The methodology worked to a degree. But it also flew in the face of the basic reality that many consumers work with the first agent with whom they come in contact. To become that first agent, I couldn’t sit back and wait for them to reach out to me. I needed to be able to reach out to them – providing value in some manner, even if it was only making sure their search turned up the right homes.
Arguing against registration makes sense if you’re seeking some sort of moral purity. But you know what, folks? I’m just a guy trying to sell some homes to make a living.
Everyone has a different theory on when to force a consumer to provide you their name and phone number. For me, visitors to my sites can perform a search and see the basics on a property but need to provide an e-mail and phone number (or be smart enough to fake one) to get the details.
The result? Of the couple hundred people who have registered, only a handful provided fake information. And I currently have one client in escrow who already had planned their trip but was days away from making the call to an agent to arrange property showings. I called them before they started calling around. The rest, as they say, is history.
Listings, Listings, Listings
Short answer – I’ve not pursued listings this year. Here’s one of those areas where I’m trying to change my thinking. I absolutely recognize the logic that it takes fewer man-hours to sell a listing (in most cases) than it does to work with a buyer to the point of purchase. But given the current market, I’ve not had a great deal of interest in actively pursuing listings.
Let’s call this one “in progress.”
The Shackle I Don’t Want
At one point this was going to be the last obstacle I’d need to overcome to improve my business, but the necessity seemingly is growing. Or maybe it’s growing only because I’m taking the time to notice what I could be doing. I’m trying to deal with it but the bottom line is I’m working with equipment that’s small and insignificant. And while it gets the basic job done, there’s little excitement or extra value to be had.
I’m talking about my lousy phone. (And you thought only Poppy and Lani could so snark.)
At a real estate bloggers’ meetup a few months back, everyone was showing off their phones. Blackberrys, iPhones, whatever. Same thing at Inman Real Estate Connect. I’ve got a Samsung something or another. It works great as a phone. Even can send text messages. But the Internet? Terrible. And e-mail? Forget about it. Not going to happen.
And the truth is, I’ve viewed that as a good thing … until recently. The last thing I wanted for the sake of my own sanity was access to e-mail wherever I was. Because there were some times when I just wouldn’t want to know if I had e-mail but I’d still be tempted to check. (No, Kris, this has nothing to do with the question you once were asked.)
But here’s the thing … to be that first person, it would help to know if someone registered on the site. It’s not so much of an issue when I’m working out of the office but when I’m running between appointments or listings or showing homes, on days like yesterday where e-mail and I were separated for about 14 hours due to various commitments, the need is there.
The only question that will remain is whether I’ll have the discipline to turn the damn thing off. But that’s just one more thing for me to work for as the gates begin to close and the new year begins.