It is late spring in my home state of Georgia. We had a very mild winter, which was much appreciated at the time. But is that truly a good thing?
All the talk is how bad the mosquitos are going to be this summer and the damage that insects will do to the crops. There is also concern over how plentiful some crops will be, such as peaches and pecans. You see, the winter freeze kills the mosquitos and other crop-destroying insects. Trees also need enough cold days to properly set fruit for the next season’s harvest.
As we go through a changing real estate market, it reminds me that our business is much the same. Seasonal shift isn’t just normal — it should be expected, anticipated, and appreciated! So how do we survive the winter and prepare for the bountiful economic spring and summer? Consider these five steps.
1. Develop a Value Proposition: “Your beliefs become your thoughts. Your thoughts become your words. Your words become your actions. Your actions become your habits. Your habits become your values. Your values become your destiny.” — Mahatma Gandhi
Consumers are always looking for value, but in changing economic times, they don’t just look for it; they demand it. Value is measured not by the feature or the product but by the benefit or the use. As a broker, understand that your primary purpose on this earth is to help the agents who choose to affiliate with your company sell properties. As an agent of a broker, your primary purpose on this earth is to sell property. Each day should be spent searching for the next value proposition for the people you serve.
2. Develop, Implement, and Stay True to Your Plan: “To succeed in America, you need three things: A smile, a gun, and a plan. If you have to give up one, give up the smile. If you have to give up two, give up the gun – whatever you do, don’t give up your plan.” — Al Capone
A business without clear, specific, and time-limited objectives is like a ship without a rudder. It is to be cast about at the desire of the winds and currents, with no ability to steer. A goal without a clear, specific and meaningful plan is no more than tilting at windmills. Create and commit to a plan with measureable and tangible steps of achievement. For instance, to obtain a five-year income goal, where would you have to be in three years? One year? Six months? Three months? Then do what you have to do to stay on track.
3. Communicate With Your Base: “The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.” — Edward R. Murrow
Effectiveness vs. efficiency: Which is more important? To simplify it a bit, effectiveness is doing the right things, while efficiency is doing things right. If you write the most incredible e-mail message ever and blast it out to 1,000 people but no one opens and reads it, the act may have been efficient, but was it effective? One-on-one, personal communications always have been, and always will be, the most effective. I read recently that in political fundraising, making calls is between four to seven times more effective than sending a card requesting support, and meeting with donors face-to-face is eight to 10 times more productive than calling. How are you communicating with your base? Sending a handwritten note to five people in your sphere of influence a day and then following up with a phone call a week later may take more time than sending an e-mail blast to 100 people, but it may also reap much higher rewards.
4. Be Empathetic and Respectful: “I can win an argument on any topic, against any opponent. People know this, and steer clear of me at parties. Often, as a sign of their great respect, they don’t even invite me.” — Dave Barry
Empathy involves attempting to understand how others feel, whereas sympathy knowing how another person feels because you’ve been in the same situation. Leaders must exude empathy but must also be careful of being sympathetic: When people look to you to find guidance because they are confused, it would provide little consolation for you to tell them that you are just as confused as they are. Try to understand their need and how they got into the situation in which they find themselves. Help them focus on the solution and not just the problem. Do all of this respectfully. It’s not what is said but how it’s said. People may not remember tomorrow exactly what you said but will remember years from now how you made them feel.
5. Accept Environmental Compliance: “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” — Jimmy Dean
Each of us has had the occasion to have a bad day turned around by people providing positive support. We have also, unfortunately, had good days ruined by others who rain on our parade. Fact is, most of us do not have charisma that can change the mood of the room. Instead, we conform to the environment in which we find ourselves. While we may not be able to change the mood of the room, we can change rooms. Start each day with a positive affirmation. Begin each conversation with a smile and a kind word.
I love the restaurant Chik-Fil-A. Sure, the food is good, but their staff always puts a smile on my face. No matter which of their stores you go to, if you say “thank you” after receiving your order, they respond with “It was my pleasure.” I, for one, am convinced that it is.
It is my hope that you’re inspired to be thankful for opportunities, humbled by the kindness of others, and mindful of the daily graces we are granted. Continue with your day, your week, your month, and your career — and realize always, “It was my pleasure!”