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Real Estate blogger Jenn Flynn in Seattle came across this harrowing scene recently. Trust me…don’t do it.

http://jennflynn.wordpress.com/2008/04/02/what-not-to-do-when-staging-a-home/

little-white-guyAdmittedly this list is long overdue…but I guarantee it will have been worth the wait. Many thanks first of all go to Tom Dougherty for ensuring that my feet stayed continually and uncomfortably close to the fire until this was published. More importantly, MASSIVE thanks go to the dozens of Keller Williams agents whose willingness to share is the reason this list exists.

Okay, back on topic now. This list will be published as a multi-part series, mostly because it’s insanely long. As a group, we wanted to catalog as many possible ideas as we could muster up of “things” that could possibly be part of your listing value proposition. As you will soon see, it’s not humanly possible to include all of these. If you ask me, it’s barely possible to blog about them all, much less implement them all. Rather, think of this list as the Home Depot of listing ideas. Cruise down the aisled with your shopping cart and pick the ones that are a best fit for you and your business. So, without further adieu, here’s the long-awaited, mother-of-all-lists:

  1. MLS – Big shocker here…I know. Just bare with us. Remember, this is an All-Inclusive list. Didn’t want to leave anything out.
  2. Strategic Comps – Not just your run-of-the-mill MLS printouts. We’re referring to truly flexing your market knowledge muscles. Well thought-out and properly explained, this is a formidable weapon.
  3. Home Magazine Advertisements – Everyone likes to see their house in glossy magazines. Homes and Land, The Real Estate Book and others fill this want very well. When combined with other ideas like #9, this can be a great lead generation source and a very impressive tool to sellers.
  4. KWLS + Syndication – Just because you get it for free doesn’t make it any less impactful. For you Keller Williams agents out there, emphasize all the different websites that their listing will be showcased on as a result of the Keller Williams Listing System.
  5. Craigslist – Who would have ever thought that a free service with no flashy banner ads would ever evolve to become as effective a tool as Craigslist is. If you aren’t on it, you better GET on it.
  6. Facebook – No, I don’t mean just “writing on the wall”…we’re talking about leveraging the networking aspect of Facebook to get the word out about listings.
  7. Open Houses – Again, we don’t mean just watching the ball game and sneaking snacks from the seller’s pantry without asking. We’re talking proactive planning, advertising, canvassing the neighborhood, inviting prospects, and making good use of every minute you spend on-property. Trust me, neighbors talk about this stuff and there are few easier ways to stand out as the purple cow.
  8. Flyers – Okay, maybe not the most innovative idea in and of itself, but leverage the most out of it. Add a call-capture number and a compelling call-to-action reason for pr0spects to call it. If used creatively, you can make the phone ring off the hook. 
  9. 800# IVR – As mentioned above, this tool is most effective when used strategically in combination with lots of other ideas in this list. Give that sucker out as though you get paid every time you do so…because in effect, you do.
  10. Single-Property Website – Your sellers will think you hired some young gun, hotshot programmer to custom-craft their website “just for them”. Just take the url (sorry, I mean the gobbledy gook after the http:// at the top of your computer) for a virtual tour or syndicated listing and pair it with #11 below.
  11. Custom Property Domain Name – GoDaddy, Google, and others will be all too happy to sell you a custom domain name for $10. Used properly, it’s money VERY well spent. This is another one that needs to go EVERYWHERE once you’ve decided to use it.
  12. Virtual Tour – As mentioned in #10, this can have multiple uses. Most importantly though, make sure your Virtual Tour is linked to as many of the syndicated websites as you possibly can. If you ever took the time to really observe how buyers look for property, you’ll see them scouring the internet for multiple photos and virtual tours. IMO this should be standard procedure in every agent’s toolbox. Here’s my favorite tour provider.
  13. Professional Photos – I don’t mean that you have to have Nigel Barker take the pictures (yes, I’m embarrassed to admit that I know who he is…even more embarrassed where I learned of him). But do take the house photography seriously. We’ve all seen the difference between lame-o, point-and-shoot, into-the-sun pics and properly exposed, properly list, and well-framed images. What a difference! My favorite camera (I know it’s not cheap, but holy Toledo what a difference a real camera makes).
  14. IDX Data Share – Emphasize the fact that “through your disciplined and diligent efforts”, their listing will be fed to dozens upon dozens of feeder websites. One of my favorite scripts at this point in the listing presentation is to say that “I’ll challenge any buyer looking for a home like yours to not find it. If they look anywhere on the internet for it, they will find it.”  And since I employed #12 and #13 religiously, those buyers will be quite pleased with the visual information when they do find it.
  15. Reverse Prospecting – If you are fortunate enough to have a PHENOMENAL MLS like we have here in Charleston, SC then take advantage of the “reverse prospecting” features it offers and make a point of it in your listing presentation. Reverse prospecting is an MLS feature that will essentially give you the names of other agents in your MLS who have saved searches (presumably for buyers) whose search criteria match the home you just listed. You now have a much more targeted list of agents to promote the seller’s home to.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg folks. We’ve got over 100 ideas on the list. Check back soon for more. If Tom D. has anything to say about it, it’ll be much sooner rather than later.

pn-appleJust what the heck is a blog post about diet doing in the Productivity Coaching blog? Follow me for a short exercise and the answer should become clear. Take a blank sheet of paper and draw a small circle in the middle of the page. You are now going to draw 6 lines starting from the circle and radiating outward toward the edges of the page. Each line represents one of the following areas of your life:

1. Faith and Spirituality
2. Family
3. Business
4. Health
5. Personal Finances
6. Personal Relationships

Now, for each line, draw a longer line if you feel that that area of your life is really going great. If you are floundering in that area, draw a very short line. If things are just “okay”, a medium length line is fine. Have all 6 lines drawn? Good. Now, connect the ends of each line, kind of going around in a circle.

What you’ve drawn is the wheel that you roll around on every day. How round is your wheel. If you are like most of us, your alleged wheel is probably pretty out-of-round and could use some adjustment. If you follow what we’ve preached in Productivity Coaching, you should have a near bullet-proof business plan from which you’re operating.

For many though, especially right on the heels of the holidays, health may be on of your shorter spokes. 

For a while now, I’ve been intrigued by the teachings of a very smart nutrition expert named Dr. John Berardi (disclaimer…I have no vested interest in Dr. Berardi or any of his products or services). What I like about his philosophy on nutrition is that it parallels what we teach about business remarkably well. To sum it up in a nutshell, keep it simple. 

Berardi has developed a short list of rules which, if followed, will lead to vastly improved health and body composition for almost all of us (unless you are an advanced athlete or have been operating from an optimized fitness and nutrition regimen for a while).

Don’t let the name of his methodology, “Precision Nutrition”, scare you. It’s crazy simple. I’ll boil it down for you into just a few simple rules to follow:

  1. Eat every few hours…6 or 7 times/day
  2. Eat lean protein with every meal
  3. Eat veggies with every meal
  4. Limit heavy carbs (i.e. not fruits and veggies) to only after exercising
  5. Have a healthy balance of fat (saturated/monounsaturated/polyunsaturated)
  6. Drink only non-calorie beverages

As with business, it seems that as far as health and nutrition goes, we just have a burning need to make things complicated. And I’m convinced that that’s why there’s so much failure in both arenas. If we could just stay focused on those few key things that matter, most of us would be amazed at how well the “wheel rolls”. I also like Dr. Berardi’s philosophy that until you’ve mastered the basics above, you haven’t earned the right to get creative with stuff like nutrient timing, specific caloric intake, and other advanced stuff. It’s the same in our business. Until we’ve mastered basic relationship-building and prospecting methodologies, much of what seems to be the magic cure for our business woes needs to just be put on the back burner.

So, if your wheel is less-than-round and if your health and nutrition is one of your short spokes, you could probably do a lot worse than following a few simple rules like Dr. Berardi’s list above. Regardless what your strategy, at least have one and keep it simple. Master the basics daily and, as in business, you’ll be amazed at the results.

If you like, Dr. Berardi has VOLUMES of free information on his website at www.precisionnutrition.com.

tickets

I don’t recall where I came across this idea, but it’s always been one of my favorite Sphere of Influence touches. Here’s the idea:

Buy a pair of tickets to a local event. It could be a ball game, a play, a concert or something along those lines. Now, it’ll be in your best interest to buy tickets to something you’d enjoy going to yourself. You’ll find out why in a second.

So, you have these tickets. Now, wait until just a few hours before the event starts. Then start calling throught your key database contacts. Here’s how the script goes:

“Dave…hey it’s Chris. Listen, I know this is super last minute, but I have tickets to the (fill in event) tonight and I don’t think I can use them. I thought you might enjoy going with Jane. Maybe make a date night of it.”

Given that it’s kind of last-minute, your odds are pretty decent that most people won’t be able to go. But they’ll appreciate the heck out of your offer. If someone takes you up on them, well then they won’t soon forget it so mission accomplished. If you can’t find any takers, you have tickets to the event and you’ve still scored big with as many of your key contacts as you were able to call through.

Now, get those tickets and get on the horn!

Now that I’m on a rant about “keepin’ things simple”, I thought I’d share an amazing little product that I was introduced to recently. I’ve been on the hunt for a little while for a clean, simple, and cost-effective way to store my electronic files in a place that would allow me to access them from anywhere. 

If you do a google search for online file storage, you’ll fine a whole host of characters that offer some variation of online file storage. But all were lacking something for me. The problem with most was that if I didn’t have an internet connection, I couldn’t access the files I stored on those remote servers. The only workaround was to double-save everything…once to the remote server and once to my local hard drive. Until now…

Enter the new love of my life called Drop Box. Drop box is one of those little things that so good at what it does, you don’t even know it’s doing it’s thing. What it does is creates a folder on your computer called the DropBox. You can put this folder ANYWHERE on your computer that your pretty little heart desires. 

Then, anything you put into your DropBox on your local hard drive gets AUTOMATICALLY uploaded to Drop Box’s servers. This way, if I’m ever away from my own computer but have internet access from another machine, I just log into my account at http://www.GetDropBox.com and I have access to all of my files. 

But wait…it gets better. Let’s say that I’m working on a colleague’s computer and download something from my online Drop Box account…oh, I don’t know, say a spreadsheet (big surprise). When I’m done editing the spreadheet, like a good little boy, I’ll of couse put it back where I found it (i.e. push it back up to Drop Box’s site). The magic is that the next time I turn my PC on and connect to the internet, DropBox knows INSTANTLY that a file online has changed AND it automatically pushes it down to my local computer hard drive. Real time, automatic, and lightnin’ fast synchronization.

The cherry on top is that you can have multiple computers sharing file synchronization. Did you hear that TEAMS? You can have several users with the same information synchronized across everyone’s machines. If any user changes any file, whether it’s on their local machine or uploaded to DropBox’s servers, ALL users’ PCs will automatically be updated with the current version.

And for now anyway, you get all this for the low, low price of zero. That’s right…for up to 2Gb (the last time I checked anyway) you get their service for free. If you are a space hog, you can upgrade to a whopping 50Gb for $10/month or $100/year. Well done Drop Box.

tin-cansOkay, raise your hand if you are like me when it comes to technology (don’t be embarrassed, I won’t tell). You would rather have a palm-sided electronic device, that probably costs between $200 and $300, that would tie your shoes for you rather than reach down and do it the old fashoined way.

Yes, in this new-fangled, high-tech era, it seems that we are constantly bombarded by alleged technological solutions to what in “olden days” used to be pretty straightforward problems to overcome. Wait let me rephrase that. They weren’t even problems in the first place…the marketing departments at the technology companies have just convinced us that they were and are selling the silver bullet to fix all of our woes.

Let me give you a personal example. And, I must warn you, I have just put on my flame-retardant suit, so if I offend you, your nasty emails will do me no harm. I have spent, oh, let’s just say a LOT of man-hours working to achieve the perfect electronic database and contact management solution. I have worked with just about every product known to man and could talk your ears off about the virtues of each. And please let me say that there are some amazing things that can theoretically be accomplished with some of the technology solutions that are out there.

Now, let’s just assume for a minute that after my years (yes, years) of investigating, trying, tweaking, switching, crying (just kidding, I don’t cry), complaining, and emailing of tech support…just pretend for a moment that I found the best package out there that suits how we managed our sales team. I should rejoice that I’ve finally found my holy grail, right?

Actually, no. The real question is what was our lost opportunity cost in the countless man-hours spent trying to find a complicated solution to a relatively straightforward problem. Now, don’t get me wrong. There are some great tech solutions that do solve real and tangible needs and make for immediate enhancements to productivity.

However, the reason I’m telling you about this experience of mine is to hopefully help you to avoid some of the mistakes I and countless other agents have made. Not everything you do has to have a complicated or expensive gizmo to do it for you. Sometimes our search for such things is just a vehicle we use to avoid rolling up our sleeves and “just doing it“.

So if you were hoping I would be telling you what the perfect solution to managing your contact database is, I’m sorry to disappoint you. And no, I’m not advocating you rinse out your baked bean cans and steal your daughter’s kite twine to employ the solution in the image above.  Just be mindful that often the path of least complexity is the surest path to keep focused on the end destination. Are there flashier and more exciting ways to get there? Sure. Do you really need them? Hang on…my iPhone is ringing.

Gimme 3 hours!!!

I have to confess that I’ve heard more than once from agents, both in Productivity Coaching and not, “if I hear once more that I have to lead generate for 3 hours a day, I’m gonna slap whoever says it”.

Go ahead. Take a virtual swipe at me. Close your eyes, imagine my ugly mug, in your face, saying “Gimme one more hour!”, and take a swing in the air. There now. Doesn’t that feel better?

Now that that’s out of your system, I thought I’d give you a little insight from the coach’s perspective why you hear the 3-hour a day mantra and seem to never be able to escape it. Those of you who are parents will appreciate this. If your child has a natural affinity for trying to stick stuff into electrical outlets, you’ll probably try to get him or her to stop, right (please say yes). And let’s say that you’ve told your child this over and over to the point that they get irritated with you telling them how important it is that they knock it off…but they still stick stuff in those sockets. Do you:

a) Just leave them to their own devices because you don’t want to be a bother?

b) Remove all of the electrical outlets in your house?

c) Keep at it because you know that this is an important life lesson (110 volts hurts)?

For most of you, you wouldn’t give up. You keep on because you know the risk you put your child at by allowing them to ignore their own safety like that. It’s the same thing with your Team Leader, your Agent Leadership Council, and yes, your Productivity Coach. We would all be derelict in our duties if we just sat on our hands, allowing those of you who might naturally shy away from lead generation to just sit on the sidelines and “wait silently for deals”.

Real Estate always has been and always will be a contact sport. I think one of the most relevant quotes I have ever heard from Gary Keller is that the size and health of an agent’s business “will always be in direct proportion to the number of people who, when they think of you, think of real estate”. The 3-hour per day habit is without question the most consistent and effective way for you to not only grow the number of people who think of you when they think of real estate, but coincidentally also the most effective (and cheapest) way to keep a consistent stream of incoming immediate buyer and seller leads coming in your world.

So, will you forgive me for continually harping on the 3-hour a day habit? In Productivity Coaching, we do take the responsibility to help build careers worth having and businesses worth owning very seriously and are committed to seeing every agent through to that point and beyond.

Chris