WOE IS ME vs. HEY…IT’S ME!
By Jim "Gymbeaux" Brown, March 27, 2020
I retired from the real estate business in 2012 after more than 33 years. During that time, I was an agent, a broker/agent, a manager, a designated broker (multiple times), a broker/owner, a team leader and a trainer. Of all those titles, trainer was the one I worked at the hardest and the one I was most proud of and like to be remember for. I would often say to my agents, whenever you are caught in the middle of a problem and assume you can’t reach me for advice or guidance, imagine wearing a wrist band that read WWGDN.
WWGDN simply means, What Would Gymbeaux Do Now? If you ask the right questions you often get the correct answers. During my 33 years I ALWAYS, without exception, trained my crews to:
- Be honest in all things
- Follow the law in all things
- Be ethical in all things
- Treat people like you would want to be treated
- When in doubt do something and do it as quickly as you can. No action is rarely the correct course of action. The key word is action – always move forward and when you do, it requires action!
In 2020 you are faced with one of the more serious problems you will ever face in the real estate business. You are not just faced with a down market, you are faced with a market that has almost been entirely closed off to listing and buying. Even though I am retired, I can relate. I got into the market in 1980 when interest rates were 20% or higher. Still people bought and sold homes and land.
WWGDN? That is a great question and I have given it a lot of thought. Here is a list of those thoughts that I would strongly encourage my crew, if I had one, to be taking RIGHT NOW, NOT LATER!
Breath! Stop whatever you are doing, take several deep breaths and calm yourself down. It is very difficult to think clearly when your mind and body are in a state of stress.
Set aside time. Time is the one thing you should have plenty of. Work on your database of past customers and people you know. You should also have a database of people you don’t know as well. But start with the people you know. Call every one of them, tell them you are calling to “checkup on them” to see how they are doing and if there is anything that you may be able to do for them. If they answer you know you have the right person. During your call slide in the question, “do you still live on (street name)?” Now you know you still have the right phone number and they still live where you have them living in your database. If you don’t have it in your database, at some point you want to also casually ask them “how long have you been living there?” Why is this important to know? Every study ever done by NAR while I was active indicated the average length of time people live in their homes before they sell. When you know this, you also know that you should make a point of singling out those homeowners that meet that criteria and contact them more frequently. Remember, the person on the other end of the line is probably also in a state of quarantine and has time on their hands and may be more willing to talk to you in general. DON’T TRY TO LIST THEIR HOME OR SELL THEM A HOME OVER THE PHONE. This is NOT why you are calling. For you, you are using the call to update and verify your database. For them you are performing a security check. You are also asking them if there is anything you can do for them. If they ask and you can’t do it, tell them so and why. Otherwise, do it! The point is, use this time to update and verify your database of people you know or past customers. Point of emphasis: My wife and I have lived in our home since 1985 and we are both retired. In that time no real estate agent has ever called us and I can count the number of items received in the mail on one hand from REALTORS. What does that tell you? Timing. Do not call during Breakfast, Lunch or Supper and never call after 8:00 pm unless it is because of a real emergency. Do you like receiving calls at these times of the day? Neither do the people in your database.
Be Prepared: It is a time of emergency and people are in need. Be aware of where people can still shop and the hours that those stores are open. Be aware of restaurants in the area that are either open or who deliver or who do curbside pickup. You should already have a list of local businesses that provide repair services like AC, plumbers, electricians, “handyman” type work, etc. Have ready a list of non-evasive questions that you can use to keep the conversation going – don’t wing it. Know what you are going to say but keep it from sounding like a script even though it will be a script of sorts.
What do you do if no one answers the phone? You make a point of calling again at a later time. If you still get no answer, have a post card ready to mail simply stating you have been trying to reach them to see if they are doing okay given the current circumstances. Include the last four digits of the number you have been trying to call them on and ask if it is still a valid number. Here is the kicker! My wife and I do not answer our phones when there are no caller IDs listed. That is a result of the hundreds of calls we have received over the years from unknown parties. We feel that if it is important, they will leave a message. This is the second point, have a pre-determined message that you will leave IF the party has their voice mail turned on. Tell them who you are and that you are calling to simply checkup on them to see if they are doing okay and then state you will try again but it would be helpful if they would add you as a contact in their phone directory so they will know for certain that it is you calling when you next call. Just that one step if they do it is worth its weight in gold. People will answer the phone when they know who is calling. Make certain your phone is set up with caller ID to signify to the homeowner who is calling.
Follow Up! Follow up is crucial – PERIOD! If a homeowner asks you to do something and you agree to do it or asks for information and you agree to provide it – JUST DO IT AND DO IT WHILE THE IRON IS HOT! DO NOT PUT IT OFF! Follow up is crucial!
Time and Boredom: It is easy to get careless when you perform one task over and over again non-stop. Set aside time to work on your database and make calls. Take breaks and stop when you have reached your allotted time to do what you want to accomplish.
Advertising. It has been my experience with agents that they have always slowed down what they do starting with Thanksgiving and that slowdown lasted through New Year’s Day and in my area of New Orleans, some extended that slowdown through the Mardi Gras season. Then they were behind the eight ball when they wondered why their business and income also slowed and they tried to restart their business. The agents that were the most successful worked at their business even harder during the holiday seasons so that their flow of business never slowed down. The same is true with the current self-quarantine period due to the virus. Most agents, certainly not you, will typically feel that there is no need to continue advertising if there is no business. But it will not always be like this and business will return, probably with a flourish. You want your name recognition and your branding to be ever present on people’s minds and that will NOT happen if you stop doing the things you KNOW you should continue to do. You can’t continue to get water out of a well if you stop pumping! If you are one of the very few that continue to market themselves during times like this, you will stand out like a sore thumb when the time comes for people to buy and sell real estate. You want to be that person who is in the position to help them.
Purge your files: As you go through your database, purge your files of people you can no longer verify or who you can no longer find.
Unknown Database. Everyone should have people in their database that they have never met but who you have contacted in the past. Use this time AFTER you verify your KNOWN database of people, to contact as many in your UNKNOWN database as you can. Once you make voice or even face to face with someone in your UNKNOWN database, move them to your KNOWN database. Use this time to move as many as you can. That will eventually be icing on the cake.
MAYBE THE MOST IMPORTANT TASK. Whether you are a Keller Williams Realty agent or not, it does not matter. USE THIS TIME TO NOT JUST READ THE MILLIONAIRE REAL ESTATE AGENT, use this time to STUDY it! It so clearly is a plan for real estate agents and business in general for them to not just make money but more importantly create a profitable business. Aside from working on your database, this is the most important task you could possibly perform at this time while you have more time on your hands than you would like. I personally have read this book multiple times and have it on CD as well.
WORK FROM A DAILY TO DO LIST: Knowing what needs to be done is only the beginning. Make a list of what needs to be done, prioritize that list and then work each day to do what you KNOW must be done to ensure your business will continue to flow to you.
LIFE’S MISSION STATEMENT: Everyone should have a really Big Ass Goal for their life. That IS your Life’s Mission Statement. Once you know what that mission is, you can at any point in your day, week, month, year, life ask this one question. “Is what I am about to say or do consistent with achieving my Big Ass Goal (or Life’s Mission Statement)?” If YES, say or do it. If NO, DON’T! By doing this you will find that you begin to question a lot of things you may have done in the past and realize that those things really didn’t need to be done at all or served no useful purpose by doing them.