Monday Morning Coffee – Snail mail isn’t just for bills and ads

Good Monday morning to ya!

Its a rainy one in Nashville.

Times have changed, haven’t they?

Do you remember the last time you were excited about going to your mailbox to get your mail?

These days, I’d venture to say that most of the snail mail delivered by the postal service is BILLS and marketing materials from companies who still send stuff that way (even though it’s a largely ineffective and expensive form of marketing).

Why do we call it “snail mail”?

It’s SLOW and inefficient (and EXPENSIVE). After all if you want to send a letter, you’ve gotta actually INTENTIONALLY reserve time and spend money to buy note cards or stationery, envelops, and STAMPS and sit down and write something – fold, stuff, and stamp it and walk all the way down to your mailbox to send it away . . . and OMG! It could take as long as THREE days to arrive. 

Why would you do that slow, cumbersome process when an email or text gets there immediately, is FREE, and can be done on the fly from your phone?

In my view, Most direct, person to person communication comes electronically these days, and I’m an “all-in” participant in the electronic social world.

AND . . .

I miss the good old days of fetching the mail and finding a note or a card from someone I know who “was just thinking about me and wanted to say HI!'”

Is that OK? Should I not bemoan the way things used to be, or am I being a crusty curmudgeon? Should I just get over it and stay with the herd?

What would happen if I were to decide to start a little mini-revolution of snail mail, note writers? Do you think the US Postal Service would underwrite my experiment?

How often do you find a PERSONAL, handwritten note in your mailbox? How do you feel when you receive a note?

What’s my point?

I believe that the snail mail handwritten note communicates that the sender CARES . . . LOUD and CLEAR!

Mail is cool because it looks & smells like the sender . . . Handwriting is personal . . . and you know that she took the time and made the investment to “send the very best”.

Companies have even found a way to automate the handwritten note with a cursive font and a “real” signature . . . so you can send them in bulk, and the recipients theoretically feel like you PERSONALLY were thinking of them.

That trickery doesn’t work for me!

Some folks say they don’t send handwritten notes because their handwriting is so BAD. The truth is that it’s the note (the gift) that counts . . . not its readability or even what it says.

Send me gibberish scribbled on a used napkin, and I’ll appreciate the fact that you were thinking of me.

I haven’t checked my mail box in years (Deb gets our mail) because there’s seldom anything personal and uplifting there. I’ d like to change my relationship with my mailbox such that I anticipate the mail delivery with excitement just like I did when I was in the Army or away at college.

I know how we can start this revolution.

Pledge to write 5 (or 10) notes EVERY day to people you know, love, and miss . . . Doesn’t matter what it says . . . Could just be:

Dear Fred,

Just a note to say HI and let you know I was thinking about you. Let’s catch up soon.

Best,

b

I’m just saying’

PS – This old-fashioned technique also happens to be a very powerful business, building tool.

So – Do we SELL a house to a Buyer?

I’m a believer that we cannot SELL a house to a Buyer.

No! REALLY!

The house has to do all the selling . . . by being in the right place (location) at the right time in the right condition with the right amenities/features and number of rooms at the right price for the right Buyer who just happens to be looking for that precise blend of stuff and enough money to buy.

The Buyer is the decision maker . . . the one who ultimate determines (along with mutual agreement  of the Seller) whether she will buy that house.

The role of the REALTOR is to orchestrate a smooth process, to negotiate on the Buyer’s behalf, and to inform the Buyer sufficiently that she can make the best decision.

Doesn’t do much good for the REALTOR to “PUSH” the Buyer towards a particular house . . . UNLESS . . . The REALTOR realizes that the Buyer is missing an opportunity because of being trapped in the noise of the process . . . That’s when we REALTORS put on our “Consulting” hat (Some of us think it’s on the edge of psychotherapy, but we’re not degreed in that area so we can’t call it that).

Us older (seaasoned) REALTORS sometimes find our Maternal or paternal instincts kicking in . . . with the urge to kick these young whippersnapper Buyer’s butts to bring them into reality when they lose focus.

We must get a clear understanding of the goals of the Buyer and continue to put those goals back in front of the Buyer throughout the process when she gets distracted by bright, shiny houses that for whatever reason don’t match the goal by being in the wrong location or school zone or price range etc.

How ’bout a case in point?

If I had a Buyer whose ultimate scenario was something like this:

– Price under $400,000 ($379,900 would be perfect)

– 4 Bedrooms and 2 1/2 Baths

– Eat-in Kitchen, Formal Dining Room, Great Room, Office/Den AND a Bonus Room

– Lots of hardwood floors

– Immediately available (vacant and clean and ready)

– 2800+ Square feet

– In Williamson County, TN with AWESOME SCHOOLS (Bonus would for Elementary, Middle, and High Schools to be close to each other and within a mile of the house)

– BETWEEN Cool Springs and Brentwood with easy access to I-65

– In a tight community away from the bustle of the city

– End of a cul-de-sac on a zero traffic street

I would think that my job would be to find a house that fits these requirements . . . and that if I were to find it and were to bring the Buyer to it, the house would sell itself, Right?

So . . .

VOILA!

1027 Holly Tree Farms Road, Brentwood, TN 37027

Williamson County Schools

Scales Elementary School

Brentwood Middle School

Brentwood High School

Listed with Debbie Owen – Pareto Realty, LLC, This property meets ALL of this Buyer’s needs . . . and Debbie is completely available to answer any additional questions and/or schedule a viewing . . . Just give her a call @ 615-485-8833 or email her @ debbie@theowengroup.net

Photographic evidence follows . . . I think you’ll be impressed 🙂 

The Relevance of the Closing Date

Here in Tennessee, Line 142 of the standard Purchase and sale Agreement reads:

“A. Closing Date: This agreement shall be closed (Evidenced by delivery of warranty deed and payment of purchase price), and this agreement shall expire, at 11:59 P.M. local time on the ___ day of  ____________, _____ (“Closing Date”), or on such earlier date as may be agreed to by the parties in writing.”

This “closing date” is one of the most important terms of the contract to both the Buyer and Seller. The Buyer has great angst and anticipation and excitement associated with the move . . . as does the Seller.

Buyer and Seller are BOTH turning a page in their lives . . . a VERY significant page . . . as they pull their roots from one place and move to another.

I’ve heard the statistic that as many as 42 people are involved in the typical real estate transaction – Loan originators, processors, underwriters, appraisers, inspectors, Termite Companies, Title companies, Real Estate Professionals etc.

I’m a believer that each of these 42 people should have ONE thing on their mind when they agree to play a part in the process of consummating this transaction between the Buyer and the Seller . . . That one thing is a commitment to meet the closing date.

I say if you’re not willing to whatever it takes to meet (or beat) the closing date, don’t accept the responsibility.

I cannot think of a SINGLE valid reason (other than death, natural disaster, act of God) for a deal to get within a week of closing and be delayed.

I say again . . . When you agree to the date, you MUST solemnly swear that you are accepting the responsibility of honoring this closing date and this responsibility is to the BUYER and SELLER who are both packing everything they own into trucks and turning their lives upside down . . . and providing YOU a job.

What’s complex about this?

NO TOLERANCE!

I do hear excuses . . . couldn’t get the appraisal in time . . . credit blips discovered at the last minute . . . too many refinance loans in the lender’s pipeline clogging the system . . . Repairs not completed in time . . . Failure to order Termite letters or inspections . . . and the list goes on.

Folks, we are ALL busy, right?

Are we so busy that we can justify the turmoil that is created in the lives of the Buyers and Sellers (without whom the deal wouldn’t exist) when we fail to meet the closing date?

My practice is a “First 10 Day – Last 10 Day” routine.

For the first 10 days after the Binding agreement date, I make contact with EVERY person involved in the transaction EVERY business day to ensure that EVERYTHING is complete per the contract in terms of inspections, completed documentation, appraisals ordered . . . every i dotted and every t crossed.

Then I flow along with weekly contact.

10 days prior to the closing date, i go back to the DAILY contact with the sole purpose of getting a settlement statement (approved by the lender) in my hands at LEAST 48 hours prior to closing.

My batting average is darn good with this first 10/Last 10 routine because most of the vendors I work with know that I am going to be in their face every day until the deal is done.

So here’s my message . . . If you accept ANY “job” relating to a real estate transaction, your responsibility is to the CLIENT to perform said job not only thoroughly with just the right mix of “feel good” but also ON TIME.

Do I sound like I’m yelling atcha?

Well . . . I’m only yelling atcha if the shoe fits.

and if you’re doing business with people who are not all that concerned with the closing date, I would venture to say that you might consider developing some new vendor relationships.

I’m just sayin’

Best,

b

This post comes on the tail end of me (As Principal Broker) observing several recent deals with completely unecessary delays to the degree that one of my associates asked me: “why do we even write in closing dates? Because the lenders don’t even pay attention to them.”

Scrubbing your database for the new year

How clean is your database?

If you are seriously in business (ANY business) I’m assuming that you have a database . . . and that you actually USE it at least occasionally but hopefully systematically . . . such that it will generate sufficient leads to sustain good momentum for your business through all “times/seasons” (up and down) of the market.

Is everyone in your database aware that they are in your database or are you a “secret agent” for your business?

How many people are IN your database?

Is it like your Facebook Page where you have a bajillion “friends” but only REALLY know a handful of them?

Why?

Most folks I know and coach detest “working on the database”.

Why?

Because is entails (perhaps) calling people they don’t know all that well . . .

or haven’t talked to in such a long time that they believe those people don’t want to hear from them . . .

or they are uncertain that they have anything of value to share . . .

or they are “too busy” with the business at hand to be calling a bunch of people who are not likely to need to business with them any time soon . . .

If any of the above shoes fits you, I have a homework assignment for you.

SCRUB YOUR DATABASE!

Do this NOW . . . in Mid October . . . because any contact you make with anyone in the next few weeks will do wonderful things for the flow of your business at the beginning of 2011.

I promise!

How to do this . . .

Print it (the WHOLE database) and keep this printed copy with you as you go through your days.

Make contact with EVERY single person SEQUENTIALLY in this database by phone or visit and follow up that contact with a handwritten note – mailed with a business card and an inserted “up-date” brochure about your personal and business accomplishments in 2010.

The SCRUBBING part is this . . . When you run across a person who you dread calling for any of the above reasons, PAUSE and think about this person. Make a conscious decision as to why the discomfort.

If your discomfort is your “fault” and you know and respect them and would like to keep them in your life, then “eat the frog” and make the call.

If during the pause you come to the realization that this person just doesn’t fit as a “know me and love me” kind of person, but you believe they have value as a Vendor or business ally or loose personal acquaintance, keep them in your database but move them into a category you might call “Network Group”.

Within that Network group, I have sub-groups . . . Local REALTORS – Out of area REALTORS – Local Vendors – acquaintances.

If the person doesn’t fit the above and you are dreading the call because you don’t like the person or do not believe their relationship has value in your life . . . DELETE!

If you don’t know the person at all? DELETE!

Your goal?

Create a category in your Database called your “Inner Circle” . . . these are the people you know and love who know and love you who would be pleased to hear from you on a regular basis. These are “real relationships” whose loyalty and friendship all by itself will create a quality of life and business flow for you that self-perpetuates . . .

For most humans, this inner circle won’t exceed 250 people . . . EVER!

Make personal contact with every one of those 250 people a minimum of once every 30 days, and your business will yield @ $250,000 per year in gross commissions . . . I promise!

OK!

So, I just revealed the Holy Grail of any sales professional’s success strategy.

Make personal contact every 30 days with 200-250 people who know you and love you.

BTW!

None of this possible if you don’t have a database.

I’m just sayin’

Best,

b

Monday Morning Coffee – Doing 1 thing more? or Less?

Good morning!

Woke up thinking about a little simple math this morning.

Seth Godin dropped a line to this post entitled “The N+1 Theory” by Fred Wilson.

“The N+1 Theory states that there is always one more of anything.”

Which ends with the author’s final statement: “I find the N+1 theory very inspiring. It is pure optimism sprinkled with tenacity and we need that in our work and our lives.”

I like it!

I especially like that optimism part . . . being the diehard optimist that I am. If a real estate deal is going South, I always start looking for N+1 . . . What is the missing piece (the 1 more thing) that can save this deal that we have all failed to see and plug in?

More often than not, we find it and revive the deal.

This optimistic tenacity is critical in today’s business environment and in our every day lives. If we were to throw the towel in every time the way got rocky, we’d never get ANYTHING accomplished . . . akin to slogging through “The Dip”.

Seth Godin makes a good point in his post. “N-1” . . . doing 1 LESS thing . . .

He says: “What would happen if you did one fewer thing? What if leaving that off the agenda allowed you to do a world-class job on the rest? What if you repeated N-1 thinking until you found a breakthrough?”

Back to Fred’s post: “John had a theory he called ‘the N+1 theory’ and while he applied it destructively in his own life, I have often found great inspiration from it in mine.”

so . . . there’s more to this than simply doing 1 more (or less) thing . . . taking N+1 too far can be destructive (addictive behavior) . . . and taking N-1 too far can be debilitating and render the effort impotent.

Which should it be?

N+1?

N-1?

Are we looking for BALANCE?

Either?

Or?

Both?

Neither?

Hmmmm . . .

Let’s consider something a wee bit simpler . . .

“N”

What is “N”?

The goal – Vision – Task – Mission – List – ToDo????

Is “N” in alignment with your purpose (personal or organizational)?

Doesn’t really matter if it’s “+1” or “-1” if your vision is blurry, does it?

I’m just sayin’

Best,

b

BTW . . . In my real estate deal example, the vision that provides the foundation for success is quite simple – Buyer wants to buy THIS property and Seller wants to sell THIS property . . . each one has “N+1″‘d and “N-1″‘d himself into the deal . . . completion stalls out because the other players (Lenders, REALTORS, Inspectors, appraisers) lose focus on “N” . . . and therefore have no basis for +/- 1.

Coffee cup’s empty . . .