Archive for April, 2012

OK, we’re rolling, we’re working our butts off because we’re well into 2012 and we DON’T want a repeat of last year. We’re supposed to be IMPROVING year after year aren’t we? That’s what they told me at Real Estate school the year I spend a whopping 3 weeks sitting in a class listening to the instructors teach me how to fill out a practice Offer to Purchase, broker load a new listing, and learn how to do an evaluation using my own personal residence. I remember with vivid detail the instructor telling me that if I worked hard for a few years, made thousands of cold calls, did my floor duty, wasted countless hours doing ineffective open houses, dutifully attended all the office meetings, franchise pep rallies and industry training events that my career would blossom and grow and every year I would increase my sales. I was told to pay my dues.

How odd that none of those real estate school instructors that pushed me through the boring and very dull (but required) curriculum are in the business today. Interesting how that curriculum – similar to getting my teeth drilled at the dentist office – NEVER dealt with the profit generating small business fundamentals. In fact, the other day I found a class list from when I took my basic Real Estate 101 course and here’s something interesting. There were 51 people in the class and now, some 22 years later, I can only find three names from that list still in the business, and one of them is mine. Even the so-called office top producers teaching us “the way” are long gone.

SO it bears thinking about our mortality as realtors if we rely on the “establishment” for our success. Frankly, I learned within the first few years that depending on worn out methods, photocopied instruction manuals from the Real Estate board, and he regurgitated scripts and dialogues found in practically all of that dinosaur training has long past it’s prime. But look at what agents are STILL being told to do. There’s no shortage of COLD CALLING, BEGGING-FOR-BUSINESS programs available to an agent. In fact, as a research exercise for this article I Google searched “Cold Calling Methods” and came up with pages and pages of people, companies, and programs all prepared to take my money to teach me a better way to succeed at cold calling a database, a geo farm area, or the phone book. Cold calling? REALLY? I mean REALLY???

I was recently invited to participate in yet another franchise based training program and guess what the theme of it was? How to successfully COLD CALL your database and create 3 times the income from it in less than 6 months. They had some crazy Acronym title for the program all designed to entice and attract me into the program. They claimed my LIFE would be better and in more control if I became proficient at Cold Calling. “Do it our way using the latest techniques and the most up to date scripts and dialogues and succeed beyond your wildest dreams”. They even promised to fly in the latest and greatest trained instructor to teach the course.

I can’t see it working despite the claims and the fact that they can still fleece the $$$ from the hard working agents. Here’s a problem with hunting down business that way (and it’s a HUGE problem): The percentage of prospects out there looking for a REALTOR to help them is so miniscule that failure is simply imminent. In fact, most working trainers still don’t get the mental position of the common prospect. Here’s what I mean; by the way it’s what you already know…

HOME BUYERS almost always begin the process of buying by looking at houses for sale that fit in to a price range they are approved for. Buyers love PICTURES on-line to BEGIN the process. They usually search based on affordability, location, and house size.

SELLERS go looking for recent, comparable sales in their neighborhoods FIRST that they can compare their home to. Then they look at their overall neighborhood performance, the tax and assessment roll, and when possible, look at addresses of recently sold homes.

Does your marketing for new BUYER and SELLER opportunities reflect these trending behaviors of your prospects? OK, here’s what consistent producing agents know already. Few prospects START the process by actively searching out Real Estate agents. AT LEAST NOWHERE NEAR ENOUGH to support the amount of “LOOK AT ME I’M THE GREATEST” image style marketing that exists out there. They open up their minds initially to the gathering process by searching for relevant and pertinent information about their project. By the way, to a prospect about to either buy or sell, it’s almost MONUMENTAL in their minds. They spend countless hours pouring through web sites, Google searches, and sites that feature current information.  That’s why month after month, year after year, this marketing method works better than anything else, it flies right in to what I call the “NEED” base of the prospect. In other words, they NEED (and really want) this information to make a decision about their impending project. Once they are comfortable with that they’ve found, they confidently and comfortably move forward.

Contrasting that, step in to a prospects face with the WRONG message – because we’re trying to “convince” then to do something they don’t want yet – and BOOM! they fade and disappear faster than a rainbow after a summer rainstorm. Turn them off with the WRONG message and “CLICK” goes the phone. Make an inappropriate first impression with your on-line marketing message and they surf away faster than they logged in. Last time I checked, that’s NOT conducive to growth for a realtor.

If you want to know what’s trending locally in terms of Real Estate issues, and learn how to become really good at creating solution based, direct response marketing here are a few tips to get you pointed and started.

  • Become very aware of the most common Real Estate related news items.
  • Become aware of the MOST ACTIVE price points in the local market.
  • Become VERY aware of the most important averages locally – DOM, List to Sales ratios, Av sales price, most popular sales areas.
  •  Understand locally what the majority of people are really looking for.

In the world of corporate advertising, this is called a market study. It’s easy for you to do on your own. I’ve said it a million times; most MLS providers produce a monthly stat package for their members. Be sure to subscribe to that and become very familiar with it. As an agent, you enjoy unbridled access to the most informative database of trends available – use it to it’s fullest advantage and grow you local knowledge to the point of knowing intimately what’s going on locally.

So, the conclusion? Create a solution based marketing campaign that will easily and predictably create droves of leads from folks locally who need to sell or buy but just need some information to get started. Once you’ve perfected the first one, do it again and again until your marketing permeates every active sector of the local market…  -Rick


Read Full Post »

“When I dream of you, I’m alright for a while, ‘cause when I dream of you, I wake up with a smile…”    -anonymous


     For my dear friend, compadre, and close pal, Daniel Passante. (1964-2012)

     Sometimes we forget that life itself is the most fragile commodity in our daily existence. We spend an inordinate amount of time pursuing the things we THINK are important when in fact, if you really stop and consider it, it’s LIFE itself that carries all the weight. As I’ve aged and gained strength through maturity, I’ve learned the importance of looking at things from a more relaxed perspective. It takes a lot these days to really get a rise out of me, my once shorter fuse has grown longer, more resilient, and patience has blossomed in my personality. As well, I’ve learned to see things in a much more relaxed light.

     However, life lessons remind us the end is as close as turning off a light switch.

     As a young man, totally infused with power and strength and enthusiasm, my last daily consideration was about having it all come crashing down around me. Sure, I knew folks that had been taken by death, it had distantly visited our family (both of my Scottish grandparents passed when I was young) but the intense helplessness that accompanies the pain and sting of death didn’t really hit me hard until I was almost 40. In 1997 my father passed away. Even though our relationship had been quite distant and somewhat fractured as I grew up, the loss of my father had a huge affect on me. Even though it had been expected, he was stricken with the Cancer as a result of smoking 2 packs a day for most of his life and he just wasn’t a healthy man, there was no way of filling the void his death left in my life. Despite the overwhelming evidence of an impending end, when it eventually happened, my father’s death hit me like a Mack truck. It was the first time in my entire life that the passing of an individual hurt so much. I was glad when the initial heartache and pain  subsided to the point where I could close my eyes and think about my Dad with out tearing up.

The human mind, with all of its intricacies, depth and power is also a powerful memory bank. Recently, the pain of my father’s passing came back to visit and it’s almost as strong now as it was then.  On Sunday March 25, 2012 my very good friend, Daniel Passante died behind the wheel of his car. I was absolutely shocked to the point of almost fainting when I heard the news. You see Daniel was a very close friend, someone I loved, respected and trusted. We were constant companions at SuperConference events; we spoke weekly on the phone, we texted back and forth practically daily and we always chatted before embarking on something special. We laughed and shared success stories 
together. We worked together on numerous projects, I went to Toronto a couple of times to help Daniel present his Investor and Rent-to-Own seminars, he came to Calgary to my home to simply hang out.  At all the SuperConference events he and I had in common we always had lunch together. In fact when Carol came to the events, at lunch her question to Daniel wasn’t “what do you want?” she simply confirmed his standing order with her. She’d order lunch for all of us, sometimes 8 or 9 people, we’d get it delivered to our room, I’d finish up what I was doing, Daniel would do the same, a quick text to each other ensued confirming room number and we’d all meet at either my room or his, loosen the ties, have a few laughs, relax a bit and just be friends. My wife Carol really enjoyed Daniels company  

     What everyone should know about my friend Daniel was the type of person he was. Firstly, whenever it was work related, Daniel was almost always in a suit and tie, he was concerned about making correct impressions on people. He cared much about the impression he made on others when carrying the responsibility of representing someone. He carried himself with dignity, professionalism, approachableness, and humility. He was the highest producing agent in the Canadian Century 21 system and was a most willing student of anything he could gravitate towards that involved stretching his paradigm and learning more. If you were in the same room as Daniel, you were immediately drawn to him for on reason – his friendliness and his huge constant smile. A couple of years ago, I took a few people fromCalgaryto a Keller Williams event inToronto. Of course I invited Daniel to join us and, of course, he did. The people I traveled with (Stacey, Sheila, and Holly) were immediately taken by his warmth and happy demeanor. But then, everyone was. If you look at the picture above, the smile in that picture is the way I’ll remember Daniel. That smile was his business card, the one thing that always distinguished him from others. When you see pictures of Daniels young son Julian, you see the exact same smile. Julian was lucky to have a dad as great as Daniel; the DNA Julian will grow up with will serve him very well, especially when it involves people.

     Earlier this year, inAnaheim, Daniel and I decided to sneak out for lunch the day before the event began and as was our custom, we rented a car. This time, Daniel drove. Leaving the Marriott, had no clear decision about our ultimate destination, we simply set out find a good lunch. We both lick our chops for good seafood so we felt going west towards the ocean would be a good strategy. We ended up going west and south, much farther than anticipated but it was a nice day, the sky was blue, the ocean looked gorgeous so we slid down the coastal freeway a bit and eventually ended up at the Santa Monica Pier where, along with some hilarious people watching, enjoyed a stellar lunch and, as usual, laughed our asses off at the silliest of things. I couldn’t tell you today what we laughed about, it doesn’t matter. The common denominator was enjoyment. I always enjoyed spending time with Daniel, plain and simple. Looking back, I’m overwhelmed with the amount of memories I have of spending time with Daniel.

     Over the years, I’ve done much in Toronto with Craig and the coaching team and whenever I was summoned to Toronto for an event, it was Daniel who picked me up at the Airport. I couldn’t tell you how many times he did that. Even when I ended up flying in late and simply going straight to the hotel, it was usually Daniel who picked me up. It was always good to see him. In LA last year we did the same thing and that time Daniel and I ended up inBeverly Hillswandering aroundRodeo Driveand a very cool antiques market in the park.

     Obviously I could go on forever. I’m sad to share these memories, would much rather sit down and stare at Daniels grin and work on a presentation PowerPoint together, it was hard to sit and have to remember these things, I would have like to have had him here, across my desk to confer with as some of the dates and places and times are a little muddy, just because there’s been so many over the past dozen years or so. Sitting here now, trying to make sense of such a sad event, I can only say that his passing has created much pain in my heart. But I’m a better person for having known Daniel, he contributed much to my outlook on things and his enthusiasm was contagious.

     I’ll end with a quick note about a recent conversation Daniel and I had. As I mentioned earlier, recently Daniel had taken a trip toIndia. That’s a long way from home and he went with a tour of folks he didn’t know but I’m sure he made friends as he traveled. Close to the end of his trip, Daniel picked up a disposable cell phone over there and called me. All the way fromIndia, he called just to say hi and tell me about his trip. He was feeling very rested and relaxed, ready to get home and get back to work, his time travelling had given him some thinking time and he had some ideas for his assigned coaching members that he was looking forward to getting back to work with. Carol and I happened to be on a long walk in up atSouthMountainpark inPhoenixand I just sat down on a big rock to enjoy my conversation with Daniel. As always he asked how Carol was, how the weather was inPhoenix. We talked about the upcoming SuperConference inAnaheimand he asked if Carol and I would like to join him atDisneylandif he brought Julian with him to the event. Of course our answer was an emphatic yes!  

     So now he’s not with us anymore. Yes, I’ll miss him, it will be a huge void that will be hard to fill. I still have our texts on my phone; I’m not sure what I’ll do with them, probably not much. As I read through them this morning, I was moved by one that simply said this: “Hey dude, what’s happening? Are you coming to Toronto in April?  Looks like CP has something going on.” My reply: “Not sure, be good to see you, we can go to dinner if I do.”

     Today, I wish we could have had just one more dinner…

     Luv ya brother, already miss you like crazy.  -Rick


Read Full Post »