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Question: One piece of advice I got before getting into real estate was to become active in several local community service organizations. I've done that, but it seems I am spending most of my time on volunteer efforts and it's not really helping me get business. What am I doing wrong?
Answer: As is the case with much conventional wisdom, you need to look deeper before you embrace it unreservedly and accept it as gospel. While joining organizations and volunteering your efforts in worthwhile causes is admirable, you need to examine both your motives and your tactics. Here are some specifics.
WORDS FROM THE WISE. Dave Liniger is the co-founder and Chairman of the Board of RE/MAX. International, which currently has over 120,000 agents in 65 countries. Liniger pioneered the one hundred percent commission concept with RE/MAX.
Several years ago I reviewed a book he wrote titled MAXIMUMS. In it he described his early days in real estate. He said he joined everything in sight, whether he had any real interest in the organization or not. It just did not pay off for him in a business sense. Faced with limited time and an absolute need to make money to survive, he backed off and pursued other activities. Later in his career, he maintains he again became active in community organizations, but only those in which he was sincerely interested and with whom he shared basic philosophical beliefs. He says the business followed.
BE PICKY. Here are my suggestions. First, join only those organizations to which you are genuinely and honestly committed, and even then "know when to say no". Typically, those members who do good work are those who end up doing most of the work. Second, as a business strategy, your objective is to become known. Other things being equal, people will do business with those whom they know, like, and trust. In a nutshell, that means you have to do good work (otherwise, things are not equal), meet a lot of people, and make the kind of impression that would make them like you and trust you. I would substitute "respect" for "like", but that's a nit pick.
DON’T BE A SECRET AGENT. Never keep it a secret that you are a real estate professional. It’s absolutely incredible the widespread interest in real estate . For example, I recently spent a few sessions in a local hospital where they were trying to eradicate a pesky little bug that had inhabited my lungs.. While lying flat on my back with disgusting looking liquids being pumped into one arm and the other connected to some kind of monitor, I became involved in a conversation with my caring and lovely nurse. When I told her that I taught real estate licensing at the local community college she became very animated and asked if I could refer her to an agent who would give her and her husband an estimate of the value of their home. They were planning to move to the South where her husband had a new job. Bottom line: I referred her to one of my former students who is a top producer in a local company. She listed the home and sold it in a week at full price. I collected over a thousand dollars in a referral fee, literally without moving a muscle.
FOCUS ON THE MISSION. When I was in the Air Force there was a General by the name of Curt LeMay. The General was a man of very few words (most of them one syllable). It was a time when there was some debate about the mission of the Air Force. We were involved in all sorts of activities, most of them well intentioned and useful, but often very time consuming and of somewhat dubious utility to what many thought should be our primary job.
When General LeMay became our Air Force Chief of Staff he cleared the air with: "Our job is to fly and to fight, and don't you forget it". In a brief sentence he said it all. First, if it were not for the airplane, there would be no need for an Air Force. Second, if it were not for the requirement to be ready to go to war, there would be no need for a military. You saw that statement on the walls of a lot of Air Force offices for many years. Any time anyone came up with a proposed program that, on the face of it, seemed quite logical and worthwhile, someone (generally the boss) would inevitably ask: "what does this have to do with flying and fighting?"
WHAT IS OUR MISSION? To paraphrase Curt (as he was sometimes called - never in his presence), I would say: "Our job is to list and to sell real estate, and don't you forget it". So when you are filling your hours, ask yourself this question: "What does this have to do with listing and selling real estate?"
That does not mean you should not volunteer for worthwhile community projects, engage in enjoyable hobbies, or get away from it all on a regular basis. Just remember how the bills get paid.
Best Regards, Ken Edwards