15 June 2010

What’s in Your Toolbox?

Several years ago I was asked to participate in a Habitat for Humanity project.  It was a day when only women were to work on a home that was being built for a single mother in Hartford, CT, and I was proud to participate.

I participated with several agents from my office and upon arrival we were met by the local builder who provided each of us with a carpenter’s apron, a hammer, nails, a tape measure and our assignments.  Mine was to hammer floor boards.  The builder barked out instructions, demonstrated with a few swings of his hammer and left me to my work which I took on with feverish excitement.

I tapped the first nail with the hammer and it quickly slid from my fingers onto the board then rolled to the ground.  I should know how to do this, I told myself.  I hang pictures all the time.  I tapped harder on the next nail and the next.  That worked better, but it seemed I tapped forever until the nails head finally rested in the wood. My excitement waned as I quickly realized how unprepared I was for the job.  The harder I tried, the more frustrated I became. By the end of the day, I wasn’t any more experienced in carpentry than I was at 8 AM, and while I was equipped with the tools and I participated, and contributed, I was not at all productive.

I’ve observed similarities with real estate agents. When an agent comes to the real estate business, he/she has a tool box.  It includes two things: their license and enthusiasm.  When they join a company, the tool box grows. Company tools are added, marketing materials, presentation books and/or programs, scripts and in many cases, training.  I challenge you that training alone is not enough.  We train dogs.  They learn to follow commands – sit, lay, heel, come.  People are different.

Preparing agents to succeed is three fold. I call it the ETC approach:

Educate – Teach agents the fundamental rules of prospecting, working with buyers and sellers, understanding motivations, uncovering needs, asking powerful questions, marketing. Without fundamentals, agents will follow commands. Agents need to have a thorough understanding of contracts and representation.

Train – Role play, scripts, case studies, assignments, practice, repeat, practice, repeat to learn and internalize information.

Coach – Follow up with agents for at least 90 – 120 days following the program to achieve at least one listing and one buyer.

Whether an agent comes to us fresh out of licensing school or with years in the business, it is our responsibility to assure they know how to use all the tools in their tool box.

2 thoughts on “What’s in Your Toolbox?

  1. Paulette, the problem with real estate brokerage is that they hire people who are totally unprepared t be able to sell homes, and they usually never get better at it, because they learn how to do everything from people who are still using an outdated approach to the business. The industry has never moved forward like other industries have. Your ETC approach is basic in theory, and most brokerages swear that they have the best training, when in reality they have nothing. Professional is a term that they love to toss around, but talk to most agents and what you see is mostly unprofessional. The quality of the people isn't top notch…why is that?

    I've been building and selling homes for 30+ years and I have rarely met an agent who knows what they're doing…or even worse how to do it. In an age of incredible technology, Realtors everywhere are still listing their homes on free websites, having open houses, putting up lawn signs and printing worthless brochures that hardly anyone will ever see…it's the same exact approach that they've been using for decades (except for the web). And when homes don't sell, it can't possibly be because of what the agent doesn't do…the excuse is always that the home is overpriced.

    The problem starts at the brokerage level because most of the brokers aren't qualified to own a business. And on the franchise level, all the the companies are the same…put a home on a website and eventually it will sell. In what other industry does every company try to sell the same product the same exact was as their competitors?

    Consumers aren't searching for products the way that we want them to. We don't give them what they want and need, because we think that what we do is good enough…but they don't think so and that's why they wait so long to talk to us.

    As for your tool box, agents can get more tools and better tools from buying a mac computer than they get from any brokerage company…and when put to use they're more effective. That's sad.

    The industry has to wake up and start seeing what's going on around them, or one day soon someone will give us a knock out punch.

    Don't think that companies like Apple, Google and others aren't already planning how to take our business away. There's so many great ways to market and sell homes, and we don't do it…and they can.

    If Apple were to start their own real estate site, all the other sites would be vacant within a day. Even the agents would list their homes on it because everyone knows that Apple understands how to reach consumers…we don't.

    Mediocrity has always been an acceptable practice for Realtors…and it shows.

    My theory on how to train agents…fire everyone and start over. We need new blood and fresh ideas. This stuff is old already

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