I recently attended a Financial Literacy Summit and had the opportunity to sit in a class conducted by an extremely energizing and engaging teacher. One of the things she said that stuck with me was, “The way you do anything is the way you do everything.” She was talking about personal finances but she could have been talking about almost anything. She also said “It’s better to tell your money where to go than to ask where it went.”
So much of our success is dependent on planning. It’s no secret these past few years have been challenging financially for individuals and organizations. Those challenges also include opportunities to rethink what we do and how we do it. Maine Choice Realty is no exception.
As a company, we are in the process of “telling our money where to go” in the sense that we are refocusing our approach to the business. We are looking at ways to increase our visibility while at the same time decreasing our overhead. This will include taking advantage of technology to improve how we handle routine office tasks.
One advantage we’ve enjoyed during these difficult times is that we have a good foundation. We’ve known for some time that most of our clients come as a referral; that certainly hasn’t changed. Our ongoing analysis reveals that print advertising continues to decline as a source of qualified buyers. So we are refocusing our marketing efforts to leverage those things that work.
The business of real estate is certainly changing and we know that if we don’t create change, change will create us. So we are creating some change!
For the most part, you won’t notice much change from the Maine Choice Realty you’ve known. We have provided you with service you can trust and we will continue to do just that.
On a more personal level, these changes are providing an opportunity for me to rethink my approach and strategy.
Thanks to my teaching background and current associations I’ve been in a bit of a “good news/bad news” situation. I’ve enjoyed the synergy – my real estate practice makes me a better teacher and my teaching makes me a better real estate practitioner. I believe the business of real estate suggests that buyers and sellers will benefit greatly being represented by someone who can both teach and learn. The good news is I can do that!
The bad news is that the demands of a “dual career” are at times difficult to manage. There are times when phone calls don’t get returned quickly enough and appointments have to be scheduled too far in advance. I do appreciate clients who understand the “laws of service” and view our relationship as a partnership. (I’d encourage you to take a look at the reprinted article, “The Immutable Laws of Service.”)
With all of that as background, like Maine Choice Realty, I too am refocusing. Also like Maine Choice Realty, I’m not sure there will be a very visible difference to most people. One reason for that is simply that many of the changes will be gradual. Here are just two areas of consideration:
- My “boomsmaonline” blog will undergo some major upgrades and adjustments. I expect this will be time consuming and difficult, but anticipate a good return on those investments. The blog will continue to be information based and more about the process than listings, but I anticipate adding a search for property feature and will increase the amount of information regarding courses and teaching.
- Central Maine real estate has a number of unique challenges when it comes to marketing. I’ve worked from Bangor to Skowhegan to Greenville—not because I enjoy driving but because that’s where “the business” has been. Keeping abreast of those communities and markets is a real challenge—not to mention expensive. Refocusing will include a hard look at those marketing challenges and some redefining of how far I travel.
Much of the management consulting I did in the past was done during the days when “putting the customer first” was fashionable to the point of being faddish. Tom Peters was preaching “In Search of Excellence.” Quality improvement programs were a dime a dozen. One of the missing components in many of those programs was a very simple truth: a business’s first obligation to its customers and clients is to operate efficiently and profitably. I kept that truth at the core of my work then and now.
There is a balance in this that is difficult but not impossible to achieve. As evidence of how difficult it is, a recent article by Mike Parker (a well known authority on the subject of online marketing services for real estate professionals) cited a statistic showing that only 22% of home buyers are happy with their agent. Does that imply we are sacrificing “customer service” during the hard times while we chase profit?
Of perhaps even greater interest is the fact that this client satisfaction number has declined over 70% from 2004 when nearly 80% were at least satisfied with their agent. Unfortunately, my own observations and experiences support this statistic. I’m happy to be an exception to the trend. I think it’s easier and more effective to decide where client satisfaction is going to go than it is to analyze where it went!
So while things are happening in the market that are making the business increasingly difficult, at Maine Choice Realty and with my own practice, my objective is as always: to be in that percentage of buyers (and sellers) who are happy with their agent.
Thanks for your continued confidence!