Sunday, April 1, 2018

Get Off Your Lonely Island

StepStone back offices are in full prep mode for the upcoming StepStone Agent Workshop scheduled for April 13th and 14th in Austin. We are fine tuning the schedule, lining up sponsors, creating handouts, processing registrations, printing name tags…

It’s a big undertaking that started late last year and as I write this we are coming up on the registration deadline on April 5th. Have you registered? Still on the fence? Unsure if it’s really worth your time?  

First things first, this is not a profit driven pursuit for StepStone. In fact, the Workshop is a significant expense of both time and money and each additional person who attends costs us a little more. Yet, we still call you, email you and blog about it in an effort to GET YOU THERE! Why? Because we honestly believe the Workshops will help you become more successful. And I don’t mean that in a general sense. I mean that in a very real concrete way. Here’s how:

1. Hands-On Content Driven Classes: Whether you are interested in more Realtor training or more Investor training you will have class options to fit your needs. We bring in the best and most successful people to share their skills, knowledge and experience with you. Get comfortable with contracts in my New Agent Basics class, unravel the mysteries of title commitments with title attorney Ashley Patten, take your flips to the next level by learning how to solve Design Dilemmas and successful Project Management from some of the best, or practice Phone Call to Contract strategies that will get you in the door.

2. Not a Pitch Fest: Ever been to an Expo, sit through a class, gain a few nuggets and then learn that you need to buy into the program to get the rest of the story? Other than some brief introductions and comments by our sponsors, outside of class time, you will not get a pitch in class. Nothing to sell, no coaching programs to peddle, just education. How refreshing is that!

3. Connections: Don’t discount this one. I know of one StepStone agent who was able to get a private money loan from another StepStone agent because they connected with each other at the Workshops last year. You can’t make it in this business by being on an island. You need resources. You need time, money or expertise. It’s a lot easier to do business with someone you’ve met, networked with, had dinner with, and brainstormed in classes with. Personally, I want to do business with people who participate, engage and take advantage of opportunities to do so. 

4. You already know it all: One agent we talked to really just felt there wasn’t anything for him to learn. His business is hopping, he’s feeling good, doesn’t feel like he needs to give up his weekend for this. If this is your attitude then you clearly do not know it all. Dan and I have been in this business for 12 years and I assure you that you will never know it all. Laws change, techniques change, the market changes, styles change, contracts change.  Don’t ever get too comfortable or you might find yourself behind the eight ball.

5. You don’t know enough: It’s not easy to walk into a room of people you don’t know very well and think that you could potentially be the greenest person there. If this is your first Workshop or even your first StepStone event to attend then what a great first step! Don’t let your fear get in the way. One thing I can tell you about the StepStone community is that we don’t play king of the hill. Each and every person’s experience, talents and time is valuable.  Furthermore, I believe that our Investor Agents are among the most generous with their knowledge. Take advantage of that!

StepStone Realty is unique. We don’t meet for weekly sales meetings or have a centralized office where we can gab over the water cooler. That works really well for most of us as independent entrepreneurs. However, don’t let yourself get stuck on the outside. There is a ton of opportunity in our community but you have to get off your lonely island and participate.

Registration open through April 5th. Questions or concerns? Pick up the phone and call me or Dan. Otherwise, sign up and we’ll look forward to seeing you in Austin in a few weeks!

PS. Absolutely cannot make it? Open your calendar RIGHT NOW and block August 10th and 11th to join us in Houston for the next one.

PSS. Sign up your spouse or business partner. They are welcome!

Thursday, March 1, 2018

MasterMind Shake UP

My extended family has a Christmas tradition that Dan finds a bit maddening. When we gather to celebrate the holiday and exchange gifts we take turns as each person opens their stocking and Christmas gifts as the rest of us watch. I really enjoy giving each person their own time to open their gifts, thank the giver and see all the great stuff everyone gave each other. 

We’ve kept up this tradition for quite some time but the trouble is that every Christmas it seems the group gets bigger. What used to be just me and my two sisters with my parents is now multiplied with our spouses, our kids, their spouses, their kids, assorted in-laws and a gaggle of 5 little girls including a new set of twins. Things have gotten out of hand to say the least. What used to take an hour or so can now stretch well into the night with no time left to do anything else.

Much like the Sherosky clan, our StepStone family has grown a lot in the last few years and based on your comments on our recent survey many of you, like Dan, are ready for a little change in tradition. And, while there are things I really love about how we’ve done the MasterMinds in the past, it’s time to take a new direction.

Beginning last month in Houston & San Antonio we started a new format for the MasterMind lunches that so far has been very well received. We will no longer go around the room for introductions and invitation to ask question/start discussion. This has gotten too repetitive and leaves no time for other topics or market reports. Instead, everyone will get nametags to help us get acquainted with each other & our guests. The first 15 minutes will be for networking and getting settled in and then we’ll start the meeting with announcements followed by a market report and discussion.

Following that, each meeting we will have a special topic or presentation. Usually, there will be a deal anatomy following that presentation but sometimes we may decide to carve out more time for particularly lengthy or important presentation. We think this will help ensure new and usable content at each meeting and give us a bit more structure. While Dan or I may give the presentation we will also be looking for guest speakers, including our own agents, to contribute to the content of the meeting. Finally, there will be time following the presentation and deal anatomy for general questions and/or deal pitching.

In the coming weeks, Dan and I will put together a schedule of topics. We’d love your input! What do you want to hear about? Who would you like to see as a guest speaker? Do you have a special skill or knowledge that you would like to share with the group?

Here is our brainstorm list so far… let us know what to add or what you love on this list!
Fair Housing/ Agency & Disclosure/ Foreclosure Prevention/ New Tax Law/ Working with Investors/ Net Listings/ Short Sales/ Types of Liens/ Auctions/ City Code/ Historical Homes/ Private Money/ Building Rapport/ Wholesaling/ Owner Finance/ Flip Tricks/ Property Management/ Probate/ Problem Sellers/ Negotiations/ Social Media/ Networking Skills/ Appraisals.

If you haven’t been attending the MasterMind lunches I challenge you to add them to your calendar today. You have a great network of colleagues sharing deals, expertise and  encouragement that you are not tapping into! Take advantage!

Thursday, February 1, 2018

When Conflict Arises

Have you ever seen the TV show Bridezillas? It starts with an introduction to a beautiful, blissful bride and her loving, supportive family. But then, somewhere along the way, a switch goes off and the pleasant bride-to-be turns into Bridezilla- mean spirited, demanding, lashing out at everyone around her.  Usually, the people who get the worst of her abuses are the ones who are closest to her, helping to make her dream wedding come true.

I’ve also seen this same phenomenon in real estate. The buying and selling process can be very stressful. Especially, when things don’t go just right. Or, worse, when things go absolutely wrong.  The stress can cause your most pleasant, friendly client to turn into a Sellerzilla or Buyerzilla in the blink of an eye.  And much like the show, the folks who get the worst of the behavior are often the sales agents who have been working so hard to make the transaction work.

As a Realtor, even if you are the most diligent, thoughtful, and careful agent, if you practice long enough you will unfortunately find yourself dealing with this kind of client. It can be unsettling when that switch goes off and suddenly you are at odds with the person you are supposed to be working for and being blamed for circumstances outside of your control.

This can be an untenable position but there are some strategies for you to use to get through to the other side fairly unscathed.

First, stay calm. This is a good rule to employ all the time but especially in difficult circumstances. If you allow yourself to get worked up you will only inflame the situation. Even if you have to delay dealing with something for a few minutes or an hour to ensure you have control of your emotions you should do that. Take a walk, take a deep breath, vent to your broker, drink a glass of wine. Do what you need to do to stay in control of yourself and your emotions.

Second, stay professional. Do not say, text or email anything that you might regret later.  And not just to your client but everyone in the transaction. You may be getting the brunt of a situation that was someone else’s fault. Suck it up and keep it professional. I’ve seen some of the most shocking emails/texts from other professionals. Don’t make a bad situation worse by saying something you will regret and could potentially cost you business or referrals down the road.

Finally, put it all in writing. This is also important to do all the time but especially in situations of conflict. If things go south and you find yourself in a lawsuit you will want the written record of everything that transpired. If you have a phone conversation, follow up with an email to recap. As one of my favorite attorney friends says, in true lawyerly form, “Everyone is a liar.” It sounds harsh and I’m not saying it’s true but you need to prepare yourself as if it is.

When a transaction becomes difficult it can feel like you are stuck in a vice with no clear end in sight. Time slows down and gets sucked into conflict. In my years as a Realtor I’ve experienced several of these nightmare transactions. It’s hard. It’s disheartening. It’s frustrating. But, now that I reflect back, I have a hard time remembering the specific names or properties which at the time strained all my patience, my feelings and my confidence. The ones that stick in my memory are the good ones, the families I helped out of foreclosure, the first homes I helped couples find, the ones that made me love my job.

So, if you find yourself in this situation remember that I have your back. We’ll weather this storm together. Use these strategies, learn from the experience and know that sunnier days are on the horizon.