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.

Tuesday, January 2, 2018

2017 StepStone Goals in Review

It’s Dan’s favorite time of the year.. the decorations come down, the shopping stops, the hurried and distracted pace of the holidays fades away. January 2nd! Official Back to Work Day! 

We’ll get back to work by spending the next few weeks reviewing our 2017 goals and setting the new ones for 2018. By using the techniques we learned reading TRACTION by Gino Wickman over the last year we were able to make some great strides in our goals for StepStone Realty.  

First on our agenda was to provide additional training and educational opportunities for our agents. As a result, we produced four Agent Workshops that were offered in each of our major metros.  All four were a great success where agents & partners enjoyed making connections with agents from other cities, excellent networking, great classes and fun happy hours. Based on your comments, this year we’ll be doing 2 Two Day Workshops. Mark your calendars now for April 13 & 14 for the Austin event and August 10 & 11 for the Houston Workshop. You won’t want to miss them.

Another huge success for us this year was our capital raise. While it was a much longer process than we anticipated, we were able to raise funds for StepStone Realty by an offering on a crowdfunding website, MassVenture. We raised nearly $250,000 to help the brokerage grow to the next level but more importantly ALL OF THE FUNDS CAME FROM STEPSTONE AGENTS. We couldn’t be more thrilled to have the support of our agents and give them an opportunity to own a piece of Stepstone.

We also rolled out some additional opportunities for our StepStone agents to earn residual income. Our more experienced Agent/Investors can now participate in a Captain program where they act as ambassadors to our incoming agents and help brand new agents learn the ropes as well as be available for partnerships on investment deals.
Even the newest agents can participate in our Agent Rep program where agents who attend a special training are invited to represent StepStone Realty at various networking events. This is a great way to pick up prospective agent leads and earn recruiting residuals. Watch Facebook for the next Agent Rep class opportunities.

We are also happy to report that we have hired a part time staff member who will begin working with us in the next week to help support our agents. As our staff grows we look for more ways to compensate them and are glad to now offer health insurance to our full time employees.  

While we accomplished these goals we have a few that are still a work in progress and will likely continue to be on the list for 2018.

Our beloved MojoVest is due for an overhaul. Unfortunately, this project took a few steps backwards when we lost our developer. Ultimately, it was better to happen sooner than later, and we now vetting new developers and reviewing bids.

We are also in the process of interviewing marking companies to create a plan that includes polishing our marketing materials, overhauling the website, adding individual agent website options and developing a larger social media presence.

Finally, after some set up, we are now ready to launch an experimental lead generation program. Our hope is that we can take advantage of the skills of our most successful marketers to generate leads that other StepStone agents can then purchase on a per lead basis. StepStone Realty will bear the expense of generating the leads so that our agents can confidently spend their marketing dollars on already identified prospects.

I’ve learned a lot over the past 4 years about owning and running a brokerage. The biggest lesson is that the work is never done. As such, sometimes it can feel overwhelming to accomplish everything I want to for this company. However, each year I see the progress we’ve built on top of previous progress and I feel confident that with clear objectives shared by all in the company we can continue to grow, thrive and be the best brokerage home for real estate investor/agents.

I hope that you, too, will continue to build on your successes, not get discouraged, but instead use deliberate action to reach your goals! Make 2018 a year of action! I know I will!

Happy New Year!