“Yours is the Hardest Business I Have Ever Seen.”
Weekends are busy in real estate, so you can imagine the feeling when my head sank into the couch pillow at 6:20pm when I remembered that I had to drive to New Rochelle meet with a client I promised to see. My client is a retiree, and straight shooter as well, and our conversations are always unpredictable. Tonight, she did not disappoint.
"Yours is the hardest business I have ever seen. I can't believe it. I was in business for many years. I have never seen anything like it. It never ends. I used to think it was glamorous, to see homes and how other people furnished and such, but that is not so. You are so patient. It is good that you are good at what you do, because it is so hard."
I was glad she noticed. Forget the hours, vagaries of commission based compensation, rejection and everything else that goes with being self employed. Advocacy is no walk in the park. You have to do the worrying for people. You have to think 5 steps down the road and plan for contingencies if your counterparts zig, zag, or something else. You have to think about clients while you shave. You never leave work at work. Driving home, as I recalled the conversation with my wife, she reminded me that it is like being a surgeon as well- we are always on call.
That is just on the part of the work that centers on client needs. The other aspects of running a brokerage, such as the marketing, administration, sales, management of people, risk, liability and time, can all be taxing. But for those of us in this industry, it is a vocation, a lifestyle, and almost an obsession. We live, eat breathe and sleep real estate. How do I relax? I end my day by reading and writing about the industry on my own platform and in social media. It is the height of irony to unwind from a long day in real estate by immersing myself in...more real estate. But I am not alone.
There is another part to running a brokerage that isn't part of marketing, management or servicing clients. It is keeping up with the changes in the industry. The new shiny toy in 1996 was a cell phone. In 2001, it was a real estate website. Three years ago, licensees were encouraged to get involved in social media, and boy did we ever. In those and many "THE" things to do, we do it and often not well. My social media news stream is flooded with the insufferable amount of agents who use Facebook as a self promotion machine with waves of posts about their new listings, open houses, and humble-brags about what they did that day.
And when the shiny object stops being effective, they'll say it is passe. Lately, some agents have questioned whether websites, blogs, or home searches on their sites are worth having anymore because of diminished returns. This make me laugh. In 1996 my cell phone was a game changer. But why should it be a game changer now, when everyone has one?
So here was my last update on Facebook, directed toward my colleagues who blame their websites for no longer being effective:
Friendly reminder: Real estate is a tough, competitive business. Therefore, the things you were encouraged to do back in 2005 and 2008, like get a website and blog, are no longer cutting edge. There is always a better mousetrap. The same goes for the Twitter/Facebook thing.
The new shiny objects are video and mobile. Mobile, by the way, is why ZTR and some smart brokers are getting your market share.
Caveat: In 2015, when a Youtube channel and mobile optimized search are no longer the flavor of the month, don't say they don't work. They do work. You just have to compliment them with the right new stuff. And you have to use them right, like not using Facebook to post about your open houses (see Todd Carpenter).
Anyone who has ever said or thought "There. I now have a <shiny object>. I am going to make money," needs to understand that such sentiments are the preamble to an epitaph. Blogpost coming soon...
Our latest efforts are making sure that all of our online content and property searches are fully optimized for mobile. Who knows what it will be next week. But that is the job, and knowing what is next, just like taking nice photos or writing nice copy, is my business. Hard to do? Yes. But do I love it?