Dear Ace Hardware,

I went to your store on West Market Street in Greensboro today to have 2 keys made. Unfortunately, one of them didn’t work when I met my new tenants at the house at 5pm. So I hightailed it back to the store to get the key fixed. I arrived at what I thought was 5.25 but when I got there, two Employees already had the door signed turned. They were still in the store so I got out and ran up to the door. I told them I got the key made there this morning and I needed it rekeyed because it didn’t work and one employee walked out right by me, ignoring me. The other said “We’re closed.” “You’re still inside the store- I just need you to fix the key you made for me this morning.” He Replied “We’re closed.” I said “But you’re right there- can’t you just fix this key for me right quick?” to which he replied “Can’t help you til in the morning.”

This is not the first time I have had issue with customer service in one of your stores. But this will be the last because I promise you one thing- I will never set foot in another Ace Hardware if I can help it. Lowe’s and Home Depot not only have hours past 5.30, but I have never been treated so rudely by one of their employees. Customer Service should be the rule, NOT the exception.



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A Real Estate Agent’s life

I guess most folks think Real Estate Agents don’t do much. Sitting around, drinking coffee, chatting with other agents, counting the money that comes rolling in, blah blah blah. Yep, most days I just sit around typing on my computer, browsing Facebook and Twitter, and every few minutes I roll around in a huge pile of your money. Yep, that’s me.

Well, not really.

Seriously, it’s ridiculous what we Agents do sometimes. Ridiculous. This weekend I was checking on a client’s cats. Yep, really. Had to go by the listing and make sure the cats were ok while they were out of town in case there was a showing. Catsitter. You have no idea what an agent goes through on a daily basis. But I’m gonna tell you.

Think of the time you interviewed for your last job. Or the job you’re currently trying to get. It’s a job interview, so imagine everything that goes with it- nervousness, jitters, stomach pains, the whole deal. Then imagine doing that every few weeks. Or if you’re in demand, and it’s a good market, every week. A job interview. That’s what a listing appointment is like for me. Every sit down with a seller is like an job interview. And as
you know, that sucks. And if you get the “Job” you immediately get to start spending money on your job- marketing, advertising, fliers, driving to and from, measuring the house, taking photos, open houses, etc. And you’re liable for any of the information if it turns out to be wrong. Oh yeah. And you might work for 3 or 6 months and make absolutely nothing. In fact, you poured money into your new job and ended up in the red. Or you don’t get the job- now you’ve heard the word NO again. Do you take it personally? Do you analyze it to death? Is it you? Did you have something in your teeth? Do you suck? I must suck- I didn’t get the job. I suck. Oh man, I suck.

Yep, that’s my job. You gotta have thick skin to do this job. REALLY thick skin.

And then there’s the dealing with buyers who might be interested in the home. You gotta sell it to em on the phone or by email just to get them over to the house. And you make the appointment to show it and you drive over and guess what- you sit there from 5 til until 25 after and they don’t show up. And they don’t answer their phone when you call them. Or worse, they do answer and you manage to make it thru “Hey it’s Your Agent with Your Company and I’m at the house” and they hang up on you. Does this actually happen? Oh yes. ALL the TIME.

Why do I keep doing this? Sometimes I’m not sure.

There’s licensing costs and gas prices and mandatory education and keeping track of road construction like the Urban Loop and the FedEx runway and expansion of businesses (are they hiring?) and updates of contracts and agents who don’t do their jobs or worse- have NO CLUE what they are doing. And buyers who don’t know what they want and sellers who think their house is worth more than the market is telling you. And it’s 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Weekend? What’s that? Vacation? Hah. Last Saturday I had to leave my daughter crying for me not to leave so I could go show property in the hope that I might actually sell something so we can eat.

I’ve crawled into crawlspaces and attics, I’ve hit my head on dozens of support beams and hangy things, I once got cut from the odd nail that tore thru my shirt and the bleeding was so bad I had to get napkins from my car to stop the bleeding. That’s happened a lot, bleeding. I’ve cut myself many times in homes. I’ve ruined many a pair of shoes and pants. People hang up on me, people stand me up, people talk like I’m a used car salesman. I’ve lost friends. I’ve been yelled and screamed at, I’ve gotten cursed at and once a guy spit at me. I once walked into a house full of people smoking crack & I backed out reeeealllllyyyyy slowly and got the hell out of there. I’ve gotten lost more times than I can remember. I’ve had days when I made so many phone calls that my ears literally hurt from holding the phone to my ear.

And yet…

I’ve been hugged many times. I’ve had buyers cry at closing who just couldn’t believe they were buying their first home. I’ve met some awesome folks. I’ve gotten gifts from appreciative buyers. I’ve gotten the best recommendations from really great people. And sometimes I forget that I could be digging ditches or doing construction or not have a job at all. I’m not complaining- the one bottle of Wild Turkey from a grateful homeowner who I found a renter for or the Mini Me I got from a buyer who I helped makes up for 10 idiots who aren’t grateful or yell at me (when I told them what to do and they didn’t listen).

It’s a crazy roller coaster job I’ve got. Sometimes it sucks, sometimes it rocks. But it’s a lot harder than it looks. I mean it.

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Realtors and Facebook

ahhh my first real blog post. Feels good. Feels… naughty. No really, I’m kidding.
But I have to tell you guys something. I have to get this off my chest- I’ve been trying to find a way to tell you, and I’ve been waiting for the right time. Honestly I don’t know how to say this so I’m just going to say it- Agents, you’re doing it wrong.

There- I said it. You are doing it wrong. WRONG.

“What?” you say. “I’m not doing anything wrong. I have my ‘Social Media Presence’ like they tell me! I watched that video online! I took the class on Facebook and then I got myself a Facebook Page!”

Seriously, yes you are. You are doing it wrong. And I’m going to tell you why. Even tho I shouldn’t, especially in this market- I should just let your clients come to me instead of you. But sadly I feel the need to help my fellow agents. And not just agents- this can pretty much be applied to every single person who is contemplating Social Media. Consider this a list of what NOT to do. And it’s brutal so don’t cry to me after you read it cause the truth hurts.

1- Your photo is your business card photo.
Yep, you gots yaself a Facebook page and you put up the best and most flattering photo of yourself you could find. The EXACT same one that is on every piece of marketing you create. I’m not gonna call it a Glamourshot or make fun of how it’s 10 years old (or older) or anything like that. But you need to understand that Facebook is not a Realtor’s luncheon. Think of Facebook as a social gathering i.e. it’s a party and it’s NOT formal. Why are you overdressed? Seriously, this is more like a grill and chill and you show up dressed to go to work. Please go home and change. Post a photo of yourself that’s REAL. Something that reflects YOU. Facebook is more personal than the marketing you’ve been taught to do. This is about real engagement, not some idea of “professionalism” you have had beaten into your head from years of classes on real estate marketing. Which, by they way, you should forget. This isn’t 1996. or even 2006. That old school stuff just doesn’t fly with today’s buyers.

2- Your photo is your business card photo and it actually looks like a business card.
Oh man I love this. Not only did you use your business card photo, but you had someone make it all fancy and added your contact into and everything else on there. Man, that is a good looking business card you got there. Why don’t you make it into an ACTUAL business card? This is Facebook, dude. Simmer down. Hell I would rather see a photo of your kid than that. Why isn’t your personal Facebook page PERSONAL? The goal is Social Media Marketing is to engage your clients on a personal level. So why are you being so impersonal? Think again of the party. Now you’re overdressed and you’re wearing your nametag? NOBODY CARES ABOUT YOU! Take off your nametag and your tie and sit down and have a beer already. The fact that you are an agent will come up in the conversation naturally. Stop forcing it already.

3- Your personal Facebook page is being used as a business page.
Ok so you got a Facebook page and all you talk about is what homes you have for sale and what kind of business you are doing. Now you’re overdressed, you’re wearing a nametag AND you won’t shut up about what they do for a living. Seriously? Dude, SHUT UP. A personal Facebook page is just that- Personal. Make a Business/Fan page and talk about business. Then people may actually care as long as you have REAL content that actually ENGAGES your customers. Remember, Facebook (and social media) is about Engaging people- make them like you, make them trust you, make them want to talk to you. Keyword- Social. If you make your online presence all about YOU and what you do, you’re doing it wrong. What you SHOULD be doing is making it about THEM- your clients, your friends, your associates. WHAT you do is not as important as what you CAN do- for THEM. Which comes to my next point.

4- You post all day and never do anything else.
You post your listings, what business you do and nothing else. You never respond, never post on anyone’s comments or their page or anything. So now you’re the overdressed guy at the party with your nametag on and all you do is talk. And talk. And talk. And you never let anyone else talk and you never shut up. Do everyone at the party a favor and SHUT UP. “Social,” again, is the keyword. Be social. And by definition, you should be talking to other folks. And not just talking- LISTENING. Other people are talking. They have lives, kids, pets, events, etc. If you want to really engage your clients, you need to stop talking and start listening. And get to know them- their lives, their wants, their fears. Knowing your clients is ESSENTIAL to gaining their trust so that when they are ready to buy or sell, they call you. Or when someone they KNOW wants to buy or sell, they recommend you. Shut up and listen.

5- You play Farmville/Fishville/Mob Wars/Insert Stupid Game name here all day
Really? THAT’S your online presence? Playing games? Really? Seriously? Really? REALLY?!? So you accidently have a client go to your page to find your contact information and they see that you have spent HOURS playing a stupid game? And the only contact they ever get from you is to join your gang? SERIOUSLY? When you should have spent hours trying to SELL YOUR CLIENTS HOUSE! Don’t get me wrong- I’m a gamer from way back. Waaaaayyyyy back. Atari style. I still love some FPS games (that’s First Person Shooter games, for you non-gamers.) Heck I played Left 4 Dead 2 last night. AFTER WORK. When I couldn’t make another phone call and the thought of sending another work-related email made me want to shoot something, I shot some zombies. Keeps me sane and keeps me from getting burned out, but that’s a whole other blog post. Do I talk about it on my Facebook page? Occasionally. I have Gamer clients. But if my Facebook page had nothing but posts all day about games, what does that say about my priorities? What does that tell my clients about how I spend my time? I WASTED THE WHOLE DAY PLAYING FAKE REAL ESTATE is what is says. Stop doing it. NOW!

That’s all for now. More to come as I get irritated with the things I see. I highly recommend reading Scott Stratten’s book Un-Marketing. It will change how you do your marketing. And read this post by the Real Tech Guy. Over and Over. Read it, know it, live it. Of course, you can just continue to send out Recipe Cards if you like…

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so very testing this.

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