On Tuesday, I met with my weekly BNI lunch group (Business Networking International) and because Valentine's Day is dedicated to "love," most of the 30-second introductions went something like this: "I love my job because. . . '
So by the time my turn came to stand and finally identify myself, I played along and jumped in with "I'm Julie Gardner with McGuire Real Estate and I lovehomes and I love Buyers who love homes, who love ME showing them homes, who love the process of home ownership, who love me guiding them through that process, AND I love Sellers even more . . .
So if you love your friends, family member, and colleagues, you'll love sending them my way . . ."(you get the gist). The point is "love" is in the air.
And while I'm often very tongue and cheek in these brief introductions, I am usually on message about what I bring to the process and what I have to offer. The goal of such groups is to hone our elevator speech, to get crystal clear on the services we provide, and to support one another's expanding businesses through referral, thus, "A good client for me this week is ..." often starts our personal testimonials, ending with a mission statement: "I'm Julie Gardner, I build community, one family at a time."
But being crystal clear about what we provide and what we do also requires us to identify what we don't do particularly well; a concept I hadn't thought about much before, but took a critical look at this week as I came up short and had to admit it. And while I like to think that I can provide the solution to everyone as I help "build community (one family at a time)," the truth for ALL of us solo professionals, be it Realtor, photographer, financial planner, chiropractor, or home-care provider, is that it simply isn't so. This week, "love"meant examining my roster of clients, as well as my limitations, and then referring a few of them to others that are better suited to fulfill their needs.
In one case, my earnest, first-time Buyers need a Real Estate Agent who works in a lower price point and in transitional communities where they seek to find a home; preferably with an Agent that lists homes in the neighborhoods they have identified. They're going to need someone who's beating the bushes daily (!) to find them the needle in the haystack. Unfortunately, that's not me.
In another example, the Sellers need an Agent who can help carry the substantial costs of bringing their large, but badly neglected, house to market; they need a Realtor who's willing to personally invest in the property until the close of escrow; one with available crews and the wherewithal to make the sale happen very quickly. Again, that's not me.
And while I'm loathe to ever give away prospective clients, my duty - both fiduciary and professionally - is to put my clients' needs above my own. (You wouldn't want it any other way.) So I'm referring them out with their blessing, and their understanding; knowing they are both in excellent hands, even if they are not mine.
Which is why when I recently met young Buyers at a scheduled showing in the Oakland Hills who finally admitted they were working with a cousin in Brentwood to hopefully buy a house in Montclair, it made absolutely no sense to me; just as the Seller who decides to sell their home with an out-of-area Agent. On what planet does that put the clients' needs first? (It doesn't.)
On the flip side, a SF colleague called me last week to co-list her father's house here in Piedmont, my own SF Agent who helped us sell several of our city houses years ago sent her grown son over to tour with me last Sunday, a past client introduced me to their neighbor, a friend referred a co-worker who needs an Oakland pied-a-terre, and two out-of-area Agents reached out (one from Cleveland no less!) to refer their family members to me for potential listings. Thank you everyone, I appreciate your faith and trust in me - and in each of these cases, I am perfectly suited to the task at hand.
Remember that famous line from the movie, Love Story? (Of course you don't, you're too young and that sappy film came out when I was in grade school.) Anyway, in one of the dumbest lines ever written by a screenwriter, the ingenue, played by Ali McGraw, says to her boyfriend, a very young Ryan O'Neal, after he'd apologized, "Love means never having to say you're sorry." (Say what?) Love means not only having to say you're sorry, but also that that you were wrong, AND then it means trying to get it RIGHT.
It's not that I don't want to be the answer to everyone's real estate needs,(and wouldn't my ego and my pocketbook love it if I were?) it's that I want to "get it right." And when my heart and gut tell me otherwise, as it did in the two cases mentioned above, it's time to set a new course of action. Because here's what I know to be true: "love" isn't actually a testimonial, it's an action!
How can I help you?
Ready to sell? For a free market analysis, please email or give me a call: 510.326.0840.
P.S. My new email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.