Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – December 8, 2004
Our Fledgling Marketing Group
Short Stories From 10 Years Ago – December 8, 2004 – It’s hard to believe, but our little marketing group of Sima, Dorothy, Big and yours truly met today for the fourth time. I know why the sages, past and present, say there is strength in numbers – because it’s true. The business of transacting real estate can be very isolating, and some days it’s hard not to feel lonely.
Many days are spent doing research, preparing marketing materials and driving neighbourhoods. The time spent with clients is usually enjoyable, but for us it’s still work. Most of us spend more time with our computers than with our families and friends. That begs the question – “Why haven’t I named my computer?” Perhaps that discussion is for another day.
We’re all making a real effort to arrive and start on time, and so far we’ve covered topics such as – our planning session, getting organized, motivation and growing our business. We rotate the chair for each of the meetings and try to contribute in equal measure to the discussions. These sessions aren’t designed to be a cure all for our business woes, but I’m amazed at the positive energy that is generated during the two hours that we’re together.
Next month we’re going to go up to a Muskoka cottage for two days and nights to relax and talk about time management and generating new business. If we walk away with only one thought that becomes a glimmer and then springs forth into an idea, it’s terrific. It also lets us all know that we’re not alone, and that we have a support system in place for those days when we need a little more than a subtle nudge to get us going. I certainly have my share of those dark mornings.
Today we spent time discussing the art of staying in touch with our clients (these are people who already like us). What a great place to start. I already do a bi-monthly newsletter which has been a great resource, both for my clients and for me. It’s archived on my Web Site and is available as a reference for such things as market activity, mortgage rates and articles of interest. However this doesn’t address, what seems to have become the lost art of “the personal touch” in business. Common courtesy has been missing in the market place for years now and it’s high time for a come back of both these old fashioned, non-technical attributes.
We talked about methods of staying connected to our list of contacts that are personal, and not directly related to business. Our clients know what we do and whether we have served them well or not, so staying in touch doesn’t have to be directly related to real estate. A personal association can cement a business relationship and make us memorable to our clients. There are so many things you can do to stay in touch and be genuine about it in the process.
Phone calls to say “hello”, coffee, lunch, a hand written note, birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, special celebrations or simply acknowledging another’s small success. We all like to be recognized for things we’ve done and praised for things we’ve done exceptionally well. Saying “thank you” is also a great way to stay in touch with other people.
The value of a support group of your professional peers is immeasurable and if you’re a small business owner, work from home or are an entrepreneur, it can make all the difference in your attitude and in your enjoyment of your career. We decided on a few rules (not many) to keep us focussed on the tasks at hand:
Someone chairs each meeting – it’s best to rotate the responsibility so everyone enjoys the experience.
The chair stops the meeting from straying off topic.
Pick the theme of the meeting ahead of time.
Everyone must contribute.
“Bitching” is reserved for after the meeting.
The host/hostess provides coffee and snacks.
Everyone must be on time.
The meeting runs for two hours.
If tasks are assigned or volunteered they must be completed in a timely fashion.
We meet once a month – more than that becomes onerous – just one more thing on the “To Do List”.
I’m learning a lot from this process of getting together once a month. I have to admit that I was sceptical at the start. Back in September I thought it would be another support group that would start with a flourish and fizzle out after a couple of months. I was wrong.
Everyone comes with a positive attitude and offers suggestions that are innovative and helpful. None of us uses all the ideas that are generated, but these sessions make us all think, plan and take our careers seriously. It’s a terrific way to break the isolation of an independent business, to get a shot of motivation and to have a lot of fun inthe process. Try it – it works!