Remember Denzel Washington in ‘Philadelphia?’ He played the no-nonsense attorney that finally takes Tom Hanks’ case. Several times in the movie, he stops the person speaking to him and says, ‘Talk to me like I was a five year old.’ It was a plea to be spoken to plainly and clearly so that there would be no misunderstanding. If you’ll indulge me for a few minutes, I’d like to speak to all of us as if we were five year olds about the most basic of concepts: The Help-U-Sell Consumer offering.
The Seller offer is pretty easy. By easy, I mean I think most grasp it pretty well. It is: We charge a set fee for our services which is not only logical, but can also save thousands over what an ordinary broker would charge. Our set fee is comparatively low for a number of reasons but mostly because we market efficiently* and because we let the seller handle some of the less complicated parts of the process.
We get all hung up about that last bit. Somehow the whole Full-Service vs. Limited Service vs Discounter debate trickles in and next thing you know, Help-U-Sell brokers are holding open houses and handling the showings and filling the flyer box. If you factor all of that into the low set fee, you may be working for $5 an hour when it’s all said and done. (By the way, I’m all for you holding an open house to find buyers, just as long as you’re not the only one doing it!)
Remember how Don Taylor created this thing. He meticulously kept track of his activities and paid attention to which ones produced the highest payoff and which could easily be handled by others. Clerical and admin stuff was assigned to assistants who were paid a reasonable hourly rate. He realized that some of the things ordinary agents did were probably better handled by the seller and, if taken out of the broker’s job jar, could free him to spend more time on high pay-off activities. Seller participation was born and suddenly it made sense that the fee was low: it was a trade off.
Today, the seller’s phone number has disappeared from the sign. We’ve grown stingy with those buyer calls and want to field them ourselves. But seller participation is still key to making this system work. It allows you to hold dozens of houses open on a Sunday (Instead of just one), allows you to multiply the number of directional signs leading to all of those open houses and frees you from the very basic tasks of opening the door, showing the house, etc.
As far as limited-service, full-service and discount-service goes, that’s just your competitors talking. The Consumer doesn’t care, really, as long as the value is there. And Help-U-Sell is the Best Value in Real Estate.
We’ve always struggled with the consumer offering on the buyers’ side. We tried rebates for awhile, but truly, they don’t fit with the logic of Help-U-Sell. If all you’re doing is giving the buyer $$$ back out of your commission without a specific consumer offer to go along with it, you’re just saying that your commission is too high. Like the Seller offering, the buyer should save money for a reason, a corresponding action on his part that enables you to rebate some of the cash.
Here’s what I’m thinking: Consumers have changed. They want to do their own research. They don’t want to sit in the back of your car weekend after weekend looking at houses. They want access to good information that’s easy to use and they want someone available when they have questions or need a door opened. I think that might be the basis of an offer. It might go like this:
“I’m different. Unlike an ordinary broker who’s going to want to drag you around to house after house after house, who’s going to want to be your only source of information and who’s going to hound you until you buy, I’m going to partner with you in the process. I’m going to show you how to use the best tools available so that you can do a lot of searching on your own. Oh, I’m going to be searching too, just in case you miss something, but you’ll have all the time you need to look at what’s available and compare. I’ll be in touch when I have something important to share and you can call me anytime you need information or have questions. I invite you to drive by neighborhoods and homes you think you might like to help narrow the field. All I’d ask is that you not go into any home without me. I’ve found by helping my buyer clients do their own research – something most want to do today – they get more involved in the process and actually have fun doing it. Any time you want to see something I’ll be there to take you. Because you’re participating in the house hunting process, I’m able to rebate $$$ of my commission to you at closing. It’s like we’re working as a team. How’s that sound?”
I believe the low set fee was always a value for value exchange: the seller got a low set fee because they did some of the low pay-off activity typically done by brokers. If we’re going to have a similar offer to buyers, it’s got to have a similar exchange, value for value.
What do you think?
*By efficient marketing I mean that we don’t do what ordinary brokers and agents do. In an ordinary office every agent is on his or her own. They take a listing and they devise a marketing plan from scratch on it. Every agent has a different marketing plan for every listing. There is no coordination, no maximization of effort and usually no accountability for results. In a Help-U-Sell office, the marketing is organized, orchestrated, coordinated and controlled by the broker. He or she has made judicious decisions about where to market, how to market and which properties to feature so that every bit of marketing he or she does creates buyer leads for every listing held. It’s efficient. It’s why well run Help-U-Sell offices are lead generating machines. And it’s something your prospective sellers can understand.