The Joy of John (and Maria)

I am in Tucson working with John Powell on a revision of the Help-U-Sell Operations Manual. While it’s not particularly out-of-date at its core, there have been many changes in the industry since the last rewrite. The down market has fostered innovation and brought a slew of new strategies to the model, and the explosion of Internet marketing has spawned new wrinkles that need to be explored. So, we are updating.

The project has given me an opportunity to spend time in John and Maria’s office and it’s been such an eye opener. You will recall that the Powells opened this office in mid-2008, in the worst real estate market in history, in one of the hardest hit areas in the country. From a dead start they turned the corner and were in the black in five months. Now, a little more than a year later, they just put their 18th sale for the month on the board. They have two support staff and four agents. I was blown away by the level of activity I saw. Everybody was busy all day long.

I tried to get a handle on why this office was humming along so well when so many others are struggling and I think I gained a little insight. First, there is acknowledgment and complete acceptance of reality. There is no whining about how bad the market is or how tough short sales are or how difficult lenders have become. That’s just reality. It’s the ballpark where we play, and it’s beyond our control.  Now, therefore, what are we going to do to make our business work here?

There’s a crystal clear focus on what we’re doing. Short Sales and REOs are a large part of the market, so guess what? . . . we go after short sales and REOs. We study, study, study the short sale process, we take classes, we get certified as short sale experts and then we deliver. We have a much higher success rate with Short Sales than our competitors and word spreads. We go after REOs the only way we can: we do BPO after BPO and register, register, register on all of those websites. But then we do something our competitors don’t do: we call the asset manager a day or two after we submit the BPO and ask, ‘How was our BPO? Did it meet your needs? What can we do better?’ Over time, this additional conversation becomes a relationship and THAT’S where that first REO listing comes from.

I can see, for John and Maria, the business is simple. There’s not a lot of confusion, clutter and doubt about what they’re doing. They generate leads, develop business, work it well and ask for more. This contrasts with so many offices I see where the business is hugely complicated, where confusion and doubt play a key role. There’s none of that here.

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