Help-U-Sell started as a For Sale By Owner enhancement. The original signs, in fact, used to say ‘For Sale By Owner — Assisted by Help-U-Sell’ (or something to that effect). Lore has it that numerous complaints and threats of suit by traditional brokers led the young company to change the verbiage to ‘For Sale with Owner.’
In its pure form (that means ADTDI: as Don Taylor did it), the Seller’s phone number was on the sign – prominently – and in the ads. The Seller took many if not most inquiry calls, handled showing the property and holding open houses. The broker only went to the property to take the listing and to show it (if he had a buyer).
This all served to free the broker to focus on high-payoff activities: managing the marketing, followup, solving problems, looking for new business. Instead of housing an office full of agents to manage the flyer box and hold open houses, the broker had his sellers handling these basic tasks. Sellers liked it too, realizing that through their own efforts they were reducing their commission expense by thousands.
Of course, for it to work, the seller had to be coached — usually at the end of the listing consultation — on how to show the property, how to get a name and number from everyone who called or came through, and how to fax those names and numbers over to the broker for followup every few days. But we’re not talking rocket science here; most sellers found their part to be easy and enjoyable.
Fast Forward to 2009 . . .
By and large, the seller’s phone number has disappeared from the sign and from the marketing. The phrase ‘For Sale with Owner’ has vanished, too. Why? The obvious answer is that we all discovered, somewhere in the late ’90s, that buyers were important to our business. Today the broker wants those calls. He wants to show the property so that he has an opportunity to build rapport with the buyer prospect and perhaps get an appointment for a full Buyer Consultation. In addition, the phrase ‘For Sale with Owner’ implied a limited service or discount offering and Help-U-Sell practitioners are adamant: we are not discounters!
Even seller-held open houses are less frequent than they once were. This, I believe, is unfortunate.
Open houses are all about 3 things: making a strong statement in the market place, securing buyer leads, and sometimes even selling the house that’s held open. Every open house is an opportunity to put 3, 4, 5 or more directional signs out. Every open house is and event to be publicized to neighbors and members of the buyer pool. If the broker and his handful of agents are the only people holding open houses, that greatly limits the number that can be held. If, on the other hand, all of our sellers hold all of our listings open just once a week, the impact — in terms of signage and office visibility — can be huge.
But what about the leads? Easy. For obvious reasons, the seller shouldn’t be letting anonymous strangers troop through the house. You must give them a sign-in sheet and coach them to use it faithfully: no name and number = no admittance. You call them after the open house to remind them to fax you the sign-in sheet so you can followup with those who came through. Imagine the boost your buyer pool would experience if every Monday you received sign-in sheets from a dozen sellers, each of whom held a Sunday open house!
We want to coach the seller to be as involved in the selling process as he or she wants to be. We want them to distribute flyers to their friends, family and co-workers. We want them to put them up at the cleaners and the coffee shop. We want them to do additional advertising on their own and hold additional open houses. Why? Because that gives them the greatest shot at finding their own buyer and saving the largest amount of money. And that’s what we’re all about: Seller Savings.
Never forget: the most powerful message we have is not that our listing sold. It’s that our listing sold and the seller saved thousands!