At the Summit in Las Vegas, on the first day, John Powell answered a question. ‘How many offices do we have?’ someone asked. ‘140,’ John answered. There was no particular reaction at that moment and the conversation went on to the next question. That surprised me.
After all, in 2006 we had over 800 offices. a drop of 660 is significant to say the least. And though I think everyone knew there would be fewer offices I don’t think most were prepared for a number as low as 140. At the next pause, I stepped in from the back of the room and asked: ‘John just reported that we are now 140 offices . . . how do you feel about that?’
The response was immediate. ‘Good!’ they said, ‘Great!’ said some, ‘It’s about time!’ said others. Julie Wright looked over her shoulder and said, ‘I’d rather be 100 great, strong offices than 1,000 teetering on the edge!’ I didn’t hear one word of concern, not at that moment or for the rest of the two day event. What a surprise.
The headquarters team has been very clear about this. We agreed in early 2009 that we weren’t interested in moving forward with anyone who couldn’t get on board, who couldn’t resurrect their attitude and their passion for what we do and who we are. We spent 2009 ‘weeding the garden,’ so to speak, saying goodbuy to dozens of Help-U-Sell members who just didn’t have the heart to continue. What I never suspected was that the survivors, the ones who were able to put the past behind and get on board were with us in this paring down process.
That moment at the Vegas meeting was very gratifying for me and I think for all of us. It’s validation that we are on the right track, that we do have the guts and the grit to take this thing and make it better than it’s ever been. I know we have the team, we have the smarts and we have the commitment. And we have the smiles.
Every good gardener knows if you want to nurture new growth you have to prune from time to time. For Help-U-Sell, the pruning is over and our branches are already full of new buds, pushing up toward the sun, getting ready for a glorious flowering. It’s a great garden.
PS: As the Vegas meeting wrapped, a small man with a cane and a Subway sandwich in a plastic bag wandered into our room. Ron McCoy and I looked at one another. Who was this guy? He obviously didn’t belong here, but the meeting was ending so we just left him alone. He sat for a moment, and then, when John Powell made his final comment, he stood and walked back to me. ‘Can I help?’ I asked. ‘Yes,’ he replied. ‘I have a house I need to sell.’