Cool Stuff From Success Summit!


There was so much NEW at this year’s Summit!  The large group of attendees brought an energy that sustained us for three days and made it hard to say goodbye to Las Vegas.  In no particular order here are SOME of the  cool things that happened:

  • Mr. Westman attended!  Head of our parent company, Infinium, Ron Westman tends to stay in the background usually letting his team navigate the important Help-U-Sell meetings that occur from time to time.  Not so this Success Summit! He was present and involved for every minute of meetings and social functions as well.  It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with the man that got us through the worst real estate market in history.  Thank you, Ron Westman!
  • A new CI followup program was unveiled.  Working with Mike Paholke and Excel Print/Mail, Jack Bailey, John Powell and  the home office team developed a series of 8 customizable postcard mailers for staying in touch with past clients and other Centers of Influence.  The program is remarkably inexpensive and provides automatic followup to our most important friends.  Watch your email and attend the weekly Power Hour meetings for details.
  • A partnership with Movement Mortgage was presented.  This rapidly growing mortgage banker comes with an interesting proposition.  Instead of waiting to process a loan application until the closing date is imminent, they process everything immediately, completing the package in 7 – 10 days regardless of closing date.  This enables buyers and sellers to close early if they choose but more importantly, exposes problems EARLY so that there is no last minute panic.  In addition, Movement Mortgage has agreed to undrewrite 25% of the cost of the new CI program mentioned above!  Now it is an even better bargain!
  • Robbie Stevens showcased our new corporate website, slated to go live around the first of the year.  It knocked my socks off!  Really:  clean and sleek, very forward looking and modern, it makes our competitors’ sites look ancient.  And the functionality – rich in video and short on verbiage – is superb.  There is a great new home search function that includes a drawing component where any customized geography can be searched.
  • OMS Lite was presented.  This is a new app available at the Apple Store for Iphone and pad that enables Help-U-Sell brokers to add a new listing on the fly.  It includes the ability to upload photos and even phone-shot video directly into OMS.  An Android version is running through the approval process and should be available soon.
  • Platinum Edge got a dusting off and an update.  This tool for use with luxury properties has a new look:  stunning black and silver.  Guidance on how to use this tool when working with the top of the market will be a feature of future Power Hour meetings.
  • Ron McCoy presented a revamped awards program that recognized top listing offices, top buyer side offices and  top closed side offices as well as a new Don Taylor Award of excellence.  Congratulations to Jack and Cheryl Bailey and Help-U-Sell Greensboro for being tops in Buyer Sides with 59,  and to Richard Cricchio and Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties for being tops in New Listings with 151.  Honolulu Properties was also #1 in total Closed Sides with 167.  The special Don Taylor Award went to Brenda Fischer at Help-U-Sell Options Unlimited in Terre Haute, Indiana. In a smaller market with a lower average sale price Brenda, through some aggressive and very creative marketing has captured a BIG share of the market and shown us all there is more to parades than marching!
  • Maurine Grisso, back from almost two years of illness, delighted the group with her newly published book ‘Before You Sell Your Home.’ Available on and Kindle, it will be on SPECIAL for one day, October 22, for the ridiculous price of $.99.  Mark your calender, buy the book and then give Maurine a favorable review on Amazon.

If there was a theme about this meeting is was that marketing – particularly core marketing to your geographical target market – is supremely important today and that no group deserves more attention than our CIs.  Systems to get those two things done automatically (and others) are key to growth.

Having missed last year’s Summit, I have to tell you I spent many months hungry for the kind of interaction that only comes when Help-U-Sell brokers from across the country come together to share and learn.  I am delighted that I could attend and if I ever miss another – I’ll probably be dead!

Help-U-Sell Success Summit Update

Ahhhh.  That’s what I feel every year at this time.  The NAR Expo is history and the Help-U-Sell Success Summit is done for another year.

I had lots of anxiety going into this year’s Summit.  Last year’s event was so good I thought it would be hard to top.  Also, our numbers were down slightly because of the location.  Not that Orlando isn’t a great place for a meeting, it’s just that the largest concentration of Help-U-Sell brokers is in the West and they pretty much stayed home.  One of our newest members, Kurt Steffein, made the haul from California (and what a wonderful energy he brought along), and Lona Murphy from Oregon surprised everyone by showing up unannounced!  A special thank you goes out to both of them.  But as we set the room for the meeting, we kept adding chairs and adding chairs, and by the time Jack Bailey rolled in with his entire Coaching Group in tow, we were about 30 people.

I could go on and on about who came and the nuggets they shared, but here’s something that’s more important: It was once again, a great meeting.   There is excitement about the business and the the opportunities bursting forth over the next several years.  Our crew is hungry and ready – their enthusiasm and love for what they do hasn’t paled in the downturn of the last few years.  Everybody who attended stayed fully engaged for the entire meeting.  We had no dropouts and no nod-offs.  Conversation was lively and productive.  And there was something else about this group that came through loud and clear – they all genuinely like and care for each other.  We talk about a Help-U-Sell Family a lot, and I know, that language is typical of a lot of real estate organizations.  But here it means something.  It really does.

What were the key messages of this meeting?  There were many, but here’s what I take away:

This year – and next year – are OUR years.  For the first time in a long time, sellers with equity are returning to the market.  That’s our target.  Always has been.  We have a huge competitive advantage in a marketplace where Joe and Sally Homeowner want to sell, because Joe and Sally also want to save – and that’s what we’re all about:  selling and saving.  After slogging through a market where many if not most of our sellers were . . . banks . . . who really couldn’t care less about what makes us unique, special and better, we are once again going to be in the driver’s seat.

That’s great, but it also means we have to return to an old habit that we’ve gotten away from in recent years:  marketing.  We have to dust off our logos (so to speak) and go back to spreading the word that we are here, people use us, it works and they save money.  The way we spread that word has changed somewhat.  It’s much more electronic and frankly, less costly.  But make no mistake about it:  as right as the timing is, it will mean nothing if we don’t re-invest in marketing who we are and what we do.

We are real estate people (thank goodness!) and as such are people people.  The highest and best use of our time is usually to be face to face with consumers.  However, there is an electronic universe in which the people we need to be talking to are living, at least part-time.  We have to be comfortable with that electronic landscape, with how it works and how to position ourselves within it.  I know, for most of us, that means hiring someone to manage our online presence; but even then, we have to have a basic understanding of how the Internet works from a marketing standpoint and how to take advantage of the huge opportunities there.

We are exceptionally blessed to have Robbie Stevens, Tony Tramontano, and everyone else at Help-U-Sell dedicated to securing our position in this new world and patiently nurturing our collective understanding.  I saw so many lights going on in that room the last couple of days as Robbie worked through some of the basics of our own Office Management System.  I think we’re all going home more comfortable and a little wiser.

I also remain in awe of Ron McCoy.   Of the Corporate team, he has the greatest longevity – about 12 years – but it’s much more than that.  In addition to all of the history, the great ups and downs of Help-U-Sell, he has a depth of understanding of what makes us tick and how to turn that into business success.  He has a great strategic mind and his attitude is unflagging.  After a grueling hour of tool after tool with an Internet marketing ‘guru,’ Ron showed us how to use Instagram to improve our online impact.  He showed us, we did it, we had fun, and we got it.  If you don’t believe me, check Facebook for yesterday, Nov. 13, and you’ll see a whole passel of pictures of Ron during the presentation, taken and posted via Instagram.

Mostly we are blessed to have such a delightful, scrappy team.  So many of the people who attended the meeting joined the Franchise in 2005 and 2006 – at the onset of the worst real estate market in history.  And they are still here, still strong, still smiling and many have done much more than simply survive.  Many have built remarkable businesses as one after another of their traditional competitors have downsized, consolidated and gone out of business.  It’s always been great to be Help-U-Sell.  It’s once again a great time to be Help-U-Sell.

Help-U-Sell, where different is better
It’s Good To Be Help-U-Sell




2011 NAR Expo: Day 1

Good Morning!  The 2011 National Association of REALTORS Annual Convention and Expo kicked off yesterday afternoon and I am happy to report that the first day was a success for Help-U-Sell.  Our booth is HUGE and, thanks to Ron McCoy, very well located.  We have a big corner, just one set of exhibitors back from the main entrance, right next to the Wells Fargo booth (which always draws a big crowd with games and give-aways).

It was a success for several reasons:

  • First and foremost – the quantity and quality of people who stopped by to chat.  Really, we’ve done this show before and others, and this time people were bright, energized, and sincerely interested in who we are and what we’re doing.  It was a fairly constant stream of significant conversations.
  • We looked GOOOOOD!  Mary, Robbie, Kendra, Ron and I were joined in the booth by Dan Desmond, Kim Zelena, Leigh Ann Losh and Elias Klaeb, so we didn’t look lonely and forelorn! (nothing worse than a great big booth with one or two people in it).  Plus, Ron had gotten each of us a high quality white button down collar shirt with big embroidered logo over the pocket.  We looked sharp and cohesive.
  • A couple of former franchisees, people who dropped by the wayside in the turmoil of 2006, stopped by and were more than a little interested in . . . well, in doing what Help-U-Sell people who leave often do:  coming back.  One said something I’ve heard many times before: ‘The happiest days of my real estate career were the ones I spent as a Help-U-Sell Broker.’
  • We had conversations with people from Canada, the Philippines, and India (yes, India) about the possibility of our brand making it into their parts of the world.  That’s probably down the road a month or two (or ten), but it’s great to know there is interest and anticipation there.

We are building momentum to carry us into a growth phase.  Growing is not something we’ve put much energy into over the past few years.  Instead, our laser-focus has been on helping our people survive and thrive in the most difficult market any of us has ever seen.  So we’re starting from a full stop.  But the momentum is building.  Our Informational Webinars are pulling in a steady stream of interested attendees, our presence here and at the recent CAR Expo and upcoming Tripple-Play meeting are putting us on the mental map of REALTORS everywhere, and our full-page ad in the latest REALTOR Magazine is propelling us forward.  I expect 2012 to be a year a significant growth for Help-U-Sell.

We expect many more Help-U-Sell family members to be in attendance over the weekend, all wearing those cool white shirts and helping us spread the word about our excellent industry and consumer offerings.  If you are in Anaheim, please stop by and say ‘Hello.’

Kendra in the booth


‘Got It Goin’ On!’

The Set Fee Blog has been a little inactive lately. There are a couple of reasons: I disappeared for a couple of days and then our own Help-U-Sell Success Summit is less than a week away. There is so much to do to get ready for the meeting! I want it to be powerful, meaningful, energizing and absolutely worth the investment of days (and dollars) our guys will be making to attend.

The agenda has been driven by input we got through a couple of surveys, one formal one less formal. Brokers told us they wanted to know more about creative financing. With toughening of the credit markets — yes, I know: rates are wonderfully low, but underwriting standards are very high — we need to think about financing in less conventional ways. That might mean seller financing or private money financing or obscure, little known programs. To enlighten us, I’ve arranged for Patricia Boyd to spend the last part of the first day with us. She is an amazing resource and has been focused on educating REALTORS on matters of finance for 25+ years. A strong consumer advocate, Patricia is a perfect match for our group and I know her information will mean more closed transactions for everyone.

Tuesday’s guest is Nick Taylor from Zillow. While all of the aggregator real estate sites were jockying for position, Zillow quietly rose to the top of the pile and has become the home search platform of choice for consumers. Really: when America wants to look for a new home, she often starts at I ask myself why? and how? Why did consumers come to choose Zillow and how did they go about engineering that amazing feat? Strangely, I think the answer is in that silly feature all of us REALTOR-types hate, the Z-estimate of value. All of the aggregators offer feature rich home search capabilities that are fairly similar. But early on, Zillow went out on a limb and started estimating the value of properties via algorithm, not pencil-and-paper market analysis. There were distinct limitations to the accuracy of those estimates, and we have had to do lots of clean-up with consumers who relied on that estimate to make decisions, but it did distinguish Zillow from the rest of the pack. Nick is going to talk with us about how we can use this third-party tool to generate leads and more. His career is based on online marketing and prior to Zillow he managed marketing for a large independent brokerage in the mid-west.

Wednesday morning, David Bartels of Home Loan Advocates will share ’12 Things Every Agent Should Know About Short Sales.’ David’s company has a remarkable track record in negotiating and closing short sale transactions and he attributes much of that success to their creative approach to deal structure. The session is designed to give anyone working short sales (ok: that means anyone seriously in real estate) new ideas about how to get these sometimes complicated transactions through.

And those are just the guests. We also have three Star Panels on the schedule. Jack Bailey will be facilitating a discussion with four of our top five Brokers. They’ll be talking about how they’ve managed to thrive in this tough market. There will be lots of good information about organization, focus and, of course, marketing. John Powell is leading a panel of Brokers each doing something incredibly right. We’ll hear from one who started from scratch and built a largely REO business, one who has short sales down so well that he’s processing them for other brokers, and two who started new businesses in the downturn and have quickly become successful. Finally, I’m leading a panel on Marketing for Visibility. I have a small group of brokers who have done an excellent job of keeping their name, logo, face, prominent in the marketplace.

Today I got a look at Robbie’s slides for his tech session and I’m wishing we’d allowed more time. He’s got so much good stuff to share and a couple of really nice ZINGER announcements! As I look back at the last few years, we seem to be trending six months to a year ahead of the rest of the industry when it comes to tech. We quietly get the cool stuff they start talking about months before they start talking. That’s our Robbie — and his session will be very cool.

Ron McCoy will share his vision and plans for Franchise Sales and will showcase lots of the cool stuff we’re doing in that arena. Hey, by the way: did you see our full-page ad in REALTOR Magazine? If not, here’s a copy:

My session will focus on the new reality (the one that most of the industry has yet to acknowledge) and how we can own it. Our theme is ‘Taking Charge of Change’ and that’s exactly what we’re going to continue to do as we move into 2012.

It’s that kind of VISIBILITY we’re going for now, and there is no better example of it than our presence at this week’s NAR Convention, where we will be in force with the biggest booth of any real estate company, with great new print and electronic marketing tools, a big logo-encrusted shuttle bus and a dozen or so enthusiastic Help-U-Sell Brokers running through the exhibit hall scaring the be-jabbers out of the competition! It’s going to be a great time!

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