We all know that the last few years have been extremely challenging. What we make of difficult times is the miracle in waiting. Do you get innovative? Do you go back to basics? Do you get out of the business? Everyone eventually makes a choice to survive and thrive, or find another passion. What have you done?
Here's my story ... AND I look forward to hearing what you've done to survive and thrive in this market. I believe that by sharing what works, what doesn't work, etc., we can all come through this a whole lot more intact by a long shot. Please share your innovative tactics!
It certainly has been the most challenging and the most rewarding journey for me personally ... ever. I was a "single agent" working within a big company here in Arizona until 2006. I had been considering opening my own firm for several years, but the timing hadn't been quite right, due to family considerations. Finally in August of 2006, we had our plan in place and opened our doors.
The first year ran rather smoothly, as we ran the business out of my home office and business was quite brisk. That lead me to procure an outside office so we could begin growing the business and recruiting agents. In April 2007, we moved into our new beautiful office ... and this is where the real miracles began happening.
It didn't become crystal clear until about the end of the summer that we were headed into a down market, and fast. We were doing ok with buyers, though, and some of our listings were still selling until about October 07. After reviewing all of our listings and researching our market areas, we knew we had to make some drastic changes.
We began getting very serious with sellers about their chances of selling (which at that point was slim to none). They were all overpriced for the current conditions and, as I'm sure you know, it was next to impossible to get them to understand the market had changed. So we gave them a choice, lower the price to a reasonable level, take it off the market, or rent the home out. Most chose to take their homes off the market and wait it out. They're still waiting in some instances.
In comes 2008, and things just kept getting quieter and quieter. It was like a morgue around the office. We could have almost closed the office and gone on vacation, except the cash flow wouldn't allow that. In my 23+ years in business, I had never experienced anything similiar. So now what?
Here is what I said: "Pull up your big boy/girl pants, and let's all get to work. Be grateful for what we do have now. Keep a postive mind set. Get back to basics. Get out in the community and network like crazy. Volunteer more. Take classes. Have some fun in the midst of the downturn. Believe this market will turn around. Get innovative and creative. Let your passions go crazy. Be a true grit Banana!"
Just now, I took a moment to ask my agents to remind me of the activities we created. I wanted to get an idea of their perception of how we all made it through the tough time together as a team.
Their smiles lit up and they started rattling off all the events we were part of in a HUGE way. They all said ... "We built our brand in a big way! And it's paying off now," they reminded me!
So what did we do to be different and innovative and stand out in the crowd?
1. We are all active members of the Phoenix Chamber of Commerece and a few of us are Ambassadors. As Ambassadors, we went to every ribbon cutting , every event, every workshop, every everything! We made a huge splash in our community (see pictures below).
2. We volunteered for community events. We did fundraisers for nonprofit agencies.
3. We went back to basics and drilled that down to a science, and worked it each and every day.
4. Agents worked on taking more CE classes and designations. I taught workshops and spoke at as many community and business groups as possible.
5. I got heavily involved in internet marketing, went to seminars with the top marketeers, and hired an internet coach, Tracy Repchuk. She headed me in the right direction of blogging and all the social media sites. She also is teaching me (to this day) various elements to landing pages, sales pages, niches on the Net, etc. etc. Active Rain was another HUGE gift in the mix. I have lots to learn yet and it's a fun journey along the way. I know the Internet is the place to be now and in the future.
6. Lastly and most importantly, we held the belief that we would succeed. We kept our grateful journals. We stayed postive. And we had fun together ... lots of fun. I figure you may as well make the best of things, and we did! We didn't have a lot of cash flow ... but we got creative! And we're standing today and growing stronger, more innovative and more creative every week.
Now for some fun pictures! Laugh and enjoy the sheer silliness and brillance (of which we figured out after the fact with several outings in banana suits). It worked and still does. Who doesn't love some fun in their lives, especially now?
Now it's your turn! Share your story of innovation and true grit. Let's rock the house down!