At a time when big-box retailers have all but snuffed out small mom and pop businesses, it has struck me that real estate is one of the last bastions of entrepreneurism. Now, I know some will point out all of the opportunities to become the next boy genius like Bill Gates, but what I am talking about are those businesses that are on the front lines helping Mr. and Mrs. Joe Public on a daily basis.
For those of you old enough to remember, think about what was your favorite store when you were a child. Did you know the owner? Were you greeted by name? Did the owner pesonally show you items from his/her inventory? And did you leave that business thinking, “I look forward to coming back and shmoozing again.”
I come from a family of small business entrpreneurs. My father was a jeweler; my younger brother owns a car repair business; and I both provide marketing services to commercial real estate companies and create closing gifts for real estate agents and loan officers. We still like schmoozing with our customers and providing cutting-edge service. If you ask me, it’s an art form.
Do not think me naive, however. I learned years ago that a small business that is “a labor of love” is a downright foolish business. We have to work twice as hard when the economy is tough, and cannot become complacent when the economy is good. You and I still have to compete with those that would slash their prices and commissions to gain new customers. The big-box mentality prevails everywhere.
We have to provide the best service, the most knowledge, a great product and superlative skills to make and keep our customers. Our customers have to like us, want us and feel as though they need us for our businesses to succeed. Will they pay an extra percentage point for that? I still will, and I think many others will.
Make certain that your marketing programs reflect the best in you. After all, that is what you are really selling. And, if you truly have the entrepreneurial bug, you’ll feel great (and tired) at the end of the day knowing you touched another person -- AND are making a good living.