And THEN there were 49! (Pareto's Principle and Real Estate)

Real Estate Agent with The Elizabeth Nieves Realty Group

Years ago, while going through some financial difficulty, I accepted a temporary (3 month) assignment at a large, Fortune 500 company that provides HR outsourcing services. The company used three different employment agencies to locate 100 qualified applicants...then trained all 100 people, at the same time, to perform a specific task. Our training was intense, thorough and comprehensive...lasting three weeks and ending in a pass/fail exam. Those who passed would continue to work for the remainder of the three months...those who failed would be dismissed immediately.

On the final day of training, only 86 people showed up to take the exam. Of those who took the exam, only 58 passed. From the 100 people who began the training, a little more than half remained. When I commented to one of the trainers about how disappointed they must have been with the results, she said..."Actually...we were only expecting half of the people to pass the training. We are ahead of the game."

On the following Monday, those of us who had passed the exam were broken into three teams... introduced to our team supervisors...and assigned our cubicles and equipment. That whole day, we tested our systems and prepared to ‘go live' the following morning. Throughout the day, we received random, mock calls from supervisors and trainers who tested our ability to apply the classroom lessons to real life situations. All of the calls were recorded and played back to the whole team. After weeks of training, some of the CSRs (Customer Service Representatives) were completely clueless and made up answers...others were just rude. It was both hilarious and disturbing. At the end of the day, another 9 people were asked to leave...AND THEN THERE WERE 49!!!

At 7am the next morning, I began receiving live calls from retired people who wanted to confirm their enrollment in their health insurance plans. Although the process was simple, many of the callers were quite elderly and needed a lot of explanation in order to understand their options. Most of my calls lasted 15-25 minutes, as many of my callers were lonely and enjoyed having someone with whom to talk. Sometimes, they would share how they had recently lost a spouse to illness and were having problems getting the insurance company to pay the hospital bills. I would cry with them and then promise to investigate their cases. Their stories touched my heart so deeply that I had to do everything I could to help them.

In sharp contrast...from the cubicle to my left, I would often hear the CSR make negative remarks after her calls. She would hang up her phone and refer to the caller as a ‘bitch‘...or say, "I'm so tired of these old people complaining to me. It's not my job to listen to their problems." After a few days of hearing her negative remarks, I could take no more. When I heard her hang up from a call and say, "stupid, old bitch", I leaned around the cubicle wall and said, "You know...I've been sitting here all week taking calls...just like you. The thing I can't understand is how ALL of my callers have been so sweet and polite, but ALL of your callers have been ‘bitches'. you think they intentionally assigned you the ‘bitch line'?" She did not answer me, but apparently I was not the only person who had heard her rude remarks. The supervisors were still recording calls, and they had overheard some of her comments. Her cubicle was empty the following Monday.

By the end of the third month, only 33 people (33%) remained...25 of whom were offered full-time, permanent positions in the company...including myself. In my interview, I learned that the company had received over twenty letters and emails from customers I had helped during my three month assignment...expressing their gratitude for my assistance and care. I was the only CSR who had received such correspondence during an open enrollment...ever!

At that time, I was not familiar with the 80/20 Rule (also called Pareto's Principle). Had I been, I would have understood why the trainers only expected half of the class to pass the exam...why they hired 100 people to fill 50 positions...why they expected to discover and hire 25 permanent employees. In any business...including real can see the 80/20 Rule at work. The 80/20 Rule says that 20% of the people will do 80% of the work...80% of the wealth will be earned by 20% of the people...20% of real estate agents will produce 80% of the sales. In other any situation..."80% of the effects comes from 20% of the causes."

In reality, the exact numbers are not important. What is important to understand is that the cream will always rise to the top. It is not good enough to be must set your sights on being among the top 20%. To stand out from the be the ‘cream' must perform better than 80% of your competition. You must go above and beyond the call of your customers the absolute best service available in the marketplace.

Ask yourself..."Why should a customer choose to work with me when they have so many choices available to them?" If you cannot think of a good is time to evaluate the services you provide and make the changes necessary to distinguish yourself from the crowd. In my example above...all 100 of us received the same training and opportunity...but only 33 took full advantage of the situation. Are you taking full advantage of the opportunity you have been given in real estate? Are you the best REALTOR® in your your area of your town? If you are not the best...are you in the top 20%?


If is not too late...



Written and Posted by:

Elizabeth Nieves - Broker, REALTOR® -- The Elizabeth Nieves Realty Group @ Keller Williams (A Bilingual Real Estate Team serving Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill NC and surrounding areas.)

Search Raleigh, Durham, Chapel Hill Homes for Sale


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Sally Zatkoff
Berkshire Hathaway Home Services PenFed Realty - Fairfax, VA
Making a Difference
Great Post Elizabeth. I hope you have a Wonderfully prosperous and blessed 2008. Good customer service goes a long way....God Bless!
Dec 28, 2007 12:14 PM #14
Marchel Peterson
Results Realty - Spring, TX
Spring TX Real Estate E-Pro
Elizabeth, as I was reading your post I was thinking the 80/20 rule is alive and well.  It is amazing but that just seems to be a life.  I personally choose to be in the 20% and have tried to raise 20% children also; actually they are now young adults.
Dec 28, 2007 01:15 PM #15
Armando Rodriguez
Orlando Homes 4 Sale, Real Estate Broker-GRI

Wow!! excellent The cream, in this case you, does rise to the TOP!

May God keep blessing you!

Dec 28, 2007 01:16 PM #16
Gary Woltal
Keller Williams Realty - Flower Mound, TX
Assoc. Broker Realtor SFR Dallas Ft. Worth
Elizabeth, in real estate I hear 7% of the agents sell 93% of the deals.
Dec 28, 2007 02:10 PM #17
Joan Mirantz
Homequest Real Estate - Concord, NH
Realtor, GRI, CBR, SRES - Concord New Hampshire

Elizabeth...that was like Deja-vue. One of my first jobs was as an information operator for BC & BS when the Medicare/Medex program was was a real challenge! Plugged in 24/7!

Relationship building is one of the biggest rewards of this business! Great Post!

Dec 28, 2007 02:26 PM #18
Lisa Heindel
Crescent City Living LLC - New Orleans, LA
New Orleans Real Estate Broker
Elizabeth, what haven't you done, girl???  Amazing post and definitely deserving of a feature...that closing paragraph is sooooo powerful!!!
Dec 28, 2007 02:50 PM #19
Missy Caulk
Missy Caulk TEAM - Ann Arbor, MI
Savvy Realtor - Ann Arbor Real Estate
Elizabeth, wonderful inspiration post. Attitude is so important in our careers, and gratitude and appreciation for the opportunities that come our way.
Dec 28, 2007 03:07 PM #20
Laura Cerrano
Feng Shui Manhattan Long Island - Locust Valley, NY
Certified Feng Shui Expert, Speaker & Researcher
Elizabeth, It's so true, we are who we'd like to be.  I like to be a person who will go out of my way to help others and so do you.  Your post is not only inspiring, it touched a nerve that made me remember all the people I've come accross that had the attitude of the person next to you---and it needs to be exactly the opposite! 
Dec 28, 2007 05:05 PM #21
Kris Wales
Keller Williams Realty - Lakeside Market Center - Macomb, MI
Real Estate Blog & Homes for Sale search site, Macomb County MI
You did it again my dear.  A wonderful post with a powerful message!   Of course I was not surprised that your company would receive letters that were glowing about you :-)
Dec 28, 2007 09:57 PM #22
Adam Waldman
Westcott Group Real Estate Company - Hauppauge, NY
Realtor - Long Island
ELIZABETH - I guess great minds think alike! (LOL)  I have a whole business idea for real estate built around the Pareto Principle.  I was planning on doing some posts on it in the new year.  Great writing as always, and very inspirational.  I'm sure that your 2008 is going to be a great year.
Dec 28, 2007 10:00 PM #23
Elizabeth Nieves
The Elizabeth Nieves Realty Group - Durham, NC
Bilingual Raleigh - Durham North Carolina Real Estate Team

PAT:  That speaks very highly of your nephew. Best of luck to him!

TOM:  You are just too sweet! Thank you!!

CLARK:  May your 2008 be blessed beyond your wildest dreams!!

SALLY:  It is the secret to success in any business. Best to you and yours also!

MARCHEL:  I believe that teaching your children this principle is one of the best advantages you can give them. I think of my mom. She taught me without knowing it. She taught me whatever I do, do it to the best of my ability...or don't do it all at.

ARMANDO:  God is good!! ALL THE TIME!!

GARY:  That number would not surprise me.

JOAN:  Thanks so much! I imagine you can completely relate to the environment in which this post was inspired.

LISA:  Thanks, my friend! I have done a LOT of things. :-)

MISSY:  You are so right. 90% of the battle is in the mind and attitude.

CAROLE:  In those situations, I always ask the question...what is a person like that doing in a people business? If you don't like something where you don't have to come in contact with people. :-)

KRIS: You are just so sweet!! Have a wonderful NEW YEAR!

ADAM:  OF COURSE, I'm not surprised!! You are so encouraging Adam. Thanks for all your support.

To EVERYONE:  May your NEW YEAR be filled to overflowing with every blessing you can imagine!

Dec 29, 2007 08:24 AM #24
Sondra Meyer:
Star View Real Estate - Colorado Springs, CO
See It. Experience It. Live It.

Elizabeth, You've done it again!  This is great post.  The story was interesting in itself.  It doesn't surprise me that you rose to the top there.  I can only hope that my grandmother gets some one as nice as you when she calls in with her insurance problems.  I'm also glad to hear that the company offered such thorough training.  I loved your response to the girl in the cubicle next to you.  

Great message also.  You are so inspirational.  God bless you!     

Dec 29, 2007 09:31 AM #25
Tracy Santrock
Fonville Morisey/Santrock Realty Group, Inc. - Cary, NC
Raleigh - Cary Realtor/Broker In Charge

Ask yourself..."Why should a customer choose to work with me when they have so many choices available to them?"

What a great question to contemplate as we approach 2008!  I just love your meez!.  Happy New Year Elizabeth.


Dec 29, 2007 09:56 AM #26
Ginger Sala
Wilkinson & Associates, Wilmington NC - Wilmington, NC
Wilmington NC Real Estate & Relocation~

Elizabeth, Once again you are off the charts with your exquisite writing style and poignant life lessons. I found myself getting angry at that witch next to you. How dare she mess with the old folks! GRRR! I love your comment to her!

 Whatever path God has put us on we are to do everything big and small for His glory. That alone will get us to the top of the heap.  GBY!


Dec 29, 2007 05:01 PM #27
Mike Frazier
Carousel Realty of Dyer County - Dyersburg, TN
Northwest Tennessee Realtor


 I really enjoyed reading this post. If this company was a real estate company then the remaining 25 people would have been the "professional realtors". I plan on being in the remaining 25 after the dust settles in the next few months.

Dec 30, 2007 06:59 AM #28
Candace - I didn't log in...sheesh
Elizabeth - You my friend are outstanding at writing. I so enjoy what I read day after day. I have been busy working with buyers this past week, thanks to your prayer offers! I hope to spend some time here this week, but wanted to stop by and wish you the very best New Year and may you have great success, lots of love and may you be blessed to the fullest! Love the post of course, always! Be blessed my friend.
Dec 30, 2007 05:59 PM #29
Arizona Real Estate Associate Broker
MR Realty - Mesa, AZ
I wasn't paying attention when I wrote that message above, thought I was logged in...ooops!
Dec 30, 2007 06:02 PM #30
Jeff&Grace Safrin
F.C.Tucker 1st Team Real Estate - Valparaiso, IN
AWESOME POST Elizabeth - This principle( 80/20 rule ) transcends every profession as well ! I have seen it follow me throughout my life's career choices and taught my girls this as well.....that  just alittle extra effort will make you very valuable in the work place! Happy New Year my friend :)
Dec 31, 2007 03:06 AM #31
Kay, GA Mortgage Advisor - VA Specialist
Kay, GA Mortgage Officer & VA Specialist - Lithonia, GA


What a wonderful post! I love your writing style and have subscribed to your blog. 

Dec 31, 2007 03:25 AM #32
Elizabeth Nieves
The Elizabeth Nieves Realty Group - Durham, NC
Bilingual Raleigh - Durham North Carolina Real Estate Team

SONDRA:  Thank you and Bless you back! You are such a special person!

Thanks TRACY!! I used to have a red dress like this one. It brougt back memories!

GINGER:  I know what you mean!! Just thinking back made me remember how angry I was at that moment. I'm like you...don't mess with old people!!!! I love you, darling!! HAPPY NEW YEAR, MY FRIEND!!

MIKE:  I'm glad you enjoyed it, and I do believe that you ARE ONE of the great ones.

CANDACE:  You are just tooooooo sweet! I have missed you also. I've been surrounded by tons and tons of and doing family stuff. I've had very little time for anything other than that. Next week will be back to normal. I'm so glad you are busy with clients. I've been praying, and I'm going to keep doing so. I really want you to have an incredible 2008!!! Happy New Year!!

GRACE:  You know...I could tell from the first time I read your blog that you were the 'cream'. I just knew it. You are an amazing person. I am so happy that I met you this year, and I'm looking forward to knowing you more. GBU!! Happy New Year, my friend!

KAY:  I'm so glad you enjoyed it. Thank you so much for subscribing. I'm looking forward to knowing you!! Many blessings now and always!

Dec 31, 2007 12:30 PM #33
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