Stories From The Street – December 2015

Is There Conviction in the Process?

As someone with an MBA and a finance background, I believe that advisors in the financial sector should invest in the process to help their clients gain the most profit and ROI (Return on Investment). Susan and I have recently switched financial advisors because we had never met, never talked to, and didn’t know the strategies of our previous advisor. We made a switch recently to Dario Cavizos, of Edward Jones and we couldn’t be happier. We have known Dario and his family for years, but it was not until Dario and I had a mutual client that I gained a level of trust in him and his process. When Dario and I met with our mutual client, I could see that his approaches to business and investing were similar to mine. He took a very personal approach in dealing with our client, and I knew the advice he was giving them was the same advice he would give a loved one, a family member and was not self-serving at ALL.

A Mutual Client Leads to a Change in Advisors

After this meeting, I told Susan that we should consider switching advisors, as I could tell that Dario truly cared for his clients’ best interest. Susan and I changed advisors a few months later. Since that time, Dario and I have had multiple meetings about financial planning and goals, and he always listens to me to learn more about my strategies before offering his advice. I had read a book Money, Master the Game by Tony Robbins before one of our meetings, and I was telling Dario about the philosophies outlined in the book and how I’d like to adapt some to our strategies. Well, during our next meeting a couple of months later, Dario took the time to get the book himself and read it as to better understand my approach and also to gain knowledge to take to his other clients. Dario invests his time and efforts into helping his clients, and that is why he is so successful in his business. If you are a professional you should always be investing in yourself, in your clients, in your business to be able to offer the best services that will help your clients. But this is two-fold. The client must also care as much as the advisor and take the time to learn and listen to the advisor. Just as I did with Dario, after we both had an understanding of our financial goals, we took his specific advice on the strategies we outlined together and implemented a gameplan. I knew the big picture, but did not know the specific steps needed to achieve our goals.

This is no different than selling a home. Sellers will come to me with their ‘Goals.’ They could be moving because of a job relocation, a growing family, maybe their last child went to college and they want to downsize, or they need to sell for financial reasons. Whatever it is, we can customize a solution to best optimize their specific situation. Ultimately, my client and I have to work together, and we both invest in the process to get the desired results.

This is why we teach our clients to take a Value-Driven approach when selling their home

At its core, a Value-Driven approach, is about preparing your home for sale in the same manner that a business would prepare itself to sell on Wall Street. We teach our sellers that their home, is similar to a business with a stock-price. The goal in selling is to increase the value, or better said, perceived value, prior to selling. Our clients understand that if we both invest in the process, their desired results have the highest likelihood for success.

One of the strategies that we can employ is Scientific Staging. Recently, I was talking to an agent with a different company about staging. She said: “Oh, yeah, we bring in our furniture from our basement. We do this and we do that.” I commend this agent for their effort, but their execution is lacking. Bringing in some leftover furniture from your basement is NOT Scientific Staging.

Having your home Scientifically Staged is not cheap, but an agent who will invest in Scientific Staging your home will your sale. This will increase your bottom line. Having a “Home Selling Advisor” (I hesitate to say Real Estate Agent because of the negative reputation.) who looks at your home sale as a business – not only for you, but for themselves – is the one that you want to be working with.

When you find an advisor who will invest their time, strategy and their dollars, in helping you achieve your maximum sales price, this is who you want to align yourself with. Not an agent who will take photos with an iPhone, maybe bring two pieces of artwork and some flowers. That is not Scientifically Staging your home. This is being cheap and ineffective. How would you expect to receive maximum results with minimal investment? We teach our clients that a house must be properly staged – scientifically staged – with professional photos, a professional tour, and a property story.

Creating an Attachment with a Story

Another strategy that helps our clients is a ‘Property Story.’ I just discovered the impact of a properly told story in the last year. I stumbled into this strategy by studying Steve Jobs and how he built Apple. I’ve discovered 7 Fundamental Strategies that Jobs used to build Apple, and one of these was ‘StorySelling’ –the power to create desire and an emotional attachment through Story. If you really study Steve Jobs, he is first and foremost a master storyteller. He could turn an inanimate object like an iPhone, iPad, iPod, or iTunes into the most magnificent product you have ever seen, because of the STORY that he would tell when describing the product. He would not talk about the product, he would speak of the benefits and how having the product would make you ‘feel.’

I thought: how do I take what Steve Jobs did and translate it into helping my clients to achieve maximum value? What I came back to time and time again were the stories that he was able to weave and tell about the product, so I set out to study Jobs. I studied how he structured the story. How he’d focus on the benefits, how he would leave the audience wanting more. Then I took this StorySelling strategy and adapted it to the Property Stories.The results have been amazing. Sellers have been thrilled.

But you know what? If the process didn’t work, I would not invest my time – my six, to eight, to ten hours for each property story-writing for my clients. I would not invest my money in presenting my client’s house in the best light. See, I’m in the business of helping clients. I’m in a business environment where I invest in my clients’ sale, helping them to achieve maximum value. Some agents, frankly, nickel and dime their clients, and the results are very often inferior and leave clients with a bitter taste in their mouth about the real estate process.

I saw a poll on ‘The AgentHarvest Blog’ the asked recent home sellers: ‘Would you use the same Real Estate Agent to Sell your House Again?” The results were telling. 80% said they WOULD NOT! Why is that? There is distrust with real estate agents, because real estate agents just go from sale to sale. Most agents don’t invest in their clients and the selling process.

A saying that I heard a few years ago and I have written on my board in my office – ‘Amatures focus on Sales, while Professionals focus on Relationships.’ Just as Dario invested his time in our relationship, I invest in my relationship with each of my clients, putting the relationship above the ‘sale.’ Most agents don’t invest in the business. They don’t invest in their sellers. All they care about is the sale and how to get the most money for themselves with – most importantly here – the least amount invested in time and dollars.

90 percent of the work that we do, preparing our homes for sale with a value-driven approach, is done before the property is listed. If the property is listed incorrectly or in an unfavorable light, it could cost a seller tens of thousands of dollars. When done properly, it could help to achieve maximum value and could mean the difference from you selling your house and moving up to that brand new house, a bigger house, the second house that you have always wanted, or sending your kids off to college, or – what we had recently – a couple selling their house and retiring. Because of the results, they had the monetary means to purchase a retirement home.

Trust me: 10, 20, 30 thousand dollars can make a difference in the long run. So are you willing to invest your time and your house with an agent who is not willing to invest in you and your sale? Or an Advisor who will invest in the process with you? I appreciate you taking the time to read Stories From the Street. Talk to you next month.