There’s always something to howl about

Principles of Flight and Real Estate — Getting Off the Ground

I’ve seen in the real estate business the rough equivalent of what my grandma saw in her lifetime with flight. Born in 1909 she saw in real time the embryonic stage of flight. The first successful flight was only six years before her birth. 60 short years later she watched, on a ‘machine’ not in existence until she’d been married and had four children (three on her front porch), American men land on the moon and come back safely.

Think of where real estate brokerage was 40 years ago. I’d compare it to the planes used in World War I. The MLS existed, but was in book/magazine form delivered by truck, supplemented thrice weekly on paper held together by staples. The establishment of farms for Heaven’s sake, was a huge break through! Knock on the same doors every month? Why would anyone do that on purpose?

There were no teams, not even the biggest thinkers created teams, even in the ’70′s. (at least that I can recall) The team itself was another development thought by most as staggeringly forward thinking. My father didn’t use for sale signs and he was thought of as a maverick. :) We’ve seen the rise of franchises which came like a herd of buffaloes in the ’70′s. Some still exist, most don’t, but the franchise has remained as a significant player.

The first time i heard of an agent being paid a 70% commission split by their broker I thought it was a joke. It was real. It was the beginning of what we see today. 100% commission offices with ‘desk’ fees. In-house service companies — title, lenders, escrow, etc. The shift from the broker/owner being the god of all things to the producing agent should have been predictable. The tail wagging the dog is at least in part why we’re here today. Most high producing agents would fall flat on their faces if they’d been forced to open their own companies. But that’s another post altogether.

Where exactly is here?

It’s business models we’d of laughed at 40 years ago. Marketing not hinted at on TV shows predicting crazy future developments. We now see super-teams. Teams so large and productive they suck the air out of many areas with their lion’s share of production. That’s not a knock, it’s a fact of life. The Russell Shaws and Kris/Steve Bergs of the world have arrived at the top of the hill through the age old combination of brains and hard work, making use of streamlined systems. More power to them. They are also the ones with the cajones, pardon the expression.

There’s one thing that hasn’t changed since my dad first received his agent’s license back in 1959.

When expertise and results matter to the client, nothing else will do.

Said more plainly — nothing, not effort, not will, not technology, will ever replace results.

With all the talk about where to market, how to market, and to whom we should be marketing, the reason for all the chatter remains what it was 40 years ago.

Getting ourselves in a room with a prospect in need of what we have to offer is what makes one a success if done consistently. This fact of life seems to get lost in all the mumbo jumbo of website this, and blogging that, and the myriad choices there are now in marketing. Please don’t misread me. I have a website and a blog. Those aren’t what matters though.

What matters most is what you’re doing to get your fanny in a room with a prospect’s fanny. The extent you’re successful in making that happen on a regular basis, predicts whether you’ll have a good year, regardless of the times. (everything being relative of course)

I was taught as a teenager the more folks I talked to, the more appointments I’d get. The more appointments I got, the more listings and sales I’d have. So on my first day ever, I arrived at the office. It was a sunny October San Diego morning, and I began calling FSBOs out of the paper. That night I proudly announced I’d obtained my first ever lisitng. It took six hours to get my first (albeit worthless) listing.

Roughly 15 calls resulted in three appointments, and one listing. Go figure.

What’s missing in the real estate world today? In my opinion it’s hard work doing what produces results. I’m not saying all the agents failing today aren’t working hard. I think most of them worked real hard — at avoiding what would’ve produced results.

There’s obviously dozens of ways to skin the cat. And if you’ll pause to ponder a bit, you’ll realize nobody every asks you how you skinned the cat until they find out if you skinned it in the first place. Those leaving the business, and those about to, haven’t been skinning many cats lately.

It’s my belief that an agent using 1985 technology would kick the ass of 90% of today’s worthless pieces of crap out there today. Harsh? No doubt. (Don’t ask Russell Shaw his opinion of that statement if you don’t want his answer.) But you’re already nodding your head in agreement. Ask agents who’ve managed to survive in both ages. They’ll tell you I’m correct. The million dollar question of course is why?

And here’s the million dollar answer.

Because they refuse to work hard at the things they don’t like doing. Agents don’t like failure. And a large dose of failure is what you’re in for with prospecting. It can be done the 21st century way, or the dinosaur way. It matters not. When it’s avoided like the plague, income becomes a figment of the agent’s imagination. It would be laughable if it wasn’t so sad.

Real estate is some of the highest paid hard work and some of the lowest paid easy work in the business world today. It’s always been so.

Agents waste time fiddling with various forms of hi-tech. Their predecessors fiddled with 3 X 5 cards. In other words, they both avoided doing what had to be done to succeed. Meanwhile, an 18 year old kid, 90 days out of high school, listed a property in the first six hours spent as a licensee. Back then I had a hard time spelling real estate if you spotted me all the vowels. Still, the principles worked.

Pick a method of prospecting — any method. Hi-tech, low-tech, no-tech. Do it all day every day until you find yourself in a room with a prospect in need of what you have to offer. Keep doing it until you have too many prospects to allow all day prospecting.

This isn’t rocket science.

Making $2,000 a month or $200,000 a month doesn’t matter. What matters is what the latter is doing that the former won’t — work very hard doing what needs doing — talking to suspects and prospects until you’ve converted your share into paying clients. The amount of income is directly proportionate to not only your method and efficiency, but how hard you actually work.

I contend when agents stop painting their planes, and topping off the tanks, their incomes will take off. The average agent reading this knows they’ve been doing anything else but what will produce results. They continue to search in vain for the magic formula that will bring folks waltzing into their office asking where to sign.

Flight went from the Wright brothers to the Apollo Program in six short decades. Everything changed except for the principles that made flight possible in the first place. Lift overcoming weight and thrust defeating drag are what makes flight possible.

Talking to the most prospects possible is what makes one agent successful while the so called hard working agent down the street starves. Most hard working agents work hard at avoiding the work that matters. They’d rather fail at real estate than face somebody who might tell them to go away.

Marketing surely matters, but it won’t make a hill of beans difference for those who haven’t figured out what makes the damn plane fly.

Related posts:
  • No tilt; no fall real estate signs
  • The Odysseus Medal competition — Voting for the People’s Choice Award is open
  • The Youth Myth: Why It’s Hip To Be Square in Real Estate Brokerage


    34 Comments so far

    1. Jeanne Breault January 28th, 2008 11:26 pm

      Thanks…I needed that!

    2. Jeff Brown January 28th, 2008 11:28 pm

      We’ve all needed it at one time or another. :)

    3. Will January 29th, 2008 12:10 am

      Here Here! I’ve been thinking about that a lot lately. Thank you for putting it so eloquently.

    4. Ben Bach January 29th, 2008 3:59 am

      So true Jeff, so true

      A realtor who started in the business about 6 months after me (so, he’s a bit under 2 years in the business) recently asked me, after talking about the results, if I could set up a blog for him, and if he would start ‘closing’ a ‘lead’ a week with it ASAP.

      Apparently I have a sign reading “magic pill” on my forehead…

      I told him the reason I have success with my online lead generation, including my blog, is because I spend time every day working on it. He didn’t like that answer too much :)

    5. Jim Duncan January 29th, 2008 5:32 am

      Ben – you mean I’m supposed to be working to be successful? Man, I’ve been going about this all wrong …

    6. Tony Gallegos January 29th, 2008 5:36 am

      Jeff – This is a great post that also applies to the mortgage business. I started in the business in 1986 and I worked my #$@! off. I made many mistakes and being fresh out of college, many were caused by my lack of maturity…however I kept plodding. I laugh at many of the newer originators who were fat, dumb and happy funding loans between 2002 and 2006. They REALLY felt they had re-invented the marketing process in our industry and called guys like us dinosaurs when we pointed out the errors in their ways. Flash forward to 2008 and we who were professing the fundamentals are looking like Einstein’s. Were not of course, our experience and work ethic have taught us the fundamentals stay the same.

      Great post!

    7. Sean Purcell January 29th, 2008 7:17 am

      Jeff – Great post.

      I have spent a lot of time lately coaching, motivating & training Realtors (my third career coming to fruition) and I generally hear two distinct questions when I meet with them. The newer or less successful agents ask if I have that “one thing” that will magically make it all work: a novel way to market or a foolproof script. Those, on the other hand, that are already succesful ask a VERY different question. They want to know if I have any systems that will streamline their day and “create time”. They are looking for a way to see more prospects/day. The former is looking for a magic bullet while the latter knows they ARE the magic bullet… they just want access to more targets.

      Your post should be required reading before any licensing exam is ever given.

    8. Bob Rutledge January 29th, 2008 7:46 am

      OMG! Great post, I have read Gary Keller’s book, ‘The Millionaire Real Estate Agent’ several times and that is one of the first things he mentions to be truly successful and he repeats it throughout the book.

      I have started into success coaching for Real Estate Agents and I can not stress enough to my agents that I can provide them with all the systems to generate leads and prospects but if they don’t know what to do with them and aren’t willing to do it then lead generation is useless.

      After years in sales and marketing I have found that to be successful you have two magic bullets, working smart and working hard and did you notice that working is the main ingredient!

      Thank you for the post it was fantastic.

    9. Kris Berg January 29th, 2008 7:53 am

      Another great Bawld Guy moment. Take the motivational seminar (please). I see all of the same, under-producing agents attending seminar after seminar, to find themselves buried in their cubbies under an avalanche of tapes and books and magic wealth-producing systems. Everyone wants “easy.” There is no such thing.

    10. Brian Brady January 29th, 2008 8:11 am

      It’s all about at-bats. Give me 20 phone conversations daily rather than 100 e-mail exchanges. Great post, Jeff.

    11. Phil Hoover January 29th, 2008 8:28 am

      Brilliantly stated, Jeff!
      Now, if you will scuse me, I must mail my refrigerator magnets :)

    12. [...] Archives There’s always something to howl about « Principles of Flight and Real Estate — Getting Off the Ground [...]

    13. Nathan Blair January 29th, 2008 9:00 am

      Wow, how true yet how seldom stated that is! Your article has served as my daily dose of motivation; thanks.

    14. Jeff Brown January 29th, 2008 10:28 am

      You bet, Will.

    15. Jeff Brown January 29th, 2008 10:31 am

      Ben — There’s no way at your age, or mine back in the day, you could be successful without working on the right things daily. It just isn’t possible.

      You’re showing the way for the 20-something crowd. Keep it up.

    16. Jeff Brown January 29th, 2008 10:34 am

      Tony — You’ve said it perfectly. The fundamentals will not be ignored without consequences. The consequences are often, “You wanna super-size that order?” :)

    17. Jeff Brown January 29th, 2008 10:41 am

      Sean — I’m a little under the weather, but feel much better now!

      You must see this in spades as a coach. Do your clients ever rebel?

    18. Jeff Brown January 29th, 2008 10:45 am

      Bob — Thanks so much. Dad used to say an agent could make a solid living working hard, and a great living working smart, but an astounding living working smart and hard. :)

    19. Jeff Brown January 29th, 2008 10:49 am

      Kris — I’d think by now the Giant Jagged Rock would’ve tapped you as an in-house speaker. You’ve turned them down, haven’t you?

      If they haven’t asked yet, I’ll give them a nudge. :) It appears some are blind to the gold easily seen in their own back yard.

    20. Kris Berg January 29th, 2008 10:54 am

      J- If you had seen me speak, you would know better. :)

    21. Jeff Brown January 29th, 2008 10:54 am

      Brian — I like at-bats. The more you get the more times you find yourself on base and in the game.

    22. Jeff Brown January 29th, 2008 10:57 am

      Phil — What a crack up! Readers — click on Phil’s link in his comment. He’s a twisted individual fer sure. :)

      ‘Course, that’s why we get along so well.

    23. Jeff Brown January 29th, 2008 11:02 am

      Nathan — I’m so glad to have served. :)

      I know a great lender in your area. I’ll get in touch.

    24. Kevin Boer January 29th, 2008 11:08 am

      Jeff — brilliant post! We all need reminders like this. There is no silver bullet!

    25. Jeff Brown January 29th, 2008 11:14 am

      Kevin — Thanks a million.

      I’m reminded of a saying Grandma often repeated: “It seems the harder I work, the luckier I get.”

      Maybe that’s the real silver bullet.

    26. Scott Cowan January 29th, 2008 11:38 am

      Jeff- Ouch…. First thing I read today is your article. What a shock to the system. But, I needed it more than you could possibly know.

      Thank you very much for that well written and very accurate post.



    27. Sean Purcell January 29th, 2008 11:56 am

      Jeff – A little rebellion would be fine… heck, a lot of rebellion would be fine – at least it would show fire and action.
      What I generally encounter is a room full of people nodding their heads in agreement with whatever aspect of their plan or system I may be discussing. Then, when it comes time to set up accountability partners or commit to ongoing coaching there is a not too subtle shift. A few jump at the chance and many more mumble something about getting a cup of coffee and fade to the back of the room. You can probably guess what the success percentages look like after that.

    28. Jeff Brown January 29th, 2008 12:04 pm

      Ah, accounting for your actual deeds. What will you think of next?

    29. Robert D. Ashby January 29th, 2008 7:51 pm

      Excellent and timely post. Kudos Bawldy.

      I must admit that I would rather have seen a spin on Newton’s Third Law or Bernoulli’s Principle than simply how aviation has changed over the years, but this will do.

    30. Kris Berg January 29th, 2008 8:31 pm

      Oh, gawd! Bernoulli? Another engineer. Hide your women and children. :)

    31. Steve Trimboli January 29th, 2008 9:38 pm

      Jeff, thanks for your brilliant reminder for all of us to stick to the basics.

      BHB is helping me to keep focused when all around seems uncertain. It should be required reading for all agents.

      Afraid to face someone who might tell me to go away?
      Well, having people tell me to go away is one of the few things I’ve gotten real good at!

      Thanks again

    32. [...] and communicating with clients to help them buy and sell real estate. More info is in this article: It’s even more curious that it seems you’re not from our area, nor do you know about [...]

    33. [...] with clients to help them buy and sell real estate. More info is in this article: It’s even more curious that it seems you’re not from our area, nor do you know about [...]

    34. [...] Your State of MindAre You IN or OUT With Real Estate Blogging?Rinse Your Cottage CheesePrinciples of Flight and Real Estate — Getting Off the GroundDotHomes, a real, real estate search engineI hear rumors all the timeDotHomes Launches US Home [...]