…to be unresponsive!
About two years ago, when I first interviewed Barbara Corcoran, I was amazed to experience first-hand that she answered her own phone and dialed her own numbers when she needed to be on a call. Realistically, she probably can’t do that 100% of the time, but the intent was there.
I don’t reach out to people unnecessarily, but when I do, there’s usually a good reason. I make the same assumption about anyone who is calling me.
There is nothing more impolite and disrespectful than someone having to leave more than 2 messages, one email, and wait, only never to get a response.
I return every call…
(The average call takes 2 minutes).
I respond to every email…
(The average email takes 30 seconds to write).
And whenever I can…I send a handwritten note!
When I’m extremely busy, it takes me longer to respond than I’d like – but I still respond. I never know where that next call is going to lead me. I never make a predetermination of where a new business relationship is coming from.
Being responsive is common sense as much as it is good business practice
Recently, there has been a surge of new real estate brokerage companies opening in the city. Exciting times indeed! The major disappointment for me is their common goal of aiming to become “the biggest in the business”. I wonder if it is the hope of a future merger or an acquisition that drives this direction.
Once again, I seem to be the contrarian and subscribe to Seth Godin’s prescribed business model. When I spoke to Barbara Corcoran a few years ago, she alluded to the fact that the future of real estate belongs to the boutique firms – ironic, indeed.
Through my eyes, the real estate business is qualitative, not quantitative.
More is less.
Less is more.
Small is powerful, innovative and creative.
Big is predictable, clumsy and inconsistent.
When our clients want something, we like to react – quickly!
It is far easier for us to act and adapt swiftly because we are unencumbered by a heavy load. An obstacle course is easier to navigate if you are nimble – 10,000 Pound Gorillas are heavy and can’t maneuver that easily.
History has shown that layers create bureaucracies, which in turn become inefficient. This makes everything political and hierarchal. When I want service, I don’t want to wait for a directive to trickle down from the top, watered down and filtered by other people not connected to the root. I like to speak to and get a response directly from the source because it is quicker, and more accurate.
The world keeps moving faster and we are living in the “now” generation. To be big and slow is risky and today’s consumer shouldn’t have to tolerate these inefficiencies. We should be able to deliver what you want, when you want it – and create innovative mechanisms to achieve your requests “now”.
David brought down Goliath with simple innovation, speed and the accuracy that his size afforded him.
In 1973, Barbara Corcoran created what was eventually to become New York City’s top real estate brokerage company. Her entrepreneurial mind, common sense approach to building a business, creativity and tenacity set her apart from the field. She sold the company seven years ago and started applying her creativity and knowledge into other endeavors. She has written two books and is widely considered a pre-eminent expert in the real estate and business world. I had the pleasure of speaking with her about the company she created and eventually sold and the general market.
Shaun: What was the most challenging part of starting your real estate brokerage company?
Barbara: Coming up with the cash, absolutely, because I was working as a waitress at the time and I lived off of what I earned in tips. Coming up with the cash to start any business was a major obstacle. But fortunately, my (what was soon to be boyfriend), came into the diner. I met him and he gave me the cash to start a brokerage firm. A thousand dollars.
Shaun: That’s a great story.
Barbara: That was a stroke of good luck.
Shaun: So you never became a real estate agent? You started your own company immediately and you never went to work for a firm?
Barbara: I started my brokerage firm in New Jersey immediately because my boyfriend had a friend who was an attorney, and as an attorney he was able to license me. So I just went and took the test. In those days, you have to appreciate 35 years ago, there were no barrier entries at all. If you could walk and talk you could pass the test. And I could do both, so I sailed through it.
Shaun: Is it any different now?
Barbara: Of course. It’s a pain in the neck now. In New Jersey, in New York, any state. Top of the list of course is California where fifteen years after I went to California five times to attend the courses I failed my brokers license five times in a row. I never got to move to California because I already had the Corcoran Group. I wanted to just move to California to just start all over again, but I couldn’t because I couldn’t pass the damn exam. In answer to your question; “Is it more difficult today?” It’s more difficult in terms of education, because you have to take courses and pass the exam, which is a pain in the neck. (more…)