The vet said the news probably wasn’t good. He hadn’t eaten for a week, his water bowl was untouched, and he couldn’t lift his empty 40-pound brain casing to so much as gaze longingly at the tempting doggie biscuit. We feared our canine companion was a goner.
Saddled with a sense of duty to at least give it the old college try, we agreed to the aggressive course of antibiotics and to the X-rays of his heart and lungs. Approximately $300 later, our former eating and drooling machine was still doing neither.
Something was clearly wrong, and the doggie doctor now cautioned that it was a very big, very expensive something. We were advised to schedule a series of four-figure tests involving general anesthesia, scopes, and various sharp objects at a more serious, better-equipped facility.
The woman in the white lab coat prepared us for the possible findings, the remedy for which might include chemotherapy or surgery. And that was assuming there was a remedy.
Then, on D-Day minus one, and 10 days into the hunger strike, it happened. Simon threw up a toothpick.
That’s it. A toothpick. And before you could say "bacon-wrapped water chestnuts," our 95-pound, 10-year-old puppy had eagerly assumed his position at the front door and was enthusiastically slobbering on the entry rug in anticipation of incoming pizza.
Sometimes the simplest answers are the right ones.
I’m what you would call an over-thinker. Back in 2001, I was convinced that the social landscape was changing in ways that would require our industry to dramatically change as a result. Alas, it looks like I was right, but there were a lot of years of business-as-usual between then and now.
To some degree, one could say business practices still haven’t changed dramatically. But going from sick to terminal is a process, and that place in the middle is where we still have to pay the bills.
Most of us are familiar with the Wayne Gretzky quote, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." Great advice. Forward thinking is the thing of which innovation is born.
But I, for one, tend to spend too much time worrying about where the puck is going, forgetting that there is a game being played in the present. And the reality is that if we spend all our time running out in front, we will never be in a position to take the shot.
This week I again found myself far too mired in the "what ifs." I wrote recently about the listing-agent shopping epidemic in my market, and the pattern is continuing. I am consistently taking not one, but several calls a day from people wanting only to speak with the person holding the purse strings.
As the nice couple stood in the living room of our listing and asked, "How much do you make?" I again become contemplative.
And as I retreated to my personal think tank to consider what this meant to my business and my business model — Should we be divorcing commissions? Should my state outlaw dual agency altogether? Is it time to institute a special "Not the Listing Agent" Internet discount so that opportunities aren’t lost and our buyer’s agents are fed? — it occurred to me that my prognosis might be premature.
There have always existed buyers who have been more concerned with my paycheck than with my services or the bottom line, and there have always been agents willing to accommodate them. There is a model for everyone, and everyone is not my client. Rather than call for the paddles, it makes more sense to focus on the niche that is my client base, on those people who value the services I provide and the things for which I stand, and continue to improve the experience for them. Some day, they too may want only the listing agent, not necessarily the best agent, but today the puck stops here.
I haven’t embraced video, my website (the one that I overhauled last year) needs another retooling, and I haven’t blogged or tweeted anything meaningful in weeks. I don’t have an app or WAP, but I worry about these things because I am told that it is the direction we are heading and I should get there first.
But is that really necessary — being first? We have started putting QR (Quick Response) codes on all of our custom yard signs. This is arguably the dumbest thing I have done all month.
I suspect the one customer in 1,000 who knows, today, what the heck it is has already secured one of the $2 glossy brochures and is using it as a placemat for his Double-Double with cheese as he drives away.
The others just think I am stupid for not having taken the price tag off the sign I bought. In three or five years, when (if) everyone is capturing the image on their smart phones, will anyone really care that I thought of it first?
People are generally not as nice these days. It’s a societal shift, I believe, the result of social media having redefined communication as one-directional.
We have senders, but in so many cases we lack a receiver. We call it pull marketing, but what we are really doing is pushing our all-about-me posters in 140-character sound bites, and the conversation lacks the element of feedback critical to meaningful exchange.
I see it in my teenagers, but then teenagers have always tended toward the self-absorbed. I also see it in the customers we encounter, in their do-it-yourself distrust of and disrespect for everyone remotely involved in the real estate process.
When I am wearing my big-thinking hat and obsessing that the dog is near death, I forget that not everyone has stuffed their social etiquette in the dumpster. And I remember that this housing crisis has put too many otherwise good people in a really bad place. Just maybe, this too shall pass.
And when I begin to feel overwhelmed with the duty to keep up with a bullet-fast technology target, I have to remind myself that maybe, just maybe, I won’t be living out of a refrigerator carton next week if I am not the brightest, most omnipresent star in the social media sky or the most prolific blogger.
Perhaps it’s OK that I am not among the minority who got the first press release but, rather, am in the majority who waited until the next best thing was out of beta.
The dog will die someday, and someday our industry will be dramatically different — even unrecognizable. These things are givens. But Wayne Gretzky is also attributed with having said, "You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take," and if you are fixated only with where it’s all going, I guarantee you that your business in the meantime will suffer.