SAN FRANCISCO — Usually, only one of two things happens to an ugly T-shirt — it ends up in the trash or in the depths of a drawer never to be seen again. But for CloseSimple founder Bill Svoboda, an ugly T-shirt inspired him to create a 15-year business that he runs today alongside his platform that simplifies the real estate closing process.

Svoboda said his experience as a T-shirt marker taught him that innovation never stops, and that real estate professionals need to abandon the “If I can just hold on” approach to business and adopt a method that maintains relevancy by putting customers first.

“A good party advertises itself,” Svoboda said on stage during Inman Connect. “That’s what relevancy is.”

Take off your cape, and help your customers put theirs on

Svoboda said real estate professionals often make their business all about them and their results. “They’re thinking about how they’re going to win the day for themselves, their family and their friends,” he said. “Not you!”

Svoboda said agents need to think of themselves as advisers and points to personal finance experts as an example to emulate. He said financial experts will never sit down and simply show you what they’d like to do with your money. Instead, they ask questions and figure out what the client needs.

“Listen more and have a human conversation,” he said. “Ask them about their story and where they’d like to go in life. Give them a win!”

Make their butt look good 

Once again, clothing taught Svoboda an important lesson about business. Svoboda tried on a pair of Tom Ford Chelsea Gianni’s that cost more than $1,000, and although he loved them, he couldn’t bear to pay the price at the time. A few months later, he was still thinking about the boots, but they were sold out.

To his surprise, the salesperson questioned Svoboda’s decision: “Sir, why didn’t you buy those boots when you were in here? When the time is right for Tom Ford, the time is probably not right for you. The next time you try on a pair of Tom Fords and you like them, you buy them.”

“Marketing is used for hollow products that cannot speak for themselves,” said Svoboda as he shared a Tom Ford quote. Svoboda said marketing doesn’t matter if you don’t give the clients the ultimate experience they’ll never forget.

“It’s not about making pants; it’s about making pants that make your butt look good.”

Own your block

Think of The Beatles, Bruce Springsteen and Prince. Do you know where they’re from? Of course you do!

These artists made music that embodied their neighborhood, their city or their country, which made them memorable, something real estate agents can learn from.

“They never made music for any of us, they made music for people right in their area,” he said.

Every agent’s goal should be to plant a stake in their area and become the go-to person for all things real estate.

“When somebody says real estate, are you the first name that comes to mind?” Svoboda concluded.

Email Marian McPherson.

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