No matter how the 2020 presidential election turns out, a huge number of people are going to be angry about the results. I believe real estate professionals are uniquely positioned to help the country begin the healing process by organizing noncontroversial grassroots initiatives that everyone in their community can support.
Realtors have always been on the front line serving their communities, especially when there’s a major disaster or crisis. Once the crisis passes, what else can you do to positively impact your local community and build your business as well?
Valerie Torelli, the owner of Torelli Realty, joins us on this week’s show to address this important question. Torelli has been the No. 1 agent in Costa Mesa, California, for 30 years running, and her brokerage has been the top seller in the area as well. At the core of her success is serving her community.
Serving your community
To better serve your community, Torelli recommends talking to local schools and other organizations about where there are gaps or where they need help. Look for opportunities that will also provide good exposure for your business. Here are five examples of how Torelli helped her community:
- Back when Torelli was starting out as a new agent and had no money, Costa Mesa was planning to eliminate the $150 donut fund for senior citizens. She scraped enough money together to buy donuts for the city council meeting and had local high school students distribute them. She then gave the city council a check for $150 to restore the senior citizen donut fund for the entire year. It landed her on the front page of local papers.
- Ten years ago, she spearheaded the effort to raise money to create a science lab for a local school.
- Torelli has a passion for the arts. She has funded the rental of band instruments for disadvantaged kids, sponsored the glee club and provided financial support for local school plays.
- When one of the schools told her supporting the sports program would help the entire school, she put money into that. This enabled the school to provide better athletic programs, which in turn had a positive impact on the school’s other programs.
- Today, Torelli personally funds the cost of teaching coding to all third through sixth graders at two different schools. The cost is $5,000 per year per school.
As Torelli explained about her coding program, it’s fun, noncontroversial and helps children learn how to think analytically. Even if you’re unable to sponsor a whole school, you can usually sponsor two or three children and ask others to join you in sponsoring as well, she said.
Helping local businesses
My co-host Greg McDaniel is passionate about helping local businesses. This is especially important today when so many businesses are struggling.
For example, if McDaniel were to help a local restaurant, he would interview the owner about the menu. He’d perhaps show the chef preparing some of the restaurant’s favorite dishes, post it on social media and then boost the post to amplify its reach.
McDaniel’s key criteria for determining which businesses to support is whether they are currently involved in supporting their local community. As he observed, it’s never about you — it’s about helping and serving others in your community.
How to make a long-term impact
If you want to make a long-term impact on your local community, one that will put you in front of families every single day for a year at a time, my personal pick is Ameeta Jain’s new Readability app.
What is Readability, and how does it work?
Readability is the most significant advance in the field of reading for K-6 students to date. Using the latest advances in voice recognition and artificial intelligence, Readability patiently tutors the child to speak each word and sentence correctly. Here’s how it works.
Children read into their mobile device as Readability follows their progress. If the child mispronounces a word, Readability pronounces the word correctly for them. If the child answers a comprehension question incorrectly, Readability “kindly requests” the child to rethink the answer.
Readability motivates children to read, allows them to learn at their own pace and provides a dashboard where parents can track the child’s progress. It’s the equivalent of having a one-on-one private tutor for each child.
Give a lifetime of learning to the children in your community
Reading lays the foundation for success in life. Readability frees parents from the daunting task of trying to provide individual help to their children who are struggling with reading, especially those who are autistic, dyslexic, have ADHD or other learning problems.
The individual price is $19.99 per month for up to three K-6 readers. If you are sponsoring a group of 100 or more, the pricing is $50 per child per year. In other words, if you were to sponsor 100 readers, the cost would be $5,000 per year or $416.67 per month.
Ways to integrate Readability in your business
Jain, McDaniel and Torelli each had creative ways an agent or broker could take Readability to their local community.
- Because the PTAs generally have money, Jain suggested that agents, their brokerage and the PTA could split the costs three ways. This is a win-win because everyone involved is working together to help the children in their school.
- McDaniel, who is dyslexic and has ADHD, was excited about sponsoring Readability in specialized schools that handle the types of reading challenges he has experienced throughout his life. Moreover, he sees this as a tool that can help adults who still struggle with reading today.
- Torelli suggested finding a local restaurant to sponsor the initiative. Have parents meet once a month, with the sponsoring restaurant bringing in a lunch or dinner. The goal is to cross-market while also bringing the community together around your initiative.
- Challenge others to join you in supporting additional kids. For only 66 cents a day, each sponsor can give three children in the same household a full year of reading and learning. Torelli recommends creating a short video clip showing a child reading and interacting with the Readability app to show potential sponsors how it works.
How will you spend your marketing dollars?
As you put together your 2021 business plan, evaluate your return from your print, internet and digital marketing. Then ask yourself: Is there a place where I could divert part of that money to help my community and simultaneously give me daily exposure to the people I want to serve?
If so, make whatever gift you choose to give part of your business plan, and begin implementing it now.
Bernice Ross, President and CEO of BrokerageUP and RealEstateC