I have read many marketing books and attended several seminars over the years, and I have heard many times that it is a great idea to draw ideas from other unrelated industries. As an example, most people know that Ray Kroc made McDonald's huge by making things uniform in all of their restaurants, from the food down to the stainless steel counters. This made it much easier to successfully franchise, since the customer would always know what to expect.
With that in mind, I started thinking about some places that would be less advisable to use as examples for what I do as the broker and owner of a real estate company here in Austin. These would be bad examples for any of us.
Without further ado, here's what things would look like if I chose to run my business like:
A GENERAL PRACTICE DOCTOR
My clients arrive at my office and are greeted by a sign instructing them to sign in on the clipboard at the front. My receptionist will be seated behind a sliding window.
There will be ample seating for them to wait on me, as I am doing something pretty important. During the 20-40 minute wait, they can enjoy the selection of magazines that aren't exactly old, but aren't really new either. Perhaps a People magazine discussing Britney Spears FIRST marriage, or a Sports Illustrated with Vince Young winning the Rose Bowl on the cover.
At last, their wait is over! They are ushered into a smaller room by my assistant, who speaks with them and gets some more details about the type of home they want. They wait for awhile longer (perhaps 5-10 minutes), then I come to meet with them for precisely four minutes. I look up a few properties on the internet, then print out the perfect home.
"This looks like the one for you. Please see my receptionist to pay for this property."
A DEPARTMENT STORE APPLIANCE REPAIR SERVICE
Someone finds my number on Active Rain. They are looking to sell their home in Austin, so they give me a call (naturally, right?).
ME: I would love the chance to help. I can come to your home next Thursday between the hours of 8am and 5pm.
SELLER: Is there any way to narrow it down a bit more?
ME: No, that's pretty much how it works. I have to see which appointments I have, then I will arrange them geographically that day. It really depends on how long each seller takes to decide whether to list with me.
ME: Also, I need you to pay my commission upfront over the phone.
ME: Yes. Did you want to use Visa or MasterCard?
On the day of the appointment, I will call the sellers once when I am a few minutes away. If they don't answer immediately, I will cancel the appointment and unilaterally re-schedule it a few days later without telling them. When they call back a few minutes later, they will be able to take advantage of my highly complex phone system without ever speaking directly to me. After getting super-frustrated, they will be forced to dispute the commission charge directly with the credit card company.
THE AIR CONDITIONER GUY
The sellers are very anxious to sell. They are in fact so anxious that they must have someone out today to list the home. Their previous agent simply isn't getting the job done, and the listing has expired. They call our office, and the agent dispatcher sets up an appointment. I get the call and head over to check out their home.
Upon arriving, I inform them that regardless of what happens with the listing, there will be a trip charge of $500 just for having me show up. Since it is Saturday, the trip charge doubles. It turns out that I am totally unable to help them, but at least I got paid for my time, right?
So, what do you think? Do you have any others that might serve as negative examples for real estate or mortgage pros?
As always, thanks for your time!