When Conflict Works For You, Not Against You


Too often conflict catches us off guard.  When conflict is unexpected the response is not always what we would have liked it to be.  So here is a hypothetical.  What if we sought out conflict?  What if we confronted our conflict every day it came up instead of tabling it to a later day?  What we are really talking about here is managed conflict.  Managed conflict is about position defense, idea exchange and it compels you to examine your position in a way which will provide a productive result.  This may mean a ‘win’ or a ‘loss’ depending on what your goal is but despite the end result, it will certainly be more productive had you decided to avoid the conflict altogether.

I’ve been involved in deals in which I have purposely avoided the conflict knowing that it would lead to an unnecessary second or third meeting.  The excuses for doing this may have been different but the outcome was the same.  Author of the book “Rework” and co-founder of 37signals Jason Fried, said “Sometimes what looks like a disagreement is just an agreement cloaked in competing vocabularies.” In other words, we often speak so loudly we get in our own way of finalizing deals.  This is all about wasted time folks.  I don’t care if you are a CEO, a Business Development Executive or a real estate agent, we all need to be reminded of this from time to time.

You should know that some of those you speak with may be apprehensive of your confidence in approaching conflict so readily.  You may even lose them.  If you do, it is okay.  Losing a deal is not the last fish in the pond.  Chances are, the deal that you lost would have cost you more in account management than someone who knew what they wanted, knew what you offered and came to the table educated and ready.

Keep this is mind next time you are looking at your pipeline or working with that impossible client.  In either case, know your conflicts, address them early and move on to the next potential.

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Coldwell Banker’s BlueScape

Is buying a home an emotional purchase? You better believe it.  Just launched out of Beta is Coldwell Banker’s BlueScape a search experience that I predict will energize the home seekers and drive more traffic to the Coldwell Banker site.

The process is very simple.  Show the user a series of photo to which they are asked for a response of thumbs down or thumbs up.  These specific (and beautiful I might add) images guide the system to find the user’s desires in a home.  There are no set number of photos to rate.  When the home seeker wants to begin their search they simply click on GET RESULTS. Using your ISPs geographic footprint, it will show you location and lifestyle-specific homes based on your voting.

It’s an impressive value-added and one can’t help but think of the impact BlueScape will produce as it relates to devices like the iPad.

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The Ten Cent Spoon

Excerpt from the “Stay” Chapter of Matthew Gosselin’s Upcoming book, ‘Stand Out, Stick and Stay.’

On a recent trip back from Vermont after a Christmas visit with my family, we checked in, went through security and my first stop was a small coffee kiosk.  I bought my favorite Green Mountain Coffee for $2.06.  I thanked the woman, dumped my 94 cents in the tip jar and was on my way.  At first glance, this was an uneventful customer transaction, a success, a win-win for both customer and company.  What happened next changed everything.

I went back to the gate where my wife and boys were waiting to board our flight and my wife suddenly realized that we didn’t have a spoon to feed our 9-month old his baby food. “No problem,” I said as I remembered the kiosk and knew that they would have a plastic spoon.  I went back to the kiosk and asked the woman behind the counter if I could have a spoon.

“Yes, you can but I have to charge you ten cents for it.”

Let me stop here and tell you that normally when these situations arise I get excited and like to play the game.  They always make for great stories during speeches, conversations and of course blogs.  This morning, however, was a little on the rough side.  We had woken up very early, woke our kids early (never wake a sleeping baby, right?), said a teary-eyed goodbye to our family, dragged our seemingly 500 pounds of luggage into the car and drove to the airport in the aftermath of the worst snowstorm Vermont had seen in 120 years (no exaggeration).

“You’re going to charge me ten cents for a spoon?” I asked in disbelief.  She shook her head yes and gave me the line that only a mother would give to a family of five.  “If everyone asks for a spoon it will cost us money,” she said as though she had crunched these numbers many times before.  Clearly if I did not give her the dime then this coffee business might not make it.  After all, this was the Burlington Vermont International Airport gates 10-18 and I imagined that this woman must be peppered with questions from passengers all of the time asking for spoons.

In normal circumstances there were many questions I would have asked like “You can resell spoons? If so, why does it say NOT FOR RESALE on the spoon?  How many spoons have you been asked for this week?  Am I getting a silver spoon or just a plastic one, do I have a choice?  Can I return the spoon and get my money back if I don’t like it?  What is the going rate for forks and knives?  Should I feed my baby with my finger to save ten cents?”  I had an arsenal of questions I could have asked but instead what I did next might surprise you.

“I would give you a dime but I just gave you all of my change for a tip.  Maybe I should take a dime out of that.” I said.  Then I said, “No, that wouldn’t be right. Here is one dollar, keep the change and give nine others spoons for free.”  I walked away.

There is a big part of me that hoped that when I walked away from this woman she would realize that charging ten cents for a spoon from a paying customer is just silly.  The realist in me tells me that she pocketed the money making her total ‘tip’ $1.96 for selling a coffee and a spoon.  Of course she didn’t want to steal the dollar, she just had problems finding the button on the cash register that read “Spoons.”

Waiting to board JetBlue

This Family Just Paid 10 Cents For A Spoon

Here is the real problem with this situation and why you as a real estate professional need to listen up.  Originally I saw no issue with my coffee purchase.  However, the spoon incident ticked me off so much that when I began telling my wife, I found myself remembering all of the other issues wrong with the customer service.  I remembered first going to the kiosk, the woman looking up at me, not acknowledging me and going back to restocking some items.  At that point I left, settled my family in at the gate and returned to the kiosk.  The only words she spoke to me pertained to the amount due.  Since it was a self-serve, I went to fill my coffee and there was no more left. “Do you have any more Lake & Lodge?” I asked.   Without saying a word yet again she replaced the air pot. At the same time, the guy behind me told her that there was no more cream left.  She replaced the cream, again with no words.  I would have never noticed any of these things had the spoon incident not happened.  A bad day? Very possible.  Typical of her service? Quite possible.

Look, as real estate professionals, we are going to make customer service errors.  Sometimes we are going to follow ‘policy’ more then common sense.  We are going to have unhappy customers every now and then, occasionally at no fault of our own.  It’s the communication that we deliver that makes the difference and often will serve as damage control for these issues.   Remember though that if you do make a mistake and rub someone the wrong way, they are more likely to point out all other faults you  have made during the transaction.

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Jib Jab’s Year in Review

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Agents: It’s Time To Get Comfortable Again

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The Only Way For A Newspaper To Survive

YesterdaysNews

Knock knock.

Who’s there?

Newspaper.

Newspaper who?

Exactly.

It’s almost embarrassing for me to write about why you shouldn’t advertise in newspapers so I won’t. Instead, I’ll update you on just what newspapers are doing to stay afloat in such turbulent times. You may ask “why does this matter to me as a real estate agent?” It’s a great question and the answer is simple. In the future, newspapers will still be a part of your business model but it will take a major paradigm shift from the newspaper industry before it makes sense for you to get involved again.

Not long ago, Shorewest REALTORS, a Wisconsin based real estate company, published the below  advertisement in their local paper.

“Thank you for reading our property ads. Starting January 1st, our Open House listings will no longer appear in this paper. All of our listings are featured on Shorewest.com”

Shorewest Last Newspaper Ad

Shorewest Last Newspaper Ad

This ad is a bold example of just what real estate companies are finally doing. Slashing their newspaper budgets. In my opinion, this was a great move by Shorewest.  However, it doesn’t mean that newspapers are out for good.  Not yet at least.  In order to survive, newspapers will need to undergo a complete overhaul of their business models, content and delivery.

For years, the newspaper industry has been over exaggerating their circulation and providing very little value added.  They all add very little benefit for a company/agent trying to target a very small and specific demographic market.  Advertising in newspapers has become much like dropping fliers for your product from an airplane.  You just hope that it lands in the right hands but most of the time, much of it is a waste.

In their current state,  surviving newspapers are finding other ways to make money while providing additional services to companies–especially to mom and pop shops.  Just some of the methods of creating new revenue identified by the industry include

  • Website advertising with a new push for greater Search Engine Optimization
  • Direct mail services and fulfillment
  • Website hosting for easy lead generation
  • Custom newspaper printing
  • Call centers/sales support to qualify leads from your ad

Besides the value added aspect, newspapers are being forced to rethink the kind of news they deliver.  After all, why should I have to wait a whole 24 hours before I receive major international news. I can look that up anytime on the web, have it delivered right to my phone, or watch it on TV.  For these reasons the industry will have to create more magazine-like articles of special interests.  Instead of trying to become the first to break a story, they will need to investigate stories that have already happened and give the side that no one knows.

Take one of today’s events as an example.  The Internet has already blasted the headlline “Justice Souter To Retire.”  Tomorrow morning I will scan through the headlines and read this exact same headline. If a newspaper wants to sell newspapers, its headline should read, “Obama’s Arsenal of Possible Choices for Supreme Court.” This article would contain in depth information on each candidate and would be of great value to anyone interested in this particular topic.

If I had to put my money in futures of the real estate company, I would place it with companies that would allow me to customize my own physical newspaper with the news that interests me, with only the ads that I care about, and delivered to me only on Sundays. This concept is being lightly considered by only a couple of companies.  From an advertising standpoint, this would be a format that would be well worth putting money into.  Couple this with a whole group of services that I, as an advertiser could use, and this could be a good thing.  Newspapers, you have a lot of work to do before you can make sense to me again.

amazoncom_-my-blue-goose-exploiting-the-wow-factor-in-real-estate-marketing_-matthew-s-gosselin-first-editing_-booksMatthew S. Gosselin is the author of My Blue Goose, Exploiting The Wow Factor In Real Estate Marketing. The book can be purchased on MyBlueGoose.com or Amazon. Stay tuned for more information about his new book, “Stand Out, Stick and Stay. Transforming Real Estate Marketing”

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The First Time Homebuyer Stats You Need To Succeed In This Market

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Century 21 has come out with some killer research and statistics on a very important demographic. First time home buyers. If you do not have an aggressive plan on targeting this demographic, sit down and beginning thinking about how you are going to approach this audience. Many believe that this group will be the group to spur the housing market into more profitable times.

Important takeaways from the article include:

  • 78% Of Potential First-Time Home Buyers Say That Now is a Good Time to Buy
  • 85% say they consider current home prices affordable
  • 56% of potential first-time home buyers are considering purchasing a foreclosed or short sale home
  • 63% are open to purchasing either a “fixer-upper” or “as-is” home
  • 75 percent of potential first-time home buyers believe it is difficult to get a home loan right now (This one is important to overcome!)
  • 59% of potential buyers rated their understanding of the process as only “fair” or “poor.”

Read the entire article and research findings HERE

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