Growth and development, what’s it all about?
Recently I attended a 2-day real estate summit in Denver hosted by PEMCO Limited, and I’m still feeling high from the positive energy generated by the organizers, speakers, and attendees.
The attendees were some of the brightest “boots on the ground” within the real estate and mortgage default industry. In essence they are the conduit between lenders and homeowners, and their goal is to help both communities successfully process short sales, evictions, property preservation, and sales.
A very difficult job
They’ve heard every unimaginable, heartbreaking story from parents and children being evicted. They’ve wondered the purpose of vandals, scrap thieves, and squatters who completely trash a once beautiful home. They’ve cried when confronted with abandoned animals that are starving or dead.
In many ways they are glorified property managers who mow lawns, turn on/off utilities, and negotiate exuberant upfront municipalities fees; fees that are now the norm. Cities, like Oakland, charge $560 to register a defaulted home; or $100 penalty if an abandoned property’s grass is higher than six inches; or (my favorite) the nearly $800 charge for a Sewer Lateral Certification. What the heck is that ???
People outside of the industry give these real estate professionals flack for making money from downtrodden homeowners, but they paid the price with divorce, heart problems, stokes, hypertension, weight gain. In fact, some have been robbed, rapes or killed while inspecting abandoned property.
From the outside, life looks great, but …
Within five years, the mortgage default industry drastically changed. Business was lost when clients like Countrywide merged with another bank or closed altogether. Services like Broker Price Opinions (BPOs) were outsourced to India. Competition tightened when brokers with better connections opened multiple offices. Client fees soared while commission rates dropped.
Like other business leaders they too ponder the universal struggle of balancing work and life while growing and developing their business. To stay in business they had to stay abreast of trends, continuously prospect for new business, and diversify their services.
The successful secret weapon: Community Engagement.
I felt honored to speak at PEMCO’s Brokers Summit. Their request: introduce brokers to the concept of Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Basically, they asked me to share community engagement ideas, tips, and trends that could help brokers grow and develop their business.
The request is more challenging than most anticipate because many small to medium size companies, like real estate brokers, are uncomfortable with leveraging and branding their community engagement efforts.
Arguments include: I feel guilty pointing the spotlight on my community efforts, looks like I’m bragging; or I’m uncomfortable leveraging business and community engagement; or it’ll take up too much time and energy to put an unproven project on my plate.
Underlying all arguments is the practice of a single bottom line – money. Now there I was, asking them to create a triple bottom line – people, the planet and profits. It seemed like an oxymoron. Put people and the planet first and profits will follow. Hum, a tough sell.
The point is …
Large, global companies within every business sector embrace community engagement. Why? Because they know it pays to be good. Strengthen leads. Build loyalty. Create positive media opportunities. Reduce cost. Generate revenue. And, it’s the ultimate marketing tool – brand good values.
Creating growth and development
Here’s the pitch: Any person who has a pulse on your company is the lifeblood of your company. Employees, clients, prospects, suppliers, media, trade associations etc. – they are communities of people who help develop and grow the business.
As my good friend, Lee, likes to say, “A happy wife is a happy life.” In essence, to grow and develop your business, make your people happy.
How does it work?