Over recent months I’ve been in my mental cave. Head down learning, planning and working. I don’t know if it’s a bloke thing or just my introverted nature. I get in this hyper focus, almost obsessive state. Anything outside of the cave ceases to exist.
Although it’s thrilling, almost addictive, to feel like you are fulfilling your calling, there is a downside. I get so caught up in it, I can become oblivious to the loved ones around me. Like only everything in life, balance is the key. There are times we need to stop, step outside and look up. Of course sometimes I need to be dragged out kicking and screaming. But when I am out, I often notice things that ultimately help me achieve my focus . It’s when the ‘eureka’ moments happen, or like on this occasion, I experience something that reinforces my direction.
It was my gorgeous girlfriends birthday, so we booked ourselves a long weekend based in Portobello on the Otago peninsula. Just the two us on a roady, discovering new sights.
On the Saturday we wanted to catch up with some old friends in Waitahuna and ventured down the scenic road from Dunedin to Taieri Beach, before heading inland. If you’ve never taken the time to explore this part of New Zealand’s coast, then you’re missing a real gem.
However, it was an experience on the drive back to base that’s instructive. If you’ve never been to Milton it’s like many other small provincial towns we often pass straight through, on the way somewhere else. We were in no rush and felt the need for ice-cream, so pulled over to check out the shop on the left heading north. I say “check out” because I’m a bit anal about my ice-creams. Old crusty stuff that’s been in the chiller far too long just wont do. And frankly, shop keepers tend to be a bit on the stingy side with their scoops.
Interestingly, there was another shop across the road but it looked almost derelict… I was soon to understand why.
Walking in, positioned directly ahead and lit up like the main attraction, was a large ice-cream station. Of course it was at the far end, meaning we had to get past the other temptations on offer. A closer look revealed not only an excellent selection, but most importantly it was fresh. This looked promising… “I’ll have a scoop of mocha and a scoop of chocolate… and ‘dip it’ please”.
As he placed the first scoop I realised I’d made a mistake. Not because it was small. It was in fact, the biggest scoop I’d ever encountered. With another added and dipped in chocolate, he handed it over, smirking, as if issuing a challenge. Although I secretly had doubts, there was no backing down at this point.
Kirsty was much smarter…”thats way too big for me” she declared, and instead ordered a single…
“That IS our single scoop madam… would you like the kiddies size?” he replied, with pointed finger and an upward glance.
Sure enough, the sign above had a picture of three ice creams. The Single scoop was marked “Kids”, the double marked “Single” and the triple marked “Double”. And to top it all off with a big fat cherry … his super sized ice creams are the same price as a typical size.
This all reminded me of a question asked by my business mentor. A question that has been instrumental in the growth of Restate…
“What do you want to be known for?”
Your Reputation, your Legend… What do you want people telling others about your business?
You see, this shop keeper had created a “wow” moment. An experience I will remember. But more importantly, a story I’m now sharing. And I bet I’m not the only one spreading it. Like rumours, stories told about others can gain momentum, to the point where even people who don’t have first hand experience are also telling it… “I hear the dairy in Milton…” This is what creates a ‘Legend’. His shop becomes ‘known for something’… the worlds biggest ice creams. As a result, do you think he gets more customers than the shop across the road? And how many of those also buy drinks and other treats? Plus, and this is the kicker… Each new customer leaves as a newly recruited storyteller – enthusiastically spreading the legend further… And on it grows.
The lessons here are twofold.
Firstly, being known for something is a powerful force.
Secondly, positive or negative, your Legend is 100% self created.
This is good news. Because it means we can engineer it. We can create our own legend… Think carefully about what you want to be known for… then act accordingly.
Lets face it, the real estate industry has a reputation that’s well… not exactly one to be proud of. It’s my mission to change that. I want my business to be known for protecting our clients interests, giving the best advice, adding genuine value, and maximising their profit. I believe our profession can and will become truly trusted and respected. Actually, I believe it must, in order to survive.
Many have told me I’m a dreamer. Fooling myself. That it can’t be done. And yes they’re right – it can’t be done by continuing to act how the industry does now. After all, it’s the traditional sales culture and commission-only business model, that created the poor reputation in the first place. Based on that saying about “doing the same things and expecting a different result”… you could argue that most real estate agents are technically insane ;-)… Or maybe they simply like the industries reputation the way it is – who knows?
Anyway, in our business we wanted to create a different Legend. A new Reputation. Therefore, all we had to do was act congruently with what we wanted to be ‘known for’. However that demanded a fundamental shift in thinking. It meant we had to bulldoze the establishment, dig out the rotten sales culture, then totally rebuild on the solid foundation of ‘consulting’. Then, and only then could we start to redesign how we work for our clients. This enables us to improve their experience and outcomes, thereby changing the stories they tell about us.
Was it scary turning away from the status quo? Definitely. Was it hard rebuilding from scratch? You bet. Has it worked?… Well at the end of the day, that’s for our clients to tell.
In the mean time, here I am back in my cave, working on changing the world of real estate.
What do you want to be known for?