If the Shoe Doesn’t Fit

In a recent interview about our business model, Dyan and I found ourselves struggling to accurately describe how we go about running our business. We have been trying to overcome the assumption by prospective Buyers and Sellers that we only work with higher end price ranges.  We want to really drive home that when we choose to take on a new client it really has everything to do with who they are, what they are about and very little to do with how valuable their home is or how much money they have to spend.

Certainly when we were building our business we were less clear on our priorities, more lenient on who we gave our time and energy to. Over the years and through many, many tough encounters we gained fresh perspective and clarity.

As Dyan and I talked about the path we have been over the last ten years as business partners and reminisced over the 20 years I have been in the business we kept coming back to the analogy of shoes. Well, we actually kept coming back to good bras vs. cheap bras but in an effort to help this be a bit more well-received by our non-bra wearing audience, we settled with comparing shoes.

As a newbie, Rookie Realtor, with barely two nickels to rub together, I wore the shoes I could afford. Sure, they were stylish but didn’t fit well. They weren’t of the highest quality but they got the job done. The same could be said for many of my clients. They were nice enough but they probably weren’t the best fit for me. I didn’t have a lot of options so I did the best I could with the hand I was dealt and sold some homes. I worked a lot of evenings, every single weekend and held more Open Houses than I care to recall but I gained experience, name recognition, and ultimately a solid reputation for being a hard worker. My feet hurt like hell but only I knew that, and besides band-aids are cheap.

As I succeeded, I developed a savings and as I spent more time on my feet “pounding the pavement” as they say, I was afforded the luxury of choosing better shoes. I graduated from “man-made material” to leather uppers, so to speak and not only did my feet thank me, my whole body was appreciative.

As Dyan and I grow together, not just as mothers and wives but also as business owners, we have been forced to evaluate more closely what is working and what needs improvement. We don’t have endless amounts of time nor just ourselves to consider. Who I was in 1999 when I got licensed is not who I am now and I am not just grateful for that, I am very proud of it.

Over the years, we have learned how to be mindful of what we are capable of, what drives us and just how much time and energy is realistic for us to invest into our business while still maintaining a level of sanity. As we often say, when we leave the office each day is when our REAL jobs begin. Between us, we have 11, 10, seven and six year olds. Let that sink in. Three of them are boys and for those of you who have raised boys – they are no joke. Collectively, we have endured…. I mean celebrated 35 years of marriage and have successful husbands who have big roles in our community.

When prospective Buyers and Sellers are interviewing us we are also taking a lot of notes. We do this because we need to be clear whether the client is someone we are able to devote a fair amount of time to but also whether they are going to be the right fit. At the end of the day will our proverbial feet feel pinched, beat up and taken advantage of or will they feel strong, supported and ready for the next trek? We all know what it’s like to spend a day on our feet and hopefully you also know what it’s like after putting in a solid day of hard work and finally getting to kick off your shoes. Whether you spent the day in narrow toe, unforgiving plastic-leather or a well made, proper fitting masterpiece is up to you. Now, don’t get me wrong… I have yet to spend hundreds of dollars on any one pair of shoes. But I can most definitely appreciate the ones that hug my feet perfectly, working with my design versus those which only want to do what they want to do, regardless of how flat my arches are or how crooked my pinky toe might be.

We all had to wear ill-fitting shoes at some point and there will always be a market for it. Heck, if it weren’t for Payless Shoe Source and their Buy One Get One sales, I wouldn’t have survived most of my teens and 20’s. If you are the Seller who wants the best deal not necessarily the best fit or highest quality you will always have choices. Some may be straight off the clearance rack and others may simply be building their business and able to offer discounts figuring that part of something is better than all of nothing.

As a homebuyer, please be mindful that just because the agent isn’t spending money directly on you they are investing in you. They are taking time from their other clients as well as their family and friends. They are cleaning their cars relentlessly to maintain a great impression, filling their gas tanks regularly to show you homes and providing hours of counsel while you navigate the inventory. They deserve your loyalty and clear communication. If you don’t intend to include them in your home purchase, regardless of how you learn about a property – be clear about that. Give them an opportunity to continue to wear cheap shoes or free them up to let you blister someone else’s heals while they are look for higher quality clients.

We are so grateful for the caliber of clients we get to work with. We are fortunate to have the power to choose whom we spend our time with. There are times when we come across a “Oh my Gosh, I have to have them… they are so cute and on sale but they are just a little bit tight but it’s okay, I can break them in” kind of clients and we make a conscious decision to make an exception. We know going in what our feet will likely feel like at the end of the day but we got to make that choice. We also know we can’t wear tight shoes all week so we will likely just have one pair of those at a time. There are also times when we really, really, really want to have the shoes but despite all the squeezing, compromising and effort to make them fit, they are just not the right size and if we ignore that, we will look ridiculous and regret the investment. Sure, not ALL SALES ARE FINAL but if they don’t feel right from the very beginning – during the “honeymoon stage” as we call it… they are never going to fit.