More Geek Posts…Now at the New Official C.A.R. Blog Site

Love my blog posts? Love the information I share? Looking for more?

Look no further than the official blog site of the California Association of REALTORS®!

No, it won’t be duplications of the blog posts here. It’ll be fresh, new content.
It will be content that’s “EXCLUSIVE” to the C.A.R. Blog!

It won’t be as often as here, but when one is posted it’ll be worth it.

The cool thing is, there’s lots of other great content that’s getting posted to the C.A.R. blog from my various colleagues.

You’ve got the master of words, Josh Sharfman who is bringing all kinds of great tech stuff.

Then you’ve got the queen of numbers, Sara Sutachan keeping you up to date with the latest market data.

Of course there’s going to also be posts from our C.A.R. social media organizer/maven/princess, the always charming Lindsey Moss.

In addition to these three fine folks, there’s also great posts from our communications, legal and legislative departments.

So what are you waiting for?

Go and check it out, and check out my first post on speeding up your iPad and iPhone!

Communication…It’s Not Overrated

3 weeks ago my Dad went into the hospital for a simple out-patient procedure to put a stent in one of his arteries.

As the doctors went in they found out that things were a little more intense than they had thought. It turns out there were 2 other arteries that were blocked. One at 89% and one at 98%.

This simple outpatient procedure turned into a triple bypass.

While overall I think the doctors and nurses were incredibly talented and wonderful the one thing that was incredibly frustrating for me and my family was the communication or lack thereof.

There either wasn’t enough, or it wasn’t correct, or the message radically changed multiple times over the course of a day.

I know many people say that you have to push for information in a hospital, but in that scenario we were all kind of in a mini state of shock, not knowing what to expect or what to do.

So what if…

  • We didn’t have to push for information from those that we deal with?
  • Communication flowed freely so people were kept in the loop on a reasonable basis?
  • We made a little more effort to just keep others up-to-date?

I think we’d have a lot less stressed folks during already tense situations. They’d feel more in control of their world, and their life. It’s amazing how even if someone has absolutely no control over a situation, knowing what’s going on can make them feel in control. Not knowing what is really going on can scare the crap out of people. The fear of the unknown or the uncertain can even be downright horrible and painful.

Flickr: stuartpilbrow

My mind now wanders to my REALTOR® friends and what they need to communicate.

When people are buying or selling a home it’s perhaps THE LARGEST financial transaction that someone will go through.
Even though it’s a financial transaction it’s fraught with emotions that can go from high to low in the course of minutes.

Home buyers and sellers want to know what’s going on. They need to be kept informed on everything that is happening to maintain some sense of sanity. They want their agent to get back to them in a timely manner.

Their satisfaction with the agent in a transaction can often be largely based on the amount of communication they did or did not get.

Place yourself in the shoes of the buyers and sellers who really don’t understand how the transaction really works. Take off your REALTOR® cap and be the buyer….na na na na na na….be the seller…na na na na na na.

Communication doesn’t have to start with the listing agreement either. Start your communication by having a blog and teaching your readers about the transaction, and what they need to know. Teach them about the communities you sell homes in so they know why they should buy a home there. Teach them some common things to look out for in a home inspection.

Keep the communication channels open and prepare them for their lifestyle transplant by e-mail, phone and even social networking.

If it’s between the hours of 8am-7pm respond within an hour or less to e-mails and phone calls. Even if you don’t have any new information, give them a call to let them know you’re working on it and give them a time that you’ll get back to them. If there is no new news, contact them to say there’s no update and set a new time to get back to them.

Flickr: rbrwr

Be realistic about the time you give them. Don’t underestimate how long it may take.

In my many years in I.T. I would often tell people things would be back up or completed later than I really thought it would. When I finished earlier it made them feel really good about me, my tech skills and my services. In those scenarios where I had unexpected issues, it gave me some extra wiggle room and still allowed me to deliver on time.

Communication in the end isn’t that hard to do and you never know, the simple update you give someone could do a world of good.

It certainly would have made a very scary situation, a lot less scary, not just for us but for my Dad. Having all the right info on a timely basis could have helped my Dad get out sooner, because instead of worrying he could focus on healing.

My Dad’s heart is doing wonderful while his lungs are taking some time to come back after a lifetime of smoking. Overall though he’s good, and he finally got to go home on Friday afternoon. He can now rest and relax as he watches the Golf Channel. Before we know it he’ll be back at full strength and back out on the fairway.

Google E-Mail Outage – A Great Example Of Good Customer Service

Around 12:30PM PST yesterday Google had a pretty significant e-mail outage that lasted a little over an hour and a half.

For a heavily utilized service like Google, this is HUGE. There’s many businesses small and large that rely on Google e-mail to be functioning in order to get business done.

So now you may be wondering…How is this a great example of good customer service?

Stay with me for a sec on this…

Later in the day Ben Treynor, VP Engineering and Site Reliability Czar for Google added  a post to the Gmail blog. In the post they not only accepted full responsibility for what happenned, but outlined what happenned (in the least techie way possible) and let people know what they were going to do to help keep it from happenning in the future.

It seems like so often tech companies and even non-tech companies skirt around issues and fail to accept responsibility for what they did or didn’t do. Then they fail to learn from their mistakes and repeat incidents, again not accepting responsibility or truly addressing what the core issues are.

Technology is hard to manage and hard to keep up. In my 16+ years in the tech field I experienced some of the same things as Google did yesterday – just on a smaller scale. Routine maintenance or procedures would lead to a major outage, even with lots of careful planning and back-up plans.

So the lesson for all businesses (both tech and non-tech) to learn from Google’s issue and Google’s response…

1. Plan, plan, plan and then plan some more – Try to avoid over analyzing things, but always remember that anything can and often will happen, especially when you’re least prepared for it.

2. Work the problem…not the people – Focus on getting things working and back to normal, don’t start pointing fingers. If it’s up to one group or person to resolve then work with them. Offer them your help, support and encouragement. When I was in I.T. my immediate supervisor Tim Johnson and our OPs group VP Rick Shumacher were great about just letting me work the problem. They stood back and let me do what I needed to do, the whole time letting me know they were there if I needed them.

3. Keep people up-to-date – You don’t need to overwhelm people with status updates, but don’t keep silent. Nothing induces more fear or uncertainty and  lack of confidence than not knowing what’s going on.

4. Let the dust settle – Once the issue has been taken care of, let things settle, let people get some sleep and then debrief on what happenned. Sometimes the situation may not even be totally over and some additional things need to be addressed before a really good debrief can happen.

5. Work the problem…not the people – No, this isn’t a mistype, or a cut and paste mistake. When you debrief focus on what happened and what can be done to prevent future issues – not who did what and how idiotic it may be.

  • Mistake Makers – If you made a mistake then admit your fault and let people know what you learned from it to avoid doing it again. Admitting to mistakes will carry far more weight than trying to hide a mistake you made. Trust me, eventually people will find out.
  • Mistake Maker Managers/Supervisors – Work with your staff to help them avoid making the same mistake. Remember what it feels like to make a mistake and the courage it takes to admit you made one. This is a learning experience for everyone.

6. Final update – Update everyone and assume group responsibility for what happened as well as what steps are being taken in the future to avoid the same issue. DO NOT LAY BLAME ON AN INDIVIDUAL – this is the biggest way to kill someone’s drive and determination to do better.

7. Put it into practice – Take everything you’ve learned and actually put it into place. Nothing looks worse than having the same issue happen again because no one bothered to implement what was learned.

For my REALTOR® readers –
All of this can apply to all of your transactions as well. In fact the one thing that’s most important is keeping your client apprised as to what’s going on. The one thing we keep hearing that is important to buyers and sellers is that they’re kept up to date, even if there is no new news.

When you have issues learn from what happened and apply them to your future transactions. Maybe you’ll need to switch vendors, maybe you’ll need to change how your staff interact with customers, maybe you’ll need to change how you do things.  Don’t let bad transactions fall by the wayside…there’s a lesson to be learned in all of them.

As far as Google goes I have even more confidence in them, their services and their products. I love how they handeled everything and while it was in inconvenience, this stuff happens. What matters is how they handled the situation and what they’re doing to avoid future problems.  GO GOOGLE!!!!

A Post Only A Geek Could Love…Harry Potter & Real Estate

As my blog address implies I am a geek.

So this post on ActiveRain really caught my attention as one of the featured posts for the day.

Anna “Banana” Krutchen in Phoenix, Arizona gives some great examples as to how the curriculum at Hogwarts can be turned aroud and applied to REALTORS®.

A nice, short and entertaining post and one I recommend taking a couple of minutes out of your day to read. So while you’re drinking your 2nd or perhaps 3rd cup of coffee for the day, click HERE to give the post a read.

Twitter Growth Continues & Facebook Still #1

Nielsen Online reports that Twitter continues to see incredible growth up 1,444% over last year and people are spending more time on the site.

You can check out the article by clicking HERE and also see how Facebook has retained its #1 social networking spot for the 7th month in a row.

So…REALTORS® finally ready to learn about how to use these tools and go where the clients are?

Can’t Stop The Tweets!

Read this article on Yahoo on how Twitter and other social networking sites like Facebook are helping those in Iran get the message out about their election problems, despite the government cutting off telephone, e-mail, texting and keeping the foreign press out.

Twitter and their server hosts even went so far as to schedule needed maintenance during what were the wee hours in Iran.

This article to me shows…

1. How incredibly powerful Twitter can be for everyone.

2. How cool Twitter’s staff and management are.

3. How lucky we are to live in the United States.

Incredibly huge kudos to Twitter and their server hosts!

Why REALTORS® Should Be Using Facebook

I found this great blog post on ActiveRain this morning written by R. Greg Osmond who’s up in Canada.

I think it’s got a lot of great information on why REALTORS® should be getting into and using Facebook, unfortunately it was an ActiveRain members only post. I contacted him through Facebook and let him know I wanted to share it on my blog. He was kind enough to give me permission to post it here since I couldn’t link out to it.

So please do give it a read and while you’re at it drop by his web site by clicking on his name above, or by clicking HERE and if you’re so inclined add him as a friend.

Use Facebook For Business or Watch Your Friends Do Real Estate With Someone Else

Honestly, about 6 months ago, I was among the sceptics about Facebook. I thought I was too busy to be engaged in people’s lives over the internet, that it was only for people who had little to do and I thought there were real privacy issues on Facebook that I didn’t have time to sort out.  Then one day it dawned on me just how powerful Facebook was.  I had an “a huh!” experience!

Facebook allows me to connect with so many more people than I would ever have time for in person. It enables me to engage in the lives of my friends who I have been feeling guilty about never calling.  If there are things I want to keep private about my life, then I just don’t put them on Facebook or I take a few minutes to set up my privacy settings.  It’s really easy.

For me, Facebook is just an extension of who I am in real life.  I am normally “greg”arious (and a pun lover) so anything that helps me reach out and interact with more people is right up my ally.  In my view, Facebook is almost a “Godsend” for Realtors who use it properly.

So what do I do on Facebook?Add Me As A Friend

I spend a few minutes throughout the day making comments, adding links, reading what others are saying and generally interacting in people’s lives.  In other contexts we call it networking.  If I am too busy today, I will give it a few minutes tomorrow.  But I try to say something on Facebook every day.

Here are seven “top of mind” things that I do that have a significant impact on generating business for me now.

1. I look for ways to say something positive, encouraging or engaging to my friends who post a status update. Let’s face it.  People post to their status to be connect with others.  When I notice them, they like it and that makes them connect with me.

One of the challenges for Realtors today is to be noticed by people who are looking for real estate services.  Have you looked at the Real estate ads lately?  There are far too many Realtors trying to get noticed in all the same places.  Facebook is a real online space where few are competing with me so it’s easy to be noticed and easy to connect with them.

2. I post comments to my status too.  These are about real estate, market statistics and my thoughts about what is happening in the market or anything I am doing in my business. This gives real estate information to my friends who without asking have learned a little bit about me and my profession.  It also shows them I am active in the business.

Here is an example of my status update. R. Greg Osmond “Just appraised a home in St. John’s.  The market is changing a little.” Someone may then comment, “How so?”  I smile and answer for all to read.  How easy it is to establish yourself as a Real Estate professional among friends!

3. I post a link to my blog whenever I write something new. Of course I exclude “members only” posts but these are very few; this one is an exception.  My primary service is to my local market place so that is where I focus when writing new content.  Posting my blog to Facebook draws outside readers into my blog and website and therefore improves my Google juice.  It also shows my friends that they can count on me as one who is an active real estate professional in their lives; someone who they are getting to know and trust a little more every day.

cartoon from www.weblogcartoons.com

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

4. I try to add a few new people every week that I have something or someone in common with. The greater the number of people who I can communicate with in a meaningful way, the better it is for my business.  I look for things that we have in common to add them as friends.  These are friends of friends, people like me who are interested in golf, music, university, squash, hiking, fishing or anything else I am interested in. Some people won’t accept my request for friendship but many will.  I don’t take that rejection personal.  It’s the internet for crying out loud.  They don’t know that I am not a pervert so they have a right to refuse.  It never bothers me.

5. I give away things on Facebook. If I am trying to get rid of something that has some value to someone but not much value to me I post it to the Marketplace Application.  It costs me nothing but it does bring attention to my profile.  People can then see that I am a Realtor in the community and I begin to be that person in their sphere of acquaintances who is available to consult whenever they need real estate service.

6. I post links to real estate articles, other blog posts with interesting information and helpful hints that I find on the internet. They don’t all have to do with real estate but they are always of some value.  Some might just be for a laugh.  A small amount of comic relief for friends is not a bad thing.  Most of my links are helpful information though.  I try to help others be better educated about things.  I rather being known as a serious Realtor who likes a good laugh than a joker who is hardly ever serious.

7. I post photos and links to my listings as soon as they are on the market. Who knows, one of my friends may be looking for a home and I may have the one they like.  Even if they don’t want that one, we may begin the process of looking for the right one for them.  If you are there on Facebook you can offer your assistance to anyone with a private message.  When someone picks up on this, you will be growing your business.

I have met and conversed with many people about real estate in the last six months just by being active on Facebook. I see the impact of my presence there growing more every day.  If you haven’t started yet, I recommend you begin today.  If you are on Facebook but you are not using it then you are missing out on a great opportunity to connect with many people professionally and dynamically.  I recommend that you be there and be engaged.

If anyone would like to join me and see how I interact with my friends I would invite you to add me as a friend and we can learn from each other. Facebook is one of the greatest tools for building relationships that modern day technology has brought us because it is dynamic, interactive and live.

If you have issues with Facebook, you should get over them now and act before your competition does. Social media is growing at a phenomenal rate and it will become one of the most powerful ways to connect with your clients in the years to come.  Facebook will definitely build your business if you give it a little time and effort.  Start and let’s be friends today!

R. Greg Osmond is a Platinum Award winning Realtor serving St. John’s and surrounding areas, Newfoundland and Labrador for over 20 years and can be reached at 709-895-2500. Visit http://www.rgregosmond.com/ for further information or add him as a friend on Facebook.

R. Greg Osmond's Facebook profile

Face2Face Interactive Video Conferencing Program Launched!

For the past month and a half my co-workers and I have been working feverishly on a new program called Face2Face that will help state associations deliver N.A.R. designations (Green designation, Seniors Real Estate Specialist® (SRES®), and the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation) along with C.A.R. Education courses my own Technology training series.

It’s all done via video conferencing. The instructor sees the students at the associations and the students get to see the instructor as well as the presentation materials.

Here’s what it looks like for the instructor…

My view of the students while teaching
My view of the students while teaching

What’s great about this program is:
* Smaller associations will be able to hold training for their members and not have to worry about the typically large class size minimum
* One instructor can teach to up to 4 different geographic locations all at the same time…one person can finally be in multiple places all at the same time 🙂
* It’s DRE approved!

Perhaps the best is that we’re the first (or one of the first) state associations to do this.

Myself and the team have done A LOT over the last month and a half, and this was an incredible team effort!
Good job Albert, Ana, Candace, Dani & Michelle!

Of course many thanks to the local associations who helped us deliver our first training sessions..

California Desert Association of REALTORS®

Delta Association of REALTORS®

Newport Beach Association of REALTORS®

Tri-Counties Association of REALTORS®

Orange County Association of REALTORS®

Solano Association of REALTORS®

South Bay Association of REALTORS®

I’m so thrilled and honored to be a part of this and I think we’ve got a great product.

To read more about it, check out the press release.

Now it’s time to start working on more classes to deliver via Face2Face – See you on-line!

Twittering For A Home Sale

Good ol’ Rudy from Trulia passed on the following about a homeowner who is using Twitter to help sell his home in Durham, North Carolina. His story has even been picked up by the local media and CNN’s Anderson Cooper.

He also used Trulia to find an agent to sell his home, and is using it to find a new home in Salt Lake City.

From the article…

“DJ searched Google for real estate agents and saw Trulia for the 1st time. He liked the look of the site, did some searches and set up some alerts. He asked 4 questions on Trulia Voices, our real estate Q&A community and one local realtor, Michael Colvin,  answered 3 of them promptly and professionally – without the hard sell. DJ told me he liked the way the agent presented himself. This was what helped him make his decision when choosing his real estate agent. He emailed him through the agents profile. They set up a face to face meeting and hit it off.

You can find the rest of the story on the Trulia blog HERE

Take away for real estate professionals…

1. Twitter is gaining major ground everyday
2. Homebuyers and Sellers are going to Trulia to look for agents. A basic profile is free – YOU NEED TO HAVE ONE!
3. Be like Mike – Answer questions in Trulia voices – WITHOUT A HARD SALE!

A Brand New Blog

I know that my site hasn’t been up for very long so some may wonder, why a new blog format?

  1. While I love iWeb for creating web pages I have found the blogging tool to be a bit limited, especially when it comes to updating a page. I’d have to republish the site and then upload it to my FTP server.
  2. I kept running into problems with getting the RSS feed to work in iWeb. I want my blog readers to be able to easily subscribe to my blog.
  3. I was turned on to WordPress for blogging (thanks Dani!) and found it was a great site that was easy to use and offered some great blog page formats that I can change at any time. It’s also got a number of cool web widgets…so hopefully i can do more geeky blog stuff moving forward.
  4. There was a program I had heard about awhile ago called MacJournal made by Mariner Software. I had checked it out and it was pretty cool. A week ago I got an e-mail offering it for 40% off making it a very low $24.95, so I jumped on it. It makes it much easier to do blog posts and instantly post them. I?m hoping it might also help me in my posts to the official C.A.R. blog I write on.

So now here I am in my brand new blog home and I?m quite happy with it. I hope you like it as much as I do. Feel free to leave your thoughts on the new blog.