Agents rarely "feel the love" when someone new and interesting joins the party…

The contributors at Rain City Guide (RCG) have been falling over themselves talking about the folks at Redfin. Don’t know who they are? Not a shock. They’re a real estate firm based in the Seattle area with offices in the Bay area of San Fran which has a discount model for services. Earlier this week there was a conference in NYC that Glenn Kelman of Redfin attended and he was slammed by a REALTOR(R) representative. To me, having come from the tech industry, it was the old school getting pissed at the new school and not necessarily playing nice.

Before you think I’m a big fan of Redfin – stop! I don’t really like anyone that is my competitor. Granted, I can actually “like” the people involved but of course I’m also competitive and I’m focused on becoming a top player as well so any competition is considered friendly competition – and competition doesn’t play in my sandbox, so to speak.

I actually had a woman from my office pull me aside Tuesday and ask me to share my business plan with her. My competitive nature kicked in and my first thought was, “why would I share a plan that I carefully crafted and have been tweaking and developing for almost 4 years and which I have a 5 year plan staked out for the future, with you?” Did you mention that there’d be some form of payment for my consultation services? Did you say that perhaps there was some other motivation other than you wanting to succeed after stealing my concepts (which she’s already doing) such as a large donation to my non-profit? Of course not.

The way I know I’m making progress and getting market share, and therefore being noticed, in my field is to watch others copying me. It’s supposed to be the most sincere form of flattery and to a VERY small degree I do like it. However, for the most part we know we’ve hit a new segment when others start chasing us with the same ads, asking our vendors to stop advertising with us, steal our exclusive speakers, and more. But if you want to really get me going then show me your cards by saying something like this gal did to me. I won’t share the full details but I think you get the drift. Redfin, I feel your pain – I just don’t need to give away a chunk of my commission to feel it.

30 thoughts on “Agents rarely "feel the love" when someone new and interesting joins the party…

  1. Is this your view on sharing in general or just the business plan? With that wording, I can see why the defenses went up. In general, though, I wouldn’t be where I am without the input of various agents along the way from both within my office and without – Mike McNab, late of my office and now of RE/MAX on websites, Ardell on blogging – and a few others.

    I’ve gone out of my way to assist others in my office, as sometimes that helping hand is the only thing that will cause them to make it in this business – just as the helping hand helped me stay in the business.

    Realizing we’re all independent contractors, there’s also something to be said for paying forward the assistance we may have received.

  2. Reba, I’m curious what your response was to the person wanting your plan. As you stated, a business plan is so finely tuned and has so much of your self poured into it. I’ve actually had a real estate agent I work with ask for a copy of my business plan, which I did share with her (after making a few edits, such as my income goals).

    For me, it really depends on who is asking. For example, we have a loan originator at our office who is constantly asking for my marketing and who has never exchanged or offered ideas with me…am I going to fork over my ideas and finished products? NOT!!! We’ve added a few established lenders recently who have come to me with questions on programs or on marketing and I’m much more willing to take the time out to assist them.

    I have found that there are always just a few who seem to create and the many who want to take. There’s a difference between being a “taker” and needing help

  3. Earlier this year I offered (here on RCG) to sit down with whomever wanted to come and sit and work on their business plans. We didn’t discuss commissions (illegal in a multicompany environment), just the basic business plan structure and some other issues involving moving forward.

    We formed a small group of five agents or so from different offices and shared our thoughts. I showed them how I do a business plan, we discussed difficulties and successes they had in 2006 and how to work that into the plan for 2007.

    Share and share alike, had a great time. All nice agents. We met three weeks in a row or so. I don’t view everyone else in the industry as a competitor.

    I learned many things from other agents when I was new, I have been a new agent mentor, both officially and unofficially many times over the years. I am a firm believe that good agents abound when good agents help newer agents get there.

  4. This is my view on my very specific business plan. It’s hard to convey the complete conversation here on a blog but basically she just wanted me to “open my kimono” so to speak and let her have what she wanted. It’s funny because I agree that there is a give-back that should happen for mentoring and such and we do that on a regular basis. I just find it interesting that there are so many people out there that don’t realize what it is that they’re asking when they ask you to spell out a business plan to them. She didn’t want to see examples that she could emulate but put her own personal spin on – she actually said she wanted to use it the way we did.

    I do a lot of mentoring already, I’ve got a training business in the works, and I network and talk frequently and I’ve done speaking engagements about how to build a business so I’ve got no problem with that aspect. You’ll find frequently that I am all about helping agents become more professional. Some folks, like this gal, need to realize though that it won’t come from just copying someone else’s specific format.

  5. Blogging is similar to sharing and mentoring. Reba, can you comment on your justification in sharing your insights with the hundreds or thousands of RCG readers who may or may not be your competition?

  6. Jillayne, she wasn’t asking about mentoring and sharing. She wanted to see my proprietary business and marketing plan. I’m happy to write a blog about the difference but that will be tomorrow – I’m off to enjoy some personal time for the balance of the night. Thanks for the topic idea.

  7. Hi Reba,

    Most RCG readers probably know the difference between mentoring and a business plan. What I find intriguing is that what you experienced might be a subtle or not-so-subtle sign of something else happening in the industry.

    For the most part I have found that most people have good intentions when they ask for help, though I have experienced situations similar to yours with predatory competitors.

    Maybe the agent was trying to ask for help, but didn’t really do it in a very graceful way because it’s difficult for some people to ask for help when they’re struggling.

    I am curious to know how struggling agents are managed in your office. Is there a framework set up to help new agents or any agent write a business plan? Maybe this is a sign of a wider industry problem, maybe not. I would enjoy reading a blog post on this topic, if you’re willing 🙂

    I wish you a very restful evening and look forward to reading more from you soon.

  8. Hi Jillayne, I had to check my calendar before beddie-bye time and found myself back on here. I’ll go ahead and write a separate post but I will say I agree with you that I think she just did a very ungraceful thing with her request and likely didn’t realize it and you’re right that there seems to be an industry wide problem. Earlier today I sent this particular gal an email reaching out saying I would be happy to chat with her, network, and talk business but that my proprietary business plan details would not be shared. We’ll see if she responds. I hope she does.

    The most bizarre part of it to me is that she’s an established agent with good volume (I was told 30-50 transactions per year and up to $225k in revenues) so I found it interesting she sought me out. Oh well. I guess I’ll just accept as a flattering request! 🙂

  9. Good Morning, Reba.

    Bloggers don’t sleep. We just blog through the night and close our eyes momentarily to help combat eyestrain.

    I had a mentor once, a manager who I would go to with ideas. He would say, “great idea, now put it into a business plan and come back and see me then. ” I learned a tremendous amount from this guy, because he helped me find the internal motivation to do things instead of just telling me how to do things. Maybe you could point her in the right direction and then give feedback. There are many available resources for simple business plan templates. Maybe she just needs some encouragement and direction. Maybe not, you’ll have to keep us posted. Like Jonathan said above, you’ll find out quickly.

  10. Jillayne,

    Reminds me of something a mentor told me when I started in this business.

    Something like Everyone is a Gardener. Some plant the seeds, some tend the crops, some pull the weeds and some reap the harvest.

    I think I’m a weed puller? Often the people who reap the harvest are not the same crew as those that planted the seeds. Just is… We can view everyone as a peer or a competitor…just a viewpoint.

    I say there’s nothing new under the Sun and nothing better than raising the profession by sharing with our peers.

  11. Ardell, I think blogging is the ultimate form of sharing ideas for Realtors. I have learned a great deal from you about real estate just by reading your blog posts. Thank you for your sharing your knowledge.

    Reba, one other thing came to mind today. Maybe that agent, though seemingly monetarily successful, was the un-organized, fly-by-the-seat-of-her-pants type of agent looking for some help with structure.

    Ardell, I guess that makes me the kind of gardener who likes to dig into the soil and figure out what’s growing where, and why and then experiment with lots of different seeds.

  12. I have a few books on real estate…don’t we all…and this reminds me of Barb Corcoran’s advice regarding business plans. There really isn’t a one for all style. She gives a small sample of what to do with a business plan, BUT she also references one type for left brained people and one for right brained people.

    When I show someone my business plan, they don’t “copy” it any more than anyone literally copies anything. They take a few things from here and a few from there, and form their own that works for them.

    I don’t think there are very many “proprietary” issues in real estate, clearly not as many as some think there are. Not referring to Reba here, but the whole proprietary picture and listing issue.

  13. I think I am kind of with Reba here. I’m still fairly new and working very hard to build a business I can be proud of. When I look around my office I can’t say there are too many people there who I really look up to and would go to for advice, although our office staff is, thankfully, really wonderful and I have learned a ton by just keeping my ears open. There are a few agents who have offered help but generally, most of what I’ve learned I had to learn the hard way, and I’ve worked hard to take experiences and turn them into knowledge.

    I like the people I work with but recently I’ve had a few experiences that really stuck in my craw. One is, that several people in my office have literally taken my marketing materials and stuck their own information into them and called it their own. How appaling is that? I can no longer leave any electronic copies of anything on the server at the office because evidently people can’t be trusted not to steal.

    Another is, people who don’t know how to create a marketing or business plan asking to see or copy mine. I want to be a nice person but on the other hand, I spent a lot of time and money learning how to develop mine and actually putting it all together. I would be happy to show someone what their plan might include, but in a sense I feel like they should do their own work and not copy mine.

    And I think too many people get hired into this business who have no business being here. Sometimes I think all you do by helping the weak ones is delay the inevitable. Maybe that’s not very kind but it’s how I’m starting to feel about it.

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