You can do it in a bad market!

Feb 09, 2009

I just sold a house this past weekend that I have had on the market for quite some time— much longer than it usually takes me to sell one. This was a beautiful little 1925 bungalow, rebuilt from the ground up. The thing is so nice it will even be featured in an upcoming issue of Renovation Style magazine. The market here— like most of the country— is terrible. People are scared to act. It was a battle— but we won. There were a lot of things we did to make it happen. I think the story of what it took to get this contract is relevant in this market for A/E/P and environmental services. Everything is a fight but you can beat the odds. Here’s how: Don’t give up. You have to be positive. It’s easy to get discouraged with all the bad news about the economy— there’s plenty negative information out there. For your own sake, the sake of your family, and that of all your employees you cannot allow yourself to get negative. You are the leader. You must continue to believe that you will be successful, and you’ve got to project that confidence to all. Your enthusiasm will make a difference! Pay attention to every single detail. Every day I checked out our flyer box to make sure we had brochures in it. Every day I picked up sticks and trash from the yard. And every time we had lookers scheduled to come through, I would turn on every single light in the house. We also had the place professionally cleaned every so often. This house was all new and done right. And don’t let me forget the house was completely furnished down to the bedspreads, dishes, and art on the walls. I even did one of the paintings myself so it was the right size, shape, and colors for the spot it occupied. Work all the players. Besides my real estate attorney and broker— whom I speak with every day— I also had loads of communication with every single broker who showed the house as well as those I thought should be showing it. When I had some new information— such as a price drop or something that had changed in the house— I called/e-mailed/texted everyone. I also made friends with the neighbors who would tell me if certain lookers had been back again. And with many of our prospects— if I could— I communicated with them directly. My Realtor knew I wasn’t going to do anything stupid so he is perfectly willing (and glad) for me to be at showings and talk to prospective buyers afterward. Do not neglect your marketing. We are in the process of doing an entirely new web site for my redevelopment business, Mark Zweig, Inc.— one that is vastly improved graphically, that is easier to navigate and maintain, and that will allow for more interaction with our potential buyers. We are also going to have a social networking component that links to Facebook. And let me add that web site development is getting more affordable every day. I was shocked at just how affordable it is to get a quality provider to do this stuff today. Most all of you should take a look at your web sites, your collateral materials, your signage, your company vehicles, your PR, and much more! Don’t be greedy. Even though we have a completely unique product offering, price is a factor. People all want some kind of “deal” today. You need to be sure you aren’t being greedy and trying to make every dollar on that one sale you can make. The important thing is to make a sale! Enhance your reputation, keep everyone working, and have some cash flow so you can stay in business another day and hopefully, make a killing on your next project. Greed in the form of too high prices can quickly put you out of business— any business. Don’t rely on one buyer (or client). Whether you are selling rebuilt houses like I do or professional engineering, planning, or architectural projects like many of you do— the thinking is the same. You need a lot of potential buyers if you want to keep selling. Staking all your hope on one buyer will always be a mistake. They will have the upper hand in any negotiation, you’ll come across as desperate, and you’ll probably have problems with them down the road. If, on the other hand, you have a half-dozen good prospects interested, sooner, rather than later, one of them will move ahead. That was our situation on this house. Everyone loved it and said they were interested, but no on would pull the trigger and shoot us an offer. The first person who finally did bought the house. Do everything you can do to make it happen! Don’t lie down on the job and act as if you can take forever to return a phone call, not fix something that needs fixing, or not talk to someone who could help with the sale. Meet the buyer’s inspector to answer any questions they might have. Meet the appraiser to explain just what kind of improvements you made in the property. Take nothing for granted and assume everything could go wrong if you weren’t there to make sure it would go right. It is a battle out there for every sale. Turn up the intensity a notch or two. Care more. Be creative. Solicit help from all who could help you. Be responsive. Be nice to everybody. Protect your reputation. Don’t be greedy. You can make it happen in the bad market— I know you can! Originally published 2/9/2009

About Zweig Group

Zweig Group, three times on the Inc. 500/5000 list, is the industry leader and premiere authority in AEC firm management and marketing, the go-to source for data and research, and the leading provider of customized learning and training. Zweig Group exists to help AEC firms succeed in a complicated and challenging marketplace through services that include: Mergers & Acquisitions, Strategic Planning, Valuation, Executive Search, Board of Director Services, Ownership Transition, Marketing & Branding, and Business Development Training. The firm has offices in Dallas and Fayetteville, Arkansas.