I had experiences recently at two different businesses that were so contrasting and so fascinating that I had to blog about them.
And yes – this much applies to mortgages and real estate!
The Good Business
I took my mountain bike to a bike shop that I had not been to for almost 9 months, and I had only been there a few times over the years prior to that.
The shop itself takes the phrase “low overhead” to a new level, as it is only about 500 square feet in a 70-year-old cinder block building that has never seen an update.
The entire shop is stuffed full of bikes and snowboards – with an attic that is equally stuffed full of parts. They have to empty all of the inventory out onto the sidewalk every day just to do business.
When I got to the shop on Saturday, there was a line out the door and people were milling around everywhere – and I quickly figured out why.
When I squeezed my way into the shop, the “dude” (and I do mean “dude”) who worked the register greeted me and remembered me by name – even though I had not seen him for 9 months and maybe once prior to that.
He then offered to turn my bike around in an hour even though they were so busy – and, needless to say, I was both delighted and impressed.
And that is when it became obvious why the shop was so busy – despite its ridiculously low overhead.
The “dude,” despite having no college education (and probably minimal high school education) (actually grade school is doubtful too 😊) definitely understood the most basic tenets of business: make your customers feel good and go the extra mile – no matter how busy you are.
The “dude” with his long hair, tattoos, and myriad scars from all of his biking and snowboarding accidents was a near-perfect ambassador for the business – with simple friendliness, hard work, and a bit of extra effort to make customers feel special.
The Bad Business
Heejin and I went to a high-end pizza restaurant in downtown Danville, CA, on what was a near-perfect CA evening – so we expected the place to be packed (like it was the last time we visited a few years ago).
We instead walked right in during what should have been an out-of-control dinner rush. And … it didn’t take long to see what had happened and why the place no longer attracted crowds.
The restaurant had brought in new technology and systematized everything – including ordering via a QR code app.
The app and all the other innovations were pretty cool – but for the fact that they removed people, personality, and accountability from the equation.
There were still hosts, servers, bussers, and cooks at the restaurant – but none of them engaged us or so much as flashed a smile.
They were all doing their jobs, no doubt, and following “the systems,” but nobody was going the extra mile – and it showed.
The restaurant was not nearly as cute or as tidy as it used to be; our beer was warm; our salads were bland and under-dressed; and our servers did not convey the slightest element of congeniality (they seemed almost irritated that we inconvenienced them by ordering food and drinks).
So What Happened?
- No Incentive To Enforce Standards. Prior to the new tech, the wait staff would no doubt enforce higher standards of cleanliness and food quality to ensure they maximized their tips. But, that incentive is gone.
- Spoiled By Too Much Business. The place was packed and busy for so long, I suspect that the staff started to take it for granted – and it caught up with them.
I doubt the restaurant will make it because its overhead is so high. It is ironic too that the place could be saved if it hired the “dude” (or a few people like him) from the very low-overhead bike shop.
How Does This Apply To Mortgages And Real Estate?
We’ve ALL been riding a wave of “too much business” for the last several years and implementing new tech everywhere – just like the pizza place above.
My friend and “evil competitor” Hunter Marckwardt blogged Sunday about “lenders never being so out of shape” (as businesses) because “loans have been falling from trees.”
He made the point that markets like this are actually closer to normal and how it is time for everyone to get back in “business shape” – which of course just means working harder, engaging customers more, and going the extra mile (and not feeling like victims when we have to).
If not, we will all go the way of the once-mighty pizza place discussed above.
This blog is a friendly reminder for every agent and loan officer with a team – and for the JVM Team as well.
We all need to be more like the “dude;” if we want repeat business or referrals – we need strong human connections and obvious displays of extra effort (no matter how busy we get).
Founder/Broker | JVM Lending
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