One of the books that most inspired Gary Keller (of Keller Williams) was Sam Walton’s Made in America. And having recently read the book, I can see why. The book is short, interesting and chock-full of great lessons (no matter what you might think of Walmart itself).
If Sam Walton was alive today, he would be worth almost $150 Billion (Bill Gates is worth $85 Billion).
The messages that most apply to real estate and mortgage are: Embrace Change and Find Your Niche.
Walmart embraced change better than any other retailer by recognizing demographic trends faster (they moved stores to customers, rather than hoping customers would come to them) and by aggressively employing technology to manage inventory and all other aspects of the company.
Most people don’t realize that Walmart was a technology company as much as a retailer.
With respect to finding your niche, Mr. Walton was referring to the small retailers who thrived AFTER Walmart moved into a town. Many small retailers gave up and just closed, while others focused on what they could do better than Walmart and did well.
He talked about a small paint store that offered better selections, more supplies, more assistance and more expertise than Walmart could offer. The owner referred bulk buyers to Walmart, and Walmart’s manager referred buyers with specific needs to the paint store. Both did what was best for the customer, and both thrived.
This is exactly how those of us in the real estate and mortgage industries need to compete against big players as well.
Other invaluable lessons from Mr. Walton include: 1. Watch your competitors constantly and borrow ideas – Walton constantly visited competing stores; 2. Do what is best for the customer no matter what, or how expensive; 3. Listen to everyone in your company – they’re doing the work and engaging customers and know far more than you do; 4. Control expenses; 5. Keep your culture fun; 6. Innovate fearlessly; 7. Commit – believe in your business more than anyone else; 8. Share your profits with employees; 9. Exceed customer expectations; and 10. Recognize that success is a team effort and give credit to others.
He also disliked flashy executives who showed off their wealth, as such showiness often adversely impacted careers. This too is a great lesson for the real estate and mortgage world :).
I highly recommend this excellent book.
Jay Voorhees at (925) 855-4491
Real Estate Broker, CA Bureau of Real Estate, BRE# 01524255, NMLS# 335646