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Do you want – Faster – Better – Cheaper – or A Great Experience?

Are consumers looking for faster, better, cheaper or are they looking for better with great experience and value for money?

I was catching up for a coffee with a very successful real estate friend of mine last week when the conversation - as expected- turned to real estate and fees. How do we maintain our fees in a tight market when our competitors are constantly dropping their pants?

Now for the purpose of this story and to protect identities, let’s name my friend, Bill.  

Bill mentioned how he recently bought a new home and was looking for a fridge. He did his research on the internet and local paper prior to going to the shops. In his own words “after looking at so many providers and fridges it got blurred and confusing." 

Sound familiar?

As Bill wanted to get the best product on the market, at the best possible price, he firstly set about going to each shop and meeting the sales person who sold him the benefits of the fridge and provided him with a price.

The experience was described as here is the fridge, this is what it does, this is the price, and here is my card with my details.

Now Bill was going into these shops with only one thing in mind, how much could he crunch the price because the product and service were all the same to him. So Harvey Norman, The Good Guys - they were all the same.

Consumers today are all about getting a bargain, getting the best deal and we will research on the internet, ask our friends and have a strategy in mind before we engage with the provider. Like Bill, the providers at the point of research all look the same.

However based on my own experience, my colleagues, friends and general research; most of us would be prepared to pay more for better levels of service.  This part of the transaction is dependent on human interaction, where we are able to connect, gain trust, set ourselves apart, be understanding and empathetic.

As agents, we are faced with a client who, like Bill, have researched agents on the internet, face book and friends, is focused on crunching our fees to the same as the other agent we need to make sure we have shown them value and provide them with service that is memorable.

If their response is I want your level of service and I like you, but I only want to pay the lower price, THEY DON’T SEE YOUR VALUE. If we look the same as all the others, we will be competing at the price they value you at and often it is much lower than the price we put on ourselves.

Mostly, you will need to do a deal, we all want win/win but we don't have to drop our price down as low as our competitors.

And remember, sometimes it is better to walk away

I remember walking through markets in India where you are expected to bargain, however amongst the best bargain price shops were those who had a fixed price, they did not bargain. Their product was the same however their service and the shopping experience was different and people were prepared to pay for it.

So what happened to Bill, well he was off to Harvey Norman this weekend to buy the fridge - why from them... They weren't the cheapest; they had provided him with the best level of service compared to the other providers – so it was better service and experience at a slightly higher price but still value for money.

If you're reading this “Bill”, it’s always great having coffee with you and thank you for the inspiration for this blog. 

Mindset of a Virtuosos

If you were asked to form a list of people who you saw as “super achievers” or “virtuosos”, potentially these names would appear:

Usain Bolt
Richard Branson
Bill Gates
Oprah Winfrey
All of these people have had the mind set to be the best in the world. However have you ever wondered what their back story is?

What was it they did, to get to where they have? 

They didn’t just wake up one morning and become the best at what they do!

If you did have an opportunity to sit down and have a chat to any of them, London to a brick, they will tell you that they had the following attributes:

Commitment to be the best at what they do 
So, how serious are you really, do you have a business plan in place, follow it, prospect, hit your targets, and have accountability? Remember you are the key person who has the most impact on your performance

Practiced religiously
Are you committed to scripts and dialogue training or are you doing what most do in real estate - practise on your clients. For some reason, so many of us believe that we don’t need to practice to be the best every single day, lock in regular sessions with a buddy, coach or mentor and stick to it religiously. 
Trained to be the best
No athlete goes out on the day of competition and becomes the best, it takes years of training, focus and commitment. Yet, how often have we heard either ourselves or our team members saying – “I don’t need to do any more training” or “I know that subject” or “There is too much training”.  I am sure that these are statements you will never hear from Usain Bolt. 

Had a written plan in place 
Written goals means you have a written commitment to achieving them. A simple one page plan that you can hold yourself accountable to, keep you focused and on track to what you want to achieve. This becomes especially important when you do go off track, a focus back on activities is often all you need to get you back on track. 

Developed a respect for time
We all have the same amount of hours in the day how are you using yours? Being great at what you do is a result of disciplined intense practise on a regular basis. The opposite is wasting time, looking for excuses and blaming others for your lack of success.
So how much time are you committing to scripts, listing, negotiation and prospecting practise?

Face the reality of your performance
Our group certificate is the reality check of your performance over the last 12 months. Will the amount you have earned surprise or shock you in a positive way? Telling yourself you should have done the basics is pointless, committing to doing it and holding yourself accountable is worthwhile.

So get serious, commit to a plan, practise, train and surround yourself with people who will coach and mentor you and hold you accountable to be the best, the Picasso of real estate.

Remember to get the results that the top 10% of agents have you must be willing to do what only 10% of agents do.

As you start to achieve success what occurs is you become more confident, energetic, productive and focused which leads to becoming world class or the virtuoso.

Sadhana's Blog

The ditch list

So, we start another year and I would guess, another set of resolutions that we are determined to stick to. 

It seems that New Year resolutions have become something of a “tradition” that we know we won’t really stick to but we all feel the need to make them. It’s about as exciting as eating a bucket of kale really and they seem to have regular themes – lose weight, get fit, give up smoking, healthy eating, reduce debt, make more money….. 

In fact research tells us that over 60% of us will discard these resolutions within the next three months – so all those people who lined up to join the gym with me in the first week of Jan we have three months to get fit!

So this year I started thinking a little differently about my resolutions. What did I want to ditch this year? What did I want to do less of? Because the ditch list just may be an easier list to stick to. 
So here are some of the items that could be on your ditch list:

Your inner nag

We all have that voice in our heads that creates doubts and excuses like I don’t have time, the market is impacting my performance, I will make the changes next month….. Remember your mind only knows what you tell it, so tell your inner nag to sod off, 2016 can be your best year in real estate, you simply have to put a plan in place that you can follow and be disciplined on the actions you take. 

Stop looking for the quick fix

Real estate, like any other job, requires you to have a plan, key success indicators, someone to hold you accountable, updating your skills and an unrelenting focus on the actions that will lead to your success. Every conference or training session I have been to over the last 20 years have all had the same message. Manage your database, make the calls, build the relationships, provide exceptional service, be relevant in all your communications and keep up to date with technology.

Remember no market ever stays the same, consumers have choices, they are knowledgeable, if you don’t have in place any of the above understand simply turning up to work and expecting the listings to walk in the door isn’t going to work long term. 

Don’t ignore your personal health and wealth 

If you have a business plan, ensure that you have a focus on your personal health and wealth. We all work to create a lifestyle for ourselves, to have financial security so don’t lose focus on this. How many of us stop going to the gym because we get busy at work, we don’t take holidays, we don’t spend enough time with our family and friends. Ditch this in 2016, take control of your diary, plan ahead, remember to be successful at work you need to be fit in mind, body and spirit and have your friends and family around you to support you and celebrate with you. 

Staying in your comfort zone

We all love our comfort zone, the problem with this is that often it means we don’t stretch ourselves, we become complacent, maybe even lazy. So ditch the comfort zone, maybe now is the time to put on that PA, to become a commission only agent, to start your own business, to 2x, 3x your income. I believe you almost need to fall in love with the outcome you are looking for as this will drive you to not just get out of your comfort zone but create a plan with actions you will stick to that will provide you with the results. 

Ditch Inconsistency

There is a great book that anyone in business should read – Great by Choice by Jim Collins. In this book he writes about the 20 mile march, a concept we use in our business today. 

The 20 mile march is about two teams crossing the South Pole, both have the same journey, one however makes it and the other doesn’t. 

The team that survived marched 20 miles day in and day out regardless of the weather. They were consistent, that is what made them successful, not the equipment or skill - consistency. 

Great sports teams, or individuals have consistency, they practise every day, they have a game plan, and they consider every situation they may get into prior to game day and have a plan for it. 

So have a plan and ensure that you march towards your goal consistently every single day. 

Don’t be impatient 

Creating good habits that lead to success takes time, this is what you are doing when you set in motion your 2016 success plan. Give yourself 3 months to make these changes new habits, stay on track, remain consistent, be held accountable, review the results and be agile in making tweaks along the way. Remember how long it took you to walk or read – years, important things take time. You will have setbacks, however if you plan your 20 mile march then these setbacks will not impact your goals. And learn to chunk, break your goals down into achievable chunks, and don’t forget to celebrate. 

So all the best with your 2016 resolutions and in the words of Han Solo to Luke – May the force be with you.

Inside Edition

Dr Louise Mahler is a leading thinker in how we translate its hidden messages – what it tells others and what it means for your own personal state of mind. Louise discusses the art of role play.

Bell Partners

Top mistakes to avoid this tax time 

1. It’s all about timing 
If you’re planning to incur expenses around June/July that will be tax deductible (such as a donation to a registered charity), if cash flow allows, spend the money before 30 June so you can claim the deduction in this financial year. Sounds simple but it is often overlooked. 
 2. Poor records 
This can bight hard down the track if you’re not careful. Do remember to keep all your receipts for any deductions you want to claim (unless you are claiming less than $300 in work related expenses). You may not be asked this year by the Tax Office, but generally they can go back 5 years if you ever get audited and interest and penalties can be applied if you can’t support the deductions you’ve claimed. 
3. Car deductions: sorry I don’t have a log book 
If you use your car for business purposes (which excludes to and from your home and your usual place of business) and you haven’t claimed any costs back from your employer, you may want to consider keeping a log book; particularly if you travel more than 5,000 km per year on business. It needs to be kept for 13 continuous weeks and is valid generally for 5 years. You can then claim your business use percentage of all your car costs; for some this can add up to thousands. Remember though that you will always be better to get your expenses reimbursed from your employer if possible as this gives you broadly 100 cents in the dollar back whereas a tax deduction only returns you the amount equivalent to your marginal tax rate (the highest for this year being 46.5 cents in the dollar including the Medicare levy). 
 4. Ignoring super contributions 
Superannuation has copped some bad press in recent times with various government announcements reducing some of the existing benefits. The bottom line is that for most people a superannuation fund remains the most tax effective structure available by far. Most people can contribute up to $25,000 into super from their pre-tax salary and pay tax a maximum tax rate of 15% (30% for those with income above $300,000). Get professional advice but do consider it. 
 5. Ignoring your interest deductions: can they be prepaid? 
Interest incurred on investments such as interest on loans used to buy an investment property or shares will generally be deductible. No new news there, but if cash flow allows, think about prepaying some of the interest pre 30 June to bring forward a tax deduction and reduce your taxable income this financial year. 
6. Depreciation on investment properties often ignored 
Many investment property owners ignore depreciation that they may be able to claim on their investment property (“capital works deductions”) or its contents (“capital allowances”). You’ll likely need a depreciation report to be prepared by a specialist provider but in most cases they more than pay for themselves in the first year. 
7. Medicare levy surcharge ignored 
 If you earn above $88,000 for singles or $176,000 for families and you don’t have private health insurance, you will be hit with the Medicare levy surcharge. The amount varies depending on your income but is between 1.0 % and 1.5% of your taxable income. The government’s goal here is make it expensive enough that high income earners will be “forced” to take out the insurance cover. 
8. Maybe I should have sold those assets? 
It may make sense depending on your circumstances to sell a loss making capital asset such as shares or property to realise a capital loss before 30 June if you have capital gains you have already earned this year. Otherwise if you sell post 30 June at a loss you will need to wait until you make a capital gain in the future to utilise the losses. Be careful though, there are “wash sale” rules that you don’t want to ignore: please see point 10! 
 9. Negatively geared property? 
Consider a PAYGW variation If you have an investment property that generates a net rental loss, you can apply to the ATO to reduce the amount of tax that is withheld from your wages so you get the benefit of your lower overall tax rate straight away, rather than waiting until you lodge your tax return for the year. 
10. No advice 
The biggest mistake of all I see is people not seeking professional advice. Often when I see a new client, I wish I could turn back time and change decisions that have been made in the past. The value of professional advice is important all year round, but never more so than just pre 30 June. Many decisions simply cannot be unwound once 30 June passes and it‘s time to complete your tax return. 
For professional assistance: www.bellpartners.com