Be a Breed Apart

Driving along a local road recently, I spied a sign that read “Dog Waste Removal Service” with a phone number handwritten below. Somewhat bemused by this advertisement, I began to guess at its meaning. Is this is a service that comes into a home and cleans up after your Shih Tzu has a weekend-long kegger, and the new boss is coming over for dinner tonight? Failing that, the other mental image I got was of two guys hip deep in someone’s backyard just shoveling load after load into a large dump truck. Either way, two questions leapt to mind: (1) How many friends can Chairman (Bow) Wow have, and did he invite ALL of them over last weekend? (2) How much fiber are these people feeding their dogs?

Regardless of the answers to these questions, it’s clear that we’ve fully played our hand in the universe. We’re done! We’re obviously starting to go backwards. Humankind has broken the hold of earth’s gravitational forces and escaped our stratosphere to explore outer space. We’ve created nanobots that are so tiny that about a million of them can fit on the head of a pin. We’ve created a great technological mountain, ready to take in the grand vista of the future and all that it promises, and yet we’ve allowed the creation of a “need” for a dog waste removal service? Perhaps I can sum up my utter bewilderment at this development with a quote from Bill Murray’s character in Ghostbusters about the impending apocalypse: “Human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together . . . mass hysteria!” Okay, before you call the nice men with the padded ambulance and a crisp white jacket with arms that buckle in the back, I’ll get to my point – and I do have one, I promise.

All kidding aside, I actually applaud the fact the person behind the sign in question saw a niche and wedged her or himself right in there before the corporate fat cats saw the chance to exploit yet another industry and ruin it for the little guy. Ha ha. But seriously, good for them! So, with that said, I put the question to you: what are you doing that’s slightly different than everybody else either to make yourself stand out or create a niche? If you’re a prospective seller or buyer of a house, I would highly recommend that when you interview agents AND lenders, ask us what makes us different. What do we have that’s going to make your transaction as successful and smooth as possible? And then ask us to give you concrete, real-life examples of what we claim we can do.

Let me give you an example of an agent I know who does something to stand out. I’m not going to give away his “secrets” – that would be bad manners. He’s had a number of his clients come to him after their transactions (buying AND selling) and tell him almost an identical story: other agents, when they found out that these clients had gone with my friend, had asked if it was hard working with him. All of his clients were stumped by this question and responded that their dealings with him were phenomenal, and then they asked the agents why they would ask such a question. These agents, with a sort of crooked smile, would say, “Because I’ve been the agent on the other side of some transactions from him, and he’s . . . tenacious (fill in your own adjective for a “no-holds-barred” approach to getting the deal done).” Before my friend can say anything about these comments coming from his fellow agents, his clients say, “I’m glad to hear that you fought so hard on my behalf. I never would have known that by the way you were always so calm when I dealt with you.”

I’m not suggesting a client should expect dog-waste-removal services from her agent. But agents (and mortgage folks) need to break away from “the pack”. In other words, if they’re all being Shih Tzus and Poodles, we need to be Labradors and Jack Russell Terriers (that don’t lick ourselves in public, EVER).

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