As a trainer, leader and manager, it is my job to stay positive and always be searching for new ideas and solutions. I want to share a little secret with all of you: I have the same feelings of insecurity, despair and disappointment that you all have. I have ridden the same emotional roller coaster that every home builder and new home specialist has. One advantage I have that some of you may not is that I avoid popular thinking. May I explain?
Let me define popular thinking with an analogy. You are scanning the business section of the newspaper and see an article on the next great stock pick. You take the advice of the author and buy the stock, only to see the value of the stock drop dramatically over the next weeks and months.
My personal experience with this type of thinking was investing $3,000 in the Munder Net Net mutual fund in 1999. This fund was a conglomerate of internet start up companies that we all know crashed and burned in 2000. I jumped on the “tech” bandwagon when everyone was already on it and I should have been on it before everyone else climbed on. In other words, I was following popular thinking.
Popular thinking as it relates to the new home industry sounds something like this: “Now isn’t a good time to sell my home. We’re going to wait for the market to get better.”
“The economy isn’t good and we think we should wait.”
“Nothing is selling in your neighborhood so we’re going to wait and see what happens,” or “Something must be wrong because no one is buying in your neighborhood.”
“I can’t get any traffic,” or “YOU have to do something to get me more traffic!”
In other words, popular thinking is buying into what the media, many of our own builders, salespeople and trades are saying about our current market. Ask yourself this question, ‘Am I a popular thinker?’ Here is your Litmus test:
1. Do you read the newspaper and commiserate with colleagues about how bad our current real estate market is?
2. Are you fixated on prices and believe your homes/home sites are too high?
3. Are you still waiting for the next Parade of HomesTM to save your year and make your sales for you?
4. Are you waiting for walk in traffic?
If you answered yes to any of the above questions, you are, at least partially, a popular thinker. In my 15 year career I have done a tremendous amount of study on change. Earlier in my career, I believed I could motivate people to change through the sheer force of my personality. I could not have been more wrong. I have discovered the only true way to get a person to change is to invite them to change their thinking and then they will change their behaviors.
Change your Thinking
If we want to eliminate popular thinking from our minds I encourage you to consider the following ideas:
1. Quit reading the newspaper and participating in activities that encourage popular thinking. Get away from negative people; quit watching the news and four hours of TV a night. Seek out magazines, books and people that will give you new ideas to incorporate into your business and personal life.
2. Start working on yourself. Look at how hard we work at our jobs but how little we actually work on ourselves. Imagine what you could become if you invested just one hour a day on personal development!
3. Get uncomfortable. If you keep on doing what you have always been doing, you will keep on getting what you have always been getting. Try new things that make you uncomfortable. This can be a simple as eating at a restaurant you have never been to before and notice how you are treated as a customer. Are there things you can learn and incorporate into your business?
4. Join a support group. Seek out and join a group of people that will encourage, give critical feedback and suggest new ideas. This could be a networking group such as Business Networking International, a local Chamber or Rotary club, Toastmasters or put together your own group of business associates. These clubs are all around you.
5. Write down your goals. Many of us have had very difficult years and are not satisfied with our sales to date. Write down realistic goals for the next 5 months knowing what you now know. Once you have identified those goals, set a stretch goal on top of that. Here is a hint on goal setting: start from the top down. That is, what do you need to do on a monthly, weekly and daily basis to make that next sale? Write it down and review it weekly.
6. Don’t reinvent the wheel. Every industry goes through cycles and the answers to our current challenges are already out there. One industry I like to study is retail. Look at what some of the most successful retailers are doing to create customers and generate referrals (By the way, do you think Target Corp. may have some ideas we can borrow?).
Another great resource is the local Sales and Marketing Council at the builders association and www.BuilderBooks.com.
Become a Shared Thinker
Shared thinking involves surrounding yourself with great people, mentors, authors and speakers and asking for help and ideas. Ask your customers about how they would improve your communications and home designs. They will tell you everything you need to know about your systems or lack thereof. Drop your ego and open yourself up to improvement and see how far it can take you!
One final note, beware of compromise. Compromise too often will take a great idea and dilute it to the point of mediocrity and make it average. You will face many naysayers’ on your journey to eliminate popular thinking. Once you have set your goals, never compromise and let popular thinking rain on your parade.