Paper Trained

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Kevin Boer at 3 Oceans Realty penned (clicked?) a fun analogy yesterday likening agent advertising practices to animal instinct, namely, the instincts of Kevin’s dog “Little Bit”. Now, I know what you are thinking. What in the name of Queen and Country was Kevin thinking naming his dog “Little Bit”? Did he believe this would endear the dimuntive one to all of the Champs, Scouts, Maxes, and Tobys out there? Did he not consider that Buster might be inclined to steal Little Bit’s lunch money? I had the same reaction. Once I got past the atrocity, however, I was able to relate to his message.

Yep, Little Bit does his business, and that is instinct. My dog, Simon (back off – He came with the name!) does the same thing. He is particularly fond of one bush. Three times a day (four on pizza night), we are left to ponder just why he likes this particular bush. We have come to the conclusion that one dog at some point in time had identified this bush as the cornerstone of his business plan. Simon and every dog that came later sensed it and felt compelled to make their mark. He will continue to frequent this bush until the day a new dog moves into the neighborhood and has a new plan involving a new bush. That we be the day we all feel the tug of the leash in a new direction.

He intuitively marks his territory. Where he does his business, on the other hand, can be taught. At the risk of killing Kevin’s bit, my dumb-as-a- doorknob best friend wasn’t always keen on the bush. He used to fancy doing his business on our backyard lawn, specifically, the Lawn Formerly Known as Green. This made the grass die, which in turn made Steve very unhappy. I knew he was unhappy because he would say things like “I’m very unhappy”, “This behavior saddens me”, and “I’m going to kill that *&%$ dog if he goes anywhere near my lawn again! Bad dog, bad dog!” Forgetting for a moment that I could sacrifice a gnu on the pristine living room rug and his only remark would be “Have you done something gnu with your hair?”, Steve likes things in his domain neat and tidy. I digress.

So, we were left with a choice. Either one of them had to go, or Simon had to be retrained to learn a new behavior. Since the kids and I have grown sort of fond of Steve, we gave Simon a new business plan. You see, Simon thinks of us as his clients. He is a Top Producing Golden Retriever, and his only wish in life, besides pizza, is to make us happy. He wants to eat, and he wants to make us happy, because this is how he will continue to eat. Kind of like our relationship with our clients, no?

Simon has a new plan. He now takes his business elsewhere, but he only does it because he senses this is what we want.  Now, our dog does not have the capacity for rational, independent thought. Contrary to conventional wisdom, many agents do. Had we not suggested a desire for something different, our dog would still be sitting open houses, advertising in the newspaper and killing our grass. He didn’t know better, but now he does.

Most agents know better. The key for these agents is to educate their paper-trained clients. We need to be leading them in a new direction. Otherwise, our clients will just accept that print advertising, bus bench marketing, and flyer door droppings are unavoidable stupid agent tricks, just what dogs do. Too many of us, in our overeagerness to be liked, do not have the courage to find a different bush, a better business plan, when what we should really be doing is showing our clients better ways of serving them. Their grass will be greener.

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