Monday, April 6, 2009

Phone calls are Phundamental

I am sitting here watching University of North Carolina laying the lumber to Michigan State in the NCAA national basketball final game. It is really pretty lopsided. I am telling myself that when UNC gets up by 30, I am going to bed. I watched the first half pretty closely and it looks like the looming stat is MSU's number of turnovers. It is sort of hard to believe that a team could get this deep into the tournament with that kind of deficit in fundamentals.

When I coached baseball to little leaguers I always told them the same thing: " Baseball is a game of catching and throwing." The team that does that the best usually wins. At that level that was an infallible truism. Not many 12 year olds had the overpowering bat.

I am currently helping my son in law take up the great game of golf. He is starting to play a lot better tee to green but his scores are not coming down as quickly as he would like. He has yet to break 100. What would you tell him? I told him: " If you want your scores to come down, practice chipping and putting until your back aches and your hands bleed. Then you will see your scores coming down." The fundamentals of that game are irrefutable.

The same goes for every pursuit. Get the fundamentals down and you will win. One thing that has puzzled me ever since I got into the real estate business is the glaring deficit of fundamentals. Out of 1400 agents practicing in Tallahassee, year in and year out, you see the same names in the top 20% of producers. Where is the difference? I think that one fundamental stands taller than all others in this business. RETURNING OF PHONE CALLS.

I am absolutely amazed at the numbers of people who will not return your phone calls. I don't care if you are calling me to tell me that you just cut your toenails. You leave me a message and I will be back with you in 30 minutes tops. I cannot believe the numbers of Realtors who, if they return your calls at all, get back days later. That, my friends, is a business fundamental. It takes no major understanding of the business, no superior intellect or analytical ability. Someone calls you, CALL THEM BACK.

Someone explained this paucity of professionalism to me once this way. " You can not allow other people to set your schedule for you. You must be Master of that process. Just because someone leaves you a phone message, it is giving up power in controlling your day to drop all else to call them back." WHAAAAAAATTTTTTT????????? I cannot for the life of me imagine that sort of logic. I graduated from college with a major in Business Administration. I took a Business Communication course taught by Dr. Paul Jones who had a degree from the Harvard business school. On the first day of class he taught us above all else, always, always, always return phone calls.

I headed up the public affairs campaign for DuPont in Florida during the 1996 legislature. I had a lucrative budget to throw at a very controversial measure before the legislature. I was in the throws of hiring consultants. We were paying them in the neighborhood of $30k for 2 months worth of work. I remember calling this one consultant who came highly recommended. I got her voice-mail. The message went like this " I am sorry that I missed your call. Please leave me a message and I will get back to you AT MY EARLIEST CONVENIENCE." When I heard " at my earliest convenience " I thought what a crock that is. I did not even leave a message. I gave someone else her $30k. I don't believe she ever caught on because she was a flop at the consultant game and I never heard of her after that year.

Phone calling is a business fundamental that must not ever be neglected. I am a fanatic at it. I return phone calls of people I don't particularly enjoy speaking with. If you leave me a phone message and I don't get back to you, send flowers. I have died.

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