Are You Ignoring Your Best Possible Allies?

A while back we were renting a home that was put up for sale before we moved out.  The realtors who came to show it to potential buyers wanted us gone when they were showing it, and they wanted to show up with only a few hours notice.  I understand this is “standard” practice.  But since when has standard been the best strategy to go with?

Let’s Think About It…

1.  We knew the house. We could help share the best things about it.

We’d lived there for a while and I could tell you that while my electric bill was astronomical for a couple of months during the winter, there were reasons and I figured out how to reduce it dramatically.  No real estate agent can tell that from the electric company records.  But if they asked me, I could have soothed a potential buyers fears when they saw nearly $500/month for several months.

There were other quirks I could have helped them feel more comfortable with and approach realistically (the good and the bad).  I could tell you about the neighbors, the neighborhood, and how wonderful it is to live so close to specific things around that home.

While the real estate agent was looking at a floor plan and trying to figure out where things were in the house, I could easily have pointed out the coolest features and been direct about anything that was annoying (adding how we worked around it — I found an awesome way to make the strange closet layouts work better).  If you were the potential buyer, wouldn’t you appreciate that type of information to help you see beyond a floor plan?

2. We lived there.  We could have added to the presentation.

My house doesn’t look like a page out of Better Homes & Gardens most of the time.  That would be nice.  But we LIVE here.  I often have art projects or science experiments happening that are messy.  What’s life without fun and messiness for kids?

With 24 hours notice I could easily whip the house into a beautiful, inviting place to visit and make it smell pretty, too (we have cats, what can I say…).  I’m thinking that’s worth a heck of a lot in helping a home’s appeal to potential buyers.

What am I getting at?

I’m not a realtor.  For all I know there are laws against letting me speak to potential buyers.  But that’s not the point here, so just follow the reasoning behind it with me.  The realtor could have called me up before he/she stopped over, or come in a few minutes early and I would have been happy to give a quick tour and answer questions.  Find a way to work with those who could be your allies.

I could have been one of their best assets for helping them sell the home and earn their commission.  Think outside the box already. 

Apply it to your business.

Are you missing out on the best allies you could have?  Think about who you haven’t asked to work with you and how you might help support each other.

Some examples:

  • I did website design for a long time.  Some of my best referrals came from other designers (gasp! competitors!) and some of my happiest clients I sent to work with other designers (because darn it, I just can’t do “cute” or “country” or several other motifs, but I know others who do it fabulously).
  • My customers and affiliates have given me better ideas on what to highlight (and fix) with my products than I’d ever have come up with on my own.  We might not always think to ask our customers but they’ve got excellent feedback (good and bad) just waiting if we’re brave enough to ask.

There are many ways to work with your “competitors” to build better businesses for all involved.  Or to work with complementary businesses to refer clients back and forth (like a website host and website designer, or a business coach and a virtual assistant).

Who have you worked with that might not have been the obvious choice?  Does this post spark any ideas for you about who you might be missing?

Photo Credit: meerlap at

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  1. Hi Michelle,

    You shared one of the key points I have learned from blogging and being online.

    I was pleasantly surprised at how much collaboration there is online. I would see two people who were competitors helping each other other and I really had a hard time with that initially. I love this way of working because instead of all taking from a small pie, collaboration is about making the pie bigger so everyone can also have a bigger piece.

    The realtor would have benefited from you – little do they know you are such a giving person! Too bad for them :)

    P.S. Hope you are all settled into the new home!

    1. It is a better approach, isn’t it? There are still many people who don’t seem to get it. If we’re all willing to work cooperatively, be a little bit flexible and think outside the box, things can work better for everyone involved. :)

  2. Good advice!

  3. I like the story about realtors and I understand their situation. They must be in control of the sale process, and that is the focus. Nothing else matters, and potential buyers don’t always come with 24hours or more notice – the realtor must act quickly or else the potential buyer will go to the next realtor.

    And I like your connection re working with your ‘allies’ for your business. Good post with great info. Di

    1. Hi Di, I get that part and understand why they want the flexibility. Seems it might not be a great idea to put the 24 hour notice in the lease if they know that it doesn’t work for them though. :)

  4. Bravo! As you know, I’m a fan of this approach and discuss it in Guerrilla Marketing Goes Green .

    1. Yes, I’ve seen it work for you in many different situations, Shel. :) You’re a great example of how to build collaboratively.

  5. Michelle;

    I am a landlord and I am surprised that yours did not have that common clause within your lease. Even more surprised that the realtor/landlord is lacking in compassion. Have you thought about talking to your landlord and sharing your GREAT ideas? The realtor may not like it however, your lease agreement is with the landlord.

    I know that if I for some reason “forgot” to place a 24 hour clause in the lease, I would find it only fair to the tennant to give a 24 hour notice. Some States actually have laws regarding that. Possibly, you should check into yours.

    On the other hand, you should feel comfortable to talk with the realtor and share your thoughts. Or, feel comfortable to talk with your landlord. Surely, they are resonable and your thoughts are not out of line.

    1. It was a while ago, so nothing we’re dealing with now. And yes, there was a 24 hour clause right in the lease — which really made me wonder, if they knew that time frame wouldn’t work for them, why they put it there in the first place. We were told it was more of a courtesy thing and we needed to work with them, which I totally understand, but seems like if they really want to sell the house, making it look perfect would be a help. :)

      1. The 24 hour notice in some states is a requirement. It is called “resonable”. Although this might not be something that you are going through now, it is a great lesson for the future.

        Just my own personal opinion, I would not put a tennant through that. If my realtor could not honor the terms of the lease than I would have to sever ties with the real estate agent.

        As landlords, it is in our best interest to:

        1. Give the tennant as much notice as possible. This not only allows for the house to be clean, but it also allows time for them to leave for just a little while.
        2. Have the realtor treat the tennant with respect, listen to what they have to say, and learn from them. After all, it only helps them sell the property.

        There are instances when the renter blocks every attempt possible to show the house. At that point the renter is in the wrong and it can be a problem for them.

        It was their loss for not seeing that you are a helpful person in eveything you do. However, I love how you have made it a learning experience for the rest of us.

        1. Oh definitely – I can imagine some renters could be a real pain to work with. Which is short-sighted on their part since the realtors managing their rental could be the key to finding an even more perfect rental for them to move into next. :)

  6. I particularly liked your point about not being afraid to refer people to one another. Not sharing is stinginess, and stinginess is a fear of not having enough. We must have confidence that we are resourceful, creative and productive people, and that we won’t get poorer by giving away certain things (not everything, of course, this is bad business!) and by being an asset to the community, rather than just feed on it.

    1. Yes, there is a line there somewhere that we’ve got to move from free to paid. :) But I agree – being fearful of sharing doesn’t come from a confident place. Confidence helps us to share and build together.

  7. Hi Michelle – I love how you weaved these two things together. You’re right; we often forget about those who are closest to us or who could serve us. Cooperation, not competition is a more fun way to run a business, I’ve found. There’s plenty of it around for all of us. And I think your experience with the realtor is typical. Most don’t give 24 hours notice because they don’t know that far in advance they’re going to show the place. Sad, but true.

    1. Yeah, I can understand that part of it — but then they really should change the lease terms. ;) If they know they won’t have 24 hours just be up front with the renters about it. That’s the part that got me about the 24 hours.
      Michelle Shaeffer recently posted… Three Quick & Easy Ways to Get More Traffic From TwitterMy Profile

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