Fear or Strategy During Coronavirus - Will You Survive or Thrive When It's Over?
by Morgan Carey
on Tuesday, March 17th, 2020 at 10:46pm.
We are living through unprecedented times.
The #CoronaVirus (COVID-19) has taken us from media hype to potential threat, to real threat, to a global pandemic, and soon to potential economic catastrophe. In truth, I do not believe there will be a single person who is not affected in some way.
Some say it is overblown, and that regardless of reaction, it is not more dangerous than the common flu. They say the media has created far more out of this than it needed to be and now we are in an economic crisis. They could be right about the first part, they could be wrong. But they are DEFINITELY right about the last part.
WE ARE IN ECONOMIC CRISIS
Some say that this is the most dangerous health threat that we have seen for decades and that it is BECAUSE of the media response (and subsequent governmental actions) that we will get through this. They could be right about the first part, but they are DEFINITELY right about the last part.
WE WILL GET THROUGH THIS
Myself, I am currently in quarantine. 14 days of it (this is day 5). Because of my role as CEO here at REW, travel is a large part of my job, and I happened to be in the United States when everything went from quite serious to this is REALLY serious! I'll never forget the headline that changed everything.... Tom Hanks Has Corona!
While I hope that did bring a smile (we all need a smile right now) it’s actually not too far from the truth. Things got very serious last week, so much so, that the conference that I was attending pulled the trade show early and everyone was encouraged to go home. So much so that here, in Canada, we have been encouraged (as has much of the world) to self-quarantine if you have been at all travelling, and even if you haven’t, it’s still a good idea to practice social distancing. So that’s what I’m doing. #quarantine! It’s not much fun, but it’s for the greater good, and because it’s in my power to do so, it is the choice myself and my family have made.
These past 5 days have been crazy. My companies employ over 100 people, which means literally hundreds of people rely upon us. I have spent the vast majority of my time these past 5 days working with the amazing people leaders and HR practitioners, government and CDC, lawyers, employment and other insurance providers, trying to figure out what is the best path forward to protect my staff and their families.
Our first concern is of course for the health and physical welfare of our people. Admittedly, we are in an extremely low COVID-19 area, with the vast majority of our staff living and working on Vancouver Island (Nanaimo specifically). In our town, even tonight as I write this, I am still unaware of a single confirmed COVID-19 case here. We are very fortunate. Let’s hope it stays that way. But that doesn’t mean our people aren’t concerned, or that with the heightened media exposure, and happenings everywhere else that they are not alarmed or that they don’t want to take steps to protect their loved ones.
We also have a smaller office in Vancouver, which with its public transit, and it's proximity to Washington state, is a higher risk area (if you've missed the news, this state has been hard hit with COVID-19), so that office has been of special focus for us. It does take time, and our staff, even there, is extremely low risk, but I am proud to say we are taking steps and continue to take steps to ensure not only social distancing, but also encourage and accelerate our WOC (work off campus) policy, where it is possible and reasonable to do so. Just today, an additional 25% of our staff were WOC enabled and are now reducing our already minimal risk on campus. Throughout the week, we hope to achieve far more, as truly, our staffs’ safety and security is of paramount importance.
That is a bit of an update, but that is not what this post is about.
This post is actually about the “other” part of ensuring our staff’s safety and security. Not the part that relates to illness, or viruses, but the part pertains to their economic well being. As I mentioned above, unequivocally we are in an economic crisis.
These times are scary for everyone and many company’s very existences are at risk. No one is immune ~please forgive the terrible pun.
While I said that I spent a good amount of my time on health and physical safety, it would be impossible for me to not also be focused on the economic welfare of my amazing staff.
Once again (like our physical location in Nanaimo means we are very lucky health and safety-wise), we are fortunate that REW (Real Estate Webmasters Inc) is an incredibly well run, and fiscally responsible company (credit to our amazing teams and awesome leaders). We are fortunate, because instead of having to close down, or figure out how we are going to make it the next few months like many others, we have the resources and a stable client base, a instead can be forward-thinking and have the time and grace to be able to take a breath, evaluate, execute and plan a strategy that will ensure that we maintain a healthy operation, and that as few people in our organization and their families are impacted economically by this crisis.
We also understand that for our clients (our amazing agents, teams, brokers, and franchises) the core services we provide are business-critical and we must maintain a strong and healthy business in order to be able to provide the help our customers will need as we recover from this unprecedented event.
We owe it to our staff to do what we can to survive and thrive and we owe it our client to stay strong and healthy so that we can be there for them and be stable through this recovery.
So that’s where I’m at. I need to move to focus on REW’s economic health
We have done a lot for our staff with regard to their health and safety, and there is a plan in place to do even more. They need to be safe, secure, and stress-free in order to be able to function at their best for our clients. I feel our leadership has this program well in hand, and quite frankly I applaud our government for their swift actions as well. I’m bullish that the pandemic scare (at least for our country) will be minimal and that due to our collective efforts as a country, we have mitigated the vast majority of the risk.
So now it’s time to think of the future. The near term economic future.
What is it that I/we need to be doing in order to ensure our businesses stay strong and healthy? This is going to lead to a very self-serving ask in the end, but I do hope that this is going to truly help my friends and clients consider their own short term future as well.
A post that has really helped me
A good friend and co-worker, Tim Collins, shared this post https://www.facebook.com/toddherman1/posts/10163034241955004 from a gentlemen named Todd Herman that has some really interesting data points on where various CEO’s and business leaders are at right now, and how they are planning on handling this crisis. I won’t quote the whole thing (but you should read it and follow him), but I will paraphrase the important part (the part that stuck out for me).
Basically, Mr. Herman points out that there are three categories of leaders right now.
Leaders living in fear “emotional, concerned, overwhelmed”
Leaders that lack focus “dismissive, uncertain, wait and see”
Strategy focused leaders “taking what is given, focused on growth/opportunity”
As leaders, when you read those 3, which would you rather be?
For me, it is not even a question. I already identify clearly with the strategy focused leaders.
The first thing I did was take action for my staff’s safety, the second thing I did was evaluate and mitigate any risk (ongoing) for my company short, medium and long term but do you think I am staying there? Heck no!
With those two things taken care of, the next logical step is to evaluate the growth/opportunity that is inevitable once this COVID-19 virus is under control (and it will be!).
Once again, REW is safe and financially secure, so we are in a unique position compared to many. I do not take this for granted, and I certainly appreciate how fortunate we are to be so. I believe once we execute on our plan and our primary objectives are met (continued financial stability and safety for our staff and their families and ensuring we are in a position to help our clients recover and grow/thrive) it is also incumbent on us to use this good fortune to spread out and help others in need, but that is for another post. This post is about calling to action those of us with opportunity so that we can be in a position to help our staff, their families and once that is done, our communities.
So what is the action? Take action!
Warren Buffet is someone I look up to a great deal. He's also the most successful investor/business person of all time. The actual quote is a bit crass, but it drives the point home: Warren would say “Be Greedy When Others Are Fearful” but what he really is saying and has often said is that there is no better time to be investing (in the market, or in your own business) than when things are on sale or your competition is not even in the race.
How does this apply to Realtors/Brokers?
The market is currently PARALYZED! I know this, my wife is a Realtor, and we are seeing deals in our market fall apart left and right. People are scared, some are losing their jobs and can’t close and quite honestly there is so much uncertainty in the world right now, the average person is not capable of making the biggest decision of their financial lives. It’s totally understandable and natural behavior.
In response to this short term inactivity, Realtors and Brokerages are also reacting in a very predictable way. They get scared. They pull their marketing budgets, they stop investing in their platforms, they reduce staff and cut costs. Once again, given the circumstances a totally natural (and quite a predictable reaction).
This is your chance to take action!
I think we all can agree, Corona will be here for several more weeks and perhaps even months. I think we also agree, that even when the public begins to feel safe, there will be a delay in the return to full activity in the housing market. So we’re talking 3-6 months before things begin to feel “normal” again.
But 3 to 6 months is SHORT TERM!
When the market starts to return in 2 to 3 months ask yourself this, which do I want to be?
Option A: Fear. I fired all my staff, I stopped spending on advertising, I have no leads and I’m starting from scratch.
Option B: Wait and see. I cut staff, I have barely advertised and I have almost no leads.
Option C: When they zigged, I zagged! I leveraged my position of strength and doubled down on marketing, made sure my brand was strong and visible and even improved my systems and platforms to perform better in anticipation of the recovery.
I want to be option C: I’m well-capitalized, I have a great staff, I can use this time to actually improve my products and services and when people start spending again I want them to already be my customers.
And whether you’re talking about the real estate business (Adwords, Facebook, Other marketing, etc) or whether you’re talking about platforms, because of the down market EVERYTHING IS ON SALE!
Your PPC will be cheaper, your Facebook ads, and in the case of REW, because I want to get out in front and take advantage of this opportunity, there will be some things on sale there too!
So we’ve finally come to the self-serving part of the post.
This is for anyone: (agent, team, broker or franchise) that picked option C. The strategy focused leaders.
You know my story and where my heads at. I’m seeing this as an opportunity for REW and thus I’m making this an opportunity for you. So here is what we’re doing.
Cash flow helper:
If you’ve been looking at a platform like REW so that you have an amazing website to convert tons of leads, and a great CRM to turn those leads into deals. This is for you.
We know you want as much available cashflow as possible right now so that you can pour it into lead gen and marketing while everything is on sale. In order to help with this, I have come up with a program that allows you to pay a lot less now and make it up later so that you can have the free cash flow now to invest and take advantage of this rare opportunity.
Here’s how it works:
On a normal 36 month contract, you just pay the same rate every month. On this promo, I’m providing a 60% discount on SAAS free for the first year. 0% discount in year 2 and then adding 60% to the fees in year 3. It nets out exactly the same BUT you save $ right now that you can instead invest to take advantage of this opportunity. Pay me Tuesday for a hamburger today.
Next: 25% Discount on professional services
Not going to lie, a few folks have reacted (as expected) and reduced their retainers or canceled them. This has left us short term with some capacity. As I said above, my primary focus is on my staff. If we have to take a profit hit and offer a discount to keep them all working and fully utilized, I’m happy to do it. It’s a short term issue. That being said, our short term availability becomes your opportunity. Save $50 per hour on retainers 6 months or more.
Want to generate some leads? 50% off management fees.
We do an excellent job generating PPC leads, and when this thing flips there is going to be a LOT of leads! (And they will be on sale!) For customers investing $3,000 or more in monthly lead generation, we are offering a 50% discount on PPC management fees. That is even more $ going directly towards demand gen and more deals.
For our existing clients: We want to help you free up some cash flow too. Of course, we cannot adjust our current contracts BUT since this is such an awesome deal for folks we’re asking you to join us in promoting it. And in exchange for your advocacy and referral, we will credit 50% of the SAAS from any referred customer to your account for 6 months.
This means if you refer us just a couple of customers, you are likely paying REW nothing for the next 6 months, and you can then turn around and invest that $ back into your business and take advantage of this opportunity as well.
It’s a win/win
We forego short term profits (which because we are very healthy is no issue for us) and we get certainty for our company, great work for our staff and long term clients that will benefit us for years to come (it’s a market share play).
You save $ on pro serve and lead gen and free up cash flow in order to be able to take advantage of a market that others don’t see or are too timid to go after.
As I said, I’m on quarantine, so feel free to ping me, you can reach me on social at FB or LinkedIn, or you can always contact us at www.rew.com