The Swartz Report: A Lesson Learned from Business “Speed Dating”

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Don Swartz

Post written by Donald Swartz, President and Principal at Swartz + Associates, Inc. | Lover of Chiefs, Royals and golf | Avid “Cruiser” | Poker Enthusiast

Recently Eric Owens and I attended the Kansas City IREM (Institute of Real Estate Management) Reverse Expo. This was a unique opportunity for associate members (vendors) to “speed date” with property management member companies.

Because of the large turnout and excitement about the event, we were limited to five-minute sessions with eight different companies.  There were several takeaways from what I considered to be a very successful afternoon, including:

  1. An elevator speech is really important when you have 5 minutes to talk about your company and to be able to ask questions in return.
  2. Know about your clients/prospects before you begin “speed dating”. If you’ve researched beforehand, you can immediately get to the issues you would like to discuss.
  3. Make sure you have a follow-up action plan. There should be no open-ended questions. Additionally, both sides should finish knowing that if there’s an opportunity to pursue a project further, there’s no miscommunication as to what the next steps will be.
  4. Don’t be afraid to toot your own horn. In our case, the property managers agreed to meet with us, so we should be able to tell them why it was such a good idea to meet.

A question was asked during one of the meetings, “What differentiates you from the competition?

I’ve been asked this question many times over the years, but the question can leave you a little tongue-tied when you only have a few seconds to respond. I didn’t want to answer with the usual, “It’s our level of service” or “I’ve been in the business for 32 years”.

business speed datingI thought I needed to come up with something special, some A-HA moment that would leave a lasting effect. I wanted the person to leave the meeting thinking “Who was that masked man?”  (or something like that)

So I focused on our engagement letter and the fact we share in legal and professional expenses when we represent our clients in an appeal. I thought that may be an attention getter, but really it’s just a little blurb in a contract.

Ummm, not very exciting.

After we were done, I asked Eric how he would have answered the same question. While he didn’t necessarily disagree with my response, there was probably a better answer to the question.

Why not bring up the fact we have certified appraisers on staff for both real estate and business personal property? I don’t think other companies can say that.”

Hmmmm. Good answer, Eric.

It was quick, efficient and effective. That simple answer shows we have experience in the valuation methodologies, understand valuations in both real estate and personal property, and shows the client/prospect our high level of expertise in obtaining our certifications.

I guess I take this for granted when working with my employees on a daily basis. I know we have a good work product. I just need to make sure others know more about our expertise.

An opportunity missed? Yes.

An opportunity to correct? Absolutely.

If you ever are debating between “selling yourself” with an engagement letter or highlighting the human capital on your team, take it from me…go with the team.

REMINDER: You should be receiving your property tax bills in the upcoming weeks. Although it may be too late to appeal values in most states, now is a good time to start preparing for 2019!

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