Don't get down, don't bail out--just get busyWilliam F. Talham Jr., PLstay updated, employ the best technology, attend industry conferences I am sure that right now, many of your fellow real estate industry professionals out there--be they Realtors, surveyors, appraisers, builders, insurers, home inspectors, brokers, lenders, etc.--are all questioning their decision to work in this industry. Considering the state of affairs we find ourselves in at the present time, this is completely understandable. It seems like just yesterday that every other phone call coming in was a "live one"--a deal we could count on that would appraise, fund and close before the end of the month. Ah, the good old days! Even in my business as a settlement services provider, I grew to get very comfortable with the thought that these calls would never end. But, as time would tell, they have surely come to a screeching halt! Maybe it is better described as a slow drip. One of the questions everyone initially asked themselves was, "Why?" Well, the answer to this question will be debated for years to come. Suffice it to say that there is no one reason why it happened. But it has. Generally speaking, you can point to a number of reasons--some are valid, and some are nutty. They include greed, stupidity, hurricanes, global warming, predatory lending, over-inflated home prices, the war on terror, speculation, artificial demand, oversupply/overbuilding, illegal immigration, the devalued American dollar, the stock market, interest rates, and on, and on, and on. Obviously, no single reason can explain why our phones have stopped ringing. However, there is one thing you can count on: It will recover, eventually. The next question I hear asked, almost on a daily basis, is: "What are we going to do now?" Some of you have already answered that question by leaving the industry. I can't tell you how many folks I have met at local networking events that tell me that they are a "professional [fill in the blank]," but are now selling Avon products until the market changes. Or, "I am a [fill in the blank] by trade, but I am now working at Macy's until the market stabilizes." (That one is my favorite.) Now, don't get me wrong, these people have made decisions that they felt they needed to in order to continue to put food on the table. But these are exactly the same folks that should not have been in our industry anyway. If they were a real professional anything or a tradesman of any sort, there is no reason for them to be working anywhere other than within their chosen profession or trade. Obviously, they were only in the business for that great boat ride to the top of the wave. And just as obvious, they are not in it today because they have no idea what it takes to survive when the ship is riding down the backside of the wave. They never learned what it takes to be a professional, nor did they ever possess the tools of the trade they were working in. If you are reading this article, you know who I am speaking about, and you can probably name five people, without blinking an eye, who fit that description. I know I can. Remember, being a professional isn't about alphabet-soup designations or titles after your name. It isn't about driving a $50,000 car while wearing a $3,000 suit and flashing gold or platinum plastic to pay for a double cheeseburger at the drive-through. It is about providing exceptional service to your clientele--those who depend upon you year after year. It is about staying updated with the most current information and employing the best technology in your field so you can give accurate information and superior results to those clients, which is why they keep coming back to you. It doesn't matter that you may change companies within your chosen profession at some point(s) in your career. It matters that you are still the go-to guy who those individuals have counted on to help them over the years. It takes a true professional to gain the continued trust of an individual when you are dealing with his biggest asset and his life savings in every deal you do. Just think about that for a second. Every transaction we deal with is about someone's biggest asset. Every transaction we deal with is about someone's life savings. Only a true professional can handle that kind of pressure. And only a true professional has the talent and tools to stay in business when the market conditions change to less than ideal. Most of the people who I have met in my career who I consider to be true professionals or real tradesmen have been optimists. Optimists know that the market will get better. They may not know when, but that doesn't matter. They are sharp enough to realize that this industry, like most industries, has its ups and downs. It does not bother them. It comes with the territory. Right now just happens to be a down year. No matter. It will get better. Put simply, the pessimists get nowhere. They are the washouts. They are always willing to try the newest great thing. They don't join the industry groups. They don't get involved. They don't stay the course. They jump ship. If you consider yourself to be a true professional or are a tradesman within this industry, you know what you have to do. You know you aren't going to bail out. You know you can't be down in the dumps, either in public or at home. Keeping your positive attitude is half the battle. You have too many people who depend on you as the go-to guy. You will stay the course. You will continue to stay current with whatever continuing education is necessary for your field. You will continue to attend industry conferences so that you can meet and greet other colleagues that might be able to refer business to you, and vice versa. You will continue to contact your referral sources to invite them for coffee or lunch. You will stay in contact with your past customers to assure and reinforce to them the fact that you aren't going anywhere. You will do all these things and more. You will look to get involved with other networking groups and events whereby you may make new business contacts or meet new potential clients. You will spend money to join other industry groups that you didn't have time for when the boat was running up the wave. You know that now is the time to spend money in order to prime the pump of making money. Now, time is your friend. You have a lot of it. Use it to go back to marketing 101 and salesmanship 101. It is a great time to create or polish the brand awareness that is you, the professional. Think about what I just said over the last couple of lines. Writing this article is one of the things that I can do to rekindle or create brand awareness for my business. I am using the extra time I have to write this article so you can get as motivated as I am to keep working in your chosen profession or trade. I provide settlement/closing services throughout the state of Florida. Long after many of my less-than-professional colleagues have called it a career in this industry, particularly as a result of the current market conditions, I plan to still be here, helping their ex-clients and customers learn what it is to work with a true professional. I want to be the go-to guy! With that said, repeat after me: "I will keep going and get busy. I will continue to be successful. I will do this because that is how I put food on my table and money in my bank. I will do this because I know the next deal that comes along will not be snatched up by the person who is now selling Avon or working at Macy's. They haven't earned the right to call themselves a professional. They abandoned ship and washed out. That deal is mine. Period." William F. Talham Jr., PL is an attorney at law admitted in Florida and Massachusetts at Palm Beach Gardens, Fla.-based Talham Law Office. He may be reached at (561) 745-5505 or e-mail [email protected].