Entry by Jennifer Allan

A Day at the Beach - with Jennifer & Merv


Hey ACRE's!

Merv and I are going to spend the day at my beach house talking about (among other things) the ACRE website. If you have anything you'd like us to put on our agenda to discuss, please let me know asap! 


Think about this Jennifer...

If 500 ACRE members invested just $500.00 in your future  real estate company (see a corporate lawyer for structuring details) that would be $250,000.00 in "seed money" to get you started!

Please talk about accreditation and what will constitute membership in ACRE in the future.

Please see how Merv would like to put his Smart Plan training into a SWS4Life format for $99.  (That's what I paid at one of the Bookstore Sales)    The $350  he charges is out of range with so many other expenses demanding funds for start up. 

By the way I was going to upgrade ActiveRain to Rainmaker yesterday and learned that it is now $59 per month!



Here is a link for an article on housing supply and demand by Diana Olick from CNBC.

www.cnbc.com/id/45858675  Housing's Hugh Supply and Demand Imbalance


I appreciate the suggestion.

You are not paying for a "product." The Smart Plan is free when purchasing the consultation. It is two hours of my time at $175/hr. That is what my time and industry consulting experience is worth. Think ACRE and what your time is worth with a client.

In my experience, group sessioins for the SmartPlan Actvity Based Pricing training does not work. It is an intense two hours and it takes every minute of it.

I have given group sessions much thought ... I even had "buddy" sessions of three people and unfortunately, the training is only as good as the slowest participant. The reason I now limit it to two people maximum and require basic knowledge and use of spreadsheets.



Paula - I got a mini-SmartPlan class today and it's awesome, BUT it's (in my opinion) not for beginner consultants. It's more of a graduate level "course" and by graduate, I mean agents (sorry, just easier to use that word) who have been practicing basic consulting (offering options, choices, counsel, etc) but are ready to take it to the next level.

In other words (again, my opinion only), it's best suited for agents who are already comfortable in their consultant skin and are way past the fear of discussing alternative compensation.

However, I'm saying that as a non-numbers/non-spreadsheet kinda gal. For someone who is very comfortable with numbers and spreadsheets, it might be right up their alley off the bat.

All that said, I did try to talk Merv into holding a group SmartPlan workshop and he just doesn't wanna. I tried!!!

I can appreciate what Merv is saying; I've done training using technology, and it is very difficult when people have different aptitudes with the underlying programs.   It's also frustrating being in the class as a participant when the instructor has to keep stopping to make sure everybody is on the right page.

Jennifer and Merv-it seems to be a Catch 22.  I've been doing mini-consulting gigs for over a year and want to take it to the next level.  I"m not a spreadsheet gal either but do feel I need to get more education on how to take it to the next level.  I'd hate to frustrate Merv in a consulting session because I'm not an excel person.

Is there an "In-between" or a template spreadsheet that allows us to work our numbers without having to be excel experts?  Or have a misunderstood the Smart-Plan class?

Thanks.  I'd love to sit on the beach with you and Merv :-)


Hello Cindy,

I wanted to reach out to you with a solution I find works for me. It may or may not be "In-between, but I would rather do it one-on-one. So, if you like you can give me a call around 8am central time. 815-349-4511

I have in the recent past, considered the SmartPlan, but I'm definitely not a spreadsheet person. Plus I'm so tied to the system I have used for the last 15 years.

I would reconsider if it came with the beach :)

Cindy, William,

Need not be a spreadsheet "expert;' just how to navigate them and change cell values.

Merv - I'm guessing what Cindy and William are saying (correct me if I'm out of line!) is that spreadsheets don't "speak" to them. That's how I am - I'm no good at charts and graphs and spreadsheets - I look at them and my brain just doesn't make coherent sense from what's there.

That said, Merv's SmartPlan really is awesome and if I were doing real estate consulting right now, it would be a tool I'd definitely use; just sayin' it would take a concerted effort for me to be comfortable with it. But worth the effort...


You guys are right on all points. In the earlier post about how skilled one is and their understanding of consulting in their business matter the most. For me, had I gotten to ACRE before I did a full-blown-professional and very expensive business plan, Merv"s SmartPlan would have done the trick. 

Merv - 


I'm interested in taking a 2 hour consulation with you on Smartplan.  How do I arrange that? 


Hi Jennifer and Merv,

Could there be a simpler version of the SmartPlan and one not quite as expensive. Without seeing the plan and just going by the comments, I don't think I can spend that much money at this time. Of course I do understand why you would want to keep the product as is. Just a thought.

Everyone have a great day.
Debbie Florendo

I am probably going to offend "some" people with what I am going to say.

Until Jennifer, Mollie, and everyone else involved with "ACRE" finally agree, what is going to finally come out of all these opinions, comments, and ideas, nobody should sign up to take any additional courses that cost money. That would not make any sense at this point.

Jose can you elaborate why this would not make sense?

Jose - to my knowledge there are no ACRE courses that cost money. Is there something in particular you are referring to?


Being an early adopter, I bought the first Kindle e-Reader. It cost $399 and was big and clunky. Today's Kindle is $79 and much smaller and easier to use. I guess I could have "waited" until they came out with their best but who knew how long that would have been. Meanwhile, I would have missed out on years of enjoying e-Books.

Jose, I believe it's the same way with ACRE. Tossing out ideas on the Exchange is a great way to brainstorm and takes advantage of everyone's thoughts. This is how we improve and get better. Some things will work well, some won't. But to turn away from learning while something is evolving is short-sighted IMHO. Jennifer is shutting down the ACRE course until she gets the new program aboard. When she does start charging, I can guarantee, knowing Jennifer's work, that it will be worth every penny.

Awwwww, thanks, Mollie! I've actually made HUGE progress on the course today - talking with you yesterday and meeting with Merv really fired me back up (which I needed, as I know you can relate). I do hope we are able to put the "live" workshop together (TEASER!) because I think it will be a lot of fun for all... and definitely kick off ACRE/TCP 2.0 on the right foot!

Maybe it is Merv's SmartPlan. I notice the cost mentioned several times. When Cindy asked earlier about an in-between option, I didn't want to mention publicly my solution to the SmartPlan out of respect for Merv. 

QuickBooks Pro has worked so well for me in both my real estate business and other businesses my wife and I have run. Accounting for time, items sold or commission base payments--it has done its' job quite well. I have used it for more than 15 years. And like I sad earlier if that hadn't been the case Merv's SmartPlan would probably be my choice.

I think the problem is that we are still looking for someone else to pay for the innovation and then step in and participate only after it is verified as viable.

Well that isn't how it works. Over the last 8 years I have invested thousands of dollars into my idea and haven't made a penny. This year that will change because there just a few people who see the potential and have stepped up an invested. There are no guarantees to these investors and they could lost their entire investment with no recourse. 

We all take risk. Don't let money blind you.

What I am saying is...until we ALL see what the "new program" becomes, we should not be talking about the Smartplan or any other plan that cost money to take. First things first. Let's see the "new program", which I am trusting, doesn't cost any money to be a part of, at this point in time. Then we can go back to "learning" how to be a better "consultant", in regards to the ACRE principles. If I read any word about taking ANY "new" courses for a FEE, count me out!

Jose, let me say a couple of things: Merv's SmartPlan was developed in his own consulting business, long before I started ACRE. It is an add-on product and is great in it's own right - irrespective of the turns that ACRE takes or has taken.

Secondly, I'm not sure why you are so adament about not wanting to take any courses or workshops for a fee. Education is never a waste. It's not like a carton of milk that expires. No matter what direction, this organization takes, turning away from a consulting methedology or approach because it has a cost makes no sense to me.

Now, if we were offering a course on navigating the Exchange and charging for it, it would make sense not to take it since the site is going to be changed. But consulting courses or workshops? Good consulting practices and ideas do not change.

And another thing...

As I have learned painfully, if there's no revenues coming in, there's no monies to develop all this stuff. We made the course free for a short time to get the word out but it could never be permanently free of charge. Nobody should work for free!

Let's just see how things develop and add our 2 cents. 

Jose, you aren't going to like my answer and I can live with that. But yes, the new program will carry a cost, even for current ACREs. It's a voluntary cost; we won't force anyone to give up their ACRE designation (which most got for free); they may continue to use it as they always have. But to take advantage of what's coming in ACRE/TCP 2.0, there will be a cost associated.

As I mentioned in an earlier thread, I'm a firm believer in providing more in value than I take in payment, so I have no intention of strong-arming anyone into paying for the new program if they don't want to. Anyone who pays me for my product or service does so because they believe they are making a wise investment in themselves. If they are unhappy with their investment for any reason, they get their money back, no questions asked.

I'm investing hundreds of hours of my time (and I'm cheap - I bill at $150/hour) and thousands of dollars of my personal money into this project, and yes, I intend to be compensated for my investment. But again, not because anyone feels obligated to contribute to the cause, but because they feel they're getting good value for their money.

I can attest that Jennifer ALWAYS delivers value. Pricing at SWS was always

very reasonable.

A couple of comments and you may be offended reading this. If so, stop reading now.

The SmartPlan is a client focused tool built on the concepts of Activity Based Pricing. When used in a listing presentation to a client it becomes extremely powerful when coupled with a discussion about the consulting philosophy and approach on how you run your business. It has very little to do with accounting in your own business. That is what QuickBooks does.

Those of us who spend our money and time developing a valuable tool or service expect to be compensated. This is absoluetly no different than dealing with a real estate client. Interesting how this conversation sounds like "can you discount your commission?" I am appalled.

There is power in saying no if it is you and your potential clients best interest.

I will not discount my fee or offer a scaled down version of what I have developed and KNOW works when used properly.

I will also tell you that it may not be in your best interest to spend the money on the SmartPlan. I have educated over 60 ACRE's on it and have offered follow up advice for FREE when preparing to present to their first client. I have not had one take advantage of that offer. This tells me everyone GETS IT or NO ONE is using it. So, unless you are Committed to offering choices to your client and not afraid to step on yourself the first time or to out, DON'T BUY MY SERVICES. There is power in saying no.

Last question: How many of you in this conversation the last few days paid for the ACRE course?

Very Respectfully,


I have not paid and I am grateful to Molly and look forward to the future!

Thanks Justin. I look forward to the future of this program too. Whatever "form" it takes the philosophical objectives won't change: develop your consulting Business Approach within some basic guidelines and your Business Model that works for you.

Hi Linda,

In consideration of the concerns about cost, If you can find a partner to do this with, the cost is $200 each. Also, check out http://smartplantools.com for more information. Let me know if you wish to proceed individually or if you have a partner.


Gee...from "ACREs" we went to "Sell With Soul" or the combination thereof. Now we are finding out that we are going to develop into something else..."The Consulting Professional". Why do I get the impression that somebody is trying to "sell us" "a bill of goods"??? Sounds like a lot of RHETORIC to me.


Funny Jose, how you went from wanting to invest to Screaming conspiracy theory. So far you have called people you do not know unprofessional. You then made it very clear that nobody else SHOULD take any courses/classes. You would also be out if you had to pay for anything. Now you are getting all bundled up about a perceived "bill of goods".

What is your real deal here? Can't  you just chill and see what happens. If you don't like it, don't participate. Please drop the revolutionary posturing. It's insulting to your and our intelligence.

I didn't pay for my ACRE and actually was skeptical because it was free. I signed on here because of Jennifer, and because I read Mollie's book. 

I don't understand the confusion. SWS is not ACRE but Jennifer runs both now. Merv's product is his own, and is an add on. Pay for it or don't pay for it. Your choice. Nobody is being forced to pay for anything they don't want. 

I don't see where anybody is trying to sell us a bill of goods. 

Well said Erica. Let's just see how this all comes together. 

Jose, one of the basic premises of SWS is to trust your gut. If your gut is telling you that there's something fishy going on here that you don't want to be a part of, then I encourage you to trust that instinct and steer clear. I can assure you that there are no devious ulterior motives at work here, but if you aren't comfortable with the direction we're heading, feel free to forge your own path.


Well my gut says let Jennifer work this thing out and get the new path forged. Then make a judgement. I'm on board. Judgements later.

She listens to our input but it is her guiding hand here. Trust her or don't but if you know her at all you'll know what she stands for and what she is all about. That's not dollars and conspiracy. It's for transparency and what is best for all.

I don't think of ACRE as one and only way to go. It's one more weapon in my arsenal. I run my own company and have a slew of things we do, from property management to full service traditional to straight consulting. It's ONE THING but it's not the only thing I do. 

Each of us must forge our own path and create the business model that works for us. If you're upset by the transition and growth phase here, either wait it out or leave. I choose to wait it out and see what comes. I predict good things in 2012 for what ACRE has in store for us. But then again I know Jen pretty well and trust her and her judgement. 


I do apologize, if I have offended one or more ACRE members on this website.

However, I have noticed over these past recent years, especially since the real estate market changed, that "every Tom, Dick and Harry" has come out of the woodwork, to offer us real estate agents all kinds of "success courses" on this or that subject for a "small fee",  anywhere from $25.00 and up, depending on who or where the course is being given.

It is my gut feeling, that some of these courses are offered by ex-Realtors, who probably never took the time and made a sincere effort, to really learn and practice how to be a good real estate consultant. I personally know of one individual, that "peddled" Daily Planners at EVERY Orientation Class for New Agents in all the major companies, and real estate boards. One day, he confided in me, that he wasn't making any real estate sales so he turned to Daily Planners.

Now, and especially on the Internet (where NOBODY really knows anybody) there are even active, licensed Realtors selling us some kind of "learning material" too. From Linkedin, to Inman, to "Agent" this and "Agent" that, and the Boards, and direct emails, etc, etc,....we are BOMBARDED with offers of one kind or another, that "for a fee" will make us very successful.

Very, very few of these websites, offer any free materials or advice, on how to become better in our chosen profession. Even MOST of the real estate brokerage companies ( I have interviewed quite a few) have gotten into the "pay for learning" bandwagon in their own offices and websites, with their "advanced courses" for sale.

Most of these companies, are not satisfied anymore, just being Brokerage Companies, making money from the sale of properties, no. They are now selling "learning materials" because WE think we need to learn about what they are selling.

What happend here??? Realtors can't make money selling properties, so they have found an easier way to start making some real (no pun intended) money, by selling "pie in the sky" information, that's what.

Wake up people! Open your eyes! Stop spending your precious money on "new ideas" and get back to real estate basics. You don't need "new ideas" to help you be a better Realtor. You just need to...like NIKE likes to say....JUST DO IT!

Jose, I really appreciate your concerns about every "Tom, Dick, & Mary" peddling a sales pitch because they couldn't make money in real estate.

I think the problem is that you've taken out your frustration here and the offense is that you lumped what we're doing here at ACRE into that nonsense. I personally take offense at this because anyone who knows me knows that's not what I'm about. I PRACTICED what I preach. And I even made the decision to offer the course for free, at great financial sacrifice, to help get the word out about consulting. In the same way, anyone who knows Jennifer knows what she has always been about.

Here's the thing Jose - no one is telling you to pay for anything. If you've gotten something out of ACRE (which you have not paid a dime for), then go forth and use the knowledge. Perhaps you don't need courses, workshops and training materials. Good for you! But don't attack those who do and those of us that provide them as greedy hucksters.

If you want to add something positive to our discussions feel free to add them. But, with all due respect, please take your rantings and conspiracy theories elsewhere. They don't belong here.

All very true Jose. We are constantly bombarded and it is inthe basics we can find our way back home. 

I have spent $1000's on many different coaching programs and specific programs for Expireds, FSBO's, Investors, Shortsales, REO's, ETC.

I started out thinking this was an easy business, well somewhat easy. Turns out it is very simple, but not easy. In reality I wish that I had met Jennifer first as she represents most who I am and how I like to work. There are some old school coaches out there.... boy! LET ME YELL AND INSULT YOU TO SIGN THIS LISTING AGREEMENT!

A few years back I finally found myself and who I should be. 

Am I sad that I have spent so much time and money on these programs? Not really. They all have some nuggets of wisdom and provide insigts it would have gotten. Today they are all just tools in my belt that help in certain situations. 

I have known Jennifer for about 4 years now. She has provided me with some very useful information over the years. Again, I can attest that She always over delivers.

Don't dismiss everyone else because you also have been taken to the Cleaners by Tom, Dick and Harry. Most of us have. Wait and see what comes out of all this. I have no doubt it will only enhance the great work and foundation Molly did. 

If at the end you see it is not for you, don't buy into it. Find your own path. 

The "success" training has always been out there. RE agents are a huge target for marketing scumbags.   And some charge thousands and "guanantee" success.   They are  SUCH a turnoff that I almost wanted to quit reading the books and materials.  However! Jennifer's books and ways of introducing her line of thinking (outside ACRE)  is VERY different and OPPOSITE of every other approach I have read about.  THEREFORE nothing that could be coming down the pike from ACRE concerns me one bit.  It will all be fabulous.  I say that because Jennifer's FABULOUS reputation is attached to everything at ACRE now.  She knows a good thing when she finds it, and she has found ACRE. Go figure what's coming.  Jennifer will make sure you get waaaaaay more than you pay for!  And as for Merv's SmartPlan,  I don't need it yet because I am not there yet.  So if and when I need it, I am going to take my cue from Jennifer's comments on it over the coming months.  Stay tuned. I would bet money that really good things are coming.

Great comments Mollie (Sorry I spelled your name incorrectly) and Paula.

Jose, It is clear that you are very frustrated. I can only imagine how hard it has been for your market these past 6 years.

Be proud and hold your head high! Thousands of Realtors have left the business for good. You are still here, still standing and still bringing the passion. 

Channel your drive and passion the right way and you will be extremely successful in whatever you want to do. 

I can tell you need to vent and get some of that frustration out. This is not the best place and you should absolutely find a forum to do that in. Get it all off your chest. Then let it go away. 

It's a New Year and things are all looking up! Let's grab our unfair share of the market by being exceptional agents and consultants, advisors or whatever we end up calling ourselves. What we do and how we do it is way more important!

I personally wish you all fabulous year and will help you in any way that I can. 


You don't me from Adam, neither do I really "know" you. Same for Jennifer and everybody else here. We have been spending part of our daily time, talking to people we don't really know. We are suppose to trust whatever is being said and offered because "that's the way it is", give me a break Mollie. I wasn't born yesterday. This is the way some people get ripped off!

YOU introduced US to your "fabulous" idea of "consulting" instead of "selling". Actually, you didn't instroduce ANYTHING new, we already knew the difference. We already knew too, that "the of 6% was coming". A blind man could see it coming.

You give us the whole "pitch", sign us up, and then like magic.. Bang!,"we are ACREs". So far so good. Then, on YOUR ACRE website, we start to see "coaching available", hmmmm...sounds like fees here.

Then...you hit us below the belt, Bang! "Sorry guys and dolls, now that I got you to come with me THIS FAR, I QUIT". "Ran out of money", time, burned out, other responsibilities" etc, etc.

Now comes "Sell With Soul", although YOU have been telling US all along, that WE are NOT salepeople, that we are consultants. Well Jennifer IS right on this one.

Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) says we ARE Sales Agents. FREC says we are Sales Agents. The Division of Real Estate (DRE) says we are Sales Agents. Duh!

NAR says that there are One Million (give or take) Realtors out there selling real estate. "Realtors" not "Consultants".

So..along comes "Sell With Soul" and takes over, hmmm "sell with soul"...What happened to "consulting instead of selling"???

There is a Yiddish expression that translates into...Never fight with a pig in the mud, at the end of the fight no-one will be able to tell who the pig was.  Take the high road. Everything is not for everyone. 

Glenn, I like that expression!

What do you want Jose? If this is nothing new to you, why are you here? Why are you lashing out at all these people you "don't know" 

You know nothing about Sell with soul. Why? Because it cost a few bucks that I'm now sure you did not want to spend. 

I thought I understood that it was your frustration speaking, but there is certainly an agenda here. I wish you the best of luck with your career. I am done wasting time with you and your paranoid nonsense. 

If you don't like the smell in the kitchen - get out!


Here is an american expression for you..."Beware of wolves who come in sheep's clothing".....

Okay, this has been entertaining, but let's move on. Jose, it's one thing to hold a dissenting view or to respectfully express frustration, but you've crossed the line. I'm not sure what your agenda is, but please take it somewhere else. Best of luck to you.

What you say is important. But how you say things matter more. We all have given suggestions about our feelings on everything from consulting to how to establish a new ACRE program. 

Remember people are willing to follow, as long as they feel they have a strong leader to follow. But I didn't think that ACRE was about one person leading and everyone else following.

To tell the truth, when I first ran across the program and joined--I was under the impression that this was an open forum made up of knowledgeable professionals. I would have to assume that most of us have more than just a few year of experience under our belts and tons of training. And if any of us think that any one of us is any more or less skilled than the other, then we do have a problem. 

Look, I get it all. I'm here in a self serving capacity, like everyone else. I believe what Jose is trying to say is, that this seemed as if this transition was  one where we all were to participate. But, now it seems as if the decisions will come from one direction and that is from the so-called Top. To be fair, Jose himself called for that to happen out of respect for Mollie and the others up top.

I think Jose would just like to know what is going on. I would have to agree with Jose in this particular matter. We need more timely updates and is only fair to everyone here. Also, why form an advisory committee, ask them questions but give no details on progress. A logo isn't enough.

If you are going to be a business that sells your product or services to a  customer base-say it. If you plan to be a Society of whatever professionals, the first step is to layout in total what that Society will stand for.

My last point is, I think it is unfair to praise one person for ranting and being frank. But when someone else does it--well now this is the wrong forum for ranting. 

Jennifer is right we have to move on. And now is the time.

I would like to ask what type of numbers are being kick around about cost, if any at this point? Are there new marketing tools and will we have a marketplace for the rest of us to offer our services to the other members? All good questions, I believe. 



You have some great points. I do not, however, believe all these decisions are coming from the top. Jennifer has just started the transition and it will take a while.

This is also a business. It was for Mollie and it is for Jennifer. There will need to be some revenue to make this happen. I am sure that those who wish not to pay for anything will be able to keep their designation until it expires. The plan was always to pay for renewal remember?

I get it too. I am here of my own free will and I hope to learn and participate in a positive way. If only 1 of my 5 cents input is used, great! 

Where Jose went wrong for me was when he got personal and that started directly with me early on. I was called unprofessional. Then all these theories and a direct attack on Mollie happened.

I suggest you go and look at all of Jose's posts and a pattern will emerge. 

I did not ask for Jose to speak on my behalf or try to represent what I want or need or should do. I can season my own soup! (Danish saying!)

Jennifer has tried the nice, kind, inclusive approach to taking over ACRE. She really could have just shut it down and sent all of us a new link with all the new terms and a price. Take it or leave it. She didn't. 

I do believe that Jennifer also has been very clear about a cost associated with the new membership. 

I know something great will come of this and for every $10 we pay we will get $100 in value. That is how SWS operates. 

This Designation probably represents about 5% of my business platform and is a tool I can use when I need it. I offer the choice to all my clients and do what they want me to do. I'm not about to join a new company that shuns full commission or want's to change the world while eating seaweed waffles. I run a business and have obligations as well. We all need to make our own "policy" and be happy with it. 

Things will be great! Let's move on and await what unfolds. 

This page contains a single entry by Jennifer Allan published on January 4, 2012 8:36 AM.

The Future of ACRE - Designation or Society? was the previous entry in this blog.

The ReBranding (or not) of ACRE - an Update is the next entry in this blog.

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