Entry by Jennifer Allan

Do WE Believe?


In the midst of all our discussion about the rebranding of ACRE, etc., the topic came up yesterday about whether or not the consumer has any real interest in our consulting services. The comment was made (to paraphrase) "the reason the consulting movement isn't spreading is because consumers don't see the benefit" or something like that.

It reminds me somewhat of home staging - some real estate agents can't get their sellers to consider staging even if they offer to pay for it; others (myself included) somehow get nearly every one of their listings staged with the seller happily paying the bill.

What's the difference between the agent who is able to persuade his sellers to stage and the one who is not? Salesmanship? Nah, if that were the case, I'd have been dead in the water long ago - I don't have a sales bone in my body. Different clientele? Maybe, but in my last year (2008-2009) every single one of my sellers hired my stager and their demographic was all over the board.

In my opinion, the ability to "sell" staging <and similarly, consulting> comes down to two things.

1. Do YOU believe that home staging is a good thing for the consumer?
   <Do you believe that real estate consulting is a good thing for the consumer?>

2. Are you comfortable and confident that the home stager you recommend provides a valuable service at a fair and reasonable price, and that the homeowner will (to quote the Go-Giver) "receive more in value than he makes in payment" by hiring your stager?
   <...the services you offer and the fees you charge are fair and reasonable and provide more in value than you take in payment?>

If you don't believe that real estate consulting benefits the consumer (and yourself of course), then you'll never be able to "sell" it to anyone. And even if you believe that real estate consulting is a great thing, but YOU aren't confident in YOUR services and fees (yet)... ditto.

And that's okay! One of the major goals of ACRE 2.0 is to help real estate practitioners overcome those two obstacles; 1) to help them truly understand and embrace the value of real estate consulting, and then 2) give them the tools and knowledge they need to confidently proclaim themselves to be Professional Consultants in Real Estate who have something of value to offer.



Jennifer, one of my favorite quotations is from George Bernard Shaw's play "Mrs. Warren's Profession." In it, Mrs. Warren said:

“People are always blaming circumstances for what they are and what they can do. I don't believe in circumstances. The people who get on in this world are the people who get up and look for the circumstances they want, and if they can't find them, make them.”

I am continually amazed that folks keep looking for outside forces to determine their path. Great things happen when one forges the path they believe in. If they believe greatly, others cannot help but believe too. If I had waited for the "industry" or for the "consumer request" to take the consulting path, I never would have gotten off the ground.

But for now, still sick with the flu, I'm off to bed.

I think this is actually the most important aspect of ACRE. How we can present it to the Clients.

Mollie - There's a similar passage in one of my favorite books "Don't Sweat the Small Stuff about Money" and I quoted from it in SWS, I think.

But the thing is - if you DON'T "believe" but WANT to believe, we want to help you with that! So, please don't feel that there's any criticism here if you have doubts about the value of consulting - if you're feeling that way, perhaps we haven't done a good enough job of explaining it! Or, of course, maybe it simply isn't right for you at this time.

I'm so sorry you're still sick! Poor thing :-(

Justin - I agree. It's fine and dandy to take a Big Picture philosophical perspective when talking about consulting, but the fact is that each and every one of us needs it to work for each and every one of us in our own practices and being able to explain it to clients is a huge factor.


Don't forget, my comments in context,  was how consulting is presented. I just believe that if they are paying a consulting fee and a commission at the end--most are going to say, I'll just pay it all when the transaction closes. Of course buyers are saying they don't pay anything.

I believe we are all consultants by default. I know most of you don't think that, but how and when you are paid doesn't necessarily make you a consultant. I'm a consultant and sometimes I do it for free :)

As you, Mollie & Jennifer, both know most of my business is done on a consulting basis - last year all but one transaction if I remember correctly.

Belief, as Jennifer rightly points out above, is critical.

Belief, for me, arose from time invested in reading, researching, thinking, collaborating, etc. which led to a conclusion that our industry as traditionally practiced is not very consumer-friendly. Next step, although I didn't know where I was going, was to think about how things could be improved.

From there on presentation and practice has been the key. In the shower, out for a walk, driving, my thoughts all too often stray to how I can better articulate the consulting argument.

There's a little more to it than popping someone else's silver bullet in one's gun and pulling the trigger!




Thank you, Ron!

William - I wasn't paraphrasing from your comment, actually - I was more directly referring to Carolyn's and Roger's concerns that they really aren't seeing a demand for real estate consulting in their markets. But I agree with you that being a consultant is a state of mind and an approach to advising one's clients and yes, it's often done for free!

the largest benefit is to the buyer, IF you can convince him that it was his money that paid both sides of the commission.  The seller needs to lay out money for an outcome they do not control, same as traditional sales people realtors.  Now, the buyer, he only invests time, no true outlay of hard cash.  IF the buyer could pay for his servies up front and then be paid in full by the time the closing occurs, his agent would be able to give him back the commission as an overpayment of monies due, not a rebate, not a kickback, not a reduction in services, not a reduction in fees.  This would further prove that it doesn't cost $18,000.00 in commission to sell a $300,000. and bolster the program.

Jennifer, How can the peope want what they dont know they can have.  People can only know what they know.  for 125 years the "Fathers of  Real Estate" dictated that this is the way real estate is.  There was never a herretic or an "Outliar" that challenged them  The sjy is blue, so we all believe it.  Now maybe its white or off blue or sky blue, but ITS NO LONGER BLUE JUST BECAUSE THEY SAY SO!!

Jennifer-I was just trying to cover the particular conversation in general with my last comments not that I believed you were pointing my out specifically. Sorry!

Like to give everyone a little hypothetical here. Let's just say that I was able to convince 25% of the homeowners that this is a program that would help them save money. I'll let everyone do their own math. Let's just say that is what happened not that it is possible.

My first question is how much more expensive would traditional real estate be for the professional? Could we start charging more for our risk using the traditional model? And then would we suggest to our potential client that in order to reduce the cost of them selling their home we have a better option. Would we offer them that option?

Just hypothesizing here. Think about options not a specific model.

Glenn - EXCELLENT points. Oh, and thanks for pointing us to the discussion at Linked In... it's definitely good stuff... I might try to comment myself in a bit.

William - I'm not following what you're hypothesizing... are you saying that we should artificially raise our "prices" so that we can then offer them a lower-cost option? Please straighten me out!

Right On! Glenn. I don't understand when people say things like, "People are going to push-back. Well, so what, push-back, feedback--it tell you people are thinking , talking and asking for adjustments.

Ok, I like your push-back, what if I did it this way.

Well! Now your talking. That really works for me and my needs.

Innovation is taking place all arounded us. Do we not want to be apart of it? It is right from this forum that I heard more about disruption in real estate. 


I was actually carrying over from another conversation from LinkedIn about a pre-paid program. So, if you were to have a model like I'm pushing than the cost of the traditional model do and will increase if the pre-paid model acceptance is high. 

Does that make more sense? My thought don't alway make it to paper in the  way I would like.

William - you might want to think of the product you're promoting as one you're "offering" not "pushing" ;-]. "Pushing" doesn't sound quite right, y'know?

But this is a great example of figuring out what will make sense to the consumer... and also to you. If you were on the other side of the table and some guy came along offering you this service, what would seem reasonable to you?

I agree. This is a word I would definately try to avoid using with a client or even among professionals in a different setting. 

As for being on the other side of the table--that is really a great way to look at it. If it accomplishes the goal that I seek, it would be a reasonable offer.

I know that this sound foriegn--to ask someone to pay in advance of products or services being provided, but so many industries do it. For example the Funeral industry offers the same type of program and it is a multi billion dollar producer for them. That is even with all of the complaints they receive currently.


Ouch... if an industry is being complained about on a regular basis due to their business model, is that really something you want to base your model on?

Just a thought...

Here's a thought Jennifer.

You guys have floated quotes from other people and favorite authors. You have used videos from the likes of Steven Jobs and other notable individuals to support the notion of innovation to support the cause. But, you point out complaints in an singular industry as reason not to base your model on it. 

And yes. Yes I do!  I do want to base it on a model like that. Because it bring the cost down for the clients you service and it also makes it a more profitable business model for the professional in the industry. And if you just took the time to learn the program without judgement might see the possibilities.

Mollie herself talks about TVM and NPV. Remember that today's dollar is more value than tomorrow's dollar, due to inflation alone. 

The point of the funeral industry example, was to say there are still benefits that far outweigh problems.

The bottom line is, for the funeral industry prepaying is a very successful add-on model to their At-Need services! You don't have to take my word for it, call your local Funeral Home and ask them how important the Pre-Needs programs are to them individually.

That was just one example. PrePaid Legal service is built on the same model and also has problems, but some of your major corporation offer it to their employees as benefits. Why do they do offere it? Are they just throwing benefits at their employees to keep them happy. No. They see it as a useful and valuable benefit for their employees.

I recall a video offered by another ACRE member that was raved about on this forum. He one of the speakers used the analogy of the Yellow Pages and also commented that new models starting off may not be perfect.

This is a sound concept. And the biggest thing is--It's been road tested by multiple industries.

So how is that for ranting? 

I see what you're saying, but you also keep mentioning how good the model is for the funeral home, but nothing about how great it is for the consumer (thus the volume of complaints). If a business model only serves one party to the transaction and thus requires its sales force to "push" it on customers (who later regret their purchase and complain), it sounds to me as if the model needs some tweaking. At least it would in my world...

I believe when you are innovating new ideas and concepts and bringing them to the market, they either benefit the consumer or they won't gain acceptance at all.  We are in real estate, unfortunately, complaints cannot be avoided and being a bit thick skinned goes with the territory.  In my MLS a perfect example is Auctions. There are multiple ways to conduct a real estate auction and real estate auctions in most states are considered "Reserve".  However, a couple of practitioners brought auctions to my market, did them properly, and the consumers who weren't able to "steal" the properties, complained to the local board that these events were conducted unfairly (which by they way, they were not). In fact, the auctions benefited the sellers and the situations they were in, got the job done, were done honestly, etc.  Regardless, the MLS board, chose to implement rules which reduced the effectiveness of auctioning property as a viable solution in our county using the marketing forum most vital to homes, the MLS.  Now you don't see Realtors involved in auctions any longer because of a decision the MLS board made to throw the baby out with the bath water rather than just "Clarify" the auction process to the general public.  In my experience, complaints are most often a product of poor communication and disclosure "up front" in the marketing process.  Misunderstandings can be prevented with clear concise communication about what we are delivering, when it is being delievered, and how much it is going to cost.

Jennifer, not to beat this to death, but I'm confused. How would you know my program needed tweaking when you haven't seen the full program. 

Here's is the benefit for the consumer: It saves them money. My model is based on a pre-paid model designed for the consumer. I never said it was exactly the same as the funeral industry. 

Jennifer, your opinion is that you know exactly how my program functions in the marketplace and you are entitled to your opinion. I respect that. So I'll leave it as, us not seeing eye-to-eye.

Enjoyed the debate.

Dear William,

Perhaps you can spend the time to fully explain your concept. Then we'll know what it is. then we can make informed decisions. The reason we don't know now --- is that you need to explain further. let's not be in attack mode.



William - I'm not making any assumptions about your program because I don't know much about it - I'm commenting on YOUR comments about how pre-paid funeral coverages benefit the funeral home with no mention of whether or not they are good for the consumer... with the assumption being that they are not since you mentioned the number of complaints.

Dear John,

I would like for you to show me specifically where it is I'm attacking anyone. I have responded in the same tone from start to finish. I am passionate about my opinions, no different than Jennifer in hers. I don't hear you telling her to stay out of attack mode. 

The reason I have mentioned my program here is I believe it could add value to ACRE and wanted to present it formally to the membership through the Council. 

Kindest Regards,


We've gotten off topic. William, as I suggested earlier, if you'd like to discuss the specifics of your program, please start a separate thread and try to keep the discussion contained there. If there is interest among the membership, you can elaborate and discuss it with those who want to know more.

This thread is about whether or not we ACREs believe that Consulting is good for the consumer. Let's stay on topic, please.

I believe Consulting is a good alternative model for the consumer when presented in a certain framework. In a framework, were the benefits are clear to them. But, also a framework that the professional can have confidence in as well. 

I already believe. As an investor before becoming licensed I have burned through a number of agents. A menu of services would have been a welcomed option. My challenge is finding templates of services and pricing to jump start my presentation. Does anyone have anything they can share to get this process started?

Hello James, 

Sorry to hear about your bad experiences with some of the professionals in our industry before your entry. 

This is what I did years ago--I did a search on the web to get a list of the services we offer. Just use google and you'll all you need as far as services go. 

As for the price it is what you think you are worth and what the market is willing to pay for. I tested for months and I still make adjustments. I use QuickBooks Pro for billing and explaining my services to my clients.

I hope this helps.

James - there is some of what I believe you're looking for in the ACRE Course Book and Workbook. We'll also be discussing this in detail in the new ACRE 2.0 Course which will hopefully be released in the spring.


Check out SmartPlan. It might be what you are looking for. None of us can tell you how to price services for your market area but the tool will help you determine if the prices you set are competitive. We can discuss it off-line if you want to contact me at 703-431-2145.


Shoot - I should have thought of that - duh!!

This page contains a single entry by Jennifer Allan published on January 11, 2012 8:36 AM.

ACRE/TCP 2.0 - Another ReBranding Solution... was the previous entry in this blog.

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