Is it Risky to do Business with You?

By Debra K. Traverso

Copyright 2007 by Debra Traverso, OneCall
All rights reserved in all media.

The content of this article may be forwarded in full without special permission provided it is used for nonprofit purposes and full attribution and copyright notice are given. For all other purposes, contact Debra Traverso at

You might be stuck in a love-hate relationship with Big Macs and Chicken McNuggets, but there's no denying that McDonald's is successful, having just celebrated their 50th anniversary with more than 31,000 restaurants worldwide.

You don't have to be a fast-food McFreak, however, to appreciate McDonald's positioning and promotion tactics. In other words—hate the food, love the marketing.

Problem is, ask five MBA professors to pinpoint McDonald's biggest success strategy and you'll get five different answers. One thing they do agree on, however, is that McDonald's winning formula has removed the risk of buying (whether intentionally or not) because buyers know what they're going to get—and that has made all the difference. Removing the risk is a lesson we must learn in real estate too.

Super-sized Success
Early on, McDonald's created a process-driven approach to delivering good quality (not great quality) at amazing speed for a very low price. And, by applying the process uniformly throughout the chain, they removed the risk of eating in their restaurants. In other words, customers do not express their preference when they eat there as much as they eliminate their risk of having a bad experience elsewhere.

McDonald's is a perfect example that most consumers aren't worried about making the superior choice to handle their appetites and their business, but they are worried about making a bad choice—specifically, getting into a relationship with the wrong service provider.

With that in mind, stop exhausting yourself in an attempt to be the superior choice (a lofty goal), and instead concentrate on being an excellent choice.

Avis Cuts to the Pace
When Avis adopted the slogan "We're second; we try harder," business picked up dramatically. Avis acknowledged they weren't the superior choice according to the numbers, and instead positioned themselves as an excellent choice. (Marketing historians even suggest that Hertz's market dominance became a weakness as Avis became the 'right choice' in the minds of consumers.)

There's a Pattern Here
Like Avis and McDonald's, stop putting the 'sell' in and, instead, take the fear out. Eliminate the risk of doing business with you, and you'll become an excellent choice. Prospects will feel smart in giving you their business. And isn't smart how we all want to feel when we make a purchase or hire a service?

So how do you remove the risk? First let's look at how products do it. They offer warranties, free trials, rebates, money-back guarantees. Unfortunately, you can't do that in real estate.

OneCall removes the risk by letting clients pay month by month for our Mobile Manager service—no obligatory long-term contract. This feature doubles as our statement that we're confidant the customer will be satisfied and will return every month. However, you can't offer that option either due to the nature of your work.

Prospects must take on your service with loads of uncertainty and no guarantees. Thus, what you say, how you market, and how you differentiate yourself become very important in easing concerns. Together, they become the closest thing to what a product offers: a guarantee that the client will not need a warranty and have to suffer the claims process.

You Gotta' Have Heart
Put yourself in your client's shoes, then try these ideas for eliminating the risk of doing business with you:

  1. Identify the prospects' concern. Whenever you discuss your services or prepare your marketing strategies, ask yourself, "What risks might a prospect see in hiring me?" Then, without reminding the prospect of those risks—which will only remind them of their concerns—eliminate the prospect's fears, one by one. For example, statistics prove that most clients are concerned about a REALTOR®'s availability: "Here's my business card. You'll notice that I have one number. With that Mobile Manager number you can phone and fax me anytime, anywhere, without having to figure out where I am. What I do is simply forward that number to wherever I am. If I can't answer live, the service will still tell me immediately that you've called."

  2. Identify the problem your service solves. For example, when you talk to a group of entrepreneurs: "I help small business owners such as yourself find the perfect home. I know that it's harder to get credit when you work for yourself. So, I've built my service with the assistance of several finance specialists who work with me on creative financing."

    Bottom line—Practice a little McReal Estate by removing the risk. Your clients will thank you.

Copyright 2007 by Debra Traverso, OneCall
All rights reserved in all media.


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