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Friday, December 28, 2012

Venom, Fury and Bile

Ever held a grudge for a really long time? I know full-grown adults who are still holding grudges from primary school.

What’s it getting them? What’s holding a grudge getting anyone?

-       Probably a knot in the pit of their stomach whenever their mind consciously or inadvertently goes to thoughts of that person.
-       Bile, fury and venom that builds within them and serves typically to darken that person’s life – not the object of their grudge.

This is life. People will behave in ways you see as irrational. People will behave according to their own codes of conduct – which may not always align with your own. People will upset you. People will even do things which justifiably deserve your anger.

So after some frustration happens, you can continue, indefinitely, to hold a grudge:

-       Or you can let the object of your grudge know your feelings (where appropriate) and you can try and resolve it like rational adults.
-       Or you can let it go and move on with your life.
-       Or you can use that anger as motivational fuel rather than bile fuel! To do this you need to figure out how you can totally nullify the anger you feel by being so grateful for what it has motivated you to do.

This year has been a challenging one for me. There have been a few times where I’ve been pretty furious in the moment – and it’s been a huge learning experience for me. I willingly put myself in situations that I now wouldn’t do again. I’m thankful for those lessons even though they were painful to learn.

In one situation where I felt probably the most let down, I let the anger build for a little while but then I decided I was going to go with option three above. I was going to get myself to a point where I felt thankful for the situation because of what it motivated me to do.

I made a commitment (verbally to someone I knew needed to hear it) that everything the business lesson cost was going to have been recovered within 12 months through smarter choices. We did it within 6.

So while when New Years Eve kicks around I could be looking back furious at the year, instead, I choose (and it’s definitely a choice) to look back with thanks and excitement at the changes I’ve made and the decisions I won’t make again in the future.

Bye bye grudge.  Bye bye bile. Bye bye venom.  Bye bye fury. Hello genuine, heart felt thanks. 

By Anonymous with 5 comments

Friday, December 21, 2012

What’s your focus?

Think about your business in terms of each individual component for a moment.

A hairdresser might break it down into:
  • ·      Cutting
  • ·      Colouring
  • ·      Hair competitions
  • ·      Styling
  • ·      Product sales
  • ·      Make up etc

An accounting might have the categories of:
  • ·      Tax returns
  • ·      Audits
  • ·      Company
  • ·      Individual etc

Now bear in mind –these are just guesses above, neither is my field – my accountant and hairdresser can both attest to that!

Our focus at Elephant Property since the beginning of September was set when the whole team agreed to a specific set of measures based around the areas of:
  • ·      Arrears (late rental payments)
  • ·      Maintenance
  • ·      Invoices (where tenants need to pay owners or tradespeople money)
  • ·      Feeling of well being in the team
  • ·      Hand written cards

Let’s take one of these measures as our “focus” for this blog post. Arrears. In our real estate agency a tenant is in “arrears” (behind in their rent) when they’re one day behind or late with their rent. Ever since our inception in 2009 we’ve prided ourselves on following up late rental payments if a tenant is even one day behind and we’ve always had an extremely low percentage of rental arrears.

BUT. We wanted to “change the game” and become truly exceptional at this area.

Prior to September our record for zero tenants even one day behind in their rent was three days in a row. And as a disclaimer this was set in our first year of business when the size of the number of properties we manage was tiny.

And ever since 2009 it had seemed like a barrier we couldn’t break through.  Speak to anyone in the industry and they’ll tell you that many of them have never even seen one day without arrears –so three would probably seem great!  We knew however, that if we pushed ourselves we were capable of more. If we focused on this area we were confident we could break our old record.

These are the steps we went about in terms of drilling down our focus:

·      First we had a goal – well two actually:
1.     Break the old record
2.     Consistently for three months running keep our arrears under four per day. “Four” being days behind. Ie: if we had two tenants one day behind on a particular day- the tally for that day would be 2 – and a pass. If we had three tenants all two days behind – that would be six and a fail. We’d keep a running tally for the month and if we averaged less than 4 per weekday we “passed” the month. (If we got zero on any day it subtracted five from the tally and if we got a new record we automatically passed the month).
  Where we had always been right onto every tenant the day they fell behind we got more proactive and figured out which of our tenants (historically speaking) were likely to fall even one day behind and we started contacting them significantly prior to them falling behind to put plans into place so that they didn’t set us off track.
And finally – we all took it personally. The goal we set involved a team trip to Melbourne as a reward – but I honestly think just the fact that we set ourselves the goal in writing made it that much more visible. Just this morning as I write this (Tuesday, 27 November) we’ve had a zero arrears day, but Sally and Catherine on our team are already working on our next potential hiccup – a tenant who may fall behind on Friday and I’ve just seen 4 emails back and forth about how we’re not going to let that happen. That’s personal to them. They care. They’re invested.

How did we go with our goal? In September we started well, but had two tenants whose arrears, despite our strict follow up and efforts we couldn’t overcome. In short – we failed for the month.  Importantly – we didn’t give up or let that initial failure derail us.

Here’s how October looked:

After one solid month of focus (September) – even though we didn’t achieve our goals – you can see that focus paid off in October. Not only did we get a new record, but continuing on into November we smashed our old record with 8 days of zero arrears in a row.

Here’s November so far:

The “7” anomaly in November is due to the public (and bank) holiday in Launceston (my home town) on the Monday.

As you can see, right now as I write we’re on track for a new record (we hope!) with 6 days at zero. Want to know how we went? Shoot me an email – I’d love to tell you – Kirsty {at} elephantproperty.com.au

This extreme focus on just a few areas of our business has resulted in big goals across lots of areas. November will be the best month our company has ever had, our satisfaction levels across the team and company are at all time highs and the great thing about focusing on something for a long period – it becomes a habit. Our team is now habitually crazy about arrears follow up. I hope I can tell you soon that we’ve hit double digits!

So now back to you. What do you need to focus on in your business.

Here’s the steps again:
  • What goal will you set and how will you measure success?
  • What will you do differently to how you’ve already done?
  • And who’s going to get personally involved and WHY?

By Anonymous with 3 comments

Friday, December 14, 2012

Herb-itual Habits

As I reached back before heading to the gym, hairband in hand, to put my hair back in a ponytail I realized how ingrained that habit was in me. The reason it was so clear? My hair is currently less than an inch long after I shaved it off for charity.

So without hair of even close to ponytail length, my habitual brain still decided it’d be best to tie it back so it didn’t flap in my eyes at the gym.

My habitual brain – for want of a moniker lets call Kirsty’s habitual brain “Herb” is the same reason my fingers flick back to my mail application whenever I hear that happy little ding of “new mail”.

Herb’s also the reason I “oh so quietly” close the child gates on my stairs as I climb up and down regardless of whether my child is asleep or even in the house.

Herb’s the reason I still, ever now and then, answer the phone without thinking with the greeting of a former workplace (sometimes right back to the very first real estate agency I ever worked at).

Herb’s the reason I drove a staff member home from a property, right to my house instead of back to the office – Herb switched onto auto pilot when he saw a certain street and before I knew it, I was home.

From what I can figure – this part of my brain “Herb” is actually a pretty good guy – for the most part. He helps cut out a lot of the clutter and allows me to focus on what needs doing. He does so much of my daily routine without me having to put much thought into it.

It’s only Herb’s small dark side I need to worry about. His dark side shows when I open a web browser and automatically feel a need to see my facebook and twitter feeds. He’s slightly more evil when I find myself unable to type a blog or letter in full without flicking back to check my emails mid thought stream. Bugger – I just did it then.

While it’s great to have some of your life on auto pilot – Herb, wastes a fair bit of my productive time as well. I can leave it as a happy trade off – I get some time or I lose some time or I can start to discipline Herb. I can turn the new mail notification sound off on my computer. Done – just now as easy as googling what I wanted to do, and while in there I changed my automatic mail download from every 5 minutes to every 30 (hey it’s a start – we can’t all be Tim Ferriss – 4 hour work week).

Do you need to discipline your habitual brain? 

By Anonymous with 3 comments

Friday, December 7, 2012


This is the word I use when I’m angry/frustrated/annoyed. Usually – I’m partially to blame and I certain was this weekend past when all I could think was “ARG!!”.

A customer had sent an email and I’d replied to it – flippantly, without the right amount of tact and without the type of customer service I usually proudly deliver.

And guess what – he had the nerve to call me on it!

He even suggested I write a blog on it called “Teacher Doesn't Apply Own Lessons”.


I was steaming. I fumed. I vented a little. I wrote back to him and challenged him.

He backed down.

I calmed down and tried to reopen the dialogue. Because… he was right.

He handled the matter tactfully and in a grown up manner. And eventually I got there too (I hope).

So while I won’t indulge him and write a blog called Teacher Doesn't Apply Own Lessons” – I will write one admitting…

-       that even those of us who love customer service, have our off days
-       that we should all take time to pause before we reply to emails either too light heartedly, with venom or with anger
-       that even if we don’t necessarily see the customer’s point – we should thank them for bringing it to our attention rather than just whining about it behind our backs – or, in this day and age, whining about it behind our bank and in everyone’s face on social media.

Thank you Terry – lesson received loud and clear. 

By Anonymous with 3 comments

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