Serve More and Sell Less – A Lesson from The Golden Arches

As a child, I remember watching the numbers on the sign at McDonald’s change as they sold more hamburgers. Each year on the family vacation to Cape Cod, somewhere along I-80 in Pennsylvania or New York, we’d stop at The Golden Arches and marvel at the number preceding the word “million.” Now, the signs simply say “Billions and Billions Served.”

 I really like the way the hamburger behemoth looks at it. Notice the sign doesn’t say how many they sold, they count how many they have “served.” There is no doubt in my mind that some bean counter at the corporate headquarters in Oak Brook, Illinois knows exactly how many hamburgers they have sold and what the profit per patty is but as much as they are in the money-making business, they are first and foremost in the customer service business.

How Many Families Have You Served?

With the advent of the Internet, tracking the number of visitors, hits, downloads and page views are many ways that businesses and brands “keep score.” Yet capturing an ISP address, email or phone number still doesn’t mean conversion from a potential customer to a relationship-based client, and there still might be a long way before that client is a closed client, a happy client, a satisfied client and hopefully a repeat client.

It’s been nice to see the movement and approach by many people in the real estate industry to stop looking at an Internet inquiry as a “lead” and instead realize it for what it is – a person. A first-time buyer using the Internet to research and learn about the home buying process and scout out neighborhoods or a maybe it’s a young couple expecting their second baby, quickly realizing their 2-bedroom bungalow isn’t going to be enough home for their growing family. That “lead” some people see pinging into their CRM just might be a 70-year old widow from the neighborhood next to yours, who lost her spouse of 50+ years and now it’s time to downsize from the large house that they raised 4 children in.

The Story of John & Mary

I recently had an opportunity to work with my first Sellers since jumping back into sales from my training and education role. John and Mary were personally referred to me by a former employee, not because of a number of homes sold or membership in some club people in the general public think might be for “real estate millionaires” but because they trusted me as the best person to help their friends.

John and Mary were experienced Sellers, having been through the process of selling a home several times in the past, but hadn’t been through the process in almost 30 years since they custom-built their current home. I assured them that selling a home day is a stressful experience but together, we would navigate and manage those stress points and help get them and their family to Florida.

I won’t go into too much detail about the entire transaction but let’s just say, it wasn’t as easy as it could/should have been. Something that perhaps made it even more difficult to manage was the hot real estate market happening all around us. Hearing of competing Sellers getting a double-digit number of offers and selling for well above asking price can make some Sellers self-conscious and questioning why they weren’t seeing those kinds of results. (Note: Just because a house sells in a multiple offer situation for more than asking price doesn’t mean the transactions go smoothly)

When we finally received an offer, negotiations weren’t easy, yet John and Mary stayed calm. We got a backup offer and John and Mary stayed calm. When the inspections brought on unexpected issues, John jumped into action to correct the things he could. They were the most amazing Sellers who never misplaced anger or frustration with the process or circumstances outside of their control. Did they ask lots of questions? You bet they did…and I appreciated that. They always wanted the best information so they could make the best decisions.

John and Mary were not simply a product number on a cog rolling down an assembly line in this process called real estate. They were people who smiled and laughed when things went their way and showed anger and frustration when things happened differently than they hoped. They were Sellers who have “been through this rodeo before” and while much of today’s real estate transaction has changed over the years, it still remains a negotiated process between Buyer and Seller. Regardless of how things were going, they remained respectful, connected, and responsive. They were committed to doing what it took to get to a successful conclusion, which in their eyes meant them driving away from Central Ohio with their former house in the rearview mirror and the Florida state line in their GPS.

Do You Want Fries With That?

Selling real estate is not the same things as working at the local Mickey D’s…and no one would ever mistake the two. Just remind yourself that the next time you get a referral, an email inquiry or a voice mail from a potential “lead,” before you simply enter their digits into a system, take a second to remind yourself that there is a person…with a story…and a dream on the other end. They have questions, they have fears and they have many, many things they simply have no idea about…and that’s where you come into the picture.

Now, are you ready to simply sell another hamburger or are you excited to serve your next client?

Thanks John & Mary for a reminder about what this business is all about; We built a relationship, we solved many problems and we had lots of fun along the way. Safe travels to the Sunshine State. Enjoy your next chapter in The Story of John and Mary Smith”.

With relief in their hearts and tears in their eyes, John & Mary say goodbye to their home of the last 27 years.



Photo Credit: Mike Mozart via Flickr



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