Business Management

3 Real Life Examples Of The Most Powerful Word In Business: ‘No’

Expertise: Personal Development, Real Estate Investing Basics, Landlording & Rental Properties, Real Estate News & Commentary, Business Management, Real Estate Marketing, Mortgages & Creative Financing
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no - in real estate and business

Last week, while writing the article about the value of saying “NO” to a real estate business or professional, I received a letter from a client that illustrated how saying “NO” can be a hue benefit to your business.  In response the article, I received quite a number of postings, but also a number of emails as well, all relating to the article and sharing other real-life examples of how being willing to say “No”, actually led to more business and greater satisfaction among clients.  I decided that this week, I would share a couple of those examples along with one of my own as a bit of a road map to taking control of your business and learning to only do business with who you choose.

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Saying NO to Existing Clients

Ziv Magen shared an interest take on existing clients and included an example of politely refusing to continue a business relationship that clearly was not in his best interest.  It is possible to do business with a client where everything lines up perfectly on the front end, only to wind up costing precious time, energy and headaches as the relationship develops.  Sometimes a potential client is not fully upfront about their expectations and that can often lead to questions, accusations and poorly timed communications.  Ziv shared that even though the client was properly notified and informed of all details, his company received communications that included lines such as “haven’t seen a cent yet and this is still not nearly finished” etc…

As many of these examples go, once the final details are completed and the deal is performing at or above the original parameters, clients become ecstatic and seem to magically forget the stress and bickering as well as the constant questioning of every decision and detail.  Now that the return is exactly where you said it would be, they are ready to purchase more without delay.

This is where you have to be very clear with yourself as a businessperson.  It is absolutely true that the easiest person to lie to is the one in the mirror.  If you have truly been open, honest and transparent.  If you have followed the exact procedures that you laid out for your client and the frustration was clearly developed on the client’s end, then saying “NO” to future busy should be an easy call.

In Ziv’s scenario he used what I viewed as a brilliant business move and instituted a “1-year cooling period” during which the client could watch their portfolio perform and Ziv’s company could perform all of their duties as specified.  This would allow the client to have a real understanding that the company he is doing business with places integrity before profit.  If the client chooses to move on, so be it.  If they understand the principles guiding such a decision, then they would applaud the company and look forward to the opportunity to purchase more.  Either way, Ziv is protecting his companies’ best interest, by forcing the client to realize that the company is also looking out for his best interest.  He didn’t necessarily say “NO”, he just said “not right now.  Allow us to perform first so when you purchase again, we will not deal with the incessant questions and headaches”.

Real Estate Pros Are Not Perfect

Mirko shared a thought with everyone when he posted that he has often beat himself up over losing sales when he tells a potential customer “NO”, only to learn that they purchased from someone else.  He stated that admitting you are not perfect and may make bad calls was a big step for him.  I would say that, when you are making a decision to pass on business, there are no bad calls.  If you do not feel like you are the right company for someone, as Mirko puts it “we are not the right fit”, then you are right 100% of the time to not do the deal.  If you are wondering how I can make such a statement, let me explain.

In many real estate businesses, and in fact, with many real estate professionals, there is only one person making the call.  YOU!  You have to be able to sum up very quickly if you feel that a deal is worth making or possibly not worth making.   Some would call if unfortunate, but I say we are very fortunate, that each day gets lived once and there is most certainly a finite number of days we each have.  Why not make the most of them and, when it comes to business, spend those days doing business with people and on deals that excite you and bring about a feeling of joy.  There is no time to waste wondering if the one that you let go turned out to be a goose laying golden eggs.  No matter how it appears, saying “NO” to a possible client that does not seem to fit allows you to say “YES” to the one that does.

I often tell the story of an investor from Illinois who contacted us very early in the formation of our company.  He had visited our web site and, like many investors during the boom years, he had more money that common sense.  He wanted to purchase all 12 properties that we had on the site.  At the time, we didn’t have a sales department – we had me.  I asked him if he wouldn’t mind coming down to Memphis to meet with us and maybe take a look at the properties.  His answer was no – he was ready to go.  I asked him if he wouldn’t mind just starting out with two properties, let us show him our process and how we do things because there would be plenty of time o purchase 10 more.  His answer was no – not only was he ready to go, he was ready to go with all 12.  I politely told him all 12 were not for sale at one time, especially not to someone who knew so little about our company, our city, the houses themselves, etc…  I suggested we start the conversation over and see if there was a way we could do business.  He suggested I stick my phone receiver…  I’ll let you finish that sentence.

Needless to say, he called back three days later telling me what an idiot I was and quite possibly the worst business man he had ever spoken with.  He suggested I find a new line-of-work as my company would be out of business soon.  (LOL) I had to insert that.  I know it is childish and an online acronym, but I did just find myself chuckling at remembering that line.  He said he had bought 14 properties was another local company and would be back to buy more.  Just not with me.

I felt sick to my stomach.  I felt as though I had let my family down as I thought about the amount of money I could have made in that one day.  I quickly got over it!

I saw the property transfers and I saw the absolute garbage the guy had purchased.  The company who sold him the properties made a killing off a “quick-draw McGraw” who was completely taken advantage of.  Within 12 months, this Illinois investor had come to town and met with several companies including ours asking for help with the management or possible sale of his junk portfolio which had grown to 17 properties and he was cussing every Memphis company up and down.  Including mine – the one who had originally tried to help him invest the right way.

No need to beat yourself up – sometimes saying “NO” is all about doing the right thing not only by your company, but also by the investor, whether they appreciate the gesture or not.

Growing A Business The Right Way

I have a great deal of respect for the online site BiggerPockets and it’s founder Joshua Dorkin.  When you get into the site and spend time there, you notice things about it that really separate it from other online forums and real estate networking sites.  The true experts are everyday investors, brokers, mortgage professionals, real estate agents, landlords, managers . . . you name it, they are on there.  And then you notice something is missing.  You know what I mean, that little shiny thing over the corner that is always whistling at you and winking when you glance over. Right there just out of sight, blowing kisses and promising lots and lots of success.  Yeah, there is something definitely missing from this site and it is the get-rich-quick salesman touting his magic potion, collection of silver bullets and bean sprouts leading to the heavenly cloud where you find that golden goose.

Some of the deepest marketing pockets in the real estate industry belong to self-avowed industry experts who make much more money off of selling secret sauce than they have ever made off of selling real estate.  Many are not even in the real estate game, but are fantastic salesman and they would love a piece of action on BiggerPockets.  Saying “NO” to this income stream literally means hundreds of thousands of dollars to a site like BiggerPockets and yet, it appears to be an easy call for Josh.  When your state mission is all about helping investors, find REAL and MEANINGFUL assistance from people who are doing it everyday, then you do not have the luxury of making mistakes by inviting in charlatans.

I have personally had many conversations with Josh about the difference between quality coaches and programs and the over-night sales guru and always walk away from those conversations with a great deal of respect.  I personally hope to see some of the better coaches and programs on the site one day as I think they add value not only to the site, but also to the members.  BUT, watching Josh say “NO” to dollars based on his integrity is one of the greatest statements that can be made about the site.

In all three examples, that is what saying “NO” is all about.  “NO” means holding firm to what you believe in and being willing to help others find success, even when they are not thankful for it.  Saying “NO” in business means that sometimes you are protecting your other clients, your family, your employees even when they have no idea the price you pay.  It is a by far the hardest thing to do in business, but I have yet to meet a company or business person who did not come out stronger, wiser and bigger because they were willing to say it!

Photo: Daquella manera

In 2005, Chris Clothier (G+) began working with passive real estate investors and has since helped more than 1,100 investors purchase over 3,400 investment properties in Memphis, Dallas and Houston through the Memphis Invest family of companies.

    Gregg N
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Saying “No” is one of the hardest things that I have to do in my business, but often times there is no other choice. Clients, co-workers, and friends all have different levels that it takes to get to the no, but as I have matured in life, a lot of times I can spot a problem early on and act accordingly. You can’t please everyone all the time!
    Chris Clothier
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Gregg – Thanks for taking the time to read and comment on the artilce. You are correct in your last line and that is a crucial lesson to learn. Pleasing people for the sake of pleasing people is a losing proposition every time. all the best – Chris
    Dylan Darling
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Sometimes you have to just know when enough is enough, and say no. I agree… It’s hard to do, but not all clients and real estate agents will see eye to eye. If I sniff something isn’t right, I’m out. If you never say no, you’ll have a lot of headaches!
    Chris Clothier
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Dylan – I couldn’t agree with you more. At some point, you reach a time when it just make sense to say no. All the best, Chris
    Jeff Brown
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Absolutely stellar, Chris. Mentors taught me that NO! paid homage to reality. My own experience shows that over the last 35+ years, I tell 30-40% of those asking my advice, ‘not now’, ‘no way’, or ‘keep doin’ what you’re doin’ and call me next year’. Love your approach, Chris, and completely agree with your thoughts about Josh Dorkin. He’s the reason I originally began writing here, and why I continue to support this site.
    Chris Clothier
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Jeff – I love your articles and your comments and you nailed it again. Not now, no way, and call me later are all comments that you have to get used to saying if you want to insure success. Keep writing great articles! iI really appreciate the comments. All the best – chris
    Chris Clothier
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Charles – I have a ton of respect for your opinions on the forums on Bigger Pockets. I’m really happy that you decided to read the article and leave a comment and you are exactly right. You don;t have to be a company to learnthe value of no. If you are providing a service, such as a landlord does, it is equally important to know when to say no. Thanks again for leaving a comment! Chris
    Replied over 7 years ago
    I’ll add one more thing to last week’s comments: I have run into countless individuals over the years who conduct business as if they were only going to stay in business for a year. I have always believed in conducting business for the long haul. So many real estate people/investors are always looking for new clients. I just don’t understand why after five years or so, you are not saturated with business and cherry-picking who you want to do business with. I think being absolutely hones will get you there. And yes, that includes knowing when to say…NO! So many of us don’t follow the basics and thus spend most of our time LOOKING for work, instead of DOING work. Repeat business will allow you to concentrate on doing, not looking.
    Chris Clothier
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Mirko – Great comments. You are correct in many ways. It is true that the easiest transaction to make is to an existing client and the 2nd easiest transaction is to a referral. When you have that concept down, you develop a real clear picture about how to grow your business and which clients are going to make growing easy. Chris
    Mike Dundon
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Chris I love reading your articles. Inspiring, honest and practical. Everything you talk about not only applies to business but to life in general. Keep them coming. Thanks, Mike Dundon
    Chris Clothier
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Mike – I really appreciate the kind words and the fact that you take the time to read the articles and post! Take care – Chris
    Ziv Magen
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Spot on observation from Mirko there – if you prostate yourself and try to deliver the impossible, or please every type of person on the planet, you will be doing the same throughout your business’ life at best, or out of business before you start at worst. Respect yourself and your trade. Know your limitations and present them clearly. Perform to the best of your ability, as promised, and once you’ve done all this – only continue dealing with similar individuals and organizations, and you’ll be well on your way to establishing a profitable, reputable business.
    Chris Clothier
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Ziv – I think the most important thing you noted here is the word establishing. Whether you mean to or not, over time you will establish a reputation, you might establish a following and you might even establish a brand. Either way, the actions you take will help you accomplish this – both good and bad. Thanks for taking time to post your comments – great stuff. All the best – Chris