Should Our Businesses Have Political Ideals

34 Replies

Over the past year there have been a lot of political hot button topics making their way to the public eye. Some of the issues that have blanketed our news coverage include racism, gay rights, gun rights, and religious freedom. Like most of you I have an opinion on each one of these, but I am having difficulty deciding whether or not my real estate business should have a position on these topics as well.

There have been dozens of companies make their way into the spotlight by making a stance on any number of these issues, but I don’t know if that is a logical business decision. Do you think it is wise to separate your personal political ideals, or do they have a place in your business? 

If you can make politics profitable for you, I say go for it.

Most people however, alienate part of the market share by pushing their personal ideology. For instance, you make a post about a presidential candidate, you may have some people that like your post, and you'll have just as many that don't like it. Problem is, your goal isn't to get 1/2 the market, your goal is to get ALL of the market. 

Political issues are chosen and designed to split the voting pool in half. I find it hard to see a way to choose a stance and not split your market share. 

My dad owned a furniture store and if you knew him you would think a political thought never entered his mind. While I'm sure he had his own opinions on the issues of the day, he kept them to himself. He never allowed any campaign signs in his store window and there were never any bumper stickers on our cars. The reason being he didn't want to piss off any potential customer. And that sentiment was shared by most business owners back in the day.

Fast forward to today and it's a free-for-all. I see trucks painted with business logos with bumper stickers supporting causes or candidates. There's a small appliance store on 290 that had a campaign sign for a candidate covering the entire outside wall. Since I can't stomach that particular candidate, guess who's not going to get my business the next time I'm in the market for an appliance.

It's fine to have passionate views about the issues of the day. But I personally don't think they belong in the business arena. 

No. Don't limit your market. 

Here's how I handle this. 

I come across as the most friendly, positive, and transparent person I possibly can be. 

All they need to know is that they like me and I can preform like I've said I can. That's it.

What type of real estate business?

Could you give an example of what you are thinking?

What exactly would that look like (in the context of your business)?

What would it do, i.e. what would it accomplish and how would that be a benefit?

if it relates to real estate, I would say yes. If it's issues like does your city need more affordable housing or rent control etc. I am happy to have my business take a stance on it. 

Other issues like gay rights, abortion, etc that has nothing to do with my business I would say no my business has no stance on it.  

The only political issues I get involved with regarding my business are issues that impact the bottom line such as healthcare or taxes.

I keep social issues out of my business.

@Alexander Felice

I agree, which is why it seems so puzzling that these large corporations are doing exactly that. 

@Fred Heller

If you did like the candidate, would it make you more likely to go there in the future?

@Ryan Dossey

That certainly seems to be the way I am leaning. Have you ever broken that rule?

@Kurt Kwart

I'm referring to most real estate businesses such as land lords, flippers, and wholesalers. One example of a political statement that I would be referring to would be putting something on your web page about supporting our police officers, and possibly even offering a discount off of their rent if you where a landlord. For a couple months, that could have made you a few enemies, which probably equates to losing a few customers. 

@Joe Butcher

An example might be a company adding a little rainbow flag (or Confederate flag) to one of the corners of their website. I don't know what it would accomplish exactly. Do you think Starbucks was trying to accomplish anything when they banned guns in their stores? 

@CK Hwang

That seems very logical. I haven't considered making a distinction between politics surrounding real estate and the politics of social issues. 

@Hugh Ayles

You and CK seem to have the same approach. For some reason I never considered that as an option. 

I have a clause in my contract that says, No signs and no flags exposed to public view.  I explain we are all neighbors and we want to keep it that way so everyone feels welcome. People understand and generally abide by it.  Occasionally I have to give a reminder and it quickly resolves otherwise decisive issues. 

Alexander Felice Close thread lol Couldn't hVe explained it better!

@Thomas Garza   Well of course if he had put up a sign supporting my preferred candidate then I would probably be more likely to remember that store when it came time to buy an appliance. But that proves my point. I would be more likely to patronize his store, but he would have also probably alienated the supporters of the other guy. Isn't it better to keep your mouth shut and not alienate anyone?

And I respectfully disagree with all the comments that it's OK to take a public stance on issues that affect our industry. Nobody cares about your bottom line except you. In my opinion it's best to deal with these issues behind the scenes by contacting your representatives, etc. And TAR has a PAC called TREPAC, whose sole purpose is to lobby Austin for the benefit of Texas realtors. Let them do the dirty work.

@Thomas Garza some companies, really large ones, have vested interest in politics. either through potential legislation, or financial backing. 

A few years ago Chik-fil-a made some comments about their gay marriage stance. You think they did this because someone wanted to voice their personal opinion? No, they had profitable (or hopeful) reasons to make this claim. To do so otherwise would polarize their user base for no gain. 

For small organizations, we have nothing to gain. Unless you have political contributions towards a candidate or legislation that will give you economic profit if it passes, then the only thing to gain from taking political stances is a smaller market share. 

Also, Starbucks and other large companies ban guns from their premises for the exact opposite reason of taking a political stance! That isn't about polarizing or pushing an agenda its about making EVERYONE feel safe to gain market share, not divide it. If they lose a small group of ultra conservatives who are pissed they can't carry guns in a particular store, but make the vast majority of people feel safer then it's worth it for them. 

Sometimes it's better to stand up for what you believe in than worry about your bottom line and/or pissing off a few customers. Unfortunately many big companies don't take these stances because they are passionate about the topic, they are just pandering to their existing customer base.

This post has been removed.

@Thomas Garza

I try to be myself yet find something I can relate to in every client I speak with. I will never advertise my business as "pro gun" or something silly like that. 

However I will use a subject THEY bring up to befriend them if I can relate to it. 

You don't want to come off as some hot shot investor you want to be relate able.

I go with "safe" topics. If they bring up politics, religion, or touchy subjects I will comment if I can relate. But I would NEVER open up a can of worms. The problem really is you get someone talking and it'll take you 10 minutes to get them back on track.

Ex: Client is smoking a cigar. "I love a makers mark 650 every now and then myself!" 

Ex: Client has a motorcycle on the driveway. "Very nice bike! I used to build vintage race bikes. My favorite to wrench on are the old Yamaha's."

Ex: Client is a war Veteran. "My Grandpa served in the Air Force I really appreciate your service. I mean it. People say it but I don't think you guys get enough recognition." 

Bonus Tip:

A lot of the things you can relate to with them will come up when you ask them why they are selling the home.

Originally posted by @Thomas Garza :

Over the past year there have been a lot of political hot button topics making their way to the public eye. Some of the issues that have blanketed our news coverage include racism, gay rights, gun rights, and religious freedom. Like most of you I have an opinion on each one of these, but I am having difficulty deciding whether or not my real estate business should have a position on these topics as well.

There have been dozens of companies make their way into the spotlight by making a stance on any number of these issues, but I don’t know if that is a logical business decision. Do you think it is wise to separate your personal political ideals, or do they have a place in your business? 

 You can do whatever you want as a private business.. but just because you can do something, doesn't mean you should.  If you take a stance on a political option, be prepared for the positive and the negative.  Example:

  • Chick-fil-A operates with Christian principles, which is their prerogative.  They are not open on Sunday and contribute money to groups that adhere to similar principles.  This undoubtedly wins business from conservative, traditional family-values types.. but on the flip side of the coin, it really ended up alienated a segment of customers: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chick-fil-A_same-sex...

  Is this good or bad for Chick-fil-A?  I don't know.. but at the end of the day, they were operating under the principles that they thought were appropriate and that is what helps their leadership sleep at night.

My point is this: do what you need to, but be prepared to handle the good and the bad that might come with it.

@Thomas Garza, I would be very, very careful with using your business for a political statement (any statement). I work in the Bay Area and it is an absolute minefield if you do not agree with the majority out here. I have seen businesses go down in less than a year because someone got upset at a position that they have, even if it has absolutely nothing to do with your business. A lot of people are just looking to be angry and if you give them an excuse, they'll find it. I made the decision a long time ago to be political or charitable with my profits, not my business. If you feel strongly about something (and I hope that you do and that you get involved), I would recommend you do it with the profits from your business and on a personal level, not a corporate level. 

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