Fascinated by home seller presentations

When my siblings and I were teenagers and ready to sell our first cars, Dad taught us a clean car sells fast. I’m not talking about running it through the $1.98 car wash. Cotton swab, white glove inspection clean to be specific. The engines were steam cleaned. The inside of the bumpers were spotless, graduation tassels removed and all Exxon tiger tails retired. There was enough Rain Dance and Armor All used to buff a Carnival Cruise Liner. The vehicles always sold fast and for the asking price.

The same can be said about listing a home for sale. I am presently searching for a home along the Texas gulf coast. The houses I’ve viewed have kept me awake and freaked out at night. A prospective buyer does not want to see cabinet doors hanging from bent hinges or your foundation garments hanging from a door knob. At least hang the pretty bras out – not the dingy ones. If you don’t own a vacuum cleaner, it would be wise to borrow, rent or steal one. Improvement would be evident if some of the carpets were swept with a broom.

Depersonalizing the home is as integral to cleanliness. Walls of family photos are important to the owners but not to potential buyers. I am haunted by a professional photograph of an older woman with a crown, like Queen Elizabeth’s, on her head. She may be some type of royalty but the home was no castle. I would rather see the hideous red velvet wallpaper than a wall full of hundreds of family photos. Yes, the dog is cute and the babies are adorable but I want to see what type of dynamite it is going to take to remodel the room.

Knickknacks, tchotchkes, trinkets, miniatures, collections and doodads all need to be put in a box and removed from the home. Statues, glass collections, paper weights, CD/DVDs, magazines, newspapers minimize the size of a room. I was afraid to turn around, with my handbag on my shoulder, for fear of knocking something off of a side table. By the way, there were multitudes of small tables in a few homes.  There were enough ducks, geese, eagles and cardinals displayed to represent the Audubon Society. Dead wildlife suspended above every doorway, fireplace and portal are, especially in the wild west, trophies of achievement to a specific fan club. Your prospective buyer may be a member of PETA. A neutral environment will enable a buyer to picture themselves living in your house. A Disney theme with Mickey, Goofy and “It’s a small world” piped in throughout the casa will not cut it.

As a home buyer, when I exit your home, I should have zero knowledge of your:

  • College affiliation
  • Religion
  • Pet preference – unless you have a built in wall aquarium or a farm/ranch property
  • Political views
  • Hoarding
  • Collection passion – e.g.: antique dolls, weapons, porn anything, dead plants, etc.
  • Smoking

“Know your selling audience” is an understatement. Your private abode will become a public forum when your home is listed. Remember, photos tell all. Understand your communities tolerance for stripper poles, trophies from the Swingers Club, bondage equipment, etc. If applicable, it would be best to put all of your toys away!

Less really is best. Fewer pieces of furniture and a minimum number of items displayed allow the seller/home owner to maintain a super clean environment with ease. It is an arduous task to ready a home, you and your family are currently living in, for a real estate viewing.

You probably don’t live in a model home. Model homes are staged environments. There isn’t anyone dropping butter bread on the carpet or leaving wet towels on the floors. Trash is virtually non-existent. Mold will not grow on a shower curtain or glass door if the home is uninhabited. Real folks live in resale homes. Develop a routine when the house is posted to the MLS.

Instead of frying fish and cabbage, keep the food smells to an infinitesimal amount. Cereal and salad usually have no smell. If you need more than two hours notice to take Barkinowski and Miss Kitty Lion for an outing and remove all pet hair in the process, pet accommodation can be included with Agent Remarks for the listing. My dog was sent on sabbatical to a relative’s home to sell our residence. Our home had multiple contracts within seven days. Alleviate any circumstance for a potential buyer to say, “no”.

Bribe the kids. Cajole your spouse/partner/roommate/other half/better half/significant other/soul mate/lover into being on your team. Be detail oriented. Mow and edge the lawn.

Curb appeal is as important as interior presentation when selling your home.

Curb appeal is as important as interior presentation when selling your home.

Pick up tripping hazards. Dust the ceiling fans and chandeliers – including the light bulbs. Keep laundry to an extreme minimum. There is no joy in dirty sock smells.  If you can pluck your eyebrows while peering intently into the kitchen sink faucet – you are on the right track.

(Please don’t steal a vacuum. This article was written with a hint of humor by an active Realtor®. Examples and experiences are real.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Technologically illiterate

There is a general assumption sitting out there conveying the idea people over 40 are technologically illiterate. I thought this was extreme bias until I moved to a small Northeast Texas town. It appears to be rampant in major metropolises as well as rural areas.

My sister is, let me think how old my sister is, 55 years old. She is an event planner in a small suburbia outside of Pittsburgh. This family owned company still writes all appointments down on a large wall calendar and manually maintains all accounting in a ledger book. She does not utilize email, text or electronic communication with any vendors. She still calls and visits the local bakeries for cakes and pastries, often carrying photos of what the customer wants. She is unable to switch employers because she is technologically illiterate. Her boss is a control freak and wants no changes to the system. My lovely sister does not want to learn how to access the internet, nor does she have any interest in doing so. For her occupation and stage of life, it is socially acceptable for her bliss to continue. Keeping staff uneducated and in the dark seems to work for entrepreneurs.

The few people I have met in Paris, Texas seem to have the same lack of communication skills. I still have a Houston area code telephone number. When sharing my phone number, I am often informed, they are unable to place a long distance call to me from home or work. Either their employer does not allow (control and being cheap) long distance calls or their mobile phones have extremely limited regional service. It is more often than not, they inform me they do not know how to text nor do they have the capability. These are not retired or stay at home housewives. These are “business people”.

I interviewed for a professional position, a few years back, with a snot nosed twenty something. During the interview, he held up a Blackberry and informed me everyone employed there is required to keep their appointments electronically. He also went on to say the learning curve for programs they used, MS Office Suite, would take time to learn. When he finished making his assumptions and was arrogantly quiet, I told him to hand me his laptop so I could take it apart, reprogram the hard drive and put it back together. He seemed kind of shocked. He went on to explain his mother didn’t know anything about computers. While he was blabbering, my Blackberry was vibrating. I took it out of my purse, checked it and put it back – in the middle of an interview. I never would have done this if I wanted the position. I told him his mother never taught 60 people how to convert manual files to an electronic system in the 70’s either. His mother didn’t convert a financial institution from a manual accounting system to a zero paper system in 4 days, which included placing a PC on every desk and personally training everyone the fabulous benefits of every MS Office program available, including PowerPoint presentations. I am quite sure his mother had “other” talents. By the way, the interviewer and his company went bankrupt within the year. One of my friends got the job I interviewed for and she is still unemployed to this day.

Back off with embracing the idea, old people don’t know what to do with a PC, tablet or any other “hand-held device”. My father was in his 70’s and was more PC savvy than most people I have done business with. After he died, and I figured out his password, I brought his PC up to see eagles flying, flags waving and hearing the Marine Corps hymn playing full blast on his computer. He thrived on researching ship manifests for immigrant relatives, replaced drives in his CPU and conducted all business electronically on the PC. I still miss his emails and humor and most especially him-very dearly.

People do not like change. It is easier to be oblivious. Their world will remain ever so small without the advantages of world-wide access. It also cost a few bucks to be connected to cyber space. I view it as a necessary utility fee, like electricity!  Don’t get me started with how we are all being gouged for fees. I remember paying $.25/minute cell phone service. My boss would imitate how fast we would convey information when calling him. When the cost changed to the plans we have now, everyone relaxed and spoke in full sentences.

I am too nebby not to know what is going on out there. I am so afraid of missing something. The sad thing is – a lot of people still don’t know – they don’t know.

 

 

 

Slap a panty resumes

My beautiful niece asked that I revamp her resume. She is a college student with new work experience. The resume she sent me was 4 pages long! It took approximately 30 minutes to delete 75% of the excruciating details into a one page, clean and tidy resume.

I was previously employed with a financial institution as an operations manager. Part of my responsibilities was to hire for all positions. Hundreds of resumes were received for all posted jobs. They came in the form of novels, perfumed paper, decorated with ribbon and sparkles and colorful meta tags. Obviously some of these formats would have been appropriate for the “Slap a Panty Boutique”, not a loan officer position. Reference lists had disconnected telephone numbers or people who could hardly remember the applicant. These would have been better served for the amnesia clinic. Including graphics and photos did not interest me. They hindered the process. I was expecting professional, to the point, information. I was not looking for glamor shots or cute bears. If I was advertising childhood daycare positions, maybe the singing elephants would gather the correct attention.

Times are tough and jobs are at a premium. The best presentation will be short, to the point and professional. We would sort them by appearance and volume first. The pile would be cut down to the one or two page resume, on decent paper with neutral ink color – black, brown, navy. The rest were archived. We were looking for the resume that matched the personality of the position. If a resume is 5 pages long it communicated to us that the applicant could not concisely convey information in a concise manner. If I wanted a “talker”, I would hire my mother. Save the QPA and specific college class lists for university positions. They like that stuff. Save the “greeting customers with a smile” lines. We all want happy, optimistic, charismatic individuals. This info is conveyed at the interview. All crying and somber people will be offered the appropriate counseling. Also, urgently important, do not name drop or tell us who you are related to by extended marriage or cousin-hood. Quite frankly, that lets me know you will be arriving with an entourage of importance and are unable to stand on your on credentials. Remember, even Franco Harris writes down that he is a professional athlete, instead of “Super Bowl Hero, Immaculate Reception, Pittsburgh Steeler, knows Dan Rooney”.

Clean, concise, professional resumes will get attention. The content is what matters. Oh, yea, save the metallic dollar sign cutouts that fall out of envelopes, all over my office floor, for the men’s club.

 

 

Good bosses

The previous post prompted me to make a few comments for wonderful bosses and mentors who can change and advance your life. This is a non-discriminating blog. It is not my intention to create bitch sessions and chaos. There must be substantiated accord to move forward and offer insight for direction to the end of the rainbow.

Good bosses exercise respect and self control at all times. Good people lead good people. It is the same example as great parents raise great kids. As a leader of the division, corporate giant, Dari Queen or account payable group, you are the standard set for those awaiting direction and guidance.

Any Funk & Wagnall, Merriam Webster or your reference of choice will offer the definition of a manager as one who directs to succeed and accomplish. A professional will respect your experience, your knowledge and your dignity. You are a valuable company asset – bought and paid for. The copy machine does not deserve more respect than a human being. It seems that when the copier breaks down, four people jump on the phone to get an expert in to soothe and console it into functioning without the weird noise. An employee can drop dead on the floor and most will walk over them, complaining about the impediment. A good boss will call the coroner and order a ham (unless the deceased is Jewish, substitute corned beef brisket) and broccoli cheese casserole to be taken to the grieving employee’s family.

Good bosses do not demean or insinuate you have the same behaviors of past subordinates. They read your resume and should know a person with a doctorate degree already knows to answer a ringing telephone. It is belittling to be told over and over to do something you are in the process of accomplishing and completing. Great bosses respect your conflict solutions, being proactive to avoid train wrecks and knowing you will take responsibility for what the job requires and beyond.

Your actions are a direct reflection on the accomplishments of management and the profits and success to the company as a whole. It is a team effort. Every position requires equal appreciation.

A wonderful boss creates a positive work culture. You are happy to get there, on time, and eager to delve into the routine and challenges of the day, with vigor. You know you have a capable and refined manager when you have left the workplace with more knowledge than you entered with. A manger moves people forward with experience, education and training. This is what makes companies and corporations and small business grow steps further.

Appreciation for your skill or ability to capture new technologies enhances managements position. Telling you how stupid you may be only drop kicks you into a dark abyss. The division leader, associate assistant temporary manager or interim president knows positive verbiage creates positive efficient outcome. Assignments  adversely directed, such as, “Don’t take all day like the night crew did”, kind of pisses you off before you even get started. A hands on boss is even more effective than the one sitting behind bullet proof glass waiting for the limo to pick her ass up. Even if the hands on boss is looking for a photo op moment, they are at least trying to act interested and committed to your compliance and successes.

Especially new or young employees benefit from a mentor boss when starting a career or highly trained specialized position, such as “surgeon”. An employee asked me once, “How did you become the boss?” My response was, “Walk like the boss (please don’t take this literally), talk like the boss, dress like the boss, (again, use your common sense. I don’t want to hear everyone is badly impersonating drag queens), take initiative, arrive early, stay late, speak with confidence, know your product, know your competition, know your staff and most importantly, know yourself.

Thank you, Bernie V. Easly – you were a great mentor and a great boss.

 

 

Bad bosses

Hand your bad boss a mirror and they probably still will not recognize themselves. This has been a situation encountered for generation after generation. In fact, it started with sweatshops in the 1800s. Desperate economic times exacerbate working conditions and leave employees feeling hopeless.

Examples of bad bosses:

  • A vice-president at a local Houston bank repeatedly refused to contact the insurance agent for the death claim of an employee’s child. The life insurance premiums were paid by the bank as part of the employees benefit package. The employee was positive the child was included on the policy but the vice-president refused to file the claim. A formal complaint took 2 years to process before the insurance claim was paid to the employee.
  • A sales team working for a Houston, Texas company was constantly being berated and demeaned by a boss who frequently ran the company in an intoxicated state. Multiple weekly meetings subjected staff to instantaneous employee terminations, conveying to the staff how inept and stupid they were, referring to employees with racial slurs and numerous additional violent tirades.
  • A major home builder in Houston, Texas employs a sales team who are required to work a set and specific schedule and at times at remote locations. They are required to follow a strict dress code, present specific and detailed sales presentations, work as real estate agents without credentials, clean and vacuum model homes, drive customers around in their private vehicles without compensation and attend required meetings. These sales representatives do not receive an hourly wage. They are paid commission only. Sales meetings are an emotional beating. Employees are told they are not allowed to leave their assigned locations to eat lunch. Schedules many times exceed 50 or 60 hours per week.  They are constantly informed they will be terminated if they are over a minute late for work. They are expected to use their personal mobile phones, without compensation, and answer it 24/7 to accommodate customer’s needs.
  • A retail store in Paris, Texas is managed, term used loosely, by a woman conveying her religious convictions through visual, verbal and administrative means. Each meeting is a 2 hour lecture for “achieving your superior self” and “listening to the voice that does not speak”. There is never any two way communication at these meetings. The staff sits in silence while receiving the sermon from the front seat. Most meetings include the sermon on each employee being dispensable and easily replaced. Is this why there is a continual ad for help wanted for this establishment?
  • A major retail chain in Pittsburgh, PA had a long tenured credit/collection staff. They had successfully driven off each manager within a year of service. The general manager was oblivious to the practiced behaviors of referring to the first female credit manager as a “white prince-ass” and 100% of the staff calling off sick on Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving. They came in late – if they showed at all and left early. The general manager did not want to exercise his right to terminate them because they had been employed there for many years. He was also afraid to reprimand or call them out for adverse verbal outbursts for fear of racial bias accusations or a lawsuit.

Most managers break federal/state employment law because they are untrained or simply do not care. There is a broad circle of bosses on a control trip and exercise their ignorance of the law because they can. Desperate times create desperate employees. There are the under employed out there now enduring untold humiliations at the hand of taskmasters knowing there are few places to turn to.

Bosses compensated for keeping expenses “under control” create maltreatment exercised through frigid or intolerable heat exposure within the work environment. OSHA requirements are ignored due to not providing necessary safety equipment. Employees are now “paying” for the privilege to be employed with desk fees, providing their own office supplies, cell phones, vehicles, occupational insurance, uniforms, mileage, land line use, cost per copy of work related materials, postage, and customer related entertainment expenses. These are not necessarily 1099 employees.

The blue collar employee community is subjected to extensive verbal abuse. Construction workers, service staffs, domestic labor, retail and industrial rank & file are constant targets for denigration. There is a prevalent attitude that the workers don’t know enough to report discrimination, oppression or mistreatment. Management may be positioned from within the in-house force without the benefit of formal education for the advancement. As in families, we do what we know. If the example was poor, the abuse continues.

The first step is recognition. If you find yourself in a derogatory work environment, try your best to get the hell out. Continuing to subject yourself to money monger predators will certainly change who you are. Be tenacious and patient during your journey. There are great places to work and wonderful people to learn from. God speed.

Consumer Crazy

The first day of first grade yielded a timeless lesson to be repeated for the rest of my life. Mrs. Weddel, the teacher, sat me down at my assigned desk. The school supplies were stacked neatly on top.  The box of fat Crayola crayons had one each of the primary colors – except mine. No red crayon. Did you ever draw a fire truck without a red crayon? Try convincing your mother Santa likes wearing an orange suit.

Brita pitcher with the lid perched on the top

I bought a new Brita pitcher. The top will not stay on. We have had the dining room table flooded, as well as the refrigerator. I ordered it online. It will cost almost the price of the pitcher to ship it back.

My dream car was a Camaro Z28. The mid-life crisis was cured with a spanking brand new one parked in the driveway. It was medium quad blue, sparkly and hauled ass. The odometer ran backwards – which is a problem when you are recording your mileage every day. The security alarm would get stuck – with the siren screaming, horn blasting and the headlights blinking. It frequently appeared I was trying to steal my own car. People are kind and would try to assist. I would find some strange guy’s butt in my face when they were trying to disconnect the alarm from under the dash – while I was in the driver seat. So many times I had to call the 1-800-ComeandGetthisdamnChevy for service.

The new, in the box, Motorola Bluetooth ordered from Ebay was deader than a doornail. The seller asked if I had charged it! It was a replacement for one I had used for over 2 years. I think I knew how to rev it up.

The first home we purchased had sat empty for the better part of a year. The first night yielded a backed up sewer line which flooded two bathrooms and a clothes closet. This home had passed an inspection!

I previously held a position requiring a lot of travel. Every time I was scheduled to fly home on a Friday, the flights were delayed and I would arrive in the wee hours of Saturday

morning. It was especially exciting to learn upon arrival that my suitcase went to George Bush Intercontinental Airport and my golf clubs had safely arrived at William P Hobby Airport in Houston. I was at George Bush Intercontinental Airport. I guess it was a proud moment for airline personnel to actually know where my stuff was.

A newly purchased stainless steel carafe dribbles coffee and leaves a perfect brown circle on the surface of every counter it is placed upon. This item was well shopped, highly recommended and cost a fair amount of money. By the way, it does not keep the coffee hot. It looks good when it is clean and empty.

I bought a new blow dryer for my hair. The diffuser was missing in the box. I have curly hair. No diffuser means I would look like Don King for the rest of my days.

Did you ever get home from Walmart and discover you were missing some of your purchases but had a few bags of items which were not yours? Oh, yeah, I really needed the wax ring for the toilet and the size 38D purple bra! Where did my M&M’s end up? Triple check the bag carousel.

My brother tells me we have an invisible tattoo on our foreheads that says, “sucker”. It is visible only to the cashier, with a long line of customers. When it is your turn, they have to go on break. It was visible yesterday at the AT&T store in Paris, Texas. I went in for a new IPhone. They didn’t have any, none, nada! I will have to live with the 3GS till the IPhone 6 comes out so I can buy an IPhone 4. They also told me I couldn’t add a (903) area code to my Houston account. I would have to open a separate account for the (903) area code phone. Really?

The veterinarian receptionist just called to cancel the dog’s appointment. I asked if the appointment could be rescheduled for next week. She told me “no”. The vet died last night.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The corporate structure is replacing the doting parent

What we know now as open conversation and intellection can not be compared with the work culture of decades past. Phenomenal ideas and creative innovations erupted within informal passages of time and space. We were relaxed and uninhibited. We moved forward at a rapid pace without the constraints of what we know now as societies sensitive nature.

Yes, there was sexual harassment and political incorrectness. Sturdy personalities propagated into leadership roles because we learned to professionally dignify the moment and ourselves. We observed the practice of respect for those who forgot how. We weren’t constrained by human resource mediation, management witness procedures and signing affidavits of reprimand for stating a factual opinion that someone else twisted into a personal attack or fabrication.

Management and personnel is now subjected to sensitivity training, extreme puppet policies and SOP’s which would have been mind-blowing in the previous employment generations.

Sensitivity training is unnecessary if families teach their children to treat all human beings with equal dignity.

SOP’s in reference to rehabilitation for workplace violence, addictions, mental health and plain fricking weird have extended to employers having their hands tied behind their backs. They are afraid of soiling the brand or being sued because internal associates and  external clients, vendors and outsourced entities may find out you have a nut case in the cubes. The majority picks up the slack while the indisposed is doing a “Kum ba yah” at the local shrink arena. Employees now know they are covered by corporate fear factors. Everyone is still getting the first place trophy.

A previous management position exposed me to staff, though young in age, had not been taught responsibility, fundamental accountability or in general, manners. An extreme sense of entitlement prevailed. Formal education can not replace fundamentals which should have commenced with learning to walk and talk.

A social setting, years ago folded me into a conversation with a couple eager to raise perfect children. Both parents informed me their children’s job was to go to school and make good grades. They did not want them picking up clothes, taking out the garbage or walking the dog. Their only responsibilities were to be perfect students. The parents took extreme measures in study supervision and class follow-up. They were driven to class and picked up afterwards.

Neither kid learned to take care of themselves. Those master and doctorate degrees can not wake you up in the morning, to be on time for work. If failure was never an option, you can not learn the repercussions of your own actions. When all needs are met, it is impossible to be responsible because you never learned accountability.

The same consequences can be ramifications from children rearing themselves. Parents absent of proper skill or support to teach their children the passages of good character, socially acceptable behavior and self indulgent attitudes will encounter a similar outcome.

It all extends back to moderation and the basics.

The corporate structure is replacing the doting parent. We are teaching the current workforce to treat each other equally. We are mopping up addictions which are the result of not knowing what your kids are doing or who they are with. The process of teaching right from wrong is evident with telling a new hire, stealing will not be tolerated. The practice of respect is taught through corporate policy, standards of procedure and terms of service. If we have to write it down and have personnel sign the statements – they are assuming mom and dad didn’t teach them to be decent human beings. It is CYA to protect the brand and the potential abuses from each other. Look at someone sideways and you’ll be introduced to their lawyer cousin – who had his mother drive him to the courthouse to make sure he or she was on time!

Corporate America is reacting to the outcome, with rules made by the offenders.  Emotional health, anger issues and internal resentment is still viewed as illness and opportunity for redemption. Stage a crying jag at your desk and get a month off to resuscitate your self-esteem. Just like the two year old throwing a tantrum in the middle of the mall on a Saturday afternoon – the parents promise anything the toddler wants to stop the kicking and screaming. The baby stops screaming and has now learned to manipulate the adults.