One of my favorite periods in our real estate career was at the very beginning, when we had no skills, no contacts, and I had a lot of fear. I decided to go out our front gate and knock on doors. We mapped out the square mile around our house, and it consisted of 1,000 homes. Every day I knocked on 30 to 40 doors, hoping to visit each occupant once a month. I had a business card that said REAL ESTATE on it, but knowing so little about the business and the market, I steered clear of real estate and asked questions of the folks who would talk to me. I asked how long they had lived here and where they were from. One thing would lead to another, and I would learn their story. Sometimes I learned embarrassingly too much about the neighbors, but I’ve never been one to gossip, so I didn’t pass it on.
This was before our Clients First experience, so I would have to credit my fear of saying something stupid about real estate for my newfound interest in people, but it was a profound experience in my life. For the first time, I was learning to like people. At the end of the third month, JoAnn and I had too many clients for me to keep up the door knocking routine, and I had to let it go. At the time, I thought this exercise was unproductive in obtaining business, but as I look back, I realize that we’ve sold more than a third of those homes in the past 12 years. We still knock on doors—only now we have an appointment.