This is my favorite time of year because I’m reminded more than usual to be grateful for all the blessed bounty we have, to give more of myself to my loved ones, and to know with certainty of even better things to come in the future. This is a joyous season in so many ways, and I hope the Spirit of the Season lasts much longer for you than just a few days at the end of every calendar year.
I’ve been feeling creative lately, so I thought I’d share a poem with you to brighten your Holidays . . .
A Christmas Poem with a TWIST…
Twas the night before Closing,
When all through the office –
Not a structure was creaking,
Not even the soffits;
The documents were filed in the cabinets with care,
In hopes that Mercantile soon would be there;
The Borrowers were nestled all snug in their beds,
While visions of Net Worth danced in their heads;
And Geof in his kerchief,
And I in my Gators cap,
Had just settled down [separately] for a long Florida nap.
When out in the lobby there arose such a clatter,
I sprung from my couch to see what was the matter.
Away to the front door I flew like a cheetah,
Twisted open the deadbolt,
Still groggy from margaritas.
The sunrays on the top of our palm tree fronds,
Had a likeness to dollars spread over green lawns;
When what to my failing eyes should appear,
But a miniature bus filled with Mercantile cheer;
With a tall, somewhat young driver,
So lively with repartee,
I knew in a moment it must be Tony Z (ara).
More rapid than Fireballer [IBA and ACE] George,
His lending sleigh, it came,
And he whistled, swore a little,
And called them by name:
Now Angela and Natasha!
On Robin! On [Nick] Triadis!
On Trey and on [Adam] Wonus!
To the top of the building!
To the top of the balcony!
Dash away! Dash away!
Dash away gleefully!”
As dry leaves that before another hurricane fly,
When they meet with a FEMA staffmember,
Mount to the sky;
So up to the railing-top the mini-bus flew—
A magical vehicle loaded full of commercial real estate deeds, and Tony Z. too.
As I shook my disbelief off and was turning around,
Through the front door,
Tony Z. came in with a bound.
He was dressed all in wool, cotton and silk,
But this being Florida,
Seemed of a peculiar ilk.
A bundle of deeds he had flung ’round his jacket,
But he looked like a bookie covering his racket.
His eyes — how they twinkled;
His stubble — how manly!
His cheeks were so tanned,
His nose like Paul Stanley’s!
His droll little mouth was drawn up like a bow,
And the calculator in his pocket was starting to glow;
The pinch of his chew he held tight in his teeth,
And the aroma, it encircled his head like a wreath;
He had very broad shoulders and quite a fancy belt–
Which served him rather well holding in his belly,
However, it made him look,
Like an old oil painting of Machiavelli.
He was chiseled and level,
As should be an old bookshelf,
And I chuckled when I saw him,
In spite of myself;
A wink of his eye when he coiled his head–
Soon lead me to know I had nothing to dread;
He uttered not a word,
But went straight to his work,
Filling his satchels with documents,
Then reversing with a smirk,
And giving a pleasant nod,
And placing his hand on his calculator,
Out the door he did bolt,
Wearing a necktie of Albert the Gator.
He sprang to his bus,
To his team gave a whistle,
And away they all flew like an airborne Scud missile.
But I heard him exclaim,
Ere he drove out of sight,
“Merry Christmas! Happy Closings!
And to all a Good Life!”
P.S. As you can probably tell by now, we work hard (as evidenced by the accolades we’ve accumulated in only 4 short years) and we play hard (i.e. this silly poem). What can I say? We thoroughly enjoy what we do, and we want others to enjoy what we do, too.
By the way, I miss the old Saturday Night Live parodies with Daryl Hammond as Sean Connery making fun of Will Ferrell’s Alex Trebek and with such classic Celebrity Jeopardy categories as: Words that Rhyme with “Dog”; The Vowels; Movies that Start with the Word “Jaws”; Hot or Cold; Foods that End in “amburger”; and my favorite, Colors that End in “urple.”
Here are some miscellaneous updates on what we’ve been up to:
–Our updated website is nearly complete. Hallelujah!!! We’ve been covertly working on this project for the past few months. Slowly, but surely, changing the layout and the content, while adding audio content, video content, more testimonials, Google Maps, and much, much more. You could go there now (www.504Experts.com) or simply wait another month until we’re FINALLY finished with the upgrades. Your call . . . you could also visit it at least each month or weekly — probably a better idea, if I do say so myself.
–We’ve recently added 17 more ACE Correspondents to our ranks bringing our current total to 34 (this is 34 more people representing us “on the streets” than we’ve ever had previously). If you or someone you know is a mortgage professional and is ready to partner with us, then NOW is the time to contact us. It’s been a ROUGH year or so for those in the residential mortgage industry and more and more brokers are trying to get into commercial, but most are going about it in the WRONG way. Send us an email at: email@example.com TODAY and put “ACE Candidate” in your subject line if you’re serious about doing something to change your business. We’ll send out a set of DVDs from a recent ACE Summit for you to review and decide if you’re right for our Program. We only have so many more areas to go before we have the country covered with our people and turf is completely locked-up. There are truly only so many we’ll let into our business with us. Are you one of them? Are you ready to reengineer your brokerage business?? Are you right for us???
–Lately, the media’s been referring to me as “America’s Top 504 Loan Expert.” I think that has a nice ring to it, so don’t be surprised if I start using it more next year. Still, that’s like being named the “World’s Tallest Midget,” or the “Biggest Building in Peoria” for that matter. Nice, but not quite the meaning I want it to have . . . just yet. I was also recently shocked to hear that the Orlando Business Journal named me one of their “Top Ten Most Influential Businessmen to Watch.” Shocked — because it came totally out of left-field — usually I’m vaguely aware of impending honors. Appreciative, but shocked. Found it interesting that 6 or 7 of my fellow 10 were second-generation “Influentials” — me, I wasn’t quite so “lucky,” but wouldn’t go back and change things even if I could.
–Just saw the newly released fiscal year-end numbers for our leading program, and wouldn’t you know it: our program is UP 15.44% over the past 3 fiscal years in number of loans and UP 23.6% in the same period in dollar volume. In the past 5 fiscal years, we’ve helped grow the 504 loan program nearly 100%! By comparison, the 7(a) loan program — that’s the one that’s given the Small Business Administration such a problematic reputation — is only up 3.8% in total loans over the 3 year period and actually DECREASED 6.2% in dollar volume! One program is DOWN over $900 million, while the other is up nearly $1.3 billion! WOW! That’s what happens when you look INTO the numbers and not just AT the record-breaking numbers — a lesson for many in the media, for sure. Maybe our efforts have begun to pay off with the marketplace becoming more educated about the BEST commercial loan program in America — hey, that would make quite a book title . . . an update and more on that later.
–I heard Hillary tell others last month in another so-called debate, “This pantsuit — it’s asbestos!” Interesting choice of words. Isn’t that the toxic substance that’s best left alone and causes people to DIE when it’s disturbed?!? (Interestingly, we search environmental databases on every commercial closing we do to make sure there isn’t any “radiating” asbestos . . . sounds like a good strategy to apply to candidates in political races, perhaps.) Maybe her handlers thought it would take people’s mind off her $5,000-for-every-child college program . . . otherwise known as the People’s University of the Truly Ridiculous and ever Increasing Dependency [on government programs] . . . otherwise known as PUTRID. Or maybe they just tried to replace the biggest foot-in-the-mouth political sound-bite of ALL TIME: “America can’t afford all of my ideas.” Ditto! I wish we’d get a leader to run for the White House with a business background instead of the frontrunners who hardly have a clue as to what it’s like to NOT live in public housing (Hillary and Rudy).
Sorry to almost end on a sour note . . . just know it’ll at least be 2009 before anybody can screw truly things up too much more! Have a WONDERFUL Holiday Season!!! Keep doing what you do BEST — keeping the economy humming along — and try to forget about the politicians for a while. You’re probably as worn out as I am by the two-year-long campaigning and preening. That compound in Costa Rica sounds more and more appealing every single day . . .
I’ve made it a habit to take some time at the end of every year to reflect on what we’ve accomplished — both as a company and personally. Here’s an accounting of what we’ve been up to this year:
** Number of Speaking Engagements (in-person or via teleconference): 33
** Approximate number of total people in audiences: 9,475
** National publications we appeared in: 19
(Inc. Magazine, Forbes, Commercial Property News, Sacramento Bee, Origination News, MortgagePro News, Franchising World, Scotsman Guide, Franchise Times, Lending Success, Restaurant Finance Monitor, Orlando Business Journal, Charlotte Business Journal, Minneapolis Business Journal, Florida Real Estate Journal, South Florida Real Estate Journal, Franchise Handbook, Hotel Business Review, Broker Universe)
** Number of trade shows/conferences/seminars we attended: 25
** Number of times one of our trade show booths got “lost” in route: 2
** Estimated number of books sold by the best-selling business authors I interview monthly on our Small Business Success Strategies Teleseminar Series™: 14.67 million (maybe it’s time you make one of your 2008 New Year’s Resolutions to be a part of these exclusive monthly interviews!)
** Estimated dollar amount Sean Filley lost in Las Vegas during the past year: $1,500
** Estimated dollar amount Adam Wonus WON in Las Vegas during the same timeframe: WITHHELD (he doesn’t want to reveal this figure just in case any “tax collector-types” [his words, not mine] read this newsmagazine — let’s just say he does VERY well and is always eager to go back to Vegas; Sean . . . not so much).
** Number of countries visited by MCC staff: 13 (Mexico, Nevis, Cayman Islands, Greece, Croatia, France, Malawi, Zambia, Belize, Italy, Costa Rica, Turkey, and the Bahamas )
** Approximate number of miles driven by Tony and Sean during the Fireball Run: 3,829
** Missing children found from the efforts of the Fireballers: 3
** Number of interns that worked for us this past year: 7
** Number of Geof Longstaff “facts” we’ve revealed this year: 70
** Number of “celebrity” voicemails sent out: 4 (Santa Claus, a Leprechaun, Tony Alto (cousin of Tony Soprano), Dr. Acula)
** Number of times we made fun of ourselves and didn’t take things too seriously (unlike everyone else in our industry): COUNTLESS
Again, we couldn’t have done all this without you, so THANKS! And have a very Happy Holiday season!
If you’re like me, you’ll be around friends and family a lot over the next several weeks. I’m big on telling stories — I like to entertain the people around me and (I’ll admit) I like to be the center of attention.
I learned a trick a little while back that makes stories and jokes much more effective, and I’ll share it with you. I discovered it watching The Tonight Show, with Jay Leno.
A Little Background Goes a Long Way
Jay begins every show with a monologue where he takes shots at people in the news and current events. What makes him so effective is that he provides a frame of reference for each and every joke he tells.
Here’s what I mean: he doesn’t tell a joke hoping that everyone will know what he knows and think how he thinks. He sets up each joke and story with background info that isn’t exactly necessary to the punchline, but IS essential to everyone understanding what he wants them to understand.
This is an extremely valuable tip if you want to entertain friends and family this Holiday Season . . . but it applies to business, too. I’ve written about it before, so you may know where I’m going with this.
The Best Service Always Comes From Those Who Truly Understand You . . . Who Have “Walked a Mile in Your Shoes” …
My company provides “Smarter” commercial real estate financing for owners of small and mid-size businesses. I know it’s “Smarter,” and I know what’s best for my Clients, because I am one of them. I’m running a small business, too, so I face the same daily struggles they face. I also own a piece of a company that purchased its commercial property a short while ago, so I even went through the financing process first-hand . . . and we chose the same loan program we’ve become the nationwide Experts at providing.
We’ve “Been There” and “Done That” — You Can Expect the Best Lending Experience in the Commercial Mortgage Industry When You Work With the Experts.
You see, I have a frame of reference that other ordinary lenders don’t have, and that makes all the difference. After all, purchasing commercial real estate IS one of the biggest decisions many business owners will ever make . . . and it has a HUGE effect on how a business grows. (By the way, there’s a lot more to it than just getting a low interest rate . . . or, as we like to call it: “the lowest common denominator.”)
So, when you or someone you know wants to purchase commercial property, call me right away. Helping business owners make Smarter decisions is what my team and I do, day-in and day-out. Let me know what I (and my frame of reference) can do for you.
Have a Wonderful Holiday Season!
I’m often asked, “Why do you just work with small and mid-sized businesses? There seems to be so much you could offer big companies, too.” Well, I suppose we could, but we really don’t have a desire to. And therein lies an interesting insight. We choose to work with small and mid-sized business owners. We enjoy their entrepreneurial zest, their self-reliance, their “damn the torpedoes” attitude. Always have. We choose NOT to work with large businesses.
When I came up with the idea to launch this business, it’s true that we had done extensive research to find opportunistic niches to exploit. But, it’s also true that those niches had to fit within WHO we wanted our Clients to be someday. We thought it was important that we resonate with our Clients. “Being in their shoes,” takes on a whole other meaning for us. See, people buy from people; companies don’t buy from people, so these are important matters to reflect on.
With us, we empathize with the daily struggles and challenges our Clients and Prospects face, because we face them too. We regularly hear from people who appreciate how “spot-on” we are about the realities of commercial banking and wealth-creation from a small businessperson’s point of view. Russ Davis from Columbia, Missouri recently sent me a fax in which he stated, “I feel like you must have planted hidden cameras and listening devices in my house. You hit the nail on the head so hard, it’s spooky.”
I suppose it’s a truism that people also want to buy from those they like, feel most similar to, and “get” their issues. It would be difficult for most owners of small and mid-sized businesses to find a commercial lender that understands them more than we do. We try not to create new hurdles to this relationship when it comes to our Clients and Prospects . . . we don’t want to be anything BUT authentic, and we don’t need any new impediments to our sales cycle.
In the beginning or even now, we really had no desire to work with big corporations. There are a number of reasons why, among them:
• The lack of progress-stopping politics in smaller companies.
• The lack of decision-stopping committees in smaller companies.
• Less bureaucratic B.S. in smaller companies.
• The ability to get more profound results with smaller companies.
• Congruency with us, since we’re business owners of a smaller concern.
In large companies, their agendas are often not related to real results, or they have to do things allegedly to please their shareholders, when what they really need to do is enlighten them better. It’s a real interesting phenomenon that hundreds, if not thousands, of companies are going private these days or staying private when they should be registering their IPOs, at least by historical standards. Washington Regulators (and Wall Street, being forced to follow them) have made it quite inhospitable for public companies these days, unlike anything ever before. More U.S. companies and foreign companies are listing on foreign stock exchanges, when they would have listed on our exchanges in days gone by. This is a sad state of affairs and something that WILL hurt us long-term unless checked soon. There really isn’t much of a reason to go public today in America and that’s sad.
Plus, by virtue of their sheer “bigness,” everyone buying a product or service from big companies is always just a number . . . try as they might to upend this, it’s an unwavering fact. Some of this is purely “cigarette boat versus freighter,” but it’s more than just that. I’ll give you an interesting example from a member of one of my coaching groups.
I have a very talented General Contractor who specializes in restaurant work and medical office construction in 1 of my 4 business coaching groups. The construction industry is notorious for employing a bidding system to determine who wins contracts. Several local and very large restaurant companies think this guy’s work is top-notch. They’ve sought him out and told him so on several occasions. Yet, they continue to stand behind their policies requesting that he bid for their contracts. Very wisely, he doesn’t bid his work — doesn’t have to, as his superior quality and convention-defying construction management process keeps him plenty busy. Sure, he’d enjoy doing their local jobs for them, but he’s been burned in the bid process too many times and will only play by his rules going-forward.
In his industry, there occurs the classic case of getting what you pay for from the lowest cost provider CONSTANTLY — heartache and too many change-orders which leads to cost increases. . . often above what the “specialist” bidder was quoting originally. This happens daily in commercial construction. . . and more than likely in your industry, too. Usually the Specialist had accounted for everything in his bid, while the generalists had purposely (or ignorantly) left things out knowing they’d add them in later and make up their profit there. Classic “bait-and-switch” hoping they’re too far down the line to abort the mission. You’d think architects, engineers and lenders, being somewhat innocent bystanders, would advise their Clients to this reality and just recommend the best GCs . . . but they rarely do — they rarely get involved at all. The bid process is, “Just the way it’s always been done.” Without a system for smartly selecting, this lowest common denominator approach prevails.
Three different times, he’s spurned the big companies’ advances, each time explaining that he won’t waste his time bidding for a project against a bunch of generalists. “It’s what we have to do,” they’ll tell him, yet again. “Since we’re a public company, we have to protect our shareholders.” Yes, they do and protecting means sometimes they might have to pay marginally more for a better finished product. . .one that saves more money over time. Of course, that means they’ll need to educate their shareholders, if that’s really the reason or change the stupid policy that mandates they go with the lowest bid every time. BUT, they’re a Big, Dumb Company, and they don’t appear to want to do things differently. As one of my mentors jokes, “There’s a reason CEOs of Big, Dumb Companies get chauffeured to and from work . . . it’s because they couldn’t find the place by themselves.”
People pay for better quality, better experience, and more specialized knowledge every time . . . when they’re made aware of it and educated as to the reason(s) why it’s a wiser decision. According to studies, only 8% of our populace always makes buying decisions based on price alone. Wonder what that other 92% is thinking, don’t you? Have you thought about this in relation to your business and your Clients and Prospects? It doesn’t just apply to GCs and commercial lenders like us. It applies to ALL businesses, even ones thought to have become commoditized. My coaching client doesn’t sell contracting services; he sells beautiful work, certainty, expert knowledge, piece of mind, thoroughness, great pricing for great work, and so forth. We don’t sell money or the lowest interest rate; we sell the fulfillment of dreams, ease of our process, expertise, speed, consistently low and fair interest rates, the best overall deal, and SMARTER financing. What do YOU really sell?!?