So, my search for an appropriate retirement residence for my parents is well under way. I started out with thirty-five potential properties, but was able to quickly narrow the list down to five. Then my husband and I visited each property on the short list, bringing the number down to three. My next assignment was to pull everything onto a spreadsheet, to facilitate a fair comparison.
Choosing the properties to investigate out of the large number available in Dallas reminded me of looking for travel accommodations. Bringing in an influencer to clinch a deal was something I learned while selling office equipment. Narrowing down a list of potential properties called on a trick I’d learned as a real estate agent. Though researching for a retirement property for my parents was a job I’d never had to tackle before, I discovered that the life skills I’d learned elsewhere served me well in this task. Now it was time to open up an exel spreadsheet.
I actually enjoy doing spreadsheets. There’s a hint of the creative about it. You’ve got information and you have little boxes. Figuring out how to populate the data into the little boxes, so that it will be usable and easy to understand is sort of fun – usually. But in this case I didn’t exactly have apples to compare with apples or even apples to compare with fruit. It was more like having to choose one store to shop at for the rest of your life: Neiman Marcus, WalMart or Lowe’s.
As I pored over all the notes I’d taken and the many brochures I’d been handed, I began to put the spreadsheet together. I had a few false starts and ended up with three different worksheets before everything was documented. I had brochures and spreadsheets about five layers deep on my desk when my phone rang. Before I could answer it, I had to find it.
“Hi, this is Jane.” “Hi Jane, This is Nice Salesperson behind Door Number One.” I was thanked for coming to see Door Number One and asked if I had any question Nice could answer. I’d already received a handwritten note from Nice, conveying this message to me, but after all my years in marketing I appreciated the personal touch. Nice wanted to know when we could schedule a visit for my parents to see the property. I explained we weren’t quite that far along, yet. She probed a little deeper and asked if she could stay in touch.
I went back to my spreadsheets with a vengeance. I wanted to get this little job over in one day. It wasn’t going to be used at a board meeting or in a court of law as some of my spreadsheets have been. And besides, I had poems to submit, query letters to write and blogs to post. In a little while, I checked my inbox and there was an email from Pleasant Salesperson behind Door Number Two. Pleasant thanked me for my visit, wondered if I had any questions and wanted to set up an appointment for my parents to come see the property. Pleasant hadn’t sent me a handwritten note, but paperless is green and green is the new polite.
Time was getting a way from me , but I was almost through. By six o’clock I’d done all my formatting and thought I had a document my parents would appreciate. I was a little surprised that I hadn’t heard from Door Number Three. Maybe they weren’t as interested in having my parents as residents live there. Then the phone rang again. It wasn’t Gracious Salesperson behind Door Number Three. It was the Big Kahuna of Door Number Three. She apologized profusely for calling so late, told me how much they loved meeting my husband and I. Did I have any questions? No questions. We chatted a bit and then the Big Kahuna invited my parents to big party Door Number Three is having later in the month. I promised I’d extend the invitation.
The spreadsheet is done, but the calls keep coming. Nice says, “Oh, did I mention…” Pleasant says, “I’m just checking in…” The Big Kahuna says, “I wanted to be sure you’d gotten the summer special pricing when you visited…” I’m beginning to feel very important. Do you like salespeople who follow up or do you want them to leave you alone?