Great Expectations or why businesses should under promise and over deliver

If you set the bar high, you have to reach it

If you set the bar high, you have to reach it

This post was originally posted on The Best of Hinckley blog, where I occasionally guest post.  You can read it here, or in its original context.

I am sitting here, typing this blog post out, very early on the day of my house move.  It has been a long time coming – we put our house up for sale last October, and after five agents (two local, two national and one internet based) failed to sell it, we managed to let it out after only two days.  This is a post about setting expectations.

In everything I do, I prefer to buy from local companies, therefore the  first agent who came around to the house was from an agent who only works in Hinckley and the surrounding area.  He was enthusiastic, and left our house saying that we would be sold within a fortnight.  A fortnight came and went, the house didn’t appear in the local paper when he said it would, and took quite some time to appear online, and after three months, we had had enough and went to some national agents to save the situation.

We had three agents in to look at the house in January, and chose two of them.  We went national for greater coverage, and more professional appearance and because both of them said that the previous agent had done it all badly, and they could have it sold within weeks.  Weeks came and went.  Chasing agents turned into a small hobby of mine, and it wasn’t long at all before they were suggesting that it maybe the price – because the market is absolutely fine!  We lowered the price quite substantially, and still no movement.

Finally we went with another local agent, and an internet based seller.  The former followed exactly the same pattern as the three above and the internet one claimed an average number of days to sell a house was 21 days. You guessed, it 21 days on and we haven’t had a sniff.

I don’t blame any of the agents for not selling our house, it is a very tough market.  If five agents can’t sell it, you have to think that there is something more than just one bad agent.  In unguarded times, one of the agents said that the houses that were selling were going at the bottom of the scale, and only then it was very tough to get them moving.  It is a hard time to sell anything.  What I do blame them for, is setting very unrealistic expectations. Neither my wife or I are daft people, we can take the truth, what has been incredibly tough to take is sales people setting themselves up as a fantastic way of getting houses sold, and in every case would get it sold within weeks – when really they probably knew it would take much much longer.  We have been left with an incredibly sour taste in our mouths from dealing with people who deal primarily in doublespeak.

The lessons to learn for any business out there are:

  • be honest;
  • talk to people as grown-ups who can take the truth;
  • set a reasonable level of expectation;
  • if you say you will call every week with an update, do it;
  • if you say that you will be able to sell a house or deliver your product  in a fortnight, do it!

If you are in business then whatever you say you do, ensure that you do everything in your power to do it – under promise and over deliver. Even if the first agent had sold the house in three weeks, the very high bar of a fortnight would not have been met and the outcome is – I am disappointed.

And what happened to the house?  Well I met Graham from Easy-Lets and Sales in Earl Shilton who came and let our house out in two days – much quicker than he thought it would be and at every stage, he has provided a level of service which surpasses all our other experiences.  Well done Graham!

2 thoughts on “Great Expectations or why businesses should under promise and over deliver

  1. Pingback: Tweets that mention Great Expectations or why businesses should under promise and over deliver | chrisrat.com -- Topsy.com

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