Golf, Gadgets and The Root of Realtor Problems

It's gotta be the shoes...

It's gotta be the shoes...

This year I decided it was going to be THE year for golf improvement. I had never really considered myself an “avid golfer” in the past although I have chased a ball around since I was 12. It’s simply been a pleasant way to get outside with friends and enjoy the day.

At the beginning of the season I was invited to play at an outing at probably the nicest course I have ever played. I was partnered with the club champion (who was an absolute saint) and proceeded to shoot the worst game of my life. So on the way home I pledged to myself and the golf gods above that I would get better this year.

To do this I did what most golfers do – I headed directly to GolfSmith (the golf mega store) and dropped a couple hundred bucks on a new club that I was sure would “change my game”. Next weekend, with savior club in hand, I headed out with friends and proceeded to shoot an even worse round.

What happened? I spent a good chunk of change on the latest and greatest technology to improve my game and still nothing? Was the club defective?

The next day I was on the GolfSmith website AGAIN and saw and offer for their golf school. It was an hour lesson discounted where they would analyze your swing. “This was it!”, I told myself. The cure all and all it would take was another hundred bucks, and I would be a pro! Awesome! They promised the latest in technology, whiz bang and other stuff. I couldn’t fail.

I met my instructor the next day and hooked me up to a mutli-camera-angle computer with all kinds of elaborate graphs and monitors. This was going to do it – Golf 2.0! At the end of my lesson Chad, my instructor, provided me a number of tips, tricks, and fixes for my game. I was astounded by the insight provided and could almost visualize myself hitting consistent 300 yard drives straight down the fairway. Then the truth came in…

“If you can do some of these things your game will probably improve”, said Chad, “but to truly get BETTER and consistent with your game we need to start from scratch. You have really bad habits from your grip through your follow through that are hindering your game. You need lessons focusing on the fundamentals of golf to really become a good golfer.”

What? No quick fix? No computer aided harness that I can wear on the course? Can’t I just throw money at the problem?

“No”, Chad replied. “It doesn’t work like that. It all comes down to educating you on the proper swing and core fundamentals, learning the advancements of the game and practice, practice, practice. That’s why there are so many bad golfers out there, because people don’t want to work at the issues that are there. They want to buy the latest club, putter, DVD or single lesson to get better.”

Fast forward three months to this weekend. On Saturday I shot the best round of my life, an 86, at Foss Park in North Chicago. What lead up to this?
* 12 one on one lessons with my instructor Chad
* 20 practice sessions at the bay
* 40 large buckets of balls at driving range
* Countless hours at the park with the dogs practicing

My point with all of this, (insert Real Estate Analogy FINALLY!) is that Social Media and any other “quick fix” that’s promised to you by a Facebook or magazine ad isn’t going to cure an ailing real estate career any more than my $200 driver did my golf game. In fact, COACHING isn’t going to fix your career either unless you are willing to do the work OUTSIDE of coaching to advance your career.

There has been exponential growth in the “Social Media Coaching” sector across all salesmanindustries. Former agents and others have been popping up with “Expert” and “Guru” in their title/job description promising, “Increased leads and ready-buyers/seller tomorrow!” As a coach this makes me sick, because many of them are preying on desperate agents that are watching traditional marketing avenues dry up, their bills pile up, and closings completely evaporate. But it’s the quick fix. It’s the magic bullet to many. And some will look to this as the Dexedrine of the Real Estate industry.

The long and short of it is that, you cannot afford to be a “good” agent any longer – and being a “GREAT” agent doesn’t start with your Facebook or Twitter prowess. It starts with you knowing each and every nuance that has developed in your industry as of late. It includes knowing market statistics, financing questions, hyperlocal neighborhood information, school district boundaries/test scores, and killer negotiation and contract skills (for a start). It’s going to take you just as much time (and possibly more) as it took me at the driving range and practice bay to REALLY differentiate yourself as an agent.

The difference is that much of what you need to learn and know is free. Free educational classes through your association, free knowledge sessions from your preferred lender, free webinars from people like Reggie and Nicole Nicolay on how to use Social Media, and free resources like I put on my blog here under the “LEARN” section. There are people out there that might not spend the money to advertise in “Realtor Magazine” or pay for Google Keywords, but are closer to experts than many that do – (although they will probably NEVER call themselves an expert!)

So if I could give you a dollar’s worth of advice:
* Get off Twitter/Facebook and go to your association’s training
* Go out to coffee with your lender to hear about financing
* Read industry publications that discuss changes
* Shadow an excellent agent on a listing presentation
* Ask your broker for help
* Go on broker open tour and pull stats for that area
* Commit to becoming a GREAT agent

It all begins, continues and ends with the mentality that the career you have chosen is hard work and you need to continually evolve with it. You deserve to be a great agent, and more importantly your CLIENTS deserve you to be a great agent. Make a commitment today to learn how.


  1. First I want to thank you for the shout out! Second I want to agree with you. It absolutely drives me nuts to see trainers sell overnight success via social media. Now I’m not saying that it can’t happen, but the reality is that most agents will need to really work at it. They will need to pay it forward and build social capital before they start to see the results. It’s also important that newbie’s to social media understand benefits don’t always come in the form of leads. Many times these benefits come via thought leaders in the form of new re strategy or tools/techniques to implement and gain local advantage.

    Thanks again!

  2. Absolutely Reg – but the root of the post is thus:

    If you’re a crappy agent IRL you’ll be a crappy agent online too.

    It begins and ends with education. When you’re an awesome rockstar wealth of knowledge agent it will transfer online in a much better way.

  3. It’s like Linda Davis (now infamously) said “If you have a crappy business, a blog won’t help.”

    But congrats on the golf game. I said the same thing this year, but you executed much better.

    Speaking of golf- after this weekend Tiger might have to head on over and see Chad too!

  4. Technology is a tool to make us more productive.

    It does not replace market knowledge, experience, ability to put together a good contract, or understand the Clients needs.

    Matt, thanks for the insight as too many agents are being sucked down the tech tunnel of hope for something that will save my business!

  5. You shot a 86??? Wow, that’s fantastic.

    I once shot a 77 at the Broadmoor Championship course in Colorado. Was really, really impressed with myself. Then I realized I had the back 9 to play.

    Great post, Matt. :)


  6. Hey Matt,

    Great Analogy. As the younger realtor in my office agents often come to me and ask for advice about “this social media” thing. I begin to share tips of iceburgs but they are never satisfied. They want two sentances that will cure everything.

    I say its like moving to a new country and you have to learn the language to survive. Yes, you will be shy at first, eventually you will open up and do some stuff wrong – but eventually you will be able to function.


  7. Matt,

    Great post. One of the things I constantly see is people thinking Facebook or Twitter will save their business or grow it by 10x….it just doesn’t work that way. In fact, I’ll even argue that many people are running their business into the ground relying solely on Social Media. Worse yet, by the hands of all these supposed Social Media “Trainers” and “Experts” out there. Many are out of work hacks that are just rebranding themselves as such.

    Great article Matt. As usual.

    -Jon Severson
    Sevolutions New Tech/Media Consultant.

  8. Andrew Olson says:

    Very well written, Matt. I really appreciate the analogy with golf. Especially since I really stink at the sport. The ol’ phrase, “Blood, Sweat, and Tears” might be a little strong, however nothing in life comes for free- or even at a discount. Work, dedication, practice, discipline. All seem old fashioned at times, but perhaps too many seek the quick fix rather than those four basic concepts. Self-improvement and the eternal quest of continuous improvement keep a person from stagnation. “The only thing that isn’t undergoing change is dead.” We must continually re-invent ourselves, seeking new ways to do things better. Often this means going back to the basics and building a strong foundation of fundamentals. Thanks for the post!


  1. [...] Golf, gadgets and the root of Realtor problems –Matthew Dollinger hits a hole in one with this post. Any agent looking to improve and thinking [...]