Jan 19, 2009

Real Estate by Bike!

From CNNMoney.com - "Tour hot real estate - by bike":

I'm a realtor in Boulder, and a couple of years ago I had a buyer in from out of town. We did the usual thing - drove around, looked at 10 or 12 homes - and made plans to see more the following day. Well, he called the next morning and told me that he had borrowed a cruiser bike from his hotel, ridden through a nearby neighborhood and met a guy who was interested in selling his house.

"Sorry, Matt," he said. "I bought a home last night."

I'm a triathlete, and I like to preview houses for sale by bike. Losing that sale made me wonder whether my customers might also enjoy pedaling to properties. It was an "Aha!" moment. I called a good friend, Chris Sweeney, who was a Realtor with another firm, and said, "Let's start a business." That was in May 2007.


So now Chris and I run our own agency, Pedal to Properties. We're the proud owners of 12 Electra three-speed cruiser bikes, and we just donated 36 more bikes to local hotels. Guests can take them out for free to experience Boulder. And just in case the guest needs a real estate broker, our contact information is prominently displayed on each bike and in every hotel room.

The tour:

We ride at a leisurely pace, and we normally don't cover more than three miles in a trip. We get to know one another, and I can point out neighborhood features such as parks and bike trails.

I do group rides every Wednesday. That's great for sellers because I'm bringing six to 10 clients through their homes in one shot. And surprisingly, there's never been competition among buyers. They're all looking for different things. Some have kids, others don't. Some love ranches while others prefer Victorians.

In the summer, we go to arts and sporting events. We bring our booth, bikes, coffee, treats and a computer so people can look for properties online. It's turned into a tremendous opportunity to market ourselves and stand out, which is an advantage I didn't expect when we started the business.

Hard to argue with these numbers:

Our approach to customer service has really paid off. In 2007 our revenues were a little more than $11 million, double what we did the year before.

The underlying notion (Passion, Passion, Passion!):

Why are we successful? For customers, the big advantage is getting on the bicycle and really seeing the neighborhood, not just the house. And they are laughing because it makes them feel like they're six years old again. The business model works in Boulder, where many people move for the active lifestyle. My goal is to franchise the concept or open individual offices in five to 10 markets. We're starting with a Portland, Ore. office, which should be open by early next year.

I can't wait to get up in the morning and look at properties on bikes - I still get goose bumps talking about it.

Without personally knowing the owners of Pedal to Properties, I must say that I love people like this. Let's face it, the notion, on the surface, immediately hits you as being absurd (at least it did for me) yet obviously financially successful. It's important to leave the comfort of your box for a few minutes and spend necessary and valuable time thinking outside of the box. Times are undeniably tough right now, but too many people are spending too much time concentrating on what they don't have instead of concentrating on the opportunities right in front of them. If you're not taking the time to pay attention, you will never see what's right underneath your nose. Learn your market and take the time to understand your clients as they're always telling you something. It's up to you to determine whether you're going to take the time to listen, actually hearing what they have to say. We should all do a better job of listening. Shouldn't we?

1 comment:

  1. Passion is right!
    Different is good but the underlying base has to be passion.

    Good stuff!