Guest Post

All Hands on Deck

by Gina Mulligan

When I tell people our company deals with the real estate market, the response is a look of pity and an obligatory pat on the shoulder. The housing market is in the tank, so it stands to reason that all related businesses are suffering. Thankfully, we've steered through the sea of foreclosures and, so far, are ahead of where we started. When we stood facing the incoming storm, we thought we had two choices. We could either capsize or batten down the hatches. What we didn't realize right away was that there was a third choice.

After taking a good look at our customer base, we decided we needed to shift our focus and go after new customers who had money to spend. This was a huge risk. With market numbers falling all around us, we developed a new product, increased our marketing budget, added to our sales force, and really dug into new target markets. It all sounds easy now, but I remember every sleepless night. Having nerve at the helm seems heroic, but as a small company, our employees are also our friends. The last thing we wanted was for anyone to panic and jump ship. So, once the new plan was in place, we knew we had to shore up the crew.

To keep spirits high, we empowered our staff with knowledge. Meetings formerly for management only were opened so everyone could share in the company's vision. A marketing team was assembled from a cross-section of the company and worked together to formulate new goals. Monthly staff meetings continued, but new requirements meant team members were expected not only to give an update but be ready with at least one new idea. Everyone was onboard.

Finding our nerve has been a positive learning experience and we're happy to report sales are strong. As we continue to plan for growth we’re hoping for clear skies, but whatever lies ahead the sails are up and we're steady on course. I still get looks of pity, but now when I say our company works with the real estate market I have a new-found confidence and thick shoulder pads.

Gina Mulligan is Marketing Director and co-owner of CD-DATA, a California property data company based in Folsom, California.

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