Monday, November 1, 2010

Referrals are Key to Long Term Success

Years ago the king of a developing country issued a call, in essence a request for proposal, for a new town to be supplied with water.  There were at this point several dozen residents in the new town so a source of water was needed immediately.  The new town was in an arid region of the country and the nearest water source was twenty miles away.

The king received two proposals.  One proposal was from one of the new town’s hardest working residents.  The other proposal was from a resident from the town twenty miles away, the water source.  The out-of-towner’s proposal was rejected because it could not supply the town with water immediately – instead it would begin supplying water two years later.  Recognizing the diligence and the trustworthiness of the new town resident the king issued a contract for the supply of water.

Immediately the new town resident took his wagon loaded with empty buckets to the water source, filled the buckets, and returned to the new town.  The industrious water supplier would make the round trip every day during the early predawn hours.  The water supplier profited tremendously from the generous contract.

As the population of the new town grew the busy water supplier found himself on the road almost constantly making multiple daily trips to satisfy the unquenchable desire for water in the new town.  Before you know it
the smart businessman had several wagons and a small staff of four full time employees and one part time employee.  The water supplier was quickly becoming one of the wealthiest residents of the new town.

In the mean time the out-of-towner, whose original proposal was rejected by the king, was busy at work executing his plan.  It wasn’t easy because his plan required a significant investment, and he had to raise money without the benefit of the government contract.  He had to sell his vision and convince people to trust him.  He could offer no guarantees.

After he had raised enough money he worked continuously day and night along with hired labor to complete his plan.  Accounting for the extra time to raise the money it took him a total of two and a half years to finish his project.

When it was done he immediately summoned the king.  The king rebuffed his request.  The new town already had a water supplier.  The determined out-of-towner made another request of the king, then another, then another.  Day in and day out the losing bidder requested the king’s presence to visit with him and review his project.

One day after the king had completed reading his daily mail he commented to his assistant that he was growing tired of the complaint letters that he had been receiving from residents about the tardiness of water deliveries.  He expressed his frustration that the water supplier didn’t seem to be able to keep up with the new town’s demand for water.  His assistant reminded him of the persistent out-of-towner and his ignored requests for the king’s attention.  The king said they would go at once to view the project.

When the king and his assistant arrived at the out-of-towner’s temporary residence they found him with two large, rogue visitors who seemed to be a bit agitated as if they were unsatisfied by their conversation.  With great relief the distraught water competitor greeted the king.

In front of this small, eclectic audience the out-of-towner enthusiastically presented his project without fanfare.  After a brief explanation the presenter shifted a lever and water began to pour out of the end of a pipe into a large tub.  As the water overflowed from the tub across the floor the out-of-towner explained how the pipe was the very end of a pipeline that stretched over twenty miles across the countryside to the country’s largest river by the nearest town.  He emphasized that this pipeline could supply water to a population five times the present size of the new town for the next sixty years.  He switched the lever off and told everyone about his toil and sacrifices and about how he never lost faith in his vision.

He asked the king for a sixty-year contract to supply water to the new town, and immediately the king said yes.  The king asked if he needed the contract to be exclusive or could the other supplier continue his work.  The gracious out-of-towner suggested that he would never begrudge anyone an opportunity to earn a living.

In real estate sales we can become so busy carrying buckets of real estate transactions that we never take the time to build a pipeline of business from a referral system.  A referral system can supply a steady stream of business for many years.

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