February in Washington is often a very bleak time. Winter feels like it will never end. And, spring seems like something you read about once, but can’t really picture for yourself. It’s easy to feel more than a little dispirited.
I say ‘very special’ because I often have a tough time describing our relationship. I think of them as being something between a second set of parents and my retired best friends.
How it all began
I met David and Sandy when they were referred to me by Real Estate Agent Jay D’Alessandro, who was helping them sell their house. My business helping people downsize their homes was thriving, but I had been casual, with only verbal contracts and informal pamphlets. I decided to invest in myself and my business by writing formal contracts and developing professional presentation materials. I pitched my business in this new way to Sandy and David, and, while I wasn’t nervous, per se, it is a hard thing to take yourself seriously and to be open to new people and opportunities. I wondered what they would make of me.
As soon as I finished the presentation, David smacked his hand on the table and yelled, “Sold!” They were overwhelmed with ‘stuff’, and didn’t know where to begin. They couldn’t believe a business existed that so perfectly met their need.
A Match Made in Heaven
As we began to work together, I found out a lot about them. When you dig through someone’s house where they’ve lived for 30 years, you can’t help but understand what they’re about. You learn the story of their marriage, the way they raised their children, about the holidays they celebrated. The things we have in our homes not only tell other people your story, but they remind us of good times, of babies who grew into children, and all the times in between. So when you are faced with the task of eliminating these reminders from your life it can be pretty scary.
I knew that I needed to earn Sandy and David’s trust so that they’d be comfortable letting me come in and sort through their story with them. Sandy and David were embarking on a new chapter of their lives and retiring to Naples, Florida. And even though that chapter was exciting, Sandy still clung to the things that had meant so much during the previous chapters.
I respected what she was going through, but I also had to give them realistic expectations. They had to know they could not fit even half of their old home into their new house. It wasn’t possible. Hard choices were going to have to be made. I also told them that once they had made those choices, once they had let go of those endearing objects and “stuff”, they would be happier for it. In the meantime, though, that old rocking chair where Sandy had rocked her babies was filed under “KEEP AT ALL COSTS”. To keep it, though, I explained that Sandy would have to forego a couch in the Naples apartment. After much deliberation, Sandy agreed I could sell the chair, thinking that it would at least bring someone else the joy it had brought her. That sale may not have made them a ton of money, but Sandy earned the love of the chair’s new owner, and the freedom of knowing that those memories went with her to Florida. They did not live within the chair.
Relationships Mean the World to Me!
When I look back, their sale was okay. It wasn’t an amazing, massive sale, but I spent so much time with Sandy and David that I didn’t think about my commission. I loved chatting with them, and our meetings always took longer than we planned. I started to think of them more as friends than clients. Sometimes Sandy would come over to my house, and if I was on the phone with another client, she would start weeding my garden. We were that comfortable with each other! When it was finally time for them to move to Florida I actually cried. Sandy had become my confidante and ally, and she and David were always there for me and my family.
Since then, we have been to visit them in Florida several times. They love my kids, and get right down on the floor to play with them as if they were their grandchildren. They say you can’t pick your family, but with Sandy and David I sort of think I did add them to mine.
This business has brought so many incredible people into my life. Even my house used to belong to a client! We had such a great connection that she sold her house to me. We still keep in touch! Every day that I wake up there, I’m reminded that if you treat people well you will be rewarded for it. I also know that when I’m open to meeting new people, it almost always results in something positive.
So if February’s got you down, and you can’t get away to somewhere warm, slap on some self-tanner and give me a call. I’m always open.