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Deliver Happiness

By Katherine Tarbox, Senior Editor, REALTOR® Magazine

ZapposA few months ago, I heard Alfred Lin, COO & CFO of Zappos.com speak at Inman’s Real Estate Connnect San Francisco 2009. The company has won accolades from the business community for taking an innovative approach in terms of their values. “We’re in the customer-service industry and happen to sell shoes,” Lin said.

I’ve found myself thinking about Zappos’s unique business model. Here are some key points from his talk:

Deliver Happiness
Lin believes the success of his business hinges on the power of repeat customers. In order to keep them coming back, Zappos provides an 800 number on each page of its Web Site, packs each order in less than four hours, almost always upgrades all orders to overnight shipping, runs a 24×7 distribution center, and has a no-sales-pitch policy for their call centers. He challenged real estate pros to think about what else they can do to keep customers coming back.

Have Values
Zappos.com trains its employees for five weeks on the corporate culture. At the end, employees are offered $2,000 to quit if they don’t agree with the values. In addition, Lin stresses that businesses should hire slowly and fire quickly. He also believes it’s imperative to figure out the core values of a company and to live them religiously.

Think Bigger
Finally, he told practitioners that “Whatever you’re thinking, think bigger,” and followed that up with this quote from Mother Teresa, “People may not remember exactly what you did or what you said, but they will always remember how you made them feel.”

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