Small Business

Happy Birthday to Us


By Scott Kucirek Two weeks ago marked the four-year anniversary of the launch of our Web site. There have been many twists and turns during these four years, some of which I have shared in this column. Today, I am not going to write about another of these twists, because I wanted to share with you the message I sent out to the team on our launch day, known around zipRealty as Founder's Day.

I usually send out one to two messages a week to the entire company. These range from progress reports on how we are doing to acknowledgements of birthdays and anniversaries. Every messages gets some level of response (good or bad) from the team, but usually inspires only a few e-mails at any given time. However, the response I received within minutes of hitting the send button this Founder's Day message took me by surprise.

SPELLING IT OUT. This overwhelmingly positive reaction from our team reminded me about the critical importance of quality content in communication. Sure, it took me a few hours to compose this message, vs. 30 minutes -- max -- for most of my other messages, but it made me realize that quality, not quantity, is the key to getting your thoughts across. So please take some time to review this message and feel free to provide me with feedback. I hope it helps you, as it did me, to remember how important good communication is for the success of a company. Here's what I wrote:

"On August 29, 1999 zipRealty.com went live for the first time, ushering in a new era of consumer-focused brokerage. At that time, zipRealty had 16 employees, of which three were agents, and the company only provided services for buyers in the San Francisco Bay Area. Although small in size, this initial team had a big dream of bringing better service, savings, and convenience to buyers and sellers everywhere. No one was certain how we would get there, but each was determined to do whatever was necessary to succeed. The spirit that existed then was one where every person felt that his or her actions dramatically impacted the future of the company, thus their daily commitment and actions reflected that belief.

"Today, as we top 400 agents and have reached a few critical milestones, it is easy for people on our teams to think that they no longer have that type of meaningful impact on the success of zipRealty.

"Nothing can be further from the truth.

"In fact, more than ever, we all need to understand that each of our actions has a significant impact on our company. Every person counts, every transactions counts, every project counts. I believe that each member of our company today is even more critical to our future success than the early members of zipRealty back in 1999. For as we have grown as a company, so have our challenges and our expectations of success.

Life is about the journey.

"The challenges we face today are daunting. We need to grow our teams in each market with great new talented people so that we gain critical mass and benefit from additional satisfied clients and "For Sale" signs in front yards. We need to work on increasing individual productivity so that all of our agents are able to earn a great living and become leaders in their markets. We need to improve the communication amongst our teams and between our headquarter teams and field teams so that every owner of this company understands the direction we are heading and the challenges we are facing. How we each handle these challenges (and many more that go unnamed) will determine the level of success zipRealty achieves.

"As I have said many times, life is about the journey, not the destination. Each of us has committed to making a joint effort to build a company that will be filled with great people providing great service to our clients. We also want to be part of building something wonderful that will thrive long after we are gone, and to find a source of pride in having been part of the team that helped make it happen. The reality is that this type of effort is not easy. Building something great takes time, persistence, and an ongoing commitment to continuous improvement as we strive for excellence. Although we are four years into this journey, we still are in the early stages of our full adventure.

"So, on this day, the Founders would like to say "Thank You!" to all who have poured their hearts and souls into this company over the years. We would also ask that each of us continue to do the same and more in the upcoming year, as we remember that each of us counts, more than ever, for the success of zipRealty. We are the ones who determine our future. Let's make sure we continue to make it bright and wonderful. Go zip!"

Hope you enjoyed it. Back in two weeks. Scott Kucirek is president and co-founder of zipRealty.com, an online real estate brokerage. The company's Internet site and online real estate agents let people complete the entire purchase or sale of a house via the Web. The company's Web site is www.zipRealty.com, and you can E-mail Scott at Scott@zipRealty.com.


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