A Toast to Breaking Bread -- and Records

Our sales contest was a great way to boost productivity -- and the dinner to honor the winners did wonders for morale

By Scott Kucirek

After a long hiatus, I am back to the column. I am writing after returning from an energizing dinner with our Sacramento team -- a meeting that really highlighted the importance of recognizing those who are doing a great job in your company. But let's start at the beginning.

In March, zipRealty had a one-month sales contest to see which team of agents could be the most productive in terms of new real estate transactions opened per agent. The winning team would be treated to a nice dinner paid for by the company, and as an additional bonus, we stated that our CEO, Eric Danziger, and selected executives would be the serving staff.


  For those of you not involved in sales organizations, you need to know that sales teams love a great contest, and if they can get a chance to have executives serve them, all the better. Within a week, it was obvious the contest was working because half of the agent teams were on track for their most productive months ever. After a hard-fought battle that led to our best month as a company, the Sacramento team claimed victory with the highest level of "opens" per agent.

It took a month to set the date, but arrangements were made to have the victory dinner celebration on May 7. Since Sacramento is only 90 miles from our headquarters, the executive team decided to hop into a van and head out on a road trip. We used the time to catch up on some business matters. For many of the executives, this was their first time visiting company agents outside of the San Francisco Bay area.

We arrived at the restaurant about an hour early. Of course, it's always better to be early than late, which gave Danziger time to break out the cigars while we all killed some time, kicked back, and shot the breeze. This was an additional bonus, because it is rare when the executive team gets to spend an hour together not talking shop, but just swapping stories and getting to know each other better.


  Once the stogies were smoked, the guests started to arrive. We hurried over to the restaurant to meet and greet our agents from Sacramento and their guests. It was wonderful getting to see the better halves of many of our Sacramento team members in a nonwork situation.

After everybody arrived, we took our places as the servers. The agents loved it, as all the executives were dancing around making sure that they and the guests were well attended. In between, jokes were told, stories recounted, and fun was had.

In just a flash, the three hours had flown by and we were wrapping up with dessert. With a final toast and well wishes, we packed ourselves back into the van for the road trip back home. Within that three hours, we learned more about our team and company than in a hundred conference calls.


  It was evident that the Sacramento team really works well and that its members are extremely committed to the company. In addition, they sincerely appreciated the opportunity of personal time with the executives to share their lives and stories. Every single person on the team felt this was an event that needed to be repeated in all of our metro sales areas.

Over the past few days, the positive notes and comments from the agents showed they really enjoyed the event, and that they had been energized by the knowledge that the company was serious about taking care of its teams. I am sure there will be more of these events -- a great way to make a big impact at a moderate cost. See you 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.