Fruitful and Free in Florida, San(d)s COVID
One March Tuesday last year, as I drove home from work and heard that an apocalypse had arrived, I went directly to Wegman’s to buy Boursin cheese. Not really. I had gone grocery shopping two days earlier, but thought there must be something I have to buy to prepare for this odd event. Although we had fully stocked shelves back at home, I bought things I’ve never bought before. Hence, the Boursin cheese along with $400 worth of needless snack food. March Madness, indeed. And so began a ridiculous year.
After the Boursin incident came business stoppage. Up until then, the only stoppage time I knew about was related to soccer. When business stoppage commenced, we furloughed all employees and sent our Team home to hunker down. “Stay safe” became everyone’s salutation. Surely, client’s Estates and Downsizing Projects could wait a couple weeks.
The Magnussons mourned for many of our family, friends, clients and customers who suffered losses. While contracted clients panicked and life negatively changed for everyone, my immediate family had no stoppage time. The three of us absorbed all our employees’ jobs and our Morristown office became our way to get out of the house.
Faced with insurmountable challenges – not being able to visit client’s homes and conduct appraisals or Estate Sales – and depression, we easily could have let things fall sideways, but I don’t think we had that in our DNA. Our clients’ dependencies and patience, as well as a little PPP money, kept us afloat.
With health, resiliency, determination and creativity Drew, Lauren, and I devised new ways to serve our clients. We reinvented our business wheel 100 different ways every day for months. As the days and weeks passed, panic turned to pivot and by June both old and new employees began to help out. In our continued pursuit of excellence and professionalism, we learned:
- How to deal with daily changes and adversity
- How to go with the flow
- How to create safe work environments at our gallery and in client’s homes
- How to perform virtual appraisals and home visits
- How to sell online via Instagram, Facebook and our website
- How to facilitate online auctions
- How to aggressively market
- How to serve more clients
- How to be patient with impatience
- How to smile with our eyes
- How to succeed by expecting more from ourselves
Embracing The New Normal
By fall, a new Magnusson Group was emerging. The real estate market in New Jersey skyrocketed and fine home contents needed selling. Demand for Magnusson services exploded. Just as we felt like we were embracing “the new normal,” I was given the opportunity to Chair a Committee for the American Society of Appraiser’s 2021 International Appraisal Conference in Las Vegas. I had been through all ranks of the ASA New Jersey Chapter from Secretary to President for over a decade and was into my 2nd year on the National Committee as a Mentor. Therefore I agreed to be responsible for developing a topical agenda for personal property appraisers. At this stage of my career, it felt like I could continue in my growth mode and accept the challenge. After six months of lockdown, I thought I knew how to up my game. Little did I know the job was bigger than I expected. Feeling officially overwhelmed, I knew I needed to stay focused.
Flying South for the Winter
Knowing that we couldn’t look forward to our annual family vacation, Drew and I rented a home in Boca for the winter. If I didn’t get some sun and air around me, I would struggle to bear the burden of clients needing attention and help, employees needing work and pay, the demands of the ASA Appraisal Conference, the need for bills to get paid, and my own family’s needs for wages, shelter and love! Despite our invitation to join us, my daughter Lauren insisted on staying up north in New Jersey to help our clients and our Team.
Florida’s sunshine fertilized my productivity. I guess you can’t see rainbows until after the rain. I spent a lot of time outside. I phoned. I emailed. I journaled. I put together a solid conference agenda. I worked on all the New Jersey appraisals. I researched. I coached. I directed. I assigned. I delegated. I Slacked. I Zoomed. We paid the bills and employees and worked on new business in both New Jersey and Florida. I exercised a lot. I became a regular at the live music joint (social distancing, of course). And soon I will return back up north and continue along the new path I forged for myself out of necessity.
The Rise and Fall of A Digital Dawn
From Zoom-holidays to medical tele-visits, this new virtual world is ubiquitous and relentless. And not everyone can respond with verve. Success comes in a variety of forms. Some success is material, but most is not. I’ve tried to allow my Team in New Jersey to step up. I watched some spread their wings – you cannot fly if you are unwilling to fall. Some rose. Some climbed. Some struggled. Calamities, injuries, illness and drama came and went. By now, they all seem to have found their footing. Much to our delight, many have revealed their superpowers. I’m really proud of my Team, especially my daughter Lauren. I pray that our Team continues to learn how to help themselves and that our clients find peace. That’s our mission and I’m sticking with it.
Authored by: Lynn Magnusson, ASA, AAA, ISA