Does Your Front Line Deliver Happiness?

Stephen Covey once said, “The Front Line Determines the Bottom Line.” It has been a tough few years with the economic downturn, but there are many companies that have thrived despite the hardships of the economy and job market, while others have taken an attitude of indifference toward consumers with a blatant disregard for customer loyalty. We can blame this on the economy, the health care issues in the US for employees, the younger generation not connecting personally, etc… But the fact remains there is a message ringing loud and clear to consumers, many companies we do business with simply do not care about delivering exceptional service or what some of us refer to as “Wow Factor.” Why should they? They believe we will be back anyway. But, here is an interesting statistic, 73% of consumers will go to the competitor after only ONE perceived bad experience. Notice the word, “perceived.” We all heard the phrase “perception is reality” and there is often a disconnect in the definition of awesome service as compared to awful service simply due to “perception.” So what defines great customer service? Interestingly enough, the largest brands that score the highest in customer satisfaction don’t believe it’s the customer service department that needs the most attention, but rather the quality of those they hire. Nordstrom’s, a company synonymous with impeccable customer loyalty believes there is no mystery to it’s outstanding reputation. It’s approach is to hire nice people, those raised by their parents with empathy and character. The belief system is people with inner values will live these values in daily life. If daily routines include contact with consumers, then it would only be natural for employees to draw from their own belief system. Zappo’s, an online company increased sales and recently sold the company for nearly a billion dollars. Author of “Delivering Happiness: A Path to Profits, Passion & Purpose” & CEO of Zappo’s, Tony Hsieh, says the customer service at Zappo’s is directly related to the happiness level of the employee. In one of his seminars, Tony Hsieh states research shows people are happiest when there is (1) perceived control, (2) Perceived progress, (3)connectedness and (4)vision/meaning, meaning being part of something bigger than yourself. He goes on to say if asked why someone does any given task, the answers may vary, such as; to make money, to provide a better life for one’s family, to increase personal time, to be healthier, etc…however, once the onion is peeled back to the bottom layer with the repeated question of why, the answer will always be “because that makes me happy.” We are all ultimately driven by the pursuit of happiness. That being said, Zappo’s has a screening process to identify the truth of how happy people are in their life when no one is watching. They have a shuttle driver pick up potential employees before and after interviews and despite how well an interview may have went, it is most critical how the driver was treated by the prospect that will determine the offering of a position. Nordstrom and Zappo’s may have a
common denominator in the selection of employees based on an individual’s inner value system, therefore it’s no wonder both brands share success in high ratings of customer satisfaction. There are many brands in different industries that can tell a similar story but this message would not be complete if we did not mention the most magical place on earth. Walt Disney, one of the most prominent visionaries of our time said it’s not the 100% that matters, but that extra 1% that no one can identify that makes the difference. As a student of The Disney Institute’s Leadership Program, I personally learned the little differences Disney employees practice to deliver that extra shot of “wow factor” that no one can quite put their finger on; yet, it makes for that “magical experience” delivered in Disney style. It too, falls upon the attitude of an individual employee to behave in a manner that must come from within for maximum customer loyalty.
For someone in the real estate industry, where sales people are independent contractors governed under licensing law and falling under the direction of a broker, is it possible to integrate the happy hiring process strategy? Since licensing has been in existence, the broker always controlled the business, the leads, the marketing, etc… Most brokerages, branded and independent alike, follow this model of traditional brokerage practices. Some creative brands have a false sense of perceived agent control disguising the broker or corporate control in various ways. This is why I, like many, believe in the EXiT Realty Model whole-heartedly. There is transparency with no disguises. As the President of the Northeast Division, I witness numerous agents join EXiT Realty and feel a certain happiness they can’t quite identify. Could it be the four factors research shows create happiness? Agents at EXiT Realty are given exceptional tools they completely control, they are given the best training in all areas including up to the minute technology for the progress of their individual business Plus all of our associates share a connection not just with their peers but with all corporate leadership and understand the vision of EXiT Realty’s corporate message, which is bigger than any one person can do alone. We are a part of something greater than our individual selves. The topping on the this cake, is that all EXiT Associates are “invited” to participate in our mission which allows the individual agents and brokers to selectively hire “nice, happy people” with shared values from within. And, each associate is offered the opportunity to create real wealth through the power of residuals, a true reward for helping grow the company. This reward is not based on a sliver of net profits but a fixed percentage paid from the gross. Everyone in the company has the same wealth building and increased production opportunities. There is an old African proverb; “If you want to go quickly, go alone; if you want to go far, go together.” Is there any wonder why agents all over North America are discovering the “Power of EXiT?” And joining each and every day?
If the examples of these successful brands, all of which fall under different categories in the business world, share a common goal in hiring those who display behaviors based on values from within, it would certainly be logical to agree with Stephen Covey’s statement that “the front line determines the bottom line.” Hiring a front line with strong inner values and empowering them will increase happiness and happiness is contagious to consumers. Be happy and hire wisely!


Written By: Victoria Rivadeneira


Victoria Rivadeneira, President of The Northeast Division for EXIT Realty Corp., USA has been licensed in NYS as a Real Estate Broker for nearly 25 years. She has been a successful agent, the owner of an independent real estate company and a branded franchised real estate company. She has been the Local Chapter President for WCR for two chapters in NYS. She serves on the New York State Association of REALTORS Professional Standards Committee, The Article 12A Committee & Policy Legislature. She is also the co-host of a live, weekly, one hour radio show on 970am “Real Estate & More” & all of Victoria’s contact information, including social media information can be found at


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