You're Paying For The Years, Not The Hour

Real Estate Agent with Big Block Realty 858.232.8722 CA BRE# 01261476

There was a cruise ship that broke down 3 hours before departure. In a panic the cruise line called out their "big guns" in-house maintenance crew who arrived with 15 mechanics and technicians that toiled away for 60 minutes.
No Luck, no repair.

In a bigger panic the cruise line Googled the best 5 Star maintenance crew and had them rushed out to the cruise ship. They arrived with all the latest high tech electronics and tools, digital this and computerized that, where they toiled away for 90 minutes. No Luck, no repair.

With 30 minutes before a fully booked boat was to depart for the Mediterranean, one of the lower ranking brass offered,  "You know us locals always us this old guy that seems to work magic with boats, cars and engines, we should try him."

With nothing left to lose except hundreds of thousands in refunds, they helicopter this old timer out to the pier with only minutes to spare before they'd have to cancel the cruise. He walked onboard, alone with a small tool box. The CEO of the cruise line immediately threw up his hands in defeat at the sight of this old man, in coveralls carrying the equivalent of a lunch pail for a tool box.
The old codger ignored the CEO and made his way down to the engine room. He pulled out a stethoscope from his tool box, and moved it around the center boiler. He then removed a grease pencil and marked an X where he last had the stethoscope. Reaching into his tool box he removed a small ballpeen hammer, turned back to the boiler and tapped the X.

Suddenly the boilers all exhausted steam in unison and the engines fired up and the control panels lit up like Christmas trees. The engines were purring like kittens. The ship was seaworthy once again, saving the cruise line millions in lost bookings and refunds.

The repairman rejoined the CEO and smiled, "That will be $50,000 please."

CEO, "$50,000 dollars? I had some of the best teams in the state of Florida in here with all the latest state of the art technology that were charging half that! You want me to pay you for 10 minutes work and a hammer?"

Repairman, "And they were successful?"

CEO, "Well no, obviously not, we had to call you."

Repairman, "I'm only charging you $1.00 for tapping the hammer. But I'm charging you $49,999.00 for knowing where to tap the hammer."


You're not paying for the hour, you're paying for the years of experience!
You're not paying for the services, you're paying for the unique expertise when you hire a REALTOR®; granted you need to deliver above and beyond service, but our problem solving, negotiating and marketing strategies are the value people are paying for. And we need to know how to convey and sell that, otherwise all they see is a commission deducted from their bottom-line. We need to be skilled at relaying our Unique Selling Proposition that delivers a bigger bottom-line!

Any yahoo with a license can load the MLS and plunk a sign in the lawn; our value becomes the intangibles...until the $#!^ hits the fan, then suddenly we're worth our weight in gold ...or we're not!

If you do not know where to tap the hammer, all the leads you buy, branding you do or work you do get will eventually run out - because the market only has so many suckers and once the word gets out about your lack of skills, you'll be un-hirable. I saw it happen to biggest A-hole Broker in San Diego back during The Crash. He could have conquered San Diego, and for about 4 years he was...until the other shoe dropped on all his short cuts and poor service. Then he lost his license.

Our USP has to be what we sell to our prospects, otherwise we are just seen as commodities that "all do the same thing" so might as well pay the least for the same result. Agents hired affect the results, but consumers do not realize that until we coach them on it. You're not paying for the hour, your paying for the years and our years affect your bottom-line!






Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay
Photo by Matthew Barra:

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio:
Image by 13smok from Pixabay
Image by lilly cantabile-8561101
Photo by SHVETS production:

Posted by

Thomas J. Nelson
REALTOR®, CRS, RCS-D, CDPE, e-Pro, Certified Military Home Specialist, Luxury Home Specialist, Author, Keynote Speaker and  Podcast Host 

Serving Coastal San Diego from Carlsbad to Coronado, Downtown, Balboa Park Area,
La Jolla/UCSD & Mission Bay Park Areas
I Offer Rebates to Veterans
& Active Duty

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(858) 232-8722
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RCS-Divorce     Southern California Chapter of Certified Residential Specialists (CRS)

Disclaimer:  Nothing in this blog article is to be construed as legal advice, tax advice, medical advice or financial advice.  For legal advice see an attorney.   For tax advice, health or financial advice see a tax attorney, certified public accountant, or other qualified professional.

Comments (14)

Bill Salvatore - East Valley
Arizona Elite Properties - Chandler, AZ
Realtor - 602-999-0952 / em:

Great information. Thanks for sharing, enjoy your weekend. Bill

Salvatore Arizona Elite Properties.

Sep 24, 2023 10:50 AM
Leanne Smith
Dirt Road Real Estate - Golden Valley, AZ
Relocation to NW AZ with elbow room & more freedom

I have heard that same story though in different settings such as on an oil rig.  However the message has always been the same. Back in NW IN, after numerous steel pours failed, the "old guys" were brought to solve the problem.  These "old guys" could tell by the color of the molten steel when to pour it even though the technology high priced  younger Whippersnappers complained.  After testing was complete, the "old guys" were right and the young Whippersnappers were wrong in spite of all their technology.

Sep 24, 2023 11:04 AM
Margaret Rome Baltimore 410-530-2400
HomeRome Realty 410-530-2400 - Pikesville, MD
Sell Your Home With Margaret Rome

Thomas J. Nelson, REALTOR ® e-Pro CRS RCS-D Vets  Another way to look at it. You are not paying me when everything goes smoothly; you are paying for my ability to fix it. 

Sep 24, 2023 11:10 AM
Kathy Streib
Cypress, TX
Home Stager/Redesign

Thomas- I've heard this story and still I love it whenever I read it. It speaks volumes. Knowledge and experience and knowing when to use them are key. 

Sep 24, 2023 11:40 AM
Paul S. Henderson, REALTOR®, CRS
Fathom Realty Washington LLC - Tacoma, WA
South Puget Sound Washington Agent/Broker!

I just received a listing when the husband finally said to his wife what are we paying for here? She had been interrupting my presentation for about an hour; she had fought every suggestion that I brought up.

The husband asked his wife "When was the last time you bought or sold a house?"

Daggers were exchanged...

"Paul's got 24 years of experience" (Mic Drop)

Sep 24, 2023 02:47 PM
Ed (Edward) Silva, 203-206-0754
Mapleridge Realty, CT 203-206-0754 - Waterbury, CT
Central CT Real Estate Broker Serving all equally

That is a special story of that hammer and the intelligence to know how to use it. Same with a real estate license. It's not having the license, its knowing how to use it to help a client.

Sep 24, 2023 04:14 PM
Michael Jacobs
Pasadena, CA
Los Angeles Pasadena 818.516.4393

Hello Thomas - as others have commented, this and similar stories have been told over the years, but they continue to "make the point".  

Sep 24, 2023 06:35 PM
Myrl Jeffcoat
Sacramento, CA
Greater Sacramento Realtor - Retired

The moral of the story, is we pay for valuable experience that gets the job done.  I will say, however, $50,000 is still too much money!🙃

Sep 24, 2023 09:50 PM
Brian England
Ambrose Realty Management LLC - Gilbert, AZ
MBA, GRI, REALTOR® Real Estate in East Valley AZ

That is a really good story and nothing beats experience.  Being able to hire the right people is the key to any successful venture!

Sep 25, 2023 04:50 AM
Dorie Dillard Austin TX
Coldwell Banker Realty ~ 512.750.6899 - Austin, TX
NW Austin ~ Canyon Creek and Spicewood/Balcones

Good afternoon Thomas,

I've heard several versions of this story and each time I do it causes me to chuckle and reminds me it's experience that counts!

Sep 25, 2023 01:49 PM
Jeff Dowler, CRS
eXp Realty of California, Inc. - Carlsbad, CA
The Southern California Relocation Dude

Hi Thomas:

That's a great story and I've heard several variations. But the point remains the same - you are paying for the knowledge and experience, not the amount of time.


Sep 25, 2023 04:09 PM
Kat Palmiotti
406-270-3667,, Broker/REALTOR® - Kalispell, MT
Helping your Montana dreams take root

Oh yes, knowledge, experience, and knowing where to hit that hammer. Love the story and analogy. Thank you for sharing.

Sep 26, 2023 04:58 AM
faye schubert
Retired - Branson, MO
Living the Branson Lake Life


I found that with real estate marketing: because I could do something quickly for realtors, they thought it wasn't worth much.

What they didn't know is the amount of training, trial and error and eventually learning what to do, I was able to do things very quickly.

Sep 27, 2023 06:06 AM
Candice A. Donofrio
Next Wave RE Investments LLC Bullhead City AZ Commercial RE Broker - Fort Mohave, AZ
928-201-4BHC (4242) call/text

Classic tale of what you're actually paying for. And a testimonial to nothing being more valuable than the wisdom that only comes from experience 😎

I have told clients before, "I'm keeping others' hands out of your pocket--so you'll be keeping yours out of mine!"  

Sep 28, 2023 08:40 AM