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Keeping the Customer Satisfied

The author with mother and father and unknown person on the left.

by Greg Gunter

You could say that I’m a survivalist, a get-it-done type of guy. I grew up in a poor family. My father was raised on a cotton farm with only a one-hole outhouse. We were always having to decide which bills absolutely needed to be paid at the end of the month, and which ones we could skip until there was a little more cash available next month.

Going out to eat at a real restaurant was an extremely rare treat. One evening we went out to eat at Pizza Hut—what a treat! As we left the restaurant that evening, a panhandler asked my father for money. We never had much to give anyway. The guy looked like he would use any handout given him on the first bottle of booze he could find. My father said no, he could not give him money, but he would buy him dinner. As we watched, dad promptly walked the man inside, allowed him to order the same delicious meal we had just enjoyed, paid the bill, and wished him luck as we left.

I'll remember that incident to my dying day. It taught me the benefit of giving to those less fortunate, but also and just as importantly, not to be judgmental. To better understand the importance of that last lesson, you need to know that my father never touched a drop of alcohol his entire life. Still, he refused to judge a man who could not control his alcohol abuse.

I started working at age eight, selling a weekly newspaper door-to-door called Grit (a bit like the Saturday Evening Post). It was tough because there were no subscriptions. I had to re-sell the newest edition of that same newspaper each week. Even in the freezing North Dakota winter, especially in the North Dakota winter, I had to have my game smile on every time I knocked on that door. I needed to be cheerful and sunny in those sub-zero temperatures. My mom is proud to say that Grit newspaper bag still hangs in her house.

I then had my first job where taxes were deducted from my paycheck at age 11. Lunchtimes they bused me over to the high school where I worked in the cafeteria cleaning the lunch trays. Hey, at least my lunches were free!

Dad was only home on weekends. Saturday cartoon watching was forbidden. Instead I had to work with him changing the oil in the car, mowing the lawn... I wanted to be having the same kind of fun my peers were enjoying, but weekends were Dad time in my house.

The author, who even then sported emblems on his blazers, admiring his baby sister.

Dad had his own stress. He was a Quality Control (Q.C.) inspector for the Boeing Minute Man Missile program. He inspected the construction work done on the nuclear missile silos during the escalation of the Cold War. I'm sure he understood that he had the safety of the entire country as an Atlas-like weight on his shoulders. God forbid, he was not perfect, millions might die. So I was raised by a man who was paid to be a perfectionist. I'm all about working hard and doing it perfectly right. It was instilled in me since the age of five.

Finally Dad quit that ulcer-creating perfectionist job as a Q.C. inspector. He went back to his prior career as a carpenter and farmer. I then, at the age of 15, began working with my Dad. I would help sell custom-home contracts to clients. Then I would go on to build those very homes I had just sold, always under the watchful eye of that same perfectionist. I built these homes, from the foundation to the roofing shingles, with my own very calloused hands. While watching movies at night, instead of eating popcorn we would roll roofing tacks through our fingers, learning to be more dexterous with our hands so we could roof a home even faster. The quicker you could lay shingles, the quicker you could finish that home and get paid.

The author as architect seated at his drafting table.

I've been matching homes and buyers since before I had my driver's license. Pleasing clients is second nature to me, hell, it's first nature. Later, as a professional architect, I designed homes for mass-home-builder companies. I used those same client-pleasing skills, but this time on the drafting table. These homes had to appeal to as broad of an audience as possible. We had to sell tens of thousands of homes a year. Making the most clients as happy as possible was the primary scope of my work.

With that history, you can understand that the work ethic has been instilled in me since an early age. With that do-or-die mentality, you might also understand how I became the top-producing Realtor and the #2 Realtor in the entire country of Mexico for the nation's largest franchise. Those achievements caught the eye of Warren Buffett's team at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices. They became convinced that I was worthy of owning the first and flagship office for the brand in Mexico. I know it's tooting my own horn, but I'm proud because Warren's team is pretty picky about who they allow into the clubhouse.

Warren Buffet

Warren himself started poor. In the book The Snowball, he tells about the yard work he did to make money in Omaha, how he would quote a client a fixed price to, say, rake their yards, front and back, before knowing the size of those yards. I made that same mistake... just one time. I would quote $5 to rake the leaves in someone's yard. One time, a woman took me up on that offer, wisely paid me in advance to make sure I would stick with it, because she knew my word was my honor. Only after did I learn that her back yard was over an acre in size. It took me three days to rake it! Like Warren, I learned early on to fully understand the scope of work before giving a client my price quote. Working like Warren Buffett has paid off for me.

Besides my work ethic, I do keep up with my childhood lesson about helping those less fortunate. I’ve been serving on the boards on NGOs since I was fresh out of college, mostly in a fundraising capacity. I continue that involvement here in San Miguel where I’ve both served on NGO boards and supported some with financial sponsorship. Yes, I may work hard but I play well with others, too, as my old report cards say!



Greg Gunter, The Dream Pro top-producing Realtor in Mexico and Broker of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices' first real estate office in Mexico, brands himself as "San Miguel's Dream Home Expert!" for good reason—he was the #2 Realtor nationwide for Mexico's largest franchise before joining Warren Buffett's team.


Greg Gunter says that when the publisher of San Miguel Sunday told him "People want to know you as a person," he took it took heart. He says, "Only my mom knows this much about me!" Want to learn more? He's available at Greg@GregoryGunter.com

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copyright 2024
copyright 2024