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Flowers, jam and cookie cutters make
Cindy Mitchell tick

[From The Athens Banner-Herald, Sunday April 10, 1994]
One recent morning found CENTURY 21 Realtor Cindy Mitchell standing in her office looking for the best place to put a flower arrangement that had just arrived from the florist. The space in the center of her table was already filled by a vase of irises given her earlier that day.

"This is why I'm in this business," said Mitchell. "Look at this."

She reached into a small white paper bag and pulled out a cookie cutter in the shape of Minnesota and a jar of wild cranberry jam.

"This means more to me than a commission. What other business can you be in, where, when you finish doing a job for someone they come over to you with their eyes welling up with tears, hug your neck, kiss you and give you a present," said Mitchell.

Each of the bouquets of flowers, the jam and cookie cutter are symbols of someone's appreciation, and each has a story to go with it.

"Basically this job is real exciting," Mitchell said. "It gets down to helping people change their lives. It's not jot bricks and mortar. There are births, marriages, divorces and deaths. There are a lot of emotional things that go on - like the retired woman who is selling her home and moving to a nursing home, just when the bulbs that she planted are starting to bloom.

Mitchell sees part of her job as a Realtor as making life's transitions go as smoothly as possible.

Sometimes that is simply a matter of planning and logistics. One Sunday a few weeks ago, Mitchell helped a couple who is moving to Athens from Minnesota. They had just one day to find a house. Mitchell packed a cooler with food, so they wouldn't have to stop to eat and then showed them 34 houses in one day. By bedtime, they had made an offer on a home and had it accepted.

Other times her job may require creative thinking. Mitchell found one couple the house of their dreams by trying a new type of advertising. She listed what the buyer wanted the same way one would advertise what was for sale. It worked. Someone whose house was not previously on the market phoned Mitchell and sold their home to the couple.

Mitchell says that finding lenders, being knowledgeable about inspections, termite letters, knowing the closing attorneys and familiarity with what is on the market are all critical to being a good Realtor. That is not, however, what she believes makes the difference in people's perception of the home buying or selling experience.

"What people perceive is how much you care about them. They appreciate a little empathy and tenderness," Mitchell said. "The most important thing is to do what you say you are going to do. You don't have to exceed their expectations, just do what you say you will."

Mitchell says her dad tells her, "Cindy, you've found your niche." She believes he is right. "I truly believe that I have because I wouldn't do anything else," said Mitchell.

Mitchell attended the University of Georgia with plans to become a teacher. A stint of student teaching in Carrollton convinced her otherwise. When she got out of school, she went into business with a local couple selling coffee to real estate offices, schools and car dealerships. "I kept going into real estate offices and everybody was so happy - always smiling," Mitchell said. She decided to try real estate herself. That was seven years ago. A long list of sales awards attests to the fact that she has done well.

Last month Mitchell attended a CENTURY 21 sales meeting in New Orleans. "I was there with 8,500 of the top agents from around the world," she said. Harvey MacKay, author of How to Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive, was the keynote speaker. "He stood up to speak and, well, he talked about me," Mitchell said. "He had called here earlier and said, 'I want to know what you do different,'" she said. "I explained how I send flowers to all my past clients on the anniversary of the day they closed their house. I do it the first year and every year. I started doing it because I wanted people to know I was thinking about them and that I appreciate their business. It shows them and me that I cared about them seven years ago and that I still do. "Them, they always call me and tell me about their children and about additions and renovations they have made. My goal is customers for life.

Cindy Coplin married Neil Mitchell in January. She met him at a sales conference a few years ago and it was love at first sight. Since he lived in Australia and she in Georgia, it took a while for them to get to know each other.

The Mitchell's live in a secluded wood frame house on Calls Creek in the southern side of Clarke County. They have three dogs.

by Mary Mayes (Staff Writer)
Sunday April 10, 1994 * Athens Daily News / Athens Banner-Herald

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