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Kilroy Was Here: Lessons for Real Estate Agents – by Dana Sparks

Kilroy was at Maximum One

He is engraved in stone in the National War Memorial in Washington, DC- back in a small alcove where very few people have seen it. For the WWII generation, this will bring back memories. For you younger folks, it’s a bit of trivia that is a part of our American history. Anyone born in 1913 to about 1950 is familiar with Kilroy. No one knew why he was so well known-but everybody seemed to get into it.  So who was Kilroy?

‘Kilroy’ was a 46-year old shipyard worker during the war who worked as a checker at the Fore River Shipyard in Quincy. His job was to go around & check on the number of rivets completed. Riveters were on piecework & got paid by the rivet. He would count a block of rivets & put a check mark in semi-waxed lumber chalk, so the rivets wouldn’t be counted twice. When Kilroy went off duty, the riveters would erase the mark.  Later on, an off-shift inspector would come through & count the rivets a second time, resulting in double pay for the riveters.

One day Kilroy’s boss called him into his office. The foreman was upset about all the wages being paid to riveters, & asked him to investigate. It was then he realized what had been going on. The tight spaces he had to crawl in to check the rivets didn’t lend themselves to lugging around a paint can & brush, so Kilroy decided to stick with the waxy chalk. He continued to put his check mark on each job he inspected, but added ‘KILROY WAS HERE’ in king-sized letters next to the check,& eventually added the sketch of the chap with the long nose peering over the fence & that became part of the Kilroy message.

Once he did that, the riveters stopped trying to wipe away his marks. Ordinarily the rivets & chalk marks would have been covered up with paint. With the war on, however, ships were leaving the Quincy Yard so fast that there wasn’t time to paint them. As a result, Kilroy’s inspection “trademark” was seen by thousands of servicemen who boarded the troopships the yard produced… giving them confidence that every rivet had been checked and they would be safe!

Before war’s end, “Kilroy” had been here, there, & every where on the long hauls to Berlin & Tokyo. To the troops outbound in those ships, however, he was a complete mystery; all they knew for sure was that someone named Kilroy had “been there first.” As a joke, U.S. servicemen began placing the graffiti wherever they landed, claiming it was already there when they arrived.

Kilroy became the U.S. super-GI who had always “already been” wherever GIs went. It became a challenge to place the logo in the most unlikely places imaginable (it is said to be atop Mt. Everest, the Statue of Liberty, the underside of the Arc de Triomphe & even scrawled in the dust on the moon.

So how do YOU leave your impression on others?  After a listing appointment or Buyer appointment do your clients feel “safe” that you will get the job done for them?  When you interact with a co-op agent, closing attorney, or lender what “mark” do you make?  Would they be able to say “_______ was here” and mean it in a good way?

The secret is…… you DO make an impression every time you interact with another in your real estate business.  Monitor what result that impression creates on others!  Here are some suggestions of things you can do to leave a favorable & professional and confidence-instilling impression:

  • Write a thank-you note after each appointment
  • Send a thank-you note to your co-op agent
  • Send a thank you note to the Closing Attorney & Lender
  • Send a thank you note to the co-op client
  • Create new Return-Address labels for the Buyer & Seller with their new address & photo of the Buyer’s new house & give them out at closing
  • Send moving coupons through MovingWolf
  • In January each year, send all of the Sellers & Buyers copies of their HUD-1 Settlement statement with a letter that they’ll need it for their tax preparation
  • For the Buyers send them a letter with the appropriate information with dates & procedures & contact for filing Homestead exemption
  • Send the School tax exemption information for age-appropriate homeowners
  • Call your clients a month after moving to see if they are settled in
  • Call your past clients and offer a free CMA
  • Offer to speak about the neighborhood values at the next HOA meeting in a neighborhood
  • Once you go under contract, fill out the Important Dates Information for that contract & send it to your co-op agent
  • When you receive an offer on a listing, send the co-op agent an email or text thanking them for the offer & letting them know that you received it
  • When you present an offer on behalf of your Buyers, write a cover letter to the Listing Agent / Seller describing how much your Buyers love that house & want to make it their home – to make your offer a bit more personal than the others the Seller may receive
  • Work with your co-op agent for solutions to issues that may come up rather than being upset & defensive when getting a contract to close
  • Dress like the commission you wish to earn
  • Always wear your name tag so people know you are a real estate professional
  • Follow up conversations with an email summary so that you and your clients & co-agents are on the same page every step of the way!
  • Change out the photos on your listings to keep them current with the seasons and keep your listings fresh
  • Realize that the staff is here to help you and come to the staff with questions BEFORE they reach crisis-mode
  • Answer your emails & voicemails promptly
  • Send a handyman to your new Buyers with the first $250 – $500 of work paid for by you!
  • Drop off pizza & sodas to your clients on moving day!

Ultimately, remember the “Golden Rule” and treat others as you would wish to be treated in a similar situation!


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