Associate Tools

The ATM problem that solves a Real Estate Dilemma

Alliance Agents; would it be fair to say that prospecting for new clients has changed dramatically since the 80’s, 90’s and even the early 2000’s?

Yet the ways people respond to prospecting efforts remains the same.  Specifically the expectations of the consuming public remains the same.  To rise above the noise of the crowd your commitment to customer service that is not just above and beyond average, but sterling in quality and execution must increase. 

The most important change is in the various methods of communication available to us as we prospect. (At this point it is prudent to state that if you are not prospecting for new business on a regular basis, you most certainly should begin to incorporate it into your business model).

While the venues of engagement are dramatically different; people still want, expect and deserve the warm, caring, personal attention that has always been the trademark standard for the Alliance family of products, services and above all the Broker Associates.

The biggest change we have seen in recent years is that the majority of interaction with our potential clients has shifted from personal contact to almost exclusively virtual relations.

Our challenge is in providing a warm personal experience via iPhone or tablet.  How do we convey caring that builds relationships and strong customer loyalty via virtual engagement through machines?

This was the dilemma banks were faced with solving, and the answers they discovered are an avenue of solution in the real estate industry.

Where once upon a time you walked into your banking establishment, were greeted by friendly personnel, offered coffee or a sweet treat and exchanged small talk while the teller completed your transaction, the convenience of the ATM machine put an end to most of that face time.

People preferred dealing with the machine over parking, getting out of the car and walking inside to stand in line.  Free coffee and friendly smiles were not enough to entice them away from the convenience of remaining in their "comfort zone"; their vehicles.

Over a short amount of time banks began to notice a trend that was disturbing.  Without those personal warm fuzzy interactions occurring, loyalty to brands vaporized into thin air.  What was happening was that the first time the ATM machine failed to function perfectly customers were more willing and actually did begin to change who they gave their banking business to.

The focus was on how to solve the dilemma of building and retaining customer loyalty, while maintaining the ease of drive through convenience.

They simply had to find a way to incorporate the same excellent personal customer service that inspired much of the initial loyalty they had enjoyed.  It became a matter of finding a way to humanize the mechanical engagement, so virtual interaction would simulate closely the same feelings face to face contact created.

They found answers that worked for them.  The process they went through saves us in the real estate industry having to start from scratch.  Smooth mechanics mixed with attention to detail has revolutionized their customer ATM experiences and begun to rebuild the customer loyalty they want to maintain.  (Having envelopes available at the ATM along with extra deposit slips is one detail they gave attention to that helped!)

APPLY THIS TO YOUR PROSPECTING

All prospecting in real estate is about engaging virtual strangers in order to build relationship and do so quickly, in order to lead to actual business being conducted.  Whether the potential client is a buyer or seller the desired outcome is the same. 

  • Engage
  • Build rapport
  • Conduct business. 

Humanizing engagement within the social platforms we work with is fairly easy, but inspiring engagement is usually the tougher issue to tackle.  A combination of written, video and interactive posts will help you discover what your audience responds best to.

Have you considered how to make one or more of the different media platforms available as part of your regular prospecting efforts?  

Attending Social Occasions Online

CAN SOCIAL MEDIA BE AN OUTLET FOR MARKETING AND PROSPECTING?

The social media possibilities are as endless as our personal life activities are diverse.  For instance if you like to skydive chances are you are tapping into a group of people very different from the back yard garden enthusiast. 

Read More

Market Videos from VScreen

We're excited to announce a great new feature to the HomesInColorado website platform -- Market Update videos! 

These market update videos show a consumer a snapshot report of what's been happening in their local real estate market for the past month -- showing an interactive display of number of houses listed, sold, median list price, average days on market, and much, much more! 

Here's an example of this month's Market Update for the Louisville & Superior area: 

Each month, new stats will be published and will update the videos for all of the areas we feature. With these videos, you could set  a buyer up on one of the Action Plan campaigns in rDesk, which links to an existing page on homesincolorado.com.

You could also add this page as a link on your personalized HomesInColorado website, embed just the videos through use of one of the widgets, and so much more! 

Listing Videos by VScreen

As you all know, in the world of online listings, there is quite the competition to get your listing noticed first, and to leave a lasting impression with potential buyers. In today's marketplace there are literally thousands of websites potential buyers can use to search all available homes for sale. 

Since the dawn of 3rd party sites such as Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and others, RE/MAX Alliance has always touted our own brokerage website, homesincolorado.com,  for property search over others. Why, you might ask? Well, for starters, the data we feature on homesincolorado.com is far more timely and accurate on our website than these third party sites. We can also display more information from the MLS on all the listings than some of these other sites can. We also add value for the consumer from the "no ads" approach -- it's less confusing for a consumer trying to contact one of our Realtors about a listing -- there aren't several faces & names vying for their attention on the listing's web page on homesincolorado.com.

Plus, did we mention that on the HomesInColorado web site you also have your own personal website with all of these same great features? And now, as if you didn't need another reason to send your clients to homesincolorado.com, RE/MAX Alliance has partnered with a video company called VScreen to add exclusive listing videos to your listings! 

So, what does this Listing Video look like, you ask? Here are a few example videos of current RE/MAX Alliance listings: 


VScreen takes the data and photos you've input in your listing from the MLS and automatically creates this informational/promotional video for your listing. It's also updated regularly with current mortgage rates and other statistics that are shown in the video. The videos, while templated, aren't all the same. Each video will show a different variety of slides based on the home's best features. So for example, let's use the WalkScore component. If your listing's WalkScore is a 1 out of 5 stars, that's probably not a very marketable feature of the home, and it therefore isn't shown on the video. But instead, let's say the house has a 5 car garage -- instead, a slide that talks about the extra parking spaces will be shown. 

You'll also notice when viewing the listing videos on HomesInColorado that there is a convenient "share" button in the top right corner -- you can click this button to easily share the videos with your social media networks! You can also share the video & listing by sharing the link on HomesInColorado -- the quick way to get that link is to use this short URL of: www.homesincolorado.com/mls# (<-- insert the listing's MLS number here). That way you can share the video & listing information out via email or on printed materials, as well. 

So when can you first see these videos on your listings? We're launching them on HomesInColorado on September 1st, 2014! So stay tuned, and be sure to check it out on Sept. 1st. 

 

 

 

 

 

Realtor Tips: How to Host the Perfect Open House

It is pretty common in Colorado's competitive market, as well as other places, for a home that is fairly priced and in good condition to sell without ever hosting an open house.  However, most Realtors still believe in the power of the open house, especially when it comes to encouraging multiple offers or breathing new life into a somewhat stale listing.

Of course there are tons of other reasons to host an open house as well, practically if the home has been remodeled or renovated, was taken off the market and put back on, is a new-build, or is in a particularly popular community.  Furthermore many Realtors see an advantage in hosting "neighborhood open houses" which are designed to bring the immediate community together not necessarily to fuel the listing, but to encourage community relationships.  Having said all that, there are also several things you, as a Realtor, definitely want to do and don’t want to do when planning an open house. And, here they are!

  • Preach the golden rules! Clean, de-clutter, depersonalize, and stage.  These fundamental guidelines should never be overlooked and will go a lot further than any other single thing you can do.
  • Make sure agent and client expectations and realities are the same.
  • Consider putting forth funds which can be reimbursed at closing for things like staging items, carpet cleaning, and floor replacement if the homeowner is unable to cover those costs.
  • Make certain the open house is marketed in local publications a few days prior and advertised well on the streets the day of. 
  • Showcase the home’s features by encouraging people to open doors to closets, appliances, garages, and outside living spaces.
  • Have some handouts prepared that include listing information and offer consideration requirements, as well as some community details.
  • Encourage families to bring their children and other family members to the open house with them.
  • Put up signage that indicates things like where the crawl space entrance and sprinkler controls are located. 
  • Open house agents should invite guests to preview the home freely, but should also interact with them by giving them a “tour” of specific elements without being over bearing.
  • Have a sign in sheet with phone numbers and emails.

Realtor McDonald had a Farm...

If you were a savvy real estate farmer, the rest of the rhyme would go... e-i-e-i-o, and on his farm he had a plan, e-i-e-i-o with a regular mailer here, and an annual event there, here a buyer, there a seller, and all the neighbors know my name, Realtor McDonald had a farm, e-i-e-i-o.

Okay, so maybe that was a stretch trying to connect the song with the concept, but you get my point and can clearly see the idea behind it. And, although the two kinds of farms we are drawing a comparison between are in two completely different industries, they do have several similarities that make for an easy metaphor. One is the amount of time it takes to cultivate a producing farm and the upfront manual labor involved in planting each seed and raising them into their maturity. So with that in mind, here are some tips for sowing a lucrative and long standing geographical real estate farm.

Any successful farm did not grow and produce fruit overnight. You must dedicate at least a year to your marketing before you can expect to see any results. In fact, it will likely take several years before you see a return on your investment. But after a 10 year commitment you should be making a profit off your farm. Preparing for the time it will take is key

Set rules around your farm. Decide what you are going to do and do it.  If you say you are going to knock on doors, than knock on ten tomorrow! If you say you are going to throw a summer neighbor appreciation BBQ, then contact the HOA today. Start the official neighborhood page on Nextdoor.com and become their neighborhood moderator.

Host every open house possible in that neighborhood or offer to do showings for other agents. It is not a waist even if you are an experienced agent. The more you show up, the more you are present in the minds of the community. If it is your own open house, maybe consider hosting a cocktail party/open house event just for the neighbors and get the conversation going about the value of the homes and the community in general.

Think of ways to reach your farm that are outside of the box or unique to the community. For instance, arrange offers for a free day of swimming at the local rec-center, Christmas tree removal services, discounted lawn services or how about a coupon for a free septic test. Likewise consider sponsoring things like events, sports teams, neighborhood watch programs, rummage sales and regular summer scavenger hunt to help put your friendly face in front of the community more often. 

Smart Realtors Budget for Success

Ever wonder how the top agents in real estate handle the peaks and valleys of their budding business to become the mega producers of our industry? The answer is simple, they budget for success. Regardless of the talents and knowledge top real estate agents possess, without a firm grasp on their ability to manage their income and expenses, none would be the successes they are now. In fact, in one of the recent Top Producers’ Panels hosted by RE/MAX Alliance’s Young Alliance Networking Group, we heard right from the source that if you don't budget wisely, you will always be relying on the next sale. Of course, this is not saying you don't want it, it just means that your business has reached a point where your livelihood is not set against every transaction.

In retrospect, reaching this point is also the ideal situation for your clients. They then know that their representation is solely based on your ability to advocate for them and not your commission. So the next question is, how do you budget your real estate business for success? And the answer to that is not quite as simple. It is something that should be discuss with your CPA in detail. Initially there are a few things you should start to consider now:

  • Plan for taxes. This means your commission is not as big as you thought it was.
  • Pay into your savings every time you receive a commission.
  • Prepare a budget forecast for each year and project how many sales are “needed” to reach that goal.
  • Get into the habit of paying yourself a small salary, which might mean living a bit below your means.
  • Budget everything. If you don't consider things like how much gas you need and additional daycare expenses, you will come up sort somewhere.
  • Budget your marketing. If you know each listing will cost you a certain dollar figure make sure you account for that.
  • Reward yourself and your family, so that you want to stick with your budget.
  • Never stop prospecting even when you reach the state where you don’t need every sale.
  • Track your progress throughout the year and see how it aligns with your goals.
  • Use a CRM! (Client Relationship Management system)

 

The Possibilities of an Agent Enhanced Website

One of the most important pieces of the marketing puzzle for today’s savvy Realtor, is having a website which generates leads and can be used as a source of information for their clients. This is why RE/MAX Alliance provides their agent’s with the opportunity to purchase an “enhanced website” and branded mobile website, which can be used as a great prospecting/farming and listing presentation tool!!!  

If you are a RE/MAX Alliance agent and would like to learn more about our HomesInColorado.com enhanced websites, please contact your office admin today.  If you are looking at the possibility of joining our team by becoming a RE/MAX Alliance agent and would like to learn more about our agent support services, please contact Paula Budd at: pbudd@homesincolorado.com or 303-757-7474.

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Simple way to use Video in your marketing

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We'll be expounding on this considerably in the future, but for the time being, I want to introduce you to a new app called Qwiki.  

This is a great way to create video in moments.  Use it on your listings, your website, your social media channels.

Learn how to make a movie in 8 minutes in only 3 minutes and 30 seconds! You heard that right. We're going to make a short movie about going to Breckenridge, CO in 8 minutes in only 3 minutes and 30 seconds! I've never used Qwiki before, and here were my first impressions as I test to see whether it's a viable option for the transfer of the old Colorado Moves Ptch Group. We'll see. Either way, it's a fun app.


Agent Tips - How To Get and Close More Clients

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The hardest part of the business for most real estate agents, whether they are new to the industry or seasoned veterans, is finding qualified leads and closing them.  In real estate, the best kind of clients are those which are motivated, focused, and have the desire to purchase a new home according to a specific timeline.  Specifically these clients are ideal because you don’t have to “sell” them on the idea of moving, you just have to sell them a house that fits their needs.  When you have to actually sell a client on the idea of moving, because they are sitting on the fence, this is where your sales skills really come into play. To clarify, you are not pushing them into a decision they do not want to make, you are merely getting them to make a clearer decision to sell or buy.  Many people contact real estate agents when they are just toying with the idea of purchasing or selling a home, either because they want to get more information or because they want to see what's available to them.  But, if they have made the first step in contacting you, your next step is to guide them in a decisive and timely direction.  Here are some tips for agents on how to obtain more leads. 

1. Ask for referrals from existing clients, friends, family, and people you just met.  As a real estate agent, you need to feel confident selling yourself and putting the word out about the services you provide is the only way to get people interested.  Tip: Don’t be overbearing, simply say something like, if you know of anyone looking to buy or sell a home, please send them my way and I would be happy to help. Then GIVE THEM A BUSINESS CARD.  You can also achieve this through marketing tools like mailers and emails.

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2. Host a social event for existing clients where you ask them to bring a friend who is looking to buy or sell a home.  Market this event as something fun and a way for potential buyers and sellers to talk to an agent without feeling the pressure to sign a contract. Tip: Provide valuable tools to potential buyers and sellers that they can take home, like a packet which contains market statistics, your listing presentation, your marketing strategy, and your closing stats.

3. Network with other real estate professionals.  Real estate agents are the only people who can legally receive financial compensation from other agents for sending a referral their way.  Tip: Many agents are contacted by their past clients because they know of someone who is buying or selling their house in another area. They will directly ask their agent if they know of anyone who specializes in that specific area or type of sale, and if so, could they recommend someone.  

4.Canvass neighborhoods, especially in places where you currently have listings.  Tip: Most people do not like door to door solicitors, so instead quietly leave your information on their doorstep along with “something of value” like a coupon for a free soft serve at the local ice cream shop.  Don’t forget to mention if you are already working with, or have in the past, worked with one of their neighbors.

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5. Practice your sales pitch via a recording.  In sales it is all about knowing what to say and how to say it.  Tip: YOU HAVE TO BE CONFIDENT!  If you don’t believe in your services no one else will, so try to role play with different approaches to figure out what sales style your are most comfortable with.  

6. Understand that people have different communication styles and not everyone is great with face to face verbal contact.  Tip: Read up on how to identify different communications styles and practice selling angles for each of them.

7. Offer incentives for people to sign a contract. Tip: According to real estate law, you CAN'T say if you give me a referral or sign a contract with me, I will give you something in return.  With that being said, you can say things like: we are offering a discount of 0.5% rebate to clients who sign a contract in March and all of our closings come with a free 3 hour house cleaning to help with the move.  The key is if you are going to offer a credit, gift, or service, the person must be a party to the contract.   

8. Get online!  If you are not online these days, you have less chance of being found.  Tip: The majority of people buying and selling homes, begin the process by registering for an online real estate site.  Offering home search tools, buying and selling tips, your marketing strategies, and community information on your site will help to affirm your place as a resource for real estate.

Install Xerox WorkCentre Printer on Mac OS X 10.8

Xerox print drivers are automatically updated with Software Update.  Unfortunately, the latest version of the driver causes accounting codes to not work properly.  If you have, or have not previously installed Xerox WorkCentre 7500 Series printers on your mac, this video should help you get printing again.  Hint: Click the settings gear in the lower right corner of the video and choose 720p for a clearer picture.