Want More Referrals? Here’s Why Top Agents Are So Successful!

In the world of real estate, referrals are crucial. Most people tend to turn first to their network of family and friends when they’re choosing a professional to work with. The opinion of someone a potential client can trust carries a lot of weight. The best way to earn referrals is to develop strong working relationships – and sometimes even friendships – with your clientele. So how do the most-referred agents do it?

Anna Johansson of Inman.com writes that the top skills are:

Genuine Care

Johansson writes “There’s no artificial substitute when it comes to caring about your customers.” People can sense insincerity a mile away. When you have a true commitment to your clients’ happiness, it shows in the work you do and the service you provide.

An In-Person Connection

There’s a lot that you can automate and handle virtually, but having a face to face connection with a client is important as you build a relationship. Part of this is because emails and text messages cannot convey tone of voice and the natural warmth of your personality. Skip the text every once in a while and take the time to have a real conversation.

Accommodation

Each client has different needs. Some will require your full attention and some will want a hands-off approach. Some will need to see every listing in the MLS, and some will make up their minds right away. Your attitude toward their preferences will make a huge difference. As Johannson writes, “Your job is to empower your clients. If you do so, they’ll want to spread the word about it.”

Follow Up

You hear this advice often enough, but here it is again – don’t let them forget about you! There are many ways to stay connected in your clients’ lives, from remembering birthdays and anniversaries, to throwing a housewarming party, or sending a personal note to remind them to file for their homestead exemption.

Openness

Now more than ever, consumers want and expect transparency. Let them see the real you and help them understand the ins and outs of the home buying or selling process. They’ll appreciate honesty so much more than a sugarcoated picture. Openness translates easily into trustworthiness.

 

Is Your Team Losing Interest? Keep Them Invested With These 3 Tips.

In our last blog, we wrote about how to handle an employee who becomes a competitor. While there are steps you should take if this ever happens to you, there are also ways to prevent it from happening. Employees and team members who feel valued and respected don’t feel a need to leave.

Keep The Focus On The Team

As the head of a successful team, there may be a temptation to view your own position as the most important. The truth is, your position relies on your team members and employees for growth and continued success. Almost everyone has been at the mercy of a boss who didn’t value employees and it typically ends in separation. Know what is going on with your team. Respect their time, skills and obligations and recognize their achievements so they can see how important they are to the success of the whole.

Make Room For New Leaders

Just because you can do a job doesn’t mean you’re the best person for it. If one of your team members excels in a certain area, look to them to lead the other members of the group. By placing them in positions of leadership, even just by the way you treat them, you are transferring a bit of ownership. That sense of ownership turns into investment and, in the long run, your employees will understand their value.

Speak Clearly

If you’ve ever worked with a boss who didn’t make their expectations clear, you’ll recognize the importance of this point. Without strong communication, employees are left feeling confused and disconnected, unsure of how to please you or make improvements. Be direct and clear about what you need to see so they can see how they’re contributing to the big picture.

 

3 Ways You Can Set Yourself Apart From The Rest

In the oh-so-small world of real estate, it’s easy to feel like you’re swimming upstream. Whether you’re new to the market or you’re a seasoned pro, competition for real estate is fierce. How can you set yourself and your services apart from the rest?

Find Your Niche

If you’re new to the world of real estate, this one might not come as easily as it would to a more experienced agent. However, focusing on mastering a sub-section of the market is important. Just as in any other business, potential clients are looking for someone who can understand their unique needs, whether it’s a veteran, a luxury buyer, a senior citizen, or a first-time buyer. General knowledge is fine, but finding your niche allows you to shine.

Newer agents may want to focus on a particular neighborhood or zip code, a specific type of property, or a specific kind of client. Seasoned agents can look at their past clientele and transactions to find both their strength and source of joy to find a niche.

Embrace Your Differences

In both personal and professional circles, your personal characteristics, hobbies, and relationships are the most interesting thing about you. Take advantage of any memberships you hold in social organizations, churches, or academic environments and look to serve your fellow members. On social media and on your website, highlight your passions. You may love rescue dogs, local theater and art, or running marathons. These differentiators certainly won’t hurt you, but they will absolutely make you easier to find for a potential client who shares your interests.

Share Your Knowledge

One great way to separate yourself from the crowd is to offer training events or workshops that connect with the public in a meaningful way. Local libraries often offer space for free and these spots make great locations for community classes. You don’t have to stick to the classic first-time home buyer class either. If you’re an expert stager, offer a course on staging a home to sell. If you’ve found a niche working with seniors, offer a class in helping elderly parents move. There are a wealth of topics to teach that could both help the public and help your business.

Reaching Your Target Audience: Senior Citizens

In recent years, more real estate professionals are considering expansion into the real estate market. And with over 20% of the population in the 50+ age range, marketing to seniors could mean a big boost to your business. As with any prospective client, your strategy and consistency need to be on point. If you’re looking to market yourself to an older clientele, consider the following advice.

Don’t Give Up On The Internet
The idea that Facebook is out of the question for grandparents will lead you in the wrong direction! In fact, 26% of Facebook users are 50 or older, with half of those being older than 60. Even more importantly, when you are marketing to senior citizens, you may want to be reaching their children, and another 16% of Facebook users are ages 40-49. Consider sponsored posts and ads to build your following and emphasize your interest in helping the older generation buy and sell.

But Mail Is Still Your Friend
Research shows that about half of senior citizens prefer television and print media to receive their news and information. Direct mail listings will allow you to reach your target demographic and give your prospective clients information on the retirement neighborhoods and communities in their specific area. Aside from bulk mail, consider purchasing an ad in the newspaper or a magazine that targets seniors.

Not Everyone Is Downsizing
While some older clients may be looking to downsize their home or to move into a retirement community, some are looking to maintain the home and lifestyle they’ve become accustomed to. Others may want to keep enough space in their home for children and grandchildren who come to visit.

Anticipate The Emotions
There are lots of reasons senior citizens may want to move out of their home, and not all of them are happy. Some may be dealing with loss of pride and independence as they move into assisted living, some may be moving after the death of a spouse, and some may be moving at the insistence of adult children. If an adult child is involved, the parent may feel like they are left out of the decision, so make sure to include them in conversation. The process may not be an easy one, so offer kindness, sensitivity, and patience.

SOURCES:
http://www.seniorlivingmag.com/articles/2013/07/why-todays-seniors-are-buying-real-estate
http://themembersedge.blogs.realtor.org/2012/07/11/tips-for-realtors-specializing-in-real-estate-for-senior-citizens/
http://www.streetdirectory.com/travel_guide/64529/real_estate/marketing_to_seniors_in_the_real_estate_market.html

Marketing Your Business In March

Spring is here! While some are getting the itch to declutter and clean, it’s a great time to declutter what isn’t working in your business and make some new marketing plans!

Start (or beef up) your Instagram account

Here’s some big news – Instagram is now featured and shared on more websites than Twitter. While Twitter still has more account holders, this news means that Instagram is still growing steadily and more and more businesses and blogs are turning toward this trend. If you haven’t already set up an Instagram account, now is the time to do it! With a visual business like real estate, you’ll be missing out if you don’t.

What’s Coming Up?

April has some fun you can feature on social media and other marketing. April Fools Day, is of course, a lot of fun. Passover begins on March 30 and Easter falls April 1 this year. But don’t miss out on sending your clients and followers tips on green home living and recycling as Earth Day approaches on April 20.

Social Media Focus: Green Living

As we mentioned above, Earth Day on April 20 will have a lot of minds turning toward recycling and green living options. Highlight your local recycling center, tips on conserving water and energy at home, and growing your own vegetables. The spring season will have your followers craving this info.

Social Media Challenge: Make a Plan

Some entrepreneurs may like to “wing it” in their social media marketing. But in this day and age, social media provides the most affordable way to reach your followers. You can get in on their everyday conversations and promote your business, free of cost (unless you choose to run an ad). Your social media marketing should receive just as much attention, if not more, than your other forms of marketing. Sit down and ask yourself what you want to accomplish on social media? More followers? More leads? More visibility? How will you get there…by posting more regularly, by running occasional ads, and by developing a strong and consistent presence online.

You Need A Vacation!

When you are in charge of your own business, there’s an assumption that you can do whatever you want with your time. However, that “freedom” often makes it harder to get away. And even when you do take a rare vacation, it’s hard to make it a true vacation – work always beckons.

With Labor Day weekend coming up, here are some whys and hows of how to take the time that you need without sacrificing your business.

WHY YOU NEED TO TAKE A VACATION

First of all, multiple studies have shown that your brain still works while it’s relaxing. In fact, during mental “down time” your brain is focusing itself on boring, but essential, tasks like memorizing skills you learned last week.

Secondly, your brain has two levels of operation. One level is focused on tasks while the other is focused on letting your mind wander. If you are always in task mode, your brain isn’t able to daydream, wander, and come up with creative solutions.

Thirdly, it is scientifically proven that people who take several short vacations are happier and remain happier for up to two weeks after their vacation is done. So, it’s not only beneficial to take some time off but to take smaller, more frequent vacations.

 

HOW YOU CAN MAKE IT HAPPEN

Plan. Plan for how taking the time off will impact your business. What might happen while you’re away and how can you plan for it now?

Arrange for Help. Even though you’re operating independently there are probably other agents in your office who can cover for you while you’re gone, especially if you offer to return the favor. Set up what you need before you leave and work out how compensation will work in case you need to call on them.

Be Clear with your Clients. You don’t want to surprise your clients with having your fellow agent step in to cover their questions, showings, etc. Make sure all of your clients know you’ll be out of town and introduce them to your colleague (at least via email) before your departure so they feel comfortable with the situation.

If You Must Work. If you plan on being reachable during your vacation, make sure you set aside specific times to handle work calls and emails so that they don’t interfere with your time or your family’s time to relax. Schedule a little time in the morning and/or a little time in the evening to catch up on what you’ve missed!

 

Steal Some Of Retail’s Biggest Tricks For Your Next Open House

Did you know that when stores pipe in a vanilla scent, customers are more likely to impulse buy? When preparing an Open House, a vanilla scent may lure buyers into considering the property, but impulsive decisions don’t often end well for either party. Likewise, the smell of cleaning products, particularly orange scented products, gives consumers a feeling generosity.  The clean, orange smell may help your potential buyers see the value of a home.

There are so many things that influence the way we buy. Retail stores have used psychological triggers to their advantage for years. And some of those same tips may help you sell more quickly!

SCENT

As stated above, vanilla scents lead to more impulse purchases, while clean scents lead to generosity. And of course, most of us have heard that the scent of baking bread, or even bacon, gives many people a feeling of “Home Sweet Home”. So, for your next open house, ditch the vanilla candle and try something new!

COLOR

Our minds are easily provoked by color, which is why color psychology should be considered when staging or even repainting a home to sell.

Red – Red gives consumers a sense of urgency and encourages people to take action quickly.

Blue – Blue gives us feelings of trust and security. It may be the perfect choice for a great home in a less-than-ideal neighborhood.

Green – Green is calming and soothing and linked to growth and wealth.

Black – Black evokes class and sophistication, used most frequently when marketing luxury items.

MUSIC

If you’re hoping your potential buyers will linger and take their time as they walk through an open house, the right music can help. Music with a fast tempo increases heart rate and encourages us to move quickly. Conversely, a slower tempo helps us slow down and take our time.

Genre can make a difference as well. Consumers listening to classical music in a retail environment are more inclined to spend their money on luxury items. Customers listening to Top-40 pop music usually make smaller and cheaper purchases.

 

Sources and Further Reading:

Using Colors and Shapes to Convert Shoppers
6 Psychological Triggers that Win Sales
Smell Manipulation
Sight, Smell and Sound and Consumer Behavior

 

Organize for Better Business

Staying organized during a busy season can be daunting, or even impossible, for some. Here are some great ways to cut down on the clutter and keep your clients’ files controlled.

desk-clutter-1530033-640x480

In The Office

  • Before you file anything, take a real look at what you’re putting away. Many of us stack papers and pile things up that we may never need or look at again. Realtor.org recommends that you “organize those you must keep so they correspond with how you transact business. For instance, arrange papers by prospect or neighborhood. Make one file each for maps, expense reports, and legal documents.”
  • Use different colors for folders or tabs to indicate the types of files in your system. And of course, make sure everything is clearly labeled for easy retrieval.
  • If something can be scanned and saved electronically – do it. Keep it all safe in a cloud-based system like Google Drive, Dropbox, or similar.
  • Finally, use a quiet day to organize the paperwork and do it frequently to avoid getting overwhelmed.

On The Road

  • Keep your papers in a plastic file case to make things easier to tote so that your important documents won’t be left behind, damaged by rain, ruined by food, etc.
  • Find a container that you can easily store on the floor of the backseat to keep the things you often need, like an umbrella, clipboard, measuring tape, air fresheners, etc. By keeping it all in one handy container, you’ll be able to carry things easily into the house and unload at your own office or home.

Helpful Apps

  • Apps like Everlance and MileIQ will track your mileage automatically so you’ll have it at your fingertips at tax time.
  • Circle Back will clean and complete contact information and merge duplicates so that your list can stay up to date.
  • If you’re looking to simplify your social media pursuits, Pocket is an easy to use bookmark tool that helps you to save content and articles you find on the web to your “pocket,” making it much easier to access (and remember) for your blog or newsletters later.

 

What tools do you use to keep your business in order? We’d love to hear about them!

All About SEO

What is SEO? You’ve probably heard the term thrown around in meetings about websites and social media. And you may already know that it stands for “Search Engine Optimization.” But what does that mean?

SEO for Real Estate

In short, SEO is the process of getting traffic to your website from the free and organic search results on search engines.

How Search Engines Rank Sites

When someone searches for a term using Google, Bing, Yahoo, etc., the search engine gets information from your page and every other page on the internet to determine what sites are the most relevant to the topic. You can pay, of course, for an ad that puts your information front and center for certain search terms. However, by using the right SEO strategy, you can earn a higher ranking without spending any of your advertising budget. Here’s what goes into search result ranking:

Clicks Help SEO

Each time someone searches for “New Homes in Texas”, the search engine will keep track of which results are clicked most often. The website with the most clicks will earn a higher ranking. This is a very difficult component to change. If a website has earned a top spot in a search result, it will continue to earn more clicks. If your page is appearing on the fourth, fifth, or later page in the results, it will be very difficult for you to get more organic clicks.

Content Helps SEO

This is one of the best and easiest ways to impact your position in the results. Sites like Google look at the words populating your site. If people are searching for “real estate agent”, search engines look for how many times those words appear on your pages. This is why blogging is a great idea! Instead of having five or six pages on your site that point Google in the right direction, a regularly updated blog can add an ever-increasing number of pages.

You may have seen places for “Meta Title”, “Meta Description” and “Meta Tags” at the bottom of a website editing program. These things are embedded in the page’s code, rendering them invisible to your viewer, but very visible to search engines. Again, these all help tell the search engines what your page is about.

Links Help SEO

It’s all about relevance. Adding links to other pages on your site is helpful, as long as the links are relevant to the services you’re offering. So, by linking to your brokerage website, to lenders, title companies, inspectors, and other vendors, you’re helping search engines recognize your value to the topic at hand. If other sites link back to you, it’s even better!

Updates Help SEO

A site that isn’t updated regularly won’t look relevant to search engines. To improve your SEO, make sure your site is regularly updated. Blogs, again, are a great way to update regularly, add content, and add links.


SOURCES AND FURTHER READING:
https://moz.com/beginners-guide-to-seo
http://www.mtu.edu/umc/services/digital/seo/
http://www.webopedia.com/TERM/S/SEO.html

 

Get Some Online Attention For Your Open House

It’s no secret that digital marketing is the easiest, and often cheapest way to meet your next customer. More than 75% of American adults have a mobile phone with a data plan. The entire internet is at our fingertips, in our back pocket, and in our purses. With social media growing each year, online is the very best place to showcase your business.

if you’re marketing an Open House in the near future, here are some ways you can best take advantage of our constant access to the web.

Make Good Use Of Video

Videos have a much higher rate of engagement than photos do. And with such a wide variety of apps on the market that make creating videos and slideshows simple, there’s no excuse for not marketing one. If you’re looking for something extraordinarily easy, check out Quik (Free), which creates interesting and unique videos, complete with music, using photos you choose. If you want a little more control over your videos, our pick is Pinnacle Studio Pro ($12.99, but worth the investment).

Create a Facebook Page for the Property

Go to http://www.facebook.com/pages/create.php to create a page for your property. Select “Local Business or Place”, the  “Real Estate” as the category. Use the house address for the business name and add your own information as the contact. By inviting people to like this page, you’re focusing your attention on a smaller, but more responsive group and avoiding spamming the news feed she of people who aren’t interested. You can also boost and advertise posts to reach a better demographic for your listing. Once your page I see set up, create an event to promote the specific Open House dates.

Create an eFlyer

For this, you can use an email service like MailChimp or Constant Contact to create a flyer and distribute it to your full list. If you want a little more creativity, try an app like Canva, which makes it easy to create images and pdf files you can pass along. Don’t forget to post your eFlyer on social media, too! Include links to your single property website, facebook business page and more.

Submit, Submit, Submit

Submit your Open House to event websites. There are obvious chouses, like Realtor.com, but do not skip sites like Craigslist, LinkedIn, and Eventbrit

Go Live

On the day of your Open House, arrive early and walk your followers through a live showing. Show off the unique features of your listing. But don’t stop there. Go live again as prospective buyers arrive ano get some real time reactions as they view the home