Employee Spotlight: Karen Shaffer

 

 

Screen Shot 2017-03-31 at 5.39.47 PMThis month, we’re excited to introduce you to Karen Shaffer. Karen joined Frontier as Director of Business Development for the San Antonio Office 4 years ago. Prior to that, she worked in Marketing and Sales for USA Today, and before that, her career included Wholesale Mortgage, Pharmaceutical Sales, and Flight Attendant! We asked Karen a few questions about herself, and to tell us about her experience working at Frontier Title Company. 

When did you come to Frontier Title Company?

It will be 4 years this April. I interviewed with Doug, our owner, and we found out we’re both from Illinois. He went to University of Illinois – he actually grew up in the same neighborhood my husband is from – and I went to Eastern Illinois University. He said he was a Cubs fan, and I said, “Where do I sign?”

What do you think sets Frontier Title Company apart?

Honestly, we truly want to do whatever we can to make agents’ lives easier. We’re here for them, to help them grow in their business and be as successful as they can be. We want to make the transaction as smooth as possible, helping them every step of the way. We sincerely care about them and their clients, it doesn’t matter if it’s a $50,000 deal or a luxury property – we treat everyone the same. 

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Building relationships. I’ve made a lot of really good business relationships that are now strong friendships. I really mean that.  

What are three of your personal values?  

Honesty, Compassion, and Kindness

What is your personal philosophy?

Treat everyone the way you want to be treated.

How do you spend your time outside of work?

With family and friends!

To contact Karen Shaffer, email kshaffer@frontiertitletexas.com or call 210-393-7068.

5 Apps You Need To Create Images On The Go

In the image-based world of real estate, having a visually strong and engaging presence is crucial. Before you hire a graphic designer, consider the following apps, which allow you to create images on the go:

Canva

Canva, available on at Canva.com and via the App Store is an impressive, and impressively easy, tool. You don’t need fancy skills to create fantastic branded images. Canva has pre-designed, pre-sized graphics and templates for Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest and more. You can choose a layout, use your own images, supplement with Canvas tools, and more, all for free.

Over

Over is an app available for Android and iPhone, and it allows you to turn your mobile device into a pretty decent design studio. It’s best for photo-editing, with easy ways to add text, choose a background, change fonts, and share directly to Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.

PiktoChart

You may need to be a little more patient in using PiktoChart. The program makes it relatively to create infographics, but it’s also useful for images, reports, presentations, and more. You can work with a template or create an original design.

Snapseed

With Snapseed, there are no more excuses for not presenting professional-grade photos of your listings. Snapseed can, in most cases, edit your photos to perfection with a little bit of practice.

Skitch

If you’re a fan of the Evernote app, you’ll love Skitch, a web-based application for photo editing. The program is perfect for marking up photos, making notes, or pointing out locations on maps. It’s a simple tool, and excellent for collaboration with clients.

 

So what are we missing? What are your favorite apps for creating and editing images? We’d love to hear!

Avoid These Mistakes When Writing A Business Plan

Frontier Title Texas | Real Estate Advice

Whether you’ve got a great idea for your business venture or you’re following in the footsteps of a mentor or competitor you admire, it’s important to create a business plan. A business plan is a summary of everything you plan and hope to achieve – and how you are going to achieve it.

There are many ways to create your business plan, but here are the mistakes you need to avoid:

1. Putting It Off

When you’re starting your business, things are busy. You have a lot to do in a short period of time to start generating income. And while a few lucky entrepreneurs will have a natural knack for business, we all need a road map. You’ll be more confident in your business and more prepared as you move forward if you create a plan.

2. Not Having A Purpose Behind Your Plan

There are different kinds of business plans, and the plan you write should have a purpose in mind. Obviously, it’s a picture of your business on paper, but who is it for? Is it a blueprint for you and your employees? Is it a plea to a potential lender for a business loan? Are you trying to attract investors? You should have these goals in mind and they should affect the way you write.

3. Not Understanding Your Own Business Model

Planning to go into business is not a business model. A business model is a plan for creating revenue and income beyond your expenses. Even if you have been in the industry for a while, putting your expenses, plan for revenue, and actual revenue down on paper will help you understand how your business is working. You’ll be able to see and track your progress (and missteps) and better prepare for the future.

4. Not Being Willing To Change

You may have a great idea for your business methods – an idea you’re convinced will work. It can be difficult to part with a novel idea. Having the flexibility (and humility) to move on when your plan doesn’t prove successful is an important skill. By all means, ambition and ingenuity are crucial for business survival, but so is knowing when it’s time to close a door on an idea.

5. Setting and Forgetting

If you take the time to write a well-thought-out business plan, then never look at it again, you’ve wasted time, energy, and the business itself. A business plan is a plan for success – don’t ignore it. As you move through the other stages of your business, you’ll want to edit, add, and revise your plan to make sure you stay on a path to success.

How To Create A Solid Social Media Strategy

Frontier Title Texas | Real Estate Advice

With social media being so available, so affordable, so omnipresent in our society, it makes sense that most businesses and entrepreneurs – not to mention consumers – are turning to social media. So you need a social media marketing plan? It’s hard enough to form a solid plan, let alone build one from scratch.

What is a social media marketing plan?

A social media marketing plan is a road map of everything you plan (and hope) to accomplish for your business by using social media as a platform. Your plan should include where you are today, where you want to be, and how you hope to get there. Be both specific and reasonable with your goals. Additionally, your social media marketing plan is a piece of the bigger puzzle – your entire marketing plan.

Objectives and Goals

First, determine why you want to use social media and what using it will achieve. Do you want to strengthen exposure for your business? Are you looking to attract more followers? Do you want to generate leads? Your goals should align with your broader marketing strategy. Wanting more likes or retweets is one thing, but let yourself go beyond these simple answers and strive for more leads, referrals, and client conversions.

Goals should follow the SMART framework. Meaning, all objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound.

Conduct an Audit

An audit will give you a good idea of where you are right now. Ask yourself these questions to start:

  • How many social media platforms am I using?
  • Are my usernames/profile information/photos relatively consistent?
  • How many followers do I have on each platform?
  • What is my mission for each social media platform? (Example: We use Instagram to show followers a more personal side of our business.”
  • Who is my target audience for each platform? Are my current posts relevant for that demographic?

Determine the purpose and function of each social profile you’re using. If you can’t determine the purpose, it’s probably time to delete the profile.

Improve Your Existing Profiles

After your audit is complete, you’ll have a good idea of what’s working and what needs improvement. Choose which networks meet your objectives and focus on these. Build them up or improve them from where they are, keeping your audience and your broader marketing plan in mind.

Find Inspiration

If you’re feeling a little stuck on how to start and what kind of information to share, look around at what others in your industry are doing. Chances are, there’s a pattern that you can follow to increase your engagement and interest. Of course, you still want to differentiate your brand and your services, but use your competitors and industry leaders as a source of inspiration. How often are they sharing? What is their response style?

Create A Plan

A strong plan includes a content schedule, visual strategy, and a plan for evaluation. Determine what types of content you will post, how often you’ll post, and how you’ll promote the content. Decide on a look for your social media, and stick with it to establish a recognizable and trusted presence. As time goes on, pay attention to your social media insights and adjust your plan accordingly.

Building Long Term Relationships With Your Clients

Frontier Title Texas | Real Estate Advice

We all know that building long term relationships with clients is an important skill for business in real estate, and many other industries. Retaining existing clients is not only cost-effective, but it also helps build your business through referrals. While nothing can replace that instant “click” you feel with certain clients, here are a few ways to keep you top-of-mind with your happy customers.

Drip Marketing

Automated and scheduled emails are a great way to keep in touch, and can offer excellent information to your homeowners. Send reminders for home maintenance, homestead exemptions, and more, as well as birthday and anniversary greetings – ensuring that when it’s time for them to sell, you are the first person they think of.

Communication

When dealing with such a big transaction, there’s no such thing as too much communication. As your clients move through the process of buying or selling their home, make sure that you’re available and relaying information consistently. This will build both trust and esteem, which builds happy customers, which builds referrals.

Personal Attention

Each client has something that you can target in on. Speak to them, letting them know you remember what’s important to their family and that you’re keeping them in mind. If you have a client who’s a fanatic sports fan, has school-age children, enjoys hunting and fishing, etc., you can tailor your greetings to fit their personal likes and dislikes. Pay attention to their interests and concerns and you’ll be able to speak more directly in your correspondence.

Business Updates

As your business changes, it’s important to keep your clients informed. Let them know if you’re changing brokerages, or focusing more on a certain area or clientele. Send updates to let them know and include a personal note to let them know you’re thinking of their family.

Mutual Patronage

If your clients are business owners themselves, look for ways that you can partner up. Patronize their business or encourage future homeowners to do so. This practice will help you both and build a relationship that lasts.

Loyalty Rewards

While some may want to funnel their funds into finding new clients, rewarding loyalty in your existing clientele is a gift that keeps on giving. Be sure to properly thank clients for their referrals so that they’ll be encouraged to do so again.

 

Why Do Some Agents Seem to Sell, Sell, Sell?

Frontier Title Texas | Real Estate Advice

Do you ever feel like you’re working hours on end without making the progress you’d like? Additionally, do you feel like some agents seem to have all the luck, selling homes quickly and ganging new clients left and right? If you’re struggling to make the sale, take a look at the top three things that make a property sell. It may be time to strengthen your skills.

Price

A great agent has the ability to set a fair and correct price for a property, so that buyers are enticed and sellers are happy. This requires a strong personality. It’s important to stand your ground when setting a price with your sellers and letting them know what they need to accomplish for the home to earn that price.

Aggressive Marketing

Strong agents will have an aggressive and consistent way to advertise and promote the property. A flyer and Facebook ad may not cut it for every home. If you’re struggling for more ideas, take a look at what your successful competitors are doing for inspiration. You can also check out this list of 50 Creative Ideas to Sell Your Property. A strong marketing plan is two-fold. One, it obviously tells more people about the home. Two, it lets your sellers know how hard you’re working for them, leading to strong referrals down the road.

Strong Negotiating Skills

Successful agents require strong negotiating skills to sit down with the buyer, the seller, and perhaps another agent, to come to an agreement to sell. Again, this is a necessary skill, but one that will also lead to referrals when your seller knows you’ll go to bat for them.

A newer, or weaker agent will probably be lacking in one of these three skills. That agent may not have the courage to speak up and tell a seller when a house is over-priced. A weaker agent may think that listing a house on the MLS is enough, with no real effort on to market it. Or he or she may lack the diplomatic skills to negotiate with buyer and seller for compromise. There’s always room for improvement, and knowing your weaknesses in the first step to solving the problem.

 

Is It Time To Grow Your Team?

Frontier Title Texas | Real Estate Advice

Business is going well and you seem to have more on your plate than you can handle. The idea of adding to your team is starting to feel not only achievable, but necessary. But how do you know when it’s really time to grow?

Here are a few signs that point to necessary team growth:

You’re spending most of your day resolving problems on current transactions or losing time doing paperwork.

This could be a signal that you’re not able to focus on your work. Hiring a team member or two will let you each play to your strengths and free you up for continuing to build the business. Paperwork is something with which a newer agent or assistant should be able to easily assist you.

You are not conducting lead generating activities.

This is how your business grows. If your time and attention is pulled away by other things, you and your business will grow stagnant.

No matter how hard you plan, you just can’t stay on top of things.

When business is booming and you’re the only one working on it, there’s no way you can stick with a plan. When you have to choose between working on your business or finalizing a contract, you’ll choose the contract every time. And your business will suffer for it.

Your work/life balance is way off kilter.

If you wake up and open your email, and fall asleep doing the same, you’re overworked and that can lead to dissatisfaction or even depression. Find some balance by letting someone help you.

If any (or all) of the above statements rang true for you, it’s time to grow! The good news is, it’s time to find someone to ease your burden. The bad news is, you’ve got to find time to hire!

The question is: are you ready to create a team? Or would your needs be satisfied with an assistant or part-time help? Hiring a team requires a lot of work on your end. You’ll need to create policies and procedures, as well as a system that you and your new employees can stick to. Whichever route you choose, take it slow. This is something you want to do well, so don’t rush into a new hire.

 

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 and Easter fall on April 10 and 16, respectively. 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.

The Resource: March 2017

We often hear our real estate friends say they’re short on time and can’t handle regular posting to social media. So, each month, we collect a full month’s worth of posts for you to pass along to clients, friends and family.

Texas Tips

Just For Fun

Around The House

Decor Inspiration

Buying And Selling