Your Fresh Start Is Almost Here – Get Your Business Plan Ready!

If business is slowing down this holiday season, you could be looking forward to the rest and relaxation. Taking the time to rejuvenate is crucial to staying energized throughout the year and give you a good, fresh feeling when things pick up again. However, if you’ve got the energy and drive (and we know you do!) then this is the perfect time to make a plan for better business!

Plan It Out

This is a great time for reflection on the last year of your business. What has worked for you? What has caused you extra stress? What have been your shining moments? What opportunities did you miss?  As you look ahead to the new year, think about what you can get down on paper now to ensure success. Make sure you have holiday mailings, promotions, and events scheduled out with notifications and reminders so that you don’t miss a single chance to reach a new client.

Make Your Resolutions NOW

Where would you like your business to be this time next year and what can you do to set things in motion? Make New Years Resolutions for your business. What would help you the most? Can you make a goal to attend a certain number of networking events each month? How about making a plan to to finally hire an assistant? Hitting a sales milestone or growing your team are great top-of-the-list options.

Say “Hello” for the Holidays

We all know the importance of sending holiday greetings through the mail, but a quick, in-person stop can make a big difference for a special client. Take the opportunity to let them know you see them as more than just a business connection.

Party Time

Host a neighborhood gathering to let your neighbors get to know you a little better. We all prefer doing business with people we know and like. If you’re always talking about your business, this could be a chance to meet others on a new and personal level.

Live Giveaway

Hold an online contest for your social media followers. Who wouldn’t want a little extra money at the holidays. Give away a prepaid gift card to one of your followers for a store or restaurant via live Facebook video. Even better, promise to make the contest a monthly feature of your business. Watch your audience grow with the chance to win!

Look Ahead

What can you do this month to prepare for January? Are you sending out New Year’s postcards? Celebrating other fun holidays like National Pie Day or Strawberry Ice Cream Day? Find some fun ways to include your clients and prospects in New Year fun.

November Social Media Calendar

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.

The Holiday Season

5 Decluttering Projects To Help You Get Ready for the Holidays (Houzz)
15 Simple Thanksgiving Centerpieces (Shelterness)
Bring Farmhouse Touches Into Your Home for Thanksgiving (The Spruce)
Thanksgiving Hosting Hacks (Better Homes and Gardens)

Texas Living

Meanwhile In Texas (Texas Monthly)
How the World Series Finally Vindicated Astros Fans (Texas Monthly)
15 Songs That Embody the Texas Spirit (Wide Open Country)
Texas Meals You Have To See (and Taste) to Believe (Texas Hill Country)

Just For Fun

DIY: Make a Fresh Magnolia Wreath (Houzz)
The Top Travel Destinations of 2018 (Elle Decor)
Peek Inside the Homes of 23 Classic Hollywood Stars (Veranda)
Home Decor Ideas for People Who Love Their Dogs A Little Too Much (Realtor.com)

Around The House

What To Store in the Laundry Room, And What You Shouldn’t (The Spruce)
Composting How-Tos (Better Homes and Gardens)
The Ultimate Stain Removing Guide (Better Homes and Gardens)
Garden Trends for 2018 (HGTV)
Garage Organization Ideas That Will Give You Your Parking Space Back (House Beautiful)
A Tightwad’s Guide to Getting Organized (Organized Home)

Decor Inspiration

15 Cool Shared Spaces Where Kids Can Study (Shelterness)
Stunning Ways to Redecorate the Dining Room (Good Housekeeping)
Natural Fall Decorating Ideas (Real Simple)
Unexpected Patterns that are Perfect for Fall (HGTV)
Luxurious Headboards for a Dreamy Slumber (Luxe Daily)

Buying And Selling

The Problem with Tiny Houses That No One Talks About (Elle Decor)
10 Home Maintenance Myths Costing You Time and Money (HouseLogic)
Should I Bail After A Bad Home Inspection? (The Mortgage Reports)

October Social Media Calendar

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.

Halloween Tips

36 Stylish and Spooky Halloween Decorating Ideas
A Ghosthunter’s Guide To Buying A Real Haunted House
81 Cool Fall Table Decorating Ideas
Decorating For Fall…A Love Letter to October
Halloween Safety from The National Crime Prevention Council
“You’ve Been Boo-ed” Neighborhood Game
Easy Homemade Costumes for Kids 36

Food

Pumpkin Bread Truffles
11 Scary-Easy Halloween Cupcakes
Indulgent Caramel Apple Desserts
6 of the Best Types of Apples for Cooking

Texas Living

Meanwhile In Texas (Texas Monthly)
Voices From Hurricane Harvey (Texas Monthly)
You Can Now Buy Whataburger James Avery Charms (Wide Open Country)

Just For Fun

Laundry Secrets From 5 Star Hotels (Bright Side)
NASA Is Hiring Someone To Protect The Planet from Aliens (Good Housekeeping)
Where To Travel for the Best Fall Foliage (House Beautiful)
5 Tips For Making Guests Feel At Home (Luxe Daily)

Around The House

Oh So Organized Kitchens (HouseLogic)
Keep Your Home Clean When You’re Short On Time (HouseLogic)The Best Houseplants for the Bathroom (The Spruce)
Cleaner Linens for Better Dreams (Better Homes and Gardens)
6 Things Your Should Never Flush (Bright Side)
DIY Firepit Ideas (Better Homes and Gardens)

Decor Inspiration

How To Find A Headboard that Suits Your Style (Good Housekeeping)
Redecorate for Better Sleep (Real Simple)
Get A Farmhouse Style Kitchen (Houzz)
6 Reasons To Consider Wall Paper (Houzz)
Paint Colors You Need For A Happy Home (Elle Decor)
19 Designs That Blossom (Luxe Daily)

Buying And Selling

Avoid Overspending When You’re House Hunting (HouseLogic)
Would You Crowdfund Your Downpayment? (The Mortgage Reports)
Home Buying Costs That Veterans Should Keep In Mind (Realtor.com)
Credit Score Comebacks to Give Buyers Hope (Realtor.com)

SEO 101

It doesn’t matter if you’re the best real estate agent in the city, if you don’t have leads, you won’t make any money. Finding new clients can be frustrating, but we have a few ideas that may help when it comes to creating a website with a high SEO.

It requires a little patience, but in the long run, optimizing your site will generate more traffic and more leads. In brief, optimizing your site is a little like setting up guideposts for search engines like Google. When someone searches for something like “Real Estate Agent”, the search engine looks at a couple of different factors to determine what pages show up first in your results. These factors include age of site, number of pages, unique information, frequency of updates, and, of course, the words on the page, among others. This is why you’ll often see Zillow and Trulia at the top of results – they’ve easily got most agents beat on age of site and number of pages.

How can you optimize your site for a higher ranking?

Content

The actual words on your site are, of course, a big deal for search engines. Most important, you want to make sure that the words you’re using on your site are words that potential clients will be searching for. For example, your designations are important, but are buyers and sellers going to know and search for industry terms like ALHS, e-PRO, and GRI? Keep this information, but check your site for “search terms” like “homes for sale in Stone Oak” or “Cypress real estate agent.”

If you’re comfortable with the back-end of your site, you can also add helpful terms to your images, page title, and more. For example, when you post a picture of a home, the photo title may be a string of numbers or even “123-main-street.” By changing these titles to something like “home-for-sale-77494”, you’re giving search engines one more clue that your page is relevant to the search.

Frequent Updates

Next, you can make more frequent updates, through a blog, for example. By posting regularly (even once a month), you’re showing sites like Google that your webpage is active and current. If you set up your site a year ago and haven’t changed it since, search engines aren’t going to want to show your page to visitors. It’s also a good idea to check your site every couple of months and update outdated information.

Unique Information

Having unique information on your site is very important. For example, a certain real estate brokerage recently rolled out a brand new website service for all of their agents. Included on these sites are 5 sample pages and 4 sample blog posts. All of these pages have exactly the same content. When a search engine scours the web for relevant information, it will find thousands of pages that are identical (except for contact information and agent names). Search engines don’t know what to do with thousands of pages that look exactly the same and will feature them much lower in results than pages that have original content. If this sounds like your website, the best thing you can do is rewrite the pre-fabricated content you were given to reflect you personally and professionally. This will benefit your SEO, but you’ll also be creating information that your clients can use.

Be Patient

It takes about 60 to 90 days to see results from SEO improvements, and may take as much as 6 to 12 months for newer websites. Improving your SEO is a long-term project with big results, so keep making updates, posting original content and checking your site for search terms, even if you aren’t seeing immediate changes. In the long run, you’ll be building a site that search engines want to feature and, of course, that offers great information to prospective clients.

Frontier Family Spotlight – Elise Stein

Elise Stein is celebrating 9 years with Frontier Title. We are thrilled to have her on our team, and yours!

How long have you been at Frontier Title Company? 9 years!

What did you do before working at Frontier Title Company? My biggest impact before Frontier Title was college at Michigan State University, ! Go spartans!

What do you enjoy most about your job? I love calling people to finalize the transaction! I love to let each party know we are funded and getting their commissions in order.

What three traits define you?  Meticulous, Experienced, and Friendly

What is your personal philosophy? I love the quote, ” What if you woke up today with only the things you thanked god for yesterday?”  I love remembering that I can create my own happiness.  

How do you define success? Success to me is a happy family

How do you spend your time outside of work? I spend most of my time with my husband, Michael and our daughter Claire.  We enjoy traveling and family trips to Michigan.  

Time To Get Organized

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.

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!

Your Time Is Valuable.

If you work for yourself, like many do in the real estate industry, it’s important to know the true value of your time. Driving to and from appointments, working on contracts, attending CE classes, and networking, among other activities, can take a toll on your day. Before you spread yourself too thin, you’ll want to understand just what you’re giving up when you commit to one more thing.

Take a look at the Time Value Calculator or take this quiz at Clearer Thinking.

When you understand the value of each hour of your day, you’ll be in a better position to schedule your tasks and to decide what you want to outsource and what you can tackle on your own. For certain responsibilities, you may find it more financially viable to hire outside help for a lower rate than your own time is worth.

Say that your free time is worth around $50 per hour: If hiring an employee will cost you about $12 and save you an hour compared to doing the work yourself,  then it might be the right call. If it’s going to cost you closer to $30, you should probably reconsider. You can use your new knowledge to help you figure out:

  • Whether you should order in or cook
  • Whether you should hire someone to organize your office
  • Whether to hire someone to manage your social media accounts
  • Whether time spent on the phone with customer service to save $X is worth it
  • Whether or not it’s time to move on from a stalling client

The calculators linked above are meant to act as guides, not gospel truth. You will also want to factor in your personal budget, your own enjoyment of certain tasks, and more. Regardless, knowing your value is always a good thing.

Don’t Beg For Great Testimonials

Building your credibility in the real estate world is easy – as long as you have some strong testimonials to help. Because word of mouth is such a strong influencer in the marketing world, testimonials are as good as gold. People tend to ask their friends and neighbors for advice before beginning a search for a professional to work with.  Depending on your communication style, some of your past clients may send an email or letter full of praise without even being asked, and others need reminders or a little encouragement. It doesn’t have to be awkward – here are some tips on seeking out testimonials without the discomfort!

What To Do
  1. End your client experience with a survey. You can make one on your own or use a third-party service like Google Forms or Survey Monkey to facilitate your request. This puts the emphasis on the whole experience rather than solely on your skills and personality, but still achieves your goal. When users can send in a testimonials as a quick answer on a survey, it makes their job easier.
  2. Use what they’ve already said. In your time working together, chances are good for finding a line or two in your email correspondence or text messages that would be perfect to feature as a testimonial. But make sure you reach out and request your client’s permission to use their words. Text messages and emails are considered private, so you want to make sure you’re not offending past clients by using their words out of context or without their knowledge.
  3. Ask with a compliment. When reaching out for a testimonial, let the client know what led you to them. Try “I wish all my clients were as great to work with as you have been – would you consider writing a testimonial on our experience together?” or “Your opinion means the world to me. Can I send you a form to fill out for my testimonials page?” The emphasis here is on your own pleasurable experience as well as seeking out some kind client words. Also – most people love reciprocity and will respond to compliments with some of their own.

Of course, it’s important to respect your client’s time and schedule when you approach them with a request. At all costs, avoid:

What Not To Do
  1. Last minute requests and too many reminders. Asking for help at the last minute disregards their own needs and priorities. And it’s important to keep in mind that most people these days are busier than they care to be (especially so if they’ve recently moved and have to deal with unpacking, changing schools, etc.) Respect their time.
  2. Making them commit on the spot. Ask casually or via email to avoid discomfort in case your perception of the transaction doesn’t match your client’s. Give them time and space to consider your request.
  3. Waiting until you need a testimonial. Ask at the end of a transaction, when your client’s experience is freshest in their mind rather than waiting for the next time you freshen up your website or social media.
  4. Writing a statement for your client. If they don’t have time to write a testimonial, they simply don’t have time. Don’t put words in their mouth or add the pressure of speaking on their behalf.

Most importantly, don’t miss out on the benefits provided by testimonials because you’re afraid it will be awkward or uncomfortable. Use the above methods and your experience should be pain free!

Build Your Business This August

With Independence Day behind us and the start of school just a few weeks away, it’s time to plan your next move. What can you do this month to strengthen your future business?

Upcoming Holidays

Looking ahead to September, there are several ways you can reach out to former and prospective clients. Send out tips for Labor Day travelers (September 2) with ideas on keeping their home safe when they’re out of town, or nearby cities they can visit over a long weekend. There are other fun holidays next month that you can take advantage of with pop bys or special notes. Consider Grandparents’ Day (September 8) or National Good Neighbor Day (September 28). See more at www.NationalDayCalendar.com

Life Changes

With kids heading back to school or off to college next month, families are going through a transitional period. Use this as an opportunity to pass along information on social media, emails, and newsletters about transitioning. Focus on tips about organization, home office space, keeping school mess at bay, etc.

School Connections

Show your local school spirit by sponsoring a sports’ team or a PTA night. These are great opportunities to post to social media as well. Take a selfie at a game or festival and let your followers know you’re active and supportive of your neighborhood schools.

Embrace The Slump

If September starts to slow down, look at it as a blessing and not a curse. Slow business means you’ve got more time to pour into your marketing plans. Don’t lose the chance to get some serious work done, so that once the back-to-school season has calmed down, your network knows who to call!

These 3 People Can Help You Grow!

Most of us can agree that one of the biggest ways to attract business success is making friends with the right people. Whether you’re a master networker or a wallflower at parties, reaching out to the following community partners will help drive your business forward.

The Neighborhood PTA Mom

Where can you find all of your neighborhood’s adults gathered in one place? PTA Night! What better way to connect and foster new relationships than aligning your business with the families and areas you’re hoping to serve? Aside from sponsoring a PTA night, you may want to look out for opportunities to support school sports teams, theater and music events, and more. Your sponsorship lets potential clients know that you’re invested in the neighborhood.

The Local Librarian

Libraries are wonderful resources. Many libraries have space and time for scheduled community events, like a free home buying seminar. Get in touch with your closest library to see if there are rooms available for rent (many will allow you to host an event at a minimal cost, but require that the event be free to the public.) Marketed well, you could become the go-to agent for first time homeowners, property investors, home staging – whatever your strengths may be. When those attendees are ready to buy or sell, you’ll be first on their list.

The Small Business Owner

The possibilities with small business owners are endless. From restaurants to boutiques, entrepreneurs are typically ready and willing to connect to spread the word about their products or services. Connect with a home cleaning service to suggest a steady flow of business (from the buyers and sellers you’ll refer) in return for discounts for your clients. Reach out to your favorite pizza place about advertising on their tables, and order a pizza for your new homeowners on their first night in the new house. Whether you enter into a financial partnership, by way of advertising with your small business owner friends, or strike up a mutually beneficial arrangement, by making friends with a local entrepreneur, you’re placing yourself one step closer to those personal referrals. On top of that, you’re showing off your local expertise.