Brokers: Leaders or Losers?

Brokers, before you lick your pen or crack your knuckles getting ready to type a rebuttal, please continue to read. As for you Agents, wipe that smirk off your face, and just keep reading.

Now, before I start my rant, I want to explain why I think I’ve got the background to write about this. Let’s go back to before I ever got into real estate, and I was the client. The dreaded client. The client who probably had one of the biggest “goober” agents in real estate. To put it lightly, I’ve experienced it from the consumer side. Fast forward to when I decided to make a career out of organized real estate. I worked for a really “nice” broker who was the owner of a large franchise. Knowing very little about organized real estate I assumed all brokers were similar to mine, a nice guy who kind of flew by the seat of his pants.

After 5 years of working for someone else, I had the misfortune of getting caught in the “I can do it myself for less money” trap that a lot of egotistical high-producing agents find themselves in. Yes, you heard me right – I called myself egotistical. What I should really call myself is “crazy”!  Now I’m the CEO of not only a real estate company, but also a start up real estate software company. You’d think I would have learned my lesson already, but like I said, I think I am clinically crazy…or at least it feels like that most days.

Hopefully now I’ve shown you that I have the experience to see what’s in front of me from all angles, on both sides of the table, and that I have an unbiased perception of Brokers and Agents.

So, what’s with the title ‘Brokers…Leaders or Losers’, you ask? Before I get to the answer, let me preface by saying that NOT all Brokers should be painted with the same brush, and there are some wonderful, thoughtful, perceptive brokers all over North America. Brokers take note: agents need leaders! They need men and women that will lead by example. They need brokers that will think out-of-the-box. They need to be communicated to, educated, a corporate culture they can believe in, and a roadmap they can follow.

So, if this is what agents want, why is the broker value proposition in such disrepair right now? Let me tell you why: Brokers have a very unique and sometimes unmanageable position. Brokers need to lead agents who are too slow to adapt, who don’t like change, who are continually showing their lack of loyalty by jumping ship, and agents who, in a lot of cases, have no idea about work ethic (ie. lazy) and running a business.

Imagine for a moment trying to manage, lead and implement business strategies and policies with someone who pays you to work for you. It’s pretty tough to manage and lead people when they could tell you to bugger off and go somewhere else where they will be welcomed with open arms.

You’re not off the hook just yet Brokers: just because it’s hard doesn’t mean you should just stop and give up. A leader will persevere and do what’s right for the organization, and – more importantly – their clients. By not continuing to adapt to new ideas, technology and strategies, you become losers. You’ll lose your agents, clients and the respect that your employees and staff had in you.

One thing that really surprises me is that more brokers don’t attend events like NAR (National Association of Realtors Convention) or Inman Connect (Real Estate Technology Conference) to find out what’s happening in the market and what the pulse of the industry is. This is what your agents expect from you. A leader needs to source out what’s new and what’s hot to use or incorporate into their businesses that will improve their agents’ performance.

There’s another reason I used “Losers” in the title: Agents, wake up and realize that your broker is a loser…that is, a loser of a heck of a lot of money! Yes, there are some very profitable and successful brokerages out there, but I can assure you that for every profitable brokerage there are 20 or more that show little, if any, profit. I’m not asking you to cry over your brokers situation, but you agents need to understand the dynamics of a real estate company. Splits are being pressured, cost of real estate and real estate expenses are rising, and employees are demanding more and more. Never mind trying to keep up with technology and computer hardware. Hosting costs, servers, IT support people, programs, computers, wireless, colour photocopiers etc are all items that just came onto the scene in the last 10 years…all the while in the last 10 years splits have declined year over year. If you’ve wondering why your broker may not be leading you the way he or she should, it’s because they’re a “loser”.

All is not lost, however. There’s still time to fix the problem, and it starts with ‘value proposition’. Brokers must create a corporate strategy and proposition that agents see as valuable. Agents need to embrace what their broker brings to them, and try very hard to implement it into their businesses.

If you don’t like your brokers’ roadmap and strategies, then leave. Find somewhere else that will support you and provide you with the valuable tools that will help you captivate your clients and create great business for you.

Brokers, you need to open your eyes and realize that there’s a lot of technology out there that will help your business grow. I’ve seen very recently how brokers are closed-minded to even giving companies like mine the opportunity to share some amazing technology with them. And, quite frankly, I’m surprised that they actually believe they’ll be able to compete in an industry that’s changing so rapidly none of us can keep up.

Brokers, become a leader or you will be a loser.

TLC

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Real Estate 2.0: Communication

In my last post on Web 2.0 conversation, I talked about how Web 3.0 has come and slapped us upside the head. I mean, we’re just getting used to Web 2.0 – aren’t we?

Moving on to the next in my short series, communication takes the spotlight.

Communication comes in many forms. We can use the telephone, meet face-to-face, or we can implement a strategy where technology is used. I personally like the 80-10-10 rule: 80 percent of the time I use technology, 10 percent of the time I use the other two.

The key to successful communication with clients is that you should always give them information before they ask for it or want it. For example, how hard is it to write one letter every two weeks describing what the local real estate market conditions are like, and what you foresee happening in the very near future? Once a library of letters is composed, you’ll find you can re-use the same letters with some slight changes. When you have the letter composed, add in a few stats that support your point.

RealtySites PLUS™ has a sophisticated lead/online consumer tracking system that tracks public/private views on your website. Sending a client letter every two weeks with specific stats that includes local market conditions will increase your value with the client, and eliminate those client goober calls that inundate you daily. RealtySites PLUS™ also offers an automated showing feedback request system where agents who showed your listing are emailed a feedback form.

If you want to blow your clients’ mind with current, up-to-date communication, start doing some of these simple tactics, and increase your value proposition.

TLC

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The Power of Social Networking

Since using our amazing new Realty Sites Plus web software, I’ve begun very specifically studying where my audience and leads are being generated from.  I use Google Anayltics which helps me find out how people are finding our website.  I can track many different attributes of my audience including what they typed in to the google seach engine to find us, what country they are coming from, what language they speak, what service provider they use (ie. Rogers, Bell), and even the average amount of time people spend on our site, and what pages they visit.

Now, of course the reason behind my studying these patterns is to learn more about my audience and try to build and grow this group.  So for me, knowing if they came from Google or just typed in our web address directly helps me to market appropriately.  One thing I found quite interesting was that so many people are coming from places like Facebook.  We created a group on Facebook which helps Consumers learn about market trends and our listings.  What we didn’t realize is the number of people that then go from our Facebook group to our website.

I had no idea that places like Facebook would bring such large audiences.  I recently found this excerpt from www.CIO.com.

“On Facebook, millions of people declare themselves as fans of performers, products, even the president. The number-one fan page on Facebook is dedicated to the late Michael Jackson, with 10.3 million members. President Obama is next with 6.8 million. Starbucks is the biggest retail brand with 4.8 million fans. But becoming a fan of something is the equivalent of wearing a logo T-shirt. It doesn’t bring M.J. back to life, reform healthcare or sell more coffee. 1-800-Flowers intends to find out whether social networkers are also social shoppers. In July, the $714 million flower delivery company launched the first Facebook storefront. Collectively, Facebook’s 300 million active members spend eight billion minutes per day on the site, according to the company. An Experian survey found that dwell time for an adult visiting a social network is 19 minutes and 32 seconds. Meanwhile, 35 percent of adults who had been on a social network in the past month had also bought something online in that time period, the survey found—a ripe demographic.”

I found this amazing.  Although I do spend some time online checking what my friends pictures and chatting, I had no idea I was joined by such a large group that would ultimately help drive even more people to our website.

Happy Surfing!

June & Rock Belanger, Prudential LeClair & Associates Realty

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Web 3.0? How’d I Miss Web 2.0?

Wow, how did this happen? It seems I just learned about Web 2.0, and now the so-called gurus are talking about Web 3.0!

Okay, here’s my take on Web 2.0 and how it affects us as Realtors: web 2.0 is about conversation, communication, transparency and instant information. As realtors we need to learn how to implement these strategies into our web initiatives, marketing campaigns and advertising.

Now, let’s break each one of these Web 2.0 strategies down a bit. In the interest of keeping this information digestible, I’m going to cover my points in 4 separate blog posts.

Conversation: As Realtors, we need to create cutting-edge techniques to captivate the online consumer through conversation. We can do this by giving the Seller a voice when it comes to promoting their listing. There is software out there that has some great technology that allows the Seller to post comments on their own listing, creating a dialogue with the online buyer.

With a new web solution on the market, the prospective Buyer also has the ability to converse with the Seller through an innovative rating system that allows them to rate the property out of 10 stars, and leave anonymous comments if they like, again creating conversation. Notice that conversation doesn’t necessarily need to be two-way.

By giving Buyers and Sellers a voice to communicate with each other, we give them the ability to become more connected to the sales process, and of course more connected to the Realtor.

Opening the door to an online dialogue like this has many advantages. First, it gives the Seller an opportunity to share the warm and fuzzies about their property that aren’t included anywhere else, giving you a little added help with the listing. Second, by allowing online prospects to rate a listing and provide anonymous feedback, it gives you a sneak peek at potential objections, and the opportunity to make changes in the listing as you need to (like removing a photo that’s raised concerns).

I know that many of you reading this are shuddering at the thought of seeing less-than-desirable comments and remarks on your listings (or getting spammed), but don’t be concerned. There’s always the option of turning comments on or off, or intercepting comments before they’re posted, much like many blog applications.

Don’t let fear of spam or abuse hold you back from using technology to your advantage.

Stay tuned for my next post that will outline more effective ways of communicating with clients and prospects.

TLC

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