Posts Tagged ‘Training’

Put on Your Thinking Cap … and Find the Right House to Hold Open!

May 12, 2011

This week, I want to discuss why it’s so important for you to choose the right house for your open house. It’s not just a matter holding an open house because one of your sellers wants you to. I want you to avoid doing that!  Instead of letting the house choose you, you need to choose the house!  And I’m going to tell you exactly how to do that.

First and foremost, not all houses are great candidates for an open house. If a house is in a rural area, or in a physical location that presents challenges, you’ll spend a lot of money on marketing and a lot of wasted time sitting by yourself waiting for buyers to find you. That is not the best use of your resources.

However, when you pick the right house – for the right reasons – you’ll find that your success rate in generating new prospects and clients will increase substantially.

Here are the categories for houses that are great candidates for your next open:

  1. New listings: New listings attract lots of traffic! People love to see what’s new on the market, and they love to be the first one through so they’ve got ‘insider information’ to share with their friends and family. You’ll also get a lot of neighbors who will come by … not only are they just curious about the house, they may be secretly interviewing agents prior to putting their house on the market.
  2. Well-priced listings: You will be amazed at the traffic you will generate when you hold open a well-priced listing. Buyers are amazingly savvy today, and they’re very aware of what constitutes good value. Well-priced listings can bring them out of the woodwork! Savvy buyers will not take the time to visit open houses where the listing price is out of line with the market. (Note: If you have listings that are overpriced, this is a terrific reason to have a serious ‘price-reduction’ conversation with your overly-optimistic sellers.)
  3. Easy-to find-listings: These listings offer a wonderful way to market yourself – and your name – by giving you lots of opportunities for signage. Imagine the marketing impact you’ll have when you place your personalized open house signs in numerous strategic locations. There’s a cumulative benefit to this when you hold open houses on a regular basis, and those houses are on well-traveled routes.
  4. In-demand listings: Do you know what style and price of house is the hottest seller in your market? You will if you search your MLS and track the most recent pendings. One of my coaching clients recently did this and then called me up the next day to say, “I thought I knew my market, Denise. But I clearly didn’t. What I thought was selling well now was actually selling well 6 months ago. But it’s not now! In my market – right now – one-level homes in the $279,000-$299,000 price range are hot. I had no idea!”  It’s critically important that you do your research. Find out what’s in demand right now – and take advantage of that knowledge.
  5. Well-advertised listings: It goes without saying that listings that are advertised well will attract buyers. But listings that are really advertised well — online, in print, and with targeted print mailing — are great candidates for an open house. There is already a buzz about them, so take advantage of that.
  6. Listings with great curb appeal: I call this the “irresistible factor. Who can’t help but want to go into a house that looks absolutely wonderful from the outside? Yes, we’re agents and we’re predisposed to appreciating fabulous curb appeal. But everyone else appreciates it too! When you’re doing research on the right kinds of homes to hold open, do not forget listings that are intriguing from the outside. When a house has ‘wow-factor’ curb appeal, you’ll generate significantly more traffic – which in turn can generate more potential clients.
  7. ‘Where fish are biting’ listings: These homes are the fastest-selling homes in you market. How do you determine this? Again – by doing some targeted MLS research. Find out what the days-on-market statistics are for a particular neighborhood, or within your community. Is there a correlation between a low days-on-market number and a particular price point or style of house? When you can connect these dots, you’ll have a very good idea of which homes are getting buyers to get off the fence and into the market.

Now that you know which houses are the best candidates for an open house, you need to determine how to attract potential buyers (and future sellers) to your open house.

Here are my “Top 5 Traffic Generators

  • Online marketing: The key here is consistency. To build strong traffic, your open house needs to be posted anywhere that open houses in your market are posted – including your personal website and your company website. Additionally, spread your social media net as wide as possible through Facebook and other social media sites. Remember to confirm with your sellers that they are comfortable having you advertise your open houses via social media.
  • Offline marketing: While many agents turn their noses up at print marketing these days, I do not. This can be a very effective method of building open house traffic. There are lots of options based on your market, including newspapers, magazines, trade publications, and community or neighborhood newsletters.
  • Immediate neighbors marketing: You’re missing a real opportunity if you’re not targeting the neighbors! If you normally hold your open house from 1pm-4pm, invite the neighbors over at 12:15pm for a special “neighbors-only” open house. Create an invitation that provides a reason for them to stop by. These could include getting current information on their neighborhood’s 10-year appreciation rate, or perhaps sales ratios and days-on-market statistics. For the neighbors, it’s not about the house as much as it’s about providing them with market knowledge. It’s about articulating your expertise.
  • Move-up buyer ‘radius’ marketing: This is a great way to generate traffic. Choose neighborhoods where the homeowners’ next move up (or down!) would likely be in the price range of your open house.
  • Database marketing: Never forget the value of the people who already know you and trust you – and support your career. List your open houses in your monthly newsletters. Send out an open house schedule via email, with a link to your website’s open house page. (Don’t forget to update this page each week!)

Lastly, I want you to think about open house options – those “outside the box” option that can generate additional traffic.

  1. Saturday versus Sunday open houses: For many people, Sunday is their ‘stay-at-home’ day. They have family activities, laundry, and yard work as priorities. Saturdays often will provide you with much better traffic, since people are already out and about doing errands. With ample signage you can attract a lot of traffic! Try this idea – test it for two or three months to see if that’s the case in your market.
  2. Condensed open houses:  Consider holding two homes open on the same day. It could look like this: House #1 (123 A St) is open from 9am-10am and then again from 1pm-2pm. House #2 (123 B St) is open from 11am-noon and then again from 3pm-4pm. Essentially, you’re increasing your opportunities to get a lot of people through in a short amount of time.
  3. Multi-property open house tour: Pick several houses that meet a particular niche and hold each one open for one hour. You could pick first-time buyer homes. Or waterfront homes. Or equestrian properties. Done strategically, you’ll quickly establish yourself as an expert in that particular niche.
  4. Multi-agent or entire office open house blitz: There’s power in numbers! Gather together a group of agents – or your whole office – and build an open house event.
  5. After-work weekday open house: This is a terrific idea for homes that are on commuter routes, or in neighborhoods that are close to bus stops. Hold an open house at approximately the same time as these folks are headed home. You’d be surprised at how many will stop in for a few minutes.

I’ve just given you a lot of ideas — and things to think about. What I want you to do now is toss your preconceived notions about open houses out the window and start thinking outside the box. Open houses can be an amazingly successful strategy for you — if you pick the right houses, determine how to build traffic, and schedule them to maximize your reach.

Are you a real estate agent working in Washington State?

If so, we want to invite you to attend our “Unforgettable Open House” event on Tuesday, May 24th.

We’ll teach you how to design and conduct a truly unforgettable open house experience. You’ll learn the secret “props” needed for success, and how to captivate open house visitors. Discover the art of truly showing a home, rather than simply standing in the kitchen while potential clients walk in (and out!) the door. Hear the simple secret to capturing client contact information, without seeming like a pushy salesperson, “man talk” versus “woman talk”, and much, much more!

We’re offering this amazing opportunity in support of the Washington REALTORS® and National Association of REALTORS® Open House Weekend, which will be held June 4th and 5th this year. Master all of the insider secrets to a successful open house … then participate in the Open House Weekend by holding your best open house ever!  Public awareness of open houses will be high, and their expectations will be as well. You need to be ready to deliver!

There is no charge for the class; however, if you wish to participate for clock hours a fee of $35 ($40 at the door) will apply.

If you want to create an unforgettable open house experience – one that will generate income for you – you must attend this memorable class.

Where Will Your Business Be Four Weeks From Now?

April 13, 2011

Without intervention, it will probably be exactly where it is today.

Now, if you’re exactly where you want to be … great!

But if you are searching for more success, or you need a jolt of inspiration, you need to join us on Safari to learn how to make business-building changes that will carry your forward.

Are you ready to set aside your belief that “the market” will dictate your success?  (Hint: we are coaching clients who are having their best year EVER!)   Do you love the synergy that comes from a room full of people focused on making a positive change in their business?  Is it just time to plan for a better business – one that you’ll love for years to come?

If you answered yes to any one of these questions, we want to see you at one of our upcoming Safari events.

Need more details?  Click here to learn more!

Does Your Business Deserve Some Attention?

April 5, 2011

Like a garden, your business will flourish only if you seed, feed, and water it.  And we believe the best way to do that is to step away from your business for a couple of days to really focus on where you’ve been … and where you want to go.

We also believe your business deserves a commitment to nourish it.  Today is the day to commit to spending two days with us to revitalize your business!

We want to see you at our next Safari event.  What is Safari?  Simply put, it’s a two-day revitalization plan for your business.  We’re going to look at where you’ve been, what you’ve brought on the journey, and where you want to go.  And then we’ll provide you with tools, tips, and techniques to help you get there.

You’re probably thinking five weeks is a long way off … and that you’ll decide in three or four weeks whether you’ll attend our Safari event.  But we believe your business deserves more of a commitment from you than that.  That’s why we encourage you to click here today – right here, right now – to enroll in our next Safari event.  Seating is always limited for this event, and we sell out each time we offer this opportunity.  Don’t hesitate – enroll today!

Out of Sight = Out of Mind

March 10, 2011

There’s nothing harder than running into a past client and learning that they just bought or sold a home … without you. It wounds your pride, it shakes your confidence, and it hurts your pocketbook. What I’ve learned over many years is that when someone tells me their story, I’m rarely surprised after I hear the full story. Here’s a hint: Out of sight = out of mind.

One of the most important truths in real estate is that you need to stay “top-of-mind” with your clients. You must be confident that when the people you know need real estate services, you are the first person they think of.

People today are busy. They have busy jobs, busy lives, and often they are juggling the activities of several family members – and everyone’s corresponding calendars. When they are ready to buy or sell property, they don’t have time to search for a new agent. If they have one who is already top-of-mind, that’s who they call. People call the agent who is in their mind, at the exact moment they decide to pick up the phone, look a house online, or send an email.

Are you that person?

Agents ask me all the time: “How do I cram one more thing into an already hectic business?”  My answer is simple: You have to.

It’s not your sphere’s job to remember to call you – it’s your responsibility to make sure they call you.

Another question I often get asked is: “What’s the best way to stay top-of-mind?”  My answer is always the same – and a bit frustrating for some agents. There is no magic formula, and there is no one “best” way. The truth is, you have to match your communication format with the way your sphere wants (and sometimes needs) to be communicated with.

Remember this: deciphering their communication code takes a lot of time! But it’s absolutely worth it in the long run.

First look at your database. Then determine the best way to stay top-of-mind with each of them. Is it in person? Is it by mail? Is it by phone? Is it via email? Or are they happiest when they see you at the grocery store?

Here is why this is so frustrating to some agents. It’s hard to put together a follow-up plan – a strategic and effective top-of-mind campaign – when you have so much to consider and not a lot of time to build a plan.

So, what’s the answer? Here are some things to think about.

  1. A great place to start is by thinking about how you are going to communicate. I firmly believe that for most agents whose client base includes a wide variety of age-groups and an even wider variety of communication preferences, a very high-quality, content-rich piece of mail is critical. It’s important that your clients get something they can touch and feel, and that reinforces the fact that you are their best resource for real estate expertise. A high-quality piece also says that they are important to you not only on a professional level, but on a personal level.
  2. Determine your message. Always send real estate-related information. (Note: If you have a sphere that really appreciates the college football schedule you send in August, that’s fine. But I consider that an “extra” mailing piece, not your August top-of-mind piece.) Top-of-mind mail needs to update your sphere on the real estate market. It needs to speak to the trends and news and also provide insight into the market. This piece needs to address the factors that impact your sphere’s ability to make wise real estate investment decisions. For example, you might include important changes to real estate laws. The content needs to include the kind of information that any buyer or seller wants (and needs) to have.

Some agents send a newsletter, and some agents send an oversized postcard. Again, the format should meet the needs of your sphere – which may be different than the format a colleague of yours sends to their sphere. And it should always be designed using YOUR brand. Remember – your sphere may be getting information from other agents in your area. If everything they get looks eerily similar, the reader will think the content is the same too. You have to stand out – and you must provide relevant content.

If you want to make your mailer more personal, consider sending out a quarterly neighborhood review. Collect data on every active, pending and sold listing and provide commentary on what the market is doing right now. One note of caution – do not just send a chart or a graph or a list. You have to also tell your reader what the data means, and why that is important to them as potential sellers and/or buyers. People like to know what’s happening in the real estate industry. They like to be kept up to date so they can feel ‘in the know’.

I often get asked about sending out an online newsletter. My answer is this: If you are very confident that your sphere is best served by an online newsletter, or a blog that you write and they follow, then that’s a good option. However, as I said earlier, most agents have a very diverse sphere. Some folks may not be connected to the online world. Or they are bombarded by email every day and what you send will get deleted along with every other email they aren’t reading. If you have a tech-savvy population within your sphere, by all means customize an online piece just for them.

The bottom line is this:

  • To stay top-of-mind with your sphere, you have to have a strong follow-up plan.
  • To have a strong follow-up plan, you have to take the time to determine exactly who your sphere is, and what your plan looks like.
  • Once you have everything mapped out, make it easy on yourself by setting up a regular schedule that ensures your sphere hears from you each and every month.

Want to go from out of sight and out of mind to top-of-mind? A strong follow-up plan will get you there.

The Evolution of a Brand

February 17, 2011

In case you haven’t noticed, the Zebra Report has been given a makeover. Even zebras need to be freshened up from time to time! Basically, this is called a branding update. It’s not changing the components, or the message, or the primary colors – it’s giving our brand a tune-up. A makeover. Our zebra has enjoyed a day at the spa.

Companies do this all the time. Two companies in particular – Coca Cola and Pepsi – have done great job of brand evolution over the past 50 years. Their marketing gurus know how to take a look at what’s happening in the market and what’s happening with the consumer, and then rework their brand to better suit the needs of their ‘now’ customers. It’s very interesting to look at the evolution of their brands over the years. The elements stay the same. There are just subtle changes. But they are important changes.

So why did we freshen up our Zebra Report? For many reasons.

A major concern of ours has been that our readers – you – are busy people. They have a short amount of time to read articles online. Because our Zebra Report is sent out each and every week, we didn’t want it to get lost in the weekly communication shuffle.

We also wanted you to have a new, fresh, and better experience when you open up the Zebra Report. We wanted to continue with a similar look & feel, but also develop an easy way for you to remember our articles. So now, each week, our zebra – and other elements of our Zebra Report – will have a distinct color, which is drawn from the Design Spotlight section of the report. This gives the Zebra Report a pulled-together, cohesive feel, and will help you when you’re trying to remember an article. You’ll be able to say to yourself, “Oh, I know. It was the blue zebra from two weeks ago.” We want you to have an easy memory marker.

Note that we didn’t divert from our main color scheme: black, white, and shades of gray. We simply added a flexible accent color to create a memory marker.

Lastly, we felt that it was time to bring in a more elegant element to our zebra and our brand. We all know that zebras are black/white and can look somewhat harsh. We wanted to better match our zebra to our product line. We are not a mass-marketing company; we offer customized high-end solutions and very effective custom training. We want our brand – and our Zebra Report – to truly reflect who we are and what we do.

How does all this apply to you?

As a real estate agent, your branding says a lot about how your services will benefit potential clients. Let’s say you have personalized branding and marketing tools which were created for you ten years ago. Your brand fits you, it reflects your personality and your business, and yes, it worked wonders when you first implemented it. But how does that brand speak to clients in 2011?

Buyers and sellers in 2011 are more media and tech-savvy than ever before. They’re looking for agents who not only know their market, but who are current with the tools and marketing platforms that the most successful agents – and companies – are utilizing. You may be at the top of your game when it comes to technology, but if your marketing materials look like they were crafted ten years ago, your potential clients may not be so sure. Before you’ve even had a chance to introduce yourself and explain your services, they may have already made an assumption about you that is quite inaccurate.

Ask yourself this – does your look, or your brand, need refreshing? Does it need a day at the spa?  I want you to really think about it. I want you to think about how your sphere and clients have changed over the years, and make sure that your brand is still relevant to them.

Our Zebra Report needed an update – and we couldn’t be happier with the final results! We’ve had fantastic comments, and we’d love to have you let us know what you think. Does it give you a strong memory marker? Is our new format easier to navigate? You can offer your input by taking our short survey, below.

One last thought: this week’s Zebra Report topic is so near and dear to me, that I’d like to share a recording of a presentation that I gave about branding. If you’d like this free recording, click here to download.

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Does Your Pipeline Need a Lifeline?

February 4, 2011

Every agent should strive to build a referral-only business. The lion’s share of income should come from past clients, a strong database and the subsequent referrals.

However, if you – like many agents I know – are not generating the income that you need to generate, it is a sure sign that your referral business is not yet where it needs to be. This means you are going to have to add a lead generation program to your business to make up for what your referrals are not providing you.

A great referral business comes about – and continues to build – after an agent provides really great service. Clients come back for more, and are willing to refer friends and family, when they have a great experience. Referral business means you’re doing something right.

The problem is that oftentimes your referral business cannot sustain the now business that you may need to keep transactions in your pipeline and income coming in. The timing of your referral business rarely matches the timing you need to meet your financial obligations.

To be really successful, your goal should be to have business in your pipeline every single monthToo many agents live a peak & valley existence – scrambling for business when they have none, and hoping that they will somehow, magically, get that all-important referral phone call to save them.

Here’s something to think about: What happens if your current database isn’t keeping you financially able to meet your commitments? What if you’re not meeting your goals – or far worse, your obligations – because you simply don’t have enough business?

In that case, you absolutely must have a lead generation system to bridge the gap.You have to find a way to increase the reach of your business, in order to generate business.

The key is to create a lead generation system that fits your individual work style, and that you know in your heart you will focus on. Too many agents just grab any system that sounds like the easiest, then fail in frustration when it doesn’t match their style or their needs. Lead generation takes work, folks. It takes time and patience.

There are two types of lead generation: Active and Passive.

Active lead generation is where you are generating leads (i.e. potential business) in person or on the phone. It includes things like joining networking groups, teaching first-time-buyer classes, holding open houses, and contacting expired listing sellers and for-sale-by-owner sellers. You are the catalyst for this type of lead generation.

Passive lead generation means you don’t have to show up. People are hearing from you, but it’s through mail, email and print marketing. Passive lead generation includes things like geographical farming. It also can include cancelled and expired listings. Your ability to articulate your expertise is the catalyst for this type of lead generation.

The reality is you need to be doing something. You need to keep your pipeline full and get out of the peak & valley existence that you may be experiencing.

An agent in one of my coaching groups recently said, “I really dislike having to go out and look for business. It’s so time consuming, and it never works for me.” Yes, it’s hard work! Yes, it takes time! Yes, you have to plan for it, and then be patient enough to let your system take hold and work for you.

If you know your referral business isn’t matching your financial goals, take the first step. Find a lead generation system that meets your style and comfort level. Decide if you want to have an active system, or a passive system. Or a combination of both. Decide what group, or groups, you want to target. Is it buyers? Is it sellers who had a bad experience, but you know they want or need to sell? Build a system that keeps you in front of those folks on a very regular basis. And stick with it. As the saying goes, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Here’s another question I get asked all the time. “How do I know when I can stop doing lead generation?” It is really quite simple. You can stop when you’re getting all of the income you need from your referral business.

Here’s how you know when you’re at that point:

  1. First and most importantly, track the source of every transaction. Each year, you have to know how many transactions came from referrals, and how much income that business generated.
  2. Determine your annual income goal and how much of that income needs to (or will likely) come from your referral business. As an example: If you need $100,000 of referral income, and in your market the average price home is $300,000, then you can assume that – based on a 3% commission rate per side – each referral-based transaction will bring you $9,000. That means you need 11 transactions each year that come from your referral business.
  3. But let’s say last year you only had 6 transactions from referrals, and you had 5 transactions that came from open houses, sign calls or internet leads. You were short 5 referrals. You needed to somehow make up that lost referral income. The way to do that is by having a strong lead generation program.
  4. Until you can safely say that your referral business is consistently providing you with the level of income you need, you will need to continue with a lead generation program.

Don’t get me wrong. I want you to build an awesome referral-based business. I want you to enjoy the benefits of your hard work. But a strong referral business takes years to cultivate! What if you’re a brand new agent? What if your current database isn’t as fruitful as you need it to be?

There are two things I want you to focus right now. Choose a lead generation system that is based on your needs, on your work style, and on your personality. Then just get it done.

Without a lead generation system you won’t survive. And you certainly won’t thrive.

Interested in learning more about lead generation? Come to our 2-day Safari in February, where we’ll help you integrate lead generation into your business plan. Want to know more? Click here for more information and to register.

By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI

This Week’s Featured Product: How to Make Money Now, Not Later

January 24, 2011

We’ve lowered our prices on several of our downloadable audio products! Many now just $19!

This week’s featured product:

How to Make Money Now, Not Later

You need to make money NOW, in fact RIGHT NOW!!! You don’t have time to take a sales class or even attend a full-day seminar, you need to turn on the money faucet YESTERDAY!

Learn how to take the type of action that is required to jumpstart your business FAST. This is not the time to build the perfect business, it is the time to go hunting.

If you hate prospecting but need a jumpstart, you’ve come to the right place.

AUDIO PRODUCTS AVAILABLE FOR DOWNLOAD

Select a title to view more information and purchase

How-to Series:

Presentations:

Lead Generation:

Marketing Help:

Visit our website for more information!

Which Are You? How Personalities Handle Different Kinds of Markets

January 14, 2011

Every person’s personality type creates natural tendencies. Personality can affect everything we do on a personal and a professional level.

There are four main personality types, which I call Promoter, Controller, Analytical and Supporter. They are each very different and each have their own set of strengths and weaknesses.

And believe it or not, personality plays a major role in how an agent handles different kinds of real estate markets. For the sake of today’s Zebra Report, I’m going to talk about how agents, all with different personalities, handle good markets and challenging markets. Have they prepared? Do they handle the changes well? Have they experienced a great deal of difficulty?

The pace of a fast market allows an agent’s weaknesses to be masked. Agents think they are at the top of their game. They are happy because the market is going well and they’re making money. In essence, the best of their type shines through because they have very little stress.

However, the moment you add market stress to their daily life, each personality type handles it differently. For some, is somewhat detrimental for their business but they will recover. For others, it can ruin their business.

Let’s look at the 4 types, how they handle a good market, and how they handle a changing, or challenging market.

Promoter: When the market is good, a promoter is having a great time. They are outgoing, they are high energy and the one-on-one communication is very important to them. They can juggle – and thrive when juggling – a lot of people at once. When the market changes however, a Promoter starts to lose their mojo. There are not enough people to talk to and not enough activity. For a promoter, lack of activity can destroy their business. Promoters need positive momentum. When it’s missing their gears get stuck and they slow way down. In a challenging market, the key for Promoters is to ramp up their follow-up and lead generation. They have to increase the number of people interactions. They need to find outlets for their energy.

ControllersWhen the market is good, a Controller is really happy because there is a lot to do. They are completely task-oriented, and they like getting things done. It’s not that they don’t like people, they are just very, very focused on ‘the job’. They are focused on the tasks. For a Controller, in a challenging market they struggle because there are fewer tasks to handle. They get very nervous because they need something to work for. The key for Controllers to staying focused is to find ways to have lots of tasks to do. If there are undone projects—i.e. buyer and seller packages or a new website—this is the time to really concentrate on those projects. Find a positive outlet for “tasks energy.”

AnalyticalsThe Analytical agent is happiest when they can spend most of their time really looking at market statistics and providing concrete advice to their clients. They like giving advice. However, this is also the agent that experiences the most fear in a challenging market. They analyze everything. They pour over the news. They over-analyze client remarks. They pay very close attention to what the other agents are saying. And, they become fearful. Oftentimes, they freeze. They are unsure what kinds of advice to give, so they don’t give any. It’s somewhat like a turtle—they recede into the safety of their shell. The key for the Analytical is to increase their lead generation and work with clients who have to move. They need to find ways to provide the kind of advice that they think is critically important to receive.Analyticals also benefit from a strong mentor because they need someone who is confident about the future and can counsel that the market is not as bad as they think it is.

SupportersThe supporter loves people. They love building relationships. They really care about their clients and they take their job as a real estate agent, and the support they provide, very seriously. In a challenging market, where clients are sometimes upside down on their mortgage, or cannot move because the market has them financially strapped, supporters have a great deal of difficulty. Because they love people so much, and they feel so badly about circumstances—even worse, they can’t fix the problems, their stress level becomes huge. When a Supporter has a short-sale client, it will bother them for weeks. It takes away their mojo. The key for a Supporter is to be careful about taking on other people’s problems. If they can help, great. If not, they cannot feel as if it’s their fault. Supporters also benefit from making sure they spend time with colleagues who are positive about the market.

The bottom line is this: Every agent and personality type reacts differently to good, challenging, and normal markets. You need to find a way to use what’s happening to benefit your business.

If you’ve let this current market get the better of you and need to win your business back, we are offering concrete solutions at our upcoming 2-day Safari in February (rescheduled due to the snowstorm). We’ll teach you exactly how to use your personality type and style to stay on top of your game, even when the market is challenging you in more ways than you’ve ever before experienced.

Want to know more? Click here for more information and to register.

By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI

Turn Lost Opportunities Into Realized Opportunities: the Need for a Detailed Communication Plan

January 5, 2011

In the last two Zebra Reports I’ve been talking about the idea of Lost Opportunity and what it means to your business. Lost Opportunity business is business you can have, and it is income you should have. Don’t lose those opportunities simply because you didn’t have a plan to keep them in your pipeline. No more Lost Opportunities in 2011!

What’s the one essential thing that I think you must have?  A communication plan—as part of your overall business plan—that will solidify your relationship with your past, current and potential clients.

Recently, an agent I work with said, “Denise, I have a basic plan to stay in touch, but I never seem to follow it. What am I doing wrong?”  Once we looked at the reasons he wasn’t following it, the answer was right in front of him. He knew he needed a plan, and in the back of his mind he had an idea of what it looked like, but he didn’t’ have any details to guide him.

Most agents have the same problem. They may have a client communication plan in the back of their mind—they may even have it written into a yearly calendar. But if, on any given month, the notation simply says “call sphere”, it is easy to drop the ball. If you don’t know what to say, and if you don’t have details to guide you, your communication plan quickly falls to the bottom of your list. Nobody likes random calls. We don’t like making them; we know others don’t like receiving them. Random calls feel way too much like a ‘sales’ call. You won’t have to make random calls when you have a detailed plan.

Most of us are much better at following a plan. What if, in early January, your communication plan said ‘Call sphere to alert them about the predictions article.” Granted, you have to have your predictions article ready to mail out, but now you have a reason to make a quick call as well. The call sounds like this: “I just sent you my predictions article for the 2011 real estate market. If you have any questions, give me a call. Otherwise, I hope you find my article interesting and helpful.”

If you have to give last-minute thought to what to say, how to say it, or what your message is, the call will simply not be as successful as it might be when you have an actual plan for calling. When you have your plan and the details—even the script, it’s easy.

“Okay,” you say, “but it’s hard to figure out what to send, or what to call about.”

We created the visual chart, below, to make it easy for you to build a communication plan for your entire sphere, including additional communication options for your past andyour potential clients.

Sphere Database

Past Clients

Potential Clients
(buying or selling within the next year)

12  Monthly Real Estate Mailings

X

X

X

Annual Client Review and Client Appreciation Event

X

Weekly Communication

X

  • 12 Monthly Real Estate Mailings – here is an easy formula:
    • Six articles a year. These must be real estate specific.
    • Four quarterly real estate reports specific to your/their market.
    • One annual review
    • One predictions article
  • Weekly Communication for potential clients (less than a year from a transaction) should include market specific data:

Sample items for potential buyers:

  • Appreciation rates in different neighborhoods
  • Home comparison reports for different neighborhoods
  • Video tours of neighborhoods. This is especially important if they are not familiar with all the neighborhoods they might choose from.
  • Listing and sold data

All this information helps buyers begin to learn more about the market, learn where the best values are, and calm the sometimes overwhelming feeling new buyers have.

Sample items for potential sellers:

  • Regular listing, pending and sold reports
  • Days on Market reports
  • List-to-sales-price ratios
  • Inventory numbers

Not-yet-ready-to-sell clients have to get used to what comparable homes are selling for on the open market. This may not be the time in their life where their real estate will sell for what they want. You have to educate them. Be their expert and provide them with honest, accurate data on a very regular basis.

Send one of these at least once a month, and follow up with a phone call or email the other weeks. Yes, you may even count your monthly mailing to your sphere as communication for one of those weeks!:

Using this plan, and building in the details that you need to keep you on track, you will significantly strengthen your relationship with each person in your database and position yourself as their real estate expert.

Let’s recap. Regardless of whom you need to communicate with you must have a consistent, well thought-out weekly, monthly and annual plan that includes all the details you need to make your plan actually work for you. With a strong communication plan, business will come your way more easily!

Do you need more help creating a communication plan?

Join us for our 2011 Safari on January 12th and 13th at the Redmond Marriott Town Center. We’ll help you build your own customized 2011 business plan, including a communication plan that will keep you top-of-mind with everyone in your database and keep a steady flow of business in your pipeline.

I am truly excited about this upcoming Safari as I know everyone is going to walk away with the tools they need to make great strides in their business and systems in 2011. I hope you will join me!

By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI

Holiday Cards? Again? Try This Instead…

December 3, 2010

It’s that time of year again. Lights are popping up on houses. Trees are soon to be decorated. Malls are becoming hot and crowded. And people are getting ready to send out holiday cards.

We send out holiday cards as individuals, but as real estate agents I believe there is something better we should be doing.

Funny thing, most agents like sending out holiday cards. They really do. They feel like they’re creating a warm connection with their clients by doing so.

While there’s nothing wrong with a warm connection, don’t forget that you are a real estate expert first and foremost. You are not their neighbor, classmate, or co-worker. Do you really want to be put into the same category?

Let me answer for you: No, you don’t. In their minds, you want to be in a special category. You want to be known as “real estate expert”. You want every action you take to reinforce this belief. Sending holiday cards is NOT the way to do this.

Don’t get me wrong. I’ve got nothing against holiday cards. They’re very nice. They remind people that you’re thinking of them. Don’t stop sending them to your friends and family.

BUT… I would like you to consider sending something else. Even if you send it with your holiday card, it can make an impact.

So what is it?

It’s an Annual Review. This is a report you specifically create for your clients. It details the history of the market in the past year, as well as current conditions. It provides a year-end overview of where your clients stand in terms of their investments.

“Oh, Denise, people aren’t really interested in this kind of stuff at holiday time.”

Not true. They are indeed. People are ALWAYS interested in how much money they have—especially at holiday time when their credit card bills are going up. An Annual Review is a report that shows them the value of their money via their investment in their home.

Yes, it’s work. Yes, you have to compile some data and do some research. Yes, it’s time consuming.

But it cements you—as should ALL your marketing materials—as the local expert on real estate. Your clients should not just see you as an acquaintance. They should always see you as a rich source of information. What better way to reinforce this reputation than by always providing them with news whenever you contact them?

So what’s in an Annual Review? It consists of three parts:

1. A snapshot of what’s happened in the real estate market during the past year.

Review where we were one year ago. Compare that market data to today. Construct a narrative to show your clients what fluctuations occurred—but more importantly WHY they occurred.

Then, narrow it down to their neighborhood. If their area didn’t follow the trends, then explain why. Factor in everything you know from your community expertise.

2. Visuals.

Make your Annual Review look good. Pie charts, graphs, and statistics—while not always understandable to the average person—add a powerful element of expertise to your work.

Strong visuals show that you really know what you’re talking about. You’re not just an empty suit. You have the numbers to back up everything you say.

3. Personal observations.

Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Tell stories about some of the incidents that shaped your year. Illustrate certain points by bringing them to life. There’s no better way to get a point across than by describing it in action.

Express your opinion. Open up. From experience, you have formed certain ideas about what’s coming. You know how to spot trends. Share this information with your clients.

It’s kind of like you’re their own personal private eye, providing them with inside information. People love inside information—especially when it relates to their investments.

Annual Reviews work. A great example is a client of mine who used to send out a holiday newsletter. He put in a lot of effort to make it look really nice. I suggested to him that he add an Annual Review to it.

Two years ago, he tried it.

“Denise”, he told me, “I never had so much response to my holiday newsletter as this year. People are calling up to ask questions about the Annual Review.”

Nobody will ever call you to ask a question about your holiday card. But when you send an Annual Review, they may want to talk about what you sent them. This is a great opportunity to find out where they are right now in their lives.

Perhaps they’ve been thinking about making a move, but haven’t called you yet. Your Annual Review might be the catalyst that gets them thinking about taking action in the new year.

So, this year, instead of the same old same old, send an Annual Review. Your clients will thank you—and continue to see you as not just another agent, but as their personal real estate expert.

Not sure where to start? Click here to see how we can help you create your own customized Annual Client Review.

By Denise Lones CSP, M.I.R.M., CDEI


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