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Everything You Know About Open Houses Is About to Change
From its invention more than 100 years ago and until recent events, the open house has remained much the same. While agents rushed to provide virtual showings to fill the immediate void, "open houses" are starting to return, but they are not the same. In fact, everything you know about open houses is about to change again with an innovative new service: Open House Every Day. Randall Standard, CEO of VoicePad, who parlayed nearly 20 years of experience in the wireless industry into the creation of the VoicePad platform, has applied his penchant for innovation to creating a new kind of open house. Open House Every Day is safer for sellers and one that buyers can schedule from the curb. And it asks this basic question: Why wait until Sunday? And while Standard admits he didn't invent the concept of holding an open house every day of the week, the new out-of-the-box service he is offering real estate agents is innovation and iteration at its finest. The result is a solution tailored to our times that can help agents and teams win more listings. How it works Open House Every Day is driven by the same well-proven call-to-action process that VoicePad has perfected for its core platform. Standard notes that for all real estate tech, great ideas are defined by the processes behind them. "Good processes always make their way to the bottom line," he says. "Open House Every Day has taken a good call-to-action message and improved it with an exceptional process." Like all traditional open houses, it begins with the yard sign, which is amplified in online listings and social media posts. VoicePad provides an agent with a custom, text-enabled phone number for the agent's Open House Every Day yard sign or yard sign hanger. When a potential home buyer calls the phone number on the sign, up to 10 agents' mobile phones will "ring" simultaneously. This assures that someone is available to take a call. The first available agent to answer the phone gets introduced to the potential buyer. Agents called are limited only to those the listing agents know and trust to show the listing. When an agent's phone rings, they immediately know it's an open house lead calling about scheduling a showing — so the call gets answered. The system delivers the potential buyer's contact details to the agent who was first to accept the call. The system also automatically assigns the caller to the agent in the system's CRM. The Open House Every Day mobile platform allows the agent to schedule the appointment instantly with the buyer, offering available times that are pre-determined by the agent and the seller. The dealmaker feature The Open House Every Day yard sign has a dealmaker feature: an auto-scheduler via text. With millennials comprising a growing share of home buyers, this text feature stands apart in the Open House Every Day offerings. The mobile web schedule interface is attractive, intuitive, and very easy to use. A potential buyer texts the keyword "Open" to the agent's Open House Every Day number. The buyer gets a return text with available showing times. The location of the request is geo-located, so an agent can see where the showing request was initiated. Listing agents control appointment availability as well as the last appointment time of the day, all from their mobile phone. Potential buyers are prompted for additional information (best phone number, name, and email address) to complete the scheduled request. This information is collected and added to the appointment request notification. It just might be the safest open house ever An additional — and essential — benefit to agents using Open House Every Day is the enhanced level of security and safe viewing that it provides. Because of how the process is designed, an agent or team can limit the number of people visiting the home to one client at a time. Safety is increased as agents can vet potential buyer candidates before they enter their client's home. The automatically captured contact information can run through agent safety systems, ensuring the protection of everyone involved. Open House Every Day can also optionally be set up to record agent-client phone conversations automatically. The voice prompt alone is likely to deter someone with evil intentions: It notes, "This call is being recorded for safety and training purposes." Consumer-focused Open House Every Day addresses the elephant in the room when it comes to the "why" when buying any real estate technology: It makes home buying and selling easier for consumers. "Agents and teams suffer from tech fatigue," Standard says. "But agents and teams still desperately want technology that significantly improves the consumer experience while keeping more income 'in-house.' It's also an excellent way to generate additional referral income from agents who show your listing." Agents can win more listings Open House Every Day is available at a flat rate of $39 a month. That makes its benefits-to-investment ratio remarkably attractive. Agents can offer a better open house for sellers as it maximizes the exposure of their home. It's better for agents because it eliminates wasted time that comes with house-sitting. Agents can win more listings by offering sellers what nobody else will: "an open house every day." Agents receive the best leads as the system is designed to capture ready-to act-home buyers. The auto text feature gives consumers — and especially millennials — what they want, when they want it. Plus, that text feature captures contact details automatically and delivers it to the agent's CRM. And Open House Every Day follows the rules of real estate. It can filter out buyers who are represented by another agent — because friends don't hand out buyer leads when they already are working with another agent. Open House Every Day asks the caller if they are an agent or represented by an agent. With Open House Every Day from VoicePad, leads can be answered in real-time, helping customers avoid what they dread most: voicemail. With Open House Every Day's "simul-ring" technology, buyers' calls are answered by an agent, which is what buyers want. Standard says early adopters have found another way to leverage Open House Every Day by using it on existing listings that are not selling. "It's a great way to avoid a conversation about a price reduction, refreshing an otherwise stale listing." This can be the go-to option when an agent's digital strategy fails. Open House Every Day is today's way to hold an open house: it's better and safer than ever. The days of sitting an open house while juggling groups of prospects touring all at once apparently are gone, but most agents will tell you that's a good thing.
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3 Must-Have Tools for 2016
There are plenty of general business tools out there that agents have been able to adapt to work for real estate. Social media app HootSuite, for example, works the same whether you're in our industry or any other; MightyText is just as useful to agents as it is to any other type of salesperson. However, sometimes agents need tools that are specific to real estate, especially when it comes to generating and managing leads. After all, real estate has the longest sales cycle of any industry–buyers expect to stay in their home an average of 14 years, according to NAR–and this presents a host of challenges, including how to engage prospects long-term. Today, we're eschewing the "general" apps and focusing on tools that are built specifically with needs of real estate professionals in mind. Each of these tools engages with prospects at a critical point in the home buying process, and all feature some level of automation so that agents can actively focus on what they do best–selling homes. 1. Social Media Management: CityBlast CityBlast is the only tool on our list that generates leads from your entire sphere regardless of whether they're involved in a transaction, rather than focusing solely on consumers who are already searching for homes. That's because CityBlast engages consumers right within the space they already inhabit every day–social media. The company's experts post to agents' Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts on their behalf, with fully customized updates and a tone that is relevant to their sphere's interests and not just promotional. "Social media should be treated as though it were a social event," former top-producing Realtor and CityBlast co-founder Shaun Nilsson advises. "Act as you would at a party where you want everyone to like you. You wouldn't walk up to a stranger, hand them a business card and brag about being the top agent in your area, and that's not the way to generate leads in social media either." That's the mindset that CityBlast's team of social media experts uses to build, improve, and maintain your social media presence. Consistent and relevant social media posts build trust, generate leads, and keep you top-of-mind for when consumers are ready to hire an agent. What's even better? They're currently running a promotion offering a free, 2-week demo, and 30% lifetime discount on their service at www.cityblast.com when you sign-up using promo code BIG2016. 2. Website Lead Management: ReadyChat Agent websites are notorious for their unimpressive lead generation rates. It's no wonder; to capture a lead, website visitors typically either have to either fill out a contact form or register for your IDX site–actions that only the most determined of customers are likely to take. Enter ReadyChat. ReadyChat is a live chat window that engages consumers within seconds of them visiting your website. The company's operators are trained to answer real estate questions and assist your visitors in searching for properties on your site. Because ReadyChat starts a conversation with prospects right from the get-go, consumers are more engaged and more likely to stick around. More importantly, they're also more likely to offer up their contact information–ReadyChat operators are trained to guide the conversation toward conversion. Once a chat session is finished, the company sends the lead's contact information and the chat transcript to the agent so that you know what was talked about and the type of properties searched for. That means agents can go into that first follow-up already knowing that the lead is looking for, say, 3-bedroom houses around $300,000 in X neighborhood. ReadyChat can be branded to any website and it integrates with most real estate CRMs so that you can easily add leads directly to your database. The solution also works with Google Analytics and the company sends detailed usage and lead metrics every week. You can learn more at www.readychat.com. 3. Curbside Lead Management: VoicePad So far, we've introduced you to solutions that engage online leads–but what about offline leads? Believe it or not, the stalwart yard sign is still a viable source of leads–with a few modern tweaks, courtesy of VoicePad. VoicePad lets passersby learn more about a property by calling or texting an automated number displayed on a sign rider. Callers can listen to a recorded voice presentation about your listing, while texters are sent a link to a mobile property website with in-depth property information. If you'd prefer that callers speak with a live person on your team, VoicePad offers a simultaneous ring option. All communications are available in English and Spanish, a great option for agents who serve bilingual markets. What makes VoicePad a potent lead generator is that the moment someone calls or texts, their phone number (and name, if available) is recorded in VoicePad's system so that agents can easily follow up. That information can also be used to track their activities on VoicePad's mobile website. As with ReadyChat, this means that agents can go into that first call already knowing what kind of properties the prospect is searching for. You can learn more at voicepad.com/agents/. Wrapping Up With any solution, you only get as much as you put in. While, yes, these are all automated solutions, once that lead comes in, the ball's in your court. If you're using CityBlast, that means responding to the comments their automated posts inspire. If you leverage ReadyChat or VoicePad, that means responding to those leads in a timely fashion. Remember, you can use all the right tools, but it's your commitment to customer service that truly seals the deal.
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Appointment Scheduling, Simplified
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How To: Shorten Response Time and Convert More Leads
Studies have shown that, the more time elapses between receiving a lead and following up on a lead, the less likely that lead will convert to a sale. In fact, research indicates that increments as small as 5 minutes can make a big difference in lead conversion. If you think about it, it's easy to understand why. You have only to look at your own life for inspiration.
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