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Admins Rejoice! Your brokerage is about to update its phone system
Administrative support is the single most coveted benefit a brokerage can offer producing agents. By removing some of the jobs that don't require a real estate license from your agents' to-do lists, you're helping them be more productive. Admins will spend more time making sure that your high-cost, high-value employees are working to the very highest of their ability level. So, why are your admins still answering the phones? In a brokerage culture that prioritizes using your staff to their highest ability level, it simply doesn't make sense to have a human answering the phone in 2019. Most of the reasons for continuing this practice no longer exist. In smaller real estate offices, phone duties are often shared between administrative staff and even agents. Their time answering the phones is determined by the unavailability of others to do this task. It's a thankless part of their job. It would be one thing if most real estate offices were receiving relevant phone calls from potential clients... but they aren't. Your administrative staff members know something that you don't: 40 percent of your inbound calls, on average, are junk. Yes, a few opportunities still arrive by phone. But mainly, you are paying your staff to listen to vendors and transfer calls to agents. Your commitment to using every member of your staff to the highest level of their ability should not stop with your agents. There's one way you can eliminate a time-consuming task from your administrative team without sacrificing customer service—and often even improving it. Technology is now better at answering the phones than humans. So, why wouldn't you use humans for the tasks that tech still can't do? Math and the new reality for brokerages and teams The stark reality is that real estate brokerages are operating on razor-thin margins. REAL Trends reports that gross margins for all brokerage firms have declined to less than 15 percent at the end of 2018. That's down from 22 percent only five years ago. Worse, net margins for all brokerage firms have declined from 4.3 percent to 3.5 percent over the same period. I'm not aware of any real estate brokerages in which expense reduction is not currently a priority. One easy way to reduce expenses is to make sure that the staff members you employ are working to the very highest level of their ability. You wouldn't ask a top-producing agent to spend her day filing paperwork. And you shouldn't ask competent administrative staff to interrupt the critical, productive work they are doing to answer phone call after phone call. What can your staff do if they're freed from the phone? Meet On-Demand Receptionist Joe Simms of RE/MAX Associates in Louisville, Kentucky, faced the same challenges that most brokerages face when it comes to handling phone calls. "Today, most people use their cell phones. So, if you are like many of us, you probably have canceled the land phone line in your home, because of so many spam calls," Simms says. "We are experiencing that same spam call issue with calls to our main office phone number. The result is our receptionist is busy most of the day answering spam calls." After researching options, Simms switched to call automation. He chose VoicePad's On-Demand Receptionist service. Joe first used On-Demand Reception for handling after-hours calls. It was so successful that his brokerage plans to use the same technology to answer the phones during regular business hours. "Our receptionists are now available to assist visitors and clients," Simms explains."Best of all, the On-Demand Reception technology has eliminated all of the spam calls." While VoicePad's On-Demand Receptionist scrubs leads for agents, brokerages can free up staff members who used to answer the phone to assist with tasks that make money. Admin staff at brokerages like RE/MAX Associates now have time to help manage social media accounts, assist agents in preparing listing presentations and marketing campaigns, assist with transaction management, organize office events and celebrations, and much more. Never missing a lead For Claudia Stallings, VP of Residential Sales at Coldwell Banker Wallace & Wallace REALTORS in Knoxville, TN, On-Demand Receptionist solved another major pain point. It's one that many brokerages are eager to fix: faster response to inbound leads, especially those that come in after hours. This traditional Coldwell Banker office installed On-Demand Receptionist, which features all of VoicePad's latest speech-recognition capabilities. Their agent directory was synched with active MLS roster data. When someone calls in after hours, the On-Demand Receptionist asks if the caller needs to sell, buy or rent a home. "In this environment where leads must be answered within seconds, we began looking for a cost-effective way to get the client connected directly to the agent in real-time after hours," Stallings said. "We knew about VoicePad through a colleague who was using it and decided to take a look. VoicePad's menus and voice-recognition services are now keeping our callers on the phone, and agents are being connected for a live conversation," she added. Moreover, Coldwell Banker Wallace and Wallace REALTORS now can track what callers need based on their menu selections. They have learned "that almost 38% of all after-hours calls are successfully routed to specific agents, while 26% of our calls are property inquiries," Stallings noted. "Those (inbound leads) are going to a pool of agents who are rushing to be the first one to pick up the call for a chance at new business. We're pleased to have evolved our after-hours service for a faster response time for our client and a better opportunity to connect for our agents," she added. No more "Robo" calls Carolyn Cromwell, Administrative Manager with Coldwell Banker Howard Perry and Watson, notes that their agents immediately appreciated the benefits of On-Demand Receptionist. "The agents really like VoicePad's On-Demand Receptionist, because the beauty of VoicePad is it weeds out robocalls," said Cromwell. "The calls are scrubbed; they are good leads agents are eager to receive." Better call technology means better margins In reality, it costs a real estate brokerage more to answer its phones than it does to buy the actual phone service. But brokerages still need to answer their phones. They just no longer need to staff for it. On-Demand Reception changes the game. It eliminates tens of thousands of dollars in hard and soft costs, delivers a better customer experience, and leverages advanced speech recognition and call-routing that does a better job of connecting agents with clients and prospects than a human. On-Demand Reception is just what it says it is. It's an automated Receptionist, but only when you need it: for after-hour coverage when an admin goes out sick, for weather events or use on a full-time basis. How easy is the upgrade? Nothing changes as it relates to a brokerage's current telephone service. Their current telecom service stays the same: On-Demand Receptionist uses the same phone numbers and the same physical desk sets. On-Demand Reception comes with a local number that allows an admin or Office Manager to forward the office calls to, and only when it is required. On-Demand Reception typically costs a brokerage $300 per month, per office. Even less for smaller offices. The cost compares well to answering the office calls live (only 8 hours a day). Plus, it also delivers routes calls to agents with just their spoken name 24 hours a day, seven days a week. The savings go right to the bottom line for each office. It's one of the fastest ways a brokerage can reap immediate savings while also cutting long-term costs. Plus, your agents, your accountants, and your admins will all rejoice in this decision. Seldom does the opportunity arise that pleases all three. Learn more here.
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Case Study: Targeting Consumers Curbside Boosts Brokerage's Leads
We talk a lot about online leads and the technology used to capture them--everything from broker websites, search portals, email newsletters, and beyond. Today, we're going to switch gears and look at how one brokerage automates their main phone numbers to capture leads at the moment of peak interest--right at the curb. "It's the new point-of-sale," says Charles Hunt, General Manager at Hunt Real Estate in upstate New York. "Everybody for years has said that you've gotta have the best online presence.' Well, I think you just need the best lead capture tool for where people are." Capturing Leads Right at the Curb Hunt Real Estate has boosted their lead conversion rates by eliminating agent and broker phone numbers from all their yard signs. Instead, the firm's signs now offer only a single automated number provided by VoicePad—no small undertaking for a firm with 38 offices and over 1,000 salespeople. This automation is an important factor in Hunt's lead conversion success. A recent study has shown that only 48% of leads are responded to and, of those, the average response time is over 15 hours. By tying their yard sign number with VoicePad's Interactive Voice and Text information system, Hunt gives their leads an instant response and even the option to connect directly to the listing agent to schedule a showing. Consumers at the curb can either call to hear an automated audio recording with property details, or request a text message to receive a text with more information and a link to Hunt's GPS mobile site (also provided by VoicePad).
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3 Tips For Making Your Website More Readable
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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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Business Incompetence Marked by Lack of Social Engagement
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