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Help Me, Don't Sell Me: The Future of IDX
One of my favorite pastimes is to read the reviews that consumers leave for Homesnap, the technology partner of the Broker Public Portal. As a consultant to the Broker Public Portal, reading the reviews informs my awareness of the best and worst features of the app. The funny part is that even the complaints are positive. The favorite feature of the app is that consumers are connected directly with the listing agent.
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Who Is the End User of Real Estate Tech?
Are the tools you're offering to clients beneficial to you or to them? Are the frictions in the home buying and selling process a result of technology developed with the wrong end-user in mind? It's All About the Experience Why do people pay for fine dining? What about first class seats? A luxury car? It's about the experience. It is easy to see how Michelin star restaurants, airlines, and Italian car manufacturers understand that the ultimate customer is the diner, traveler and driver, respectively, of their business. Can we say the same for the most common real estate tools?
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The Concierge Approach to Home Buyer Services
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Buyers Force Change in Real Estate, Tech, and Everywhere
Every transaction has a buyer and a seller. The sale could be a new home, a tube of toothpaste, a smartphone, a digital movie rental, or your next take-out meal. No matter how big or small the transaction is, who is ultimately in the driver's seat? It's the buyer. Every time.
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Moving: Is This Real Estate's Next Big Play?
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How MoveEasy Saves You Money When You Move
No one moves more than Americans. Across 16 major European countries, Gallup says the average European moves about four times in their lives. The average American? We move nearly four times as frequently — almost 12 times in our lifetimes. Moving is as American as hot dogs, baseball and apple pie. But unlike baseball, hot dogs and apple pie, for nearly everyone, moving isn't something we enjoy. For many people, moving causes stress — a lot of stress. One study in the UK, where people move just five times in their lifetimes, surveyed 2,000 adults who moved in the past three years. They found almost two in three people (61 percent) placed moving as No. 1 on their stress list! That's not surprising when you consider how much money and time moving costs. Think about this: if you move 10, 11 or 12 times in your lifetime, how much total time have you invested in moving? How much did all those moves, if you totaled them up, cost you? Making the right move As a real estate agent, if you could hook your clients up with a free, tech-powered concierge moving service that could save every client both money and a lot of time, would you be interested? That is the essence of MoveEasy: moving made simple by combining people plus tech. We provide a "white label" service that real estate brokerages can offer clients for free. It's both a moving and post-move concierge platform that combines a human concierge service with technology to make it easier to move and saves clients money. Because it's fully integrated with the brokerage's technology, MoveEasy streamlines the last mile of the transaction — the move. Agents can rest easier knowing their hard work to deliver exceptional customer service to their clients will continue until their clients are all moved in. Our human concierge not only provides excellent hands-on customer service but also helps clients select the right services at the right price. A new way to save Saving money when moving makes a big difference to the people making a move, and it's what MoveEasy offers every real estate client. When a home buyer or seller moves, there are a lot of changes, some beyond the client's control. The mover is often switching utility companies, phone and or cell providers, television and internet service providers, insurance companies and more. For example, digital services — internet as well as cable or satellite — are one of the most "switched" services when someone moves. And it makes sense. The average annual bill for television services jumped from $700 in 2000 to a whopping $1,200 in 2017, according to a study by Kagan, S&P Global Market Intelligence. Exploring all the digital service choices today can mean big savings over time. Because MoveEasy works with all providers, we can leverage our technology to compare the best local deals available instantly. Then our human concierge guides the mover personally through all of the details — covering what's in that fine print, so people are not caught by surprise. We use the same tactics with moving companies, as well as other local home services. Using MoveEasy provides not only a review of the competitive offerings by movers but also guides the person moving to ask the right questions. Because MoveEasy uniquely includes a human concierge to assist each real estate client personally, we can help match the services and special discounts that are available in the location where the client is moving. And because we manage a large volume of transactions, we can offer exceptional deals. In real dollars, the total savings across all services that MoveEasy offers quickly adds up to more than $500 for each agent's client. Saving more than money MoveEasy saves real estate clients a lot more than money. The amount of time someone saves using MoveEasy is stunning. Think for a minute how much time it takes your clients to complete all of their address-change notifications, reach out to their current utility companies to turn off the power and gas, cancel trash pickup, turn off the water, and stop their internet and cable or satellite services. Then they have to spend time researching which companies to contact for their new utilities, trash, water, followed by making calls to schedule appointments to set them all up for their new place. Your clients also have to spend a tremendous amount of time researching the best new packages for their internet and TV in their new home. All of this makes moving one colossal time suck. But with MoveEasy, a client can make just one call or click to begin a process that allows a human concierge to take over. MoveEasy handles many of the most time-consuming and mundane tasks to save an agent's client an enormous amount of time in the moving process. The best part for real estate agents is the fact that our human concierge service is designed to make the moving process go as smoothly as possible saving every buyer and seller time and money — so that an agent comes out looking like a hero for recommending MoveEasy to their clients. Venkatesh "Ven" Ganapathy is Founder & CEO of MoveEasy, moving made simple by people+tech at moveeasy.com. Also read Ven's column "Fixing the Last Mile in the Real Estate Transaction."    
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The 'NOT INVENTED HERE' Philosophy Can Get You in Trouble with Technology!
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Make 2019 the Year You Really Pay Attention to Your Customers
There isn't a company in real estate that does not believe that it pays attention to the needs of its customers. We all want to think that every one of our customers would give us a 5-star rating, but we know deep down inside that is not the case. Because we interact with our customers every day, we do have some sense of what they are looking for. Here's the problem though--we don't TALK to every one of our customers regularly. The silent majority are out there forming opinions without ever talking to their MLS, association or brokerage directly. So how do you really KNOW if you're doing the right thing for your customers? Those that are the most unhappy are probably not talking to you about it. There could be a ticking time bomb out there and you have no idea it's coming.
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How Tech Can Make Your Agents More Human AND Productive
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SERVICE: The Real Secret Weapon to Broker Profitability
Our industry loves shiny objects! We're also looking for the next goose that is going to lay golden eggs at our feet. This year, the promise of greatness has been tied to technology investments. From Opendoor to Compass to Keller Williams and a whole bunch in between, brokerages are lining up to claim their rightful place as a technology company. While these announcements have raised a few eyebrows, I'm worried that they are distracting us from the REAL secret weapon to broker profitability.
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Your Brokerage Needs to Improve Your Consumer Responsiveness
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Making the Most of Your Community Involvement
You know all the real estate trends of your community. You are an expert at all the market stats of your area. But are you using your knowledge of the community itself to help build your business? If not, learn how to start now.
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Successful Consumer Experience Requires Broker-Agent Partnership
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A Top Real Estate Team Shares Their 3 Keys to Success
The Kevin Blain Team closed 1400 transaction sides last year--their volume was over a quarter BILLION dollars in 2017. With 18 years in real estate and 75 team members, they're the number one team in California, according to Real Trends. So what are their secrets to success? They shared their approach to customer service, recruiting, and lead generation in recent interview with realtor.com®. Here's a transcript of the conversation: Customer Service You worked hard to establish your name and reputation over the past 18 years and to grow your business. Your team in itself is now larger than some real estate companies. How do you keep that high quality relationship going when you are managing 1500 transactions? Are the customers expecting you to be personally involved? How do you maintain that level of quality and care when delivering through a team? To be able to offer the same level of service with that many transactions we have specialists in place—there are sales specialists, listings specialists, support team specialists. With each having a defined role, it has allowed us to keep a high quality relationship with each of our customers. We have an expression: one client at a time. Each client gets individual attention; that's how we work. Recruiting How do you recruit team members that give you that level of professionalism? We are always looking looking for talented agents. We recruit here in Central California and we look for three things: integrity, attitude and intelligence—and maybe four, as I like to throw in energy. Bringing to the team the quality of service the right people will provide gives us what the customer is looking for. You may ask if the customer is looking for me to be personally involved and the answer is not usually—they expect the same quality of care as if I was. As long as the specialists on the team are delivering that, we will get a five star rating. And what are the agents you recruit looking for in return? What is your value exchange? When they look at our team, we need to exceed the value of what other companies may offer. We have the best support staff—a listing coordinator, a transaction coordinator, sign people—and we have the best training. They are getting training from the number one team in California. When they walk into a listing appointment, they can say that their team is the top team in all of California. We add value by providing leads—internet leads and from other media. Those leads do provide value. Here is a true example: We had an agent who was just starting on our team and after just 60 days in real estate, had closed five and had eight more pending. That does not typically happen, but it shows these leads can help an agent get off to a good start. Lead Generation We understand you have worked with realtor.com to bring in more leads for your team. Do you introduce your lead program when in a recruiting discussion? They bring it up—they know there is value in being on the team. They know there are several ways of getting business and one of those is online leads How have the leads from realtor.com contributed to the growth of your team or your plans to grow? About two and a half years ago, we started our inside sales department and that's when we started to purchase online leads, including realtor.com leads. From there, we have been able to expand to four counties in the Central Valley of California. When you are working with online leads, you need to respond quickly and have the wherewithal to follow up. We know it takes eight or nine contacts to have someone convert to become your client. If that work is not put in, then you may as well not purchase leads. We plan to engage up to 12 times knowing the conversion tends to happen after the eighth or ninth attempt. These are viable people and they get busy, so you have to call or contact them and they will finally respond when it is most convenient for them. What do you do to make sure that the investment you make in leads is not wasted? How do you track what actions are taken with them? I check numbers weekly with our inside sales dept. I look at lead measures every week so there is accountability on both sides. As I see them come in, I can see the follow-up efforts and appointments set, and address any issues if the follow-up is not happening. Is it all worth it? After investing your time and capital in realtor.com leads and following up, what kind of return are you getting on your investment? We get a good return on our investment and we work every day, every week, every month to get better. If you hear complaints that the these leads are not good, I don't believe that. What we have seen is that if we are doing our part to mine these leads and to provide good customer service, then they do pay off. We are continuing to enlarge our territory and go into new locations with online leads. Without them, we could not have made this happen so quickly.  
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Why Do So Many Brokers Think Technology Is the Way to Win?
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Who Is Your Consumer?
Who is your consumer? It seems like a simple question. Over the last few months, I've noticed that a lot of brokerages refer to consumer behavior when talking about their agents. I've always thought of buyers and sellers as real estate consumers, but yet many brokerage models support agents as the brokerage's primary consumer. After all, without agents a brokerage can't survive. On my trip home from Inman Connect a few weeks back, I started thinking through the constant battle brokerages experience in defining who their consumer is. Ultimately, brokerages serve two distinct sets of consumers – their agents and their buyers and sellers. So who takes priority?
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4 Creative Ways to Stand Out in Real Estate
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10 Ways to Give Back to Your Community
There are many reasons to give back to your community: to meet new people, improve or learn skills, make an impact, or just because it feels good. In the real estate business, giving back can also lead to new business opportunities, can strengthen your lead network, and can show others you're committed to your community and not just in it for the paycheck. Here are ten ways you can get involved and make a difference in your community.
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Top 35 Real Estate Firms Win 'QE' Award for Service Excellence
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The Problem with Real Estate Is that Nobody Cares about Quality
As a founding partner at WAV Group consulting, I have the opportunity to talk to fund managers about their investments in real estate. Some investors are focused on supporting public companies such as Realogy and RE/MAX, and others are betting against them with short positions. The truth is that we do not ever know the position of the investors when they ask questions. We just answer them as best we can. On a call this morning, I was asked a profound question about customer experience in two parts: Part 1. What brand has the highest customer satisfaction rating? Part 2. What brand has the highest agent satisfaction rating?
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Brokerage Offers Bespoke Service
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Brokers Can Learn Customer Experience Lesson From Mercedes Benz and Others
If you have been to a hotel or purchased a car in the past few years, you have likely received high quality customer service as well as a survey and feedback request. According to Gartner, "Today, 89 percent of marketers compete primarily on the basis of customer experience." For major companies and brands, the process of issuing a satisfaction survey after the service is complete is long expired. Today's companies are measuring every touchpoint that a brand has with the customer—and for good reason! Real estate brokers can improve their performance by going deeper on tracking and improving the customer experience. Before social media, brands were able to weather the bulk of consumer complaints. Unless the brand had a major public embarrassment, nobody really knew about a brand's performance. Today, we hear about every bad Uber experience or every great Airbnb experience, and just about every interaction that our friends and family have in real time. Despite this enormous shift, real estate is still in the dark ages of reputation management as real estate brands use basic surveys to get feedback after a final transaction. This approach generally results in a bunch of data they can't act on and customers who don't feel listened to. When consumer experience is only measured at the conclusion of a transaction, it is often too late to improve the experience. Real estate organizations have a massive opportunity to collect feedback throughout the various stages that consumers go through to drive higher conversion through a more frictionless experience.
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Practical Ways to Use Real Estate Technology to Make Stronger Connections (and More Money)
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How to Reinvigorate a Past Relationship
The "Big Idea" behind relationship marketing is that staying engaged with key relationships puts you at a strategic advantage for your current business efforts and the task at hand. By consistently following up, keeping these relationships warm, and adding value, we are able to nurture new, repeat, and referral business opportunities. One of the hardest parts of this, however, is that pesky little word consistently. As much as we try: There are people who we forget about. There are people who we worked with at one point, then moved on. There are introductions we never followed up on, in-person meetings we never kept track of, etc. Bottom line, there are people in our past network that we rediscover the importance of. We all know that feeling – for whatever reason or another, you find yourself staring at a contact record for someone who you haven't spoken to in two or three years. If only I had stayed in touch! How to revive your past relationships: I could let your overwhelming guilt and shame invigorate your desire to make sure that you don't repeat your mistake again, but I'd rather provide a little bit more value to you. We see a relationship where our mindshare is completely exhausted – but how do we reconnect with them? Let's dive in.
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Vendor Bonus Paid Forward
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Chat Bots: Don't Miss Out on the Latest in Real Estate Tech
Struggling to keep up with the seemingly endless issues of clients? Real estate and technology can work in harmony for better control of these queries. What is this miracle cure? It's not an added staff member, but bots – those little help-chat boxes that pop up on every website from your health insurer to your cell phone carrier. Building bots Carey is a DIY bot development product technology that is currently in development. It will allow users to create their own 'automated response technology,' or bots. Created by AgentPair founder Clark Giguiere, it's very close to wrapping up beta testing. One bot, built for industry news-provider Inman, will be ready any day. Another is already in-use by Trulia, helping renters find places in major markets and providing local stats and data. Smart-bot Bots are simple to find and use – even Facebook is using them. Just tap the Messenger's search tool to find a list of your friends and favorites, as well as available bots: Bots for sports teams and scores, news bots, bots for the Presidential race – you name it, there's a bot for it. Though certain key search terms must be used, bots are getting smarter and easier to use every day. As industries struggle to rise to the top in today's digital era, bots are an emerging power. Will you take advantage of the innovative opportunities they have to offer?
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The Science of Managing Service Standards
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An Exciting New Tool to Create Perfect Brokerage Standards and Consumer Experiences
Over the past two years, virtually every sector of the American business community has been struggling to come to grips with the emerging concepts of the creating and applying product and service value propositions. This focus can be attributed to the emergence of the value proposition as the ultimate consumer evaluation tool, along with increased consumer reliance on expanded databases that demonstrate the nature and quality of past consumer experiences. Some experts suggest that the real estate brokerage sector is a bit behind its compatriots from other industries with respect to consumer experience research and transitions, due in part to its reliance on agent centricity. However, even within real estate, there is a growing understanding that quality determinants in the provision of real estate marketing and transactional services have not traditionally been set by brokerages, are seldom set by agents, and are now being defined by consumers. The issue before the industry today is not whether brokerage-wide standards should be set. The consumer centric nature of the contemporary real estate marketplace has mandated that requirement, which leads to the question within our industry: how have these standards have been developed, implemented and monitored? Here again the answers are somewhat simple. Standards development, implementation and monitoring are simply not an integral element of the traditional real estate agent's mindset. Volumes could be written about why this is the case, but for the purposes of this piece, it is sufficient to say that a single minded focus on "closing the deal" at any cost is almost totally inconsistent with the creation of a real estate service experience that meets consumer expectations and demands, creates a long term positive consumer relationship and drives an appropriate risk management environment.
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Real Business is Personal and Authenticity Lasts a Lifetime
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What’s Your Loyalty Program?
A loyalty program is such a simple thing to construct, and they work. I buy from Amazon because I get Amazon Prime – free shipping – a loyalty program. I fly with American or United because they give me priority boarding, upgrades, and other perks – a loyalty program. In the latter example, I continue to use American and United even though I am not delighted with their service or price. But the perks have more meaning to me than other options. It is really hard to break free of loyalty programs. For years, we consolidated our hotel preference to Omni Hotels or Hilton Hotels. When you travel 100 nights a year, the perks make all the difference. We stuck with Hilton through two years of crappy hotels. This year, we sucked it up and converted to Marriott. The Marriott offers convenient locations, competitive pricing, but way better hotels than Hilton in the cities I tend to visit. My point is that switching from Hilton was really hard because of the loyalty program. My favorite quote of the year is "A lead is a customer that someone else lost," by Brian Boero of 1000Watt Consulting. The story of listing syndication and online advertising and search engine optimization is a fool's game if done ahead of affiliate marketing. Don't you think that an agent or a brand should be marketing to the people that they know and have done business with before they try to convert strangers? Don't you always give your family and friends a good deal when they purchase services from you? Don't you expect the same when doing business with your friends and family?
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An Experience Named Eric
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Why Customer Care and Support Should Be at the Top of Your Transaction Management Checklist
The Golden Rule – that one should treat others as one would like to be treated – is a maxim that appears in some form in nearly almost every religion or ethical tradition. But if you have ever been stuck on a technical support call gone bad, you might be convinced that this concept is completely absent in many technical support circles. What's even worse is when you discover the software that has failed you doesn't even offer a phone number for tech support and relegates you to send an email or fill out an online form for help! Our quality support is one topic our competitors probably wish we didn't talk about when it comes to Form Simplicity, one of the real estate industry's most popular and advanced paperless transaction management solutions. We don't just have an edge when it comes to the customer care and support for Form Simplicity, we have created a chasm between our transaction management competitors and us. If you are a real estate brokerage firm, MLS or association weighing your options when it comes to selecting the right transaction management solution, be certain that at the top of your checklist is "Customer Care and Support." Here's why. People make the difference The best technology in the world is never perfect. From the initial rollout of a software service or program to its ongoing support, nothing is more important than having people available to help you and your team. As software goes through iterations, upgrades and enhancement, things can sometimes go wrong, and if they do, you need to be sure that you can get the immediate assistance you need. Even if nothing does go wrong, you deserve the peace of mind knowing that if it does, someone has your back.
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Consumer Expectations, the Forgotten Child
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Get More Business with Smart Client Retention Strategies
It's a bright morning as you drive through your marketing area and BAM – you hit the brakes hard! Can you believe what you are seeing? It just can't be! Right in the front of one of your past customers' home is a big fat FOR SALE sign...and it is NOT yours! How and why does this happen? You thought you were keeping in "touch," but apparently not enough to be the agent with their listing! Studies prove that the frequency, the value you bring to the relationship and your personal brand are now mandatory and critical for a successful client retention and referral strategy in today's competitive marketplace. Gone are the days that you can get away with sending an annual birthday or anniversary of their closing greeting card. Clients are measuring the actual value of the relationship and then evaluate if they choose to keep the relationship connection. Bubba Mills, client retention expert, offers several top action items that are proven to keep the connection viable and profitable by implmenting some simple steps to keep a client for life. If you are looking to work smarter and are willing to execute a few small but powerful connection strategies, here are several tips to help you enjoy top client retention for more sales, more easily:shashlik 1) Got brand? Most agents offer "general" services. Even if you think you specialize in a given area, town or, even more specifically, a subdivision or development, think again. If you customer can't immediately connect you with being an expert in a given vertical, you default to being just another real estate agent. A brand is more than just a slogan or a logo. The goal is not just brand awareness or even brand preference; it is much more. As an example, let's use coffee as an analogy. You can get coffee just about anywhere, but if you are looking for a Starbucks experience, only a Starbucks will fill the bill. Your goal should be "brand INSISTENCE." We all know friends that will drive miles out of their way just to enjoy their favorite Starbucks concoction and nothing else will do.
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Solving for Technology-Confused Agents
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How Concierge-level Service Helps Brokers Impress and Retain Clients
"Concierge service" is the buzzword of the moment in real estate technology. We've been noticing that more companies are making it as easy as possible for agents and brokers to start using their products. For example, some CRMs will transfer or upload your contact database for you, or set up drip marketing campaigns for your clients. It's a smart move; by removing the barriers to getting started using their product, these companies vastly increase their customer retention rates. Brokers can learn from this model of customer service--and many already do. Brokers deliver concierge level services all the time. Our CEO, Victor Lund, recently experienced this level of service from a brokerage he listed his second home with. See the picture below? That's the home's front yard after a blustery storm blew through the area. Because his broker understood the importance of keeping a listing in top shape for showings, they immediately recommended and sent over a contractor who took care of the problem for him. What happens when a customer asks your company, Where can I find a landscaper? or Where do you get your tires fixed? Do you have an answer? Many brokerages, especially smaller ones, don't--even though providing that concierge-level service differentiates them other agencies in their area. Many consumers may not presume that a broker can answer these questions. However, if a brokerage can, then they become a more valuable resource to the homeowner.
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Consumer Expectations Drive Everything (or, 'How I got my son to the airport')
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With Home Sales, the Customer Isn't Always Right
We all know the age old adage, "The customer is always right." There is something to be said about good salesmanship and giving the customer what they want. Home sales, however, is an entirely different ball game. Granted, you will find those few clients who actually have experience and know how to effectively navigate the home buying process. More often than not, though, you will have people (like me) who think they know everything. Sure, they are educated, sophisticated and successful. They may even be the expert in their field. Unfortunately, and I apologize on behalf of all the "know-it-alls" you will encounter, they tend to think this means they are the experts in EVERY field. It can be frustrating dealing with them because, as you probably guessed (or experienced), these individuals also do not like to be told what to do. As a recovering know-it-all, I am here to tell you that there are a few key ways you can successfully deal with these people. They really can be talked down out of the unrealistic cloud they are in and I'm going to share how to do that. 1. Questions are your best friend. I have a friend who is VERY good at healthy conflict. She disarms me every time when she simply phrases her points in question form. Questions are the gentle way to make someone think about something a little more. It's like planting a seed and letting the other person water it with their thoughts. "What do you think about the price of the home being higher than the other three on the block and over market value?" will go over way better than "The price of your home is too high and that's why it's not selling."
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Tips on Thanking Your Clients, Customers, and Contacts
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Is Concierge Service for Your Clients in Your Future?
A new brokerage in Dallas, Real Estate Concierges, is surpassing the limits of the traditional real estate business model, offering clients services for life – not just a single transaction. Could this new model be in your future? A new paradigm With the reputation of the industry at large far from its best and rapidly changing technology altering transactions from start to finish, some real estate clientele are considering how integral real estate agents are to the buying and selling process. The new concierge model, however, turns that thought on its head. The Alpha and Omega of services Going beyond the transaction to justify traditional commissions and address the eroding value some consumers feel real estate professionals bring to the deal. The brokerage's concierge model doesn't end where typical real estate transactions do. Instead of parting ways with clients after the purchase or sale, the Real Estate Concierges' service steps in where most firms step out: Helping with change of address services Providing tax and accounting information pursuant to home ownership Offering advice on what to do after a home is burgled Referrals for handyman and other professional repair services And much, much more
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5 Tips for Crafting an Unforgettable Client Experience
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Building a Lollapalooza Brand for Buyers
We all want to be exceptional in our lives and work. We want to be lollapalooza — "an extraordinary thing, event, or person." For some readers, the term — which has roots in early 20th century slang — may call to mind the annual rock festival. But in order to truly figure out how to be the best lollapalooza we can be, we should consider what's billed as "the happiest place on earth": Disneyland. It's more than a slogan. By creating a fairytale experience for millions of customers, Disneyland has earned a remarkable 70 percent first-time return rate. It creates magic. Every visit is designed to be a lollapalooza, with personalized experiences for young and old alike. Every detail matters. When he was still around, Walt Disney himself greeted guests. Today, company leaders walk the parks, interact with guests, and pay close attention to customers' reactions to new rides. The execs are out among the people instead of tucking themselves away in a building far from the park. Each employee shares a unifying purpose. Your challenge is to create your own lollapalooza brand. If you want to be like Disney, you have to act like Disney. Teams can create lollapalooza experiences for each customer by providing a personal touch. This requires teaching agents to truly know their customers and do their homework. Make it a part of your brokerage's culture for agents to take the time to learn about each client. One of my favorite tools is simple, but it's incredibly effective in allowing agents to create a refined, highly personalized experience. It just requires a visit to the client's current home. Agents ask clients to walk them around and describe everything they like about their current home and everything they want to change when they move to their next one.
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What Brokers Can Learn From KOA
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Where Brokerages Can Find Non-Traditional Revenue Streams
Yes, your broker website is where consumers can search properties and learn about your company, but it's also a tool that can support your current and past clients. Unfortunately, there are few options available to brokers that helps you supports your clients during or after the transaction with non-transaction based information. For example, imagine you're a buyer considering a home and you want to know the logistics of moving into this home--what moving company to use, who the local cable company is, etc. As a broker, it's easy to fail that buyer as a resource for information outside your direct purview. However, as a customer service provider, you become more valuable if you offer this information or at least link out to resources that your buyers and sellers will find useful, and answering any questions that will help guide their decisions. What's difficult is figuring out what kind of information is valuable to consumers between transactions--and that also continually reinforces your usefulness to your customers. In the offline world, it's common for homeowners to contact their agent if they need referrals for home services. Where real estate firms fall down is in providing an online resource that consumers can consult on their own time. Some brokers will debate this, saying that they enjoy taking calls from their customers and answering these questions. However, as much as you enjoy those calls, you're limiting your communication channels to one. Most people will just search the web rather that contact you by phone.
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Ready to make your real estate consumer happy?
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How REALTORS® Can Raise Their Bar with Digital Tools
Now that the days of paper trenches are (nearly) long gone and you're swimming in digital options galore, how do you know what works and what might not equal the ROI you had in mind? Your schedule probably redefines busy, so why sleuth around for the answers? Just come to me for the digital dirt and I'll set you up with the wisdom and guide you to the tools that actually ramp your business cloud-bound (i.e. skyrocketing success in all matters ROI and keeping your clients and employees delighted). For my team at The Boutique Real Estate Group, we're OCD about providing world-class experiences for our clients; it's our marching theme for Real Estate Connect NYC. We're in the business of writing our client's story. When they look at a property, they imagine and dream and wonder. When you set up your real estate business with the right tools, you're able to kick off their story with a happy prologue. Excited to get started? Wonderful! We've vetted the digital market for ideas that struck magic and tools that did wonders for our client base. Check out the top five mantras and tools that help us set the bar sky high for client experiences: 1. Always Keep It Mobile and Tablet Friendly - Give us location independence and freedom to create, share and sign on the fly. We are all traveling 100 mph in a 55 mph world so this is essential to any business. If it's not mobile it does not exist.
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Return on Relationships in Real Estate
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Customer Service That Rocks
Guest contributor G.M. Filisko of REALTOR®Mag says: The economy has rattled American consumers, according to Gallup's June 2014 "State of the American Consumer Report," making them more cautious and demanding of the businesses to which they're giving their hard-earned money. Some companies have failed to adjust to consumers' newer, higher expectations, says Gallup. They've gone out of business or they're hanging on only because they've slashed prices or acquired competitors. There's a better way. Gallup's research shows the most successful companies have met consumers' heightened expectations by providing exceptional service. What are the key service elements consumers seek from you and your brokerage? For starters, easy accessibility to agents, overall competence, transparency regarding transaction details, and proper follow-through. Fulfilling these expectations creates what Gallup calls fully engaged customers—brand ambassadors and true believers who will stay loyal to your company and recommend you to their friends and family. Smart real estate brokers, whether they run large operations or small ones, realize there are no shortcuts to providing top-notch customer service. They know that consumers won't settle for anything less. Here's how they've been implementing systems and practices to ensure consumers become raving fans. Technology Plus a Personal Touch Eighty percent of NAR member brokers have one office with just a couple of licensees, according to NAR's 2013 Profile of Real Estate Firms. Brokers at such smaller firms use a combination of high tech and high touch to satisfy customers.
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Are You Living the Life of a Customer Servant?
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Top 3 Customer Service Tips Real Estate Pros Can Use
In today's service industry, great customer service is a NEED and no longer something that can be overlooked by any organizations. If you want to succeed and receive consistent loyal support from your target market, you must be able to make them feel that their business belongs with your company beyond the goods that they are purchasing from you. Today, I want to provide with some tips that I find very important to customer service. Your agents' interactions with customers must leave good impressions! This will greatly improve your business inside and out. Surprise The Customer When I am shopping, I like to usually be left alone, I never really know what I want but, when I find it I will know so I usually reject any help. When I worked retail, I was kind of similar: scared to sometimes approach customers out of fear of being rejected. I was not very good at my job, obviously. This changed for me one day when I was in a department store. The associate gave me a complement: "I really like those jeans on you, where did you get them?" The young lady shocked me! Next thing I know, she is leading me around the store showing me shoes, jeans and shirts that she would like on me. That unnecessary kindness me made feel special. No matter the field you are in, you want your representatives to be very observant of your customers to improve everyone's overall experience.
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Envisioning the Consumer Centric Agent
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Taking Charge With The Right Agent
Guest contributor Jose Perez of PCMS Consulting says: We left Justin and Kelly after a disappointing first showing with an out-of-touch real estate agent. Frustrated, the young couple decided to hit the pavement and explore their desired neighborhood on their own. They ran into a local agent at the neighborhood park, and their luck took a good turn. The local agent they met was named Angie. She had been living in the neighborhood for about ten years. Not only did she know about the zoning issue Justin was concerned about, but also she was aware of a couple of houses that were about to come on the market. They agreed to talk again the next day. As Justin and Kelly made their way home, they compared their agent experiences between Susan and Angie. They felt pretty bad but decided they needed to give Angie a shot – especially given the fact she might be able to show them two properties she was about to list. The following day was Friday. They both had lots of work things to get done so they told Angie they would check in late in the day. They weren't too surprised when Susan failed to get back with them about scheduling showings on the two properties they were really interested in. They were pleased and astonished when Angie, even before lunch, had times set up with both listing agents for Saturday. She also sent them video tours of the two homes she had mentioned the night before. Whatever guilt they felt about blowing off Susan quickly dissipated. They planned to meet Angie at their favorite Starbucks for coffee at 10 the next morning.
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'That’s Why We Are All Not Profitable!'
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Real Time Relevancy
How are you marketing your business? What type of resources do you provide for your clients during the home buying process? Do you have a strong social media presence? Okay, the real question here is what makes you better than your competition? You can't be everything to everyone, which is why real estate professionals should be concentrated on perfecting a single or a few small areas that will help you own your local market. Steve Jobs once said "Quality is much better than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles." Now you may be wondering how this applies to real estate, right? If you are simply awesome at one aspect of your job, for the sake of argument--let's say it's customer service--you should base everything you do around that strength. This will allow you to stand out from the competition much more than if you were mediocre at customer service AND marketing. The age old saying "divide and conquer" doesn't apply to real estate. To be successful, you must find what you are better at than everyone else and direct all of your efforts to that category. The goal of real time relevancy is to own one category and to provide relevant content in that area. Follow-up surveys, requests for online reviews, and even checking up on clients weeks after a purchase to see how they're adjusting to their new home will all illustrate that you provide better customer service than anyone else. By doing this, clients and prospects will remember you as someone who is genuinely concerned about their experience and it will help build their trust in you, and more business will result.
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Go for the Gold!
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I Can’t Get No Satisfaction! What To Do About Bad Customer Service.
Guest contributor Denessa Munsterman of PCMS Consulting says: Earlier this month we talked about the importance of exceptional customer service for real estate consumers. Now let's talk about you. I think we're all familiar with bad customer service as everyday consumers. We've all experienced long wait times, apathetic sales associates, poor service, and/or products that fall apart as soon as you open the box. In our personal lives, we react just like everyone else and tell the world through our social networks, vent to our family and friends, or quickly shoot off an email. Cause I tried, and I tried, and I tried and I tried...Why bad customer service is a bad for everyone. The field changes when we shift perspective from B2C to B2B. What do you do when you've sunk a substantial chunk of your budget into a product or service — and it doesn't deliver because of bad customer service and non-existent follow up?
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What's a Public Service App?
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I Want to Hold Your Hand
"I'll tell you something I think you'll understandWhen I say that somethingI want to hold your hand." Beatles lyrics? Yes! Something businesses need to internalize in order to satisfy today's consumer? Definitely! When you get great customer service at a restaurant, you leave a great tip and then tell all your friends about it. When you shop at a place like Nordstrom's, aren't you happy to pay more? Ever been to an Apple store? What do all these businesses have in common? You guessed it—they hold your hand! Why is exceptional customer service so important for these businesses and not others? Exceptional customer service starts with the modern consumer. What does this consumer look like? Today's consumer is highly educated; Today's consumer has many choices where they can spend their money; Today's consumer consequently has extremely high expectations regarding their experience with anyone they do business with, and; Today's consumers demand satisfaction. What happens if they don't receive the customer service they've come to expect? They take to the internet and complain: Loudly and publicly.
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Rewind: Why Zillow and Trulia Don’t Matter Today
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Going Above and Beyond "The Deal"
Spending more time focused on counting new customers rather than serving and keeping existing customers is neither a new practice nor is it unique to real estate. It just grows increasingly less common in other industries. Historically, most real estate organizations have focused virtually their entire resources on maximizing: new customer acquisition, sales production, market share and volume. Their banner was, "Make the sale, do the deal, everyone wins!" However, organizations increasingly recognize the high cost associated with acquiring new customers. Even in the real estate industry, there is acknowledgement that the total cost of new client acquisition (advertising, promotion, a portion of sales commission) can exceed 30% of revenue. Realizing the clear economic benefits of repeat sales and referrals, organizations have allocated an increasingly larger portion of resources to "satisfying and keeping" existing clients. It is a common industry practice to measure, analyze and manage: revenue, expenses, productivity, volume, listings taken and listings sold. What's being done to manage service quality and retain customer satisfaction? While most real estate organizations talk about and brag about service quality, unfortunately, it remains more talk than reality.
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Consumer Centric or Customer Friendly?
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Why Zillow and Trulia Don’t Matter Today
Let's start by stipulating two arguments: First, that every listing needs a buyer. Second, that most buyers find the home they bought on the internet. We might even throw in a third truism in real estate: a powerful web presence can bring in lots of business for most real estate brokers. All fine and well. Except for one thing: the market. It's true that most buyers today find their homes on the internet. According to NAR Research: It's also true that buyers like to use major web portals to do search for those homes. By and large. Yet the fact remains that most real estate remains local (most buyers moved less than 15 miles last year) and that local brokerage websites remain more-than-capable of capturing that buyer traffic. See the broker-revolt against sharing listings with major portals as market evidence of this fact (more here and here). And while there will always remain a large, soft chunk of the industry that prefers to outsource its buyer marketing and lead generation to third parties, Zillow and Trulia will hum along nicely for some time to come. None of which really matters today. Because it's not a buyer's market any more. It's a seller's market.
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Service Forensics: Diagnosis, Treatment, Survival
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The Service Renaissance and the New Compass
Leonardo da Vinci observed nearly 800 years ago that the practice of art, philosophy or trade, without an understanding of the science associated with it, is a world of darkness. He went on to observe that certain principles and forces (key variables) underlie every serious enterprise. The understanding and study of key variables enable us to master, manage and replicate actions and outcomes. Through science, humankind can understand the order of things and translate seeming randomness into processes with predictable and controlled results. Service without science is like navigation without a compass. As the quality and value of manufactured goods (hard products) have reached an all-time high, their place in the global economy has reached an all-time low. Service industries now dominate world economics, ironically, with quality, consistency and reliability that have reached an all time low. Will these times one day be viewed as the Dark Ages of Service--that strange in-between period in history following the height of the manufacturing age and before the rebirth of service? Where (too often) the marketing of "Great Service" is a more common and accepted business strategy and is a higher organizational priority than the measurement, delivery and management of service results?
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The How, What and Why of Buying or Selling Real Estate
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The Value in a Quality Service Certification®
Perhaps one of the most valuable assets for a real estate brokerage is a proven history of great customer service and a promise to consumers that they can and will perform to the highest industry standard. Buying or selling a home is one of the most important financial decisions a person will ever make and selecting the right real estate agent will make a significant difference in their experience. While it's assumed brokerages and agents provide maximum effort and professionalism in all of their transactions, is there any way to prove that? The Quality Service Certification (QSC) was created to protect and educate consumers when selecting a real estate professional. QSC certified brokers and agents make a pledge to clients, which is a description of all services they promise to provide throughout the transaction. In order to receive the QSC certification, real estate professionals must: Attend the QSC program Pass a written examination Sign a commitment to follow prescribed procedure
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Great Service and Keeping Customers for Life
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Shhh…Here’s one of the secrets of top producers
It's not easy to be a top producer. It takes a ton of hard work, commitment, consistency, focus on service excellence mixed with a great personality, and a bit of luck tossed in on top. In most regions the top 2% are the envy of the industry. Their peers marvel at their ability to secure the best listings, market them better than anyone else and maintain the most amazing referral network of anyone in their area. So what's their secret and how do they break themselves away from the pack? First and foremost, our observations tell us that it starts with their attitude. They are always looking for ways to improve. They are open to trying new technologies, expanding their team and attending new events. They are VERY committed to responsiveness. More than any technology, consumers value responsiveness more than anything else.
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Real Time Real Estate
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Retool Your Strategies to Create a Customer for Life
Guest contributor Jose Perez of PCMS Consulting says: I own a Lexus. I love my car, but more importantly, I love the people at Lexus. When I am ready to buy a new car, it will most likely be another Lexus. Lexus has made me a customer for life. Why is this? Before I ever owned a Lexus I wanted one. Their brand, their image, and their cars connected with who I am and they engaged me through their advertising and web presence, so much so, that I "built" my car on their website two years before I bought it; Once I decided it was time to buy and went to the dealership, the experience was pleasant, the sales person was professional and knowledgeable, and I felt extremely comfortable with the whole process. Bob has stayed in touch with me over the years and ALWAYS makes it a point to say hello when I come in for service. As a result, we bought my wife's car from him as well; Since I bought the car, I have been taking it back for service every few thousand miles and have dealt with the same service rep. His name is Joel and he really takes care of me every time I come in. Furthermore, the lounge I wait in has free Wi-Fi, great coffee, and a couple of the new Lexus models for me to check out while I wait; Anytime the service is going to take longer than an hour, they lend me one of their new models for me to have for a day or two. Drove one recently and it might just be my next car; and, After every service visit, I get a call AND a survey to make sure I was happy with everything. Of course, the answer is always yes! Imagine if real estate companies created a customer for life by providing this level of engagement and follow through with their clients! How much more profitable would they be? How much more valuable would they be? How much more control could they have?
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Your Real Estate Brand vs 2013: A World of Data and Reviews
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Giving Back to Military Homebuyers
The rewards of giving usually outweigh the satisfaction of receiving; as a real estate agent, making the dream of home ownership come true is the ultimate in giving. With both the holiday giving season and Veteran's Day right around the corner, we've compiled the top ways you can work with your local military veterans, to make their home ownership dreams come true. 1.) Homes for Heroes® is a network that works with real estate agents, lenders and other real estate-related service providers who offer substantial rebates and discounts to those who serve our nation every day. Military personnel (firefighters, law enforcement officers and others who make our communities a better place to live) who are looking for the home buying and selling savings, can register with a Homes for Heroes® Affiliate in their area. If you are looking to give back to those who serve, register your real estate business to become an Affiliate with Homes for Heroes®. 2.) Heroes Welcome Home is a program to prepare real estate agents to help returning U.S. soldiers and their families with their housing needs. The program takes a comprehensive approach to educating agents and provides them with the tools and resources they need to effectively counsel veterans on their real estate options, including their legal rights under the Americans with Disabilities and Fair Housing acts; home-lending programs; adapting homes to accommodate disabilities; and locating community rehabilitation and other veteran services. Educational topics include: importance of veteran housing, veteran property ownership, credit management, finance lending, and VA Loans.
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How to Become a Top Agent? Look Online
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Focus on Core Services to Gain Customers for Life
If the ups and downs of the real estate market have taught us anything, it's that we must nurture our client relationships in order to stay afloat during difficult times. As a broker, you should be thinking of retaining customers for life – not just in terms of single transactions. One way to do this is to focus on core services. Core Services What do we mean when we're talking about core services? We're talking about looking beyond the sales of residential real estate and focusing on mortgage, insurance, title, home warranty, and commercial real estate. We're not saying you should stop selling residential properties – although, as we've seen, future generations may be renting more and buying less. Instead, what we want to point out is that it's what you do throughout the transaction and after the transaction is complete that drives business and client retention across all service offerings. Case Study: Howard Hanna Real Estate Howard Hanna is an excellent example of a brokerage that has focused on core services to cement their position as an industry leader. They position themselves as a "full service" company, explaining that they can support their clients through every single step of a real estate transaction (from appraisal to closing) in-house.
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Real Estate Service: Bridging the Gap!
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Communication is Key for Achieving Real Estate Success
"Kill clients with communication," said Danny Burks, co-founder of The Burks Team based out of Tyler, Texas. "Sellers will come to us after listing with someone else for six months to a year and say they never received any communication from their agents." Danny and his wife, Rebecca, run a non-traditional brokerage of 13 people, which includes buyer's specialists, listing and closing coordinators, and even a full time professional photographer. The Burks Team are currently number one in their market, and about to close their 200th home sale this year. Danny and his team have been using Showing Suite since 2006, and can attribute their success partly in favor of Showing Suite's listing tools. "Showing Suite is an all-around great listing tool," he explains. "It sets you apart from the competition." One obstacle many agents face is communicating effectively with their clients. Where is the line drawn between too little and too much information? Danny and his team found that clients want as much communication as possible from their agent, and take advantage of HomeFollowup to stay in contact with clients. "We send out at least three emails each week to our clients. Newsletters, virtual tours, and listing updates," Danny said.
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Loyalty Marketing in Real Estate
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Three Traits of Every Rock Star Real Estate Agent
It's certainly been a rough few years for the real estate industry. In most cases, there are fewer deals happening, and those which do close, sell for significantly less. Given this, agents need every advantage they can find to stay ahead of their competition and provide each and every customer with the best experience possible. Happy clients (and the referrals from them), after all, are what fill the bulk of agents' pipelines. Agents are feeling pressure from both a soft market and from the ever-shifting demands of consumers clamoring for reduced hassle in their transaction, which nowadays includes a completely electronic environment. It's this shift in the industry that requires agents to take a different approach to their business and adopt the traits of those who are truly "rock stars." Here are three ways the most successful agents have adapted to the ever-changing industry and market: 1. Client Convenience. It's a fact: Inefficiency and time kills deals. Agents need to adopt technology that solves real problems, instead of relying on tools (or multiple tools) that solve a portion of the problem or a portion of a business process. Look for a solution that solves an entire business process. Buyers and sellers — especially the younger generation — expect to do most of their negotiating, amending and signing online. This client expectation is what should drive implementation of technology, making everyone's lives easier, including that of the agent.
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Masters of Customer Service
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Hello? Welcome to Tech Support in the Dark Ages!
Tech support today is always a subject of great consternation for both sides of the conversation. On the one side, it's frusterating to have to call/walk in to have to explain again and again, to at least two people, what your novice diagnosis of the technology problem is.  Often this banter goes around and around till they come to the conculsion that something is defective... either you or your device.  Taking this experience out of the 21st Century can be just as entertaining...
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Learning from Inuit Social Media Faux Pas
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dsSearchAgent IDX
dsSearchAgent is designed around Web 2.0 features that make connections and engagement between the consumer and the agent seamless. This product is built from the ground up to be a map-based search solution. Sliders and features that allow the consumer to narrow their search criteria are dressed along the left side of the map for ease of use. This design is not only very functional, but it allows the consumer to view more property information without scrolling down the page. Like most IDX solutions, dsSearchAgent has many features that encourage consumers to register to the website to access helpful property search tools. For example, customers can save a search and get listing alerts. dsSearchAgent goes even further by allowing the consumer to get the information in the form of an RSS Feed as well as email. Customers can also register to add their own notes to property. The agent back office control panel allows for easy access to customer searches, favorites, and viewing patterns. There are also some nice features that allow agents to organize leads.
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