You are viewing our site as a Broker, switch your view below:

Agent | Broker     Reset Filters to Default
The Blurred Line Between Real Estate and Technology: How Proptech Is Changing the Client Experience
The real estate industry has long been heavily dependent on word of mouth. A couple considering the purchase of their first home, for example, may turn to their parents, friends, or colleagues for a direct recommendation for an agent or brokerage. It has been paramount for real estate professionals to provide top-notch service in order to earn these coveted referrals – happy clients lead to future business, after all!
MORE >
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.
MORE >
Who Is the End User of Real Estate Tech?
MORE >
The Concierge Approach to Home Buyer Services
Have you noticed the TV commercials for Carvana, the newest way to shop for a car? It amazes most of us that someone would buy a car sight-unseen, but they're doing it. They totally shop online, then they get the car delivered to them, or they can pick it up at a really amazing "car vending machine." It's glass and you can see the cars as they come down to be dispensed. No, it's definitely not a trend that we'll see in buying homes, but is there a home buyer service or suite of services we can supply that is similar? The facts bear out that home buyers, just like car buyers, want to eliminate the hassles of locating the right home. They would like to avoid some of the steps. Sure, they can do searches online, repeat the searches waiting for new listings, then contact you and go see homes. What if they want the process to be less of a hassle, though?
MORE >
Buyers Force Change in Real Estate, Tech, and Everywhere
MORE >
Moving: Is This Real Estate's Next Big Play?
Mortgage. Insurance. Title services. Closing services. Real estate brokerage firms continue to look to the one-stop shop for a couple of big reasons. First, profitability: Brokerage profit margins are abysmal. According to Steve Murray, president and owner of REAL Trends, brokerages are facing thinner gross margins in their core business. By the end of 2016, Murray wrote that "The average gross margin per agent has fallen nearly in half." And based on competitive pressures from firms like Compass, does anyone expect core business margins to improve?
MORE >
How MoveEasy Saves You Money When You Move
MORE >
The 'NOT INVENTED HERE' Philosophy Can Get You in Trouble with Technology!
I love it when CTOs and technology leaders take pride in their work. They believe they can do anything and many times they are absolutely right! A tech leader with a unique understanding of a company's customer base, coupled with the unique strengths of the organization, are in a great position to create innovation that cannot be built by anybody else. There are times, though, when technology teams take this philosophy too far. They believe they can build EVERYTHING their company needs. They don't trust or respect third party companies that possess a deep understanding of a particular type of technology solution because it "was not invented here." Because of their ignorance, arrogance, insecurity or budget constraints, some internal technology teams try to build every type of technology, regardless of the skillset of the internal team.
MORE >
Make 2019 the Year You Really Pay Attention to Your Customers
MORE >
How Tech Can Make Your Agents More Human AND Productive
If you're a real estate broker, one of the most important parts of your job is helping your agents develop strong relationships with their clients. Because when your agents understand their clients, their clients are more likely to have a great home buying experience. Happy clients are more likely to become brand ambassadors who bring more business (including referrals and repeat business) to your brokerage through word-of-mouth. They also help you build your brand, among agents, brokers, and prospects.
MORE >
SERVICE: The Real Secret Weapon to Broker Profitability
MORE >
Your Brokerage Needs to Improve Your Consumer Responsiveness
Sometimes Zillow Group does something that aggravates the industry, like displaying agent reviews. Other times Zillow does things that not only aggravate the real estate industry, but they point to profound best practices that are a roadmap to success. When brokers pay attention, they can learn a lot.
MORE >
Making the Most of Your Community Involvement
MORE >
Successful Consumer Experience Requires Broker-Agent Partnership
Three-quarters of the year of conferences and workshops have passed, and a common theme – out of many – has appeared. The industry's dive into the consumer journey in real estate is the epicenter of today's evolving business models. How these business models deliver a unique consumer experience through the marketing technology stack (MarTech), requires that they solve the fragmented systems of consumer data and find consumers who only engage when addressed with the right message, at the right time, and within the right medium or channel.
MORE >
A Top Real Estate Team Shares Their 3 Keys to Success
MORE >
Why Do So Many Brokers Think Technology Is the Way to Win?
It seems like every week we're hearing about a new announcement from a large brokerage or franchise telling us they are spending millions on technology and repositioning their brand story around their technology suite. While I LOVE to see brokers investing in technology that will help their agents be more professional, prepared and responsive, I feel like we might be missing the big picture in our industry.
MORE >
Who Is Your Consumer?
MORE >
4 Creative Ways to Stand Out in Real Estate
Real estate is relational. Whether welcoming a new agent to your office or working with a consumer to buy a new home, you are now involved with a major event in that person's life. Providing outstanding service should be coupled with providing a unique, ongoing experience that stands out. Here are a few creative (and easy!) ways to provide that above-and-beyond experience.
MORE >
10 Ways to Give Back to Your Community
MORE >
Top 35 Real Estate Firms Win 'QE' Award for Service Excellence
The film industry has the Oscars. The music industry has the Grammys. Broadway has the Tonys. Journalism has the Pulitzers. And now the real estate brokerage industry has the "QE" (pronounced "Quie"). The "QE" is an industry first, the only award of its kind that honors real estate brokerage firms for exceptional customer service satisfaction. In recognizing America's Top 35 Real Estate Brokerages, this award actually "measures and independently verifies excellence in the delivery of the highest levels of customer satisfaction and service quality in real estate in North America," according to Quality Service Certification, Inc. (QSC), creators of this brand-new award.
MORE >
The Problem with Real Estate Is that Nobody Cares about Quality
MORE >
Brokerage Offers Bespoke Service
Bespoke is a concept born out of the tailored customization of the haberdashery. In a service industry like real estate, it outlines a special type of service. But let's set down the crystal flute of Dom Perignon for a moment and recognize that all real estate services are bespoke – but they are not packaged as such. How Focused Are You on Staying Connected with Past Clients? In 2012, WAV Group began its research on how brokerage firms could leverage big data in real estate. The first paper we published on the topic was in 2013. Our focus is rooted in the understanding that 80 percent of transactions come from repeat and referral business, but firms do not invest anywhere near 80 percent of their marketing and communications budget to support it. It's quite the opposite. We watch firms spend 80 percent of their budget on new business and often ignore repeats and referrals. The funny thing is that most brokers have solutions in place for staying connected with past clients, but those tools and services are not packaged up or marketed as such.
MORE >
Brokers Can Learn Customer Experience Lesson From Mercedes Benz and Others
MORE >
Practical Ways to Use Real Estate Technology to Make Stronger Connections (and More Money)
I just finished a week of conversations at Inman Connect around technology. After several days talking about big data, AI, predictive analytics, augmented reality and automation, it felt like this conference (and this industry) is drowning in it. Perhaps it's time to take a step back and remember something critical about real estate: It is a fundamentally human transaction. We talk about "leads" or "prospects" or "consumers," but these terms really just mean "people." People – like you and me – buy houses. And when people buy houses, they need agents they trust to lean on. As Rich Barton pointed out Tuesday, For Sale by Owner transactions haven't moved much in 20 years. That's because this is an industry that facilitates an emotional transaction that requires expert help. Deciding where you live and raise a family is not just a financial decision. Ours is an industry built on emotions and human connection, not technology platforms. Bringing Sensibility into Data and Technology I've run a data company for almost 15 years, and I can say unequivocally there is too much data. It can be tough to decide what data to collect and how to deliver it. If you start by thinking about what people actually want, however, things get a lot clearer. You can discover what people want in two ways: Be implicit: Monitor visitors' actions online, track what pages they view and what buttons they click to create a profile. Be explicit: Make a call or send a survey to find out what's important to your network. Sometimes the most effective way to find out what's important to someone is simply ask.
MORE >
How to Reinvigorate a Past Relationship
MORE >
Vendor Bonus Paid Forward
I had the strangest experience last year. A client sent me a check out of the blue. It was a striking gesture. It came with a phone call saying that he appreciated everything we have done. His business had a great year. It floored me, and my family. Financially, it made a difference. The amount was significant. It was not trivial – like a tip. More like the kind of bonus that people get that work at companies for a job well done. Of course, I was thankful. But it was transformative. This year, I went through the list of companies that made a difference for us. You know – the suppliers and vendors that are always fair, great to work with, go out of their way at any time of day to help. I sent them a check. I sent a significant check. I made the same calls and said that I appreciated them, and that our companies had a great year and they were instrumental in that. Today, another check arrived from the same client. Again, it was accompanied by a phone call of thanks and the news that they had another great year. I was blown away again. You would think that I would be less surprised this year, but I was not. I was reinforced in my resolve to keep paying it forward. Catherine Ryan Hyde, the author of Pay It Forward lives in our county.  I have had the urge to give her a call and take her for coffee. I would really like my 14 year old daughter to meet her, not only to learn about the inspiration for the book – but more for the introduction to a writer.
MORE >
Chat Bots: Don't Miss Out on the Latest in Real Estate Tech
MORE >
The Science of Managing Service Standards
While brokers can quantify an agent's performance with numbers like, say, their sales volume, measuring the quality of an agent's performance is much more challenging. Agent ratings are one method brokers are turning to to solve this problem--and the results are measurable and significant. According to Leading Research Corporation, when systems for tracking and, yes, quantifying the client service quality are used, repeat and referral business increases by 17.74 percent for buyers and 12.48 percent for sellers. But how does one quantify how well an agent serves their clients? Agent ratings platform Quality Service Certification (QSC) does it by standardizing the service process that participating agents are required to follow. When a transaction is completed, QSC sends your client a questionnaire asking them to rate, on a scale of 1 to 5, specific aspects of the service their agent provided. Questions cover details like consumer expectations for days-on-market, quality and frequency of communication, and the agent's knowledge of the area. (You can see a sample questionnaire here.) Brokers who use QSC can track the results of returned surveys in a dashboard. They can view results at the individual agent level or office level; they can also view both individual surveys and the cumulative results of all surveys. The cumulative option is a great way to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of agents. Just compare the ratings an agent receives from seller clients versus buyers. If their ratings as a listing agent are lower, for example, this is a signal that their skills serving sellers need some polishing. Brokers can use this information to identify coaching opportunities.
MORE >
An Exciting New Tool to Create Perfect Brokerage Standards and Consumer Experiences
MORE >
Real Business is Personal and Authenticity Lasts a Lifetime
I filmed at a business innovation conference a few years ago. The conference was run by MBA students from a prestigious Canadian university and attended by prominent business people from all over North America. I was paid by the MBA students to film the conference. That included all the keynotes, some of the breakout sessions, and all of the fancy snack and alcohol consumption. I was a one-man crew, handing all of the lighting, audio and camera. I filmed all Friday night, all Saturday day and night, and half of Sunday. I was also underpaid, but that's another story. The most important thing for me to capture was the interviews with the four keynotes and the seven conference organizers. I'll admit I was a little intimidated at the conference. I was an Arts student with no business experience and some of the concepts went over my head. I did learn one very important life-lesson though: Real business is personal and authenticity lasts a lifetime. Let me explain.
MORE >
What’s Your Loyalty Program?
MORE >
An Experience Named Eric
Over the past years, this column has presented and commented many times on the subject of consumer experiences. It has discussed a wide range of both positive and unsatisfactory consumer real estate experiences. Hence, it is with the greatest of satisfaction that we now get to tell this story of an absolutely spectacular real estate service experience. Many industry decision makers and leaders believe that the challenge of the century for the contemporary American real estate industry will be its willingness and ability to create and deliver a real estate transactional experience that meets the needs and expectations of the broker, the buyer, and the seller. What is a real estate service experience? The Merriam-Webster Dictionary describes an experience as something personally encountered, undergone, or lived through. For the purposes of this column, the term experience is used to describe the sum total of the elements, both intentional and unintentional, presented to a buyer or a seller as they make their way through a real estate transaction from search to contract, from contract to closing, and from closing to ownership. There are many industry insiders who find the whole subject of real estate service experiences to be a non-subject. These folks believe happenstance, luck and environmental factors rather than professionalism and brand management determine what matter of experience any particular consumer might have on any given day. There are others, however, who believe that a perfect real estate experience is the result of a carefully considered series of well planned, properly executed and masterfully managed tasks, interactions and challenges.
MORE >
Why Customer Care and Support Should Be at the Top of Your Transaction Management Checklist
MORE >
Consumer Expectations, the Forgotten Child
As a consumer, I've had multiple experiences lately with a bank, a doctor, and a government agency that make me wonder what century I'm living in. Every transaction was paper based with tons of duplicate information and just a whole lot of inefficiency all over the place. Completely unsatisfying experiences meeting my consumer expectations. Consumer focused brands, systems, and efficiencies are everywhere these days. If you're not taking advantage of them and making consumer expectations part of your value proposition, you're operating your business at a disadvantage. So what should you be thinking about?
MORE >
Get More Business with Smart Client Retention Strategies
MORE >
Solving for Technology-Confused Agents
WAV Group supports organizations (brokers, MLSs, associations, franchises) to develop support services for the technology applications used by agents. To kick off these programs, we audit the systems that an agent has access to. This is an administrative process where we inventory all of the tools that they access from any source. 7 Sources of Real Estate Agent Technology (with one common example) National Association of Realtors – RPR State Association of Realtors – Forms Local Association of Realtors – Lockbox Multiple Listing Service – MLS system Franchise – lead management Brokerage – eMail Self – website The Big Problem: 7 different channels of training and support Forget about training and support for a second. Let's start with a basic observation: For an agent to even know what each of these tools do, they would need to spend at least one hour on a demo to get an overview. In reality, something as sophisticated as the MLS system would take at least two hours just to show an agent around. A fundamental problem with real estate today is that this basic process of introducing an agent to the tools they use is optional.
MORE >
How Concierge-level Service Helps Brokers Impress and Retain Clients
MORE >
Consumer Expectations Drive Everything (or, 'How I got my son to the airport')
I recently had to get my college-aged son to the Orlando airport for a 7AM flight. He had no car and was staying with some friends in a rental house about 45 minutes away, so we needed to make sure someone was able to pick him up by 5:45AM on a Sunday so he would get to his flight on time. If you've read my past writing, you know I am a big fan of Uber, their business model, and how so many of the concepts about that business should be applied to real estate (i.e. easy to get a car, great app, transparency). Since I practice what I preach and pretty much Uber everywhere, I suggested he call them to get to the airport. I've never had an issue getting a car that early in the morning. But I live in Miami, where at that hour, a lot of people are just getting home from a night out and there are plenty of drivers available. My son was staying 45 minutes outside of Orlando in a very residential/quasi-rural area, so we weren't 100% sure that there would be any drivers and didn't want to take a chance, so we decided to reserve him a cab. Not having called a cab company in years, I started with Yelp, skipped the sponsored ads and settled on a company that had pretty good reviews and was about halfway between the airport where my son was staying. That was the easy part... I was running errands when all this was going on, so was having to do all this on my iPhone. Their site was not responsive and I almost went elsewhere. I did not want to have to go back to Yelp, so I suffered through it. There was no estimate for what the fare would be, so I had to jump off their site and go to a cab fare estimator. I was shocked when I saw the comparison. Uber was in the $30-35 range, while a regular cab was in the $100-115 range!
MORE >
With Home Sales, the Customer Isn't Always Right
MORE >
Tips on Thanking Your Clients, Customers, and Contacts
The expression of gratitude can lead to increased happiness. Gratitude has been shown to improve health, help to better handle adversity, increase enjoyment of positive experiences, and build strong relationships. Have you ever made a big purchase, especially one that required a lot of help from a sales person, and received a note after? That experience sticks in your mind. A lot of large companies will send you loyalty points, or discounts after you purchase, but a less sales-oriented message is more memorable. Saying thank you to your clients lets them know they are valued. Sending an authentic note makes you seem more approachable and stand out in the customer's memory. By writing a thank you after a sale or interaction, you give your customer a more valuable and memorable experience. Here are 5 Five Minute Tips on Thanking Your Customers, Clients, and Contacts 1. Show you remember A great way to express your gratitude is by sending a gift. You can go the usual route with wine, flowers, or a company pen, but to really make an impact with your thank you, refer to previous conversations.
MORE >
Is Concierge Service for Your Clients in Your Future?
MORE >
5 Tips for Crafting an Unforgettable Client Experience
I met the nicest guy in the world buying my new car...Do your clients love your agents? A few weeks ago, my wife and I started talking about getting her a new car. A transaction process that few look forward to – something we in the real estate industry can relate to. I kept putting it off because I wasn't in the mood to walk into a showroom, get accosted by a salesperson, deal with the finance guy, etc. My wife had done some research online and came across a Lexus dealership about 45 minutes from our house that was very responsive and helpful. They even offered a creative pre-paid lease program that would result in us being able to get a brand new car for no money down and no payments for two or three years. I was intrigued. Keep in mind we have a Lexus dealership less than 20 minutes from our house, but I agreed to drive the 45 minutes because of the experience my wife had with their Internet sales person, Alicia. Even so, I had to mentally prepare myself because I really don't like shopping for cars and I wasn't convinced that pre-sales experience would carry over once we arrived in person. We drove up to a beautiful building and walked into a very impressive lobby with two reception desks, a nicely appointed seating area, a bar serving drinks, coffee, and sandwiches. And I'm not kidding – there was even a guy playing the harp.
MORE >
Building a Lollapalooza Brand for Buyers
MORE >
What Brokers Can Learn From KOA
KOA means Kampgrounds of America. I did not know that. They are the largest franchisor of campgrounds in the world. For years, many of their campgrounds advertised themselves as the 'Best KOA in America.' Sound familiar? Real estate brokers and agents constantly promote themselves as the #1 this or that. But what is really important to the consumer? Bill Hendricks, CEO of KOA spoke in San Luis Obispo, RE Technology's hometown, this week. He is an executive in residence at Cal Poly, our local university. He took the bold move of asking consumers to rate their campgrounds. He delivered the results of their surveys at their annual convention. He shared that many of the consumer suggestions were easily fixable – repair this, replace that, add something. Nothing startling. Mr. Hendricks published the list of the top rated sites. He reports that "it was the best thing I have ever done." People that thought they were doing a great job realized that they had work to do. "...owners forget the fundamentals of providing great service." The no. 1 thing that made a difference in customer satisfaction was the people. Owners who made a point to engage with their customers were rewarded with the highest satisfaction scores and the highest likelihood to revisit the location. To this day, I cannot accept why every broker in America is not using a customer satisfaction system like QSC or RealSatisfied in their business. I personally think that publishing the satisfaction and agent ratings is the right thing to do. But, it's an invaluable process even if you just use the results to coach your agents and staff.
MORE >
Where Brokerages Can Find Non-Traditional Revenue Streams
MORE >
Ready to make your real estate consumer happy?
Does your business model deliver an exceptional transaction for your real estate consumer? Everyone has their opinions about Uber—some rave, some rail. But as someone who travels quite a bit, Uber absolutely KILLS IT for consumers. They make my experience exceptional, and I want to recommend them every time I use them. Once again, I Ubered to the airport at 6:00 AM this morning. (By the way, have you ever noticed how consumer-focused companies even have their own lingo?) I calmly sipped the rest of my coffee in my kitchen while I pulled up the Uber app and requested my car; I rode the elevator down to the lobby of my building and there was my Uber driver (not a Realtor this time!) in his brand new car greeting and taking my bags from me; He too was an ex-New Yorker, so we had plenty to talk about in the 15-20 minutes it took to get to the airport; He had mints and waters in the backseat; and, When we got to the airport, he got my bags, shook my hand, and wished me luck on my business trip! Here is the best part: When I got the receipt, by email, only seconds later, my ride was only $11.88! Yes, I'm a raving fan because it costs $17 a day to park at the airport. Not only did I have a wonderfully convenient way to get to the airport—and not have to look for parking, but I also saved $40 because my wife promised to pick me up Friday night when I get back. So what does this have to with creating an exceptional experience for your real estate consumer? EVERYTHING!
MORE >
How REALTORS® Can Raise Their Bar with Digital Tools
MORE >
Return on Relationships in Real Estate
Relationships are the make-or-break detail when it comes to clients purchasing real estate. Return on relationships (ROR) is not strictly about money (although that is an integral component); it is also about the value that loyalty plays in a client recommending and sharing you to others. So what steps can you take to achieve a better ROR with your clients? 1) Listen Listening is the biggest tool of ingratiation with any person, be it business-related or otherwise. If a person does not feel heard, they start to feel disrespected. If your client does not feel you are listening to them, they will not adequately trust you to come through for them on what they want. It will ultimately detract from your ROR by weakening your relationship. Too often agents are waiting to finish a client's sentence or start unloading vast amounts of information on them; when an agent takes the time to slow down and listen, bonds are formed that extend far beyond the normal broker-client relationship. 2) Make it about them It is not about you! Brokers are generally all too quick to try to force things on a client. They forget that at the end of the day, it is all about the client. They are the ones who are going to be living in whatever property they buy, not the broker. Because of this, it is imperative to put the buyers in the driver's seat. They need to realize that they hold all the cards, and the broker is merely acting as a facilitator to bring their dreams to life.
MORE >
Customer Service That Rocks
MORE >
Are You Living the Life of a Customer Servant?
We all know that our businesses are dependent on our customers, yet we don't always live the dream of providing amazing customer service. It's easy when you get tired to say, "I'll get up early and do it tomorrow." When the phone rings and we don't answer it, we might justify it by saying, "I need to focus on this CMA I am building." Or worse yet, the phone might ring and we ignore it because we're talking to one of our friends or having a cup of coffee. While we're all human and we have our moments of weakness, customer service is fundamental to what we provide in the real estate industry. After all that is what we're really selling at the end of the day – Expertise, Local Knowledge and Service. At the end of a day, if a client doesn't feel like you care about them, you're not going to get very far. Certainly you won't be able to create a lifetime experience with them. I would like all of us to ask ourselves a fundamental question through a little exercise I have created. Do you truly have the heart of a servant? Do you LOVE to help your clients achieve their goals? Do you get up in the morning thinking about how you can delight one or more of your customers today? As a brokerage, do you inspire your teams to live the life of a servant to their clients? As an MLS, do you encourage and incentivize everyone in the company to do whatever it takes to help your subscribers be successful, addressing their needs quickly and completely? Do you proactively provide them tools, training and service that will go above and beyond what your members would even ask you for?
MORE >
Top 3 Customer Service Tips Real Estate Pros Can Use
MORE >
Envisioning the Consumer Centric Agent
The industry meetings of 2014 provided a rich insight into the industry's thinking on a number of critical issues. The subjects of off-MLS marketing practices, mergers and acquisitions, the vibrating MLS, the specter of increased regulation, the oscillating portals, visions of profitability, the continuing emergence of the empowered consumer, changes in the brokerage business model and the ultimate impact of the Wall Street invasion, just to name a few. These provided an invaluable opportunity to observe and measure the industry attitude and perspective moving forward. Of all of these issues, I found the most valuable to be those regarding what steps brokerages would be taking to better align themselves with whatever market changes their CEOs found compelling. If one were to boil all of the information down to basics, the result would be standards, accountability, and transparency. It would appear that the brokerage community is now anticipating that some combination of consumer demand, profitability, and regulatory issues will converge to require that the residential real estate process be governed by standards. Given this development, it stands to reason that someone other than the brokerage will have to be responsible for compliance with those standards and, lastly, that the process by which standards and accountability come together will be subject to transparency. Frequently, the consideration of these issues lead to conversations about the evolving role of agents and, more specifically, the current and future legal and supervisory status of agents. It would appear that industry thought leaders are increasingly of the opinion that the long standing independent contractor status of agents is losing relevant and may no longer be either useful or appropriate.
MORE >
Taking Charge With The Right Agent
MORE >
'That’s Why We Are All Not Profitable!'
Marilyn Wilson with the WAV Group has been visiting brokerages and state associations with data that her company compiled about our industry. While attending one of her recent presentations, I snapped a quick photo with my phone of one of her graphs. She said there are two different types of companies listed on the graph. The companies with the massive revenues are companies that the public loves. The companies with the lower revenues on the graph are companies that could be viewed as a commodity. One broker yelled out during Wilson's presentation, "That's why we are all not profitable! No wonder why we are having a hard time, we are all the bottom companies." Wilson explained that the brands people love have the most revenue, and as a result, the most room for profit, while other companies will fight to be profitable. The room was filled with "a-ha moments." She then stated that the WAV Group conducted a survey in the Houston area where they asked members of the public to "name the first company you think of when you hear 'real estate.'" Can you guess what company ranked No. 1? Wilson claims the same company was named more than 90 percent of the time when the question was asked. The public said, "Zillow." Wow! When people hear real estate, that is the first thing that comes to their mind? She proved her point that our industry doesn't have a brand that people love.
MORE >
Real Time Relevancy
MORE >
Go for the Gold!
What is better anyway? For world-class Olympic athletes better is faster, higher, stronger. Olympic events are carefully defined and competitors are measured in hundredths and thousandths of a second or an inch. Service has become a world-class event. Two-thirds of the global economy (>80% of the U.S.) has migrated from a manufacturing base to service. That makes service serious business and, in essence, a world-class event. Athletes competing at the highest levels train vigorously. They meticulously track performance, exercise great discipline, utilize technology and employ specialized resources to improve performance. World-class athletes recognize the value of performance feedback and understand the importance of common standards of performance measurement. Is there something to be learned from this? There certainly is. In business, the consumer is the Olympic committee. Consumers define the events and judge the results. Most industries, especially manufacturing and technology, have long embraced faster, higher, stronger concepts and the metrics that go with them. Common standards have become pretty common. In the service sector and especially in real estate services, it's more common for the service provider or each organization to define the event, decide what to measure, and to develop its own measurement standards. It's convenient that way. But the service provider doesn't make the rules in today's economy. The consumer does. World-class competitors in business today are totally focused on consumer-defined events and are passionate about measuring their performance results with common standards and common metrics. And the evidence is clear that progress follows process.
MORE >
I Can’t Get No Satisfaction! What To Do About Bad Customer Service.
MORE >
What's a Public Service App?
Real estate professionals are no strangers to using apps. Over the past few years, mobile and web-based applications have become indispensable to agents and brokers. But there's an entire category of real estate app that you may not have heard of--public service apps. These tools can help you better serve the needs of your community and position your business as a valuable resource. Apps for Serving the Community Coined by MRED CEO Russ Bergeron, the term "public service app" refers to web-based tools that offer benefits directly to the consumer. The apps augment MLS listing data with information that motivates a consumer to purchase a home or helps a seller better market theirs. To get a clearer idea of what we're talking about, let's look at a few examples: Walk Score - Provides information on the walkability of neighborhoods, nearby public transit and amenities. Consumers can also calculate commute times in order to find a home that's close to work. SourceMLS™ - When the SourceMLS badge appears on a listing, consumers can rest assured that the data is timely and accurate because it comes directly from the local MLS. Fannie Mae Short Sale Assistance Desk - Helps expedite the short sale process, reducing the chance of foreclosure. My Home EQ/My Home Energy Score - A utility tool that reveals the energy efficiency of a home, enabling consumers to make a better informed choice about where to live. Down Payment Resource - Flags properties eligible for down payment assistance programs within the MLS data feed, and provides consumers information on those programs.
MORE >
I Want to Hold Your Hand
MORE >
Rewind: Why Zillow and Trulia Don’t Matter Today
We're continuing a holiday tradition of revisiting classic articles from the past year. This article was originally published back in August. Enjoy! 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.
MORE >
Going Above and Beyond "The Deal"
MORE >
Consumer Centric or Customer Friendly?
An often-heard criticism of traditional brokerage firms is that they are not inclined to be consumer centric. Given the fact that consumer centricity is not a traditional business policy, or even a recognized value factor, this may well be true. But one cannot help but wonder if this suggested lack of consumer centricity or sensitivity is a product of traditionalism or merely a cultural shortfall. We recently had an opportunity to work with a brokerage whose new management team wanted to experiment with the whole issue of consumer centricity with an eye towards moving the firm gently towards a more productive consumer perspective. As a starting point, we conducted a series of surveys and interviews with management executives, administrative staff and top agents. Our objective was to determine a residual attitude with respect to the idea of consumer centricity. While we would not suggest that our research methods met the requirements of a PhD dissertation, it was sufficient to arrive at some management quality conclusions. What we discovered was an atmosphere of consumer neutrality. The research failed to disclose any overt anti-consumer sentiment. But neither did it discover any overwhelming urge within the firm to cozy up to the consumer. What we did find interesting was the fact that those whom we surveyed or interviewed did not really think about consumers at all. Rather they focused their attention on their customers instead. Most interesting of all was the discovery that most of the individuals who participated in the research had a very strong sense of customer service but no impressions regarding appropriate consumer interactions. Moreover, while their respect for their customers was quite high, there was no corresponding cultural or professional respect for consumers.
MORE >
Why Zillow and Trulia Don’t Matter Today
MORE >
Service Forensics: Diagnosis, Treatment, Survival
In medicine, post-mortem examinations often yield discoveries that help save future lives. In business, examination of customer feedback offers insights that can help keep customer relationships alive, too. As market conditions return to normal, strong business fundamentals remain the key for sustaining business success. If you believe that consumer-centric service is one of those key business fundamentals, then employing science and the careful examination of customer service performance is essential. Traditional analytical processes associated with real estate brokerage and home services are myopically focused on sales, productivity, expense management and profitability. It's always been about sales and productivity. They are important. But in a consumer-centric world, it's the total service process not just the sale that counts. Making the sale does not ensure a satisfactory service experience and does not ensure future sales or referrals. And the cost of acquiring new customers along with the costs and risks related to poor service demand a new orientation of high productivity and high customer satisfaction. The recent trend in agent ratings has lead to dozens, if not hundreds, of sites and services offering "consumer feedback." The problem is, nearly every available system in real estate attempts to shortcut the effort and expense serious research requires. Open sites, "invite only" and marketing companies can offer the perception of credible, reliable, and complete information but, in reality, feedback is gathered based on convenience, not research.
MORE >
The Service Renaissance and the New Compass
MORE >
The How, What and Why of Buying or Selling Real Estate
RE Technology columnist Maya Paveza continues the discussion on consumer education for a better real estate transaction (see last week's post on this topic). Today, Maya talks about the "what"--the mortgage or method to pay for the purchase of real estate. Giving options, education and information provides a better real estate experience for your client.
MORE >
The Value in a Quality Service Certification®
MORE >
Great Service and Keeping Customers for Life
Service is all about attitude, caring for, and keeping your customers happy. Isn't it? It's doing whatever it takes. In today's high tech world, great service requires more than a good attitude and good intentions. Competence, accountability, reliability, consistency, meeting deadlines, communication and fixing things when they go wrong are even more important than attitude and intentions. Consumers are much more interested in what is supposed to happen, in knowing what's going on and knowing what to expect. A happy, cooperative demeanor and a good attitude aren't enough for today's service professional. The service process and the details surrounding the real estate transaction are mysterious, invisible and even secretive for the average consumer. The transaction moves, stalls or falls apart largely unobserved and beyond the control or influence of the principals. This lack of understanding on the part of the consumer, in combination with an absence of well-defined responsibilities, creates low professional accountability. Being in the dark is not acceptable to today's consumer. The need to know is escalating to the need to participate. These factors, combined with the service "costing too much" translates into potential for high levels of consumer frustration and dissatisfaction.
MORE >
Shhh…Here’s one of the secrets of top producers
MORE >
Real Time Real Estate
From news events around the world, to financial events across the nation and interest rates across town, information and data are now available as they happen--enabling everyone to make better, faster, and timelier decisions. Imagine a descriptive weather report without the temperature or the daily NYSE and NASDAQ update without a report in indices changes. Unimaginable! Facts in measurable terms have become essentials. Everyone from children to the elderly requires information in absolute terms, on a comparative basis, and in a final analysis. How are facts in measurable terms collected, analyzed, compared and shared relative to service in a real estate brokerage? Not production and sales data, but service delivery data--those key events and activities between client and service provider that define overall service performance and crucial areas of service delivery. The truth is that, in most cases, they're not being measured! What if the overall and the specifics of service performance and client satisfaction were available at the agent, office, and company levels? What if an agent, manager or owner could access today's service performance and client feedback in real time? Now, for those satisfied with their results, what if some of this information could be made available to prospects?
MORE >
Retool Your Strategies to Create a Customer for Life
MORE >
Your Real Estate Brand vs 2013: A World of Data and Reviews
Guest contributor Chris Drayer of RealSatisfied says: Perhaps scare tactics should be reserved for Halloween. However, in 2013, we will see the growing divisive nature of customer service and brand quality. Real estate brokers and brands beware. With empowered consumers searching for answers and online agent review sites full of polarizing data, like Homelight, there will be a greater divide between the haves and the have-nots in the form of stars, smiles, likes, testimonials, recommendations, or even LinkedIn's new influence score. Real estate has relied on the the referral model for over 90% of its leads for decades. Now, more of those referrals are checking up on you online before pinging you. So, what is at stake? If you are a single agent rookie – not much. If you have helped build a brand a team, or perhaps a company, you know it did not come easily. "Customers will not hesitate to defect to competitors or go social with their complaints if your business does not deliver on its service promise." - Anand Subramaniam
MORE >
Giving Back to Military Homebuyers
MORE >
How to Become a Top Agent? Look Online
Real estate agents have plenty of challenges these days, whether it's low inventory, a sluggish economy or overly cautious appraisers — and all of this in spite of the fact that most experts agree that the housing recovery has essentially begun. However, look to the top agents in your market area (and other areas) and you'll see a few patterns emerge, the biggest one being the ability to think quick on your feet and adapt your strategies to the changing market. This week, the Wall Street Journal looked at a few uber-agents around the country and shared their secrets. The article Agent Secrets: How to Be No. 1 reveals a few strategies for agents, some of which could be easy to adopt (lowering commissions, courting wealthier homeowners to increase portfolio value) and others that might not be so easy (relocating to higher-market areas).
MORE >
Focus on Core Services to Gain Customers for Life
MORE >
Real Estate Service: Bridging the Gap!
Systems and technology have made advances on the two ends of the real estate transaction. Technology has positively impacted the front end of service (customer contact and customer acquisition) and the back end (contract or escrow through closing). Yet there remains a gaping hole in the middle. Without a good middle, there may be no ending, and even the most efficient closing system can't ensure a satisfying total experience. But the answer to better total service requires more than technology. Where are the systems, resources and standards for delivering the most important part of the service process--service from customer acquisition to contract? Isn't that the job of each sales professional? If the sales professional can benefit from technology and systems to assist with customer contact, customer acquisition and the closing process, what about the details of service delivery as well? Actually, the front and the back of the transaction are easier to address. That's why the technology and systems that have been developed are being applied there first. The middle of the transaction has more variables, requires more judgment, involves multiple behaviors and has been designated as the sacrosanct domain of the sales agent. Add to this the shadow of the independent contractor myth (that independent contractors will not and cannot be controlled, held accountable or required to follow a process) and we have an environment where service processes, systems and standards might never emerge. In this environment, many brokers and organizations are pursuing the notion that the way to deliver better service is to offer more services, as if more and better are synonymous. More is not the same as better...better is better. Further, better service cannot be developed by the marketing team; it must be measured legitimately, with every client, every time.
MORE >
Communication is Key for Achieving Real Estate Success
MORE >
Loyalty Marketing in Real Estate
An innovative concept known as loyalty marketing was heralded by the launch of American Airlines AAdvantage in the early 80s and has since evolved to become a competitive table stakes as loyalty programs have saturated the business landscape. It is curious that an industry like real estate, powered by 80 percent repeat and referral business has missed the mark on loyalty marketing. Real estate is not the only industry getting it wrong. It's safe to say that the majority of programs consumers experience today have been designed "by Boomers for Boomers," all while fundamental shifts in consumer purchase behavior demand that new models emerge to capture the attention of digitally connected consumers. For real estate to do it right, we need to focus on extending loyalty programs to new forms of media right out of the gate.
MORE >
Three Traits of Every Rock Star Real Estate Agent
MORE >
Masters of Customer Service
In a world where change is an ever-accelerating force and the body of knowledge is nearly doubling every four years, learning is not just kid's stuff, it's adult survival. At a time when attendance at business and professional schools is at an all-time high, participation in industry-related education programs is significantly off. Cutting-edge ideas and applications that once took five years or more to cycle into use from research centers and universities are now impacting business and society in less than a year - keeping up is ever more difficult. Just as staying "in shape" and physical conditioning are essentials for competitive athletes, mental conditioning and learning are essentials for top competitors in business. The newest field of study is the science of service--the new business science. Service as a science is an emerging field of learning and study for organizations and professionals who are serious about their business. Since service now claims two-thirds of the world economy and greater than 80% of the U.S. economy, that is serious business. New concepts, principles, applications, and metrics have been developed that will raise both the standards of service and the level of competition. The study of service at its most basic focuses on The Three R's of Service: Reliability, Responsiveness and Relationship.
MORE >
Hello? Welcome to Tech Support in the Dark Ages!
MORE >
Learning from Inuit Social Media Faux Pas
We gave the “love” to Quickbooks in our last post, now we will slam them in this post - they have it all wrong when it comes to social networking.  In our little real estate industry, we find companies like RPR, Trulia, Zillow and many others have full time social networking people who are managing real engagement on blogs, social networks and twitter.  However, there are many companies who are taking the approach of what J.D. Salinger’s famous Holden Caulfield called Phony. You see, Intuit is facing a major outage today - their massive number of websites and e-commerce solutions went dark last night, and they are still down.  Thousands of businesses and hundreds of thousands of consumers have been impacted (including our own, I might add). OUCH!  We have backup plans which rolled into action, thankfully. Intuit has asked customers to check their small business blog and their twitter page for updates.  The blog is down, and the twitter page is being updated every 5 hours.  Oddly, the automated twitter posts from their clever twitter bot continue to sling out marketing messages during this tragic period of their company’s life.  Check it out.
MORE >
dsSearchAgent IDX
MORE >