Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Get More Referrals By Transforming Clients Into Referral Crazed Fans!

As many real estate professionals have learned over the past 5 years… traditional media advertising has lost much, if not nearly all, of its effectiveness. Recent consumer surveys show when it comes to choosing a real estate professional, most consumers want to be referred by a trusted friend…. The personal referral still carries the greatest weight. The great thing about personal referrals is the level of trust which comes along with them. The old adage of “My friend trusts you… so I do to” helps to build new relationships much faster.
The way you treat your clients from start to finish, (and beyond the closing)… will govern their willingness to consistently refer your services.  

10 suggestions to help you transform normal happy clients into "Referral Crazed Fans":
1. Start by looking in the mirror…. Are you happy with yourself? Do you feel energized and excited with every client? Are you fit and well-groomed? Do you always act professionally? Is your automobile in good repair and clean? Is your goal to be 5 minutes early to every appointment? These and others factors are the foundation of quality client care.
Todays consumer enjoys working with positive, energetic and knowledgeable professionals. If you are always frazzled, grouchy and constantly complaining, your clients will most likely have a less than stellar experience and will not consider referring you to others.
2. Build “trust based” relationships… When you first start working with someone, they should immediately feel as though they are your most important clients ever and also be confident you are devoted to assisting them achieve their real estate goals. To do this, ask plenty of questions to discover what they value, important facts about their lifestyle, and what their goals are. Furthermore, stay laser focused on the client, not on your text messages, Facebook notifications or other distractions.
3. Have a business plan prepared for every client indicating their goals and desires in purchasing a new home or selling their current property. Refer back to this plan if they get off course. Having a clear course of action… (in tandem with the clients’ goals), will make the transaction less frightening for all parties involved.
4. Become the “Go To” person for real estate:  It is no longer enough to just know the inventory and the prices. Today’s consumer wants much more. They want a consultant who is highly educated in all aspects of local and national real estate trends… mortgage markets, governmental regulations, school information, the best service vendors and repair people….among other things. Create a relationship where they seek you out to get solutions to all their real estate related enquiries.
5. Become a great negotiator for them… when it comes contract time this is where you earn your “super-hero” status. Clients will forget a lot of things but if they perceive you got them the best deal…you become a friend… and REALTOR… for life!
6. Use technology to save you and your clients’ time…in todays world, time has great value. When you value your clients’ time, they will value yours… Use electronic signature software, video tours, and other technologies to digitize the transaction and control time delays caused by old conventional transaction methods.
7. Ask “why”….. a lot! Ever known a young child who asks “why” all the time? By asking why the child is seeking truth and knowledge. INTEL is King! The more you know the better you will serve.
8. Give exemplary service to every client…It doesn’t matter if the client is an $80,000 first time buyer or an executive buying their 6th multi-million dollar home…treat every client like a celebrity… because they are. Everyone has special qualities… so treat them as such!
9. Let your clients make their own decisions… rather than telling your sellers the price where they should list their property, give them quality information about current local market conditions, how long it takes to sell the property at different price points, and then let them decide. The same is true when negotiating offers. Outline options and let the clients decide their course of action. Remember, it’s their house… and their decision.
10. Focus on making your client happy, not the amount of your commission. If a transaction falls apart for the right reasons… remember you were there to help them make the best possible decision for their situation. When your clients recognize how you only want the very best for them, you have created the type of experience which transforms them into raving fans who will refer you business for years to come.

Eddie Brown ©2013

Friday, October 18, 2013

Lead Generation Awareness

If someone were to ask you the question: What is your average sales price? Would you know the answer? 
What if they asked you to break out your average sold listing price verses your average sold buyer-side transaction price?

What if they got all up in your grill and asked…Well then…do you know  how many closed transactions you have to close per year to meet your personal and business financial obligations? 

If you could answer more than one of these questions with less than 2 hours of research you are doing far better than 80% of your peers in real estate…

In the military there is a term called “situational awareness”…The definition of situational awareness (SA) is “being fully aware of one's surroundings by identifying, engaging, and eliminating potential threats and dangerous situations in advance of becoming a target”.
SA is more of a mindset than a hard skill. Because of this, SA is something which can be practiced not only by highly trained government agents… but also by anyone with the will and the discipline to become aware and prepared. SA is not only beneficial for recognizing threats to your person… but can also serve to identify potential threats to your business and your income.

The primary element in establishing this mindset for your business is first to know your business from the inside out…which includes your numbers. Today we want to focus on your Lead Generation Awareness (LGA).
LGA starts with establishing an income goal for a set period of time... (in our examples we will use 12 months but this works for times periods as short as 90 days). We will use a round number of $100,000 gross income goal for the next 12 month period (this is before taxes and business expenses). This breaks down to $8695.65 monthly income…or $400 per day…and $50 per hour. This is assuming you will work 8 hours per day, 5 days per week, and take only 2 weeks’ vacation.
The next step is to determine your average commission per closed transaction, which is done by adding all your commission checks together for a predetermined time frame and dividing by the number of actual closed transactions. If you can determine the number of total hours you spend on a transaction, you can also determine your “hourly rate” for each transaction.
Once you have your income numbers established you will need to research your prospecting activities…which activities are producing quality leads and which ones are not? How many of each individual activity must you perform to produce 1 qualified lead? Example: If you make 50 calls to your Book of Business, what would be the results? How many referrals would it produce? The same with your other prospecting activities…discover your Rate of Return (ROI) for each type of prospecting you do.
Once you have establish a ROI on your prospecting methods you can begin to do the math to determine the number of closed transactions, activities, and hours required to reach your income goal. (If you have troubles… call me… I can assist you).
With this INTEL in hand you now have your business SA and LGA. Knowing your numbers will help you to stay on track to reach your goals!
Eddie Brown ©2013

Monday, October 7, 2013

Coming Soon?

First let's define the phrase “coming soon”…

Merriam Webster defines coming as: “an act of arriving”… and soon as: “a time which is not long from now”. So we speculate Coming Soon in real estate could be defined as: “A property which will be arriving on the market not long from now”.
The difficulty rests in the fact that every agent, buyer, and seller could have a different definition of “not long from now”…

For this article we will be referring to rules, regulations, and laws pertinent to the Triangle MLS Region of North Carolina.

The recent rise in the use of Coming Soon signage has raised good debate from both sides of the argument. On the one side, the listing agents say the use of coming soon marketing is good for the seller and creates activity prior to the actual “go live” date in MLS. They feel it is good PR for the property and works buyers into a frenzy… clamoring to be the first to present an offer on the property before it goes to the open market.

On the opposite side many agents feel it’s all a smoke and mirrors scheme of the listing agent to attract buyers for a “double dip” transaction. They feel it confuses the buyer, seller, and agent alike…in which the listing agents allow only those buyers they want in early for a “sneak peek” only to take offers and activate in MLS after they have an accepted offer in hand.

I hope and pray no listing agent would ever abuse the system and bend the rules to benefit their own bank account. Just to clarify….here is a link to the rules agents in the Triangle have to follow concerning coming soon signage. http://www.trianglemls.com/default.cfm/page/725
It is pretty simple and straight forward with 2 choices….#1) A “withheld” listing where the Listing Agent can show the property to prospective buyers without the listing being in MLS or #2) A “Temporarily off the Market” Status where no showings can occur.

In either instance coming soon needs to be defined, (and disclosed), in writing to potential buyers and buyer agents as to when the property will be available to be shown.

Here-in lies another problem….The NCREC has some conflicting regulations:  The NCREC cautions licensee’s in the May 2013 NC Real Estate Bulletin against the use of coming soon marketing and possible misrepresentation… specifically begging the question, is the consumer confused by the term “coming soon”?
The Commission sees coming soon as advertising… (No different than a For Sale yard sign or an internet posting) …where the agent and company hold themselves as being an authorized agent of the Seller. The NCREC Rule A.015 requires a written agreement prior to performing any brokerage services to a seller in any capacity.  (any being the operative word)

If the brokerage agreement authorizes the broker to begin marketing or promoting the property before it is ready to be shown…then the broker must disclose in any marketing materials, (in writing), that the property is unavailable to be shown and must disclose the anticipated date it will be available for showing.
Many also question Coming Soon marketing inability to hold up to the NC Law of Agency…

Is it really in the best interest of the seller? Coming Soon marketing removes the property from the best source to get the listing in front of the most buyers…The MLS… and by default, the internet….
No matter which side of the argument you are on…the best way to get the highest price and best terms for the seller has always been to have it on the open market for all potential buyers to view.  Coming Soon marketing limits exposure for a period of time…Even if an acceptable offer does materialize…is it the best offer the seller could have received had the property been exposed to all buyers looking for comparable properties? You be the judge…and I hope your answer never lies in the hands of a JURY!

Eddie Brown© 2013