Ditch your marketing assumptions and delight your customer!

Its De-lightful, its de-liscious, its..RealScout's Free Cookie Campaign

Yesterday, RealScout gave us a peak under the hood at the logistics and results of their recent #RealScoutCookies campaign. They did such an awesome job breaking down their method, its worth doing a double take on! Agents are always hearing, "You need to be on social media," and "Internet marketing can revolutionize your business!" blah, blah, blah. But there aren't a lot of examples out there of what a really successful social media campaign looks like. Often when you can find out how they did it, it turns out its not that different than traditional marketing. The person that spends the most money wins. 

That is exactly the opposite of what we are seeing here with RealScout's. This is an example of a truly viral campaign, with a mimimal budget. Take a look at their wrap-up, and ask "How can I apply this example as an agent or broker?" (Hint-Hint: We've got some ideas down at the bottom.)

There are three main things you should take away from RealScout's success:

Online augments offline.

Twenty-seven people drove 1100 miles to deliver all these cookies. Its not a postcard, but I think we can classify that as some pretty old school, door-to-door marketing type selling right there. The advent of social media as a marketing tool does not mean you will never have to leave the office or meet people again. And that's a good thing! What agents are really great at is making those personal relationships. Don't think that just because you need to start taking advantage of social media, that it has to be completely unrelated to your traditional prospecting activities. What made this campaign really effective was that they used social media to create an opportunity for face-to-face interaction with their customers.

Define the value. 

RealScout spent about $1600 for this campaign. Just off-hand, that might sound like a lot of money to dump on what is basically a one-shot opportunity, but let's think about the value they gained from it.: How much would you pay to meet 100 new leads in one day? These are "sidebar contact form spam" leads, these are real "Yes, please come take up some of my time today and meet me face-to-face" leads. How much would you pay for 100 of those? For that kind of return, anybody can afford $1600. On the other hand you could easily spend that much over a year on a social media expert or CRM and not get even half the return they did in one day. Think about it.

Delight!: The Secret to Guaranteed Returns. 

So how do you make sure you are getting those kind of returns? That is the most important thing to learn from RealScouts escapades: its not about the marketing, its about the customer. It has nothing to do with social media, or traditional marketing. We could travel back to the '80s and RealScout could have mimeographed flyers, and stuck them to telephone poles and on everybody's windshield, and this campaign would have been just as effective. Why? Because RealScout identified an authentic way to delight their customers. What's the old rule? A house that smells like cookies, smells like home. But agents are so busy anymore! Who has time to bake? So RealScout helped them out. It took a lot of leg work and facetime, but they made it happen and look how it paid off. 

What do you think?

So, what can you do as an agent to delight your customers? What small kindness can you do to attract your potential customers? How can you leverage social media to get real facetime with those people? 

That's what we should be taking away from this awesome example of viral content done right. Thanks for sharing RealScout!

 

Brittany Fritsch is the CEO and Founder of Real Estate Ally. A Kansan turned San Franciscan, she loves to bring cutting-edge business practices and software together to create solutions for the everyday main street businesses that keep this country running. 

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5 Business Tips for the New Managing Broker

So you've just got your broker license and you're ready to take the next step in your real estate career. Starting your own brokerage can be both an exciting and daunting undertaking but remember its your own successes that have brought you this far! Recognizing that running a brokerage is less of a hobby and more like running a real business is one thing, but actually implementing real business strategies is another. Use these tips to bring business savvy to your brokerage.

1. First things first: The Business Plan

business-plan-writerThere are many paths you can take to start out, requiring you to make decisions on a variety of factors. What systems and tools will you use to manage your business? Will you use the cloud and what will you need to set everything up? Will you have a physical office or go virtual? More importantly, who will be your target market and why? What are your strengths and weaknesses as an individual and how can you leverage them to build a team that will flesh out your weaknesses? All of these questions and more you will address when designing a business plan. It might seem like a chore, but you might find it to be a very helpful exercise to organize your goals and stick to them. Here is a great resource to get you started or give you ideas if you're at this step and struggling to move forward.

2. Determine Sales and Lead Management Tools

When deciding what firm to go with, agents are going to look for how a brokerage will help them develop and manage leads. What will you provide your team with? Often just finding the right software can be challenging. Check out Capterra - you can search and read reviews for software products including lead management and CRM systems so you're well informed before you buy/commit. 

3. Provide Training and Education

Just like in life, there is always something new to learn. If you're bringing on new agents, remember that passing the agent license exam is only the first step to becoming successful. Empower your agents by giving them access to the tools and knowledge that will help them grow - it will only benefit you and the brokerage as a whole.
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This process also involves open communication between you and your team. Be open about what your goals for the firm are so that the team can share in and feed off of your ambition. Also be open and ready to address any issues your agents are having so that you can help solve the problem and keep moving forward.

4. Evolve and Adapt

In the world of entrepreneurship, there is a theory of the 'lean start up' where businesses position themselves so that they can constantly change their product offering based on consumer feedback and industry trends. These lessons can also relate to the real estate world. Understanding the market you are in and how your brokerage can change to meet your customers' needs is an important skill. Stay tuned for our ebook coming soon with more insights and tips in this area!

5. Plan for the Future

Planning is key - plotting out milestones and goals will help your business grow at a rate that you can manage and keep everyone accountable. If you aren't thinking about the next 3-4 years you are already behind the competition.

 

Real Estate Ally's mission is to help brokerages manage their business better with personalized insights that make the numbers simple to understand and instantly actionable. We provide the information you need to make decisions, at your fingertips, wherever, whenever.

 

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Sizing Up Godzillow

Godzillow. Godzilia. Zulia. 

Whatever you want to call the shocking real estate news of the week - Zillow's announcement that it will buy Trulia for $3.5 billion in stock - the vote is still out on how this behemoth will change the future of the industry. Here is a breakdown of what we've gathered from this week's news, gossip and speculations. 

What It Doesn't Mean

Zillow is taking over the world! - The media frenzy might have instilled some panic and/or suspicion in agents and brokers across the country. The merger should be watched closely but not feared. Zillow has historically been more focused on monetizing customers and less about helping agents and brokers - something that will need to change if they want to sustain long-term. Because at the end of the day, Zillow needs listings more than listings need Zillow. Plus we all know that the love/hate of the zestimate will only get them so far.

Zillow will replace the MLSs - Coupled with the recent Retsly purchase, the only MLS aggregator that helps real estate software developers sync to multiple MLSs at once, Zillow appears to be putting all of its ducks in a row. But remember that ultimately MLS boards still control the data. And it will be a long time before Godzillow will find a way around that.

What It Does Mean

Advancing Innovation. Zillow's purchase of Retsly was also strategic for another reason. Technological innovation in the real estate industry has been slow moving due to the fact that its mind-numbingly painful for developers to connect across 900 MLSs, many requiring uniquely formatted coding. With Retsly now powered by Zillow, perhaps we will see great strides in advancement of software that has stagnated from this issue.

Domination of real estate search. Combined, Zillow and Trulia already have 76% of total views among the most popular real estate sites. And with the increased media hype around Zulia, realtor.com will only fall further in the shadows. Although we do love their cheeky new ad campaign. Undoubtedly with less competition this will also lead to hire prices for brokers looking to advertise.

What It Might Mean

Back to just Zillow. Zillow and Trulia will continue to act as separate brands in order maintain their market share, saying “the two firms’ offerings remain differentiated and the consumer overlap in both brands is relatively low.” However, the deal could still be challenged by the government on antitrust issues. Apparently the aquisition agreement leaves Trulia at a big disadvantage and if antitrust disapproval stirs the pot, Trulia could be out of the game completely.

However this plays out, we're all sure to be watching closely. 

 

 

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5 Lessons to Remember From SF Connect 2014

It has been over a week since Inman's Connect conference here in San Francisco. I'm sure you got to the office on Monday and were inundated by all the stuff you missed while you were out. You've had a few days to rest, digress and digest and now you can hardly remember what you learned, right? We know how that goes. Here's a review of the 5 key lessons you shouldn't forget from this summer's Connect. How can you apply them to your brokerage?

1. Uberfication: Closer Than You Think

In case you didn't pick up on it, the theme of this year's Inman Connect SF was Uberfication.

There was a lot of conversation about what exactly made Uber so special and what "uberfication" really involves. The core idea was that platforms like Uber, and the modern internet in general, have changed the way consumers expect to receive services. They now identify "good" service based on three key features:

  • Is it Personalized?
  • Can I get it on-demand?
  • How Frictionless is the Transaction?

Don't let the software and app mumbo jumbo scare you. The idea of uber-izing Real Estate is really a conversation about how the industry can improve its performance on these three key customer service metrics. 

2. Culture: By Design not Default

This one comes from some great comments by Katie Maxwell of Interior Houston and Jilliene Helman of RealtyMogul who shared a panel on culture. Similar to messaging, your culture will not just bubble up from the melting pot of who you hire, and if it does, you probably won't like what you find! Culture is also not just a marketing ploy. It is a conscious, everyday decision about how you treat your colleagues and customers. You have to 'hire to fit' and reinforce that, because once you hit 20, 40, 100 agents your personality and marketing copy won't be able to overpower them. 

How do you do this? Maxwell says start with a vision statement of what you want your brokerage to be and then build the culture that will get you there. Then train and support your agents in that culture. Just like a new contract or piece of technology, culture is something they will need to learn when they first come on board. And support doesn't just mean giving out pats on the back, it means setting an example by your own actions. Nick Segal also a member on the panel, pointed out that if you aren't willing to fire your top producer if they are toxic to the culture then you aren't really committed.

 

3. Messaging: Focus on One

Messaging and branding is like culture for individual agents, and its needs to be determined by design, not default. New agents especially need to remember this! They often want to target everyone, going after every listing and buyer they can find, never focusing their limited marketing or branding on a customer segment. However, from successful brokerages like Hawaii Life and tech companies like Doorsteps, the trick is actually to focus on serving one customer persona really well. Focusing your messaging in this way establishes you as an expert, makes the customer feel like you are addressing their specific personal needs and that you will make the experience as frictionless as possible for them. Creating a fantastic experience for one narrow customer segment will also connect you to other similar segments you probably didn't even know existed. And guess what? That means your competition doesn't know about them either. 

While you might think - "But I can't pick a persona yet, because I don't know who I should be serving or what my specialty is" - this thinking is actually backwards. Your specialty is determined by what you want to pursue; the market will not magically bring it to light for you. (See above!) Going after everyone will only exhaust you and your resources.

4. Technology: No More Excuses

Just this week there was an article in Inman about how tech-challenged agents are becoming an endangered species. Now really, no one could blame you for ignoring tech up to now. Its been a pretty sad showing of what technology can and should do for its customers in real estate until the last few years. The stuff was ugly, confusing, and only slightly better than pencil and paper and that was only if you had a good number of agents working under you. But things have changed!

If you use Facebook or a smart phone, then you will be able to learn the software that's being built now. But like getting on Facebook or getting email on your phone, you just have to go do it. There are going to be SO many good options available here in the next few years, the hard part is actually going to be deciding WHAT to use. For that you should refer back to lesson #1. What are the absolute core aspects of your business? Of the value that you provide to customers? Of your internal organizational culture? It's likely that some of your answers will be "unscalable" or will include activities that technology just can't help with because they require a 'human touch'. Certainly not everyone's client base would be willing to make an offer on a home from across the country based on a Facetime video like Jordan Clarke's. But keep an open mind and you'll be surprised by how much technology can help you expand and enhance your core value propositions. 

5. Startups & Real Estate: Not so different after all

The resounding theme of the week was that Real Estate practices and technology companies, at least startups, are really not that different after all. For every broker that got up on stage and talked about the difficulties they face, or their secrets to success, a startup founder followed with almost the exact same comments about their business! It all makes sense when you think about it. From the start-up founder, to the new broker-owner, down to the very last independently contracted agent, we are all entrepreneurs at heart. And even better - the lessons and secrets that are out there for software startups could be just as helpful for agents and brokers building their business.

 

 

More insider lessons coming soon!

This is exactly why Real Estate Ally is going to be putting together an ebook, Startup Hacks for Real Estate, to share some of the secrets of how companies like Google and AirBnB made it big, and how agents and brokers can tweak those lessons for their own benefit. We whole-heartedly believe that the right kind of technology can have a significant impact on the well-being and happiness of agents and their customers, and we are excited to hear your stories and explore this awesome overlap in more detail!

 

 

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Why Real Estate Pros Need Big Data

Everyone seems to be talking about "big data" - but what is it really and what does it mean for real estate professionals?

The sheer volume of data flowing all around us is a phenomenon that is increasingly gaining attention not just by IT nerds but professionals in all industries. The power that comes from being able to capture, analyze and act upon the invaluable knowledge that big data can provide is a competitive advantage for top-performing companies. 

What is Big Data?

big-data 3Adapted from Webopedia, "Big Data is used to describe a massive volume of data that is so large that it's difficult to process using traditional techniques. It is data consisting of billions to trillions of records of millions of people—all from different sources (e.g. Web, sales, customer contact center, social media, mobile data and so on)." The number of times you visited Facebook today? Big data. Your last Google search? Big data. The page on your website that customers visit the most? Also big data! Contrary to how it may seem, businesses like your brokerage already have access to some of this rich information! It is simply a matter of what tools you use to harness and reveal actionable insights.

How Can Big Data Help Real Estate?

There are already several examples of how big data has changed the real estate industry. Take Zillow, Trulia and Realtor.com for example. What these sites provide for consumers is essentially bringing together loads of big data (census information, listings, geographic data, customer survey results) and transforming it all into useful information.BigThree

But when we look specifically at its potential impact for brokerages and real estate pros we say: Knowledge is power. The bottom line is that using big data can help make smarter business decisions. In another great article from Inman News, Cary Sylvester, VP of technology innovation and communication for Keller Williams Realty International, talks about how firms in the Real Estate industry can use big data as a competitive advantage.

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Big data is useful for learning:

  • How customers are using your website and where they are coming from
  • Patterns or trends in sales history

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Which can help you to determine:

  • How to segment and target customers
  • What to improve on your website
  • Adjust sales goals and agent assignments for better efficiency 

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Can you see how your business might benefit from having this type of knowledge?

How to Get Started

In her article Cary talks about different platforms that analyze big data for real estate including Google Analytics.

Google-Analytics-iconGoogle Analytics is freely accessible for your company's website, you just need to activate your account to start seeing reports. Setting everything up takes less than 5 minutes. Click here for a step-by-step guide to get started.

Google Analytics is a great first step, especially for those firms that do not have the resources to put towards another system.

How Real Estate Ally Can Help

Again - knowledge is power. That includes knowing what is happening not only outside your business but inside as well. Real Estate Ally provides you with actionable insights about revenue flows, agent performance, days on market and more - to help you make important decisions. 
Screen Shot 2014-07-11 at 3.48.02 PM
Check out the demo to click around the dashboard and see for yourself!

 

Real Estate Ally's mission is to empower brokerages to better understand their businesses through personalized business insights on a convenient cloud-based solution.

 

 

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6 Ways To Make the Most of a Conference

As we prepare for Real Estate Connect in San Fran, we found it only fair to share some advice from the team. Whether its Real Estate Connect or another event you attend this year these tips will help you make the most of your next conference!  

1. Formulate a plan

action-planPlan plan plan! With so many things happening over the course of a few short days you won't have time to waste trying to decide what to do next. Study the schedule and the sessions you're interested in ahead of time and then prioritize them. Make note of which sessions you want to see and when they are. Many conferences now have mobile sites or apps to help you navigate through the day, find them and bookmark them in your phone! Write down your goals for the conference as well: do you want to make new contacts or learn something new to improve your business? Be prepared, but also remember to be flexible. Speakers may surprise you by presenting something you weren't expecting to hear, or cancel all together. Be in tune with what is happening around you so as to not miss any opportunities that you may not have planned for! 

2. The buddy system

You've made your list and realize that unless you clone yourself it will be impossible to see every session you're interested in AND still find time to network, meet new people, eat, sleep etc. You'll be networking at pre-conference events and breakfast - use this time to ask others what their goals for the conference are and what they're interested in and you might find handshakesomeone with complementing interests. Take this opportunity to offer to split up some of the sessions you both want to see and plan to meet at lunch or happy hour to swap notes. Not only will you be making a new connection but you'll both be getting something out of it!

3. Do your research

This might be obvious but being well-versed on the speakers and the session topics that you're planning on participating in will go a long way. You'll be ready at any moment to strike up a conversation on the topic or ask insightful questions. This will also help you identify the people you'd most like to meet and spend time with. Figure out something of value that you can share with them and start networking early - don't be afraid to try and connect via email or LinkedIn to set up a short meeting over breakfast or during a coffee break. 

camera-icon4. Take pictures

Conferences can be overwhelming, so much is happening at once and it can be challenging to remember and absorb everything you're learning. One of our secrets is to snap lots of pictures. Think of it almost like a photo diary, as you go through the day, capture moments that resonate with you: it could be anything from a keynote speaker session to the sign outside a session room. Flipping back through pictures after the whirlwind is a great way to recall and reflect on everything (and one) you've learned and met! 

5. Take a moment to focus on networking

While conference content was one of the biggest reasons for attending, remember how else the conference will help you advance your career or business through networking. Skip the last panel of the day for the networking room or a hallway session. Everyone will be buzzing about what they've just heard or learned, another great opportunity for you to learn, share and meet new people.networking-event

6. Think outside the box

Are you thinking to yourself, this next conference won't be my first rodeo? What else do you have for me? Maybe you're traveling a long ways and need a way to maximize your visit. Our advice is go beyond just the actual conference and search for outside events like happy hours or breakfasts hosted by different companies. These events are typically more intimate and less hurried than the conference workshops and often times might be the easiest way to meet and talk to people. Tip: use the conference twitter handle to find these types of events quickly.

Best of luck at your next conference! If you'll be at Real Estate Connect in San Fran next month be sure to connect with us on twitter via @R_E_Ally.

Looking for events in your area? While not a full list this is a great place to start: Events in America : Real Estate Conference & Conventions


 Real Estate Ally's mission is to empower brokerages to better understand their businesses through personalized business insights on a convenient cloud-based solution.

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Countdown to #ICSF: Uberfication of Real Estate

Just a little less than a month to go until #ICSF 2014! As we countdown to Real Estate Connect we will be highlighting some themes that have emerged and will be the focus of this year’s conference.

Uber Uber Everywhere

For those that haven’t heard of it, Uber is a mobile app that has disrupted the transportation industry by changing the way passengers connect with drivers. Need a lift? Simply open the app, see drivers nearby and request a ride from your current location within a matter of seconds. The entire system is cashless for convenience (connected to a credit or debit card) and drivers are independently contracted. Uber thrives off of and feeds into the human demand for “I need it now, and I need it fast.”Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 1.19.52 PM

 Leading up to ICSF it seems like everyone is talking about the Uber-version of X, Y and Z. The San-Fran based start-up has created a ripple effect as companies in all industries, including those in real estate, have adapted the Uber model to drastically change the way business is done, thus coining the phrase “the Uberification of Real Estate.”

Homesnap and MRIS

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One of the largest multiple listing services in the U.S., Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc. (MRIS), recently announced a partnership with mobile app Homesnap to add power to a revolutionary experience for real estate professionals and home buyers. Playing off the “nearby” feature of Uber, home buyers can see available listings near their current location and even ‘snap’ a photo of a home to instantly find out listing information. Features also include finding nearby agents, as well as services and partnerships for agents and brokers. MRIS and Homesnap execs David Charron and Guy Wolcott will be presenting on July 16th of the conference to talk more about the Uber theme and the new partnership.

Power in the Pocket

Whether it’s Uber, Homesnap, or an HD camera, there is no denying the power that resides within the pocket of the average consumer - their mobile apple iphone pocket-1024x768phone. Instantly connected to everything, how does one measure the infinite capabilities of our phones? Raj Singh, another featured speaker at #ICSF will dive into “What Our Phones Know” and will speak to the benefits that mobile tools can bring to real estate professionals. Commenting on the Uber trend in a recent interview: “The Uberfication of services has been transformative in that it is democratizing walled gardens (e.g., taxi industry, hotel industry, etc.), but it’s also enabling a new workforce. I’m absolutely an advocate of how mobile-first can enable new experiences whether it’s access to immediate information, context as an assistant experience, access to quick services and more.”

Outlook

We know that technology is changing the real estate industry, but what does it mean for real estate professionals if the trend for Uber-like services and apps continues? Clients are going to demand faster turnaround times on everything at the convenience levels they have become accustomed to. How will your agents or brokerage adapt to these changing trends in needs?

What other Uber-like apps have you seen? Which ones will be most influential? We want to hear from you!


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Do You Know How Much Your New Client is Worth?

When you do the math, the numbers may surprise you.

At Real Estate Ally we love showing brokers and agents how data and numbers can help them better understand what's happening in their business. Inman News had an interesting webinar recently analyzing the value of a new client and how it relates to an agent or broker's overall marketing strategy. The CEO of Adwerx, an online advertising agency for real estate, walks you through how to actually make that calculation (complete with a free downloadable excel calculator) and how to increase the lifetime value of a client through analyzing the referral multiplier. The referral multiplier is a factor of average client age, the average years in a home, probability of repeat clients, and the average referrals you might receive from a single deal. These are values that you input based on your experience. You can download the calculator here

Here is a peek at what the calculator looks like: 

 

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Is the $19k figure in this example surprising? Many agents and brokers underestimate the long-term impact of a client with a high referral multiplier. Try it out for yourself and see how each of these factors affects the client lifetime value.

Clients vs. Transactions

We agree with Adwerx CEO Jed Carlson's theory that in order to boost a client's referral multiplier, real estate professionals must have a client-centric business vs. a transaction-centric business. Quality over quantity actually leads to more quantity. Being able to identify clients that have the important connections and networks that lead to more referrals and therefore a higher lifetime value (despite possibly having a lower comission now) can be invaluable for your business and will guide your strategy for client aquisition and retention. Understanding the client lifetime value or CLV allows you to plan long-term and prioritize where to spend your time and effort for acquiring new clients.

We used the excel calculator to illustrate the mulitplier effect. Say for example the above conditions held true, but the client happened to be the head of the PTA in their community, increasing their referral rate from 2 to 6.

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 12.33.21 PM

That simple ability for someone to refer an agent 4 more times can increase their value almost $40,000. That is signficant dollars from efforts that can be easily managed with the right customer service and networking.

If you're interested in watching the free webinar click here. The first twenty minutes focuses on the client value analysis and tips for actually boosting your referral multiplier and then moves on to different marketing strategies (specifically with the Adwerx platform). Inman.com holds webinars just about once a week on a variety of useful topics, all which can be viewed at a later time from their library.

Want to know more?

If this calculator is getting you excited, see what else Real Estate Ally can help you discover about your business with a free personalized business insights report. See how you can be making more money for your brokerage with action items you can start using right away.

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Real Estate Ally's mission is to empower brokerages to better understand their business with personalized insights on a convenient cloud-based solution.

 

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5 Reasons the Cloud is Good for Real Estate

Cloud technology is changing the way all types of companies are doing business. Empowering employees to be more productive through sharing documents in real time and putting speed and flexibility behind processes. An increasing number of real estate firms have been taking their business to the cloud. Let's take a closer look at why that may be.

Escaping the desktop

literally-chained-to-my-deskProbably the best part about using cloud technology is the power it gives users with the ability to access their documents from anywhere on any device. This could not be more important for real estate professionals that need to be spending as much time as possible in the field - not stuck at a desk filing paperwork. Agents can easily connect their mobile device to the firm's system and stay up to date on the information they need to share with clients and process documents instantly.

Customizing needs

Depending on the platform you choose, moving to the cloud could give you the freedom to pick and choose the system that best works for your firm. From CRM to trasanction management, there are various platforms to choose from that have strengths in specific areas that best suit your firm's workflow, style and company culture.

It's business senseicon-increase-revenue-300x300

Running a real estate firm is data and media intensive. With cloud technology, firms can increase efficiencies through sharing and collaboration among employees and reduce IT costs from maintaining old and outdated servers. According to a survey of over 1000 small and medium sized businesses done by accounting software company MYOB, business operators in the Cloud were more likely to see an increase in revenue in the past year and expect the same for the following year. Is your brokerage's infrastructure outdated and expensive? This could be the time to move to the cloud to increase efficiency and cut costs.

Insights and visibility

See your firm like never before. Using cloud technology enables firms to use analytics to evaluate their processes. Improve marketing, generate more leads and improve financials are just some of the things brokerages are now able to do after employing cloud technology.

mobileStaying ahead of the curve

So much of the industry is now online, mobile and tech-driven - and with new apps coming out everyday for things like home searching to finding a real estate agent, its where your customers are. Moving to the cloud now will help position your firm for the future, allowing you to take advantage of all the emerging ways you can connect with and serve your clients.

  

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

So maybe you're ready to take the firm into the cloud. Before making the change, here are some common mistakes that have been found during the transition and how to best avoid them for an ideal cloud operation. purpleoops-1024x682

Not backing up data. Better safe than sorry is the motto here. The recommendation is to back up your data at least 3 times, think services like Carbonite and Mozy and then also have everything backed up to local drives as well. 

Not setting up the right security. It seems like every day there is another news story about a technology security breach, but don't let this deter you. Security goes hand in hand with data backup. Security for your cloud will help prevent data loss or breaches and support. Here is a great resource for how to protect your business in the cloud.

Not providing training. Switching to a new system or platform can be painful, especially for the busy real estate professional. Providing training and resources for a smooth transition can go a long way when implementing a new system and will keep your agents on board by not slowing them down too much.

The Future of the Cloud in Real Estate

More than likely there will never be complete abandonment of local servers for the cloud. Many small businesses still have a hard time justifying the time and costs to move to the cloud if they're already established with exisiting applications. The benefits of cloud technology will depend where your firm falls in the spectrum. However, the migration can be done gradually, in a way that won't disrupt the brokerage's day-to-day while still bringing the best of benefits listed above.

 

Real Estate Ally's mission is to empower brokerages to better understand their business with personalized insights on a convenient cloud-based solution.

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How to Attract and Retain Top Talent

"It's harder to recruit agents than it was 10 years ago" was the theme from a survey of 260 brokers conducted by Imprev, a Seattle-based real estate marketing firm. What's happening in the industry? As we know, the median age of all Realtors is creeping towards 60, in fact, 40% of all Realtors are older than 60 according to NAR's most recent member survey. The problem is less about age and more about the fact that the agent pool as a whole is aging out and brokers need to be ready.

Imprev's survey asked leading broker-owners and executives of large brokerages what they viewed as their current top business challenges. 70% and 65% stated recruiting younger agents and top talent respectively. "Recruiting has become much easier due to the systems, technology and training we provide each agent" said one. So what is the best strategy to attract and retain top talent? A combination of old school and new school will get you there.

Maintaining Contact

Tenure is a big obstacle when trying to attract talent. Many agents will say they are happy at their current firm and not be ready to make a handwritten-note1change yet, which is why it's important to keep in touch over long periods of time, says Jeff Smith, Regional VP of Development at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Bradfield Properties to RISMedia. And even in the age of e-mail, texts and social media, the power of a handwritten note will always go so much further.

Technology and Training

How mobile are you? The question will be asked by newer and older agents alike. The influx of mobile apps and touchpoints on the consumer end is what is pushing the demand for technology backwards up the channel. Being tied to a desktop will only inhibit agents from Man-Chained-to-deskbeing more productive in the field - ultimately hitting the brokerage's bottom line.

 

Continuous training is also key for both retention and recruiting. The opportunity to continue learning in-house is invaluable for agents. Smith on the value of his training sessions: "Anyone who attends the training has the opportunity to meet the company's current agents and gain a better insight into what the company is all about and what it would be like for them working here."

Attracting Younger Talent

In a Chicago Tribune interview, Player Murray, Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Carolinas Realty, speaks to this difficult challenge. Many agents come into real estate as a second or third career. On recruiting college grads, "The hardest part is showing them that real estate is a career possibility for them." You might be thinking, why do I want graduate-healthcare-jobsyounger agents that probably have never had the experience of buying a home? Communication and connection are key. "Every good broker out there feels like they can connect with the buyer and can adapt quickly to work with everybody. But there's just no way that everyone can connect with everyone. It's just impossible. This industry needs younger agents to fill those gaps."

Agent-Broker Dynamics

Many of the key points for attracting new agents (sophisticated and useful systems,
mobility and training) are obviously going to help you with retaining them with the brokerage for years to come. But it's also important to remember that finding the right fit in the first place is going to largely determine how long that agent will stay. What is your company's culture? What are the dynamics on your team and does the agent you're recruiting fit in? If yes, then keeping them with you will be a lot easier. But skipping over this part just to fill empty openings could be detrimental. Bad hires can hurt your firm financially and by affecting employee morale. Don't take the risk - spend the extra time finding the right fit, it will be worth it.

 

Moral of the story: when it's time to recruit, make sure you offer the services and support that all agents want, and look for the ones that are going to fit in with your firm's dynamic and culture.

Want more? Here is a great resource for recruiting and retention!

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