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Got a minute? If you're a busy manager, that's about all you have. That's why Carla Cross, management coach, speaker, and author, has created this blog just for you, with ready-to-use tips to master management through people.

Archive for technology

Are we still operating as though it was 1979?

I’m writing an article about how real estate has changed for a prominent real estate magazine. Here is the first part of that article, which will be continued in the next two blogs. As I write the article, I am actually stunned as I think about the number of habits we have carried over from 1979 (even though they didn’t work real well then and they sure don’t work now.)

Agents Were Hired to Sell and ‘Service’ Listings

“Sell, sell, sell!” I’ll never forget the cry of the vice-president of our company yelling that at the end of an all-company meeting. When I started in real estate, about four decades ago (wow!), a company wanted—and expected—agents to sell houses. That’s it. The company would take care of the advertising to gain leads, business plan, finances—and charge 50% of the commissions for doing it. Does that sound onerous to you? Well, to us, entering the business, it sounded great! After all, what did we know about how to marketing to find business, how to spend our marketing dollars, how to think longer-term about our careers? No. What we thought about was that we would probably see some nice listings that day, and we’d go home and try to find a buyer for that listing.

How Agents ‘Lead Generated’

Well, they didn’t really lead generate themselves. They waited for the company to spend money to get prospective buyers and sellers to call them. Here’s how it was done:

  1. The company placed ads in newspapers. Agents were assigned ‘floor time’ to answer these inquiries. The listing agent didn’t get the calls. Unfortunately, many times agents were new, and/or hadn’t seen the homes. But, the company ‘sold’ the opportunity—and agents complained that there were few ‘qualified’ calls. Fortunately (?), sellers didn’t realize how these calls were handled–and they weren’t told anything about call handling during the listing presentation. They were just ecstatic that their home would be advertised!

Managers: Are you training your agents to tell the truth about what advertising/open houses do? Are you training your agents NOT to rely on these methods to get houses sold?

Contrarian view: As I write this, I’ll tell you how I bucked the practices of the day, because I found these practices to set up win-lose situations. Most agents sat and waited for a lead to come to them. But, since I knew 2 people when we moved to Seattle, I was afraid to ‘sit and wait’. Fortunately, I had a manager who told me to ‘go talk to people’. So, I did—for sale by owners, expired listings, farming—you name it, I did it (without any training–I just read articles and bugged agents!) I did proactive lead generating way before it was ‘in’ to do—and was named in the top 10 agents in my 400 agent company my 2nd year in the business (boy, was I surprised!).

2. Open houses: The office assigned agents to hold homes open (especially new homes). Most of the time, these weren’t the listing agents. Instead, the listing agents promised the builders that someone would hold the home open every Saturday and Sunday. So, agents (especially newer agents) were assigned these ‘opportunities’—even though the home may be on a lane in the woods….

Contrarian view: When I became  manager, I taught our agents never to promise open houses if the house wasn’t situated in a high traffic area. Why? It’s unfair to sellers AND agents. Also, we kept statistics on  how often a buyer walked in a bought the home (very, very seldom—in a normal market).

Managers: Do you keep statistics on how buyers find the home they bought? And what happens in open houses? Train your agents to educate sellers and buyers on why open houses are held and the results of them.

Big question

Managers: Are you still encouraging a ‘sit and wait’ attitude by the systems you use in your office (assigning floor time and/or open houses)? I don’t mean that these are not means to find buyers. But, buyers’ habits have changed and I’m afraid these systems and agents haven’t changed with them. Are you still operating in 1979?

bus plan 9One More Opportunity to Get My Business Planning Resources at Deep Discounts

Thought you’d get it done but it’s still on your ‘to do’ list? I want to help! So, I’ve extended my discounts on my online business planning resources through Jan. 31.

Managers: Frustrated because you can’t get your agents to plan? Problems solved! I’ve put my exclusive planning pages online–plus webinars to help you get through that plan fast. Don’t wait another year for business success. See more here.

Special discounts through Jan. 31: Purchase the agent’s planning resource, Beyond the Basics of Business Planning for agents,  and save $20 (regularly $99). Use coupon code agent bus plan.

Managers: I’ll teach your agents how to plan, too! Included in your Manager’s Package!

Purchase the manager’s planning resource, Beyond the Basics of Business Planning for Managers,  with all office/company planning documents and save $50. Use coupon code manager bus plan.

Offer ends Jan. 31: Big discounts on these programs–use the coupon codes below to order.

Ready to order? Click below:

Beyond the Basics of Business planning for Managers — regularly $249, now $199 with coupon code manager bus plan 

Beyond the Basics of Business Planning for Agents  –regularly $99, now $79 with coupon code agent bus plan

Remember, this special offer expires Jan. 31, so, order now and get your business plan ready for 2018.

PS: I’ve got dozens of ideas on how you can refine your systems for tomorrow’s real estate practices–not yesterday’s….

shaking hands over computerIs technology your greatest challenge as a leader?  I just saw an advertisement for a large franchise convention. The focus will be on technology. Okay. But, what about you leaders? What are your big concerns? I’ll bet they are NOT technology. They are

1. Finding great candidates — not just anybody

2. New agents joining–getting them successful quickly; reducing turnover

3. Creating a ‘team’ atmosphere that serves as a magnet for retention

In fact, I’m afraid that most companies are focused on yesterday’s challenges. If technology were still actually the #1 focus, our agents would all be doing well, and eager to embrace technology to support those efforts. The company challenge would be just to either provide that technology or the training to use it.* That’s not the case. Companies have plenty of technology resources or access to them. It’s just that agents reject using these resources! Why? They aren’t committed to their businesses. Or, they don’t know how to use the technology. That’s a leadership training opportunity.

*If I were to look at the convention speakers, would I find someone who was working with leadership to help them counsel and consult each agent to his tech plan? To provide a calendar with tech training customized to each office needs? Without these ‘on the ground’ actions, talk about tech is pretty worthless!

Technology: A Crutch, or a Support?

If agents see technology as a crutch, or an excuse NOT to lead generate, they will look to technology to solve their income problems. Tech experts say that less than 2% of all tech leads turn into sales. But, do agents think that? No. They think that each tech lead is a guaranteed sale. They think it’s easy to convert that lead. When they find out it’s not easy and that there’s such a low conversion rate, they give up fast. Franchises have failed nationally that relied on technology to provide leads to agents. Unfortunately, those agents were sold that the company leads would guarantee them a handsome income. So, they had inflated expectations about the quality of leads. And, according to the franchise owners, the agents wouldn’t follow up on most of the leads!

Getting the Cart before the Horse

So, focusing on technology intimates that it will be the solution to a manager’ owners challenge: To get more production from his/her agents. Technology will not do that. Technology will provide support for lead generation. Technology will make it easy to track those leads and constantly communicate. But, that means there still has to be a caring, communicating human being driving that technology–the responsible agent.

Leaders: What do you think are the biggest challenges managers face today in real estate offices?  How does tech fit in?

shaking hands over computerTrend: Consumers are choosing agents differently. This is trend # 9 of 10 trends I’ve identified as very important for new agents to recognize. These trends are from my new 5th edition of Up and Running in 30 Days.

This month, I’m featuring excerpts from this book.

{Click here to see the updates in my fifth edition of Up and Running in 30 Days.}

Also: Check the end of this blog for your free ‘end of sale’ survey to capture and keep more loyal clients.

How Consumer Habits have Changed

Traditionally, consumers either stumbled upon an agent (e.g., going into an open house) or got a referral from a friend. Although that’s still true, consumers have another powerful method to choose an agent: the Internet. Increasingly, consumers are looking at evaluations on Internet sites such as Zillow or LinkedIn to find out what other clients thought about that agent. Take a look yourself. Some of the evaluations are wonderful. Some are stunningly awful. And all are very public! There are even specific agent-rating sites such as www.realestateratingz.com and www.incredibleagents.com. Also, take a look at Zillow, which has agent ratings now. Bank of America and USAA are also getting into the game. You must work for long-term customer engagement and great ratings to sustain your real estate business. This will continue as a trend, and, I believe, change the way consumers choose and keep their agents!

* Big Idea: It costs six to nine times more to get a new client than to keep an existing client. Retention is king, and reputation is key.

{In the book, I’ve given positives and ‘watch fors’ to agents so they have great judgment on how to use these trends.}

  • Positives: It will be great for those competent, caring agents who really take care of their clients. It is easier now for potential clients to get feedback from third-party sources, clients just like them.
  • Watch out for: Doing a next kind of business, where you don’t care what happens after the sale. The client has recourse now, of the most expensive kind—a poor review!

Tip: Always use a ‘after sale’ survey to find out what your clients thought of your service. If you’d like a sample survey form, click here.

Managers: Have you read your agents’ clients’ feedback online? Make it a regular habit!

Up and Running_5e largerAre You Using the Best Start-Up Plan for your New Agents?

Does your plan have the detailed, prioritized checklists needed to assure a great start? Does it have built-in inspiration and motivation? Does it have dozens of tips to control the attitude? If not, you need Up and Running in 30 Days. Just out in its 5th edition, it’s the most successful book for new real estate agents ever!

Click here to see the updates in my fifth edition of Up and Running in 30 Days.

 

30137_flying_by_the_seat_of_your_pants_andy_watsons_comedy_in_progress1Are your agents systematized in their businesses–or are they flying ‘by the seat of their pants’?

This month, I’m featuring excerpts from my new 5th edition of Up and Running in 30 Days.

{Click here to see the updates in my fifth edition of Up and Running in 30 Days.}

In this latest edition of Up and Running, I’ve identified 10 real estate trends that most critically affect how agents do business. Here’s trend #4: Systematization.

Why Systematize with Technology

To be more effective, you need to “duplicate and delegate.” The trend today is for agents to move faster and better by systematizing what they do and using technology to do it.

The First Step: Create Checklists and Processes

The first step is to create checklists and processes for everything you do. These become your systems. For you new agents, take full advantage of every checklist and presentation your company offers—and those here in Up and Running in 30 Days . You’ll save hundreds of hours of time and energy, because these resources are the result of experts’ work. Your clients want to know that you have systems so that you provide a high quality of work every time.

* Big Idea: It’s much easier to refine a ready-made system than to create one from scratch.

Your Second Step: Add the right Technology

Your second job is to find some technology to support these processes. Your company may have already done that research work for you. It is amazing to me the number of agents who do not take advantage of the technology their company has paid for in research, development, or partnering costs. For example, one large franchise had partnered with a lead follow-­up company to ensure that their agents had a simple, effective method to follow their Internet leads. The franchise spent thousands of dollars and hours researching companies to ensure that they chose a company in the agents’ best interests. They negotiated a great price for their agents, too. However, only about half of the agents in that franchise took advantage of the thousands upon thousands of dollars their company spent to create that partner agreement. I just can’t see any reason not to take advantage of such a great opportunity—unless the agent just didn’t care to be successful!

In this newest edition of Up and Running, I have a comprehensive References/Resources section. I’ve asked experts in the real estate field to name their favorite technology and I’ve provided their recommendations to you.

Gary Richter, one of my agent contributors, advises: “Get off your computer and go out into the areas. Focus on business-producing activities.” {and use technology as a support}

* Big Idea: Use the technology and systems your company has invested in for your convenience.

Pros and Cons of Systematization with Technology

  • Positives: You’re going into the industry as it has matured in its choices for needed technology. It will be easier for you to choose those that are important to your career success.
  • Watch out for: Invest quickly enough, but don’t invest in gimmicks. Also, don’t let yourself think that if you have all the technology toys, you’ll be successful.

* Big Idea: Duplicate and delegate.

So, here are my questions to you: Have your agents started organizing their businesses with checklists and processes? Have they  taken advantage of your company’s resources? Are they starting with the technology they offer to you?

Up and Running_5e largerAre You Using the Best Start-Up Plan for your New Agents?

Does your plan have the detailed, prioritized checklists needed to assure a great start? Does it have built-in inspiration and motivation? Does it have dozens of tips to control the attitude? If not, you need Up and Running in 30 Days. Just out in its 5th edition, it’s the most successful book for new real estate agents ever!

Click here to see the updates in my fifth edition of Up and Running in 30 Days.

shaking hands over computerDearborn Education Company just released my 5th edition (!) of Up and Running in 30 Days. This book is literally the new agent’s business start-up plan. In addition, I’ve provided lots of training and advice to assure new agents know what to do and how to do it.

One of the updates in this edition is the technology new agents really need—and what they don’t need, so they don’t waste their previous dollars!

What My Technology Experts Told Me

Use technology to support your dynamic business. The easiest way to organize the names of prospects and clients is on a computer. If you’re not in the technology world now—jump in. You’ll need technology to do the following (these are not my priorities, just a list):

Technology Recommendations from Up and Running

Use technology to support your dynamic business. The easiest way to organize the names of prospects and clients is on a computer. If you’re not in the technology world now—jump in. You’ll need technology to do the following (these are not my priorities, just a list):

  1. Work from wherever you are with a laptop so you can find properties, do market analysis, and create presentations anywhere, anytime
  2. Organize your prospects, clients, and affiliates (such as mortgage lenders) in a database (if you’re not extremely computer literate, start with Microsoft Outlook, which almost everyone already has on their computers)
  3. Organize your follow-up programs for specific target markets via  client relationship management (CRM)
  4. Capture and follow up on your Internet leads with Internet lead follow-­up technology designed for that purpose
  5. Measure your progress to your goals with specific software
  6. Keep in contact with your customers via cell phone and pager (you will find it truly amazing how few agents return phone calls)
  7. Carry your contacts (database), schedule, and so on with you on a personal digital assistant
  8. Create a personal Web site and/or blog that promotes you and/or provides your prospects and clients access to information they value, such as updates on their property, marketing, or transaction progress
  9. Take pictures with a digital camera and add them to your Web site or your flyers
  10. Invest in a video flip camera so you can promote yourself and your listings via video
  11. Budget for your expenses, track expenses, and create, implement, and analyze your profit and loss statements with financial software (such as QuickBooks, Quicken, or Mint)

Note: See the References and Resources section in UP and Running in 30 Days  for resources for these valuable tools. And, the reference section offers dozens of references for other software, training, etc.

Get Advice Before You Invest

These references include only a few of the technologies agents use in business. Before you buy anything, interview three technology-savvy, high-producing agents in your office and identify the technologies they consider important. Don’t expect your real estate company to provide them, although seasoned agents within your organization may be willing to provide direction on the best use of technology. Also, see your manager for advice on the most up-to-date technology you need to perform.

Caveat: Don’t run around buying every marketing program and tech tool from vendors. As Gary Richter, one of the newer, successful agents quoted in my book, advises: “There are many different programs and systems that vendors will try to sell to you as a new agent. Many overlap in capabilities. Pick one that works for you and stick with it.”

Up and Running_5e largerTake a look at what’s new in Up and Running in 30 Days:  updates in 5th edition. This invaluable book is only $32.95 plus shipping, and has been used by thousands of new agents to launch successful careers. Order here.

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