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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 Trends

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?

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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?

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