Blog :: 2014
Agents Need a Strong Market Presence
Gone are the days when newspaper ads and billboards were an agent or a brokers strongest advertising tools. There are two words that form the bottom line for the modern real estate professionals market exposure: online presence.
While you can argue that other advertising tools are not quite dead in terms of importance, an agents online presence is rapidly beating out all other types of advertising. Why? Because somewhere between 80 and 90 percent of home buyers (depending on age groups, demographics and the research source) start their search online. So, while some agents may swear by their direct-mail campaigns that they have used for decades, the modern client is changing, and so too must the modern agent.
In fact, this is one of the core principles that Andrew Mitchell & Company was founded upon. We encourage agents to evolve with the times for the best success they can experience. Past real estate practices will not result in future real estate clients. And, a lot of this boils down to a great website and a great online presence. Thats where buyers are, and thats where you must be.
Your website is, often times, your first impression to your clients. It allows them access to your information, your testimonials and the tools you have available for them. It also allows for a much wider reach.
At Andrew Mitchell this is one of our very top priorities for our agents. While agents bring their talent and experience, we give them the tools they need to boost their business and best serve their clients.
In addition to having a great website to function as your online appearance, we can also help agents bump up their site in search engine results (search engine optimization), find tons of effective online ad space (often times free) as well as analyze the specifics of your online visits (how many visitors, when, from where and for how long). So, stop living in the past and learn how you can boost your business through your online presence with Andrew Mitchell. Feel free to give us a call or send an e-mail our way.
Store, Sync, and View Files from Anywhere with Dropbox
Remember the days when you had to store files on your computer? Though cloud computing technology has really only gained momentum and mass popularity within the past year or so, it seems like a decade since you had no choice but to store your files on your computer.
To share you had to e-mail different versions back and forth, and, worse yet, to access from another computer you had to upload the file onto a zip drive and physically carry it with you. Or, for a real flashback, files had to be attached to a 3.5 inch disk and before that one of those actual 8-inch floppy disks that were like a bendable CDs that you slipped into those paper sleeves (as if that thin paper protected them).
Thankfully now file sharing and file storage is as easy as having access to the Internet, and with Wi-Fi, 3G, 4G and all the technologies that keep us connected, youd have to be either in a cave or on an airplane (oddly cloud computing does not work from the actual clouds) to not be connected.
Though there are many cloud computing companies at Andrew Mitchell we use several, including Google Docs and our internal Concierge Dashboard for agents one that is quickly gaining popularity is Dropbox, Inc.
This cloud computing company, founded in 2007, offers both free (up to 2GBs of storage) and paid versions of its Web-based program that can be accessed from any computer (compatible with Windows, MAC OS X and Linux) or, more recently, from iPhone, iPad, Droid and Blackberry mobile devices. So, not only can you access your files from any computer, you can also do this from your smartphone.
In case you havent heard, heres a brief overview of what you can do with Dropbox:
- Drop files into your Dropbox folder to store them,
- Drop photos in and create galleries,
- Sync your computers and your phone to always have the latest file version,
- Share live files with friends and coworkers,
- Undelete files and have backups for mistakes,
- And, encrypted technology for security.
Did you know that The National Association of Realtors partnered with Lowes to create a Lowes Realtor Benefits program that gives NAR members free marketing materials for their client base? The partnership helps Realtors build their personal brand with a break on printing costs, while helping Lowes reach a targeted client base of home buyers and sellers.
Basically what this boils down to is that Realtor members can have free direct-mail materials sent out to their clients with their name, contact information, photo, company logo and even a personalized letter. Of course these items will be packaged with Lowes coupons a 10 percent off store-wide coupon and another rebate offer of your choosing and promotions materials, but likely this could be a benefit for a seller who wants to fix up a few things before putting their home on the market, or a buyer who wants to make a few touches to their new home. In fact, Lowes offers two different mailers, one for sellers and one for new home owners. They advertise that the materials will arrive 7 to 10 days after you order them.
More specifically, in addition to the coupons and your info, the home seller mailers will have an article with tips on preparing a home for sale, while the new home owner mailers will have tips for moving into a new home.
The Lowes Realtor Benefits program also allows members to purchase Lowes gift cards at a 5 percent discount, online only. Additionally, other materials available are free monthly e-newsletters with monthly tips on selling, buying and moving as well as information to educate clients about home projects that yield a high return for sellers. Your clients can also receive periodic project-starter coupons for extra savings.
Though Andrew Mitchell & Company does not have any direct partnership with Lowes and while we think the business is moving away from direct mail campaigns in favor of email marketing (though Lowes offers this as well) as Realtor members we at least think its worth at least taking a moment to look into this program. As we said in Fridays blog, while a strong online presence is key to a successful real estate business, other methods are not quite obsolete. They are at least still worth some efforts in terms of a multi-pronged approach to reaching your widest client base possible.
For the full details, visit our Facebook page for the link to the programs website where you can sign up.
Written by Andrew Mitchell staff.
It may be an understatement to say that Real Estate agents live busy lives. Between showings, open houses, multiple client meetings, closings, and no shortage of things to manage on a day-to-day basis, the life of an agent is a hectic one.
Because Andrew Mitchell Founder Skip Foley spent 25 years in the business learning what it takes to be successful in Real Estate, our goal is take this vast industry experience and provide our agents with top-of-the-line business management tools to get organized, connect with clients and get work done effectively.
What this boils down to is full administrative support backed by a user-friendly Andrew Mitchell Concierge Dashboard launched last October that can easily manage your marketing, social media, documents, contacts, calendar, website, and ultimately help you tackle your to-do list.
Andrew Mitchells Concierge Dashboard helps you manage:
1. Your Agent Website: As an agent a professional appearance and a great first impression are key, which is why we provide all our agents with custom Andrew Mitchell websites. With simple drag-and-drop, easy-to-manage tools, you can either use our already-made template or create a website to fit your style. Best of all, all our agent websites come packed full of all the tools that our brokerage website offers featured properties, mobile app download, extensive property searches, neighborhood demographics, community photos, comparable properties, and more. However, the difference is that the site is custom to fit your needs, making it easy for you to feature your own listings or set specific criteria, price ranges, towns, room counts, etc. of the homes youd like to display. And, not only will clients be impressed with the wide array of easy-to-use tools you offer, they will also be able to connect with you directly through the site by requesting information, signing up for free market reports, requesting e-mail/text alerts, scheduling showings and even making offers.
And, if you ever wonder how your site is actually doing, we would be happy to help you set up a free analytics account to monitor how many visitors you get, when, from where, and what pages they are visiting.
2. Your Client Communication: Appearances aside, being a real estate professional is about your clients. Using innovative technology, your clients can register directly on your site and start searching. What makes this leading-edge is that you can see what properties your clients are viewing. This lets your clients browse in their free time, while letting you see their preferences and then send them similar properties. Or, they prefer the mobile method, they can also download the free Andrew Mitchell mobile app by texting GetReal to 87778 to search for properties on the go.
You can also set up e-mail marketing campaigns (create your own, or use our already-made templates and articles) to easily stay in touch with your client base set them to send in a certain order, on a certain date, after a certain amount of day. It is your choice. This works well for long-term sphere of influence campaigns and for your current clients. Also to stay connected, you can use our automated blog to post daily from our large library of real estate topics and news or post your own content.
3. Your To-Do List: When you feel the weight of your task list building up, just use our Concierge Dashboard to organize your contacts, classify/color code your leads, save your e-mail communications and notes, as well as set up e-mail/text reminders for virtually any aspect of your business. You can also set up a business process for whatever you chose to make sure, step by step, you stay on track.
4. Your Documents and Closings: Because we know the closing can be the most stressful time for clients, we also provide you with tools to make the process easy for them. You dont have to waste time chasing paper. You can e-mail your clients branded Andrew Mitchell real estate documents through our custom library. Then, instead of driving all over town to get the signatures, use our e-signature program to have them instantly (and legally) sign documents on their computer or mobile device.
To learn more about Andrew Mitchells Concierge Dashboard give us a call today 877-51-GetReal. Wed be happy to set up an appointment to show you around the system.
Technology isnt the only new hype thats taken the real estate industry by storm. Another trend goes hand-in-hand with real estate being green.In fact, many Multiple Listing Services added green categories. Agents can now add specs like energy efficient appliances details, Energy Star ratings, and LEED certifications, which have become increasingly important even trendy.
To do our part, we at Andrew Mitchell & Company have developed many of our business systems and tools to align with green initiatives. From a business standpoint, this amounts to saving tons of paper, oil and overall making environment a little greener. And, it just so happens that these practices not only save natural resources, but they also save time another extremely valuable resource, if you ask us!
Our Five Steps toward a Greener Brokerage:
1. E-signatures and E-forms According to our e-signature provider, DocuSign, 85 percent of U.S. adults are interested in going paperless. Weve done this by providing real estate forms online through TrueForms and the Greater Boston Real Estate Board and facilitating legal e-signatures for all necessary documents. First, imagine the savings in paper alone. Next, dont forget this also slices document waiting time, the gas driving to and fro, and its much easier/ more readable to fill out documents with your keyboard rather than cramming all your information into those tiny boxes with a pen.
2. Online Filing Systems through GoogleDoc While sometimes its necessary to keep hard copies, weve found it saves tons paper and space to store documents online with Google Docs. This way, we not only cut out walls of filing cabinets and the hassle of printing every document, but we also can share and edit documents from anywhere. In fact, the Pew Research Center predicts its only a matter of a decade or less before cloud computing is the norm.
3. Faxes Sent via E-mail Think of your typical fax: First, you print out your documents and sent them in your fax machine. Then, your recipient receives the documents, immediately printed upon arrival. That means two people have wasted both document and coversheet paper. Instead, weve gone with a Voice over IP address phone system that sends all our faxes straight to e-mail. This way, we read faxes on our computers paper-free.
4. Remote Working Capabilities While you may think of tons of benefits of working remotely i.e. comfy slippers at home, enjoying your favorite latte at a coffee shop, or just plain setting your own work schedule we also think a main benefit is the gas savings. Having a business model where agents can work from anywhere at any time allows them to save time, money and leave a much smaller carbon footprint. So, instead of driving into our office every day to do work on their computer, they can access all our documents, tools and databases from anywhere and save the driving for meeting up with clients or driving them to properties.
5. Listing Flyers via Text Message Lastly, we have decided to have our listings have text message instructions on their lawn signs for instant property information via text message. This completely eliminates the old-fashioned need for printed flyers outside the property. And, when you consider that Nielsen Mobile reports that the United States has about 68.7 million text users, thats a pretty big market of users.
In a nutshell, modern consumers have come to expect and even demand a very high level of transparency and accountability. Whether they are looking for a new place to grab lunch, an auto body shop for car repairs, or a real estate agent to help them on one of the largest purchases of their life, websites like Yelp have made interactive and unfiltered user reviews the norm. In fact, there arent many goods or services you can purchase that dont have some sort of public feedback to help you along in your purchase/hiring decisions.
Unfortunately, many brokerages and real estate agents are not following this trend, and that can often times mean a skeptical level of distrust from the public.
More often than not, we see the ever-popular copied and pasted client testimonials on agent pages, but we have to ask, what is this really accomplishing? The modern client knows that the agent has carefully selected these reviews and placed them on his/her site. So, they have to wonder, wheres the accuracy?
And, since an agent website is the new storefront, you may be weeding out potential clients without even knowing it.
So, while we know this high level of transparency puts the agent on a vulnerable display, we agree with the Geek Estate blog (where the original posting came from) that the benefits far outweigh the risks. In order to be successful in the real estate industry or likely any industry for that matter we have to follow the trends, not fight them.
Feel free to contact Andrew Mitchell & Company to learn more about how you can achieve success through transparency in both our Andrew Mitchell website tools as well as other popular consumer sites: 877-51-GetReal.
We recently ran across a very interesting article on Mashable.com about so-called disruptive ideas in business. Now, we arent talking illegal activity where youre walking out of the office meeting in handcuffs, but rather ideas that shake up, or even revolutionize a particular industry that has been stuck, and unquestionably so, for quite some time with no large changes.
If you ask us, the business model of the typical real estate company, in general, has not really changed much in the past 50 years, though the clients, technology and the home markets definitely have. Most agents are still stuck with antiquated ideas that sliding commission splits, where they give a large portion of their earnings back to their company, is just the norm. More importantly, they largely dont question it, but just accept it as the status quo. Because of this, we could likely call the real estate business model a stuck model in a stuck industry.
To explain further, the articles author, Luke Williams, sets up the scene by talking about industries that have been stuck with no changes and no new ideas for a long time. He uses an amusing example about the sock industry, asking whats changed in the sock industry recently, if really ever? Nothing a sock is a sock is a sock. Well, what if they were sold in mismatched pairs (solves the laundry dilemma of the missing sock, right?)? While this example serves more for comedys sake (at least we think so), this idea actually resulted in a company called Little Miss Matched that actually did a large business deal with Macys.
Other great examples that the article gives are, for one, the soda industry. Specifically, the industry of these carbonated, caffeinated, sugary drinks typical was thought of in two regards: 1) cheap, and 2) good tasting. However, Williams suggests while at first glance when you use disruptive thinking and flip these two notions and come up with expensive and bad tasting it sounds strange. But, what you essentially come up with is Red Bull. A highly caffeinated beverage that is double the price of a typical soda, frankly, has no taste appeal. Its actually tastes pretty bad, right? However, its sales are through the roof and it will give you the boost youre looking for in terms of energy.
The article also gives several other interesting examples such as the car rental and the movie rental industries. What do you think of when you think of car rentals? Well, besides trying to expertly get the gas meter to the same spot you started, its the long lines, the paper work, the face-to-face interaction with the employees. But, look at Zipcar. There isnt any of that. Notion challenged.
Or, when you think of the typical movie rental companies that we used to use, you think of all those times where you forgot to return a movie, or maybe 6 months later you found a DVD in some random DVD case or in your player, and thought oh no, I must owe a fortune in late fees now! Well, thats not the case with Netflix, and is likely why Blockbusters are closing left and right all over town (there no late fees sales pitch wasnt entirely true). Again, notion challenged.
With all that said, this is what we aim to do at Andrew Mitchell Real Estate. While the word disruptive can definitely take on a negative connotation, we look at it as a positive. We are a highly progressive company in an industry that is slow to progress. We want to challenge old notions of what real estate has to be and ask, what if?
What if agents got to take home a lot more of their hard-earned dollars every year? Would the industry really crumble? Or would the scales be tipped in favor of balance in fairness? We think the latter.
What if clients had access to the industrys best information? Would they really bypass real estate professionals? Or, would they come into the process feeling informed and then let their agent guide them from there? We also think the latter.
So, we invite you to take a moment to ask yourself what if? You may be surprised that what you think simply is doesnt always have a solid reason for being that way, and may need an update. Things change. People change. And, industries definitely change.
Its pretty difficult to find people who dont have Facebook pages, especially real estate agents who rely on networking to main their business.
But, have we really thought about how we are using our pages? Are we raking in business or possibly putting off clients with overly promotional posts?
The recent issue of Realtor magazine brought up an interesting point in their Selling on Facebook article. While there are a variety of opinions on this some love the idea, some cringe what we found interesting was that they compare Facebook to an in-person social gathering. Whether you agree or disagree, I think we can at least entertain the idea that most agents would not likely walk into a purely social cocktail party or a friends birthday gathering and start pushing their listing brochures at the guests, right? Well maybe some would but its not likely socially acceptable in most circles.
The article suggests that these two situations are not that different. When you think about, technology does have an annoying little habit of being, well, sometimes annoying think the person on his/her cell in the grocery store who is loudly having a conversation about intimate details of his/her life. Not what you likely wanted on your trip to pick up some milk and eggs, right?
So, how do we use Facebook in a way that promotes our business, attracts new clients and builds rapport without coming across as rude or inappropriate?
Below is a list of the Realtor magazine tips with our take and advice on them:
1) Show that real estate is part of you without pushing it on people. For example, assert yourself as knowledgeable about the industry by posting relevant news articles that people will find interesting. Sometimes it helps to give people something, not just try to sell them something.
2) Use Facebook as a means to show your hobbies, interests and special areas of expertise. This could spark a connection with a potential client, because clients want a real, authentic person they can relate to. You are selling your knowledge, but youre also selling your personality.
3) Dont bore your audience! Posting just plain links to listings isnt exciting. If you are going to post listings, try to limit them to open houses or interesting facts about the homes.
4) If all else fails, you can create a business page connected to your personal page to separate your business and your personal life. This way clients or other agents can see you as a person on one hand, and if they so choose, take a look at your listings by clicking over to your business page.
Written by Andrew Mitchell staff.
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