Part two in a five-part series. See parts 1, 3, 4 and 5.

There are numerous strategies for coping with discount brokers. One of the most effective is the “Menu of Services” approach. This strategy can be adapted to fit the needs of both individual agents, as well as for companies.

The first step is to begin by doing competitor reconnaissance. What services does the discounter offer? What services does your company offer that the discounter does not? Does the discounter offer services you do not offer? Begin by identifying similarities and differences. If the discounter if offering services you do not provide, your highest priority will be to begin offering those services immediately.

The second step is to draw up a “Menu of Services” that the discounter does not provide. Some items to include:

1. 800 Call Capture Technology or Call Coordinator System.

Whether you use an 800 number or have someone specifically trained to capture phone numbers, this is one of the best strategies to make sure your advertising pays off with valid contact information. Call capture allows you to spot potential sellers when they begin their investigation process, often long before they would consider making a phone call to a brokerage or giving their contact information on the Internet. For companies, a call coordinator system provides a way to track what leads come in, who responds to the lead, as well as determining whether the agent receiving the lead actually contacted the caller.

2. Open house with hand-delivered open house invitations.

This is one of my favorite strategies for obtaining listings. My father was in ill health and hated climbing out of his recliner to answer the door. He routinely slammed the door if someone was trying to sell him something. When I asked him what he would do if a real estate salesperson invited him to come to an open house where they were serving refreshments, his comment was, “Why would I slam the door on them? They just invited me over to have refreshments!” Since most discount models rely on the Web, they are unable to offer this level of service. Not only does it please your sellers, it’s a great way to generate listing leads.

3. 24-7 Open House.

Hold a 24-7 open house by posting a virtual tour plus at least 10 photos of the property. If you have several listings, you can create your own “virtual open-house tour.” Sellers like the idea that their house can be previewed online rather than in person. Use your print advertising to drive people to an “open house” seven days a week.

4. Traditional mailing programs.

Include different packages at different commission points. For example, a 6 percent commission may have 1,000 color brochures delivered to local agents. Five percent may have 200 delivered to local agents. This can also apply for your “Just Listed” and “Just Sold” cards.

5. Broker’s Opens.

Sometimes it’s difficult to persuade other agents to preview our listings. A tried and true strategy is to hold a broker’s open where you serve food. Even better, contact other agents who have listings in the area and have a “progressive” broker’s open. Offer appetizers at the first houses, main courses in the middle and desserts at the final house. If you feed them, they will come.

6. Online transaction management.

This service allows agents, their clients and service providers to track all aspects of the transaction online.

7. Don’t forget to list everything you do during the transaction to assist the client.

In California, a typical transaction requires more than 50 sets of documents prior to closing. Just including the disclosures and other things you must handle is a great way to justify your commission.

Once you have constructed your list, the next step is to decide what services you will provide. At 6 percent, the seller receives the entire range of services. At 5 percent, they receive some of the services. At 4 percent, you essentially provide an opportunity for the seller to be listed in the MLS with minimal services. In most cases, the sellers will select the 6 percent option because they want the maximum amount of money for their property in the least amount of time.

Need more help defending your commission? If so, look for next Friday’s RealClues: “Defending Your Commission Part 3: More Agent Strategies for Earning a Full 6 Percent.”

Bernice Ross is an owner of Realestatecoach.com and can be reached at bernice@realestatecoach.com.

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