Mike Parker of Huff Realty in Kentucky earned just $6,000 from his real estate practice in 1986, the year he started. In 1987 he was up to $28,000 and he’s been on a steady climb since then. With the help of his nine-member team and numerous Web sites, last year he grossed $675,000 in commissions while drastically cutting the number of hours he works.

Coaching for time management

One of the main reasons for his success, Parker said, is that he’s a “sponge” for information. He continually seeks out new ideas for improving his business. In 1988 he attended a National Association of Realtors conference and soaked up so many good ideas he more than doubled his income the next year. Today he gets some of his advice from his coach, who has helped him manage his time and business better. “I was working 90 hours a week. Now it is 55 hours,” he said.

Internet front, side, and back doors

Today nearly 80 percent of Parker’s buyer business comes from the Internet. He runs multiple Web sites forming what he calls his “front door, side door, and back door.” The “front door” is Parker’s personal Web site focusing on himself as the right choice of real estate agents. His “side door” Web sites concentrate on listings to hook customers researching homes for sale.

He has several “back door” Web sites as well, which focus on community information such as schools and daycare contacts. “The back door brings us more business than our front door and our side door,” he says. Each of these sites uses the letters NKY, which stands for Northern Kentucky, in its address: NKYschools.com, NKYdaycares.com, NKYhomes.com, NKYseniors.com, NKYneighborhoods.com and NKYchurches.com. 

The school and daycare sites are the most popular. They list phone numbers and addresses of the schools and daycare facilities on separate pages for each county. Recently, Mike embarked on an innovative project to upgrade the school sites with virtual tours, a huge task he expects to complete by April. Using a digital camera, his team has been photographing each school in his area. Once the photos have been uploaded to the site, viewers will be able to see, for each school, pictures of the front and sides of the buildings, the gym, lunchroom, counseling office, principal’s office, band room, any special facility such as an indoor pool, and so on. He recently re-shot some of the pictures so they would show no people. Schools, he found, are sensitive about having pictures of students on the Internet and require signed paperwork from parents before they will allow it.

Separate Web site for each listing

Parker’s other secret to Internet success is having a separate Web site for each listed home. “This is a huge listing tool for us,” he said. “No other agent I know of is doing this. On top of our signs in front of each listed home, we add a little sign with the Web site for that home. The Web site address has the home’s address in it, say 12357DixieHwy.com. Someone driving by who sees that and is Web savvy can go to the Internet and view the specific house. They can take a virtual tour and hit a link to my Web site.” Sellers absolutely love this, he said. “They like to tell people, ‘my house has its own Web site.'”

Parker buys the domain names for these sites before the listing appointment. Sellers are impressed to hear he’s all ready to set up their very own Web site. Sometimes, if he doesn’t get a listing, they ask to buy the domain name from him, but he won’t sell it: it comes strictly as a benefit of listing with Parker.

Parker keeps down the costs and time spent on his Web site in three ways.

1. He uses templates for his individual home sites, so it takes his staff just 15 minutes to complete a new site and post it to the Internet.

2. He buys domain names in bulk so each new one costs him under $10.

3. He asked his Web site designer to set up a system that allows Parker’s team to update the Web pages using Word. That way he doesn’t have to pay the designer’s higher rates each time he wants to make a change. 

Phone number on every page:

A final tip for success: Parker recommends agents put their contact information on every page of every Web site. Include your name, phone number with area code, and e-mail address. “It’s amazing how many times I look at a page someone brings from some other real estate agent’s Web site without any name or phone number on it,” he said.

If you would like to hear more ideas from Parker, you can obtain a tape of a recent interview with him at www.GoStarPower.com/Club.

Howard Brinton is a real estate sales motivational speaker and the founder and CEO of Star Power Systems, a sales training organization that offers tapes, books, videos, conferences and a club that distributes selling techniques from the nation’s top producers.

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