2014 has been a year filled with plenty of change, acquisitions and news of lawsuits that could completely upend the industry. Here are more tips on how to capitalize on these shifts and to avoid be ambushed by upcoming changes.
1. Use mobile to reconnect with past clients
Agents typically lose 20 percent of their past clients annually due to attrition. You can cut your attrition in half by merely staying in contact with your past clients. Be in regular conversation with them on social media no matter where they live — you never know when that out-of-town past client may move back to your area.
Furthermore, almost every agent has some clients with whom he or she hasn’t kept in touch. A better way to get back in touch is to use an app such as Facebook Messenger that sends an actual voice message. These messages are pushed out immediately like a text message. Here are two scripts to use:
When you haven’t kept in touch with a client:
“John, it’s been way too long since we talked. How about a cup of coffee on me?”
When you haven’t kept in contact with a past seller whose listing expired, use this script when you have a potential buyer for their home:
“Hi, Jim, it’s Bernice. I have a buyer who is looking for a home like yours. Are you still thinking about selling?”
While you could leave these messages on your client’s voice mail, the probability is much greater that the recipient will respond to a push notification on his or her mobile.
2. Winning the ZTR war
Two of the biggest stories of 2014 are Zillow’s acquisition of Trulia and News Corp.’s acquisition of Move Inc., the operator of realtor.com. The News Corp. acquisition may ultimately have the greatest impact in terms of driving print marketing coordinated with online marketing.
Before you dig out your credit card, however, please keep this caveat in mind: You absolutely must track where your marketing dollars are generating closed leads. Unless you make the effort to discover how your clients arrived at the decision to hire you, there is no real way to know where your ad dollars are best spent.
For 2015, ask every one of your clients how they found you and what motivated them to hire you. Then make your decision about where to spend your ad money based upon your real results — in the long run, those are the only ones that really matter.
3. Tools and apps you will use
Over and beyond Dropbox, Evernote and Google Docs, what apps will you regularly use in 2015? If you haven’t tried Unroll.me, move this to the top of your list for creating a manageable email inbox. Unroll.me currently supports Outlook, Gmail, Google Apps, Yahoo! Mail, AOL Mail and iCloud.
The concept is simple: Each day you receive subscriptions to which you subscribe and probably quite a few that you never requested. Unroll.me aggregates all of those subscriptions into a single email.
When you click on that Unroll.me email, all your subscriptions appear. Unsubscribe to the subscriptions you don’t want with a single click. In fact, even if you have your own domain-based email address, it’s worth setting up a Gmail account to use Unroll.me to manage your subscriptions.
4. The QR code slayer
In case you’re not particularly fond of QR codes to convert sign calls and Web inquiries using your mobile device, there are two new alternatives. At Startup Alley, the one that captured my attention was mVerso, whose “Mobile Intelligent Number” eliminates the need for keywords, short codes, QR codes and cumbersome URLs. Instead, all the user has to do is to dial a single number to obtain the information he wants. The system captures the caller’s phone number so that you can follow up quickly as well.
Another new twist comes from Twilio. This app allows you to send messages at a rate of 1,800 per minute. It also allows you to send text messages from your Web app.
As Michael Gerber suggests in “The E-Myth Revisited,” take time to “work on” your business, rather than just “working in” your business. Review the strategies from these three articles and then choose the one or two that you’re willing to try in 2015. It’s a great way to kick off a great year.
5. Scary lawsuits
At this year’s Awesome Females in Real Estate conference, National Association of Realtors Vice President and Chief Economist Leslie Appleton-Young suggested that the entire real estate community needs to be aware of the litigation going on in California that seeks to overturn independent contractor status for real estate agents (Bararsani v. Coldwell Banker).
Appleton-Young voiced concerns about “the impact on their (CAR) membership, as well as the real possibility that a number of firms would go bankrupt if the court reclassifies agents from independent contractors to employees.”
The conflict arises from the real estate law that requires brokers to supervise their agents and the labor laws that state that supervision means the agent is an employee.
Companies that permit agent teams may have the greatest exposure if Bararsani or any of the three other pending lawsuits on this issue are decided against the Realtor defendants (Cruz v. Redfin, Galen v. Redfin, and Monell v. Boston Pads LLC).
Specifically, the labor laws prohibit an employer from giving specific directions to independent contractors as to how they do their job. While the supervising broker may have some protection, to be safe, agents who hire independent contractors should probably treat these agents as employees. Please consult with both an employee and a labor attorney to gain expert advice about what is required in your state and what you can do to limit your risk.
Bernice Ross, CEO of RealEstateCoach.com, is a national speaker, author and trainer with over 1,000 published articles and two best-selling real estate books. Discover why leading Realtor associations and companies have chosen Bernice’s new and experienced real estate sales training for their agents at www.RealEstateCoach.com/AgentTraining and www.RealEstateCoach.com/newagent.