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When COVID-19 hit the United States in late February, fear set throughout the nation. People weren’t just worried about getting sick. They were also concerned about the economy.
Since it all started, we’ve all gone through a lot of emotions — fear, anxiety and grief from losing an entire way of life. But as leaders, we have to push through that. In difficult times, you have to motivate your team to be productive and positive.
To adapt to the crisis, first and foremost, we introduced a lot of policies and changes. We had to make sure we were safe and adhering to local guidelines. Yes, we weren’t allowed to see each other at the office, but that didn’t pull us apart. Instead, it brought us closer together.
For the past several years, we’ve been hosting a weekly video “huddle.” After shelter-in-place orders were announced, we moved that to three times a week. These meetings aren’t really mandatory, but almost everyone shows up every time. There’s not always a lesson in this, though there often is. We also started doing our happy hours virtually.
But there are other changes we made, too — all in an effort to keep the positivity going and connect with as many people as possible. The agents who are productive and having meaningful conversations, either on the phone or through social media, will be the ones who’ll come out of this thing swinging. So, here are the six things we’ve implemented to adapt to COVID-19.
1. Encouraging better use of video
We’re pushing our agents to make better connections through video. When they do a virtual walk-through, we tell them to do it twice. The first one is for Facebook Live (with permission from the listing agent).
We tell them to have a friend ready to post a link to the listing on their agent site. Most brokers provide this for their agents. It’s to make sure that when someone clicks on the Facebook link, the lead goes to the agent. The reason you ask a friend to do it is because Facebook won’t allow you to post a link before you go live.
We then tell them to go through the property a second time and tour the home. Use this for Facebook and Instagram Stories, YouTube and LinkedIn. You want your audience to know that you’re present in this business so you should be multi-purposing video content.
Also, when given the chance, choose FaceTime or Zoom over a regular phone call. Video builds more meaningful relationships. I ordered 50 hand-held phone tripods from Alibaba for $2 a piece, and we have those at the office for agents’ virtual walk-throughs.
2. Connecting through email
We send a monthly newsletter to our agents’ contacts through email. We’re asking our agents to record a two to five-minute video to accompany that. Make sure they are personalizing this and letting their contacts know what they’re up to.
This is not your typical, “Hey, need to buy or sell?” Agents should ask how their families are doing, and invite them to ask questions about the market if they have any.
3. Moving forward with accountability groups
We’re moving forward with our accountability groups, and in them, we’re telling agents that they should make calls and texts a part of their micro-commitments. On the low side, we recommend five calls and five texts to past clients, SOI and leads.
Save the calls for the people they have better connections with, and send a text to the people that they know, but not that well. Again, this is not to “sell” anything, but to just let them know that we’re thinking about them. Encourage them to reach out should they have any questions. This is one of the best times in history to build relationships.
4. Building virtual selling and buying pages
We have built virtual selling and buying pages and are encouraging agents to buy and use a 360 camera. Alternatively, agents can use photographers who can do this for them, and we’ve been encouraging that as well.
5. Creating quarantine checklists
We’ve compiled a list of quarantine checklists for families, singles and couples. We put those on our website and made images of them so our agents can post and share them on their social media channels.
6. Hosting virtual happy hours
In addition to our three-times-a-week, non-mandatory huddle, we’re doing a weekly virtual happy hour. Now more than ever, people want to connect with other people. So, we’re constantly brainstorming as a team as to how we can do that with each other. We’re always trying to find ways to stay positive and share news about what we’re all seeing in the market.
This is a very crazy time in the world, but we’re actually very lucky because the next virus could be much worse. We’ll be better prepared for it when it comes.
In looking at the bright side of things, there will be amazing innovation that’ll come out of this. The environment will heal. Families are closer, and the world is more connected (virtually) now than ever. We all have a common enemy and a reason to collaborate. In real estate, there will be an even playing field after this is over for those who put the work in right now.
I’m personally not a religious person. That does not mean I’m not spiritual, or that I don’t believe we all serve a higher purpose. But maybe there is a reason for this — a reason that doesn’t have to do with politics. Maybe it happened because it was just going to happen. And maybe we can look at this later and figure out what we did to help each other right now.
I have a 40-person real estate brokerage, and my message is: stay safe. Reach out to past and future clients, and offer help without trying to sell anything. Be positive and look towards the future. People who are present, helpful and top-of-mind now, will be the ones who will prosper later. Stay safe, stay positive and help every person you can — in that order.
Ryan Rodenbeck is the broker-owner of Spyglass Realty and Investments in Austin. Connect with him on Instagram.
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