Real estate professionals were preparing for spring buying and selling season when our lives were upended by COVID-19. As Chief Operating Officer of Coldwell Banker Real Estate, I work with hundreds of business leaders from our Gen Blue network, offering support from our team. I learn from them too, as they share creative solutions their businesses deploy to keep people safe, navigate the disruption and posture for growth on the other side of this pandemic.
I am inspired by them to share how our global network continues guiding people home. Here is our playbook of what large brands and small businesses alike need during this time.
Business strategies to stabilize and grow
Companies need near-term and long-term strategies to stabilize, nurture momentum, and thrive. After keeping employees and agents safe, the next most important thing is for businesses to effectively manage cash flow. What level of business can be maintained amid safety precautions? How are government regulations changing? Business owners must have an eye toward the future.
On a virtual meetup about managing the crisis with our franchisees, president and CEO of Coldwell Banker France & Monaco Laurent Demeure said, we must “…manage the future… encourage everyone to create the company they envision.” The best among us will permanently reinvent their approach.
Focus on financial relief
Recognizing the need for early action on cash flow, Coldwell Banker proactively provided prospective financial relief to domestic franchisees for the upcoming quarter and opted out of a scheduled fee increase.
As a large industry player, we called for small business relief from the US government. We urged franchisees to take advantage of the CARES Act benefits and hosted webinars on the Payroll Protection Program. We recommended businesses work with community banks versus larger lenders.
Sharing best practices among the network
Networking is in the nature of every successful real estate business professional. Our network of 94,000 agents and several hundred franchisees continue to share information during COVID-19.
Here’s just some of what we heard:
- Lori Arnold, owner of Coldwell Banker Apex in Texas, presented a variety of business-conserving measures and steps to focus on agent service.
- Mike Grady, COO of Coldwell Banker Bain in Washington, shared his company’s approach to communicating consistently and transparently.
- Leslee MacKenzie, owner of Coldwell Banker Hickok and Boardman in Vermont, reminded us to reach out to competitors and work together to support the community.
- Our in-house lawyers advised on lease-deferment and negotiation strategies, sharing views on force majeure clauses and benefits changes, such as availability of loans under retirement plans.
Information from a trusted advisor
Just as people look to real estate agents for home advice, our real estate business owners look to their brand for guidance to lead their companies. What’s key in brand communications?
- Early communication is key. We routinely update resources on brokerage operations best practices, such as how franchisees can apply social distancing protocols.
- On-going, two-way conversations provide a platform to share information regarding market impressions, open houses and cyber risks. We reached over 100,000 people in 6 weeks through virtual meetings and training.
- A strong brand strategy guides businesses to follow the same North Star. After launching a new look for the national brand in 2019, the brand was poised to launch a national ad campaign this spring. We pivoted the campaign to honor hometown heroes.
- The voice of a trusted leader. Coldwell Banker President and CEO Ryan Gorman hosted Town Halls for the network and addressed the most pressing industry-wide questions in our Real Estate of the Union Virtual Event, which garnered 12,000 viewers.
The right technology and training
Even before COVID-19, Coldwell Banker invested heavily in training and technology to enable our people to provide the service our clients expect. Today, our agents are still taking listings, conducting virtual open houses and online showings, and closing properties from the safety of their homes.
Our agents are taking this time to upskill. Our attendance on product calls increased by 244%. In April, we offered 65 classes and 10,000 agents attended the 60-minute courses about buyers, listing presentations, lead generation, objection handling, and negotiation skills. Coldwell Banker also hosted Education Expos, which have trained 34,000 agents. We offered the Coldwell Banker Global Luxury certification course virtually for the first time with 1,400 attendees.
Community and culture
At Coldwell Banker, we genuinely care for each other and the communities we serve. During the pandemic, our network quickly found ways to help communities.
Coldwell Banker has been guiding people home for 114 years. We were founded in the chaotic aftermath of the San Francisco earthquake and fires in 1906 at a time when trust, integrity, and service were as deeply needed as they are today. We’d love to help you find out more about how Coldwell Banker can be the place that supports you and your business, visit coldwellbanker.com/franchsing or check out the full playbook.