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In assessing the effects of the pandemic on our industry, it’s safe to say some aspects of our business have changed forever. Working within a team especially, the need to adapt and implement new strategies and tools to provide the highest quality of service to our clients will continue to be at the forefront.
From incorporating more digital offerings to finding new ways to stay connected to clients, here are 10 ways COVID has affected our team and how we will implement some of the tools and skills we learned throughout the pandemic.
1. Social media
Before COVID-19, social media was a tool we used regularly to market new listings and expand business. During the pandemic, we understandably had to adapt and find new ways to showcase properties.
One of the most useful tools has been social media. We enjoyed incredible success through our Instagram live tours and digital open houses. One out-of-the-box example of creativity in our social media during this time was through our series of Instagram IGTVs.
Since the outbreak of COVID-19, we’ve held live tours on social media of everything from an inside look of a home under construction to tips on how to door-knock. It’s a great resource and a way for potential buyers to tour properties if they’re unable to be there in person.
Post-pandemic, we plan to continue to offer virtual tours via our social media channels. These can be done once or twice a week. You can build anticipation by including a countdown on your Instagram stories alerting your followers that you have an IGTV tour planned for a new listing you have hitting the market.
Engaging with your audience during the tour through the screen and in the comments will ensure prospective buyers feel included in the tour and have their questions answered.
Before COVID-19, we met daily with our team in the office. After the rise of the pandemic, that completely changed. We all had to learn to quickly navigate virtual meeting platforms like Zoom.
Needless to say, nothing can replace in-person team meetings. However, as our team continues to grow and expand, it can be challenging to get everyone in one room at the same time.
In a post-pandemic world, we definitely plan to continue utilizing Zoom for our weekly team meetings. Some unique ways to make Zoom sessions interesting include hosting virtual meetings at a brand new listing or sending lunch from a new restaurant in town and enjoying a working lunch all together on screen.
3. Safe showings
Before COVID-19, we scheduled in-person showings, open houses and other tours throughout the week. We never had to worry about masks, temperature checks and safety forms. At the start of the pandemic, we were very mindful of safety measures at showings and that still rings true today.
Post-pandemic, we plan to continue to have sanitizer, masks, gloves and booties on hand for those who feel more comfortable touring properties with these added safety precautions and layers of protection.
We’re also happy to tour buyers through properties via FaceTime, should they feel more comfortable. A fun way to make safety measures eye-catching is by creating branded masks, sanitizers and other materials, which increases brand awareness while adding a nice custom touch for clients to take home.
4. Open houses
Pre-COVID, open houses were a ritual for agents. During COVID, we had to find unique, digital ways to showcase a home, including virtual tours on social media channels, scheduling Zoom and FaceTime sessions with prospective buyers, and developing virtual walkthroughs that we can share with interested clients.
Post-pandemic, per the latest guidelines in California, we are now able to hold regular, public open houses. However, we now have the ability to provide digital check-in for visitors. We’ve also limited our time frame to two hours at a time, ensuring there are not too many people at a property at once so that everyone feels comfortable.
As we enter this new normal, we will offer a hybrid solution, where potential buyers can tour in person or through digital channels, depending on their preference.
5. Office spaces
During the pandemic, we understandably had to transition to a fully digital office environment. We relied very heavily on Zoom, FaceTime and text message groups to stay connected on all things business while staying safe and healthy.
Post-pandemic, along with the new guidelines in place in California, we are able to return to the office and resume in-person meetings with precautions in place. As our team continues to grow, we are fortunate enough to have the opportunity to expand our current office space, so that all our team members are able to spread out and feel safe while working.
That means positioning desks far apart from one another, limiting the number of team members at the office at one time and incorporating sanitizing stations throughout the space.
6. Time management
During the pandemic, we all had to learn how to best manage our time and maximize productivity while working from home. This meant time-blocking tasks to stay focused, developing to-do lists and utilizing productivity apps such as OmniFocus.
As we continue to move toward a post-pandemic world, this newly sharpened skill will continue to be an asset for our team. It’ll come in handy as we learn to combine working from home with working from the office and effectively managing our time each day to maximize our output for our clients.
Continuing to utilize the skills and tools we mentioned earlier will certainly be at the forefront for our team.
Before COVID-19, agents across the country held regular events for listings. Whether it was a broker’s sunset cocktail event or a private dinner for VIP clients, these presented great opportunities to personally showcase a new listing to an agent’s network.
During COVID-19, in-person events were completely off limits, and agents became heavily reliant on digital platforms to showcase their latest properties.
Post-pandemic, agents will now be able to begin hosting events and partnerships, depending on the occupancy allowances of their region. While still being respective of health and safety, events will provide an excellent opportunity to reconnect with clients and expand an agent’s network.
While digital tools will continue to play an important role in hosting virtual events, in-person events will be welcomed by industry professionals across the country.
8. Clients’ wish lists
Before COVID-19, each and every client had different must-haves for their dream home. Some clients wanted a large open space to entertain throughout the year. Some wanted top-of-the-line appliances in the kitchen to master their inner chef.
Our team specializes in a personalized approach for each and every client we work with. During COVID, we had to go over a client’s checklist for a home virtually, and many of the “must-haves” quickly shifted. Outdoor spaces, home offices and at-home entertainment became the new premium amenities for buyers across the country.
Post-pandemic, these “must-have” items are here to stay. As more people can work from home or shift to a hybrid model, the demand for plenty of outdoor amenities and entertainment spaces, such as a bonus family room, media center, home gym, and more, will continue.
As agents work to serve clients and find their dream homes, they will continue to narrow down the needs of each client. For a white-glove service approach, we will offer clients the opportunity to discuss their wish lists both in person and digitally. This presents the rare opportunity to service clients around the world who might be seeking their dream home in Los Angeles.
9. New business tools
Before the pandemic, we could go door-knocking or host in-person events to gain prospective clients and get our name out there. During COVID, it became challenging to win new business with the limitations in place.
We had to rely heavily on our online presence and creative digital marketing tools to reach our target audience and new clients. We poured into our website, updating our photos and listings, and ensuring our site was as user-friendly as possible to make it seamless for buyers and sellers to reach us.
We also worked closely with our marketing team to develop eye-catching email marketing campaigns that showcased our listings effectively and beautifully.
Post-pandemic, we will continue to utilize these digital marketing tools as we have found clients are even more selective now with their time when it comes to attending showings. Putting together beautiful and concise email marketing pieces that speak to the value and splendor of a home will be key, as well as showcasing our listings on our social media platforms.
Pre-COVID-19, networking in person was one of the most important aspects of a real estate professional’s business. From attending industry conferences to community events, there was no shortage of opportunities to connect with your existing network and expand contacts. This often translated to new industry connections and new potential clients.
During COVID, all in-person networking opportunities were put on hold. The industry quickly moved events, conferences and seminars to the virtual space. Although this was a big adjustment from connecting in person, it also presented agents with a unique opportunity to expand their networks beyond their physical geographic location.
We had the opportunity to participate in panels like Inman Connect and connect with colleagues from around the world all on one screen.
Although in-person networking will surely pick back up, virtual networking will still be an important practice. Platforms like Zoom have become a regular part of doing business, and there is no reason we can’t attend an international conference from the comfort of our home office.
That said, we welcome attending in-person networking events and enjoying conversations with our local community again, like the upcoming Inman conference, which will be held in Las Vegas this fall.
All in all, the pandemic’s effects on businesses will continue to be felt for years to come. However, honing the skills and tools that emerged during that time will help you diversify and expand your business.
From offering live tours on social media to expanding your office space, providing digital check-ins at open houses and more, utilizing tools that emerged during the pandemic at your disposal will ensure all feel safe and comfortable as we continue to navigate this new normal.
David Parnes is a director at The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with him on Instagram. James Harris is a director at The Agency in Los Angeles. Connect with him on Instagram.
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