ActivePipe Joins Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® in New ACE, Agent Centre for Excellence
Award-winning real estate marketing automation platform ActivePipe, has joined forces with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® as part of their newly launched state-of-the-art marketing technology platform, the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® Agent Center for Excellence (ACE).
As part of the ACE package, which seamlessly integrates multiple best in class marketing technologies into one cutting edge platform, ActivePipe allows Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® agents to create powerful email drip-campaigns with built-in automation and property integration.
With ActivePipe, brands can now implement a ‘tiered-down’ approach, the first of its kind. Centralized communications can be deployed from the brokerage level, delivering a cohesive message through their local channels. These emails take seconds to create, thanks to ActivePipe’s easy-to-use email builder.
“We are proud to be part of the ACE initiative alongside the other best-of-class technology platforms,” said ActivePipe CEO, Ashley Farrugia. “Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® is an exceptional group, and with ActivePipe, their agents will be given the tools to send intuitive emails that discover hidden opportunities in their databases, resulting in more listings and higher commissions. It’s a revolution.”
The ACE platform is designed to be agent focused and data-driven, delivering powerful CRM, lead management, listing alerts, digital marketing tools and agent intranet from one centralized portal.
“After nearly two years of research, we realized investing in a best-in-class approach was the only way to continuously provide our agents with the most advanced technology to maximize their business,” said Rajeev Sajja, Vice President of Digital Innovation at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS. “We are genuinely committed to providing best-in-class tools and services to our agents to service their clients through innovation and key partnerships in the industry. As agents begin utilizing ACE, they will find running their day-to-day business is easier, more effective and highly efficient.”
The official rollout of ACE will begin in the Lehigh Valley, Pennsylvania area throughout December 2018. By January 25th, all 5100 Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Fox & Roach, REALTORS® agents throughout Pennsylvania, New York and New Jersey will have access to ACE.
Unique within the real estate space, ActivePipe integrates live property feeds to present tailored recipient-specific content. ActivePipe helps brokerages and agents in identifying and converting potential buyers and sellers by managing the communication journey with all prospects, at scale.
Its drag-and-drop email editor allows for easy and instant blog and video incorporation, creating a seamless nurture program across all stages of the real estate lifecycle.
ActivePipe has established a rapid paid penetration across US, UK, New Zealand and Australian real estate offices in its short history in market. The ActivePipe platform complements all popular real estate CRM platforms by bringing static data to life. Agents can now identify and profile the clients most active, allowing agents to focus and prioritise those clients that are showing signs of transacting in the immediate future.
For more information, speak to a member of our team here.
Seventeen Appraisal Requests in 24 Hours: The Story of Ray White Sandringham
Implementing new technology in an office, group or brand level is never an easy feat for the poor tech officer in charge of facilitating its rollout. Once they’ve convinced those up top that the product will return a solid ROI, they then face the mammoth task of persuading a bunch of notoriously time-poor agents to not only spend precious hours learning the system but to maintain momentum once the initial push has subsided.
Sammie Johnson, the Systems & Technology Trainer for City Realty in New Zealand, is all too aware of the difficulties.
“Being in the Tech Team, we sometimes find it hard to push technology that I know will improve their business. You have to pitch it to them in dollar format, and generally most won’t get onboard…until they see someone else making money or progress from it.”
After seeing the results ActivePipe was generating for other Ray White agents, Sammie insisted that her group of offices sign up too. Expecting inevitable pushback, she couldn’t believe what happened next.
When her Sandringham office tentatively switched on the platform one Wednesday afternoon, something magical occurred. By the next day, they’d secured a whopping 17 appraisal requests and excitement was in the air as the team realised that this was just the beginning.
“It’s just a huge game changer for us. These are crazy numbers! Plus, it’s really simple and user friendly,” says Sammie.
No one in the office was more excited than Susan Woods-Markwick. In the first 30 minutes of ActivePipe she’d landed 7 appraisal requests. The multi award-winning agent is already known as a powerhouse in Auckland but now she had access to a system that was only going to skyrocket her business further.
“It’s exciting and liberating! Keep it coming!” she says.
Susan’s principal, Phil Horrobin, knew that it was going to change the way he ran and trained the staff in his office.
“It’s going to be a significant part of our business, you know. I mean data is so readily available now that we see agents growing their databases like it’s a kind of obsession. Actually being able to manage and communicate with them though is a whole other level. So, now with ActivePipe you could have an agent with a database of 10,000 people but they’ll actually be speaking to the right people, at the right time, as opposed to sitting down and making ten cold calls from that 10,000. So it’s going to be a big change for us”.
Do you remember Sammie’s initial concern about getting agents onboard with the platform? Well, after seeing the results in Sandringham, the other offices under her technological gaze couldn’t be more eager to follow suit.
“It’s a big step forward and a big game changer for our growth. It’s great, we’re very happy about it. We love ActivePipe!”
So, success all round for Sammie Johnson and the team at Ray White Sandringham.
In Conversation with David Young Choi
ActivePipe’s catapulting global expansion of the last twelve months has allowed me to make some exceptional appointments to our executive team. The quality of these highly sought-after professionals is enviable, as is the wealth of experience and understanding of the sector that they bring with them.
When I first met David Young Choi three years ago, we quickly entered into a friendship driven by a mutual respect for what the other was ‘about.’ At the time, he was Chief Commercial Officer at Homepass, a proptech company moving in the same space as the recently launched ActivePipe; our paths were always destined to cross. I was instantly drawn to his astute intelligence and passion for the role and I was pleased to watch his career continue to shine as he moved into the position of Director of Corporate & Enterprise at Domain.
When ActivePipe reached the point of needing a CCO of our own, in my eyes, David was the only man for the job. He’s dived head first into the role and is already feeling like such a member of the ActivePipe family that it’s hard to believe he’s only officially been on board for a few, (admittedly, action-packed) weeks.
I’ve finally found some time to sit down and decompress with him. Here’s what he has to say about his ActivePipe appointment, insights into the company so far and the overall climate that’s defining proptech in 2018.
Dave, you’ve known me and ActivePipe for years now. What is it that got you excited to come on board and take this role?
DC: I was sold the first time that I saw ActivePipe. It was so intuitive and simple, that I was immediately drawn to its potential. ActivePipe addresses every major pain-point that brands and agents face. This runs deeper than just personalised communications and discovery technology. You’re talking about a platform that holistically revolutionises how an agent identifies and converts pipeline opportunities and then builds a lifelong relationship with them. From a corporate perspective, the power to create an automated email drip-campaign that seamlessly integrates properties which can be sent out on behalf of all their agents in minutes, is invaluable. How could I not be excited about this?
It’s the numbers that get me going. It doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles you build into a product if you’re not getting results for the clients, what’s the point?
DC: Well, from what I’ve seen, the proof is well and truly in the pudding. From the ground up we’re now looking at servicing nearly 40,000 agents with the biggest brands across four countries, including the US. What are we at now? Over 16,000 appraisal requests for our clients. So yes, it’s both the numbers and the technology that has me excited.
Thinking about how these numbers will grow as we continue to push into the US gets me excited.
Of course! Our international expansion and opportunity were major drawcards for me joining the team. At the end of the day, the fundamental problems we solve are universal, no matter whether you’re in Australasia, the UK or US. ActivePipe’s value proposition spans all geographies.
Based on your experience dealing with agents from across these geographies, what are they saying about the introduction of automation for their business?
Well, corporations are always blown away by the ability to maintain brand integrity across the network without losing the personal touch that individually crafted communications provide. This is huge for them. Agents talk about how easy it makes it for them to stay in contact with the thousands of agents in their database and facilitate relevant conversations.
Yeah, I completely agree. I love how it’s not only positively enhancing the experience of the agent but also adding value and creating a pleasurable overall journey for their customers.
DC: Well, that’s what it’s all about. The reason ActivePipe agents are seeing such great results is that their contacts aren’t feeling like the recipients of spam or monotonous cold-calls. With each and every touchpoint being tailored to their needs, trust and rapport are consistently being built. When it does come time for an agent to pick up the phone and make contact, they are more productive and can actually add value.
You’ve already been throwing some big ideas around with me. Where do you see this company heading in the next few years and how are you going to help get us there?
DC: The customer is the centre of our universe, so everything we do moving forward must focus on customer centricity. This is already a dynamic business but we must always remain diligent and on the front foot of the needs, pain-points and solving our customers business problems. All I can say right now is, watch this space because big things are coming.
So, talk to me about how you see our role in the industry now that you’ve seen us from the inside and out.
DC: This is an easy one! The role of ActivePipe is to help real estate agents and brands get the absolute most out of their business. It’s like squeezing every last drop out of a lemon. ActivePipe takes the archaic lead generation and customer nurturing methods which real estate has relied on for so long and turns it on its head. Its role is to completely change the game.
Thanks, mate, as always it’s all about company culture for me, so no matter how you want to shake things up, you know where I draw the line.
That’s a great point to bring up actually. To return to your question about what excites me about ActivePipe, I’d have to say that its reputation as an organisation with extremely high staff satisfaction and retention rates was a huge drawcard for me. It’s been inspiring to hear you speak on the driving force company culture plays in the pursuit of innovation. I couldn’t be happier to be part of the team as it moves towards the next phase of its’ global expansion.
Maintaining Culture Across Geographies
Earlier this year we were honoured to receive three nods from the Australian Business Awards for being leaders in the fields of technology, innovation and marketing. These accolades are always worth a celebration but this year they’ve really got me thinking about the true meaning of success and the role that company culture has played in ours. If you’ve been following us for a while you might even remember that I wrote a blog about it.
Since then, ActivePipe has continued its crazy growth spurt and we now have a small army representing us in cities across the US, UK, AUS, NZ and The Philippines. Whilst extremely exciting, I’m also ultra aware of the importance and potential hardships involved in maintaining our strong, inclusive culture across these geographies. As with anything in business, it all comes down to planning with a little bit of gut instinct thrown in for good measure, and so far we’ve been doing well at keeping the family vibes flowing across the globe.
I want to share with you what I’ve learnt this year about maintaining culture across geographies.
Have the Right Tech in Place
To maintain good communication and a sense of community amongst your team members, it’s essential that you have the right tools in place to facilitate a seamless flow of conversation. For us, Google Hangouts is an everyday occurrence and it’s not unusual to see our Melbourne HQ filled with the faces of comrades from far off lands shining down at us through TVs linked up to conference cams. Google Docs and cloud technology allow for easy sharing and editing of work and whether they like it or not, in-house messaging service Slack means that no matter where you’re located, an instant message is only a few keystrokes away.
Monthly general meetings are important to me. It’s a great way to bring everyone together to share news and company goals and even have a laugh together in an informal environment. Just because we can’t magically apparate the entire team together doesn’t mean that anyone needs to miss out on the fun. Turn your meetings into a virtual gathering with the same video conferencing software I mentioned above.
Get to Know Your Geos
Each region you penetrate will have unique characteristics, customs, laws and language nuances that if ignored could spell the end of you and your business prospects in that market. You need to do your research and engage the brand ambassadors and team leaders in each geography to educate you on these cultural distinctions. Making a point of recognising their holidays and other important dates will lead to an even more inclusive employee experience.
Communication is Key
You’ve heard it a thousand times before but it can’t be stressed enough – good communication is the heartbeat of a business and the key to balancing the needs of your staff with the needs of your accounts department. Check in with people as much as you can. Showing an interest in how they’re going, even if they’re not physically in the room shows your team they are valuable and that you are experiencing this journey together.
It Comes from the Top
You and your leadership group need to be the type of people that inspire a sense of purpose. This runs deeper than just being involved in the everyday running of the business. This comes from the place inside you that is driven by a noble purpose and a desire to do something more than just ‘make money’. Work out what your ‘why’ is and it will direct you in maintaining consistency in your global expansion. If you know why you’re really doing this, your passion will trickle down to everyone in the business – no matter where they’re located.
Let Them Grow
Your employees are just as interested in your global domination as you are. Give them the chance to feel that they are growing with you by encouraging development initiatives that the leadership teams are accountable for. Up-skilling opportunities don’t just improve staff morale, they improve the productivity of your business.
Luck Has Nothing To Do with It
Whilst I feel incredibly lucky to have the team I do, luck really has nothing to do with it. It takes a hell of a lot of hard work and numerous sleepless nights to keep the cogs of an international business well oiled and turning smoothly.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter where your people are located or what ethnicity they belong to or system they associate with, they have families and lives and needs outside of your organisation. Just as you do – so never fail to take care of your wellbeing too.
Trust in your staff, invest in your culture and you’ll be amazed at the magic that blossoms across geographies.
Why Every Agent Needs to Leverage PR
As ActivePipe’s Public Relations Coordinator I have the pleasure of speaking with a cross-section of agents from across our global network each week. I love learning what makes an agent tick and through these countless discussions have cultivated some pretty incredible insights into the universal pain points and aspirations of real estate professionals across the board.
Every agent I speak to knows the importance of leveraging their profile but where they can sometimes come unstuck is in knowing which methods are worth investing their precious time into. Being time-poor can lead to a lack of creativity, resulting in lacklustre exposure and a dreary publicity program.
Sometimes it’s best to leave these things in the hands of a professional, which is why I’ve enlisted the help of Diane Falzon, the PR extraordinaire behind FalzonPR, who’s a mentor and expert in helping agents position themselves as leaders in their field.
Here’s why she believes traditional public relations should not be ignored by the modern agent.
Why Every Agent Needs to Leverage PR
As the news cycles change in the blink of an eye, storytelling and creating digestible pieces of information to readers, viewers and listeners has become the necessary fuel for all.
You may say that the onslaught of social media has diminished the need and value for traditional public relations and media exposure.
The truth is that public relations continues to play an intrinsic role in working with clients to craft and disseminate news and angles for journalists to consider and pursue.
For the real estate space, and in particular, agents, leveraging from PR can be a valuable tool in not only maintaining a presence with your relevant demographic but also celebrating and showcasing your street cred in the industry.
Creating a connection to your clients and potential clients through the media will help personalise your business and connect-ability with your intended audience. You are more than the person who creates listings online. You are more than the bricks and mortar you are trying to sell. As an agent, you are a wealth of industry knowledge and through an effective PR campaign, you can outshine and outdo your competition.
Let Your Success Do the Talking
Through effective and strategic PR initiatives, you can showcase your successes and milestones, as well as provide advice to your customers. As a learned voice in this space, you can tap into information hungry clients and share your expertise. It is through your tenacity and intriguing storytelling that customers will want to know more about the PR savvy agent in their local area. Some possible PR ideas for you to pursue may include creating a narrative around, “Tips on how to present your property for sale”, “When is the right time sell”, “How do I choose the ideal real estate agent” or “Top five mistakes when selling your home.”
There is no room for humble in the real estate game. Create a space and narrative where you can be heard or read about so that you shine amongst your competition. Whether it is your local print, radio or online, shine a spotlight on what you want to share with your customers. Believe me, they want to hear from you, not just when you want them to sign on the dotted line.
Call in the Experts
If DIY PR is not your thing, don’t despair. Hiring a PR professional to help you is also a great option. Look out for a PR consultant who can get ensconced in your world and can articulate what you want to share to the media. Their job is to showcase you, your business and your story in a way that will enhance your brand, expertise and sales success story.
There is a saying that “all publicity is good publicity.” Call me old fashioned and conservative, I tend to shy away from negative publicity and prefer to create sound and robust stories which generate positive outcomes. A story about an agent found guilty of underquoting does not sound like the sort of publicity you would be after. Be selective in what you disseminate so journalists know that quality content is heading their way.
It is the business which boasts its uniqueness that will be seen the most. Think about it. There is a suite of restaurants in Australia – but it is the ones that showcase their unique cuisine or chef to the media are the ones that get the good word of mouth going. Be that shining star in your suburb.
Be involved in your community, show your altruistic side within that community and then share it with the media. Being a part of your community does wonders in enhancing your authenticity. Also, don’t be shy in celebrating your real estate wins. From achieving a record sale price in a plateau market or winning an industry accolade, share your story far and wide.
Go on, switch that PR light bulb on, NOW!
0430 596 699
Reece Prewett: Recruitment, Retention and the Power of the Database
Reece Prewett is the proud business owner and principal of Ray White Papakura, New Zealand. A master of the corporate world, Reece’s career has seen him in senior executive positions spanning four continents and nearly twenty exceptional years. His ability to drive global teams through significant growth and transformation makes his insights into the benefits of ActivePipe incredibly valuable.
We were lucky to catch up with Reece to chat about the improvements he’s seen in his business and in his agents since joining the ActivePipe family.
AP: Hi Reece, thank you for taking the time to chat today. Even though your office is pretty new to ActivePipe you’re already seeing some fantastic results. Can you tell me a little bit about how are you using the platform and how you are finding it so far?
RP: We’ve had the immediate benefits of appraisal requests and loan market requests coming through, which is fantastic! But the real juice is coming from those who mine the data in the ‘Hot Leads’ category. It’s the people who are clicking on properties multiple times, revealing their intentions about buying and selling and putting their details in through the website. We are loving that.
AP: Do you find that the information that is coming through is allowing your agents to have better conversations with these leads?
RP: It’s giving direction. You may have 1000 people in your database but when it comes to 10am Monday morning, who are you going to call? You want to start your day by making ten calls and what ActivePipe does is make those ten ‘hot calls’ as opposed to ten ‘hit-or-miss’ calls.
You’re making the right calls, at the right time, to the right people.
AP: How does AP help you train and manage the agents in your office?
RP: We have 25 agents in our office and ActivePipe helps us to work out which of those need some support. In my experience, agents can be highly effective at their jobs but not run a good database. The truth is, they could make twice as much money and have twice as much leisure time if they utilise the platform to maximise their database. They might even get their weekends back for themselves.
I’ll give you an example.
Our Number Two salesperson has 500 people in his database but it’s not well constructed. ActivePipe has allowed us to see that this is a problem and we’re now able to use it as an opportunity for him to improve his business. The guy’s already getting really good numbers so we wouldn’t necessarily have noticed his mismanaged database but he could be doing so much more and in half the time!
AP: How do your agents feel about using this new platform?
RP: I’m now using ActivePipe as my recruitment tool! This is because agents want leadership, support and something to help them deal with being so time poor. A lot of agents are time poor, so if you told them you’d organised a PA for them, they’d literally grab you with five arms, give you a hug and say, “Where do I start”?
That’s not a particularly cost-effective thing to do. With ActivePipe, I’m effectively giving them half a PA for free and it does all that work for them in the background.
For example, I’ve just recruited one prospect who was sold by the platform. At first he was going to wait until next year to join us but he ended up saying, ‘‘Yep – I’m done”, and he literally joined us the next week.
AP: Let’s talk about the technology side of things. Has there been any resistance to learning the new system?
RP: Absolutely. People just don’t like change, right? People who say that they like change are bullshitting you.
I think the young, smart agents coming through know that they don’t need to be tech-savvy but they do need to be using technology wisely and properly. The good thing about ActivePipe is that you don’t need to be an IT savvy individual, you literally just have to walk up to it, turn it on and make the phone calls.
Once you’re in and swimming around it’s like ‘Wow’.
AP: So you obviously think that technology is important for the future of the industry but do you think it is, specifically for your business?
RP: I think it’s important for every business. I think other small to mid-sized businesses out there won’t embrace it and that’s good for me because I know those people will drop off over time.
You don’t have to be that far ahead of your competition. It’s just like running away from a cheetah – you just need to be that little bit faster. So whilst ActivePipe is a great recruitment tool, it’s just as much a retention tool. Once they’re in and setting up their stuff each week and checking their database it’s almost like they can’t leave. How could they?
AP: So it becomes a very sticky product?
RP: Yeah, but in a good way, right! If you can have steak at home why would you leave and have hamburgers next door.
AP: You’ve had some really good appraisal request numbers coming through your account. Has that helped in terms of numbers of listings?
RP: Has it improved our business? Yes, absolutely. For example, since we’ve started my Top Agent has received two listings through the platform which equates to $30-40,000 NZD that’s coming in the front door. It’s probably paid for ten years worth of ActivePipe!
AP: So, it’s actually giving you as a business owner the chance to not only help your agents but to improve your business as well?
RP: It’s a total win-win. With ActivePipe, you’ve got recruitment, you’ve got retention and then you’ve got the ability to squeeze the juice out of a lemon. You’re presented with another money spinner by being able to generate leads that are not being managed and because they’ve been presented the way ActivePipe does, it’s very easy for the company to pick that up.
AP: Thanks Reece. Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
RP: I’d just like to say that we were a bit timid about turning it on but you’ve just got to jump in the cold water and have a swim. ActivePipe has made a real impact and it’s a really positive one. I can’t think of any downside.
Ray White: Customer Centricity through Innovation
As a marketer, I’m fascinated by how brands seek utopia; a technology led, customer-centric approach with a frictionless experience that leaves a customer saying quite simply, ‘Wow’. In my pursuit of knowledge, I decided to start close to home, with Ray White, one of our biggest clients and a brand that is synonymous with the property and real estate industry throughout Australasia.
An industry leader and a force to be reckoned with, the Ray White group includes footprints across Australasia, Asia and the Middle East and is supported by an incredible 13,000 employees. I was lucky enough to sit down with two of Ray White’s leaders; Mark McLeod – CEO of Growth and Jason Alford – National Technology Manager, to discuss how being at the forefront and embracing technology is enabling Ray White to create seamless customer experiences. It was an eye opening and thought provoking conversation, to say the least.
Guys, thank you both for taking the time. There’s so much to talk about, I’d like to jump right in and start the conversation by looking at the current trends you are seeing in technology and across the industry.
MM: I guess the biggest thing we are seeing is the use of AI and machine learning (ML), which allows us to offer customers a much deeper and richer experience than what we were seeing in the past, as well as customer identification earlier in the process. This is what’s going to enable us to get ahead of our customers’ expectations.
Technology, for us, is designed to do one thing, and that’s to put more of our Ray White people in touch with more prospects, at the right time. It’s AI and ML that are going to allow us to do that in a way that’s going to enhance the customer experience.
Mark, you often speak of the 80/20 split. 20 being the percentage of elite agents who make up the ecosystem. How does technology enhance those elite agents and help them to achieve peak performance?
MM: We’ve been on this journey for well over ten years now.
Many of our people are using this technology today without even realising that they’re using technology. It’s just a part of their life. Even the way we’ve integrated ActivePipe is ‘business as usual’ for many of our offices. They’re not thinking about how it turned up and they’re not thinking about it as this ‘wonderful technology’. It’s like our mobile phones. Nobody thinks about their mobile phones as great technology, they’re just here now.
For example, when we first got ActivePipe, we couldn’t believe what we were seeing but now we talk about it like it’s an auction or a sole agent. It doesn’t matter if you’re an elite agent or not, it’s just part of our DNA now.
That’s an interesting point. I believe the smartest technology should always be working in the background for you and incorporating itself into your life in a seamless, almost unnoticeable way.
JA: We just keep slowly infiltrating technology into our agents’ lives and they just keep on integrating it without any push back.
That’s allowed us to get better analytics, which allows us to make better decisions, which allows us to get better optics on the path we want to take. That’s because the data now shows us patterns, which allows us to keep going on the journey.
One of the strategic benefits of partnering with ActivePipe is the Profiles and the Intent features, along with the data that your system is capturing. It’s moving our agents’ behaviour towards what we call the ‘full service offering’.
Ray White is one of the only franchisors which offers loan market and financial services, a concierge offering a full suite of services, as well as our Home Now service, which offers utility connections. ActivePipe has allowed us to have richer conversations that allow us to offer our full suite of services.
Changing direction, how do you train your agents for success and those richer conversations?
MM: A number of years ago we created a training program called Accelerate, which was the first program to fully integrate the art of selling real estate with our full technology suite. The moment that an agent actually enters our world, they are greeted with, “Here’s the art of how you list and sell a home,” as well as, “Here’s how you list and sell a home under the umbrella of our technology suite.”
It’s fully integrated from the moment they enter our network.
JA: We also have 12 digital Business Development Executives (BDE), whose full time job is to go into our network and fully integrate our tech offerings into the daily lives and processes of our offices. They monitor the use of our technology suite, office by office, so that we can get a lens on any given stage of implementation and see which offices are falling behind, and with what tech application. Then the BDEs can be deployed to go out and support them.
Integrating new technologies within a business is always a challenge, particularly when there’s an upheaval of change. How receptive are your principals and what lessons have you learned?
MM: How long is a piece of string? Of course, there’s a wide range of responses but contextually I think that our network is very encouraged by our advancements and the direction of our company. Many of them feel very comfortable that there is a dedicated team and resources to steer our way through the technology future.
We’ve made some mistakes, which is part of it. We learned from these, but they trust us to work with them to focus a lot more on the future. By and large, that’s worked fairly well. We are going to be faced with some enormous challenges in the next period of time, but our belief is that what we are creating is tech-enhanced agents. We believe that an agent should always be at the centre of a transaction and we believe that agents who use technology more will be at the centre of technology more often.
How do you keep Ray White on the cusp of the next big thing?
MM: For the last four years we’ve been taking a dedicated team over to America for Inman. While we’re there, we make time to catch up with various parties that we identify with, such as analysis companies and AI and ML types. We benchmark core application platforms and keep a running product matrix of CRM providers. We also have a strong research team that makes sure that when we are making these bets and investing capital in that technology, that it’s not without risk management and understanding.
From a customer centric viewpoint, what’s in your pipeline?
MM: We’re working towards fully frictionless workflows for our sales people and compressing transactions to make it easy for someone to list their home with Ray White, and to make it easy for someone to choose Ray White.
JA: This will allow us to provide a better customer experience. We are a very big believer that it is all about our vendor and creating competition. We believe we can create competition by leveraging the scale, size and reach of our group. You’ll see that the amount of buyer inquiries that we receive on a monthly, daily and quarterly basis is second to none across the Australian real-estate landscape.
Are we leveraging that to its full potential? No, we’re not. Is that the journey that we’re on? Yes, it is. It comes down to ROI. Am I going to spend $200 a month on a bit of software if it is bringing me leads, listings or revenue, or saving me time, productivity or efficiency? Yes I am.
Final one, what role do you see ActivePipe playing?
MM: I think ActivePipe will play a significant role for us. It’s really opened much our networks’ eyes to the fact that targeted, customer centric comms get engagement. I think showing our network that they can provide a service for a customer, earlier in their real estate journey has been a really good thing.
As a group our whole focus is on connection. There’s the digital connection that ActivePipe plays a role in, but it’s how we use that digital connection to create a physical connection. We believe our core product is trust and we believe that trust is built from relationships. We have a saying in our company, “Make a list of all the people you have a relationship with that you’ve never spoken to.”
The answer to that question is that you don’t. So we use those tools to open up that relationship channel through to our core product.
How Company Culture Helped Us Win 3 Australian Business Awards
If you follow the Australian Business Awards or are a friend of ActivePipe on social media, you may have heard that we took out their Software Innovation, Technology Innovation and Marketing Innovation awards for a second year running.
Being recognised amongst a pool of exceptional business talent is undeniably awesome and I couldn’t be happier that we get to celebrate these wins twice in as many years. But for me, the beautifully framed set of certificates now hanging at the top of our Melbourne office stairwell signify something far more important than profit margins, market placement or software algorithms.
What wins like these really show me, is tangible evidence that our team is doing exactly what it has set out to do. We’ve worked together, as a collective, to achieve an incredible set of goals by utilising the different skill sets, strengths and even weaknesses of each individual.
Through an eagle-eyed approach to creating a strong and inclusive company culture, each member of the ActivePipe family has felt confident to express all the fresh ideas that led to our product being as successful as it is. By giving the team unequivocal freedom and trust, I’ve discovered that the proof is well and truly in the pudding; a well-nurtured team give back in spades, and then some.
In the age of the start-up and a worldwide decline in lifelong brand loyalty, it’s a mistake for any leader to overlook the role of culture in strengthening their business. In droves, millennials are turning their backs on the traditional suit-and-tie job, unless it comes with a lifestyle balance and culture that aligns with their values. This means that if you want to attract top talent, you’ve got no choice but to get on board and rethink what you have to offer those that are offering forty-plus hours a week to you.
You don’t have to drop everything, run out the door and buy a foosball table and bean bags (although it doesn’t hurt, I’d be facing mutiny if I dared remove ours). What it does mean is stopping what you are doing, taking a step back and evaluating the happiness of your staff, and if you feel something is amiss, implementing a three point plan to address it. Get this part right and it won’t just be awards you’re winning, you’ll see every facet of your business winning as well.
Start With Your Why
This first step is the most important. Why are you here? What is the purpose of this business? If your only answer is ‘making money’, then you’re going to have trouble building an authentic connection with your team. Think deeply about your goals and make these plans known to all new interviewees.
If you haven’t already, work with your current staff to come up with your purpose together. At ActivePipe, we did this by identifying three words that truly define us: hustle, inspired and easy. They drive every avenue of our business and we know that if they’re being fulfilled, everything is chugging along just fine.
Live and Breathe It
Don’t pay it lip-service and then fall back into old habits once the novelty has worn off. You need to work hard every day to maintain culture. Live and breathe it! Keep the momentum going with team-building days that get everyone out of the office, communal spaces that encourage mingling and interiors that inspire creativity. Constantly remind your team how important your ideal culture is and make sure you always lead by example.
Pay it Forward
Encourage innovation outside the confines of the office and give kudos to those who strive for it. If a team member achieves something cool, let them know it. Be present in your company, not just a faceless suit behind a computer screen and be the company that’s known for giving back to the communities that support it. We see real estate brands doing this well, often promoting junior sporting teams and local events.
Remember, success is for sharing. Break bread with your staff and immerse yourself in your community.
The benefits of a strong, unified company culture
Maybe you think this all sounds a bit fluffy.
Perhaps you’re right, but in my experience, building a company culture that you can be proud of is no exercise in kumbaya hand-holding. If you get it right, staff retention rates will soar and your flawless brand image will attract customers in the thousands.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to this: no matter what someone’s job title is, whether they’re your right-hand woman or a fresh-faced graduate, everyone deserves to be treated with respect and humility.
Live by this everyday and it won’t just be your accountant that thanks you for it, you might even pick up an award or two along the way.
Shane Colquhoun: A Winning Principal
Shane Colquhoun is the principal of LJ Hooker Nerang, which was recently crowned ‘Regional Sales Office of the Year’ at the 2018 Real Estate Business (REB) Awards. He believes that cultivating team longevity through individual coaching and exceptional office culture are the principles behind a winning principal. At publication, his office has generated 122 appraisal requests through ActivePipe.
AP: Congratulations on your real estate success this year, what does it mean to you to see your office getting this type of recognition?
SC: It’s a reflection and an appreciation for all the hard work that you do over the years and it’s a big tick for the culture that we have here. It’s nice to be recognised with awards but it really assists with the culture.
AP: Is there a particular highlight from the last year that you’d like to share with us?
SC: Moving into the new office was definitely a massive highlight. After years of having the goal of giving the team a better working environment, having it come together was something very special.
AP: What are the qualities that you believe got your team to the top?
SC: I’d have to say that working as a team and having team longevity helps. Recruiting and training are a big part of a business but when you’ve had people here forever the business will improve every year. It’s nice to bring people in who become part of the turning cog in a machine and working well, so it’s easy for new people to start because there’s a lot of long-termers here.
AP: Tell me about the everyday routine of your agents. What are the little things they do each day that sets them up for success?
SC: Everyone is coached individually. At the end of the day, everybody has a strength and a weakness and it’s about highlighting the strengths rather than working on the weaknesses. If someone has been working in real estate for ten years and has a weakness, I think it’s always going to be there, so we support in the weakness and grow the strength.
AP: Your office has generated 122 appraisal requests through ActivePipe, which is huge! How do you make sure that ActivePipe is incorporated into the daily routine of your agents?
SC: It’s a non negotiable. We have it in the office and you have to use it, whether you’ve been here for one day or for twenty years. It’s one of those automated tools that makes people’s jobs easier.
AP: What advice do you have for agents who are just starting out in the business of buying and selling homes?
SC: God help them!
No, I’m joking. I was actually driving to work today thinking just how lucky all these new agents are with the technology on offer. They need to utilise the technology but also remember that it’s all about talking to people. Too many agents rely only on the great technology and believe its going to be the answer to all of their wishes but at the end of the day, you still have to talk to people. You have to build relationships over the phone and touch base as regularly as possible. I look back at when I was a successful sales person and I didn’t have any technology, I didn’t even have an email address, it was all about knocking out 30-50 phone calls a day.
If you did that many phone calls today, with the backup of this fantastic technology there’s no excuse for anyone joining the industry today to not make it work.
AP: What mistakes do you see other principals making that are inhibiting their business?
SC: At the end of the day, it’s growth. It’s not putting on enough sales staff or failing to grow your property management team.
AP: What would you say to agents who are thinking about giving ActivePipe a try?
YES! But, remember that you can’t rely just on the technology. If a contact is in real estate mode, they’ll open your emails but if they’re not they’ll probably click out of them, so for those times you have to have other things in place to stay front-of-mind.
Everyday Things You Can Do To Inspire Your Team
With KPIs to hit, listings to win and commissions on the line, real estate is often considered a game of numbers and hard sells. It’s a high stress environment and the pressure is almost always on. This means that agent burnout is a real problem in the industry and leaders need to take a stand. To create healthy work-life balance and increase job satisfaction, principals must look out for their staff and promote a positive work environment that inspires self care, self belief and self motivation.
Here are eight easy ways to inspire your team and get the good vibes flowing in your office.
Build Core Values
This is where you need to start. At the heart of every good business is a set of strong and well defined values. Why does your company exist and why do you do what you do everyday? Once you work out your purpose, jot it down and use it to keep yourself accountable. Remember, this is your moral compass, so if you stray, the first person you’re letting down is yourself.
Set Clear Goals
You’ve established your values, so now it’s time to set some short, medium and long term goals. Where do you want to be in one, five and ten years time? For a team-building exercise, get everyone in your office to share these objectives and then brainstorm ways to achieve them. Having clear direction and a team of colleagues rooting for you is incredibly motivating, so always embrace opportunities to collaborate.
Offer Up-skill and Personal Development Strategies
The benefits of encouraging your staff to seek extra training are two-fold. On one hand you will have a team of highly skilled professionals that love what they do and on the other, your staff will feel supported by you. Not only will they work harder to achieve your vision, but retention rates will be high because they feel like you’ve got their best interests at heart. Ask them what they want to learn about, you might be surprised by their answers!
There’s nothing more motivating than a bit of friendly competition. Why not introduce a fun leaderboard that doesn’t just focus on sales numbers but includes referrals, emails sent and any other interesting ideas you can come up with? Sales agents tend to be competitive by nature, so use what makes them tick to get some extra energy out of their 9-5 grind.
Public Recognition of Achievements and Show Appreciation
If they’ve done a good job, tell them. Public recognition isn’t hard but it goes a hell of a long way.
Give Them the Tools They Need
You wouldn’t tell a plumber to do their job without a spanner so why would you send your agent out in the field without the right tools to back them up. Prospecting technology such as ActivePipe is an essential component of an agent’s daily routine. It takes the hard work out of nurturing their leads to sale, whilst streamlining efficiency and improving your brand’s public recognition. If you’re not on it, give it a go.
Update the Decor
An easy way to make people feel good is to create a nice atmosphere through simple interior design improvements. You don’t need a $20,000 renovation, research shows that having just a few plants around an office space lightens spirits and even cleans the air for you. Take note of the culture in your office. If your team is ducking out for a caffeine hit every couple of hours, why not invest in a coffee machine that not only hits that sweet spot at 3pm but also encourages a space where people can chat.
At the end of the day, none of this matters if your team doesn’t trust you. The only way to cultivate that trust is to be transparent in everything that you do. Talk about the business’ progression regularly and encourage an open door policy where staff can ask any questions they may have without judgement. Always be straight with your answers because people can smell bullshit from a mile away.
Humans respond to authenticity, so don’t just be a boss be a role model they can rely on.
Rising To The Top With Glen Coutinho
When it comes time for REB to announce their ‘Top 100 Agents in Australia’ each year, the ActivePipe office is always abuzz. Our agents consistently place in top positions, so as you can imagine, we can’t wait to get our little mitts on the prestigious list and congratulate these real estate superstars for their outstanding achievements.
2018 did not disappoint.
Of Australia’s top five agents, three are ActivePipe users and we couldn’t be more proud of them. Taking out the number five spot this year is our friend Glen Coutinho, the Director and Senior Auctioneer at RT Edgar, Boroondara. With 33 years experience and a whopping $340, 529, 700 worth of sales under his belt in the last twelve months alone, he’s an undeniable powerhouse of the industry. ActivePipe was lucky to catch him for a quick chat and to pick his brain for the secrets to his success.
AP: Hi Glen, thank you so much for speaking to us today and a huge congratulations for being named the number five agent in Australia. You’ve had an incredible year, what’s been the highlight for you?
GC: The highlight for me is that I’ve been able to achieve all this whilst still having three and a half to four months off for the year. I was able to travel to America with my family and manage my customers whilst I was away, which means that the system works well for me.
AP: So you managed to achieve that elusive work/life balance?
AP: What are the qualities that got you to the top of the real estate game?
GC: I believe my greatest quality is loving people. My biggest strength is spoiling my customers. From birthdays to wedding anniversaries, I just always make the effort to acknowledge the success of all my clients. I spend most of my time with people and I just want to spoil them.
AP: Tell us about your everyday routine. What are the little things you do that sets you up for success?
GC: I start my morning between 7:30am and 8am on social media. I wish all my clients happy birthday, acknowledge special dates and all those types of things. I do this by 8am and then send out some gifts to my clients and get on the phone. I make 30-40 calls a day to past clients and I’ve done that consistently for 33 years.
AP: How do you incorporate ActivePipe into your everyday routine?
GC: It’s an important part of my routine because ActivePipe is the touchpoint for all my customers that are on email. I’ve got almost 30,000 customers and a lot of them get sent an ActivePipe email every week. It’s especially important for the local and overseas contacts that I can’t keep in touch with. It means they can get an email with my face on it and an update on the market.
AP: Do you think this has helped you in your pursuit to be one of the top agents in the country?
GC: It certainly has helped! I meet so many people that the sheer volume can be hard to keep up with. If I forget to ring someone, ActivePipe is like my backup. Say I’ve been chasing someone for twenty years and I forget to ring them for six months, they’re still getting my face in front of them every week. Each Thursday, ActivePipe puts my face in front of 5000 people and most them think that I’ve written the emails individually, so it really works in my favour.
AP: How important is embracing technology like ActivePipe for the future of real estate?
GC: Look I think it’s critical, especially if you’ve been in real estate for a long time. The younger guys are doing it but people in their 40s to 60s think they don’t need to. Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that you do. It’s a critical part of business in the 2000s and will continue to be moving into the future.
AP: What advice would you give to agents who are just starting out in the business?
If you’re just starting out, you need to be in the office and at your desk by 8am. You need to consistently make 40 to 50 calls a day and you need to make ActivePipe a critical part of your business. If you want to make the best of ActivePipe, you need to get it in front of 1000 people very fast. If you’ve got 1000 people getting one of these emails every week, you’re in the game. By the time you get to 10,000 contacts, it comes down to sheer numbers. You can’t lose.
How To Get The Most Out of Your ActivePipe Trial
So your office has signed up for a brand new program that they swear is going to change your life.
You’ve heard this all before and to be honest, you think that learning a new system will be more hassle than help. I get it. We’ve all been persuaded to sign up for a gym membership that we end up cursing a few months later when we realise we’re spending $60 a month on a pass that we’ve used a small handful of times.
Starting a new system can be difficult – a hindrance. To get results you need to be prepared and make it a habit.
ActivePipe is an incredible system and I promise you it will change the game if you get involved, do your training and consistently login to get results.
Soon enough it will be second nature and you’ll be wondering how you ever lived without it.
Here’s how to make the most of your ActivePipe trial:
Understand what ActivePipe is before your training session
This is so important. How can you best utilise the system if you do not fully understand its capabilities? When we send you your login details, the email contains a short video. Watch it more than once. It is jam packed full of goodness, short and sweet and a great overview of the system. If you do this, you will understand the context which will make your participation in the training session far more effective. You’ll be able to ask more meaningful questions so that your time is not wasted.
Understand what type of email communication you want and need
What is your ideal email marketing communication journey? Why are you sending your contacts emails at all? Is it to increase property clicks to your website or is it simply to stay in touch? Have a good, hard think about this because it will shape your entire customer journey. If you have a clear picture of your ultimate outcome, chances are we can make it happen.
Communicate the system to your team
Communication is key. ActivePipe is an office-wide platform and it works best if everyone is on the same page, so ensure that every team member attends the demo. Pump up your team and get them excited before training so that you all get the most out of your trial. As a rule of thumb, start discussing the training a week before your trial begins and make sure you have questions to ask your trainer prepared. Every one of them will be answered – there is no such thing as a silly question.
Let ActivePipe Revolutionise Your Sales Meetings
Once you’ve completed your training and your trial is underway, make sure you track results from your ActivePipe dashboard and catch up with fellow team members or management to discuss them and formulate a plan of attack. You’ll start seeing results as soon as that first email is sent out.
Use meetings as an opportunity to practice sales scripts for your ‘profile updates’ and start incorporating the platform into your team trainings and personal development sessions.
Consistency is key.
You need to be prepared and regularly keep in communication with your interacting contacts, constantly have team meetings that incorporate your ActivePipe learnings and most importantly, be consistent with your logins and really dig deep into that data.
Read the results and start calling! You have a warm call list handed to you on a silver platter and best of all, whilst you’re in your trial stage, it’s all for free!
Remember, we are here to help so if you have any questions, please get in contact with your dedicated ActivePipe Client Success Manager.
No question goes ignored. We love our product and want to give you every chance to succeed.
Why Should I Care?
Because ActivePipe will change the way you do business forever. Not only will we find you hot leads but we’ll nurture them throughout the entire real estate journey, creating you a customer for life.
The best part? All you have to do is login.
The Surprising Benefits of Going Green
Does driving across town for client meetings, writing a million contracts and spending hours on the phone negotiating a selling price when you’re meant to be on annual leave sound familiar?
Life as a real estate agent is indisputably hectic, so it’s fair to assume that the last thing on your mind is worrying about the impact your job has on the environment.
Last week, we spoke about the growing popularity of eco-homes and how house hunters are looking towards a green future. Today we are going to talk about how real estate agents need to get on board, practice what they preach and start implementing sustainability practices into their everyday routine.
Going full rainbow-warrior is daunting and unrealistic, so we’re going to talk about the small, daily changes you can make around the office. If everyone gets involved and implements these simple strategies, you’ll be doing your part for the environment and saving some cash along the way.
Get your green thumbs ready, here are our top tips for an environmentally friendly workplace.
If you can’t reuse it, refuse it
The key message of this year’s World Environment Day was to ditch single use items such as plastic cutlery, straws, shopping bags and take-away coffee cups. These days there are thousands of affordable reusable options out there, so there is no excuse to keep buying a new water bottle every morning.
Your local discount store has plenty of stylish utensils so why not stock up the office kitchen with products everyone can use. As an added bonus, many local cafes offer discounts for those who bring reusable coffee cups, so have some fun, branded ones the whole team can use!
Change your printing habits
Gone are the days of flyers, mailouts and OFI pamphlets; the marketing world has gone digital and so should real estate. Invest in some office tablets. They are incredibly versatile as you can email on-the-go and even use it to register attendance at an OFI. If you absolutely have to print, make sure the default setting is ‘double sided’ and you only use recycled paper.
Greenify your office
Leafy ferns aren’t just pretty, they filter pollutants from the office environment and clean up the air. Research tells us that work spaces which embrace plants and natural light boost morale and increase productivity. So take the team out to the local nursery and choose some gorgeous greenery to spruce the place up.
Be mindful of the way you transport
The reality is, agents need their cars to get around so we’re not suggesting that you ditch the wheels five days a week. To offset your emissions, consider teaming up with a work buddy and car-pooling every couple of days. Sharing the vehicle will save on fuel and toll costs, and might even encourage you to dust off the old bike and peddle your way to work and optimal fitness.
Remember you are what you eat
Our idea of what qualifies as food has changed dramatically in the last 100 years. Sadly, it is one of the world’s most wasteful industries but it’s easy to make a stand by buying fresh produce that supports local farmers. Not only is organic food more nutritionally beneficial than that from the supermarket, it’s far less likely to come wrapped in plastic and transported from the other side of the world. Don’t buy your lunch each day, bring it from home in some funky tupperware and you’ll save money and improve your health.
Embrace energy saving tech
Have you ever thought about how much electricity is running through your office? Lights are on, heaters are in full-force and everyone has their computer plugged into a wall. These are things that we never really take notice of but make a huge difference to the energy bill at the end of each month. Turning off your computer when you go home and installing some energy efficient light bulbs is a great place to start. As a rule, turn off any appliance when it’s not needed.
Take one step at a time and don’t be disheartened if you slip into old habits occasionally. So long that your hearts in the right place and you can get a conversation around sustainability happening in your office, you’re already on the way. You’ll save money, improve your health and be surprised at how much fun being a greenie can be!
Creating Software Your Customers Love
I have met a number of incredible business people trying to get their startups off the ground. They’ve had a good idea, turned it into something tangible and have customers prepared to give it a go.
They’re on the right track but then I see them make a common mistake. They put all their money and effort into marketing the application rather than developing a beautiful product their customers love. To compensate for a mediocre experience, they find themselves taking their users out for dinner in an attempt to reduce churn.
I hear lots of tech companies in the industry say things like, “take this guy out to dinner” or “you need to build a relationship with this person to get in there”.
I believe business owners need to spend less time schmoozing and more time thinking about the relationship between their customers and their platform. What’s the point of creating software if it doesn’t engage?
This is why at ActivePipe we invest more into our development team than any other part of our business. We nurture them knowing that a well looked-after dev department produce better products that minimise costs across other areas such as finance and support.
When we built ActivePipe we had big ambitions. We wanted it to be the best marketing automation platform out there. Not just in real estate, but across the board.
We looked to the future and tried to visualise what the marketing managers of today will be using in five years time. We want to make their lives so easy that they look back and wonder how they survived before we came along.
After doing extensive research and trialling every email marketing platform out there, we realised what was missing. Busy agents need an application that allows them to build a campaign in minutes. Other products were clunky and time consuming and we knew that we could do better.
Although our initial launch wasn’t perfect, it was good enough that we didn’t need to take anyone out for dinner and since then, we’ve become obsessed with creating the world’s fastest and simplest email builder.
This dedication and customer-focussed approach has created amazing relationships with all of our users. The proof is in the level of activity we are seeing and at the end of the day, that’s what’s really important.
We don’t need lock-in contracts to secure their business. Our clients love our product and that’s the best relationship enforcer you can possibly have.
Embracing Innovation in Real Estate With Sherry Chris
When I last caught up with Better Homes and Gardens(R) Real Estate (BHGRE) President and CEO Sherry Chris, I was thrilled to get an insight into her career and what has driven her success so far.
This week, I want to shift our focus to the future.
Sherry Chris is renowned for her innovative approach to business and for finding solutions to problems that agents don’t even know they have. As such, she is the perfect woman to chat with me about the future of real estate and what’s in-store for the technology that supports our industry.
In our conversation, she spoke of three key areas agents should keep in mind to make the best out of the ever changing technology landscape.
As you can imagine, we were pretty quick to get on the topic of social media and how important it is for staying relevant.
“It’s how we connect with one another, both personally and from a business perspective, but when I look across our industry, no-one is really doing it effectively.”
BHGRE made a strategic decision to align themselves with the wider Better Homes & Gardens brand, which includes a magazine with over 40 million monthly readers. As a result, their consumer channel has exploded, and they are able to share design and decorative ideas that help their brokers and agents connect with the consumer on a different level.
“Through the magazine, we have access to a huge database which we can market to directly and use for predictive modeling. This implementation of social media and technology has been very kind to us”, she says.
“I’m very active on social media. I manage two Facebook pages as well as one Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter page. This means I personally connect with thousands of people in our industry every day.”
It might take a little creative thinking, but there will always be ways an agent can leverage the power of social media and use it to drive the success of their business.
“The key isn’t a secret at all, you just have to be authentic and always keep the end consumer in mind”.
When it comes to tech, Sherry says it’s all about moving with the times.
“We continue to build technology, we continue to partner with technology. What we look for are the very best end-to-end solutions for our brokers and agents”, she says.
Three and a half years ago BHGRE’s parent company, Realogy, made the decision to buy ZipRealty, which they recreated into Zap, a technology platform that helps their affiliated agents and brokers stay in sync with their customers, grow their business and thrive in today’s real estate landscape.
“We build our own internal technology, including our digital marketing center, CRM and all of the tools and products that attach onto those. This helps our agents be more productive and connect with the consumer at a deeper a level”, she says.
So where do BHRGE’s savvy tech-heads want to go next?
“The buzzwords out there are AI and machine learning, both of which we are working on diligently”, she says.
These days, data is everything and Sherry’s team wants to effectively utilize the huge amount that they’ve amassed throughout the years.
“We are working on how to use data to predict when people are most likely buying and selling a home, and to get out in front of our competitors and be the ones who help them move into the next phase of their lives”, she says.
There’s nothing groundbreaking in the concept of keeping your customer front-of-mind, but as real estate moves forward and technology embeds itself further into our lives, it can be easy to forget that at the end of the day, this industry is about people.
What’s the point in building fancy new systems if they don’t improve the experience that your clients have working with you?
“I wanted our company to stand for something and that’s why we launched a values driven brand that celebrates Passion, Authenticity, Inclusion, Growth and Excellence (P.A.I.G.E.).These are our core values and they really mean something special to us”, she says.
“It means sending a handwritten note, picking up the phone and thanking somebody or doing something before you’re asked”, she says.
When I reflect on everything I’ve learned from Sherry, I feel grateful that she shared her time and wealth of knowledge with me.
I also feel incredibly proud to work for ActivePipe, where so many of the values Sherry spoke of are values that are hard-wired into the everyday running of the company. Hard-work, customer-centricity, and a focus on creating strong culture are the cornerstones of this business’ success.
When it comes to technology, we’re continuously striving to be at the cutting edge of predictive analytics and we are harnessing the power of data to enable customers and agents to have conversations that enrich both of their real estate journeys.
It seems we are on the right track and if we continue looking to Sherry Chris for inspiration, I’m sure we’re going to do just fine.
Check out part one of our interview with Sherry; “The Sky is the Limit” here.
5 Things You Should Think About When Developing Your Personal Brand
In real estate it’s not who you know, it’s who knows you and having a strong personal brand is the number one way to win business. Creating a personal brand is about sculpting what potential vendors and clients think and say about you when you are not in the room.
It’s about creating a favourable perception of who you are and what you have to offer so a person can trust and recommend you.
As you drive around the suburbs and look at ‘For Sale’ signs today, ask yourself if any of those homeowners automatically thought of you when they went to list their property.
In the Australian market around 7% of homeowners move each year so if your farm area is 1000 homes there is at least one listing opportunity in your area every week. If your brand is out there and working for you, you will have a much higher chance of getting in the door before the competition.
Here are some ways to build and express your personal brand.
Know your audience and your market
The best agents specialise in an area, everyone should have a speciality zone or farm area or a patch that they know inside and out. They need to study the properties in it, and get to know the people and their needs.
Who is your audience? Are they first home buyers, investors or retirees?
If you know who they are and what they’re interested in, you can provide content that is relevant to them, helping them recognise you as someone who understands them.
Knowing the community you operate in will determine your key messages and forecast their effectiveness.
Identify what makes you different
Your brand must define your unique value proposition. What can you offer your contacts that no one else can?
Are you the “fast sale specialist” or the “auction guru” maybe you are the new kid on the block, filled with enthusiasm to get your clients the best results – equally you might be the “most experienced team on the lake”.
This is a promise you must deliver so make sure it’s a genuine reflection of your best self.
Hire a designer and a photographer
First impressions are extremely important, especially when you are building a brand.
Hire a professional to build your library of images and brand collateral so your first impressions are as sharp as they can be. You don’t want your first impression to be second best.
This person will visually and creatively bring your unique value proposition to life with logos, graphics, photos, business cards and other collateral you can use in your future marketing.
Start creating your online presence
Use your designer’s products to create a domain that represents your unique value proposition. Keep the messaging, look and feel consistent across all platforms including your social media sites so that you are instantly recognisable both online and in the real world.
The most important thing to have here is testimonial and people who will vouch for your skills. That acts as social proof of your ethic and enhances your credibility.
The emerging millennial market is the first entire audience of buyers to have grown up on social media.
More and more of this market will be making their decisions based purely on your social media profile so keep them up to date with your latest sales, advice and community activity, ensuring you focus on their benefit rather than your own.
You may have to listen to your social media channels for incoming opportunity, respond to Facebook messages and write tweets with less than 140 characters. While you cannot learn all these things overnight, the effort to learn is an investment in your future as it helps build your reputation, confirm relationships and stand out in a crowded market.
You will forever be the essence of your brand so make sure it’s a true reflection of what you bring to the table.
Carmel Kellett Talks About the Importance of Switching Off in Order to Recharge
I have been working with real estate agents for the past two years and have never met a woman as determined, endearing or down to earth as the CEO of Hodges Real Estate, Carmel Kellett.
This businesswoman and mother of two has forged her way through several leadership positions at some of Australia’s largest finance, construction and real estate franchises, exceeding growth projections by over 300%.
As Hodges first female CEO, Carmel joins the ranks of high profile female executives who are leading the way in property’s diversity challenge.
According to a report by Ernst and Young, despite filling more than half non-leadership roles, women only hold a quarter of the industry’s leadership positions.
Carmel confirms this imbalance saying “I’ve certainly been involved with a lot of companies and boards that are male driven. In fact, I don’t recall having a female in a position above mine in the last 10 years.”
When she looks back on her life, Carmel recognises that she is very fortunate to have had the upbringing and role models she did.
“My father was one of the most hard-working people I have ever met. He didn’t do lazy. I don’t think he had a sick day in his life, and that ethic and determination was something that was built into me from a young age.”
“One of the things we tend to do as females is become super critical of our own abilities and judge ourselves very harshly. To be a leader in a business doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect, it just means that you have to work hard and always have your mind focussed on solutions.”
Every year Carmel has worked at Hodges, a new female director has been added to the franchise group, and that is something she is very proud of.
“I think one of the biggest deterrents for females in the industry is the perceived lack of work-life balance. I have two grown up boys at home. One is 21 and the other is 22 so I know exactly how painful the guilt of being a working mother can be.”
“Both my boys have learnt how to cook their own dinners, wash their own clothes and make their own beds, creating an environment where everyone contributes to the household. Whilst I am a businesswoman, a wife and a mother, I am not a servant. I am not expected to be wonder woman and removing that pressure has helped me build a very balanced career.”
Another way Carmel has learnt to protect her home life from the ravages of real estate, is not to talk about work when she gets home.
“I have very clear lines between my work life and my home life and I’m really quite protective of not melding the two together. It gives me time to switch off and let’s face it, everyone needs to recharge to give 100% in the office.”
At the core of Hodges franchise is the ambition to give their customers more and Carmel believes this customer-centric approach, driven by technology will help real estate agents fulfil their mission.
“Technology continues to evolve and become more sophisticated. As a business owner, it is my job to look into the future and ensure that we are always on the forefront of new trends.”
“As real estate professionals, we are people that need to manage relationships. If we leverage technology to help us engage and connect with our customers, it frees up time to make us more productive. Technology helps us effectively balance the demands of our professional and personal lives.”
So what have I learnt from Carmel Kellett?
I learnt that as women, we are too hard on ourselves and that you don’t have to be perfect to lead a team. I learnt that everyone needs time out to recharge and that using technology to automate time consuming tasks is a great way to achieve a healthy work-life balance.
We must always look to the future, embrace technology and focus on long-term goals if we are to fulfil our career ambitions.
I hope that when I look back at my career in 30 years’ time, I can do so as proudly as Carmel can.
Check out more exclusive interviews in our ‘Women in Real Estate’ series here.
The Sky is the Limit for Sherry Chris
There are few names in real estate that command respect more than Sherry Chris and if you’ve worked as an agent in North America in the last twenty years, there’s no doubt that you’ve been influenced by this powerhouse CEO and the company that she leads, Better Homes and Gardens(R) Real Estate.
Renowned for its exceptional culture and value-driven approach, the BHGRE(R) brand wouldn’t be where it is today without a hell-of-a-lot of hard work and a guiding hand from its vivacious and determined leader.
Sherry Chris doesn’t mince words, so it was with great pleasure that I got to spend time discussing her formidable career and the factors behind BHGRE(R).
She starts by telling me how standing proud and staying true to her core values are key to the business’ success
“We don’t hide behind ourselves. We want to make the industry as a whole a better place which might sound idealistic, but it’s not. It’s a way of doing business that allows you to walk out of the building every night feeling good about yourself”
Sherry’s real estate career began in Canada nearly 30 years ago when she was a young banker looking to buy her first home.
“I was in my twenties and thought I could probably do this better than the agent who was helping me. So I got my licence and started selling real estate.”
She quickly realised that her skillset was better suited to helping other agents sell property, so she soon had her broker’s licence and was managing a group of offices.
“All my life I have helped people and I’m a strong believer in, no matter what you do, exceeding customer’s expectations; surprising them, delighting them and being what is referred to now as a ‘servant leader’, where your mission in life is to serve and hopefully teach others to do the same. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, you can put this into practice.”
Eventually she moved to the US and In 2008, she launched the BHGRE(R) brand.
“There were a lot of bumps along the way but I look at them all as learning experiences. Everything that I did, every accomplishment and every learning experience prepared me for BHGRE(R). We were a pure play start-up: we had no customers, no revenue, no listings. I was employee number one. I had to build a team, build a value proposition, find some franchisees and launch the brand.”
And launch it did. Today, BHGRE(R) has hundreds of offices and thousands of affiliated real estate agents located across North America.
Despite this tremendous achievement, it’s quality of service that drives Sherry, not the size of the brand.
“We’re never going to be the largest brand in real estate. What we aspire to is being the best! It’s having a group of people that align with us because they believe in what it is we’re doing. You can accomplish anything by taking a group of people who believe in a certain way of doing things and who believe in standing for something and giving back to the world.”
In looking at what I can take away from my chat with Sherry and lessons that I can apply to my own career, the most resounding traits to me are those of strong work ethic, tenacity and remaining humble in success.
She finished with some great words of advice for all of us looking to carve out our own opportunities and make the most of what we have.
“There are many people who go through life, saying ‘I didn’t get this’, or ‘I lost this listing,’ or, ‘I didn’t get this job.’ We all have the same opportunities. You just need to get out in front of those opportunities each and every day.”
“The sky’s the limit. If it’s going to happen, it’s up to you and you alone.”
Check out more exclusive interviews in our ‘Women in Real Estate’ series here.
ActivePipe Year In Review 2017
What a year it has been!
In the past 12 months we have reached some incredible milestones together;
We released over a thousand new features, tripled the size of our team and won three Australian Business Awards.
We are incredibly proud of our achievements but in the spirit of startups, we aren’t stopping there.
Stay tuned for even bigger and better things in 2018.
We’ll catch you next year!
5 Ways ActivePipe Differs From Every Other Marketing Automation Platform
Last week I was sitting in a boardroom in San Francisco waiting to demonstrate ActivePipe and our products to a group of real estate agents and their marketing teams.
I’ve dealt with some tough crowds before but they were nothing compared to these agents. I was going to have to bring my A-game to turn those straight lips into excited smiles.
I got to the end of my skit; I told them about our company and what we do and how quickly we had been adopted by some of the biggest real estate networks in the country.
On my way out a young lady approached me. She laughed and shook my hand and said,
“This is wonderful. I thought I was going to be sitting through another boring email marketing presentation. You surprised me”.
When I got back to the hotel later that evening her comment came back to me. How many people hear “email marketing for real estate” and think the exact same thing?
Here is what sets ActivePipe apart from every other email builder in the industry:
ActivePipe is Personal
Some people think we’re the same as other e-marketing platforms that do nothing more then send out generic emails. We’re much more than that! With ActivePipe you can personally curate the content of your emails so that no two campaigns are ever the same. You can drag-and-drop blogs, images and videos to create bespoke emails that make your contacts say ‘Wow!’
ActivePipe is based on a hierarchical system
We provide marketing automation solutions for big businesses at a local level. This ensures there is brand consistency across the entire network, maintaining the same look, feel and customer experience across all offices.
ActivePipe’s analytics are local
Our analytics are meaningful. We don’t just throw numbers at you, we classify contacts as high value or up-and-coming based on their interaction with your emails. This information gives agents insight into their contacts interests and helps them build a relationship with them.
ActivePipe is built specifically for real estate
All our features have been designed with current real estate agents to facilitate negotiations that take place in the real world. We help them streamline their day-to-day business by integrating with their CRM and effortlessly incorporating property and contact data into their campaigns.
ActivePipe sends surveys that give real estate agents insight into their contact’s property interests
ActivePipe profiles new and existing contacts to discover their property interests. This profiling is continuous and based on their behaviour and interaction with your emails.
ActivePipe unlocks the potential in your database
ActivePipe is in regular contact with your contacts and picks up on their changing behaviour. Agent’s often report being surprised by the names that pop up in their call lists, proving that ActivePipe goes a long way towards connecting their new and old database.
What Does A Lock-In Contract Say About Your Product?
I have a theory.
Tech companies that rope their clients into yearly contracts don’t believe in their product.
That’s a bold statement, I know.
Let me explain…
If a company were certain their software made a difference, they wouldn’t require long term, high value contracts. They would trust their customers to pay at the end of every month because the product was worth every cent they were charged.
In most cases, there are at least three companies offering the same service you do and there are 20 developers up all night trying to produce something better.
In my experience, this is a good thing, not just for consumers but for businesses too.
It means companies have to innovate to stay relevant. This is what instigates change. It’s what drives developers to find ground-breaking solutions for problems their customers face.
With so many products on the market, a tech company is just a Google search away from losing a customer. This shakes complacency, helping startups maintain momentum and commit themselves to unfailing customer service.
At ActivePipe our commitment is “if you do not see the value of our product, you are free to go. We don’t need lock in contracts to keep you.”
This shows confidence and proves our product is still effective in the market. It means customers stay because of quality software not because they are trapped by the terms of a contract.
That’s the only customer retention a tech company should measure.
How to Build a Robust Database in Just 3 Weeks
It took me five days to get a Real Estate Agent’s Registration. It was a crash course dense in property legislation, but light in “how to sell houses”. It set me up for work in the industry but, like all career pathways, you learn a hell of a lot more on the job.
One piece of advice I have for aspiring agents is to build a strong database right off the bat. Not building one is a mistake I made. I expected contacts to fall into my lap, finding listings would be a breeze and the commissions to be out of this world. I was young and stupid but I learnt quickly.
The first three to six months are crucial when it comes to building your database.
Seven per cent (7%) of homeowners change residential address per year. If you have 500 people in your database, 35 of them will have a property to sell in the next 12 months. That means you have 35 chances to win listings. The challenge is being front of mind when they decide to go to market.
Get Face to Face
This is critical. When I first started out I bought a removalist’s trolley. I filled it with the biggest Xmas hamper I could afford and dragged it through local streets. I knocked on doors, introduced myself and offered people the chance to win it. I smiled and had a little banter, walking off each front porch with a person’s name, contact number and email address. In three weeks I had 500 contacts in my database.
Get Involved in the Community
Show up to a local fête, go to food truck festivals, speak at council meetings and put up a stall at a careers expo. Make sure people know you aren’t just in it to make a fast buck, you are there for the long run, to support the community that supports you.
Showcase Your Wins
People are unlikely to list with an agent who is new to real estate, there’s too much on the line for that. When you have a home to sell, let people with vested interest know about it, you have a reputation to build.
Write a letter and put it in people’s letterboxes. Deck it out in your office’s branding and an impressive photo of you in a crisp suit. Include your contact details and links to your social media accounts. You want them to know who you are and what you look like before you get in touch.
Create an Online Presence
No one trusts an agent without visibility. Get a Facebook page and post regularly. Get reviews, put photos up and write statuses about real estate trends; this shows you are active in the industry and builds your credibility. It will also improve your SEO.
Maintain Contact with Your Database
Once you’ve got their email address you’ve got to stay in touch with relevant information. It’s all about nurturing the relationship you have formed at the initial point of contact so you are remembered when that person decides to go to market.
ActivePipe takes care of that last point for you but a strong database has to be built first.
Remember to add every contact you possibly can to your CRM. If we don’t have their email address we can’t communicate with them.
From Kitchen Hand to CEO: 8 Things I Learnt on My Rollercoaster to Launch
My first job was at Taco Bell. I was a kitchen hand scrubbing pots and pans in a dish-pit. I’d work until my fingers throbbed and I’d come home afterwards reeking of sour guac.
I had no idea that I’d be CEO of a company then, I was 15 years old and I’d just dropped out of high school. As far as I knew, I’d pick up a trade when I was old enough; I’d become a motor mechanic and fix cars for a living. Hell, I would have been happy with that.
Things turned out differently for me but I will never forget what it was like to scrub dishes for eight hours a day. I will never forget how tiring it was; how unappreciated I felt or how much I loathed walking in those doors at 8am every morning.
That background was probably a little different from others in my position but I don’t regret it; it’s an understanding I appreciate; an experience that shifts my corporate objectives.
You see, it’s not just about external influence and economic growth anymore. It’s about a team who feel energised at work, who know they are valued and who love what they do.
Here are a few things to help you out on the rollercoaster to launch:
- Be clear about the industry you are servicing. Learn what their strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats are and make sure your products offer a solution. If it isn’t making a difference, it isn’t worth engineering.
- Take every lost client personally, get feedback on why they bailed and make sure the fault doesn’t repeat itself. You should be innovating to improve your product constantly. There is always going to be someone coming along with something better.
- Create a unique culture that you love and a brand that reflects who you are. People respond to authenticity so if you don’t want to wear a suit, don’t.
- The most important part of that culture is the people within it. Handpick team-members with talent and turn them into champions of your product; people who believe in your vision and work as hard as you do to pull it off.
- Take notice of their work and give them credit for it. People who feel appreciated will always do more than is expected and those who want to work will always work harder.
- Maintain intellectual humility. It’s easy to get tunnel visioned with your objectives but it’s important to give your employees an opportunity to input. Their feedback should always be welcome, who knows their ideas may be genius!
- Make your goals and targets incremental rather than inconceivable. There is nothing worse than working towards a progress point that is so far in the distance you feel like you aren’t getting anywhere.
- Make it fun and get everyone involved. Whether it’s a futsal table in the lunch-room or trivia on Wednesdays, put some laughter in the office. It’s team building that confirms each person belongs, that motivates them to band together and get some serious shit done.
How to Build Stronger Relationships with Word of Mouth
Despite all the advertising and technology that can help you gain more listings, there is one avenue that gains more traction than any other:
Word of mouth has been the leading way of gaining leads in all fields of business. This is particularly true for real estate.
So, how do you ensure your clients are recommending you to their friends, family and neighbours?
How do Your Clients Answer these Questions
It’s important that you think about how your client will answer these three questions:
- Who sold your house?
- How was the agent to deal with?
- What was the result?
The best way to get confidence in these anwsers is to stay in touch with past clients. Maintai strong relationships with clients after a sale and they are more likely to become sales ambassadors of your personal brand. When they are inevitably asked who they used for their property sale, they are more likely to give you a glowing review.
With the appearance of online agent review sites, such as RateMyAgent, it’s more important to reinforce your brand image by developing a healthy digital reputation as well.
These updates can be automated to go out weekly, fortnightly or monthly (or any time frame that suits) with personalised content, and can include market updates, recent auction results, investment opportunities, personal results and other real estate news.
Maintaining relationships with emial campaigns can be cheaper than paper ads and letterbox drops, so why would you not employ a communication channel that cuts through the noise and lands in your clients’ inbox?
The advantages of gaining more reach via your digital communications is clear. The secret lies in your email campaigns.
Why You Should Lay Foundations for Listings of the Distant Future
While it’s easy to be most concerned with the present and trying to gain new listings for the immediate future, it’s also worth thinking about winning new listings three, five or ten years down the track.
It’s very easy to put this type of strategy on the backburner because there are more pressing matters for your real estate business, but running a life cycle marketing campaign to keep in touch with future vendors can pay off in two ways.
Here’s what you can do to win future listings.
Life Cycle Marketing
A term like life cycle marketing might sound complex but it’s really a simple method of staying in touch with your clients.
A series of emails with reminders and relevant messaging can act like a note slipped under the door or a yellow sticky note placed on a colleague’s computer. It’s really a gentle reminder to keep the person thinking of you, so when the time comes sell, you are the front-of-mind agent they will turn to.
It’s obviously important that the content of your life cycle marketing emails is relevant to the reader. This means you should be writing emails that are geared towards potential vendors who will be looking to sell in the future.
So what information do these type of readers want to receive?
First of all, locals want to know the value of their property, regardless of if they’re thinking of selling or not. Homeowners find comfort knowing they have made a capital gain on their property, as it is reassuring that they will make a profit if they ever want to sell in the future.
One way of doing this is to provide local auction and sales results.
This allows clients to guesstimate the value of their property and may just entice them to think about selling.
Recommendations of adding attractive renovations to add value to a property can also be good content to provide. Along with this, you can also be helpful by recommending local contractors, carpenters and plumbers that you know and trust. In turn, these businesses are likely to return the favour.
Provide Useful Tips and Reccommendations
As a real estate agent, you are a veritable encyclopeadia of local knowledge. Local residents are only too happy to hear your valuable advice on carpenters, electricians and plumbers they can trust.
It’s also a good opportunity to add a section at the bottom of an email to make mention of local fairs, school fetes and other community events.
In many cases, real estate agents are sponsors of these events so it’s a good way show your community spirit, socialise and gives you opportunity for a soft sell if you bump into one of your clients.
Local Auctions and For-sale Properties
Obviously, news of local auctions can also be of interest, but some agents forget that people who aren’t actively in the market might not know when austions are on.
This is when their trusty agent comes to the rescue.
Let your future vendors know that they can pop around the corner to watch your local auctions. When they turn up they will see you in action, bringing the hammer down and selling to the highest bidder.
By keeping in touch and saying hello to these clients with these sorts of email communications, it’s easy to see how you can stay front of mind. You also can’t forget the second way that this sort of life cycle marketing can pay off.
These potential clients have friends and family members who are also looking at listing. When it comes to recommendations, your professional communications strategy is ultimately a reflection on how you conduct yourself and your business. These strategies for building long-term relationships have a domino effect which spread out to the community and might pay off sooner than you think.
These are just a few ideas of how to keep in touch with potential vendors of the future. And while there is a lot to think about, you luckily have have plenty to time to consider how you will tap into the valuable leads of the future!