Leader of Leaders: The Rise of Leanne Pilkington
Leanne Pilkington has been in real estate for a long time. In that time, she has accumulated prestigious awards, setup organisations and established herself as a leader and role model. She is the president of REINSW, Managing Director of Laing+Simmons, and Founder of Real Women in Real Estate (RWIRE).
For someone so accomplished, Leanne Pilkington is down-to-earth and candid. As a woman I look up to, I was honoured to sit down with her to discuss how she got to where she is today, and the bright future she’s continuing to forge for herself and all women in the real estate industry.
Origins of a Real Estate Icon
A twelve-year old Leanne started out answering the phones at her dad’s real estate agency and would go on to become one of the most influential people in Australian real estate.
“It was never a burning passion,” Leanne says, talking about how she fell into real estate after graduating.
“Honestly, I went to Schoolies like everybody does, and I ran out of money. Dad said, “Yeah, all right, I’ll send you some money, so long as you work for me until you go to uni.’”
Leanne would work for her dad for eight years, learning her way around the industry.
“Working for dad wasn’t really ideal for me because I would give him too much of a hard time. I wouldn’t take directions from him. Typical teenage girl,” she jokes. “I recognised that I needed to get out of that environment if I really wanted to grow and develop a career.”
This knack for pushing herself out of her comfort zone is something that has defined Pilkington’s career. For a period, she even made a move into other industries before returning to real estate in the 90s, when she would join Laing+Simmons.
Leanne has been there ever since. In 2015 when she was named Managing Director, she was the only female managing director in NSW, and one of the few across the country. From there, she has gone on to become the president of REINSW, where she wields tremendous influence in NSW residential property, an industry which turns over $107 billion annually.
Leanne Pilkington: Advocate for Technology
Pilkington says that in all her time as an agent, the biggest changes to real estate have come from technology.
“I think that in my first 25 years of real estate, nothing has really changed,” she told us, “the only thing that would change would be the market conditions. But now there is so much money being poured into technology, and although I don’t think we’ve really seen a disruption yet, it’s coming.”
Leanne is working to turn Laing+Simmons into the real estate brand of the future.
“We’re working on a lot of really exciting technology at the moment. I’m really pumped to see how that makes a difference in helping agents better personalise their communication, better manage their databases, have better information about what’s going on in their market.”
At the core of Laing+Simmons new platform is a CRM that is empowered with robust business intelligence, artificial intelligence, and virtual agents. Leanne says that this is a strategic move, with “much better information for our agents about what’s going on in the market and just better consumer insights.”
Already Laing+Simmons is seeing results. The virtual assistant alone has improved conversions off enquiries by 13 per cent.
“All of our marketing will be automated so that we can have a much better brand compliance,” she said. She emphasised that this would make it “much easier for agents to roll out the campaigns that we develop for them, across all of their different platforms.”
Far from being pessimistic about the disruption that technology will bring, Pilkington is eager to embrace it. She does not imagine a dystopian future where the robots take over. In fact, it’s quite the opposite.
“I don’t believe for a minute that it’s going to be the end of real estate agents. I think that the relationships are still really important. But agents need to get smart about how they utilise the technology.”
Leanne says that agents should get smart by thinking about how they can serve the customer.
“The reality is that consumers have changed as a result of technology. Their expectations have changed. The way they research things has changed. The way they want to buy things has changed. And so we’re going to have to change with it.”
Leader of Leaders
As the founder of Real Women in Real Estate (RWIRE) and nominee for three REB Women in Real Estate Awards, it might surprise you to learn that Leanne Pilkington was initially a reluctant hero for women in real estate.
It all started in 2015, when some of her colleagues were urging her to throw an event for women in the industry. Leanne resisted.
“I didn’t personally need something like that, so I didn’t understand that there was even a need.”
Leanne eventually caved in and the event blew up.
She got triple the number of attendees she expected and women were flying in from out of state. Leanne realised that there was a need for this kind of event and threw herself into the project that would eventually become RWIRE. Now, RWIRE has spread to 11 locations across Australia, to New Zealand and even LA. In June it will host its 50th event.
“It’s been much more successful than I ever expected. I didn’t understand it to start with, but I do now.”
Part of the popularity, Leanne thinks, stems from an absence of women in leadership positions and on stages at conferences and events. To combat this, RWIRE has a focus on outreach and education, including a new podcast, Courageous Conversation, which launches on the first of June.
“It’s about the conversations that we all have, not just women. But it’s really to encourage women that don’t like those difficult conversations around leadership, to be game enough to approach it and realise that good things happen on the other side.
When asked about all of the different advocacy projects she’s working on, she stops for a moment.
“I sound really busy when I’m talking about it like this, don’t I?” she remarks.
I acknowledge that she must get up early in the morning
“I do, yeah,” she laughs. “You’re quite right.”
For a person to become a multi-award winning Managing Director of an acclaimed agency, President of powerful industry institution and founder of a global organisation, I imagine Leanne Pilkington must get up very early indeed.
How Thought-leaders Maintain Relationships to Improve Long-term Portfolio Strength
On average, any property will be bought and sold every ten years. ActivePipe SmartFeeds helps agents become thought-leaders to stay front-of-mind until contacts are re-active in the market. Find out how it works and how we’re making it better!
Imagine you’ve just sold someone a house.
We know that a property will exchange hands every ten years on average, but your customers might sell more frequently. This makes it difficult to know exactly when contact interest in the market will peak.
One solution is thought-leadership, which many agents use to engage active and inactive contacts.
That’s why we’ve put together this handy guide to show you how you can save time building your thought-leadership platform, and make customers for life.
How to Stay Front of Mind, Long Term
A property owner never stops caring about their property, so you can always guarantee they will have a level of interest in the market.
Most people aren’t real estate experts (as you know, all too well) and can often feel intimidated or inundated without access to reliable information channels.
For this reason, people look to thought-leaders.
Thought-leaders can remain front of mind with contacts even when those contacts aren’t actively looking at property.
It comes down to a value exchange.
Make it easy for people to get the information they want, so they don’t have to look for it. People who aren’t interested in your weekly listings can be engaged with broader updates and information that is relevant to real estate.
Content Ideas for New Thought-leaders
Becoming a thought-leader isn’t as simple as it looks. The most successful thought-leaders in any industry can sometimes spend years trying to develop a following.
The first thing you need is an idea. New technology is great for sharing, but old technology (pen and paper) is sometimes best for coming up with ideas.
In the brainstorming process, think about your target audience (property owners), and what they need or want to know.
For agents, good topics to cover are:
- Local community news and events
- General commentary on the property market
- Trends in interior design and renovation
These are just some basic ideas to get you started. Use these to inspire your own creativity. In this day and age, it’s easier than ever to start your own blog.
If blogging isn’t for you, there are heaps of websites online with sharable content that you can tap into. Even if you aren’t necessarily creating all your own content, people will still come to you as a source of information if you’re sharing the best content from around the web.
Again, developing a following takes time. Don’t let yourself get discouraged if you don’t immediately see the results you dream of.
Now that you’ve got the content, only one question remains:
How do you share it?
The Easiest Way to Reach Your Audience
SmartFeeds is the digital tool that makes thought-leadership easy.
Email marketing has high engagement in all industries, so it makes sense to use a tool that taps into email and is the reason we’ve developed the ActivePipe SmartFeeds feature.
When you use SmartFeeds in an email, the ActivePipe Feed Engine:
- Goes to a website of your choice, such as a blog
- Fetches information about that content
- Automatically loads that information into an email
From there, it’s easy to send emails to your database that help to improve contact engagement with your emails.
Follow these steps and you become the obvious first point of contact for any client when they re-enter the market, whether that’s in 2 years time, or twenty.
Be the thought-leader that people follow.
How Every Agent Can Squeeze the Most Out of the Christmas Period
Love it or hate it, there’s no escaping the mad rush of Christmas each year. One minute it’s October and you’re waist deep in the property selling frenzy, the next you’re at the supermarket wondering why on earth Deck the Halls is playing on the radio and everything’s covered in tinsel.
It’s easy to write the holidays off as “sales slump season” but smart agents know to use this time wisely. Yuletide is the perfect opportunity to get all those life admin jobs you haven’t had time for during the busy months sorted and prepare yourself to step into the new year with your best foot forward.
Not sure where to start? Here’s the ActivePipe list of naughty and nice ways to squeeze the most out of this Christmas season.
Prepare your content for the year ahead
When the year is in full swing, your calendar’s overflowing with appointments and your phone feels like it’s been duct-taped to the side of your face, finding time to create or even curate content can feel like the last priority on your to-do list.
In this day and age you’d be a fool to leave content out of your overall marketing mix, so why not make the most of the downtime by planning out your social calendar for the year ahead? Snap any great photos of properties or happy sellers lately? Get them off your phone and onto your social media pages. Why not share some of your valuable expertise with the world and write some blogs? Don’t fancy yourself a creative? Look up some inspirational quotes or images that you can share.
The beauty of Facebook is that you can set-and-forget content so that your campaigns are scheduled and you have plenty of great stuff going out as the year ticks along, minus the headache!
Send Out an Xmas Email from ActivePipe
Let your contacts know you’re thinking of them with a fun holiday email. Take a photo of your office wearing Santa hats or include a group shot from your end of year party. Your contacts will love seeing your personality shine through and will be more likely to open your emails in the future.
At ActivePipe, we decided to make a Year in Review video, in which we showcase some of our big achievements of 2018. You could do the same with some of your more impressive listings and any events or awards you’ve been involved in over the year.
Get active in the community
As corny as it sounds, Christmas is about giving back. Show how involved you are by getting out and involved in your community. Fundraisers, Christmas concerts, school fetes, they’re all great ways to get out there, make new connections and even find fresh content for your social channels.
Clean up your database
This is another one of those “I don’t have time” jobs that can make a world of difference to your business if you bite the bullet and get it done. Make sure all your contacts are assigned, duplicates are deleted and all the names you’ve got saved in your phone are entered into your database. ActivePipe works best when you’ve got squeaky clean data to work with, so it’ll be worth your while. Who knows what hidden listings are waiting to be discovered?
Take a Break
Working in real estate is stressful, there’s no two ways about it. The energy that it takes to be “on” for your boss, your clients and your income is relentless and taxing, so whilst you might feel frustrated that the market slows down for Christmas, really it’s a blessing in disguise. Take the chance to recharge and nurture your mental and physical wellbeing, so that you can go into the new year fresh-faced and excited to kick some goals.
Have a happy and safe holiday period everyone, I look forward to seeing the amazing results you achieve with ActivePipe in 2019.
Want to have the right programs in place in time for the new year? Get in touch with the ActivePipe team here.
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.
It’s Time for … ActivePipe Arithmetics!
I could harp on all day about the benefits of ActivePipe and everything it does to help agents, offices and brands to reach their full potential. There’s just so much to say, but as the saying goes; talk is cheap. Why use superfluous words to tell you how incredible this platform is when I can use numbers, which speak so well for themselves?
So without further ado, channel your inner maths master, dust off your abacus and protract your protractor… It’s time for ActivePipe Arithmetics!
Sixteen Million Website Visitors
ActivePipe has driven an astonishing 16,371,173 visitors to websites this year. Let that sink in for a second. That’s the population of Cambodia, summoned to head online and actively view and interact with our agents’ listings. That’s more than 16 million hits directly attributed to the square power of ActivePipe.
Twelve Thousand Appraisal Requests
In 2018, our agents landed 12,308 appraisal requests (and counting)!
If we’re conservative and estimate that 50% of those requests turned into listings and use the average Australian house price ($809,201) as our measure, we’re looking at a whopping $4,979,822,954 worth of sales facilitated by ActivePipe. It’s enough to make your calculator crack.
Twenty-Nine Thousand New Customers for Life
Agents using ActivePipe have been alerted to 29,129 first home buyers. That’s a small city’s worth of bright-eyed, bushy-tailed new customers, ready to begin their real estate journey with you. Just by logging onto the platform and reaching out to these new kids on the block, you’re soliciting their undivided attention and setting yourself up for future earnings.
Equal to the Power of…
Whilst it’s fun to take a step back and look at the big picture numbers that ActivePipe has achieved for our agents, what we really care about are the results that you can achieve. With our help, you can quantify your business, work smarter not harder and bring home the Pi(e) once your stock sells at market.
If only all arithmetics was that easy.
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.
Forging the Right Kind of Partnership with Your Agency
I’ve worked for and dealt with many agencies in my career. Having experienced life on both sides of the coin, I can safely say that their services range from the comically bad to “marry me, please” and every shade of mediocre in-between.
Since teaming up with Luke and the team at Tiger Pistol, I’ve been living the absolute dream. The dynamic between our visions for ActivePipe is aligned and electric, meaning we can bounce ideas around and always trust each other’s opinions. Needless to say, it’s not always like this.
We think every business should enjoy this type of relationship, so I’ve asked Luke to share his thoughts on forging the right partnership with your agency.
Forging the Right Kind of Partnership with Your Agency
Chances are, if you’re looking at executing any sort of marketing, you’ve come across an agency that says they can do what you’re after. Trust me, I’ve been providing solutions for big brands and businesses for over a decade. Usually, the agency (or a number of them) will come via a referral, you’ll explain what your challenges are, and the agency will scope out a solution that provides the answers to exactly the problems you’re having.
Why is it then that it’s so hard to find the right kind of partners? Or an agency that does what it says on the tin?
These are tough questions, and while there’s no perfect answer, there are steps you can take to ensure the partners and providers you’re working with care as much as you do about your business’s outcomes.
I’m going to share some of these steps, based on lessons I’ve learned along the way, and in working with partners like ActivePipe.
It Starts With Mutual Respect
Like most fruitful partnerships, we started our relationship with ActivePipe via a warm introduction. We respected where they’re at as a business, and shared where we are at in our own journey at Tiger Pistol. These initial feeler meetings were really important for getting a handle on ways of working, what was important to ActivePipe, and determining that they’re the kind of business we enjoy working with. Without these initial introductions and understanding of how each of us came to be here, the rest of the partnership wouldn’t work.
Building Rapport Over Time With Results (And Not Rushing It)
I won’t sugar-coat it. ActivePipe is a dynamic, challenging client that is disrupting the Real Estate game. There’s no room for rigidity, inflexibility, or being precious about how we get our work done together. Fortunately at Tiger Pistol we’re adaptable and enjoy the rigours of working with clients that push us on performance and delivering outcomes. We knew what ActivePipe wanted and needed, and kept the focus on getting those results. Because of this, the rapport came naturally. We’ve got a regular working rhythm together, and that has come through earning it and making good work the priority. Too often agencies rely on their relationships over results, and that’s usually at the expense of the client.
Finding Creative Ways to Work Together
We’re not in the business of providing a service and charging for it. ActivePipe and Tiger Pistol are continually finding ways we can work together to create and deliver value for both. A great example of this was the work we did with LJ Hooker, using both of our platforms we were able to help amplify their BOOST program to heights that neither platform could achieve on its own.
Keep On Communicating With Multiple Tools
Both of our businesses are dynamic, rapidly growing, and subject to the highs and lows that come with operating at such at a speed. The great thing about working as an agency partner with ActivePipe, is the communication is always open and frequent. We keep an open Slack channel for ad-hoc requests, regularly drop notes to each other in Google Docs, and are big fans of touching in on the phone daily and keeping the face-to-face appearances up. The team enjoys both the rigour of the communications, as well as the transparency from both sides. We’re flexible with how we communicate – while keeping things moving in the right direction.
We Enjoy What We Both Do
We’re both experts at what we do, and rely on each side to share their expertise around what they need and can deliver. This expertise transcends the day-to-day and keeps us sharp because we seriously enjoy what we do. We love delivering results for our clients and sharing what works best, and what isn’t working with our regular testing approaches. Understanding this game and appreciating it for what it is goes a long way towards keeping things fresh and interesting for both ActivePipe and Tiger Pistol.
Finding the right kind of partner and agency is hard, and in sharing what works for us I hope you’ve got some ideas of what to look for when forging your next partnership with a provider or agency. I find front-loading the work, basing it on respect, keeping the communication open while being outcomes-driven are all great steps toward ensuring that the next working relationship you have in your business is a successful and mutually beneficial.
Luke is a Senior Account Director at Tiger Pistol. He works with brands who are focused on driving performance and results powered by local. He’s worked in the digital marketing world for over a decade, with stints in both media and creative agencies, as well as being one of the few people in APAC to have worked at both Facebook and Google. When he isn’t servicing clients he enjoys working with, you’ll find him by the beach with his Kindle, or training for his next half-marathon.
If you’d like to speak to someone from Tiger Pistol about supercharging your business’ social presence, get in touch here.
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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.
Buxton: Hyper Relationships through Boutique Singularity
In my journey to understand the inner workings of Australasia’s best real estate brands, I’ve been captivated by the concept of utilising technology to curate personalisation en masse. Successfully integrating automated systems into an industry that relies so heavily on interpersonal interaction isn’t easy and many brands have suffered through the teething process of trying to perfect the balance between efficiency and providing a service that maintains real estate’s integral personal touch.
One brand that has seamlessly mastered this domain is Buxton. Through smart database setups that allow each agent to build hyper relationships with their clients, Buxton is changing the way we think about email automation and its often misconceived perception as a vessel for impersonal spam.
I sat down with Buxton CEO, Nathan Jones and Operations Manager, Fiona White to find out how this boutique brand has positioned itself as one of Victoria’s most personal real estate groups.
At ActivePipe, we are driven to personalise the email communication experience for real estate customers whilst giving agents the ease of intuitive automation. You have taken it to the next level at Buxton. Can you tell me about how you’re achieving this?
Nathan: We’ve set up our database so that every contact in the system is only ever hearing from one agent. The difference between our database and other brands is they have all these siloed databases whilst we just have one. This means that no matter whether a contact has gone to different agent’s OFIs or bought property off someone else, they are still the client of that original agent.
We just wanted to make sure that we never had a scenario where two Buxton agents were sending eDMs to the one person with the same properties or even different types of properties. Relationship singularity is extremely important to us.
We’re trying to build the hyper relationship between the agent and the client through these eDMs and ultimately that came down to us making sure that we weren’t competing with ourselves.
How did ActivePipe help you achieve this?
Nathan: In terms of building out the customer journey, we had been running with a couple of ideas for a few years but the system we were using was a bit like a dumbwaiter. There was no feedback and no intuitive AI behind it to tell us to send out another communication after someone had engaged. It was just, ‘On Thursdays this email goes out’ or ‘On Fridays this email goes out’. We still had that one-on-one contact but there was nothing smart about it. So the ultimate leap for us was taking it to the next level with ActivePipe.
So in terms of your nurture program, imagine that I’m a dormant lead and haven’t spoken to someone from Buxton for a significant period of time. How do you trigger off a journey?
Fiona: We send out ActivePipe’s Data Discovery Surveys once a quarter. That’s just if they haven’t interacted with any correspondence from us. They’ll also receive monthly ‘Sold’ reports for their desired area. So, regardless of whether you’re interacting or not, you’ll always get an email from us once a month and then quarterly with the Data Discovery Survey.
This leads perfectly into my next question which is around clean data. The Data Discovery Surveys are so effective at keeping a well-maintained database, which Buxton agents are great at. What are some of the benefits you are leveraging through this information?
Fiona: It’s so easy to forecast behaviour when you use the dashboard properly. You can see people’s home address, where they’ve been searching and you can see that they’ve been self-appraising among other things. You’ve got that next level of data rather than just, ‘Oh, I’ve got their address’ or ‘I know where they live’. Our agents are able to have a personalised conversation with their contacts.
Nathan: The piece of data that I’ve always found missing on real estate databases which I find slightly comical is a property address. We’re in the business of building relationships and transacting on properties, so it would be handy to know where people lived. If you know where someone lives, what you can do is pretty limitless in terms of the information that you serve them. Without it, you’re fighting with one arm tied behind your back. That is the importance of clean data, of quality data. If you don’t have it, you’re going to struggle.
I want to know more about how you’re helping create better experiences for your customers. How receptive are they being to the automated comms being sent to them? Are they receptive it or are you getting pushback?
Nathan: We’re not having pushback at all. People want customised marketing. They don’t want generic, impersonal communication coming through. If people shop at Country Road, it asks them to put in their size, height, shape and all of a sudden they start sending comms featuring appropriate clothes. It’s the same thing. People don’t have to time to sift through hundreds of messages to find the two that make sense. They just want the two that make sense. That’s the beauty of what I call the pre-framing process with ActivePipe.
I’m particularly interested around branding and how you maintain brand integrity. How can an agent maintain their individuality without jeopardising the Buxton brand?
Nathan: So for us, it’s all about freedom within boundaries. We create the boundaries of the email templates, and some are tighter than others. With ActivePipe we’ve been able to lock down as much as we feel we need to in terms of branding and logos. In terms of content, we create an absolute truckload of it on a daily basis that we encourage people to use. We don’t limit or cap how much or how little agents use but at least they don’t have to go out there and try and create it themselves. We have a range of blog posts, social posts, local business interviews, photography and trends. Anything you can think of, our social and media team create. Then it’s up to the agents to drag-and-drop what they want.
There’s so much to talk about in terms of technology and training your agents around this technology that we will talk about in our next catch up. Is there anything more you’d like to finish off with today in regards to personalisation and the methods you’re implementing to ensure it?
Nathan: Just that in all honesty the number of non-direct inquiries to our website has been significantly reduced post-ActivePipe, even though our traffic volume has drastically increased, thanks to clicks from the properties and content in our ActivePipe emails. The communication is so targeted that without knowing it, our agents are building a one-on-one relationship with clients and when these clients are clicking on emails they’re just going straight to the agent.
We deliver both automated and customised content, so irrespective of individual agent time constraints, we know at a minimum that we control a certain level of communication with our clients and contacts. Every single email comes from the individual; i.e. John Smith at Buxton, not an impersonal ‘no reply’ at Buxton. It’s as simple as that.
Keep an eye out in the next few weeks for part two of my interview with Nathan and Fiona.
If you’d like to speak to someone from ActivePipe about how you can personalise your communications and increase website traffic, get in touch here.
Like What You See?
Craig Leo: Acumen and Accolades on the Peninsula
When I stumbled across a Facebook video of Craig Leo, the renowned director of Barry Plant Rosebud speaking on the benefits of ActivePipe, I was stoked to see such a superstar sharing his excitement with the world.
Craig is a well-respected and sought after leader on the Mornington Peninsula. He’s also the recipient of numerous accolades that celebrate his business acumen and his dedication to establishing and maintaining relationships that last a lifetime. I think that Craig makes the perfect spokesperson for our platform, so I couldn’t wait to catch up with him to learn more about how he and his agents are harnessing the power of ActivePipe.
Hi Craig, thank you so much for sharing your video. We love nothing more than a happy client! I want to talk about the beginning of your ActivePipe journey. When were you first introduced to the platform and how receptive were your agents to the new system?
It was part of an initiative from our corporate group. We were given training on it and we certainly found it beneficial and the agents were really supportive of it. They recognise that it’s something that’s there to help them, so it’s really been fine.
Can you tell me a bit about how you incorporate ActivePipe into your daily routine?
One really good example is a couple that we missed out on a listing for. They didn’t sell with the current agent they were with and they ended up heading off for a holiday. Whilst they were away they were still searching for properties, so we knew they were a genuine buyer. Through ActivePipe we could see that as we alerted properties to them they were clicking on them multiple times. We always contact a buyer if we know that they’re clicking multiple times, so I was on the phone to them everywhere they stopped at as they travelled up the coast of Queensland!
By the time they were back from their holiday, they were looking to relist. They invited us in unopposed because they liked the fact that we’d kept in contact with them and that was with the help of ActivePipe. We ended up selling at auction which was great and from there they bought from us. So, by keeping in contact we were able to facilitate a buy and a listing unopposed.
You’ve received an amazing 24 appraisal requests so far. How many of those have turned into listings?
When we have a prospective vendor or an appraisal request, 9 times out of 10 we’ve listed and sold that property.
Wow, that’s incredible. Would you say that ActivePipe is allowing you to have better conversations with your prospects and that’s why you’ve been so successful in turning them into listings?
Well, first of all, it’s relevant conversations because we know, first of all, that their active in property. Secondly, we know the conversation is a relevant one because we can see what we’re sending them which results in a far better conversation. Thirdly, I think it’s the consistency of the conversation that ActivePipe is allowing for as well.
It’s not just a typical database call where you’re trawling through your prospective vendors. We’re making as many warm calls as possible.
As a director, do you find that ActivePipe helps you in managing your agents?
Getting reports back from ActivePipe that we can sit down and talk to the agents about is great. More importantly though, it’s giving them direction. Rather than coming in of the morning and making a series of cold calls or prospective vendor calls off a database, they’re able to have a really relevant conversation.
So now when I talk to agents I find that the majority of the conversation is, “What has been happening on your ActivePipe. Who’s clicking on what?” It’s not just about the vendor referrals or request for appraisals or finance referrals.
Have you had any feedback from clients on your communications with them?
I make people aware when they come through our opens that we are going to provide them with a series of updates that are relevant to their needs. I also tell them that if they’re not happy with it they can unsubscribe.
What’s really cool about the system is that when we’re doing an appraisal, we can generally do what we call a ‘buyer match’. This is where I go into ActivePipe and determine how many people are looking for say a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom, double-garage home. I can show the prospective seller the results and the search history of the buyer. Then I’ll say, “Let’s give them a call now” and I’ll dial them up.
So, it’s just one of those really neat systems where you can actually show the vendor that you’ve got relevant buyers who have a search criteria that’s relevant to their property and that I can call them as easily at that. It’s actually hilarious.
So, do you use ActivePipe as a marketing tool when you are meeting with prospective sellers?
So many agencies say to their vendors that they’ve got “this buyer” in their database and “this red alert system” and they print off a list of ad hoc buyers. To me that’s just a number and anyone can do it. But when you actually show someone that a buyer has clicked on a property that’s similar to theirs, in a price range that is similar to theirs, and in their area, that’s really powerful.
Every agency says, “We’ve got the buyer”, whereas we tell our clients, “Look, everybody has the same buyers.” The difference between us and the other agencies is that we’ve got a much more accurate way of determining who the buyer is and we actually demonstrate that in a follow-up rather than just pulling up a list of names that may not even be real people.
What would you say to other directors who are thinking of giving ActivePipe a go?
I can sum that up in one sentence. It will change your business. Off the back of a really good market in the 2017/2018 financial year we made a 61% growth in our business. There was good training and marketing and all the things that we implemented in our business but ActivePipe was certainly a catalyst for that. So yes, do it.
That’s an incredible achievement that we are so happy to be a part of. Thank you for taking the time to chat today. Before we finish, is there anything else you’d like to add?
I’d say, just try to be consistent with your training, and consistent in updating your database.
One more thing! We were alerted by one of your team members that we were sending out far too many emails and that feedback helped us to cut down on some of the unsubscribes that we were seeing.
So I have to say that the service we’re receiving from ActivePipe is really good as well.
Check out Craig’s original video:
How Edward Smyth Uses Cold, Hard Data to Sell with a “Human Touch”
How can an agent with under three years in the real estate game win awards, become a Director and feature on the cover of Elite Agent Magazine?
It sounds like an urban myth but Edward Smyth and the team at NGU Gold Coast are a force to be reckoned with and Edward has indeed ticked all these boxes in just three short years.
Edward started his career in the fast-paced game of international finance. Joining forces with business partner Karen Stewart, he’s gone from trading stock to trading houses and brought with him an expertise in big data to help nurture leads and build a fit database.
Central to his method is an eagerness to increase user ‘touchpoints’: points of customer contact, such as Facebook ads, a phone call or email.
We managed to steal some time with Edward, who told us how capitalising on user touchpoints with clean ActivePipe data helps the team convert leads.
This is how Edward Smyth uses a human touch.
In your recent interview with Elite Agent, you spoke about the human touch being so important to selling real estate. How does ActivePipe help you personalise the emails you’re sending to keep that human touch alive?
If you liaise with marketing specialists, they will tell you that it’s normally six touchpoints before you call to action. In my opinion, it’s probably closer to 20, based on the evolution of social media and the internet and associated ways to get to market quicker.
Having something like ActivePipe, where it creates a lot of the touchpoints, is crucial because it provides a real estate agent with a shortcut to touchpoints.
What layers of automation are you using across the platform? Do you have any sort of methodologies?
Yeah, my belief is that technology and automation increase the probability of the human touch. If you find an upsizer or a downsizer through the ActivePipe dashboard, jump on that, right away. I mean, if you don’t jump on that get out of real estate.
Somebody’s asked for an appraisal; it couldn’t be more black and white.
Deliver that and deliver it quickly.
ActivePipe gives us enough alert so that we can deliver that within seconds of receiving the inquiry, and we do. Our rule is that no lead will ever sit in our pile for longer than eight hours.
In terms of efficiency and time management, how’s ActivePipe helping you and your business colleagues?
It takes a short amount of time to come up with the data for each weekly email. My secretary, Shannon Greaney, will pin an alert on my calendar and put in a time, saying ‘ActivePipe blurb’.
It’ll take about 30 minutes to come up with something because there’s enough information circling around the real estate sphere. It doesn’t need to be your own idea. You can show the biggest story in real estate from the week and talk about that.
How do you leverage your ActivePipe Dashboard to have those better conversations?
We have to digitally stalk everybody before we engage in conversation with them.
You digitally stalk them by doing a name search in RP Data to see what homes are associated with them. Then you go to LinkedIn, then you go to Facebook and you learn a little about them.
What I try to do is not make a phone call until I know everything that I can. What ActivePipe does is, it alerts me to somebody who’s active in the area, then the rest of the job is on me.
ActivePipe is an alert system.
It doesn’t do the job for you, but it alerts you to a possibility.
The way we kind of look at it is we give the agents the ammunition and the insights to be able to have those superior conversations, but it’s up to them to make the phone call and be proactive.
That’s right. If someone tells us, through ActivePipe, I’m a downsizer, looking for a townhouse that’s around 500, 600 grand, you don’t call them up and say, “Hey, you’re a Downsizer looking for a place that’s 500, 600 grand.”
What you do is you think about it. You look around and you consider somebody who might sell within that rationale.
You call the seller, the potential seller and say, “Look, would you sell at the right price?”
Then the seller says, “Yes.”
You call the ActivePipe buyer and say, “Look, I might have something for you, would you like to come and have a look on Wednesday?”
Then they say, “Yes.”
You match your buyer and your seller because that’s what real estate is.
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 Email is Still the King of Real Estate
There’s so much noise around social media and its lead generation capabilities that you’d be forgiven for thinking the medium has overtaken email as the ultimate online marketing channel for real estate agents.
From Facebook to LinkedIn and beyond, there’s an expectation to pimp your product across all platforms, at all times, leaving the more traditional efforts of email marketing billowing in the dust behind you like a rogue tumbleweed.
For those of us in the industry, following these trends and analysing the data is essential for our development, and my marketing team have spent hours trawling the numbers in an attempt to discover which marketing channel reigns supreme.
What we’ve discovered is that despite the hype around social media, when it comes to converting and nurturing leads, email comes out on top time and time again. This could really throw a spanner in the works for the agents who are progressively looking to social as the backbone of their marketing plans.
Do Your (Number) Crunches
The data coming out of leading technology market research firm Radicati speaks of the superior organic reach that email provides compared to social. They’ve discovered that an email is 5x more likely to be seen than an advertising message delivered via Facebook and that 98% of top rating agents in the US (earners over USD $100,000) tout email as the best real estate marketing channel for converting leads.
These are some mind-blowing figures which are backed up by research coming out of The Digital Marketing Association, who’ve found that email has a whopping 66% conversion rate – far higher than social and direct marketing.
In the Mix
One should never disregard social media as part of a holistic marketing mix. It’s an excellent and well documented way to showcase your personality and create an environment of trust with your contacts. What I’m saying is that it might be time to start refocusing your efforts back into email – a medium which transcends the mere realm of ROI and truly engages the more than 4.5 billion email accounts out there patiently waiting for your delivery.
So how can a pragmatic agent use this information to their advantage? It might sound like a corny analogy but you should think of email as the engine of your car, fuelling the rest of the mechanics along your road to success. Let email power the rest of your channels and not only will your lead conversion rates increase but you’ll be engaging the existing leads in your database who don’t necessarily have visibility of your social presence.
Use It or Lose It
Speak to a professional about how to make email work for you. Just because the data tells us that it’s is a winner doesn’t mean you can bang out any old thing and expect to be crowned Agent of the Year.
Get it right though and you’ll be left with no doubt that email is still the king of real estate. (more…)
How Real Estate can Learn from Sport to Improve Customer Experience
How learning from sport can help the real estate industry find simple solutions to make a customer’s path to purchase effortless.
Introducing tablets to collect prospect data at OFIs was a crazy innovation.
We take them for granted now, but if you’ve been in the game for a while, you were probably pretty impressed the first time you used a tablet to collect prospect details.
And this is just the beginning.
Agents can look to the world of sport to see how the future of technology will improve customer experiences to make the life of your customers effortless and improve your sales.
Get Rid of Typing with NFC Chips
Some agents report that a tablet at an OFI can double the number of leads they go home with.
Those leads are often better quality. An added bonus is that contact details are added directly to your CRM, so you waste less time typing out all your contact details manually or trying to translate messy handwriting!`
By taking handwritten contact details out of the equation, you save yourself and your contacts a lot of time. Considering this, the next step is to remove typing details altogether.
Look at how Nike harnessed the potential of wearable technology with their NikeConnect jerseys.
The jerseys are the future of sports apparel, containing the NFC chips that allow some smartphones to tap and pay. This kind of jersey can do things like verify the authenticity of merch, or even replace half-time SMS competitions.
Instead of copying down a number into their phone, then texting that number to try and win a competition, sports fans in the future will be able to just tap their phone to their jersey to enter a comp.
In real estate, smarter apps that use NFC technology could make it so that neither you, nor your OFI attendees need to spend time manually entering details into a tablet. You will be able to capture contact data in the blink of an eye.
This will make it easy to follow up and nurture leads.
Use Beacons to Catch Leads and Map Customer Behaviour
The NFL in the US is a big fan of beacon technology and has been using beacons to pinpoint fans in a stadium. The beacons allow stadiums to improve the customer experience and provide patrons with personalised deals and even make it possible to share which bathroom has the shortest line.
This targeting feature makes beacons one of the most exciting technologies for real estate agents and is already starting to change the way agents capture and nurture prospects.
The benefits are twofold.
An agent can attach a beacon to the front of any house on the market. That beacon transmits a signal to people who pass through the area, giving them info about upcoming OFIs. Think of this like a for-sale sign that ends up right in a prospect’s pocket!
The second benefit happens when people come to the OFI.
Beacons are increasingly accurate. When a beacon connects with a prospective buyer’s phone, they can pinpoint its exact location. This means that in the future, agents will be able to get a map of everywhere a prospective buyer has been during an OFI.
This will give every agent a bird’s eye view of their OFI. You will capture key insights into what aspects of a property you should feature in your listing ads.
This technology is already here and starting to take real estate by storm.
Create Videos Customised to Individual Contacts
When our friends at Visual Domain teamed up with the Melbourne Victory football team, they were given the task of creating personalised videos that address the experiences of Victory’s high-value members. Creating thousands of personalised videos might sound like an impossible task, so it’s a good thing this is Visual Domain’s specialty.
A company like Visual Domain can capitalise on your CRM and use that data. A video that’s made this way can contain a contact’s name as well as cater to a viewer’s personal experience and serve them only video clips that are relevant to them.
In this Melbourne Victory membership campaign, the Visual Domain team used data on which game members attended. When the member receives their video, they only see clips with highlights from the games they saw.
Using this kind of marketing harnesses powerful emotional memories for an effective call to action.
At the moment, this kind of video is taking off, as more and more brands are starting to see the value in highly personalised content. In real estate we see videos that contain the specific houses that contacts have shown interest in, allowing brands to effortlessly address specific contact needs.
Finding Inspiration for the Future
Sometimes, it helps us to look to other industries to see where technology will be heading next.
By looking at other industries, we can start to see how our own industry will change and get excited about the improved customer experience of the future. (more…)
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.
Amanda Stinton: The Queen of Green Real Estate
The pursuit of innovation drives everything we do at ActivePipe.
We take pride in always placing one foot firmly in front of the technology and real estate curve but we also believe that the protection of our environment must go hand-in-hand with this innovation. We believe that working with mother nature, rather than destroying what she so graciously gives us, is the key not only to our success as a business but the future of our global economy.
As such, it was with great excitement I was able to meet Amanda Stinton, the Director of Sustainability and Green Designation for the National Association of REALTORS® during one of the mentoring sessions I attended as part of the NAR Reach® Program, which ActivePipe has been honoured to be included in as part of the 2018 class.
Amanda is responsible for the growth and strategic direction of NAR’s Sustainability Program and works tirelessly to position NAR as a leading voice on sustainability in the built environment. She helps realtors across America feel confident in guiding their clients through the benefits of sustainability, green homes and communities.
Put simply, she is the Queen of Green Real Estate.
I was lucky to reconnect and catch a moment in Amanda’s schedule to discuss why it’s so imperative that real estate and business work together and why it doesn’t have to cost us the earth, or our profit margins.
“Research tells us that real estate consumers are requesting more information about the sustainability aspects of their purchase,” she tells me.
“Homebuyers are looking for lower maintenance homes that cost less to run and operate and this is driven largely by millennials who are after sustainable lifestyles”.
Through their network of over 1.3 million members, Amanda and her NAR colleagues are able to record and analyze an unprecedented amount of data on consumer wants and behaviour.
“61% of REALTORS® from our nationwide survey said their clients were interested in sustainability topics and the benefits that sustainability provides, such as comfortable living space, access to frequently visited places, and reasonable operating and utility costs.”
She is adamant that green education needs to be offered from the corporate level, and says that executives need to be just as aware of the changing eco-expectations as the agents who are selling these homes out in the field.
“First and foremost, get educated. As the percentage of millennial homebuyers continues to grow, it’s important that real estate professionals can answer the questions that are important to buyers. At NAR, we offer a Green Designation program as an added professional credential to help teach agents about new developments in sustainable building, as well as an in-depth understanding on how to value, list and market homes with green features”.
This is where I get excited. I want to know exactly how the big industry players are reconciling ethics with economics and getting the right properties in front of the right prospects, to ultimately meet a consumer need.
Ironically, the answer lies in the ever-onward march of smart technology.
“We’re now able to search for MLS listings based on their green features. A client might not even know that they’re asking for a ‘green’ home but because they are searching for the trademark benefits, such as lower utility bills or connected technology, standardized datafields allow these features to be accessed by agents in the same “language” regardless of their market,” she says.
“Appraisers can now assign value to green features or certifications on properties and once this data is entered, it “lives” with the property, allowing future buyers to better understand the home’s operation and performance”.
MLS systems are also incorporated with a ‘green’ category to make the process easier for agents.
Pretty cool hey?
It seems that the same “smart” upgrades that consumers are seeking for their homes, such as smart thermostats, renewable energy systems and wellness spaces are being used by the industry to better market these sustainable homes to the growing population of buyers that want them.
According to Amanda, the journey has only just begun. Business leaders have plenty to look out for, so can’t afford to become complacent if they want to stay relevant and in tune with the needs of their customers.
“Well, our Centre for REALTOR Technology is keeping a close eye on trends related to smart homes, the internet of things, and healthy indoor environments, so stay tuned”.
There’s no doubt that we have a lot more to learn from Amanda and her team as we continue our progression through the NAR Accelerator Reach® Program. I very much look forward to sharing with you what we discover.
Green is good, for you and your business.
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.
4 Ways You Are Killing Your Business (without realising it)
Like many aspects of life, if you want to get clarity on something the best view will always be retrospective. Nothing beats 20/20 hindsight.
The seventeen years I spent selling and auctioning homes wasn’t always perfect. Since then I have had many nights to contemplate how I might have approached some situations differently based on these practical years of experience and learning.
I now travel the world talking with thousands of agents a year, meaning I am privy to the operations of brands big and small. This allows me to get out the magnifying glass and have a good look into what makes an agent successful and also identify their challenges at an office or enterprise level.
The similarities across the globe are endless. Agents in the UK face the same struggles as they do in Australia and the US. While some details vary, there really isn’t a great difference between a Monday here and a Monday there.
Here are four things I’ve learnt about what separates a good agent from a great one. Wherever you are in the world, the same rules apply.
You are overlooking your clients concerns for your own
If your motivation when you wake up is to line your pockets, you will only ever get so far. People, more specifically prospects will see you coming a mile away.
‘Commission breath’ is a thing and it’s obvious. While you might make some progress in your career, greedy won’t get you all the way and eventually you will turn away more clients than you attract.
If you want to make big money, you are going to need to flex your empathy muscle and head into every situation thinking “how can I help” or “what is the best outcome for my client”. This will speak volumes and establish confidence in your professionalism.
You are holding onto the process and hampering the progress
The old saying “you have to let go, to grow” is the hottest tip of 2018. With all the new agency models creeping in and taking the market share up inch by inch, the best agents know it’s time to focus on the important tasks.
You can’t grow in this market as a jack of all trades and a master of none. You need to let go of all the distractions and complications, and distill your process to focus on very specific activities that leverage your time effectively.
You are not building a pipeline or worse, ignoring the pipeline
Fortune 500 companies consider a well organised pipeline to be fundamental to their success. Meanwhile, all I hear from agents and brokers around the world is “30 day sellers”. At best they might consider them “60 day sellers” but even the latter only gives them leeway of a month or two.
I hate to burst anyone’s bubble, but you can’t build trust in 30 or 60 days. I’ll bet all these “VIP” contacts have no idea who you are or what list you have them in. I’ll also put money on the fact that every one of them is in another three agent’s 30 day sellers lists.
A genuine pipeline sees years into the future and those sales are the basis of your growing income. If you already know four families that will be downsizing after their kids leave the nest in two years from now, thats 40k of commission coming to you in the near future.
The most brilliant agents around the world are thinking far more than 30 days forward and they are using that time advantage to build trust. Trust will be the currency of 2020.
You are holding onto to much junk data
If you are in the 30% of agents worldwide that take their database seriously, there is still a problem. There’s too much crap in there. Striving for success with an uncategorised and incomplete database is like swimming in jeans, you think you’re making progress but really you are just weighing yourself down.
I met an agent last week who boasted that he has 13,000 contacts in his database and then told me how he needed two dedicated workers to keep on-top of it.
“It’s endless, like painting the harbour bridge. Once you have gone through and called everyone on it and updated the details as you can, it’s time to go back and start from the other side. Even then a tonne of opportunities fall through the cracks.”
A smaller, faster, fitter database with complete contact and property data is the way of the future. ActivePipe has tools that will enable you to build, clean, nurture and identify your prospects intentions before your competition ever sees them coming.
It’s all about quality over quantity.
Put your clients first, leverage your time wisely, nurture your pipeline and clear out the junk. Follow these simple rules and you’ll avoid these common mistakes and the loss of opportunities that come with them.
Programs like ActivePipe help you to organise and clean your database and automate your customer touch points. Click here to organise a demo.
Mastering the Skill of Client Expectations
When you are vying for a new client’s business and you are aware that there are several other agents whispering in their ear, it’s hard not to make big statements about what you can achieve to get them over the line and secure their listing.
In a competitive market, it’s human nature to assert your superiority with sweeping sales statements that you know may be a little far-fetched. Unfortunately, this is why there is a low level of trust towards real estate agents and why many clients walk away from a transaction feeling misguided.
After speaking to thousands of agents and clients around the world, we’ve learnt that honesty is the best policy and those who promote complete transparency are those who triumph. Being honest with your prospective clients and managing their expectations will not only cement a positive relationship with them, but they will be the first to recommend you to their network.
Being known as the agent in town everyone trusts, will always work to your benefit, so here are some tricks for managing client expectations. Your business will thank you for it!
Be transparent about what you can deliver
No-one knows the market better than you do. Your finger is constantly on the pulse so you know exactly how a suburb is performing and what the demand is like. If you know a potential listing’s value falls between $550,000 and $600,000, tell the sellers that. Don’t say you are going to get them $600,000 + and hope for the best, because it will come back on you at the end. The vendor will think that you haven’t put in the hard yards, which will lead to a poor review. Being honest about timelines is just as important. As the market slows down, remind sellers that their property might be sitting on the market for longer than expected because there is less demand out there. The key learning here is under promise, over deliver.
Every real estate agent operates in a slightly different way. This means that vendors can come to you with service and deliverable expectations that deviate from what you provide. For example, they may expect you to answer the phone at every hour of the day whether it’s 10am or 10pm. Perhaps they’ve seen those ads for agents who work for a set free rather than commission and are questioning why you don’t do the same. To avoid complications, the best thing you can do is establish your outcomes from the get go. This can include a timeline, advertising budget and commission rate.
Write it down
Once you establish your outcomes, write them down, have your client look over them and once you are both happy, get the contract signed off. Having physical proof of the terms and conditions keeps you both accountable and is a great reference if either of you think you are going off track. If things go wrong, as they inevitably do sometimes, you know you have something to fall back on. Be specific. The clearer you are, the better.
One of the biggest problems in the real estate industry is a perceived lack of communication. We understand that agents are busy, but at the end of the day, they are managing the sale of their client’s largest financial investment. This is a big step for many vendors, who are often emotionally invested because they’ve spent years under that roof and may have even raised a family there.
Some of the little details in the selling process that you wouldn’t think much about mean a lot to them, so keep your clients in the loop as much as possible. No-one who’s in the process of selling their home is going to be bothered by an additional email or phone update. They’ll more than appreciate your thorough service, proactivity and enthusiasm.
Stay in touch
Just because the sale is complete, doesn’t mean you should stop communicating. In five years time, your vendor might sell again and when they do, you want to be the first person that comes to mind. Staying in touch doesn’t have to be laborious as systems such as ActivePipe exist. These automate your customer touch points, so that emails are being sent out on your behalf with minimal effort. If your contacts are seeing your face over these years, you’ll be the first person they call when they come to market.
If you’re honest from the get-go, establish the conditions of sale and communicate with your contacts throughout their entire journey, they’ll be happy with the outcome no matter what. Doing these things show that you’ve tried your best.
Don’t underestimate the value of managing your clients expectations. For their happiness and yours.
Daniel Oliver’s Secret to Success
Earlier this week, we had a chat to Daniel Oliver, Ray White SA/NT #1 Agent January 2018. We were so impressed with the results he’s generating with ActivePipe that we had to know more about how he implements it in the office and his everyday routine. So far, Daniel has received 17 appraisal requests and 142 profile updates, a truly staggering effort.
Here’s what he has to say about ActivePipe and how it’s helped him reach out and truly engage with the homebuyers of Adelaide.
AP: First of all congratulations on being named Ray White SA/NT #1 Agent January 2018. We’ve been looking at your ActivePipe data and can see you’ve received 17 appraisals through the platform! Great work.
DO: Thank you! Its nice to have received them, hopefully many more to come.
AP: How long have you been on ActivePipe for?
DO: We were one of the first offices to get on board when Ray White took on ActivePipe. Our training was back in April 2016.
AP: How do you incorporate ActivePipe into your everyday routine?
DO: My assistant or myself will log into it everyday. We’ll look through and see which properties have open for inspections coming up and we’ll call anyone that’s clicked on that property and say, “we have this amazing property on offer that is similar to what you are looking for, have you seen it? Would you like to come to the next open home?”
That drags traffic to the property and it’s all through ActivePipe. It saves us a whole lot of time because we know exactly who’s clicking on what properties. They have no idea that we’re calling them because of that click, we just say “I keep in touch with all my current buyers, would you like to come by?”
This really helps us with our attendance numbers and sells the property.
AP: What are your favourite features of the product?
DO: Getting people to the OFIs is the first big help but we also love ‘Potential Sellers’ and ‘New Geo- Conversions’.
Our favourite is ‘Profile Updates’. We know for instance, that if someone is an ‘Investor’ we can hand it straight over to our BDM, who’s our investment specialist. He can take care of them straight away and hopefully turn it into a property management referral, which means more business coming in.
AP: In terms of efficiency and time management, how has AP changed how you operate in your daily business?
DO: It saves us hours. Literally, a lot of hours of calling everyone back. My aim at OFIs is to collect a minimum of 90% of emails from attendees but before ActivePipe, I didn’t really care to be honest. Now that I’m aiming for that 90%, it’s probably why I’ve received 17 appraisals. It’s because I’m building my ActivePipe database.
AP: How Important Do You Think Embracing Technology Like ActivePipe is for the Future of Real Estate?
DO: 100%. We are at the forefront of doing that and I think it’s been one of the biggest changes to my business. I can’t imagine life without it.
AP: How would you describe ActivePipe to other agents who aren’t with the system but who are considering giving it a go?
DO: I wouldn’t tell them about it. It’s a secret. (more…)
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.
How to Prepare for a Soft Market
Real estate agents are at the whim of a constantly fluctuating market. Seasons change, interest rates rise and fall and house prices respond to wider economic conditions. This means that as an agent, you need to take the good times with the bad and embrace the success a tough market can bring to those who are not afraid of a challenge.
Australia is a great example of a country where house prices have been steadily rising for the past ten years and have suddenly flatlined. Economists are predicting the same trend worldwide, which puts increasing pressure on agents who will now have to revert to survival mode to get by. They are no longer in the position to ask for higher prices and vendors may have to settle for less than they hoped for. At first, this can mean lower commissions, and harsh agent ratings which is a difficult situation for an industry which relies on referrals to build pipelines.
The good news is that a tough market poses opportunities for those who know how to find them and with a little perseverance you can thrive. This is because soft markets whittle out the weak. Agents who’ve only ridden the wave of a strong market are not used to having to fight it out and have not developed the skills to hustle when times are tight. In these situations, those with grit and determination will succeed.
Here are four things you can do while you’re waiting out the storm.
Re-evaluate Your Marketing Budget
A tough market means you have to justify every dollar you spend. To do this you must evaluate the results of your current advertising campaigns and work out where your best leads are coming from. This will help you decide on how to get the best bang for buck so you aren’t withdrawing funds from your most prosperous channels. Whether it’s an ad in the local newspaper or the properties featured in your EDMs, each strategy is an investment that should result in hot leads.
Work on Your Service
It can be hard to find the time to check-in with your clients when the phone won’t stop ringing. See the downtime as an opportunity to be proactive and work on improving your service offering. This might mean creating a listing presentation dec for your new clients or preparing a guide for budding investors with the key terms they need to know. While this may not seem immediately fruitful, these documents are great to have in your arsenal and will help you attract business in the long term.
Most importantly, YOU need to get on the phone.
Aim to double the number of outbound calls you would normally make in the busy season. Remind your community that you are active in the market and the best agent for the job.
Spend More Time with Sellers – They Need Extra Love & Attention
The people who need you most during a tough market are your sellers. They’re just as impacted by the conditions as you and need reassurance that selling is the right decision. You’ve got more time on your hands, so really work on building that relationship and creating a customer for life. Go the extra mile to help them and that investment will pay off in the future. They will understand that you are doing everything in your power to help them, meaning they’ll be more likely to settle on a price that isn’t up to their original expectations. Remember trust is key and having an open dialogue backed by facts and statistics will get you far.
Nurture the Leads You Have
Now that your sellers are firmly front-of-mind and you’re pumping out the phone calls each day, it’s time to work on your email communications. Make sure you are using ActivePipe to send out beautiful weekly listings to your contacts. It not only keeps them up-to-date with the local market but it will cement your position as a local expert with plenty of business coming through the door.
Work on You
If all else fails and you’re feeling a little disheartened, use this time to hone your skills through online training courses and personal development initiatives. Why not prepare yourself for upcoming real estate trends by cultivating your skill-set in a specialised niche such as eco homes, luxury living or off-the-plan developments. Having a specialty will ensure your value to your employer and you can potentially charge higher fees for your expertise in the future.
While many of your competitors take their foot off the peddle and accept defeat, this is the time for you to step on the accelerator and focus on your lane to get ahead of the pack. This is the perfect time to develop your long-game. Do this and you’ll be full throttle when the market picks up.