What Women Want (from Real Estate)
Every two years the Property Council of Australia and EY publishes a study on women in real estate. These studies take the pulse on women’s status in real estate and are an opportunity for women’s voices to be heard.
As part of our Women in Real Estate Week we wanted to get the latest research on where women stand in the industry. We found the Grow the Talent Pool, 2018 report, which surveyed thousands of agents, men and women, from across Australia, about their perceptions of how real estate is changing.
The report showed that diversity in real estate is constantly improving. More women are now being attracted to the industry because of flexible working hours that accommodate carers. It also found that more men have an increased understanding of the issues women face in the workforce.
This is largely thanks to the hungry women of real estate who know what they want and are acting as a disruptive force to get it.
This article looks at four of the learnings from the Grow the Talent Pool, 2018 report that show what comes next for women in real estate.
Women on the Rise
The good news is that more women are being attracted to real estate from other professional backgrounds.
The numbers show that more women are coming to real estate because it offers working hours that suit their needs. This is good news for the industry because it means that real estate is stealing talent from other industries which aren’t as accommodating.
The improvement is partly thanks to attitude shifts from leaders who recognise the importance of flexibility for parents, as well as new technology that is disrupting the traditional working weeks by making agents’ schedules more flexible.
Attitudes to Inappropriate Behaviour
Unfortunately, a number of people who responded to the survey reported that inappropriate behaviour was sometimes an issue in real estate.
Men and women in real estate both experienced inappropriate behaviour in the workplace, such as sexist jokes or offensive comments, and role stereotyping, though women experienced this at higher rates to men.
However, the report also notes that things are improving.
“There is clear evidence that attitudes to everyday sexism are changing as awareness grows,” the report noted. It went on to say that the majority of the respondents to the survey left additional comments regarding everyday sexism, “indicating their keen interest in this issue.”
Talking About Money
The report found that women were very interested in discussions of salary, and showed that both men and women in real estate are thinking about issues relating to salary.
The report notes that improvements are very positive but says that there is still room for improvement.
As Andrea Brown, Partner at Knight Frank puts it, “I have had all the usual battles that females unfortunately still expect – salary being number one. But if you do not ask, you don’t get.”
Women in Leadership
The report indicated that 79 per cent of women in real estate desire career progress, which includes moving into leadership positions.
The report also showed that out of all women who are leaders, most of them were reaching leadership positions at younger ages.
This may partly be because women are less often promoted into the most senior levels, and because women spend less time in the industry (a result of women’s experience from other industries and decisions to have children).
These findings could indicate that starting a family is a barrier to women’s attainment of higher leadership positions. As the report notes, “The next challenge is to expand the support for women returning to the workforce after having children.”
“We lose a lot of women after they go on parental leave,” according to one of the respondents. “This is something I have noticed over the years, which is why it took me a long time to make the decision to start a family.”
However, the higher proportion of young female leaders may mean that the positive changes that real estate has made are starting to be felt. Things are continuing to improve and, as women in real estate make their voices heard, we might see many of these young women in real estate’s most powerful positions in the future.
What the Future Holds
The face of real estate is changing in more ways than one.
ActivePipe can automate your email marketing to give you an advantage over the competition. If you’d like to discover how we can help you get ahead, get in touch. Let ActivePipe turn you into a leader.
How Agents Can Overcome Work-Related Stress
Every two years the Property Council of Australia and EY publishes a study on women in real estate. These studies take the pulse on women’s status in real estate and are an opportunity for women’s voices to be heard.
Stress can be a normal and healthy part of life, but it’s not good to remain stressed for long periods of time. This is known as chronic stress and it can lead to serious problems.
Occupational stress (or, work-related stress) is a common type of chronic stress that, if left unaddressed, can cause serious health issues.
How Serious is Stress?
A 2015 study from Harvard and Stanford showed that chronic stress can be as bad for your health as second-hand smoke.
People who suffer from chronic stress can experience:
- Weight gain
- Sleep problems
- Poor memory and concentration
- Anxiety and depression
- Heart disease
Stress can even lead to death. In Japan, heart attacks and strokes that result from stress cause a number of deaths each year. This “overwork death” is common enough that they have even come up with a special word (karoshi) to describe it!
Why Work is a Major Cause of Stress
One quarter of people say that work is their main reason for stress. This is not surprising, considering we spend over a third of our waking lives working.
Work-related stress generally occurs when an agent feels like they have low control and have to meet high demands.
This means that techniques for overcoming work-related stress should empower you to feel more in control and condition you to withstand the high demands of real estate.
Sleep More To Manage Stress
Experts say that, “people are getting less sleep than they need due to longer work hours”
You might feel like you are getting ahead by sacrificing sleep to work, but a lack of sleep actually affects your ability to concentrate and deal with stress.
If you take time to rest, the hours you work will be more effective and you will accomplish more in a shorter amount of time.
There is no ‘perfect’ amount of sleep, but for most people seven to nine hours is recommended.
The conundrum is, if you’re already stressed, work-related stress might actually cause insomnia. If your sleep is suffering from work-related stress, then try these other methods to help get your stress levels under control.
Meditate Like a Wall Street Stock Broker
Meditation isn’t exclusively for tree-hugging hippies anymore.
In his 2018 book, author Robert Wright looked at many businesses, from Silicon Valley to Wall Street, who are using meditation to manage the stress of highly demanding jobs.
Don’t have time to meditate?
According to Wright, you don’t need a lot of time to meditate. Even just ten minutes of mindfulness per day can go a long way to help you feel less stressed.
Exercise, but Not Too Much
It’s recommended that you do two-and-a-half to five hours of exercise per week.
Do not over exercise as this can increase the amount of cortisol in your blood. Cortisol is ‘the stress hormone’, so be wary of overdoing it.
Instead, undertake exercise that you enjoy and makes you feel good to get your stress under control.
Communicate with Your Coworkers
So far we’ve talked about ways you can prepare yourself to meet the high demands of real estate work. It’s also important, however, to address feelings of low control.
This is where it’s important to try and improve your work environment, as having a more positive environment can help reduce work-related stress for you and your colleagues. There are things you can’t change about your work environment, such as market disruptions, but if you create a more supportive network, you and the team around you will find that you are able to cope with stressors more easily.
Communication is key.
There are a lot of different strategies you can implement in your workplace to eradicate work-related stress.
Some of the things that experts recommend are:
- Clearly defined and understood roles and responsibilities
- Make sure workloads aren’t overly demanding
- Social interaction between workers
Remember, establishing a good work environmentisn’t the sole responsibility of your office principal. Your principal has a business to run, they could be suffering from work stressed as well!
By taking the initiative you will show that you’re a team player who cares about you work, your colleagues and the business. This reflects well on you, and helps you overcome work-related stress, so that you can focus and succeed.
Cold Calls Got You Stressed?
Everyone hates making cold calls. They’re a massive contributor to workplace stress for agents.
Thankfully, you can uncover buyers and sellers from your database without having to ever make a cold call again …
Get in touch so we can show you how you can eliminate cold calling from your business.
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.
ActivePipe Year in Review, 2018
It’s gotten to that time where you look at the calendar, realise that it’s only five days until Christmas, and wonder where the year has gone.
2018 has been an amazing year, strength to strength, and we wouldn’t be here without our users.
Thanks for making 2018 a top year.
This one’s for you!
It feels like yesterday, not last year, that I was writing the 2017 ActivePipe Year in Review.
This year we’ve launched in the US, built our global support team in Cebu and expanded into the finance industry. That’s on top of all the new features and improvements to the platform.
When roughly 50 per cent of startups fail in the first five years, it makes me proud and excited that we are still growing rapidly into our fifth year, with many new prospects on the horizon.
This comes down to much more than a great product.
I’ve spoken before about the importance of promoting a positive work environment to inspire your team, and I wasn’t blowing smoke. I meant it when I said that leaders need to inspire a sense of purpose in their staff if they want to maintain a culture of success as a business grows.
Our team has tripled in size this year, which has introduced a lot of new members to our ActivePipe family. Rapid expansion comes with its own set of challenges, but the new members of the team have brought different experiences from different backgrounds in different industries.
This diversity of perspective is something that makes us challenge each other and makes ActivePipe such an exciting and interesting place to work.
I can’t wait to show you what we’re bringing you in 2019.
How Was Your Year?
Many of you have absolutely crushed 2018. The ActivePipe Dashboard gives us insight into the workflow of our users and has shown us a lot of people with really impressive results.
This has helped us find a tonne of agents who are doing spectacular things with the platform, and has lead to some great conversations.
Among others, it alerted us to the Ray White Sandringham team, who won 17 appraisal request in their first 24 hours with an ActivePipe account!
Well done to all of those teams who have managed to save money on their path to more listings and more sales.
Not all of you will have had the greatest year. We all have our year that we think of as a ‘bad year’, but it’s important not to focus on the negatives. Instead, recalibrate and prepare for opportunities to come.
A wise man once said:
“Life can only be understood backwards, but it must be lived forwards.”
Get excited for the opportunities that are waiting just over the horizon and get ready to make next year a success story.
Make 2019 yours.
We’re right here with you.
We’re collecting the greatest stories from real estate in 2018 to create a follow-up article! This is a great opportunity for you to share your experiences from the year with the rest of the industry.
This could be something you’ve learned, the things you’ve overcome or stories about your contact relationships. This could even be a funny story from an OFI or your office.
Get in touch, because we want to hear from you!
In Conversation with David Young Choi
ActivePipe’s catapulting global expansion of the last twelve months has allowed me to make some exceptional appointments to our executive team. The quality of these highly sought-after professionals is enviable, as is the wealth of experience and understanding of the sector that they bring with them.
When I first met David Young Choi three years ago, we quickly entered into a friendship driven by a mutual respect for what the other was ‘about.’ At the time, he was Chief Commercial Officer at Homepass, a proptech company moving in the same space as the recently launched ActivePipe; our paths were always destined to cross. I was instantly drawn to his astute intelligence and passion for the role and I was pleased to watch his career continue to shine as he moved into the position of Director of Corporate & Enterprise at Domain.
When ActivePipe reached the point of needing a CCO of our own, in my eyes, David was the only man for the job. He’s dived head first into the role and is already feeling like such a member of the ActivePipe family that it’s hard to believe he’s only officially been on board for a few, (admittedly, action-packed) weeks.
I’ve finally found some time to sit down and decompress with him. Here’s what he has to say about his ActivePipe appointment, insights into the company so far and the overall climate that’s defining proptech in 2018.
Dave, you’ve known me and ActivePipe for years now. What is it that got you excited to come on board and take this role?
DC: I was sold the first time that I saw ActivePipe. It was so intuitive and simple, that I was immediately drawn to its potential. ActivePipe addresses every major pain-point that brands and agents face. This runs deeper than just personalised communications and discovery technology. You’re talking about a platform that holistically revolutionises how an agent identifies and converts pipeline opportunities and then builds a lifelong relationship with them. From a corporate perspective, the power to create an automated email drip-campaign that seamlessly integrates properties which can be sent out on behalf of all their agents in minutes, is invaluable. How could I not be excited about this?
It’s the numbers that get me going. It doesn’t matter how many bells and whistles you build into a product if you’re not getting results for the clients, what’s the point?
DC: Well, from what I’ve seen, the proof is well and truly in the pudding. From the ground up we’re now looking at servicing nearly 40,000 agents with the biggest brands across four countries, including the US. What are we at now? Over 16,000 appraisal requests for our clients. So yes, it’s both the numbers and the technology that has me excited.
Thinking about how these numbers will grow as we continue to push into the US gets me excited.
Of course! Our international expansion and opportunity were major drawcards for me joining the team. At the end of the day, the fundamental problems we solve are universal, no matter whether you’re in Australasia, the UK or US. ActivePipe’s value proposition spans all geographies.
Based on your experience dealing with agents from across these geographies, what are they saying about the introduction of automation for their business?
Well, corporations are always blown away by the ability to maintain brand integrity across the network without losing the personal touch that individually crafted communications provide. This is huge for them. Agents talk about how easy it makes it for them to stay in contact with the thousands of agents in their database and facilitate relevant conversations.
Yeah, I completely agree. I love how it’s not only positively enhancing the experience of the agent but also adding value and creating a pleasurable overall journey for their customers.
DC: Well, that’s what it’s all about. The reason ActivePipe agents are seeing such great results is that their contacts aren’t feeling like the recipients of spam or monotonous cold-calls. With each and every touchpoint being tailored to their needs, trust and rapport are consistently being built. When it does come time for an agent to pick up the phone and make contact, they are more productive and can actually add value.
You’ve already been throwing some big ideas around with me. Where do you see this company heading in the next few years and how are you going to help get us there?
DC: The customer is the centre of our universe, so everything we do moving forward must focus on customer centricity. This is already a dynamic business but we must always remain diligent and on the front foot of the needs, pain-points and solving our customers business problems. All I can say right now is, watch this space because big things are coming.
So, talk to me about how you see our role in the industry now that you’ve seen us from the inside and out.
DC: This is an easy one! The role of ActivePipe is to help real estate agents and brands get the absolute most out of their business. It’s like squeezing every last drop out of a lemon. ActivePipe takes the archaic lead generation and customer nurturing methods which real estate has relied on for so long and turns it on its head. Its role is to completely change the game.
Thanks, mate, as always it’s all about company culture for me, so no matter how you want to shake things up, you know where I draw the line.
That’s a great point to bring up actually. To return to your question about what excites me about ActivePipe, I’d have to say that its reputation as an organisation with extremely high staff satisfaction and retention rates was a huge drawcard for me. It’s been inspiring to hear you speak on the driving force company culture plays in the pursuit of innovation. I couldn’t be happier to be part of the team as it moves towards the next phase of its’ global expansion.
Maintaining Culture Across Geographies
Earlier this year we were honoured to receive three nods from the Australian Business Awards for being leaders in the fields of technology, innovation and marketing. These accolades are always worth a celebration but this year they’ve really got me thinking about the true meaning of success and the role that company culture has played in ours. If you’ve been following us for a while you might even remember that I wrote a blog about it.
Since then, ActivePipe has continued its crazy growth spurt and we now have a small army representing us in cities across the US, UK, AUS, NZ and The Philippines. Whilst extremely exciting, I’m also ultra aware of the importance and potential hardships involved in maintaining our strong, inclusive culture across these geographies. As with anything in business, it all comes down to planning with a little bit of gut instinct thrown in for good measure, and so far we’ve been doing well at keeping the family vibes flowing across the globe.
I want to share with you what I’ve learnt this year about maintaining culture across geographies.
Have the Right Tech in Place
To maintain good communication and a sense of community amongst your team members, it’s essential that you have the right tools in place to facilitate a seamless flow of conversation. For us, Google Hangouts is an everyday occurrence and it’s not unusual to see our Melbourne HQ filled with the faces of comrades from far off lands shining down at us through TVs linked up to conference cams. Google Docs and cloud technology allow for easy sharing and editing of work and whether they like it or not, in-house messaging service Slack means that no matter where you’re located, an instant message is only a few keystrokes away.
Monthly general meetings are important to me. It’s a great way to bring everyone together to share news and company goals and even have a laugh together in an informal environment. Just because we can’t magically apparate the entire team together doesn’t mean that anyone needs to miss out on the fun. Turn your meetings into a virtual gathering with the same video conferencing software I mentioned above.
Get to Know Your Geos
Each region you penetrate will have unique characteristics, customs, laws and language nuances that if ignored could spell the end of you and your business prospects in that market. You need to do your research and engage the brand ambassadors and team leaders in each geography to educate you on these cultural distinctions. Making a point of recognising their holidays and other important dates will lead to an even more inclusive employee experience.
Communication is Key
You’ve heard it a thousand times before but it can’t be stressed enough – good communication is the heartbeat of a business and the key to balancing the needs of your staff with the needs of your accounts department. Check in with people as much as you can. Showing an interest in how they’re going, even if they’re not physically in the room shows your team they are valuable and that you are experiencing this journey together.
It Comes from the Top
You and your leadership group need to be the type of people that inspire a sense of purpose. This runs deeper than just being involved in the everyday running of the business. This comes from the place inside you that is driven by a noble purpose and a desire to do something more than just ‘make money’. Work out what your ‘why’ is and it will direct you in maintaining consistency in your global expansion. If you know why you’re really doing this, your passion will trickle down to everyone in the business – no matter where they’re located.
Let Them Grow
Your employees are just as interested in your global domination as you are. Give them the chance to feel that they are growing with you by encouraging development initiatives that the leadership teams are accountable for. Up-skilling opportunities don’t just improve staff morale, they improve the productivity of your business.
Luck Has Nothing To Do with It
Whilst I feel incredibly lucky to have the team I do, luck really has nothing to do with it. It takes a hell of a lot of hard work and numerous sleepless nights to keep the cogs of an international business well oiled and turning smoothly.
At the end of the day it doesn’t matter where your people are located or what ethnicity they belong to or system they associate with, they have families and lives and needs outside of your organisation. Just as you do – so never fail to take care of your wellbeing too.
Trust in your staff, invest in your culture and you’ll be amazed at the magic that blossoms across geographies.
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.
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.
Get Your Weekends Back
There’s nothing worse than getting to the end of the week and realising that many tasks on your to-do-list have been left unchecked. There’s no charming real estate genie who’s going to sneak past reception at 5pm and save you from them, so you better get cracking now, lest spend your precious weekend off with your nose buried in work.
We don’t have to tell you how busy your life is, but we can give you tips on how to use your time effectively, so that you never have to work a weekend again. Here’s how to wake the precious time management genie that’s laying dormant inside you.
The early bird catches the worm. The way you start your day will set the tone for the rest of it, so implement an effective morning routine that you’ll actually stick to. This should always begin with a nutritious breakfast but can also include doing some stretches, going for a brisk walk or taking 10 minutes out of your morning to sit and savour your coffee rather than chugging it down on the run. Now that you’re feeling centred and your mind is clear, it’s time to transport this energy into the office, so aim to be the first one in there with a beaming smile on your face. Your mind is fresh, so the more you can pump out before 9am the better, you’ll be hours ahead of your competitors and can walk in your front door at 5pm rather than 8:30pm.
While every property is different, the selling process is generally the same. Instead of starting from scratch every time you need to organise marketing collateral or write up a contract, be prepared. Have pre-filled templates ready in folders you can easily access from your desktop so you can whip up forms in minutes. You might even write up a checklist to help you navigate and streamline the entire process. This will ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Set up a planner and define your goals for the week so you aren’t mindlessly jumping around between tasks. Having this overview will make you feel more in control so you can focus on the job at hand.
Write a To-Do-List
Now that you’re organised and know what needs to be done, get pen to paper and prioritise your tasks. It can be satisfying to physically tick off a job once it’s complete and this will motivate you to continue ploughing through your list. We recommend starting off with the least enjoyable items and saving the best till last, just like you did as a kid when you were told to eat your veggies before you chow into your mac and cheese. This routine will decrease your stress levels and make you feel like you’ve got a handle on what needs to be done, and when.
Work During Time Snippets
Is your client running ten minutes late? Perhaps you’ve finished setting up for an OFI and viewers are yet to arrive. This is all idle time that you can capitalise on to get some of those menial tasks out of the way. This could include a follow up call or replying to an email you didn’t get a chance to send this morning. If you have your phone on you, you have everything you need to tick some of those items off your to-do-list. What are you doing reading this blog for? Get cracking! 😜
Learn to Delegate
Don’t run yourself ragged. You have a team for a reason and they are all there to support you as you work towards a greater goal. Don’t be afraid to ask for help when you need it, it’s better to put your ego on the line and get the job done quickly rather than wasting hours fluffing around for no good reason. Your morning meetings are a great place to assign tasks and establish deadlines, so plan your day and map out your priorities before it begins so that you can squeeze the most out of this time.
Time Out is Key
As counteractive as it sounds, don’t forget to unplug and take time out for yourself. A good quality sleep each night is essential for your brain to function optimally. This means turning your phone to sleep mode and avoiding too much tech time in the bedroom. If stress starts to rear its ugly head during the day, take five minutes for some deep breathing and mindfulness exercises.
If you follow these tips and manage your time during the week wisely, you’ll get your weekends back and your Sundays will feel exactly like they are meant to. You’ll be relaxed and able to do all the things you love outside of your 9-5 grind.
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.
The Surprising Benefits of Going Green
Does driving across town for client meetings, writing a million contracts and spending hours on the phone negotiating a selling price when you’re meant to be on annual leave sound familiar?
Life as a real estate agent is indisputably hectic, so it’s fair to assume that the last thing on your mind is worrying about the impact your job has on the environment.
Last week, we spoke about the growing popularity of eco-homes and how house hunters are looking towards a green future. Today we are going to talk about how real estate agents need to get on board, practice what they preach and start implementing sustainability practices into their everyday routine.
Going full rainbow-warrior is daunting and unrealistic, so we’re going to talk about the small, daily changes you can make around the office. If everyone gets involved and implements these simple strategies, you’ll be doing your part for the environment and saving some cash along the way.
Get your green thumbs ready, here are our top tips for an environmentally friendly workplace.
If you can’t reuse it, refuse it
The key message of this year’s World Environment Day was to ditch single use items such as plastic cutlery, straws, shopping bags and take-away coffee cups. These days there are thousands of affordable reusable options out there, so there is no excuse to keep buying a new water bottle every morning.
Your local discount store has plenty of stylish utensils so why not stock up the office kitchen with products everyone can use. As an added bonus, many local cafes offer discounts for those who bring reusable coffee cups, so have some fun, branded ones the whole team can use!
Change your printing habits
Gone are the days of flyers, mailouts and OFI pamphlets; the marketing world has gone digital and so should real estate. Invest in some office tablets. They are incredibly versatile as you can email on-the-go and even use it to register attendance at an OFI. If you absolutely have to print, make sure the default setting is ‘double sided’ and you only use recycled paper.
Greenify your office
Leafy ferns aren’t just pretty, they filter pollutants from the office environment and clean up the air. Research tells us that work spaces which embrace plants and natural light boost morale and increase productivity. So take the team out to the local nursery and choose some gorgeous greenery to spruce the place up.
Be mindful of the way you transport
The reality is, agents need their cars to get around so we’re not suggesting that you ditch the wheels five days a week. To offset your emissions, consider teaming up with a work buddy and car-pooling every couple of days. Sharing the vehicle will save on fuel and toll costs, and might even encourage you to dust off the old bike and peddle your way to work and optimal fitness.
Remember you are what you eat
Our idea of what qualifies as food has changed dramatically in the last 100 years. Sadly, it is one of the world’s most wasteful industries but it’s easy to make a stand by buying fresh produce that supports local farmers. Not only is organic food more nutritionally beneficial than that from the supermarket, it’s far less likely to come wrapped in plastic and transported from the other side of the world. Don’t buy your lunch each day, bring it from home in some funky tupperware and you’ll save money and improve your health.
Embrace energy saving tech
Have you ever thought about how much electricity is running through your office? Lights are on, heaters are in full-force and everyone has their computer plugged into a wall. These are things that we never really take notice of but make a huge difference to the energy bill at the end of each month. Turning off your computer when you go home and installing some energy efficient light bulbs is a great place to start. As a rule, turn off any appliance when it’s not needed.
Take one step at a time and don’t be disheartened if you slip into old habits occasionally. So long that your hearts in the right place and you can get a conversation around sustainability happening in your office, you’re already on the way. You’ll save money, improve your health and be surprised at how much fun being a greenie can be!
The Future of Real Estate is Green
Until a few years ago, owning a sustainable home was a pipe dream for the average buyer.
Whilst they loved to imagine themselves in a beautiful, open planned living space full of natural light and a veggie patch, the thought of shelling out for overheads such as solar panels and new eco-friendly appliances was unrealistic.
Making things even more unattainable was the reality that investing in eco technologies meant waiting eight or nine years for a return on investment. Even though you knew you’d save money in the long run, the benefits were too distant for the average homeowner to comprehend, especially under the weight of mortgage repayments and utility bills.
The good news is, being eco-friendly is becoming increasingly mainstream and we’ve now reached the tipping point where the benefits for both the environment and hip-pocket are well known and extensive enough to encourage environmental upgrades.
According to research by the National Association of REALTORS®, 11 percent of new homes are bought for energy efficient reasons which means being green is cool and no longer the exclusive domain of peace-loving hippies.
How can agents get on board with the movement and use their expertise to emphasise the planet saving features of the homes they sell?
Be able to sell the benefits to your clients
The first thing you need to do is get online and do some research. There are hundreds of industry experts who write about reduced emissions, utility bill savings and the resale value of eco homes, so why not make use of their hard work and write down statistics to use in a client presentation. Breakthroughs are happening quickly so it’s worth staying on top of the latest developments by subscribing to industry newsletters and following dedicated pages on social media. Only by immersing yourself will you be able to communicate the true value of sustainability to your clients.
A simple list of ways you can make a home more “green”
Creating a green home is easier than you think. From installing leadlights to investing in low-flow showerheads, most initiatives are affordable and can be easily implemented. Here is a list of basic steps your vendors can undertake before putting their house on the market.
- Install solar panels
- Purchase energy efficient appliances
- Insulate the home well – this means roof, ceiling and floor
- Add a water-tank to collect rainwater
- If extensions are planned, ensure building materials are non-toxic
- Get back to nature by starting a compost pile and veggie patch that new owners can harvest
- Plant natives
- Aim for open plan living that improves temperature control
Have a list of contractors for your clients
To make it easy for your seller, align yourself with reputable contractors in your area. Keep a stack of their business cards in your car so they’re always on hand. The added benefit of this is that the contractors will reciprocate referrals, bringing more eco-friendly business to your pipeline.
Learn how to market “green” features
Now that you’ve done all the groundwork and have convinced your sellers to invest in some upgrades, it’s time for you to do what you do best and start selling the home. This is when your marketing expertise come into play and you can get creative with how you demonstrate the brand new eco-friendly benefits. Use sustainability as a USP, which you can present through a variety of channels including your listing description, OFI flyers and online marketing.
Align your brand with “green” even if it’s just basic social media
If you’re going to talk the talk you should walk the walk and be holistic in your business’s sustainability strategy. This means implementing energy saving initiatives in your office, supporting eco charities or writing a blog post that showcases the positive effects of environmentalism. You might even consider re-working your branding to suggest that you specialise in these fields. Before you know it they’ll be seeking you out for your services!
The future of real estate is looking greener everyday. As people become more conscious of their footprint, agents need to keep up if they want to flourish. Harness your inner Captain Planet and think about how you can give back to the environment while making a living.
Prioritising Authenticity In Your Business
In a world driven by fake news, social media and an unrelenting 24-hour internet cycle, it’s not surprising that consumers have pushed back and demanded something more authentic from business.
The age-old saying, “the customer is always right”, has led marketing teams around the world to search for a more personable story that resonates with heart.
Some get it right. Dove is a great example of a corporation that’s replaced “corporate” with “human” and made millions of dollars telling women that they’re beautiful, no matter what their perceived flaws are.
Adversely, we see those who get it really, really wrong. You might have heard about the recent Pepsi debacle where millionaire reality star Kendall Jenner fronted a tone-deaf campaign that tried to connect Pepsi with the longstanding racial equality movement. The ad was subsequently pulled and Pepsi had to apologise for their distaste.
So how can those in real estate cultivate their authenticity and let their personality shine through in a way that isn’t cringe-worthy or tired?
Identify your core values
The key is to work out your ‘why’. Research shows that ‘why’ driven communications are the strongest and longest lasting. Your ‘why’ comes from working out your purpose and why you’re driven to do what you do everyday. If you need some inspiration, check out our blog on why it’s so important to build your brand story.
Engage with your customers
Once you’ve determined your core values, it’s time to find a fresh way to communicate with your customers. In real estate this means not being afraid to show your flaws! Why not use the Facebook live stream feature as a means of publicising your latest OFI success. Leave the bloopers in! Have a laugh at yourself! Consumers really appreciate this and will feel like they can connect with you on an authentic level.
Show the moments that happen behind the scenes. Maybe it’s a co-worker’s birthday, so you get a cake and get the office to sing “Happy Birthday!” Don’t miss out on this opportunity to show your softer side and let your local community into your little family.
Drop the jargon
Quit throwing around complex real estate terms that the everyday person won’t understand. This will only alienate potential customers because they will feel intimidated and are therefore less likely to ask for your help. Instead, make an effort to explain things clearly and simplify the often daunting process for them. Using inclusive language is ideal for social media as it helps people feel like they’re part of your family. For example, “Thank you to our friends in Smithville. We love being part of your community”.
Explaining the problem you set out to solve
Every business exists to solve a problem. In real estate, you are working hard to help people find the right home at the right price. To discover the core of your business’ authenticity, you need to very clearly define the problem you set out to solve and outline how you do it. Are you a high-end brand dealing with luxury properties or do you specialise in helping families on a tight budget find a nook to call their own. Case studies are a great way to demonstrate your success without tooting your own horn.
Show your passion for real estate in everything you do. Whether that’s having a warm smile when you welcome someone into an open home, getting involved at the local footy club or sharing real estate tips and tricks with your followers, if you believe in what you do, people will want to work with you!
Becoming a Power Agent With Sherrie Storor
Earlier this year, I wrote an article about how delighted I was to join ActivePipe and its dynamic group of empowered women.
The tech industry is often thought of a man’s domain. A room full of numbers guys hacking away at their computers whilst a spirited debate about the fluctuation of bitcoin ensues. What I discovered was vastly different. This was an eclectic group of males and females, working together to propel the company forward and support each other with their individual goals.
The real estate industry is no different.
A few weeks ago, my colleague Alison and I were invited to attend the Women in Real Estate Breakfast Series hosted by coach, mentor and elite property agent Sherrie Storor. The event brought together a panel of gutsy and tenacious women, all at the top of their real estate game. They were there to celebrate female skill set and achievement with a takeaway that was clear:
Women in real estate have backbone. They have to if they want to lock down listings in a competitive market and survive in an industry built on competition. From top selling agents and CEOs to an auctioneer who offered bid calling lessons to anyone who dared, the panel showcased the diversity of female talent in the industry.
It wasn’t all serious business though, from Moet at the door, to eggs benny and a great view across Albert Park Lake, everyone was there to have a laugh and make new friends. Even if, being 6am, there were a few bleary eyes about.
Sherrie’s journey as a mentor and speaker began when she was selling elite properties at McGraths in New Farm, Brisbane. After personally selling more than 850 homes, she realised she had more to give and that her experiences could help other agents reach their full potential.
Everyone was looking forward to hearing Sherrie’s tips on how to be a powerhouse agent and we’re thrilled to share them with you.
Find your edge
Reflect on your strengths and use what makes you different to set yourself apart from the rest.
Analyse your digital presence
Google yourself and stalk your social profiles to see how potential clients would perceive you. Clear out anything that damages your reputation or is off-brand.
Use live video on Facebook and Instagram to get properties seen more
Sporadically posting a couple of pics on social media just doesn’t cut it anymore. If you want to showcase your properties and your personality, use live and unedited footage. The bloopers make it extra entertaining.
Send video messages to buyers after open homes
Stay front of mind with a short thank you video that will also remind them of the properties best features.
Have a structure for your sales process
Up your efficiency and minimise errors by proceduralising your sales process. You’ll gain consistency and each step will become second nature, making your life easier.
As someone who often looks at real estate from the outside-in, it was great to find myself in the thick of it and to see just how much women are accomplishing.
With Sherrie’s tips you will be a power agent in no time!
If you want to connect with her community, join the Facebook group Real Estate With Heart.
‘Why’ It’s So Important To Build Your Brand Story
Imagine if your favourite brands were people.
What would they look like and what would they have to say?
Would they drink beers at the local pub or spend Friday nights swilling fancy Burgundy at a fine-dining restaurant?
Companies can be so caught up developing features for their product that they often forget to tell the story of who they are. But humanity was built around storytelling and it’s in our nature to look beyond facts and figures and find an emotional hook.
Some companies get it right and that’s reflected in their tribe of loyal supporters and healthy market share. Others do not and whilst they may find some business success, they’ll never be remembered as inspiring or an innovative powerhouse in their industry.
If you are happy to plod along making mediocre sales and average commissions that’s fine, but if you are looking to take your business to the next level and be an agent others look up to, you’re going to have to find your “why”.
Why are you in real estate?
Is it simply to make money or do you have a passion for helping people move into their dream home? Are you a competitive person who loves the thrill of the chase or did you just fall into real estate by chance?
No matter how you got to where you are right now, you can and should make it into a compelling story. One that resonates and comes from the heart. That might sound like an overused cliche but in real estate, trust is everything and the only way to build trust is through authenticity.
How to build an authentic story
Every story has a beginning, a middle and an end. Start your narrative by thinking about where you came from as this will shape the rest of your brand’s personality. If you used to play club footy and fancy yourself a bit of an athlete, it’s probably your competitive spirit that defines you and your business style.
If you’re a mum with a handful of kids, chances are you know a lot about backyards, storage space and local schools. This is a great asset for young families and you’ll be much better suited to helping them than the ambitious footy player we spoke about earlier.
Combine your back-story and your unique selling proposition to define your why.
What happens after you discover your why?
Let’s look at our athlete as an example. We already know that he has a competitive personality and likes to hustle.
This means his ‘why’ is the desire to get the best possible price for his vendors.
He should communicate this by marketing himself as a bulldog who doesn’t let go until he gets what he wants – the perfect price.
Consistency is key so this message should permeate through every piece of marketing he produces and every touch point he has with his clients.
Get your brand story out however you can.
These days good agents are thought leaders as well as salesman, so create a blog or start a Facebook page.
It’s a completely free tool to get your brand story out there and show your contacts that you are a real person with a real story to tell.
Remember that you are your brand and great brands inspire hope. They sell ideas, not services so whether you’re a one man show or a team of 10, get everyone next to a white board and start brainstorming a concise and creative brand story that forms your why.
You won’t look back.
Embracing Innovation in Real Estate With Sherry Chris
When I last caught up with Better Homes and Gardens(R) Real Estate (BHGRE) President and CEO Sherry Chris, I was thrilled to get an insight into her career and what has driven her success so far.
This week, I want to shift our focus to the future.
Sherry Chris is renowned for her innovative approach to business and for finding solutions to problems that agents don’t even know they have. As such, she is the perfect woman to chat with me about the future of real estate and what’s in-store for the technology that supports our industry.
In our conversation, she spoke of three key areas agents should keep in mind to make the best out of the ever changing technology landscape.
As you can imagine, we were pretty quick to get on the topic of social media and how important it is for staying relevant.
“It’s how we connect with one another, both personally and from a business perspective, but when I look across our industry, no-one is really doing it effectively.”
BHGRE made a strategic decision to align themselves with the wider Better Homes & Gardens brand, which includes a magazine with over 40 million monthly readers. As a result, their consumer channel has exploded, and they are able to share design and decorative ideas that help their brokers and agents connect with the consumer on a different level.
“Through the magazine, we have access to a huge database which we can market to directly and use for predictive modeling. This implementation of social media and technology has been very kind to us”, she says.
“I’m very active on social media. I manage two Facebook pages as well as one Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter page. This means I personally connect with thousands of people in our industry every day.”
It might take a little creative thinking, but there will always be ways an agent can leverage the power of social media and use it to drive the success of their business.
“The key isn’t a secret at all, you just have to be authentic and always keep the end consumer in mind”.
When it comes to tech, Sherry says it’s all about moving with the times.
“We continue to build technology, we continue to partner with technology. What we look for are the very best end-to-end solutions for our brokers and agents”, she says.
Three and a half years ago BHGRE’s parent company, Realogy, made the decision to buy ZipRealty, which they recreated into Zap, a technology platform that helps their affiliated agents and brokers stay in sync with their customers, grow their business and thrive in today’s real estate landscape.
“We build our own internal technology, including our digital marketing center, CRM and all of the tools and products that attach onto those. This helps our agents be more productive and connect with the consumer at a deeper a level”, she says.
So where do BHRGE’s savvy tech-heads want to go next?
“The buzzwords out there are AI and machine learning, both of which we are working on diligently”, she says.
These days, data is everything and Sherry’s team wants to effectively utilize the huge amount that they’ve amassed throughout the years.
“We are working on how to use data to predict when people are most likely buying and selling a home, and to get out in front of our competitors and be the ones who help them move into the next phase of their lives”, she says.
There’s nothing groundbreaking in the concept of keeping your customer front-of-mind, but as real estate moves forward and technology embeds itself further into our lives, it can be easy to forget that at the end of the day, this industry is about people.
What’s the point in building fancy new systems if they don’t improve the experience that your clients have working with you?
“I wanted our company to stand for something and that’s why we launched a values driven brand that celebrates Passion, Authenticity, Inclusion, Growth and Excellence (P.A.I.G.E.).These are our core values and they really mean something special to us”, she says.
“It means sending a handwritten note, picking up the phone and thanking somebody or doing something before you’re asked”, she says.
When I reflect on everything I’ve learned from Sherry, I feel grateful that she shared her time and wealth of knowledge with me.
I also feel incredibly proud to work for ActivePipe, where so many of the values Sherry spoke of are values that are hard-wired into the everyday running of the company. Hard-work, customer-centricity, and a focus on creating strong culture are the cornerstones of this business’ success.
When it comes to technology, we’re continuously striving to be at the cutting edge of predictive analytics and we are harnessing the power of data to enable customers and agents to have conversations that enrich both of their real estate journeys.
It seems we are on the right track and if we continue looking to Sherry Chris for inspiration, I’m sure we’re going to do just fine.
Check out part one of our interview with Sherry; “The Sky is the Limit” here.
ActivePipe Year In Review 2017
What a year it has been!
In the past 12 months we have reached some incredible milestones together;
We released over a thousand new features, tripled the size of our team and won three Australian Business Awards.
We are incredibly proud of our achievements but in the spirit of startups, we aren’t stopping there.
Stay tuned for even bigger and better things in 2018.
We’ll catch you next year!
Getting The Culture Right In 2018
According to a survey by SEEK Learning, less than half Australian workers are happy with their jobs.
That’s a pretty damn sad statistic for our country.
As we roll in to 2018, I encourage you to think about the culture in your office.
Is it one you are proud of?
Is it a place you wish you worked when you were younger?
In the last twenty years of leadership I have learnt that a business is only as good as the people within it and that creating the right culture is important for retaining staff and attracting the best talent in the industry.
This takes work.
Listen to your staff:
I have learnt that each team member has their own unique value proposition. It doesn’t matter if it is your receptionist or your most senior salesperson, listen to your staff. There are some amazing ideas hidden within your team and it’s up to you to make them feel like they can contribute.
Support their growth and development:
You shouldn’t just consider your staff’s careers objectives; you should prioritise them. Sitting down with team members to discuss where they want to be in five years’ time will show that you are on their side. I have found that my staff value training and development and that investing in their skill set is investing in our company’s future.
Are KPI’s Dead?
Being a salesperson with constant, unachievable KPIs hanging over your head is exhausting. Not reaching them leads to stress and an unnecessary perception of failure. Getting the right culture creates an obligation to perform because team members don’t want to let their team down; they genuinely want the company to succeed.
Most managers only give feedback when it is negative or corrective. Giving positive feedback will make your team feel appreciated, reinforce their value and ensure they know their work is actively contributing to your business’s success. I believe publicly recognising individual achievement is a great way to build culture in your team and make sure each person feels like they belong.
It pays to be nice.