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.”

Leanne keeps Laing+Simmons agents and customers in the know with her weekly video updates on the 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.”

Leanne Pilkington on stage talking to crowd
Leanne Pilkington recognises a need for more women in leadership positions and on stages at conferences and events.

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.


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.

Congratulations!

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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.

 

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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:

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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.

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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!

 

Diane Falzon

0430 596 699

FalzonPR (more…)

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.

 

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The Social Channels Every Agent Needs to Leverage (and how)

The idea of an agent using social media to boost their profile is hardly groundbreaking.

I don’t need to tell you that it’s an essential element of modern business. That said, for a time-poor agent, working out which social networks to invest time and energy into can be an overwhelming experience.

To help navigate this wild west, I’ve enlisted the help of an expert. Talia Wachtel is the VP of Marketing at Tiger Pistol – a Facebook Marketing Partner specialising in helping brands generate meaningful local results via social.

We had so much to talk about that I’ll be releasing our interview in an exclusive, three-part series that will cover everything you need to know about building a superstar online persona.

To get started we’re getting back to basics as Talia tells me the channels every agent should be using and how on earth they can use them well.

Thanks for taking the time Talia! I want to start by asking you about Instagram. There’s so much hype around using this platform for business but many agents, especially the older generation, aren’t sure how to get started.

Selling real estate is a visual affair. We’ve all seen vendors happily spend thousands of dollars getting the perfect portfolio of images together, so it’s no surprise that Instagram is increasingly being touted as the perfect social media platform for agents.

The key to success is a clean, professional aesthetic that represents you as an agent. Every photo you post should be beautiful, clean, clear and natural. It may surprise you to know that overworked photos with heavy filters aren’t necessarily the key to success!

Posting short videos is another great way to add a personal touch and showcase a property’s best features. Don’t be afraid to be the star of the show! Videos that feature an agent talking about what’s happening in the market do well and will position you as a thought leader.

One of the most successful strategies that we are implementing for our clients is advertising through Instagram Stories. It’s no surprise that we’re seeing success with this – Stories are growing 15x faster than feeds. Even Facebook exec Chris Cox says “the Stories format is on a path to surpass feeds as the primary way people share things with their friends sometime next year”. Similar to advertising on Instagram Feed, prospective vendors can click on your story and land on your website without having to remember your name or look you up.

This leads into my question about Facebook. This has been the powerhouse platform for a while now and you’d be hard-pressed to find an agent who’s not using it to some extent. What advice do you have for those wanting to take it to the next level?

If you haven’t made yourself a Facebook Business Page yet, hop to it. It’s imperative to separate your private and business lives online, but more importantly, you need a Business Page in order to leverage Facebook’s robust advertising capabilities.

There are three key elements in driving success on Facebook: Posts, Ads and replying to your community. Posting regularly will keep your Page relevant. If you’re strapped for ideas on what to post, there’s not harm in getting inspiration from other agents you follow. Share local market updates, lifestyle articles, neighbourhood events that you find online, and of course, leverage your listings. While you may not be trying to do the hard sell, your listings can provide unique content and are a great way to get your Page Fans to click through to your website.

To really get the most out of Facebook, you need to be running ads. And I’m not talking about simply Boosting Posts. I’m talking about leveraging the plethora of Facebook ads that are purpose-built to drive meaningful business outcomes. Run a Lead Ad to generate leads directly on Facebook, or drive traffic and conversion on your website with a Conversion Ad. If you’re looking to be seen by as many people as possible in your local area, Reach Ads are perfect for you. Don’t shy away from using some of the more refined targeting options as well, such as uploading your client database for retargeting purposes, or creating a Lookalike Audience to ensure you’re being seen by people who are most like your existing clients. Add the Facebook Pixel to your website, and retarget people who have visited your listings online with specially targeted messages.

Lastly, with all the engagement you’ll be getting on your posts and ads, you’ll need to make sure that you’re checking any comments or messages sent via Messenger. It’s important to get back to leads in a timely manner, and Facebook makes it easy for you to do that.

I’ve been working on growing my LinkedIn profile and it’s been great for connecting with other marketers and players in the real estate space. How can it work for agents trying to connect with prospects?

Whilst Facebook is a bit more casual, LinkedIn should really be treated like your public CV. This is where you can really establish yourself as an expert in the space, and network with real estate’s biggest players.

Make sure you fill in the ‘bio’ section with plenty of information to let prospects and other agents know who you are and what you’re about. Add in your accomplishments and finish it off with a jazzy photo that will capture attention amongst the noise.

Now it’s time to optimise. You should update your profile with a proper URL that lets Google pull you up when someone searches your name. Begin to build your network by adding connections through your current email database.

Play around with LinkedIn’s “Advanced Search” feature. Here, you can type in specific keywords and locations to find the perfect connections to build your dream network.

I’ve noticed lately that a number of agents are using Twitter to advertise properties. What are your thoughts on this?

Twitter is all about the hashtag, so have a look around and see what other agents are using to get ideas. Staying up-to-date with the most popular hashtags in your farm area will help people find your posts.

Tweeting is like attending a networking event. It’s not necessarily about making rushed deals but putting in the groundwork for later business. Start by sharing a photo of a great listing in your local area and use strategic hashtags to get it in front of the right people.

If someone replies to your content, you must engage with them. These are your clients in the making, so treat every one of your followers like they are a prospect talking to you at an OFI.

Any final advice Talia?

No matter what social media strategy you decide to go with, you need to actively concentrate on growing your network. Real Estate truly is all about connections – so make sure to put some time aside each week to send friend requests to former and current clients, other agents and leaders in your community. The referrals you can generate from a solid network are exponential.

 

Want to reach out to the experts? Hit up Talia and the Tiger Pistol team here.

And don’t forget to keep an eye out for Part Two in the coming weeks! (more…)

The Digital Mind with Sean Birk

In my role as ActivePipe’s Creative/Design Director, I’ve always got my antennae finely tuned to the going-ons of the creative world. As mediums and technologies continue to evolve at lightning speed, it means there’s always something to talk about when my peers get together to bounce around ideas and muse on the future.

Through my work at ActivePipe, I’ve been lucky to cross paths with Sean Birk. Sean is the Creative Director: Digital and Integrated at award-winning creative agency, Fenton Stephens. His knack for producing innovative ideas that cut through the clutter have made him a much sought after leader in the industry and the recipient of many international awards including London International, New York Festival & Cannes. It’s this ability to see around corners that makes Sean the perfect brain to pick in my quest to find out what’s coming up in the world of creative technology.

We caught up to chat about how technology is changing the way we work and think.

Tech is everywhere

Unless you’re reading this in an isolated log cabin high in the mountains, you’re already aware of the importance of technology in your everyday life. Tech is now part of virtually every aspect of modern commerce, culture and communication. But it’s so ubiquitous that you may not have considered the radical ways in which it is changing the way you work, create and even think.

Your memory is getting better … and worse.

Since the advent of Google and the smartphone, you’ve had a flawless memory for information, video and more – right at your fingertips.  Which means a good short-term memory is something you’ve needed less and less. And what you don’t use, you lose.

This negative effect on the brain is a new and worrying trend. Young people who’ve been raised in the digital age are already showing signs of short-term memory dysfunction as a result of their addiction to technology.

It’s known as digital dementia, and as we become more and more tied to our devices, it has the potential to become a real challenge to the way we think interact and take care of ourselves.

Your voice is becoming your fingerprint

It has been predicted that, in the next two years, 82% of devices will have native voice recognition capability. Which basically means you’ll soon be controlling the majority of your digital interactions with your voice.

Your voice will also become your primary identifier for online security. Does this mean you’ll be locked out of your email, social and banking apps when you have a cold? Time will tell. But voice control will also mean efficiencies in ways we might not expect – from automated customer service calls to new ways to complete everyday tasks.

You’re turning into a cyborg

A further development of our ongoing connection to our digital devices and networked systems is high- bandwidth brain-machine interfaces. What? Basically, it’s a way to connect your brain directly to a computer.

Yes, this brain implant technology isn’t science-fiction. Neuralink, a company already working on a way to seamlessly combine your digital and biological self, says they will soon launch a product that will give us a shot at becoming “symbiotic” with artificial intelligence.

You’re becoming more creative

You may not become an artist overnight, but at the very least, you’re going to have more creative tools at your disposal.

Artificial Intelligence and deep machine learning have already resulted in computers that can edit films, write pop songs and create renaissance paintings autonomously. As we become more connected, we’ll be able to harness that power and augment it with our own problem-solving skills. How? Well, that’s yet to be fully understood.

But technology’s ability to proactively handle mundane daily tasks will certainly leave us more time and headspace to think, create and do business.

That should be a change we all welcome.

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.

Trust.

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.

Jesse Duffield is No Lazy Git

My most important job as ActivePipe’s CTO is to nurture and support my developers.

As a company, we attract some of the best and brightest in the business and I feel so lucky to have such hard working talent around me each day. As such, it gives me great pleasure when I see my team pursuing innovation outside of their ActivePipe duties.

Jesse Duffield is a fine example of the huge impact ActivePipe developers are making in the competitive land of coding. He’s just been crowned the ‘Number One Trending Developer of the Week’ for his latest application LazyGit, which has quickly catapulted him to cult status amongst his peers.

I sat him down to talk about his new creation, sudden notoriety and the ways creativity and innovation collide to build the perfect product.

This is one impressive side project!

What is LazyGit and why did you create it?

Jesse: Pretty much every developer in the world uses a tool called Git. Without getting too technical, Git is a tool that helps a distributed team of developers all contribute to the same codebase simultaneously. Developers get frustrated because they have to type long commands directly into it and for the small amounts of work they have to do each day, they end up wasting too much time on a tool that was supposed to make their work easier.

LazyGit works by letting you do all these long commands in a click of a button and showing you at a glance what other developers have been up to in the code. This means you can spend less time struggling with the command-line and more time doing fun development stuff. It wraps everything up in a nice user experience. It’s very intuitive.

The app went viral almost instantly. How did this happen?

Jesse: I posted it to GitHub, which is a place where any open source project gets pushed to and anyone can come and look at the code and download or contribute to it. Then they can rate it with a little star at the top. I believe they determine what’s trending by how quickly the number of stars go up. I believe I was named top trending developer based on profile views and how many people are interacting with me and checking me and my projects out.

So how many people do you think are using it at the moment?

Jesse: Quite a few. There’s been over 6000 people who’ve starred it and I’ve had 64,000 views on my page.

What’s the process that you go through when designing a product?

Jesse: I start off really, really simply. LazyGit began with a very basic list of commands you could do. I started off small, just playing around with things on the weekend. I didn’t want to reinvent the wheel, I just hated using Git and decided to start building this tool and typing out code bit by bit until I had an MVP product. When the app exploded, the game changed completely. All of a sudden I had to be responding to issues and reviewing features that other people wanted to add as well as changing things to make LazyGit more accessible cross-platform.

So, what happens next?

Jesse: I’m not worried about money right now, I think it’s better to focus on making it a good product that people want to use and then later on, I can look at the money side of things and maybe I can pad it out or someone will buy it, who knows. I’m more stoked that it’s given me an online audience, so anything else that I want to do in the future will gain traction more easily. So what happens now? I’m not sure. Because it’s an open sourced project, anyone can contribute and I have the final say over what goes into the product. I’ve hardly had any sleep these last weeks because I’ll have people I don’t even know sending me messages saying ‘hey, I’ve created a new feature for LazyGit that will help other people download it’. It’s crazy but very fun.

I’ve got other projects in the works but I think this is going to be the big guy, potentially for the rest of my life. I’ll probably never get another LazyGit, so I’m working very hard to set it up correctly from the beginning.

I just want LazyGit to be the best that it can be!

 

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.

 

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…)

Rising To The Top With Glen Coutinho

When it comes time for REB to announce their ‘Top 100 Agents in Australia’ each year, the ActivePipe office is always abuzz. Our agents consistently place in top positions, so as you can imagine, we can’t wait to get our little mitts on the prestigious list and congratulate these real estate superstars for their outstanding achievements.

2018 did not disappoint.

Of Australia’s top five agents, three are ActivePipe users and we couldn’t be more proud of them. Taking out the number five spot this year is our friend Glen Coutinho, the Director and Senior Auctioneer at RT Edgar, Boroondara. With 33 years experience and a whopping $340, 529, 700 worth of sales under his belt in the last twelve months alone, he’s an undeniable powerhouse of the industry. ActivePipe was lucky to catch him for a quick chat and to pick his brain for the secrets to his success.

AP: Hi Glen, thank you so much for speaking to us today and a huge congratulations for being named the number five agent in Australia. You’ve had an incredible year, what’s been the highlight for you?

GC: The highlight for me is that I’ve been able to achieve all this whilst still having three and a half to four months off for the year. I was able to travel to America with my family and manage my customers whilst I was away, which means that the system works well for me.

AP: So you managed to achieve that elusive work/life balance?

GC: Exactly

AP: What are the qualities that got you to the top of the real estate game?

GC: I believe my greatest quality is loving people. My biggest strength is spoiling my customers. From birthdays to wedding anniversaries, I just always make the effort to acknowledge the success of all my clients. I spend most of my time with people and I just want to spoil them.

AP: Tell us about your everyday routine. What are the little things you do that sets you up for success?

GC: I start my morning between 7:30am and 8am on social media. I wish all my clients happy birthday, acknowledge special dates and all those types of things. I do this by 8am and then send out some gifts to my clients and get on the phone. I make 30-40 calls a day to past clients and I’ve done that consistently for 33 years.

AP: How do you incorporate ActivePipe into your everyday routine?

GC: It’s an important part of my routine because ActivePipe is the touchpoint for all my customers that are on email. I’ve got almost 30,000 customers and a lot of them get sent an ActivePipe email every week. It’s especially important for the local and overseas contacts that I can’t keep in touch with. It means they can get an email with my face on it and an update on the market.

AP: Do you think this has helped you in your pursuit to be one of the top agents in the country?

GC: It certainly has helped! I meet so many people that the sheer volume can be hard to keep up with. If I forget to ring someone, ActivePipe is like my backup. Say I’ve been chasing someone for twenty years and I forget to ring them for six months, they’re still getting my face in front of them every week. Each Thursday, ActivePipe puts my face in front of 5000 people and most them think that I’ve written the emails individually, so it really works in my favour.

AP: How important is embracing technology like ActivePipe for the future of real estate?

GC: Look I think it’s critical, especially if you’ve been in real estate for a long time. The younger guys are doing it but people in their 40s to 60s think they don’t need to. Well, I’ve come to the conclusion that you do. It’s a critical part of business in the 2000s and will continue to be moving into the future.

AP: What advice would you give to agents who are just starting out in the business?

If you’re just starting out, you need to be in the office and at your desk by 8am. You need to consistently make 40 to 50 calls a day and you need to make ActivePipe a critical part of your business. If you want to make the best of ActivePipe, you need to get it in front of 1000 people very fast. If you’ve got 1000 people getting one of these emails every week, you’re in the game. By the time you get to 10,000 contacts, it comes down to sheer numbers. You can’t lose.

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.  

Remember

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!

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.

The Takeaway

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.

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.

SOCIAL MEDIA

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”.

TECHNOLOGY

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.

CUSTOMER CENTRICITY

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.

Using Video to Make Your Office Stand Out from the Crowd

People are going to jump online and do their research before they put their most valuable asset in the hands of an amateur.

When someone requests an appraisal, they have already sprawled the internet to gauge an agent’s selling power and local expertise. With hundreds of talented salesmen in the area, it’s not just the tidy headshot and carefully scripted bio they’ve looked at, it’s reviews, selling records and Facebook pages too.

With a market like that, agents have to do something different to get ahead.

I spoke to Renece Brewster, the CEO and Co-founder of video production company, Visual Domain about how agents can use multimedia to cut through the noise, engage audiences, sell homes and win listings.

When Renece started Visual Domain with her business partner almost ten years ago, she wanted to make what was then considered hard and expensive, simple and accessible.

“We had a goal of trying to get 5 videos out a week. It doesn’t seem like much now, but at the time, you may as well have said 500. It was a ridiculous number when the technology was so new”.

“We now have close to 100 staff across Australia, producing, on average, 200 to 300 videos a week. We are exploring live streaming, VR, interactive and personalised videos and are always pushing the boundaries of technology in the niche that we love.”

Why use video?

As a medium, video is both visual and audio, making it incredibly engaging and memorable. It is also one of the most emotional types of communication. This is important in real estate because you want to build trust and help people get to know who you are and what you’re about.

“The agents that do it well comment that everyone knows them from their videos. Results from social media may not be direct, but that awareness element is always there and the community feedback is great for your brand.”

Renece says you don’t need fancy equipment to make compelling content, what’s really important is making sure it’s appropriate for the distribution channel you choose.  

“One of the biggest changes I’ve seen in the last 12 months is the movement towards tailored video content for each channel. Instagram is very emotive and visual whereas Facebook is all about a clear call-to-action. These nuances make a huge difference to how a video is produced. You might need to cut your video four ways instead of one to make sure you are effectively engaging your audience.”

Here are some compelling video ideas to get you started:

Agent Profile Videos:

Get someone to film you speaking about who you are, your background and area of expertise. Getting in front of the camera helps potential sellers see your passion and get to know you as a person, rather than just another walking suit.

Client Stories:

Rather than having a testimonial, capture a moment and tell a home ownership story. Talk about the results, what obstacles you overcame and how you made them feel. Buying a home is an emotional transaction so imbue it with touching moments of impact.

Listing Presentations:

Photos can be deceiving. Videos are a much more lifelike representation of what a home looks like and can help you showcase it’s most unique features such as an epic master bedroom or a perfect lawn. You can even live-stream these in short, authentic snippets to engage your audience in real time.

Neighbourhood videos:

People buying in a new suburb need to know about the local community they are going to embrace. Showing local schools, parks and businesses will highlight your understanding of the local charm and flavour of the area.

Informational videos:

Whether you want to comment on the First Home Owner Grant, the promotion your office is running or the auction results from last week, videos are a great tool for sharing your expertise and positioning yourself as a thought leader. It helps you get the message across quickly and is easy for your contacts to consume.

Key takeaways from Renece?

Don’t think about it too much – just go for it.

The trick is to stay honest and to keep it under 30 seconds. If you be yourself, people are going to forgive your video for being a little rough around the edges and it’s going to help you look a lot more authentic and real.

The more practice you get, the more natural it will become and you’ll be winning local hearts in no time.

There’s help out there:

Visual Domain is here to help you create compelling video content and social media experts Tiger Pistol will help you distribute it to build your brand.

Carmel Kellett Talks About the Importance of Switching Off in Order to Recharge

I have been working with real estate agents for the past two years and have never met a woman as determined, endearing or down to earth as the CEO of Hodges Real Estate, Carmel Kellett.

This businesswoman and mother of two has forged her way through several leadership positions at some of Australia’s largest finance, construction and real estate franchises, exceeding growth projections by over 300%.

As Hodges first female CEO, Carmel joins the ranks of high profile female executives who are leading the way in property’s diversity challenge.

According to a report by Ernst and Young, despite filling more than half non-leadership roles, women only hold a quarter of the industry’s leadership positions.

Carmel confirms this imbalance saying “I’ve certainly been involved with a lot of companies and boards that are male driven. In fact, I don’t recall having a female in a position above mine in the last 10 years.”

When she looks back on her life, Carmel recognises that she is very fortunate to have had the upbringing and role models she did.

“My father was one of the most hard-working people I have ever met. He didn’t do lazy. I don’t think he had a sick day in his life, and that ethic and determination was something that was built into me from a young age.”

“One of the things we tend to do as females is become super critical of our own abilities and judge ourselves very harshly. To be a leader in a business doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect, it just means that you have to work hard and always have your mind focussed on solutions.”

Every year Carmel has worked at Hodges, a new female director has been added to the franchise group, and that is something she is very proud of.

“I think one of the biggest deterrents for females in the industry is the perceived lack of work-life balance. I have two grown up boys at home. One is 21 and the other is 22 so I know exactly how painful the guilt of being a working mother can be.”

“Both my boys have learnt how to cook their own dinners, wash their own clothes and make their own beds, creating an environment where everyone contributes to the household. Whilst I am a businesswoman, a wife and a mother, I am not a servant. I am not expected to be wonder woman and removing that pressure has helped me build a very balanced career.”

Another way Carmel has learnt to protect her home life from the ravages of real estate, is not to talk about work when she gets home. 

“I have very clear lines between my work life and my home life and I’m really quite protective of not melding the two together. It gives me time to switch off and let’s face it, everyone needs to recharge to give 100% in the office.”

At the core of Hodges franchise is the ambition to give their customers more and Carmel believes this customer-centric approach, driven by technology will help real estate agents fulfil their mission.

“Technology continues to evolve and become more sophisticated. As a business owner, it is my job to look into the future and ensure that we are always on the forefront of new trends.”

“As real estate professionals, we are people that need to manage relationships. If we leverage technology to help us engage and connect with our customers, it frees up time to make us more productive. Technology helps us effectively balance the demands of our professional and personal lives.”

So what have I learnt from Carmel Kellett?

I learnt that as women, we are too hard on ourselves and that you don’t have to be perfect to lead a team. I learnt that everyone needs time out to recharge and that using technology to automate time consuming tasks is a great way to achieve a healthy work-life balance.

We must always look to the future, embrace technology and focus on long-term goals if we are to fulfil our career ambitions.

I hope that when I look back at my career in 30 years’ time, I can do so as proudly as Carmel can.

Check out more exclusive interviews in our ‘Women in Real Estate’ series here.

The Sky is the Limit for Sherry Chris

There are few names in real estate that command respect more than Sherry Chris and if you’ve worked as an agent in North America in the last twenty years, there’s no doubt that you’ve been influenced by this powerhouse CEO and the company that she leads, Better Homes and Gardens(R) Real Estate.

Renowned for its exceptional culture and value-driven approach, the BHGRE(R) brand wouldn’t be where it is today without a hell-of-a-lot of hard work and a guiding hand from its vivacious and determined leader.

Sherry Chris doesn’t mince words, so it was with great pleasure that I got to spend time discussing her formidable career and the factors behind BHGRE(R).

She starts by telling me how standing proud and staying true to her core values are key to the business’ success

“We don’t hide behind ourselves. We want to make the industry as a whole a better place which might sound idealistic, but it’s not. It’s a way of doing business that allows you to walk out of the building every night feeling good about yourself”

Sherry’s real estate career began in Canada nearly 30 years ago when she was a young banker looking to buy her first home.   

“I was in my twenties and thought I could probably do this better than the agent who was helping me. So I got my licence and started selling real estate.”

She quickly realised that her skillset was better suited to helping other agents sell property, so she soon had her broker’s licence and was managing a group of offices.

“All my life I have helped people and I’m a strong believer in, no matter what you do, exceeding customer’s expectations; surprising them, delighting them and being what is referred to now as a ‘servant leader’, where your mission in life is to serve and hopefully teach others to do the same. It doesn’t matter what industry you are in, you can put this into practice.”

Eventually she moved to the US and In 2008, she launched the BHGRE(R) brand.

“There were a lot of bumps along the way but I look at them all as learning experiences. Everything that I did, every accomplishment and every learning experience prepared me for BHGRE(R). We were a pure play start-up: we had no customers, no revenue, no listings. I was employee number one. I had to build a team, build a value proposition, find some franchisees and launch the brand.”

And launch it did. Today, BHGRE(R) has hundreds of offices and thousands of affiliated real estate agents located across North America.

Despite this tremendous achievement, it’s quality of service that drives Sherry, not the size of the brand.

“We’re never going to be the largest brand in real estate. What we aspire to is being the best! It’s having a group of people that align with us because they believe in what it is we’re doing. You can accomplish anything by taking a group of people who believe in a certain way of doing things and who believe in standing for something and giving back to the world.”

In looking at what I can take away from my chat with Sherry and lessons that I can apply to my own career, the most resounding traits to me are those of strong work ethic, tenacity and remaining humble in success.

She finished with some great words of advice for all of us looking to carve out our own opportunities and make the most of what we have.

“There are many people who go through life, saying ‘I didn’t get this’, or ‘I lost this listing,’ or, ‘I didn’t get this job.’ We all have the same opportunities. You just need to get out in front of those opportunities each and every day.”

“The sky’s the limit. If it’s going to happen, it’s up to you and you alone.”

Check out more exclusive interviews in our ‘Women in Real Estate’ series here.