During a recent management meeting we discussed some topics for future office meetings. Sometimes a little brainstorming goes a long way. We came up with a handful of really good ideas. One in particular was started by the question….can you find a market where one doesn’t exist? Hey I’m always up for a challenge so at this week’s meeting I put the question to our group. Of course you have to get the ball rolling so I asked people to start throwing out general ideas with the hope of sparking something brilliant. In a matter of a half an hour we had a pretty substantial list. Check it out.
So here are a couple of questions, do you find any of these ideas a bit out there? how many of these ideas would you consider traditional? The truth is that all of these 36 ideas seem rather traditional. Now I suppose one could argue that farming a particular demographic profile on Facebook is thinking outside the box but Facebook has been around for sometime now and we shouldn’t be strangers to their ads. Let’s focus on a few that got the most comments;
First of all, there seemed to be a common theme around being a part of a group. I draw your attention to community BIA’s, business club networks, special interest clubs (like gyms, yacht clubs, etc), getting people together, philanthropy, and working for causes. In each of these suggestions the idea is to build relationships and trust within a group that may be unrelated to real estate.
Second, I loved the idea of leaving your business card everywhere. Okay so you might think this one is a long shot. Consider the local car wash. At the one near my office there is a board absolutely littered with real estate business cards. It’s actually kind of funny. But consider this, someone is looking at that board and maybe recognizes a name on the same day as he (or she) just got a big promotion and is thinking about buying a condo. A stretch? Probably. Impossible? Hey, nothing is impossible but I can guarantee you one thing, just like the lotto….you gotta play to win.
Third, creating your own niche. Whether it is marketing to groups with specific interests or hobbies, being the expert will go a long way. Sometimes the idea for a niche happens by accident. Consider this perfect example. There is a terrific agent in Coburg named Dave Chomitz http://www.cobourgclassic.com/ who is a wiz at video. Every time he lists a house he creates a website using the address. Once he got a listing of a beautiful stone century home but the owner didn’t want a sign on the property so Dave decided that instead of using the address he used www.astonehome.ca . Well he sold the house quickly and since he had the website already he started calling private sellers and putting their homes on his site. Dave tells me that in the last six years he has created a data base of 554 families that get his updates and newsletters and is averaging about 18 sign ups a month. While Dave admits that some are owners just watching what he is doing, the majority are buyers. Oh, and you will love this, for a small fee, other Realtors can advertise on HIS site.
Well, hopefully you have a couple of ideas on how you could create your own market. If you have other ideas and want to share them with me, I would love to hear them.
Well lets start off by saying that there is absolutely no point prospecting if you forget to follow-up with an interested person. I know at one time or other we are all guilty of the “forgotten follow-up”. It happens innocently enough. You meet a person at an open house. They are interested in looking at a house a couple of streets over so you jot down their name and number and promise to follow up. They tell you that they are out-of-town for a few days and ask you to touch base the following weekend. The note gets scribbled on a piece of paper somewhere and is forgotten. The next weekend passes but you’re tired and don’t feel like calling today. The next day, your cat has kittens so you promise yourself that you will call the next day. The next day comes and goes. Eventually you sit down and call the guy and the call goes something like this;
Ring ring… Hi this is Mark, we met at my open house a few weeks ago. I know you were interested in that house a few blocks over and I just wanted to touch base to see if you want to see it. Oh, I see, you called the agent directly? Oh, well, I knew you were away and ummm, and then my cat had kittens and ummmm…. Oh, you bought it? Wow, ok. Well, um, hopefully we can stay in touch. Click.
What’s that sound? That’s the sound of my stomach going thud! But there is an even more disturbing potential ending. That involves you forgetting to call altogether OR postponing it to the point where you are now too embarrassed to call. It never fails however…you will bump into that person later and there will be a very awkward moment to contend with. You see, our job is to always be prospecting. There are some interesting statistics out there on how many calls you have to make with a potential prospect before they become a solid client. I have heard that number is as high as eight calls to convert a perfect stranger you met at an open house into a buyer (or seller). I’m not sure I am terribly surprised.
Contact with your sphere, whether it is past ,current of future clients, should be a priority in your life. Luckily there are a number of tools available today to make this task easier. Have you heard the term CRM? It stands for Customer Relationship Management. A fancy buzzword for staying in touch. There are a number of different companies that offer versions perfectly suited for the real estate industry. Top Producer and iXact are just two and there are a bunch more. If you are so inclined you may just decide to plug names into your phone’s daytimer or use your Outlook. Like everything, it takes time to make the action of adding names to your database a habit.
My top agent would be lost without her CRM system. Every morning it alerts her to call 5 past clients. These are simply catch up calls to say hi and stay in the client’s head or maybe it’s to wish them a Happy Birthday. Then it’s on to new business and touching base with new clients. There is no question that a CRM system is an invaluable tool of our trade and to get better, you have to use it. As a runner, I firmly believe in my heart rate monitor. It keeps me going. I know when to speed up and when to slow down. Ultimately it keeps me training at a constant level and I can monitor my performance more accurately.
That’s it for this week.