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March 27, 2013

Testimonials. Part Of Your Real Estate Success

by mark mclean


This past weekend I was fortunate enough to attend the Canadian Real Estate Association’s Annual General Meeting in Ottawa as a voting delegate and representative of the Toronto Real Estate Board. Say what you will about organized real estate conventions, the truth is that everyone there is interested in the health and longevity of our industry and while you may not always agree with them, they are NOT there for the free food. I am constantly amazed at the passion and committment to our industry, their enthusiasm in new directions and technologies and their support of charities like Realtor’s Care.

Last year, CREA, under the direction of their board, decided to take an indepth look at all aspects of how organized real estate operates in Canada. The Futures Implementation Team identified four strategic focus areas that they wanted to concentrate on:  development of a state-of the-art technology platform, providing information and tools to Realtors and to consumers; increased emphasis and enhancement of professional development to increase our value to consumers; looking at restructuring organized real estate, particularly the governance, to expedite decision-making, and ultimately reduce costs and duplication; and finally to acquire consumer insight so organized real estate can understand changing consumer needs and improve our relationship with consumers. While all very good stuff, this is a tremendous amount of work which eventually lead to the proposal of  23 initiatives. Well, that is the history of FIT in a nutshell.

Back in October I headed to Winnipeg for a CREA Special Assembly to get a first hand look at some of these proposals. One of which was a “Rate Your Realtor” idea. This has been a relatively divisive topic among boards and in Ottawa there was, again, a lengthy debate about it. Some argued that the optics of a rating system for Realtors, regulated by Realtors would not be viewed in a positive light by the public. Others said that a private system could corrupt an agent’s rating easily and that a CREA owned system could monitor the ratings more vigilantly. The proponents of the idea looked to the successes of an internally owned rating system at the Houston Board, while others looked at some existing rating sites that had lots of outdated information. In the end the proposal was defeated, but somehow I think we will hear about this idea again.

The idea of ratings got me thinking however. I wonder if a private site could ever become the penultimate resource on the performance and success of agents let alone develop a profitable model for such a system. At the end of the day, good agents, who have been in the business for a while, are successful because they have stellar reputations and can safely rely on the referrals of past clients. They did a good job and were attentive to the needs of their clients. But agents who are just starting out may not have built their referral network yet. So what can they do? Simple, put a testimonial section in your website or include a brief video on your front page. It is not a lot of work for the benefit provided. There have been a number of studies that show a testimonial has much more leverage with decision makers than an advertising message.

So the take away here is that testimonials, whether written or by video, should be a key component of your marketing and prospecting plan. It has a lot of value so make it front and centre. We carry around, in our phones, the technology to record quick videos at a moment’s notice, so next time you do a good job for someone ask them if they will record a little testimonial for you.

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