Tips for Protecting Your Real Estate Business in Times of Uncertainty

In times of uncertainty, anxieties are heightened and it’s natural to take a step back and say, “will my business weather the storm?” As in other aspects of your life, it’s important to focus on preparedness and not panic, when it comes to your business. Stay calm, stay aware, and take the necessary steps that you can now in order to put yourself in a better position 6 months down the road.
 
First, get organized. Schedule some time to step back and get a birds-eye, 1,000-foot view of your business. Look at your goals and take inventory of your processes. If you want to understand where you need to adjust or change course, you first have to have a clear finger on the pulse of your business.
 

Get Creative Finding Leads

Leads, leads, leads. Nothing new here, as agents have been searching for better lead strategies for years. What’s different now is that you may have to get more creative if there’s a dip in seller or buyer leads in your market.

Tips for strategic and creative lead generation

  • Diversify your efforts. You never know if you’re missing out on a gold mine until you try a new tactic.
  • Direct mail isn’t dead! Send just listed/sold post cards.
  • Educate your lead base. It’s your job to connect the dots for your clients.
  • Get involved in your community. Reputation and name recognition are the keys here. Sponsor events, volunteer, be a guest speaker… anything to have your name be a part of the conversation.
  • Spruce up that social media. Social media is a low-cost, medium-time investment, but it can yield great results.
  • Boost your investment in expert digital advertising.
  • Prepare a better listing presentation. Download our guide.
  • Convert buyer leads into seller leads.

Be a Trusted Expert

 

In tough times, the good are separated from the great. A perfect example of how to land in the latter category is to know everything you can possibly know about your market. Front and back, left and right. You need to have every data point on the tip of your tongue, ready to use in conversations with potential sellers and homebuyers.

 

Share your expertise via content marketing! Stick to your geographic farm, compile all of your knowledge and observations, and share them with your leads via blogs, Facebook, videos, and email newsletters.

 

Become a Data Scientist

 

Being strategic and numbers-driven is always good business practice. And it’s particularly critical during a shifting or uncertain market when transactions may slow a bit and budget becomes a top priority.

 

So what metrics should you be tracking? We like to break it into two groups: personal performance and return on investment (ROI).

 

Personal Performance

The agents that thrive in any market are the agents that stay diligent and hold themselves accountable.

  • Follow-Up & Response Time: Generating leads isn’t enough. It’s the follow-up and persistent communication that comes next that truly matters. Ask yourself, how is your follow-up? Track and measure your speed-to-lead as well as your response rates. If you’re using a CRM that tracks these things for you and schedules to-dos, be diligent with your system. Take advantage of accountability tools and dashboards that show you concrete numbers reflecting your follow-up habits.
  •  

  • Lead Conversion & Close Rates: These numbers are critical to stay on top of because they directly tie to your transaction volume. When you’re crystal clear on how many leads you’re converting to opportunities and how many deals you’re closing, you can (A) pinpoint where you need to improve, and (B) estimate how many leads you need in order to reach your sales goals.

 

 

    The Trick to Increasing Lead Conversion

 

Focus on Your Return on Investment

Times of uncertainty call for extra caution and precision with budget.

 

Take a look at your business plan and your goals for the remainder of the year, and then spend some extra time working on your budget. Look closely at your finances from the past few years, and set specific goals for your revenue and profit (while trying to lower your expenses.)

 

The reason tracking and measuring your expenditures is important, is so that you can understand which efforts have a positive ROI. You may be spending a relatively high amount of money on lead generation or marketing efforts — however if those outputs lead to enough closings, it’s worth the investment.

 

Track all of your expenses as diligently as possible, (with as much detail as you can), and you’ll be able to boost the right investments and cut corners in the right places.

If you’re a broker or team leader, you need to measure the ROI of your agents. Here are a few questions to ask:

  • Do they bring in sales that are equal to, or above their costs?
  • Does your employee encourage customer retention?
  • How does your employee affect team morale and production? Are they distracting? Motivating?
  • What does this employee’s future look like within your business? How do they contribute to your business growth?

 

Focus on Relationships & Communication

 

Know Your Leads

 

It’s all about conveying the trends that are to come. Accepting an offer is a major decision, and there is even more on the line when the offers are lower than they were hoping for. Work on your “counseling” skills, which will come in handy when counseling anxious sellers to get off the fence and accept an offer. Be prepared with projections to show them that if they wait, more than likely the offers will go down. Avoid preemptive and reluctant buyers and seek out the leads that are motivated to buy now.

 

Top Communication Tips:

  1. Share Facts – always have detailed and valuable market information at-the-ready
  2. Listen – learn your client’s needs and fears
  3. Avoid Pitfalls – be aware of common transaction pitfalls (inspections, appraisals, loan approval), and take extra precautions throughout the process to avoid them
  4. Be Honest – don’t manipulate data to push a seller or buyer in a particular direction if you don’t genuinely think it’s in their best interest. (Be encouraging without being pushy)

Streamline Your Business with a CRM

 
We all wish we could be the superhero that tackles all of the tough tasks on their own. But the truth is, achieving top-tier success in real estate is nearly impossible without technology in this day and age. By partnering with the right real estate technology, you can completely streamline your business, automate busywork, and develop a healthy pipeline of leads to drive your business even in the toughest of markets.
 

1. It’s Like an Assistant (But More Powerful)

    Do you have time to follow-up with every new lead that registers on your site as quickly as possible? Probably not. Your time is better spent with hot leads, having conversations, meeting with clients, and showing houses. However, lead generation, qualification, and follow-up are critical for fueling a thriving pipeline. That’s why it’s essential to leverage technology. Be strategic about the tools that you’re using, by (A) choosing the right ones for your business, (B) utilizing them to their fullest potential, and (C) measuring ROI.
     
    With Success Assurance, you can focus your energy on more dollar-productive activities. Leave the rest to us. When a new lead registers on your site, a lead concierge will reach out to them for you, in as little as 90 seconds. And then deliver them to you, transaction-ready. This process allows you to maximize your ROI and leverage real experts to nurture your pipeline. Better yet, it allows you to focus on the dollar-productive and fulfilling tasks that you got into this business to do — build relationships, stay in front of your sphere, and close more deals.

 

2. Prioritize Who to Call

    Real estate agents generate leads everyday. If you’ve been in the business for a few years, you probably have several hundred, if not thousands, of leads sitting in a spreadsheet. How do you know which ones are still active? Still searching?
     

    A real estate CRM can tell you who is actively looking for a home and how often. You can even filter and segment your leads by who is active. Think about the time saved right there. Hours of prospecting reduced to a fraction of a second. Coupling this with a phone dialer, you can turn lead generation into one of real estate’s easiest exercises. No more time blocking hours for routine grunt work. You can focus on tasks that have a higher ROI, like showing houses for clients.

     

 

3. Better Lead Communication (that Drives Conversions)

    Which statement do you think will have a longer, lasting impact?

     

    1. Hi Jack, I saw you were looking to buy a house. How can I help you today?
    2. Hi Jack, I noticed you were looking at homes in Lawton Harbor. It’s a beautiful neighborhood! Would you like to see some homes there today?

     

    Number two sticks out, right? The best real estate CRMs — working with your website — will tell you what properties leads are looking at (and how many times). This allows you to send personalized communication bound to convert. BoomTown clients, for example, have seen a 450% increase in lead responses (based on our CRM tools). It works particularly well for leads who are 6-8 months out. If you notice them looking at one specific property over and over (recorded by the CRM), then you can send them a quick text, saying, “Want me to schedule a showing for 1234 Bend Street this Saturday?”

     

    Good real estate CRMs will expand on this behavior. They will match new (or updated) properties to your leads, using the data behind their home searches. It’s similar to how Google will offer better websites based on how you search. Then all you have to do is send out a group text or email, asking if anyone wants to see these “new” properties. Lead insights allow personalized communication. That communication creates better conversions. More conversions equal more money.

 

4. Improve Agent Performance

 

    Well-performing teams have a business process. It’s a workflow for handling new leads and existing clients. Example: Brokers often tell agents to respond to new leads within the hour. But how do you know if agents are actually contacting new leads within the hour?

     

    Holding agents (or yourself) accountable to a process isn’t easy. But a real estate CRM makes it effortless. By asking your team to contact leads through your CRM, it’ll leave a record of their actions. You can then pull up reports and see what they’re doing. It’s a good base for one-on-one discussions. You can drill into how often they try to contact leads, when they contact them, and if there was a response. It allows you to improve agent performance, which creates better ROI for your business. Ultimately, it’ll allow you to recruit and retain the best agents.

     

     

In Conclusion

 

Without a crystal ball, we just have to wait and see how things shake out. In the meantime, do what you can to prepare for a shift. You’ve made it all the way through this article, so you already have a head start on the competition! Frontload on business planning and strategy-building for the year ahead, so that if and when you start to feel the effects of an uncertain market, you’re fully prepared and ready to pivot. Be smarter with money and budget than you ever have before. Now is the time to stretch your dollars, maximize your ROI, and save as much money as you can.

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Cost-Per-Lead Isn’t Everything! Here’s Why.

For many years the narrative surrounding lead generation in real estate has been, “You need the highest amount of leads possible at the lowest cost-per-lead.” It’s been drilled into our psyche and business models to chase the lowest cost-per-lead and churn out more, more, more. Here at BoomTown we’ve often been swept up on the same train!
 
An affordable cost-per-lead is important, there’s no denying it, and it continues to be a north star of effort in our Digital Marketing department. However, as we enter a new decade and a new era of innovation in real estate, I think that it’s important to expand our focus into a more holistic view of healthy lead generation and conversion. Let’s explore a few ways to do that.
 

Changes in the Landscape

 
What’s changed over the last 2, 5, and 10 years? Well, the internet and consumer behaviors online have changed at lightning speed. On one hand, businesses have grown savvier and more prescriptive with online marketing. Digital advertising on Facebook and Google has grown through algorithm shifts and new updates allowing real estate agents to target their markets more specifically to generate leads. As education and capabilities increase in digital marketing, so too does competition.
 
Additionally, consumer behaviors have shifted. The percentage of US adults who use social media increased from 5% in 2005 to 79% in 2019. We’ve grown accustomed to scrolling aimlessly. Watching videos without sounds. We’re used to seeing ads. And we’re used to ignoring ads! As the consumer becomes more and more tech-savvy, marketing strategies need to stay ahead of the curve to keep up.
 

Cost-Per-Lead isn’t Fixed (Or Guaranteed)

 
There will always be variables outside of your control that affect your Cost-Per-Lead.
 

Seasonal Trends

Online searches rise in January and demand peaks between April and June. More people begin actively looking and seeing houses with the intention of moving during the summer. In July things begin to plateau, and demand dips between October and December. The combination of search/demand and the number of advertisers throughout these peaks will change your CPL.
 

Market Forces

External factors will affect your CPL that are entirely out of your control; natural disasters, shifts in the economy, election years, housing market, etc. Always have your finger on the pulse of these market forces and be aware of how they might influence your CPL.
 

Location, Competition, Demand

A $500 ad budget in small-town Texas is going to go a lot further than in San Francisco or New York City. Keep tabs on the state of the market in your area, the number of competitors, etc., and understand that your CPL can only go so low if you are in one of these hot locations.
 

Conversion Rate is Key

 
Try to focus on a blend of quality and quantity when it comes to leads. And try to shift your mindset when it comes to how you define the quality of a lead. If you have a phone number or an email, you’ve got something to work with. Understand that online leads are very rarely going to be as “hot” as referrals or call-ins. They may be 6-12 months out from buying or selling. Or even longer! But if your business strategy is centered around conversion and a long-term nurture plan for your pipeline; you’ll see success with online leads.
 

 

Here are some tips for improving your conversion rate.
 

Build an Effective Landing Page

Your consumer website should be designed with the intention of maximizing conversions. It needs to be visually appealing, easy to use, and strategically prompt the user for their information. Some CRMs will build this page for you, which is ideal because they have built-in data and expertise on what works. If you’re building this page on your own, do your research and consider hiring a coach or consultant to make sure you do a good job.
 

Invest in Nurturing Leads

The agents with an effective long-game nurture plan, will have a higher ROI over time because they’ll close more of those warm leads over time. Nurturing leads requires strategic contact through drip emails, texting and phone calls. These strategic touches keep warm leads informed and engaged, and they will allow you to see which leads might be ready for direct contact. With Success Assurance from BoomTown, we do the nurture work for you. In addition to drip campaigns and nurture plans, our lead concierge service will reach out to your new leads and if they’re not quite ready to talk, they will continue to nurture them on your behalf for up to a year.
 

Create Compelling Ads and Copy

The ad itself is the catalyst for generating a lead, so the copy needs to be compelling and concise, with a clear call-to-action. The image needs to be professional quality. If you’re working with a CRM, they’re likely doing a lot of this work for you, but if you’re not, make sure you are paying attention to these details. A/B testing will improve your ad campaigns.
 

Broaden Your Scope of Keywords

People browsing for homes are more likely to search with general/broad keywords. For example, even if someone is looking for a luxury home in Isle of Palms (small sub-city of Charleston, SC), they will likely still search for, “Charleston Homes.” In these broader searches, there is often less competition and higher traffic.


Discover What’s Possible with BoomTown!
Request a Demo


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How Brokers are Recruiting for the Future

We’re living through a truly unique time in the real estate industry, and it’s one that I’m excited to be a part of. Experts predict a strong 2020 market, home sales are increasing YoY, and we’re innovating technology faster than ever. As we enter a new decade, we’re asking “what’s next?” What do we envision for the agent and consumer experience 10 years from now?
 
I like to stay connected with many of our BoomTown clients, keeping a finger on the pulse of their wins and toughest challenges. A resounding common denominator amongst many of these leaders is the focus on smarter recruiting. They’re no longer recruiting any agents, they want the right agents. And it’s competitive.
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“We always tip the scales with culture in recruiting – 51% culture and 49% productivity / profitability. We want to partner with individuals who are humble, hungry, and people smart, and who truly view business as a conduit for their personal growth. It’s truly all about who you become on your business journey.” – Erin McCormick, Chief Operating Officer, Hergenrother Realty Group at Keller Williams

 
A recent conversation with friend and client, Doug Gieck, VP of Production at 8z Real Estate, emphasized this pattern. “Recruiting and retention in Real Estate at the brokerage level has always been, remains, and will always be a hyper-competitive space. We are even seeing Wall Street throw big money into this space to try and recruit and retain the best talent. This will only continue in the future,” Gieck noted.
 
A strong recruitment program has a lot of elements (all of which need to be attractive and competitive), and we’re seeing that tech solutions are the real unifier. “To remain relevant and keep your brokerage alive you need a robust and precise tech stack that allows agents maximize efficiency and feel the support your brokerage provides,” says Gieck. If the billions of investment dollars being poured into “proptech” are any indication, the right tech makes all the difference. And agents are flocking to whoever offers the best.
 
I’ve never been more excited than I am right now with the innovations happening at BoomTown. Knowing that recruiting is a top priority, our North Star is clear: leverage our sheer volume of data from 11+ years of working with real estate professionals to optimize the agent experience and, in turn, perfect the consumer experience. That means making data-driven decisions to tackle lead qualification and follow-up. It means implementing AI to anticipate consumer needs and empower agents to answer questions before they’re even asked. Most importantly, it means ignoring unproven practices and the status quo and leveraging precise information to stay strides ahead.
 
I’ll give you an example. Agents’ lack of ability to effectively follow-up with leads is actively leaving money on the table. We’re solving for that by handling it for them, reaching out to leads on their behalf, at the most opportune time, and then serving them to the agent when they’re ready. More than ever, agents are craving a predictable outcome. And the broker who can provide the most powerful framework with an assurance of success (based on proven data) is the broker that will recruit and retain the best talent.
 

“In 2020, a successful agent is consistent in their activities. They show up with their team daily to practice together – role-playing and at least a focused power-hour of lead generation – all together. They track their numbers daily and diversify their lead gen sources. We encourage our agents to be in our BoomTown CRM for at least 30 minutes a day, utilizing user-behavior to guide their actions to make them as efficient, purposeful and intentional every day.” – Erin McCormick, Chief Operating Officer, Hergenrother Realty Group at Keller Williams

 

I believe that it is our job as technology providers to empower agents in 2020 to check all of those boxes. It’s possible to be data-driven, to utilize success metrics, and to leverage insights in order to virtually guarantee success. (And I don’t use the word guarantee lightly!)
 
Sonny Downey, broker of EXIT Realty Gallery, puts it succinctly. “Why do agents join a team or a franchise rather than work alone? They see the value in what that environment can offer. Brokers who use BoomTown leverage it as a recruitment tool because it empowers agents.” And that commitment to empowering agents continues to drive our innovation.

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3 Accountability Tips for Real Estate Agents

With most things in life, showing up is half the battle. Getting yourself out of bed and into the gym. Sticking to a commitment you made that you don’t really feel like doing anymore. In real estate it’s about making the calls, following up with your leads, and doing the work.
 
And in an industry as competitive as real estate, accountability is king. Here are 3 effective ways you can hold yourself accountable for doing the work that will drive your success. Trust us, the top producers do all 3.
 

1. ABP (Always Be Prospecting)

 
An undeniable (and let’s face it, unsexy) fact about real estate is that prospecting and follow-up = transactions. It may not be the most fun and conversion rates can be discouraging… but it all comes down to that one person at the right time.
 
Tom Ferry recently did a study surveying over 3,000 real estate professionals. The most compelling statistic that came out of the survey was that agents who prospect 5 or more hours a week make more than $200,000 a year. Now that is hard to ignore!
 
The trick with prospecting is to shift your mindset out of instant gratification. Think of it like a farmer spreading seeds. Not every seed will root, and even some of the seeds that root won’t necessarily thrive. But the yield comes later. You’re fueling your pipeline with opportunities.
 

The Secret to Avoiding Prospecting Fatigue

 

2. Invest in a Coach or a Partner

 
A real estate coach or some sort of business mentor is incredibly valuable, no matter how successful or seasoned you are. Real estate is tough… there’s a reason why 87% of agents fail in the first few years! You’re not just selling houses, you are an entrepreneur and a small business owner. You have to think like an accountant, marketer, CEO, manager, entertainer – you name it!
 
Most successful broker/owners or mega-agents have this in common: they ask for help and don’t try to do it all. It’s impossible to do it all and you will burn out. A coach can help you keep a level, outside perspective on your business. They will hold you accountable, push you further than you thought you could go, and shed light on your blind spots.
 
If the financial investment isn’t a possibility for you, try to find an accountability partner instead. It could be a colleague or peer outside of your market (to avoid competition). Just like a workout buddy, it’s helpful to have someone checking in and holding you accountable to the commitments that you’ve made for yourself and for your business.
 

3. Know Your Numbers

 
When I was fresh out of college, to my own detriment, I had an “out of sight out of mind” attitude towards my finances. I would auto draft my bills but never really look at them, watch my spending but not really track it, and just hope that at the end of the month I broke even with a little extra. Smart? Absolutely not. It’s only when I started facing my finances head-on, knowing my numbers, and setting a strict budget that I truly felt in control. No surprises!
 
Think of your day-to-day tasks that way. Particularly with prospecting and follow-up, because they are arguably the most laborious. It’s not enough to just do a little bit here and there and hope that you close enough deals. To reach your goals you need to play the numbers game and do the math. Understanding your monthly and yearly performance in terms of success metrics will help you assure that you reach your projected transaction volume.
 

What should I track? Start here:

  • Average response time to new leads
  • # of follow-up attempts
  • Lead conversion rates (start a conversation)
  • Lead close rates (actually close the deal)
  • # of leads generated per month
  • advertising budget

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    This Is the New CMA (And It’s Way Better)

    If you’re fortunate enough to reach the “let’s meet” stage of a possible listing, you have one shot at impressing your future client. What matters most when you’re sitting at the kitchen table is showing up with the right tools to convince them you’re the perfect person for the job.
     
    Every other agent will bring a comparative market analysis (CMA). After all, one of the first things a homeowner is going to ask is “how much is my house worth?” While this might be what they’re asking, what they’re really wondering is “How much equity do I have in my home?”
     
    This is the chance to take it one step further: ditch the CMA and opt for a Professional Equity Assessment Report, or PEAR.
     

    professional equity assessment report boomtown keeping current matters

     

    What is a Professional Equity Assessment Report?

     
    A Professional Equity Assessment Report is a simple way for real estate agents to determine the cash value of a seller’s home. No guessing, no painful calls with the bank or a lender. With a simple twist, you’re not only telling them the estimated value of their home, but also what they could purchase a new home for. You just proved yourself as a trusted advisor.
     
    Over 50% of the homes currently in the U.S. market are sitting on 50% equity or more without even knowing it. A PEAR is a powerful and effective tool for agents to use that not only impresses but also inspires homeowners to take action.
     
    Here’s how you do it.
     

    Step 1: Offer a PEAR

     
    Whether you’re sending a follow-up email, door-knocking or setting up the first meeting with a potential client, let them know that you offer a complimentary Professional Equity Assessment Report.
     
    Add it to your sales scripts, create a landing page, or include it in real estate marketing materials. However you present it, make sure they know why this is a better tool than a CMA, and that you’re unique for offering it.
     
    Remember, as great as it may be to send via email, it will be especially powerful in-person. Plus, you can save an extra step by downloading our free customizable PowerPoint template.
     

    Step 2: Ask for Their Mortgage Balance

     
    Selling a home can be a sensitive time for most homeowners. It’s only human to become emotionally attached, and passions can run wild.
     
    Therefore, asking for someone’s mortgage statement may seem like a personal matter. To overcome this fear, it’s best to present it as a matter of fact.
     

    keeping current matters home equity boomtown

     
    When setting up the first meeting, tell them that you want to do a Professional Equity Assessment Report of their home. Tell them that in order to do this, you will need their current mortgage balance, and that they can find this information on their last statement.
     
    Chances are, the seller will jump at the chance of learning their equity and not make a big to-do of giving up their mortgage information.
     


    Read More from Keeping Current Matters


    Step 3: Establish the Approximate Value of Their Home

     
    Running the comps of recently sold homes in the area will give you a good idea of what their property is worth. Once you’re in the home, you can further evaluate this and offer an estimate.
     
    If you are unable to get into the home but still want to offer a PEAR, we recommend stressing that this is an educated estimate, and you’ll get a better understanding of the home value when you visit.
     

    Step 4: Do the Math

     
    It doesn’t get much simpler than this. By taking the estimated home price (ex. $150,000) and subtracting it from their mortgage balance (ex. $100,000) you can decipher that they have about $50,000 of equity in their home.
     
    This can be a valuable tool for figuring out the listing price as well as what they can purchase a new home for. Given today’s current seller’s market, homes are frequently going over asking with multiple bids, which would, in turn, increase the seller’s equity.
     
    That delivers an unmatchable incentive to move hesitant sellers off the fence.
     

    Bottom Line

     
    The #1 job of any real estate agent is to be a trusted expert. Providing a Professional Equity Assessment Report to clients is a great way to build rapport, set yourself apart from your competitors and get the listing.
     
    When every other agent only shows up with a list of comps, you are the agent that goes above and beyond to make sure your clients are educated and prepared for the selling process.
     
    We’ve made this even easier by creating a customizable PEAR presentation that you can download and share with your clients. Add in your contact information, branding and the seller’s information and you’re ready to go. You can download the PEAR presentation template here and start differentiating yourself to potential clients today.

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