Viewing by month: August 2010

Why follow franchise branding guidlelines?

For many people the purchase of a franchise can be an ideal way to establish and own their own business.  While enjoying the freedom of running their own company, franchisees also benefit from the association with a well-established, successful brand. 

When buying a franchise, none of the usual company start-up issues such as designing a logo should exist, as the franchisor will have already invested significant resources into building the company’s name and creating its brand.  This enables the new franchise to simply focus on what it does best and to start building its client base in the local area.  

Some aspects of owning a franchise however can sometimes be challenging for franchisees, especially when it comes to branding guidelines.  This response is understandable – after all, you do own your own business, why shouldn’t you be able to make decisions about simple elements such as font style or colour?

The answer is consistency. 

The purpose of a brand is to identify a company.  The idea is essentially that the consistent combination of colours, images, font types and styles used in a company’s branding strategy will help a consumer to identify the company and the feelings it invokes instantly, even if the company’s name is not immediately visible. 

The colours of CENTURY 21, for instance, are well recognized by consumers in the Australian real estate market, not to mention globally.  Regardless of your location, as a CENTURY 21 franchisee, using these colours on your branding should instantly position you in your target audience’s mind as an expert real estate company.   

By using another colour or font on your marketing material, you could risk confusing potential clients who may not recognize what your company is or what it does, damaging your office’s brand in the process. 

In the end, following the branding guidelines of a franchise company is not meant to be a chore, rather should help to enhance your business.  Taking the simple steps to make your brand clear gives you time to focus on what you’re really good at – in CENTURY 21’s case, selling real estate.   

 


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 25/08/2010 at 2:37 PM | Categories:

Building a good team of professionals around your business

It is the nature of any business to have tasks pop up quickly, often requiring immediate action.  For your real estate franchise this will be no different.   Not only will your agency have internal needs, your clients will often call on you for recommendations when it comes to making preparations for selling their homes. 

Readying a home for sale can often be a balancing act.  Your client may wish to do things to freshen their property up in an attempt to make it more appealing to prospective buyers, however they don’t wish to spend a great deal of money doing so.  Time also becomes a factor here, where various tasks such as painting often need to be performed quickly and with short notice.   

Your real estate agents will often be asked for recommendations regarding the best professionals/companies to use for these tasks.  To fulfill these requests, your agency should build a database of companies/people whom you know can be trusted to do a good job.   

This database should contain the best contacts for a variety of different jobs.  Painting is a very common request, as is gardening.  A handyman for odd jobs is also a convenient to have.   As home staging is becoming more and more popular, it may also be worthwhile to have a property stylist with connections into furniture hire companies in your system.

The people on your contact list are ones that you will possibly need to call to work with a day’s notice.  They need to be professional, understand that you are working within a tight time frame and their prices must be reasonable. 

It can often be worthwhile to have a couple of different contacts under each job category.  This can be helpful if your first choice is unable to commit to the work. 

Remember that by recommending these particular professionals they become almost an extension of your business.  Although the contractor does not work for your agency, if something goes wrong it has the potential to reflect badly on your company. 

Building up relationships with various contractors can also be a smart way to generate more business for your agency.  If your contacts enjoy working with your agency, they may be inclined to recommend your business to their own contacts as a good real estate agency to approach. 

In the end it comes down to effective time management.  If you need a job performed to a good standard yet swiftly, it usually pays to employ somebody whose work you are acquainted with.   If your real estate agency can build up a database of trusted contacts that are readily available, you should end up with smooth prepared properties and satisfied clients. 

 


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 19/08/2010 at 9:38 AM | Categories:

Effectively managing your agency's social media strategy

Generally speaking, the real estate industry has been one of the most successful in the adoption of online marketing tools.  We already know that many people prefer to search for a property using a website rather than browsing through their local papers, and that email subscriber lists are an effective  way to distribute alerts for properties coming on to the market.

If used effectively, social media marketing (SMM) has incredible potential for the real estate industry.   It is understandable how many people believe that SMM is essentially the same as marketing on the internet, as the same medium is used.  But these perceptions should be quashed.  SMM is usually more of an interactive process than regular online marketing and can require more of a hands-on management approach.

Starting with Facebook, your real estate franchise should ensure that an account is established specific to your agency.  The last thing you want is for individual agents to be posting comments and articles on behalf of your office from their own personal account.  This will look unprofessional and could hinder your database construction.

It could also be worthwhile to establish some consistency regarding the manager of your agency’s Facebook page.  Again, it can come across as unprofessional to have the views of differing people expressed in different posts.  All comments made should come from the agency itself, and not from specific agents.  Furthermore, agents should never conduct personal communication using the agency’s Facebook page.

It could be quite an effective exercise to pay attention to the comments people leave on your Facebook page, or respond to a blog post with, and the social interaction amongst audience members that can often develop.  Social media can be an extremely effective, organic form of market research which can contain fascinating insights into your target market.  It would be a shame to let these go to waste. 

It may sound obvious, but try to use correct spelling and grammar in your social media activities.  To some people incorrect usage can allude to a variety of negative attributes on the part of your agency – sloppiness, lack of attention to detail, even stupidity.  In the end, your aim is usually to persuade members of your audience to let you sell their homes.  Would you want somebody who was sloppy and thoughtless about details to sell your property?

Finally, if you take the time to implement a social media program, try to also dedicate some time its management.  In many cases the reason SMM works so well is because it allows a company to interact with its audience.  Try to put aside a little bit of time each day to monitor your social mediums and respond where necessary.  For instance, if somebody asks you a question/challenges you regarding your blog posting, make sure you reply promptly.  This can continue the conversation, often engages a larger audience and proves that you are committed to listening to your target market. 

 


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 16/08/2010 at 12:34 PM | Categories:

Aligning with local businesses to improve your real estate success

For a real estate franchise, the role played within your local community network of businesses can be an important part of increasing success.   

Whether people live in a small country town, a suburban neighbourhood or the centre of the city, they usually visit the same retailers for their purchases on a regular basis.  It doesn’t matter if the purchase is their morning coffee or a new car, for the most part people are creatures of habit and once a relationship is built with a retailer, the customer will continue to return. 

This blog has spoken before about the importance of increasing your listings to improve your real estate success.  The focus has largely been on ways to reach and meet prospective clients personally, which is extremely important. 

What many real estate businesses don’t realize however, is that networking, or forming alliances with other local businesses in the community, is also a very powerful real estate marketing tool that can hold tangible benefits for your franchise. 

An alliance with other local retailers could mean any number of things.  It could be as simple as introducing yourself to the owners of the coffee store next to your agency, buying your coffee there daily and building up a relationship. 

It could mean joining with another business to co-brand a tent at the next community fair, or placing an advertisement in their newsletter or on their website. 

At the highest level, forming an alliance could actually mean becoming a member of your local business organization, such as a Chamber of Commerce, whereby you join with other community businesses to discuss community issues and form potential business strategies for the area. 

Assuming other businesses reciprocate the alliance, forming relationships can be mutually beneficial for all companies involved.  As repeat customers will both like and be loyal to their local retailer, your business relationship could ensure the transfer of these positive associations to your real estate franchise. 

When it comes time for people in this group to put their property on the market, your company could spring to mind quickly as a trusted organization involved with the community. 

There is much to be gained by involving your real estate agency amongst businesses in the local community.  Building solid business relationships based on mutual respect could ultimately position you as a company that is well liked and trusted, important traits sought by people looking for an agency to sell their home.   

 

 


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 02/08/2010 at 12:54 PM | Categories: