3 Tips for Real Estate Franchisees to Increase Sales

It’s probably pretty common knowledge that sales are fairly important to the success of any franchise. To this end, real estate is really a sales industry, just with a slightly slower turnover and generally higher prices than what you might consider your typical retail business.

As an agent, you can often find yourself working far beyond the average 9-5. As we’ve all heard, “with great power comes great responsibility”, and the last thing a franchise owner needs is a stale sale period or even worse; a decrease in sales.

Below are three strategies to help you stay on top by increasing your real estate sales.

1. Use content marketing.

Times have changed; big businesses are failing to dominate their markets with large marketing budgets. People are no longer paying attention to the thousands of marketing messages they encounter seven days a week. With customer awareness on an inevitable rise, traditional marketing methods are weakening as each day passes. Building customer relationships and presenting relevant and valuable content (such as local market activity facts) will enable you to be found by prospective customers, rather than marketing to deaf ears.

“The key is not to call the decision maker. The key is to have the decision maker call you.” – Jeffrey Gitomer

2. Use after sales service to build word-of-mouth recommendations.

Word-of-mouth is arguably the most effective method of increasing reputation and ultimately, your sales. This is one area in which many businesses fail. While you may be able to market and sell a product, the sale process doesn’t end there – especially in real estate. Building and maintaining customer relationships may lead to the referral that will potentially see you listing the property instead of your competitor. That’s why after sales service is so important – it gives you a chance to truly differentiate yourself from your competitors.

“If you are not taking care of your customer, your competitor will.” – Bob Hooey

3. Be seen in the local community.

You and your staff represent your brand in the local area. The key word here is “local”. Create a Facebook page, an Instagram account, anything that can catch the eye of your local audience.

Having strong engagement with your community is an underappreciated method of increasing sales. If your business name appears as a sponsor for the suburb’s sporting teams and at school fetes, or if you’re just seen out saying hello on a Sunday in your franchises jacket, you’re enhancing your brand locally.

“It’s not about selling property, it’s about selling yourself in regards to the activities you do and the professionalism you deliver.” – Paul Mylott, Century 21 General Manager


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 11/02/2015 at 12:00 AM | Categories:

Start the New Year with a bang

As we ring in the New Year, it’s the perfect opportunity to take a moment and set out a few concrete goals. Make 2015 your biggest year yet!

1. Conduct an operational inventory. Before considering your new goals, work out what it is you have been doing over the past year. Identify the activities which have driven more sales or led to the highest-profit transactions, and those which required a great deal of time and energy with very little financial benefit. Now you know which activities to scrap and which to pursue more vigorously.

2. Do the same with clients. Client enquiries and follow ups can take up a significant part of your activities. While it can be tempting to try to pursue every single possible lead, experience can demonstrate that some leads result in much greater outcomes than others. Ideally your time would be best spent concentrating on, and following up with, those contacts who provide you with the greatest return. This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t be pursuing all opportunities, but if you find a particular client is wasting your time, they may not be worth the same level of attention as another.

3. Use the above to drive top line sales. Now you know what is working and what isn’t, you will be well-equipped to set up an action plan for the upcoming year. To stand out in the franchising crowd, you need constant growth and steady development to ensure your position as market and brand leader. Organise your activities around those which have been proven to lead to the greatest sales numbers.

4. Use the above to drive bottom line profit. Further to sales increases, cutting the fat by getting rid of activities which simply drain your resources with no return will be key. Sales are great, but if completing a sale doesn’t deliver a real financial benefit in terms of profits, then you’ll be putting in a lot of time and energy without much return.


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 14/01/2015 at 12:00 AM | Categories:

Boosting morale

At this time of the year it is customary that your employees will begin to switch into holiday mode as the festive season takes hold. This can present a great opportunity to recognise and reward exceptional performances occurring in the year that’s been. Whether this recognition comes in the form of monetary or non-monetary rewards, positive incentives can go a long a long way towards establishing a nurturing rapport with your employees. The outcome of this can even be to ultimately improve staff retention and your business’s reputation as a whole.

COMMUNICATING RECOGNITION

There is a lot to be said about a simple verbal congratulations to outstanding staff members. While this may seem a small gesture, for an employee who has been putting in the hard yards it can mean a lot to receive spoken recognition of this by senior staff managers. You may also like to recognise staff in a more formal manner, by naming an agent or staff member of the month, or offering a small gift to prompt other staff to also exceed their goals.

AWARDS NIGHTS

Industry events or awards nights can be great occasions to recognise the successes of top-performing agents. Century 21 agents are fortunate to be a part of a global organisation which already provides opportunities to recognise the achievements of agents outside of their individual offices, with state-wide and even nation-wide awards ceremonies. The Gold Hat Award for media presence is another means by which agents of the same franchise can work together to achieve recognition for the office, demonstrating to other offices the wonderful work they have been able to achieve together.

AD-HOC THANK YOU’S

Ad-hoc benefits should also not be underrated. Privileges like an annual Christmas party or a spur-of-the-moment team lunch can be just as rewarding as performance-related bonuses. An additional benefit is that they provide another opportunity for staff to socialise together and bond.

In a performance-based industry, a successful rewards strategy can be an enormously effective means for retaining staff and incentivising them to achieve their goals – and beyond. The benefit of a highly motivated staff base will almost certainly outweigh any associated costs that such rewards would have to the business.


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 03/12/2014 at 12:00 AM | Categories:

Getting your employees to speak up

Critical to your franchise’s success is not just receiving feedback from your clients, but from those you work most closely with – your employees. Therefore, as a manager it is important to encourage your team members to have honest conversations with you, and to promote the candid expression of opinions. This type of open environment may be cultivated by openly encouraging employees to speak directly with you, by providing opportunities for them to do so, and by making such scenarios routine and non-threatening. The result will hopefully be that your team members feel comfortable about broaching any topic with you, even potentially uncomfortable ones, which in turn ensures you have access to highly informative feedback on your performance.

Below are some tips on how this might be achieved.

Cultivate an open environment - This is often difficult because employees can often be accustomed to taking a conservative approach to communication around those in higher positions of authority. However, it is these same employees who are working in direct contact with clients and stakeholders, so are probably highly placed to understand firsthand the problems and possibilities for the company. Where employees are clamming up in meetings or avoiding questions, it’s important to understand why and attempt to bring them out of their shells. Encouraging openness in both group settings and individual conversations can pay dividends in terms of the feedback and ideas which may consequently unfold.

Provide options – Encouraging your employees to speak freely about issues in a group setting can allow these ideas to be heard by more than just yourself, and even be built on and adapted. However, it can also be helpful to initiate more one-on-one casual conversations also, to allow multiple avenues for people to express their views – particularly those who are a little more hesitant. Some people may feel uncomfortable in a public setting and fear they may say something unpopular. For this reason it may be an idea to informally approach individual employees rather than waiting for them to come to you – invite them to grab a coffee with you and ask for their feedback on a range of matters.

Make it routine – An overriding purpose of all of the above is to cultivate open communication as a matter of routine. In encouraging this, you may wish to dedicate time at the end of each weekly board meeting to flesh out any problems or queries. You may also wish you allocate the task of bringing forward concerns to a specific employee, and rotate this messenger role throughout the team week to week. This can convey a sense of ownership, while not overly burdening one single person every week. This process might also be applied in one-on-one meetings. By setting aside a few minutes at the end of each meeting and asking whether there are any additional issues you should be made aware of can also prompt people to speak freely.


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 29/10/2014 at 12:00 AM | Categories:

The importance of mentorship

 

Many business leaders credit their mentors as being the defining aspect that allowed them to achieve success where others may have failed. While they are correct in their assertions, they often overlook how important being a mentor was to their later career.

Mentoring provides a wide range of benefits for the mentor from being able to help grow and nurture your mentees career, to creating what can be life-long friendships. Being a mentor may also allow you to tap into different networks than would typically be available to you, in order to hire staff and solicit clients.

With this in mind, we have prepared four key benefits of being a mentor.

Develop your coaching skills: mentoring somebody will give you the opportunity to practice your coaching skills, as you assist them with working through any professional problems they may face.

Exposure to fresh perspectives: mentees will often provide you with fresh ideas and approaches to problems that you both face. You may find your mentees naivety brings clarity, not confusion, to solving problems.

Retain talent: if you strike up a mentoring relationship with an employee in your franchise, it may bring the added benefit of increasing staff retention.

Rewarding: mentoring can be an extremely rewarding process – you’ll be able to personally influence someone’s life and career. It is for this reason that many people take up mentoring and pursue it over many years.

Try mentoring somebody, and you may be surprised at the benefits it brings to you.


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 01/09/2014 at 12:00 AM | Categories:

Unlock your employee’s productivity

Managers often look to boost morale and encourage teamwork to create a more productive work environment; however, the modern workplace requires more than a pay bump and yearly bonus to achieve this outcome. Strategic measures aimed at increasing employee engagement, allowing self-directed work scheduling and empowering employees are all strategies which may help you unlock your team’s productivity.

Below are a few more helpful hints for unlocking the productivity of your employees.

Promote a collaborative environment: promoting collaboration among your team is one easy way that managers can efficiently boost their team’s productivity. An easy way to encourage collaboration is through providing rewards for collaborative behaviour, which could be as simple as an office award for the team player of the quarter.

Providing regular feedback: by providing regular constructive feedback to employees on their achievements and areas of improvement, you may be able to encourage these positive behaviours. Through this process, you also may increase employee engagement by providing employees with insight into how their actions benefit the team as a whole.

Trust your team: by empowering your employees to make decisions about how they carry out tasks assigned to them, it’s likely that your employees will begin to trust you more and be more satisfied with their work. While this will likely serve to increase productivity, as a side benefit, you may find that staff retention improves as your empowered employees develop more loyalty towards the business.

 


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 22/07/2014 at 12:00 AM | Categories:

Implement a local public relations strategy

The Managing Director of ZMM Group, Century 21’s national public relations agency, Michael Zahn, recently gave a speech at Century 21’s Australasian Convention discussing how Century 21 uses public relations to the brand’s advantage.

Michael has provided Gold Magazine with an edited excerpt of his presentation which summarises its key points and provides some interesting insights into how some of his strategies might be applied at a local level.

There is a strong correlation between Century 21’s top sales offices and the winners of Century 21’s Gold Hat awards across the states. This is because most of these offices have set clear goals, have a clear strategy and are constantly striving to better their best coverage with a new story, angle or insight that they could share with local reporters.

Reporters should be considered a real estate agent’s best friend. You should treat a reporter as you would any other key strategic partner for your agency, taking them out to lunch, keeping them regularly updated with how you feel about the local market and providing them with interesting news angles, such as an innovative sales process or heavily-trafficked open homes.

However, it should be remembered that building relationships with local journalists is not the only strategy for getting your name out in the media.

Another tool that can be overlooked is the tried and trusted media release. Century 21’s Members Gallery has a number of templates which cover a variety of topics such as a record number of listings, advice for selling in winter (and summer) as well as templates to use when a member of your office has won an award. These are complemented by two media release templates distributed by Century 21’s national marketing team which feature quotes from Charles Tarbey on topical issues in the Australian property market.

These templates are an easy and effective method for kick-starting your public relations strategy. Another public relations tool that you can use to help build a presence in your region is Century 21’s TwentyOne magazine, the home ideas, lifestyle and property magazine which is published quarterly.

The magazine has a range of contributors, from leading buyer’s agent Chris Gray to celebrity chef Luke Mangan, and regular features topics such as gardening tips, the latest in technology and home wares reviews.

TwentyOne can be used in your area to build brand awareness by providing it to local cafes, hairdressers and other businesses with well-trafficked waiting areas. Due to the high quality of its content, the magazine tends to be well-received by these businesses which appreciate its novelty factor and your effort in providing it to them.

It’s also an extremely effective listing tool and Century 21’s national marketing team has heard from many agents who’ve used it as part of the sales process or in a mail out to established customers and listed properties as a result.

Above all, engaging in all of your public relations activities with the same enthusiasm and engagement as when you deal with the rest of your real estate marketing is the key to success.


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 18/06/2014 at 12:00 AM | Categories:

Take a break for a mid-year reflection

With the first six months of the year nearly all but a memory, it could be a good opportunity to examine your businesses results from this period and reflect on any potential lessons you may be able to glean from these results. When doing this, it’s important to remember that you may be able to learn just as much from the success you’ve experienced, as you are able to from any less memorable moments.

Below are three more simple tips to help you build on the first half of the year to ensure a successful second half of 2014.

Analyse your data: while it’s likely you’re working with an accountant to square away any loose ends before the end of the financial year, this data isn’t only useful for taxation purposes. By examining this data in more detail, you may be able to determine areas of the business which are underperforming or you’re able to reduce expenditure;

Reflect on client queries: if any issues have been raised by clients throughout the year, it may be a good time to review these and check to ensure you’ve remedied these and put in place procedures to prevent them reoccurring. It can also be a good opportunity to examine any positive feedback your staff have received and ensure that the actions that resulted in this positive feedback are being repeated;

Define your goals: while you’re conducting this reflective process, it could be a good opportunity to use this time to set some goals for the new financial year. It may be useful to incorporate improvements on any negative feedback received, as well as build upon positive feedback you’ve received.


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 29/05/2014 at 12:00 AM | Categories:

Making public relations work for you

Real estate agencies can build a strong, consistent and positive public profile in their local area through implementing a targeted public relations strategy. This is important because a strong local presence can assist with winning listings, drawing crowds to open homes and ensuring that your agency is the first point of call for anyone looking to buy or sell real estate.

Below are five tips for kick-starting a successful public relations strategy.

1. Develop relationships. Success in public relations relies on strategically building relationships. Local journalists should be your first targets as they are always looking for stories of interest to their readers. By inviting the local property editor or reporter out for a coffee, you’ll be able to get to know them a little while conveying your point of view in an informal setting. By spending some time with this key point of contact, your relationship may position you as their first point of call for comment on any real estate stories they write.

2. Ensure your release is newsworthy. Once you’ve gotten to know key local media professionals, they may start to take more notice of your media releases. However, if the content of your releases isn’t interesting, your relationship alone won’t be enough to get your ideas published. For this reason it’s important to distribute communications which are attention-grabbing and go straight to the point. Even if you’re writing about what may appear to be a routine event, such as a sale or new listing, look for a unique edge or in PR terminology ‘news angle’ for your story. Examples might include a unique characteristic of the property, that it is the highest price sale in a particular area, or even interesting background information on the vendor.

3. Proofread. Remember that journalists receive dozens of emails with potential stories every day, so don’t risk your email being sent to the recycling bin by failing to double check for inaccuracies or grammatical errors. Journalists typically will cross check facts which come across their desks, and will find out if your statements are inaccurate or misleading. Sloppy spelling and sentence structures also makes their job a lot harder, so it’s worth having another person look over a media-release before you distribute it.

4. Follow up. If you’re sure your story is newsworthy but haven’t received feedback from any journalists, there’s no harm in following up with an email or phone call. Journalists are quite often swamped with content and may even be thankful for a reminder.

5. Be aware of timing. Timing is crucial when executing a public relations strategy. If attempting to release a story the day before an important local or national event, or even the day after something particularly newsworthy has occurred, the media’s focus will likely be elsewhere.


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 16/04/2014 at 12:00 AM | Categories:

Build success with local sponsorship

Sponsorship is an important tool for businesses looking to build brand equity among their community, customers and key stakeholders.

Real estate offices can implement sponsorship initiatives at a local level which can help to expose your brand to an audience you might not be able to reach otherwise. Over the longer term this can help build brand equity with these audiences and in turn, may help to build a rapport with other sponsors, vendors and attendees.

Here are a few tips if you’re thinking about engaging in sponsoring an event or sports team in your local community.

1 – Measure success: As part of the pre-sponsorship process it may be wise to look for an event or sport with a proven track record of attracting large audiences. By choosing an event or sport with a strong following you may be able to maximise the return on your investment.

2 – Examine brand values: In order to maximise the potential of your partnership it could be worth sponsoring an individual or team who aligns with your personal and brand values. For example in sponsoring Porsche Carrera Cup Australia driver Renee Gracie, Century 21 Australasia chose an individual who strongly aligned with the brand’s core values.

3 – Seek expertise: Sponsorship contracts can be complex documents and it may be worthwhile having a qualified lawyer check over for any fine print. By engaging a qualified professional you may be able to gain a better understanding of any unclear terms and conditions before you commit.


0 comments | Posted by George Tarbey on 14/03/2014 at 12:00 AM | Categories: