Tag Archives: real estate technology

Stop Seeing Red: A Smarter View of Brokerage Expenses

Running a real estate brokerage has its share of expenses. Payables—large or small—are a necessary part of doing business. Expenses like rent, office supplies, insurance, furniture etc. are easy to understand and manage. What is less obvious are the investments in marketing, advertising and technology that many brokers spend thousands or even tens of thousands of dollars on each month. The temptation to periodically cut these expenses requires a much more considered analysis that can’t be based completely or even in some cases, primarily on pricing. Conversely, you shouldn’t drop precious budget dollars on every new shiny thing that comes on the market.

Necessity Of Large Expenses

You must build and advertise a reputable brand to draw clients to your listings, competing with more well-known franchised brokerage names. Brand building for the independent brokerage can quickly eat away at your budget, especially when figuring all your advertising expenses. According to data published in 2012-2014 by the Association of Real Estate License Law Officials, U.S. real estate agents and brokers spent approximately $8.9 billion on residential advertising in 2015. That’s a substantial amount of money, yet an important expenditure if you are to compete for listings and credibility in your local market.

Let’s not forget our need for technology, and its ever-increasing role in real estate. Other than general IT set up and maintenance, customer relationship management (CRM) is a large, yet crucial, cost of doing business that can help streamline much of the real estate process in a busy brokerage. CostOwl reports that in 2018 inhouse CRM costs range from $100 to $1,000 per user plus maintenance, support, updates and potential customization, while web-based CRM systems run $50 to $100 per user every month with lesser fees for smaller brokerages.

Expense Analysis Revisited

As you know, with some business items, using a less expensive version works just as well and saves money. But this isn’t necessarily true for larger purchases. Of course, you want to spend money that provides the most value and significant benefit to your brokerage. It’s always a good idea to consider your bottom line when factoring in a new or recurring expense, but there is a difference between purchasing a store name brand to save money on office supplies versus buying a bargain basement real estate CRM technology because it has a lower up-front cost.

In the case of a CRM for example, between increased labor in transferring data, lost production time and price of a new system, it’s more cost effective to choose the right CRM system for your brokerage from the start. One that provides high value, and is right for your operation, rather than choose a system based primarily on price.  When you are part of a franchise, such as Weichert, you typically have the added benefit of a CRM that they’ve already vetted or customized.  The Weichert CRM, for example not only provides top tier real estate features such as contact management, marketing automation, open house management, and mobile app access, but its internal workflow has been designed to echo the best practices brokers and agents are taught on their roadmap to success. Your ability to integrate a CRM into your operations is just as important as the CRM feature set and this is not an area to pinch pennies.

Look At The Whole Picture

Why be penny wise and pound foolish, as the saying goes? Look at the whole picture of expenses in a way that incorporates a wider view of their utility.  Once you’ve made these decisions, give these expenditures a chance to prove themselves. Advertising mediums can be tagged to understand how much additional sales you are getting from expenditures on each. Technology can be judged to large degree on the utility it provides to you and the feedback of your team on its usefulness and ease of use. Budgeting more for items that can have big payoffs in the long run, such as specifically targeted brand advertising or an efficient CRM system can increase the brokerage’s long-term income and reduce their operating costs in a way that more than offsets the cost of the advertising or system.

Gain Access To Systems That Work

At least some of the headaches’ associated with expense management and analysis can be helped by having some deep, expert experience in your corner. Having the resources of a franchise system behind you can save you tremendous time vetting options and more time being productive. Not only do you instantly gain a brand name that matters, input from your coaching team and fellow franchisees about many of the most agonizing expenditures you face is always just a phone call away.

Could your brokerage benefit from this? Learn more at weichertfranchise.com or call 877-533-9007.

 

 

 

Managing Technology in Your Brokerage

Real Estate Technology

While every broker understands how important technology is to an increasingly younger home buying audience, managing the selection and use of technology in your brokerage can be a challenge to say the least. With real estate software vendors, advertising agencies, mobile apps, and website technology issues all competing for your time, it can be difficult to get traction on technology initiatives, or even know where to turn for reliable, impartial advice as to what to use, and how to use it.

Technology Management Is A Process 

Often, it feels like there’s a new piece of tech or some hot new real estate marketing strategy coming out every day and brokers are trying to make sense of it all as they consider juggling their technology investments. What brokers must consider is that understanding and managing issues around technology does not require an engineering degree, but it does require a process. A process that can happen regularly, does not take a lot of time, and leverages resources that are truly experts in real estate technology.

The experts at Weichert recommend that you look at your brokerage’s technology on a regular basis.  Look at your technology investments from a few different perspectives:

  1. Where am I spending the most money on technology? – You should consider your marketing spends on technology based advertising as a part of this analysis. (ie. Google Adwords, Trulia, Facebook Ads, etc.)
  2. What are the most labor-intensive activities inside my brokerage? – How much time does your team spend doing postcards, creating listing presentations, publicizing open houses, getting contracts together, following up with prospects etc.
  3. What solutions do I already have, and what are their weak points? Are they expensive? Hard to use? Collecting dust because your agents won’t use them?
  4. Leverage your Network as to what new solutions exist, who is using them, and is there a trusted resource to discuss them with? For instance, Weichert Affiliates have access to technology guidance through our training & support teams, regional coaches, and a network of peers that can share experience about what does and doesn’t work in our industry. Whatever your network is, leverage it heavily for opinions about useful technology.
  5. Is there a “techie” on your staff that you can charge with evaluating some of the new technology offerings? Some of the younger agents are great to tap for this as they are likely to have a more intimate relationship with technology.

If the selection and use of technology to support your processes is too often the thorn in your side or you feel like you can’t keep up, affiliation with one of the larger real estate brands can be a tremendous resource in this area. They take that burden off your plate, freeing you up to focus on other things related to running your brokerage. Weichert, for example, is continuously improving existing technology and evaluating new ones to ensure it’s using and providing the most efficient and effective techniques for managing real estate business. Affiliates are given access to these technology tools, such as our online marketing resource center, paperless transaction management system and our WeichertPRO CRM tool.

Developing A Productive, Successful Relationship with Tech 

As a broker, you’re a relationship builder. So, it’s key to build a “relationship” with the technology you use and your process for evaluating it. The brokerage that makes effective use of technology is one that will develop into a real force to be reckoned with now and in the future. A brokerage with well-integrated technology will have a more efficient workflow, smarter online real estate marketing tools, and timely, consistent follow-up. Furthermore using effective, up-to-date technology can lead to higher agent retention, better productivity, and more efficient team dynamics. And who doesn’t want that?

Real estate is ultimately a face-to-face industry and Weichert firmly believes that technology will never replace a handshake – but we also understand how the real estate industry is changing – and we want to deliver the best of both worlds in order to help build stronger, more effective brokerages. If you share this vision, get in touch with us today at https://www.weichertfranchise.com and let our team show you some technology solutions that can help take your brokerage to the next level.

Franchise Success Spotlight: Weichert® Affiliate Brandon Long

While they haven’t yet isolated the gene for real estate success, Weichert affiliate Brandon Long may be the perfect test subject. Brandon inherited his mother’s love for the real estate industry and more than a little of her drive for success as well.

“I grew up in a real estate family,” mused Brandon, on a typical busy day that took him between two of the four offices of Weichert, Realtors® – The Griffin Company, in northwest Arkansas. “My mother started a brokerage back in 1974 when I was just 4 years old. In those days, you could just get a license and open a storefront.  She’s been at it ever since and is still the largest independent broker in her market.”

When he was in his late twenties, Brandon took the plunge and got his real estate license, too. After a few years as an agent, Brandon knew that owning his own brokerage was where he wanted to be. Brandon and his good friend Carter Clark, started an independent brokerage focused on the residential market in and around the Northwest corner of Arkansas in 2003. “Our market is in an area with some of the largest corporate headquarters in the county. Walmart and Tyson Foods are based here and every vendor that sells to them has a presence in the local area,” notes Brandon.  “We are in a beautiful corner of the state and many of those employees decide they want to settle out here.”

While achieving some growth from 2003 to 2007, the housing crash propelled Brandon and Carter to consider some of the challenges they were facing as an independent brokerage in a highly competitive market.  “Recruiting and training agents was a big challenge for us,” says Brandon, “We had nothing formal and weren’t sure how to develop it.”  By late 2007 it was getting harder and harder for them to see a way forward. They decided to consider a franchise relationship.

Due Diligence

In researching possible franchise affiliations, Brandon and Carter looked at literally every real estate company out there. “It came down to Weichert and one other company,” says Brandon, “We chose Weichert because they were the only company that really cared about how we would make a profit.”

In late 2007 they signed on with Weichert Real Estate Affiliates, Inc.  In their first couple of years, which was in the midst of the housing crash, the brokerage grew from 20 to about 70 agents. Their success did not go unnoticed by other local brokers and they were presentedwith an opportunity to merge with another large brokerage in the area. The Weichert corporate team assisted with due diligence throughout the merger and Weichert, Realtors® – The Griffin Company was born. With the help of Weichert and through other acquisitions over the subsequent years, the brokerage grew steadily. In January of 2018, their company will open its fourth office in Fort Smith, adding another 35 agents to the roster.

The Weichert® System Today

As a franchisee for a decade, Weichert, Realtors® – The Griffin Company continues to derive great value from the relationship with Weichert.  Some of their favorite benefits include the Weichert Listing Presentation system aka “DOORS”, which has become an indispensable part of the agent selling process. The sales team uses it on almost every listing presentation. In addition to creating a powerful and accurate presentation, DOORS is facilitated by online tools provided by Weichert which make creation of the material easy. “If I go up against another broker with our Doors presentation vs. whatever they bring, I’ll win the listing 95% of the time,” says Brandon.

For Brandon, another great benefit of the Weichert affiliation has been the coaching and training–for Brokers. “I’m always learning something from Weichert Training.  I never miss the “Saw Sessions” and I’ve gone three times to the Weichert Management Academy.” The endless opportunities for coaching and learning through Weichert continue to allow the company to stay ahead of changes, technology and opportunities in the industry.

But according to Brandon, no discussion of the Weichert System would be complete without mentioning the Weichert Lead Network. “We develop a huge amount of opportunities through the Weichert Lead Network. In 2017 we anticipate that 90-100 closings will happen through these leads.”  Brandon points out that the National Association of REALTORS® says on average it takes 48 hours for agents to respond to leads and 50% get no response at all.  According to Brandon, “With the Weichert lead acquisition and technology systems, the leads are pre-screened and transferred to a live agent on my team within 3-5 minutes of receiving a call or online form. This makes an enormous difference in our ability to be first in our market.”

The Results

In 2007, Brandon’s brokerage was looking at the most depressed housing market in a lifetime. After instituting the Weichert System, he was able to more than triple his agent team in just under two years. His success attracted opportunities. After a merger, and several acquisitions later, Weichert, Realtors® – The Griffin Company has increased its agent count by almost tenfold since it affiliated, has 4 offices in northwest AR, and business is booming.

Brandon sums it up this way, “We couldn’t have survived without Weichert and we continue to succeed because of their active commitment to our success.”

Visit Brandon and the team at http://www.weichertgriffin.com/

For more information on franchise opportunities with Weichert Real Estate Affiliates, Inc. visit https://www.weichertfranchise.com/

 

Why the Internet Will Never Replace a Handshake

real estate technology

It’s no secret that the Internet has changed the real estate industry – and every other industry for that matter. It’s made every transaction easier, smarter and faster. We can sit at our computers or look at the palm of our hand and browse a home down the road or across state lines, ask a real estate agent across the country about a home’s location over social media, or evaluate possible mortgage and financing options on websites.  All done without so much as a phone call.

Most successful brokers however, understand that in the sale of residential real estate, having a personal, face to face connection with a buyer or seller has a power well beyond the individual home being discussed and gives you maximum influence during the sale.

Marrying the Digital Age With The Personal Touch

What we need to realize is that the need and importance of the personal connection in real estate selling hasn’t really changed much in the last 50 years. What has changed is simply when and how that happens. In the digital age, more and more initial contact with buyers and sellers happens online. They respond to digital ads, search online, respond to Facebook posts and Tweets, watch virtual tours posted online, or visit your brokerage website. The difference today is that your client is better informed and has a much better idea of what they want before you ever get to talk to them.

This move to digital should not be viewed as a threat, but as something overwhelmingly positive. By learning to use digital mediums more effectively, you can create MORE opportunities to have those important face to face contacts that make a difference. Social media, and other real estate portals instead of threatening our livelihood, have actually made it easier for professionals to connect with buyers and sellers.  What’s more, you can connect with them at the moment they are interested in your services, something the internet has given us that we rarely had in a pre-internet world.

Real Estate Marketing – One Handshake at a Time

At the end of the day, real estate is still a scary and complex process for customers and that personal service they get from you, guiding them through it all, can make all the difference between the experience they get from Brand X and you.  And if you do it right, you will build stronger relationships with buyers, sellers, browsers, and people of every age and from every walk of life. Years from now, when they are ready to sell their homes, it’s not your clever Facebook post they’ll remember: it’s that you looked them in eye, shook their hand, and made them feel like you would do whatever it takes to make their dreams a reality.

Making personal connections is something we believe whole-heartedly at Weichert. It’s what we teach, what we believe, and in many ways, it’s how it all got started.

The Power of the Personal

Back in 1969 a man named Jim Weichert started his career in real estate in an interesting way. With his new broker license still hot in his hands, Jim wasn’t content to wait for customers to find him. Instead, surrounded by dozens of more established real estate brokers, Jim started handing out business cards at local train stations. Every morning, and every afternoon, you could find Jim greeting prospective customers commuting to New York City. His approach was refreshing and highly personal, supporting his long-held belief that “people buy people before they buy your product or service.”

The Weichert brokerage grew dramatically, but through it all, Jim maintained the importance of the personal touch as a core value driving the Weichert methodology. Even as the internet became the predominant method of advertising and promotion, his “people first” business philosophy maintains a central role in the operational systems he developed for the Weichert franchise model. By perfecting those systems and recruiting strategies, he created a business model that other brokers could follow with ease and greater certainty.

In the current digital world, Facebook is the new train station, where you can connect with much more than commuters. (Though you are welcome to go to train stations too, this still works!). In this age of self-service and fast moving content, there is something refreshing to a consumer about that personal touch, good customer service and personal reassurance that everything will be fine. Don’t use technology to replace a handshake; rather, use the technology to prompt one.

If you have a vision for your success that includes listening, learning, and working differently than your competitors, you just might be next Weichert Franchise success story. Contact our team at https://www.weichertfranchise.com  to learn more.