Gurus, Experts, Social Media Mega-SuperCalifraglistic Stars, Rock Stars, Technology Evangelists
Please read Part 1 or this post won't make much sense.
This is part tongue-in-cheek, part parody, part truth, part funny (I hope) and part (again...I hope) a nod of yea, I hear ya, I feel your pain...
So...if there are some vendors out there reading this, please keep the above in mind. This is not, I repeat, not a rant against vendors, in fact, this isn't a rant at all, it's no different than Jon Stewart poking fun at serious issues -- albeit he has immense talent to do it, and I have none -- so I'm not comparing this post to anything! :) Any AR member who has been around AR for a while knows there are some very, very good vendors on here and this post is not really about AR vendors, it's a generalized perspective of my view of the industry at large, of which, AR only plays a part.
Now that the disclaimer is done, let the fun begin...
I also draw the analogy to these Abidjan vendors who were telling me to buy an authentic Navy Top Gun leather jacket. So...here I am in Abidjan on the Ivory Coast, a pretty poor country, and this street-side vendor has an authentic Top Gun Navy Flyer leather jacket? And I can get it for half off?
Reminds me of the current flavors of the day:
- Huge upfront fee, but low monthly fees
- 50% off -- why even have the 100% cost if everyone always gets the 50% off. Why not just cut out the pricing games and say this is what you charge.
- Call for details.
- Lead generation companies. You can own exclusive leads, only $300 per month.
- Ex-REALTORS who are now social media experts. I paid attended a social media seminar from Cleveland's #1 social media guru and 98% of what was presented I learned casually here on ActiveRain from reading posts about social media over time.
- No long-term agreements
- Low monthly fee of $39.99.
- Hurry, limited time offer.
- Hurry: offer expires mm/dd/yy, where the date is today. Then, when you go back to the website tomorrow, it says the offer expires that day, and so forth.
- Exclusive territories.
- Sales reps who sound like they are 18, working in a mosh pit, and got their sales training by watching Nicholas Cage in Matchstick Men.
So...here is the magic elixir for all you agents who want to ensure you hop on every real estate service offering du jour:
- Buy a pre-canned listing presentation software package from a software vendor, plug in your info, and bam, you are now qualified to market someones largest asset.
- Create a single-property website for the listing using one of the many vendors, for a low, low fee.
- Create a custom sign rider complete with QR code for the small percentage of potential buyers who have the advanced smart phones, happen to be in the market for a home, and happen to be driving down your street, and happen to look at a 6" x 30" rider with a 3"x3" QR code that they have gleamed from the street driving 25mph down the road.
- Make sure you have an additional rider with your cell phone #, e-mail address and domain name of the property, and oh...don't forget...also put your own domain name on there as well. Don't forget the SMS short code text either! Okay, you now have 5 riders hanging into the ground, so make sure you buy an extra-sturdy frame to hold up that mountain of aluminum with custom text made just for this listing. Hey...wait a minute...everyone talks about buyers finding homes online, agents setting up custom home search website sites, and agents setting up efficient tours. If that's how the process normally works, then what the the heck are all these extra thing-a-ma-bob riders needed on the sign? Oh yea: it's called prospecting: trolling for future clients. And, you could setup a second sign with extra riders like: new listing, price reduced, must see, I'm gorgeous inside, finished basement, etc. Heck, perhaps you could even install a covered tent, setup a mini-replica of the home, complete with a screen with audio and video so a passerby could virtually walk-through the mini version to see if they dig the floor plan. Oh yea...don't forget to pay that extra $75 dollars and setup a virtual floor plan of the property as well.
- Hold a broker's open house and have $100 worth of food catered to feed all the hungry REALTORS, as many won't show up without some kind of gas card drawing or good sandwiches offered.
- Pay for an open house in the declining local newspaper that no one for the most part reads anymore.
- Send the listing out to the 5,000 potential buyer leads that are sitting in your expensive online database that may want to see the home.
- Create custom SMS code and special website so those small percentage of users with advanced cell phones can text a code off the sign rider.
- Just the other day, I was driving through a neighborhood and saw the a sign rider that proclaimed: Must See Inside. Really? Really Really? Your kidding me right? So...does this mean if this rider does not exist, the house is a dog and isn't worth seeing? Wouldn't a listing agent think that every home is worth seeing or try and present it as such, so you resort to a rider that says you gotta see it. Or: I'm Gorgeous Inside. -- Does this mean the outside is dumpy? Oh...the marketing gimmicks are endless when it comes to real estate.
- Because this post is way too long already, I'll cut this list short, but you get the jist -- just add another 30-40 products to help you run your biz, and market your listings and garner new biz, and you will be all set.
So...after you have spent a kazillion hours investing in technology, gizmos, gadgets, dollars marketing that 50K condo, and have your commission check fronted to you one-day early (via another low cost service), you will have enough money to go splurge at Starbucks and then invest the other 25 cents of your profit into your business to buy some more leads.
There are a few tried-and-true principles to hold to:
- Keller Williams came up with the Red Light Green Light concept of not overspending, and base it on your revenue -- great to remember.
- You don't have to be on the cutting edge of whatever is new for the sake of it. Do the sniff test, does it make sense? Will it fade? Fade quickly? Some cutting edge stuff is good.
- Have you talked to several raving fans of the provider or product? Can you road test their product to really see what it can do? Does it make sense?
- Are you willing to commit the time and resources necessary over a sustained period of time to make something work? It's easy to be excited by a great sales pitch. Tenacity, commitment and consistency are a whole different story.
- Figure out what you are good at, like to do and can do well and stick to that. Other stuff that your pride says you think you can do, but really can't, or can't cost-effectively, recognize the phrase "opportunity cost", internalize it, admit it, figure out who can best solve it for you, then outsource it to someone who is far more skilled than you are so you can concentrate on real estate.
Here is how I have chosen to spend the bulk of my time ensuring I represent my clients exceptionally well, and you will notice much of it doesn't have anything to do with the latest hot off the press gadget that will solve an agent's problem of the day.
I feel my clients are well served by:
- Sellers: Establishing an accurate Market Value of their home. Get the price wrong, and you can spend $50,000 on every gadget and technology known and the home won't sell, plain and simple. I have taken the pinnacle of appraisal courses through The Appraisal Institute and was a former commercial real estate appraiser and have spent an inordinate amount of time honing my methodologies, spreadsheets for analysis, etc., and having a solid understanding of the market. To do anything less is doing a seller a huge disservice.
- Sellers: Preparing their home for sale. This is HUGE. Price and condition have a symbiotic relationship. Get it wrong, and it won't sell. You can have a home priced right, but current market demand is not there based on it's current condition, the home won't sell. Each market is different. Understanding what is selling and why, and what is not selling and why not are imperative to understand. Knowing how to thoroughly and comprehensively assist a seller in preparing their home for sale, given their dynamics of price-condition for their local competition is key. From correcting deferred maintenance, to home staging, to redesigns, to cosmetic makeovers, to renovation and remodels, have the full set of tools and knowing when to use which tool(s) is key: one size does not fit all.
- Photography. It's appalling the state of digital photography for many homes. I preview online the new homes that come on the market and the overwhelming majority are average at best and quite a few where the quality of the photos are downright horrible. Since every good agent knows in today's market, a digital photograph is the first virtual showing, it's well understood the power and importance of an exceptional photograph. Snapping any ol photo from a point-and-shoot or even a basic DSLR versus having the right equipment, expertise and post-processing equipment to take an average photo to outstanding requires a lot of knowledge and expertise to do it well, I mean really well. Since this is a hobby of mine, and I have taken classes from professional photographers, read, experimented, joined groups, etc., I know the time it has taken me to get to a comfortable level -- note I didn't say expert!
- Negotiation. How many agents have a formal background in negotiations? I have no idea, my guess is, not many. Some instinctively get it, some do not. Some have honed their skills over time, some have not. You know it when you see it, and it's a beautiful thing. A client's home is at stake here, and with the stakes being high, this should be a skill that is well understood, both in theory and practicality, and well exercised. When I deal with a solid agent who has an impressive background in negotiation, it raises the bar on both ends, but it also can have a very positive effect for both clients -- a true win-win. When it doesn't happen, or there is a huge difference in approach and understanding, that old saying: the chain is only as strong as the weakest link applies.
- Marketing. Sure, some of the above that was teased about is very important to really expose a property via multiple media channels and it's important to know some cutting edge techniques to increase the exposure a home obtains.
- Best of Breed Allied Service Providers. Knowing the best lenders, title and escrow companies, inspectors, trades people, and yes, technology providers can make a huge difference in the quality of ones representation.
- Problem Solving. Sounds simple. Sometimes, it's anything but.
- Core real estate concepts. How much do you really know about the ins and outs of multiple offers? Risk reduction? Core law? Fair housing? Overcoming Objections, And a host of other core real estate topics.
- Technology, Customer Service, Ethics, and many other areas.
One of our unique and niche service offerings is we can renovate a client's home in break neck speed for usually 25% less than retail contractor costs using quality materials, excellent contractors and workmanship due to a variety of techniques and relationships honed over time with the result being a financial benefit to our clients. While we have a 100% success rate when we have done this for seller and clients, we don't view ourselves, nor do we market ourselves, as "experts" even though we know our skills are top-notch. In fact, I don't think you will even see the word expert on our website anywhere (I better go check after I post this! LOL).
I'm signing off to go clean out some more unwanted advertisements for some guru services in my inbox. Ciao!
Oh...PS. I would love to hear your favorite "must have" offerings.