Online marketplaces bridging the gap for tradies
THE AREA A LOT OF TRADESWOMEN and tradesmen struggle with is turning prospects into customers; in particular getting their quotes and estimates approved so they can commence work. But online marketplaces like hipages, Airtasker, Oneflare, ServiceSeeking, and a raft of others, are helping to close that gap.
Online payment facilities
These marketplaces are helping to protect the money of the consumers using them as well, but offering escrow services. Airtasker, in particular, was the first online marketplace in Australia to add a payment facility to its platform that allows customers to pay for a job, which will be held until the job is complete and both parties are satisfied.
Helping small businesses grow
Hipages and Oneflare are owned by News Corporation (majority owners of Realestate.com.au) and Domain Group (operators of rival property portal Domain) respectively. Both real estate portals are investing heavily in growing their ancillary revenues — that is, revenue from sources other than property ads — by recommending services that homebuyers and sellers are likely to need next. To this end, Domain recently launched a mortgage lending service called Domain Loan Finder, as a joint venture with Lendi.
If you’re a builder, removalist, cleaner, plumber, electrician, labourer, painter and decorator, or other kind of trademan or tradeswoman, then advertising on either hipages or Oneflare is probably a no brainer. As Realestate.com.au and Domain begin to offer these services directly from the real estate listings on their sites, apps, email marketing, and so on, this where most homeowners will find their next tradie.
If you’re a tradesperson, then advertising on either hipages or Oneflare is probably a no brainer. As Realestate.com.au and Domain begin to offer these services directly from the real estate listings on their sites, apps, email marketing, and so on, this where most homeowners will find their next tradie.
Oneflare and Hipages, through their association with Domain and REA Group, will become sites for highly skilled tradespeople, while the Airtaskers and ServiceSeekings will remain sites for lower-cost tradespeople.
For help determining the right places to advertise your business online, contact the team at Virion for more information about our content marketing services to suit your budget.
Learn how to make Google love you
FOLLOWING ITS ACQUISITION BY AMERICAN telecommunications company, Verizon, Yahoo! is officially no more. So it should go without saying that Google, officially, is the premier search engine if you want your business discovered online.
It’s official: Google is the premier search engine if you want your business discovered online.
Google offers lots of tools to help businesses get discovered by its algorithms, including Google My Business, a free tool that gives your business a listing at the top of Page One on Google Search, as well as a place marker in Google Maps.
Create a Google My Business account
Many business people, including tradespeople, use cloud accounting software like MYOB and Xero to do their bookkeeping. Similarly, many tradies and others already have websites. However, even though your business may already have a website that’s been indexed by Google and shows up in search results for specific keywords, you won’t automatically have a Google My Business account.
You need to set that up separately, by entering in your business information — including your business address — which will be verified by Google. Once your business is verified by Google, you can then begin adding and adjusting your business’s logo and other imagery.
Then get the FREE Google Website
A website is an absolute must for any business operating today. Even if you primarily get leads from offline sources, or you do the majority of your work face to face, a website is still an invaluable tool for turning those prospects into customers.
To revisit the tradesperson example, very few people engage the services of a tradesman without doing some research online first. Your business’s website will be their first port of call. If you don’t have a website, they’ll look for reviews on a Google listing to see what other customers have said about you.
If they can’t find either, unless you were recommended by someone they know, they may choose to go with another business, which has a website, Google listing, or both. At the very least, it just tends to give people peace of mind.
Google now offers businesses with a Google My Business account a free website, already optimized for its search algorithms, and for mobile devices. It’s also easy to use with your custom domain, and is Google AdWords ready, for when you’re ready to kick your marketing up to the next level.
Want help setting up your Google My Business account and finding more leads for your business? See our digital marketing strategy.
How to quote ON THE JOB
FOR TRADESPEOPLE, SOURCING NEW WORK and ensuring you’re getting paid on time, are integral parts of running your own business. As a tradie, the time between quoting for a job and it being accepted by a client can often run into weeks — or worse, months — which can adversely affect your business’s cash flow.
Unlike other small businesses, which can quote for jobs without having to leave their office, a tradesperson has to measure and quote for each job in person. It’s in a tradesperson’s best interest, then, to convert the vast majority of those quotations into jobs.
Quote online, in real time
Many tradespeople, while they may using a cloud-accounting package like Xero or MYOB AccountRight Live, they’re not using it efficiently.
Each time you go out to measure and quote for a new job, draw up the quote on your smartphone or tablet, and send it to your prospect while you’re still talking to them (some cloud-accounting packages allow you to send quotes and invoices by text as well as email).
Each time you go out to measure and quote for a new job, draw up the quote on your smartphone or tablet, and send it to your prospect while you’re still talking to them.
Sending a quote to a prospect before leaving, gives them the opportunity to ask any questions they may have, and may just result in immediate acceptance. But even if they don’t accept right away, it shows you’re keen, capable and ready to do the work.
If they have to wait a day or more for the quote, it could send the message you’re too busy or not interested. It’s also gives the prospect time to “cool off” from the initial excitement, and potentially have second-thoughts about getting the work done.
Connect to your sales software
The next thing you need is to make sure you have a full history of correspondence with your prospects. If you’re not already, you should start using a sales application, like Hubspot. Its basic plan is free, while its premium plan costs US$50/month. Hubspot connects to your Gmail account, and lets you send tracked sales emails — you can also connect it to an application like AWeber or Mailchimp to send marketing emails.
By sending your quotes and other sales emails through your sales software (Hubspot also lets you make free voice calls anywhere in the world), they’ll be tracked, so you not only have a full record of your correspondence with that prospect, but you’ll also see when they’ve opened your emails, clicked on links, opened documents, and so on.
You can also share your calendar with prospects so they can see times when you’re available to complete their job, without having to call and find a suitable time.
Follow up, follow up, follow up!
If you don’t personally have the time to follow-up, you should have someone do it for you — hire a virtual assistant, for instance. A lot of the time, depending on the job, people are still weighing up whether to get the work done and when. A phone call is often all it takes to get a quote accepted.
If you can’t get hold of them on the phone, then “automate” your contact with your prospects. Use your sales software to send “sequenced” emails — that is, a series of emails scheduled to go out at a particular time, when the recipient has or has not taken a particular action.
If you can’t get hold of them on the phone, then “automate” your contact with your prospects.
For help creating sales and marketing messages that will deliver more leads to your business, contact the team at Virion for more information about our content marketing services.
It’s a great tool for ‘touching base’ with your database
CORELOGIC RP DATA RECENTLY RELEASED a new report that’s available to all real estate agents who are currently subscribed to the CoreLogic service. The report is called a Comparable Sales report and it’s part of CoreLogic’s new Signature Reports platform.
This reports platform draws on CoreLogic’s extensive property data sets to allow agents to generate reports that provide an overview of a particular suburb, including recent sales, trends, property images, and so forth. However, it’s just one of many similar services available — so how does it stack up compared with what realestate.com.au and Domain provide? Here’s three things we can tell you about it:
1. CoreLogic’s data is reliable and accurate
As the market leader for property data and insights, you can trust that CoreLogic’s sales data is accurate — it is used, after all, by media companies to generate the auction results they publish online and in their newspapers. The property portals, like realestate.com.au and Domain, however, rely on self-reporting from agents and scraping data from agent websites and other property portals. Furthermore, because many agents choose not to report the final sales price, there is a significant margin for error. CoreLogic, on the other hand, employs its own team of researchers who meticulously collect property data from several primary sources to ensure its accuracy.
2. CoreLogic’s Comparable Sales Report is automated
Yes, there is more information available at realestate.com.au or Domain, for instance, these sites include their suburb profiles, featuring information on demographics, the numbers of buyers looking for property, average days on market, and so forth. If you want that data using the CoreLogic Comparable Sales Report system, it would need to be pulled from those websites and imported into a compatible CRM that allows you to generate reports and brochures.
3. CoreLogic’s Comparable Sales Report is free and easy
If you’re subscribed to the CoreLogic service, which, let’s face it, most agents today are, then you already have access to their Signature Reports platform. This allows you to generate your own Comparable Sales Report, complete with your own agency logo, agent photograph and contact details.
The Comparable Sales Report is a great way for real estate agents to get new listings and stay in touch with homeowners in their database.
Virion is a digital agency that specialises in helping sales people, particularly real estate agents, build their online profile using content and digital marketing. This, in turn, helps salespeople grow their databases and obtain new listings.
It doesn’t matter how new to the game you are, or how little you know about online marketing, to begin building your online brand, contact our team to discuss which digital marketing options will work for you. Alternatively, to learn more about digital technologies that help real estate agents build an online presence, subscribe to our blog.
Quality Blog Content, Mentions and Quotes about YOU and Exclusive Advertising
The cheapest way to get great quality content for blogs and Facebook posts is to share it with others. If an article is shared with many people the cost of producing it is much lower person. The problem is that most of that content is NOT about you and it’s not written with YOU in mind and that’s where we are a little different. We offer
- content licensing with over 120 blog posts (check them out),
- blog articles that feature or mention you (see an example about granny flats in Lismore), and
- exclusivity so we won’t mention another real estate agent in your area.
Real Estate Blogs
There’s a lot to write about with real estate because most Australian’s love talking about it – particularly right now when most people are making great capital gains! Our blog posts are designed to help vendors understand what goes on when they are ready to sell their property so discuss:
Stay Front of Mind with Facebook Posts or Website Blogs
Facebook has become a massive part of our daily lives (whether we like it or not) and that includes real estate and how vendors find real estate agents to sell their home. An important part of marketing your services as a real estate agent is to be constantly in front of vendors so whether you decide to go the whole hog and get a website and blog or setup a Facebook Page and fill it with interesting posts it’s important to be sharing regularly.
The problem with most content that you share is that everyone else is sharing it and it doesn’t necessarily come back around to you. Wouldn’t it be great to share an article on your timeline that actually includes YOU in the content? That were we make a difference, we includes your quotes and local property market information to help you stand out from the crowd. You can read about our writing for you below, but when you become a licensee you’ll get an exclusive area so your competitors won’t show up!
Stand Out in your Local Area
There’s nothing quite like getting into the news or being quoted about the local property market and as part of a content licensing package we’ll do just that – include you and comments about your local area so you stand out from other local agents. As part of this package you’re able to share information with us as you please or we’ll ask for it from time to time, it’s up to you.
Learn more and Sign up for just make contact and Request a Quote
How Much Does it Cost?
$49 per month.
Yep, there’s not much more to say, it’s cheap, it’s great quality, and it’s exclusive so get in quick and fill your timeline.
Is your preferred agent who they say they are?
If you’ve been following this blog of late (if you haven’t, then you can subscribe here), then you may recall that in a couple of our recent posts we talked about the different tools that are available online to help homeowners find a reputable and trustworthy real estate agent. In one post we talked about the darling of lead generators and comparison websites, OpenAgent; in another, we talked about rating sites like RateMyAgent; and we’ve also discussed looking up an agent’s license using licensing databases in your state or territory.
However, we realise that, if you’ve never sold property before or it’s been a long time since you’ve had to go through the process of finding a real estate agent to sell your home, the process can be a little daunting. So we put together this roundup of the five steps you should take to ensure that you’re selecting the most reputable and trustworthy real estate agent to represent you.
Before we dive right in, we should point out that this list assumes that you’ve already done some rudimentary market research of your local area, and you have a couple of agents names in mind already:
1. Check the licensing register in your State
This is an important first step. Although it’s unlikely you’ll turn up anything untoward, on the off chance that you do, this will help you to discount that agent right away. This is especially important for people who are selling holiday homes or investment properties in areas they’re not very familiar with. You might even like to search for that agent in other states and territories apart from your own, just to make sure they didn’t get into any strife elsewhere before setting up shop in another state. The registers for each state are listed below:
Consumer Affairs Victoria
Regulated Industries, Licensing and Legislation Register Queensland
Department of Commerce WA
Agents Licensing Board NT
Consumer and Business Services SA
Property Agents Board Tasmania
Business and Industry Licensing Public Register ACT
2. Visit the agents’ websites
Do a search of each agent and see if they have their own website that’s separate from their agency’s corporate website. Have a look at the kind of information they provide on their website. Do they publish regular market updates? Do they provide any information about how they work? Have they answered a question or provided information about the sales process or current trends in the market that you found useful?
Give priority to the agents who see the value in providing buyers and sellers with helpful information based on their experience in the industry over the agents only interested in self promotion.
3. Check the agents’ social media accounts
Most agents have some social media presence, so don’t forget to check what they’re doing on Facebook and Twitter and so on, before appointing them as your agent. Look at their feeds to see how they’re interacting with other users online — are they responding to the inquires and comments that have been left for them there? What kinds of comments have people been leaving on their Facebook pages and tweeting to them?
Social media is usually the first port of call for people who are either really satisfied with the experience they’ve had with a business, or really dissatisfied. How an agent deals with both forms of feedback reveals a lot about their character and how they conduct themselves.
4. Read the reviews left on ratings websites
You’d check out the reviews left for a restaurant or hotel on Yelp or TripAdvisor, wouldn’t you? So why wouldn’t you visit a real estate ratings site, like RateMyAgent or RealSatisfied, to see what kinds of reviews have been left for agents there? Keep in mind that for both RateMyAgent and RealSatisfied, agents can pay the platform a monthly fee to manage their profile and the reviews left for them there. What control that gives agents over how they deal with negative reviews is unclear. You might also like to check TrustPilot, which is another ratings websites, though one that doesn’t specifically cater to the real estate industry.
5. Interview the agent in person
Once you’ve done all the online checks you can, it’s time to line up a meeting with your preferred agent (or agents), to see if they’re as impressive IRL (that’s in real life, for those of you playing along at home) as they are online. Don’t be afraid to tell the agent you’re still considering other agents — how they handle this comment will tell you a lot about the sort of person he or she is.
Quiz each agent about recent changes to legislation or real estate practices that might affect the sale of your home. The way they answer these questions should reveal to you how closely they monitor changes in their industry, and, in turn, how committed they are to CPD. This is the final step in deciding which agent is best suited to sell your property. You should also spend some time discussing commission, marketing options, sales methods, and other areas that will affect the sale of your home.
By the time you’ve worked your way through this checklist, you should be ready to appoint a real estate agent to sell your home — congratulations!
If you would still like to learn more about the real estate sales process, including how to manage inspections, offers and following up with buyers, you can download our free educational guide. Alternatively, for more real estate news, insights and analysis, subscribe to our blog.
The truth about testimonials
In nearly every guide to selecting a real estate agent, homeowners are instructed to look at, not just an agent’s sales history, but also how satisfied the buyers and sellers who dealt with that agent in the past were. Most agents will include a few testimonials on their websites and in the shop windows of their offices, but those are mostly subjective, because they’ve been cherry picked from a stack of other similarly glowing reviews. People are more aware of this now, so they’re more sceptical about relying on testimonials supplied to them from the agent.
Enter two real estate agent ranking and review sites: RateMyAgent and RealSatisfied. Both services provide a platform for buyers and sellers to leave honest reviews, so that future vendors can use this feedback to make their decision about appointing an agent to represent them in the sale of their home. They also provide detailed statistics about each region throughout Australia, including the top agencies by market share, the number of recent sales in the region, and the number of active agents and agencies operating in the area.
Ratings sites offer tools for agents, too
For agents, a platform like RateMyAgent, which was developed in Australia, and is now in beta mode in the United States, where it plans to launch a US version of it’s service in September, provides a range of tools, such as the ability to broadcast reviews on the RateMyAgent website to your social media accounts, create listing reports that contain detailed statistics about recent sales history for prospective vendors and clients, connect RateMyAgent to your website and include a live feed of client reviews, and more.
Of course, there’s also LinkedIn, which allows agents to include much of the same information in their profile, and also has the capacity to handle recommendations from people they’ve worked with in the past. But LinkedIn is a tool that’s mostly used by recruiters to find staff, and is likewise used by individuals who are looking for work. While there’s certainly no harm in an agent creating their own LinkedIn profile and using it to connect with other professionals, it’s unlikely to help them generate new leads and get more listings.
Consider your online presence carefully
The internet is practically teeming with social media platforms and other tools to help businesses develop their online presence, but just because there’s a platform, like LinkedIn or Pinterest or RateMyAgent or something similar out there, it doesn’t mean you have to be using it to have success online. Remember that the more social media accounts and other platforms you’re active on, the more time you will need to spend keeping them up-to-date, even if many of them fail to deliver any new leads.
With this in mind, develop your online presence strategically by selecting the platforms and channels that are most relevant to you, your business or industry, and your clients, and only creating a profile on the ones that will help you to achieve your goals. Before investing time in a particular platform, look at its performance metrics and consider whether they’re aligned with your own business goals. If they’re not, then there may be other options that are more worthy of your time.
If you’re looking to kick start your online presence, using social media or a platform such as RateMyAgent, contact our team to discuss which options are best suited to you and your business goals. Alternatively, to learn more about digital technologies that help real estate agents build an online presence, subscribe to our blog.
There are online tools to help
In a previous blog post, we talked about the new era in real estate that allows homeowners to compare real estate in their local area with just the click of a few buttons, using lead generation and comparison sites. As easy and efficient as a lead generation site like OpenAgent may be, and although they’re structured in a fashion to help maintain their independence so they can provide objective information to homeowners, they are a business, after all — and one that seeks to double their revenue in the next 12 months.
This means they have a vested interest in converting each user who comes to their site and hands over their contact details, by matching them up with a real estate agent. For some homeowners, who are either time poor or new to the real estate sales process, using an intermediary like OpenAgent will make the process a whole lot easier. For everyone else, however, they may prefer to do the legwork themselves, so they can be doubly sure they’re appointing the right agent to sell their home.
All agents have to be licensed
Although most real estate agents will disclose their license number on their website, business cards, or by hanging their certificate of registration somewhere in their office, like Bill Tsounias a real estate agent for McGrath in Sydney does, it’s always a good idea to verify that information yourself. In NSW, for example, the Service NSW website includes a portal where you can check a real estate agent’s license.
In addition to seeing that the agent is licensed, it will also list any conditions associated with the license — i.e., whether they may exercise the functions of an auctioneer — any compliance issues, such as disciplinary actions or prosecutions against the agent. It will also list any associated parties, and whether a manager or receiver has ever been appointed before, which provide key details on the financial health of the license holder. There are similar registers in all other states and territories.
First impressions still count
But for all the research you can do into an agent’s license and recent sales history, one of the most important things you can do is to have a conversation with them, be it over the phone or in person. Their manner and temperament, and the way they explain key issues to you should help you decide which agent you feel most comfortable with selling your home. These first impressions still count, even in the digital age.
It’s company policy for McGrath agents to list their license number on their website so it makes it a lot easier for buyers and sellers to verify whether an agent is licensed to handle a particular real estate transaction. It also shows that McGrath is committed to honesty and transparency, an important ingredient in the success of any real estate agent today, and like McGrath, Bill Tsounias is just as committed to being a genuine and reputable real estate agent.
He’s come onboard with Virion to create his own professional website, where he can showcase his current listings, share information about his recent sales, and provide tips and advice to homebuyers and owners about the real estate market and what to expect when buying or selling a home. We have other agents on board who keep clients and vendors up to speed with information and listings using Facebook and other social media.
To begin building your online brand, contact our team to discuss which digital marketing options will suit you and your digital marketing goals. Alternatively, to learn more about digital technologies that help real estate agents build an online presence, subscribe to our blog.