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Why Offer a Free Measure and Quote?

How to win business on the spot!

why offer a free measure and quote tradesperson how to quote online xero course

THERE ARE REWARDS AS WELL AS RISKS to providing people with a quote for work, but one of the bigger risks is offering a free measure and quote, only to have the quote knocked back in favour of a competitor’s cheaper one.

This said, despite the risks attached to offering to come out for free and quote a job, it’s still a good way to operate your business.

Why a free measure and quote is good

There are a lot of benefits to visiting a client to provide a free measure and quote, even if you run the risk of wasting your time and money should the quote not be accepted. We take a look at some of these:

You’ll better understand the client and scope of works

Quoting for a job will help you to understand the client and the scope of the project at the same time. People are put more at ease when they know they’re not obligated to pay you just to come out and prepare a quote, so you’ll have better luck getting prospects. You’ll also be able to discern the kind of client the prospect is likely to be, so you can weigh up how to proceed.

Helps you evaluate potential risks

Remember risks can involve both the physical risk of injury but also other more nebulous risks, like a client who doesn’t pay on time or is unrealistic about timeframes, costs or the types of materials required. With experience, you’ll become better at seeing the warning signs early on, but if you’re new to being self-employed, these are things you should pay particular attention to.

How to make a sale there and then

As we said in our previous post about the risks and rewards of quoting, if you make it easy for people to do business with you, you’re more likely to get quick or even immediate acceptance of your quotes. This is really important as a business, because it keeps in a steady stream of work, which is good for your cash flow, and ultimately, costs you less money — because you’re not following up on unaccepted quotes — in the long run.

Show you’re reliable and keen

In many of our blogs we’ve strongly suggested that using a cloud-based accounting application like Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks makes it really easy for prospects to accept estimates and to pay you. Better still if you can produce estimates for prospects while you’re still at their home or business. This shows you’re reliable, well organised and keen.

Demonstrating efficiency, organisation and enthusiasm are clearly attractive qualities in any builder, tradesperson or other small business person who provides on-site quotes (they’re attractive qualities in anybody!) because it shows that you care about the work you do and that you’ll do it in a timely manner.


learn myob xero excel quickbooks online training course videosFor help creating sales and marketing messages that will deliver more leads to your business or determining the right places to advertise your business online, contact the team at Virion for more information about our content marketing services.


 

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Why It’s Vital Not to Over-Quote

The risks of quoting too high

how to quote correctly builder labourer carpenter tradesperson tradie tradesman

THERE ARE PROS AND CONS to charging a day rate. But part of charging the right day rate involves quoting jobs correctly.

Part of charging the right day rate involves quoting jobs correctly.

And what are the requirements for quoting a job properly? You need solid experience in the field you work in, and the ability to evaluate a job thoroughly to ensure you’ve accounted for all the things could crop up once work commences.

Beware of over-quoting

Yes it is important to take into account things that could come up after you start a job that might require additional materials and time. This said, don’t factor them into your quote unless you’re reasonably sure they could occur. If you do, you risk your quote being too high.

Providing someone with an unnecessarily high quote reduces the likelihood that they’ll accept it, which only just ends up costing you money — you spent time working on the quote, after all.

Quote what the market will bear

If you’re an experienced builder, your hourly rate is going to be much higher than a labourer’s, who is paid between $20 and $30 an hour. If you’re quoting for a job that requires substantial digging, which is time-consuming, but ultimately, unskilled work, subcontract that out to a labourer, to keep the price to your client down.

Again, you’re unlikely to have your quote accepted if you’re quoting to do all of the work yourself at your regular rate. Most people will get more than one quote, so if you’re quoting above what the market rate is for a given job, you probably won’t get the work.

Make your quote easy to accept

Use electronic accounting software like Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks to create estimates that you can email to your clients while you’re still talking to them. This means they’ll be able to ask you any questions about the quote, and possibly even accept it on the spot.

Use electronic accounting software like Xero, MYOB or QuickBooks to create estimates that you can email to your clients while you’re still talking to them.

This will reduce the amount of estimates you have to spend time following up on, and also help you to better structure your work as you’ll have a more steady flow of work.



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Maybe you’re a sole trader, tradesperson or small business owner who would like help figuring out  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.


 

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The Pros and Cons of Charging a Day Rate

When charging a daily rate pays

tradesmen carpenter painter plumber electrician charge day rate or hourly rateCHARGING A DAY RATE FOR YOUR WORK, instead of an hourly rate, can be a good way of making sure you get paid a certain amount for each job. This can help you set a budget and ensure you’re bringing in a certain amount of money each week. It also gives your clients some peace of mind, because they will know how much to set aside to pay you.

Charging a day rate can help you set a budget and ensure you’re bringing in a certain amount of money each week.

But just as there are advantages to charging a day rate, there are some disadvantages too.

Pros of day rates

  • You’re getting a flat fee, so if the job doesn’t take as long as you anticipated, you’re still getting paid the same amount to complete it.
  • It’s easier to get clients, because they’ll feel more secure knowing from the outset how much the job will cost.
  • It gives structure to your finances, which is important when you’re first starting out.

Cons of day rates

  • It ties you down to one job. Sometimes you can earn more money by doing a number of smaller jobs in one day, rather than just one job.
  • It gives you less flexibility to leave the job site, say, to quote on other work, or if any other circumstances arise that mean you have to leave the job periodically. It might not be convenient for you or others to make up extra hours at another time or extend your day.
  • If a job runs longer than anticipated, or is more specialised than anticipated, you could find yourself out-of-pocket or not getting paid as much as you could.
  • If you run into a previously unforeseen problem or specialised area, it can be difficult to get the client to pay more than what you originally agreed on.
  • You must quote thoroughly for the job beforehand, so you need to be experienced to ensure you’re quotes aren’t too low.

Not all projects are well-suited to charging a day rate, particularly if they’re complex and have the potential to be time-consuming.

Jobs that are straightforward or where most of your day will be spent doing labour work are better suited to day rates, leaving the longer, more intricate work that has the potential to take a long time to an hourly rate.

If you want to work out how to set budgets and what kind of rates you should be charging to cover all your on-the-job expenses, get yourself trained up in one of our online cloud accounting courses in MYOB or Xero.


on the job quoting quotes tradespeopleWant 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.


 

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Your Marketing Strategy in Xero

How you know what’s working and what’s not

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MARKETING AND ACCOUNTING ARE CLOSELY linked if you look at accounting as dealing with the money that’s going in and out of your business, usually as a consequence of your marketing activities.

Recording your marketing activities

In our new online training course, Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI for Xero, you’ll learn how to enter all of your business’s expenses, including the money you spend on marketing. Anything to do with making your business “discoverable” by a potential customer is considered a marketing activity.

Anything to do with making your business “discoverable” by a potential customer is considered a marketing activity.

That includes business cards, website costs, domain names, Google AdWords, etc, and should be recorded in Xero as a marketing expense.

Determine marketing ROI

To determine your Return on Investment (ROI), you should use Excel or a marketing platform like Hubspot to record where your business comes from so you can assign each activity an income stream.

It’s important to monitor how your marketing spend is performing for your business. Otherwise how will you know what’s working and what’s not?

In our Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI course for Xero, you’ll go through the steps required to determine the ROI for certain areas of a business. If you refer to the Excel spreadsheet showing the income generated by particular marketing activities — print ads, hipages subscriptions, Google AdWords, etc, you’ll be able to work out the ROI.

Monitoring how your marketing spend performs for your business is incredibly important. It’ll help you to see what’s working, what’s not working, and what needs to be changed to make it perform better.


tradesperson business company xero online training course videosLearn how to determine the ROI of many of your business’s activities in our Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI course for Xero. To learn more about, or enrol in, our new Cash Flow Reporting, Budgets and ROI course for Xero, visit our website.


 

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How Bunnings Could Help You Get More Work

Ways to get regular installation work

tradesmen tradie tradesperson carpenter painter plumber electrician partner with bunnings


BUNNINGS HAS, FOR A LOT OF HOMEOWNERS, become the default place to get their home renovated — and not just the DIY renovators, either. Bunnings, very wisely, realised that a lot of the people who came to look at their kitchens and bathrooms were going to have a tradesperson install them.

Bunnings made the smart move of partnering with local tradies — cabinet makers, builders, plumbers, and so on — to also offer an installation service, like other kitchen and bathroom companies.

Partner with big business

Just as every good tradesman or tradeswoman will partner with other local tradespeople so they can refer business to each other, it’s wise to partner with bigger business — like Bunnings or Mitre 10, and so forth — which can refer work to you when they have customers in need of your services.

Every good tradesman or tradeswoman will partner with other local tradespeople so they can refer business to each other.

Use online marketplaces

Lots of online marketplaces like Airtasker and Hipages partner with retailers to offer installation services to their customers. Airtasker, for example, partnered with the Good Guys, so customers could find someone to install their new TV or Bose system.

Likewise, Hipages partnered with IKEA, Ray White and the Housing Industry Association (HIA) to provide them with top quality tradespeople who can provide installation and other types of work.

Big business provides security

Working with a business like the Good Guys, IKEA or Bunnings provides better payment security for your business. In the case of Bunnings, they will typically measure and quote for a job at a set price. This just leaves it up to you to complete the job, and then get paid.

You’re not only reducing the amount of time you spend measuring and quoting for jobs, you also cut out all the follow-up you need to do to get your quotes accepted.

You’ll want to keep up your online marketing and advertising, so you’re getting your own jobs, with the potential to earn more money. The jobs you get through Bunnings or the Good Guys just help to keep the home-fires burning when you’re waiting for your other jobs to get approved.


online digital marketing for tradespeople tradesperson tradesman tradeswoman tradiesFor help creating sales and marketing messages that will deliver more leads to your business or determining the right places to advertise your business online, contact the team at Virion for more information about our content marketing services.


 

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Helping Tradepeople Turn Quotes into Customers

Online marketplaces bridging the gap for tradies

tradesmen carpenter painter plumber electrician turning quote into sale


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

online marketplaces for tradesmen and tradeswomenThese 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 logo tradesman tradeswoman turn quotes into sales onlineHipages 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.


tradespeople turning quotes to salesFor 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.


 

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Google Delivers More Leads for FREE!

Learn how to make Google love you

how to be found on google tradesperson online business


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.


Mobile apps for real estate agentsWant help setting up your Google My Business account and finding more leads for your business? See our digital marketing strategy.


 

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Get Your Quotes Approved Quicker Online

How to quote ON THE JOB

on the job quoting quotes tradespeople

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. 


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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.


 

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How Does CoreLogic RP Data’s New Comparable Sales Report Stack Up?

It’s a great tool for ‘touching base’ with your database

real-estate-agent-keep-in-touch-with-databaseCORELOGIC 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.

 

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How Real Estate Agents Can Fill their Facebook Timelines with Content CHEAP CHEAP CHEAP

Quality Blog Content, Mentions and Quotes about YOU and Exclusive Advertising

lismore-real-estate-agent-terry-wallace-lowest-vacancy-rates-in-nsw-lismore-good-property-investment-granny-flatsThe 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.

 

 

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The Dot Com Era is Affecting ‘Shopfront’ Real Estate Agencies Like McGrath

Established brands are fighting the Internet and the agents who used to work for them

real-estate-agents-using-sign-trailers-to-compete-with-shop-front-real-estate-agency-in-newcastleRecently some very high profile McGrath real estate agents and executives have left the brand, including Steven Chen (Projects Division), Richard Shalhoub (Millers Point, Sydney agent), Matt Lahood (Head of Sales), Geoff Lucas (John McGrath’s long time Lieutenant). Our own showcase Cammeray real estate agent Derek Farmer has also now left McGrath and can assist vendors in finding a good real estate agent in their area.

But it’s not just real estate agents leaving a brand like McGrath, it’s also about individual real estate agents who work running their own business within an agency who are discovering that it’s important to focus on their own personal brand to help vendors learn a bit more about them. We’ve spoken to many agents from Marshall Rushford’s Melbourne city patch in Caulfield, Esternwick and St Kilda to regional areas like Orange and Lismore in New South Wales and they are all realising the shift in the real estate industry because of the Internet and the growing power of the property portals (realestate.com.au and domain.com.au).

Real estate agents share commissions with their agency

Anyone in sales understands that the financial rewards are excellent if you can sell and good real estate agents spend half their time selling themselves to people ready to sell their homes as well as selling the listings they currently have. This is why it’s important to be trustworthy when speaking to buyers because one day these buyers will end up being sellers – or know someone who is selling their home.

Many good real estate sales agents work on a commission basis because their commission split with their agency is higher and this is why good agents are attracted to real estate agency brands like McGrath and Belle but this is the market space that is changing rapidly.

A strong brand like McGrath uses their brand in negotiations with agents and will often give the agent between 30-40% of the commission they earn when a property is sold. The very best McGrath agents may earn up to 50% of the commission and this is a big issue that causes good agents to leave a brand and go out on their own – after all a good real estate agent is fully licensed to operate their own agency! With very little need to rent office space and the ability to work from a home office with a part time employee (or husband/wife) as a property assistant many good real estate agents are signing up with seemingly unknown brands like Dot Com in Newcastle.

Most franchisers charge about 20%

If you look at other industries where joining a franchise is a popular way to start a business you’d be aware that they charge an ongoing franchise fee of between 8-30% and for most professional services this percentage settles at around 20% so it’s little wonder that good real estate agents get dissolutioned when they have to pay over 50% of what they earn to use a brand name. To make matters slightly worse, these real estate agents still have to pay for their office space, their staff, their own marketing and advertising and all the other costs of running their own business.

Websites, social media Facebook pages and sign trailers are replacing the shopfront

I was speaking with a property management business owner recently and she confessed the only reason she went to the office is to photocopy some documents and get the receptionist to witness something, the rest of the time she was out and about seeing customers and inspecting properties and this is a sign of the times for most professions. Website and Social media marketing give real estate agents the opportunity to be discovered by sellers and sign trailers can be parked in busy areas (as well as at properties for sale) to stay front of mind in the local area.

We help good real estate agents create their own website and manage the content marketing for their social media profiles and most of my time is spent with our content marketing team to generate interesting articles about real estate and other industries we work in. Subscribe for some free guides on how to manage your digital marketing yourself.

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Five Ways to Select a Trustworthy Real Estate Agent

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:

Service NSW

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.

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How Do RateMyAgent and RealSatisfied Compare to LinkedIn?

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.

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How Do You Know You Can Trust a Real Estate Agent?

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.

 

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How Do Real Estate Lead Generators Find an Agent for You?

Is the internet helping to keep real estate agents honest?

For homeowners looking for a real estate agent to sell (or rent) their property, it’s traditionally been about visibility. The agent with the most signboards, ads in the local paper, the greatest street presence, so to speak, always got the most listings. But just as it did for other business models, the internet is disrupting the real estate industry’s decades-long way of doing business.

Lead generation and comparison websites, like OpenAgent and Local Agent Finder, promise to deliver leads to agents, while also promising to cut through agent spin to help homeowners to find the agent who is truly best suited to sell their property. They promise all that, and to retain their neutrality in the process, even though they don’t charge homeowners a fee for their service.

How lead generation sites work

OpenAgent is the darling of real estate lead generation sites. It’s raised $12 million in venture capital since it launched in 2013. In the last 12 months, it’s also doubled in size, and in that time, matched more than 10,000 homeowners to sales agents; in the next 12 months it hopes to double its revenue. The way OpenAgent operates is pretty simple, and not much different to other sites of its kind. OpenAgent collects information about real estate agents and their sales records by scraping it from other sources, such as Domain and realestate.com.au, while also encouraging homeowners to write reviews about their experiences with a particular agent on their site, which it vets before publishing online.

Agents don’t get to submit their profiles to OpenAgent, nor is their inclusion on the site optional. If they’re a licensed real estate agent, with listings on a property portal, such as realestate.com.au or Domain, they’re automatically listed on the OpenAgent website. When a homeowner registers their details with OpenAgent, they’re able to peruse the recent listings, sales and reviews of all the agents in their area. OpenAgent then follows up by calling each homeowner to get a clearer picture of their property and the kind of agent they’re looking for. Following this, OpenAgent then provides the homeowner with a shortlist of agents to choose from.

OpenAgent doesn’t disclose a homeowner’s details to an agent unless they’re instructed to do so, at which point they contact with the agent on the homeowner’s behalf. If OpenAgent does introduce a homeowner to a real estate, who is ultimately appointed to sell the property, they’ll stay in touch with the owner throughout the process, to ensure the agent is being held accountable; they’ll even help the owner negotiate a better rate of commission. Once the property is sold, OpenAgent then takes a 20 percent fee from the agent’s agreed commission.

What this means for agents and homeowners

Success as a real estate agent today, in an era of lead generation and comparison websites, requires honesty and transparency. Agents can no longer cloak the sales process in mystery or exaggerate their sales history, because, whether a homeowner does their own independent research or uses a comparison site like OpenAgent to do the legwork for them, they’ll find out which agents are truthful and reputable, and which ones aren’t.

With so much information freely available on the internet, whether it’s about an individual agent and their track record or about the local market itself, homeowners now spend less time researching an agent’s credentials and more time weighing up whether they like and trust prospective agents. One of the first things a homeowner will do, once they’ve received a shortlist from OpenAgent or even a recommendation from a friend or relative, is look them up online.

Agents with an extensive web presence, and who are able to show people that they understand the market, that they’re open and honest about their previous track record, and that they’re friendly and approachable are more likely to win a new listing, than those agent who still operate under the old model of smoke and mirrors.

To learn more about the real estate sales process, including how to manage inspections, offers and following up with buyers, download our free educational guide. Alternatively, for more real estate news, insights and analysis, subscribe to our blog.

 

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Is Facebook Going to Become the Next Big Thing in Real Estate?

What ‘data’ makes Facebook so valuable?

As the most successful and most widely-used social media platform in the world, Facebook has amassed a lot of data over its 12 years of existence. That data is what makes Facebook so valuable, but it’s also what guides its business decisions. Facebook knows what emerging trends will be the next big thing, before you could even conceivably call them emerging trends. It’s how they knew to acquire Instagram; to introduce online advertising; expand into news publishing, by developing its Instant Articles service. Facebook is also a major platform for businesses, because of its emphasis on building communities, with whom you can share and discuss information that’s important to you. And all that data Facebook has under its belt, makes it easy to target people not already a part of your community.

Indeed, Facebook is also a major focus of nearly every real estate agent we speak to when we’re discussing their digital marketing strategy. Every agent wants to be on Facebook, and given that it’s more popular than… well, to borrow a phrase from John Lennon, Jesus, it makes a lot of sense to be using Facebook as part of your content marketing strategy. But there are a lot of real estate services using Facebook in ways that have the potential to disrupt the real estate model even further than it already has been.

Using Facebook as a directory for real estate agents

All that data Facebook has under its belt, in addition to the sheer volume of people who use Facebook on a daily – if not, multiple times per day — basis, has made it a very useful platform for real estate businesses to create online directory resources that connect buyers and vendors with real estate agents. The American-based HomeASAP service is the number-one real estate agent directory on Facebook, with over 457,000 members in its directory. As a directory that also connects buyers with real estate listings, it has the power to change the way people look for and buy real estate.

Although real estate agent directories aren’t new — there are plenty similar services, like followit, Local Agent Finder, Agent Select, etc — HomeASAP is unique because it’s directory is hosted entirely on Facebook. Only buyers, vendors and agents with a Facebook account can access the directory, further evidence that Facebook has, itself, become a search engine in its own right. And because the service is hosted on Facebook, you’re able to capture more data than if a person were to anonymously visit your a website.

Could Facebook topple the Big Two property portals?

Facebook Social media and digital marketing to sell real estate and property in Newcastle, Central Coast and Lake Macquarie

Facebook allows agents to monitor who’s visiting their page, and it also provides them with a casual way of engaging with potential buyers and sellers who may not be ready to speak on the phone yet. This isn’t possible on a property portal — whether it’s an app or website. Sure, you can track them by inserting a line of code into your website, but they’re still anonymous until they give your their contact information.

With Facebook, you know who’s visited your Facebook page, and you can make contact with them by making a friend request. Because Facebook also makes it easy to share and disseminate information right from the platform itself, it has the potential to topple the property portals, which currently provides agents with little promotional or marketing opportunities, and likewise provides only very rudimentary statistics about who has viewed their listings.

Considering that, second only to Google, Facebook is the world’s most used website and is responsible for generating a quarter of all web traffic, it certainly has the potential to become a powerful player in real estate. If Facebook isn’t already a part of your content marketing strategy, you’re missing out on valuable lead generation opportunities, not to mention potential buyers who may be looking for their next home.

Success on Facebook begins with a successful strategy

Facebook is the ultimate social media platform, and even though it’s an effective platform to build your online profile and market your services to potential buyers and sellers, your success is still entirely dependent on whether you’re using Facebook in the spirit in which it is intended — a social network to connect with people and share information that matters to you, with the emphasis being on the word ‘social’.

To be social means to have a free flow of information that people will engage with, comment on and share within their own, wider social network. If you want to keep people engaging with the information you share with them, you need to create a strategy that starts a conversation and encourages others to continue that conversation.

Learn Digital Marketing or get our help

To use Facebook to begin building your online brand and find out which digital marketing tools will suit you and your digital marketing goals get a free digital marketing consultation.

Alternatively, learn about digital marketing in our online Digital Marketing Training Courses or read about technologies that help real estate agents build an online presence, subscribe to our blog.