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.
Is your agent able to sell real estate in your home town?
In our last blog post, we talked about how you can find out whether a real estate agent, like Bill Tsounias, who works for McGrath in Sydney, is licensed to sell your property or perform various other functions of a real estate transaction, such as act as an auctioneer. Because Bill is based in NSW, we were able to look up his license on the Service NSW website, which keeps a register of all the current and lapsed real estate agents in the state, and see that he is licensed to sell real estate in NSW unsupervised.
When you look up agents in your local area, you should be looking for things like whether they’re allowed to work unsupervised or whether they’re supposed to work with another agent — in which case, you should be meeting with the other agent, too — or if they’ve had any compliance or disciplinary actions carried out against them. You also have to remember that each state and territory has its own licensing requirements, and as a result, it’s own register.
Different state, different license
So, when you look up an agent like Marshall Rushford in the Service NSW property register, you won’t find him there, because he isn’t licensed to sell real estate in NSW — only in Victoria, where he is based. That’s another thing to keep in mind, particularly if you’re from out of town and you’re buying or selling real estate in another state — be sure the check the correct register.
It’s also helpful to understand that each state and territory has different licensing requirements, but that, for the most part, they all require agents to continue their professional development (CPD), just as accountants, bookkeepers, lawyers and other professionals do. Every 12 months, agents are required to complete a certain amount of education in order to stay accredited; their licences must also be renewed every 12 months or three years, depending on the type of license they hold.
Agents can be fined for not continuing their training
Aside from not being able to renew their real estate agent’s license when it comes due for renewal, agents who don’t keep up with their training can also be fined by the licensing body in their state (the Department of Fair Trading for agents in NSW, Consumer Affairs in Victoria, etc). CPD is important to ensure real estate agents keep abreast of changes to legislation and real estate practices, which is why each state licensing authority takes CPD so seriously — and why your agent should, too.
In the last 12 months alone, the NSW state government introduced new laws to tackle underquoting, and also amended the Swimming Pools Act 1992 to improve pool safety by making homeowners register their swimming pool on the NSW Swimming Pool Register. Is your agent up to speed on the latest legislative changes in his or her state? This is something you should ask prospective agents about when you meet with them.
The Victorian Government recently introduced underquoting laws too. If you’re selling your home around the Caulfield area in Victoria, and you’re using Marshall Rushford or his team, ask them about the new underquoting laws, and what they will mean for you selling your property. Marshall’s team take their CPD very seriously, so they’ll be able to explain all of the recent changes to the Estate Agent’s Act 1980.
One particular change involves agents being required to update the advertised price of a property within one business day, if an offer, higher than has been advertised, is rejected at any time. Ask Marshall about how or if this could affect your marketing campaign.
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.
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.
Virtual Assistants, Teleworkers, Remote Contractors and VoIP
Skype is synonymous with VoIP because it was around when the Internet grew up and it was free. It’s free because on-net calls don’t cost you anything and it’s the same with the virion VoIP system, calls from one number to another number in your CloudPBX phone system are free no matter where you are.
We’ve recently received calls from companies who are working smarter and more efficiently with their staff by downsizing from their big office to a smaller office and having their team members work from home, teleworking.
When they initially spoke with us they were not sure if a phone system can handle this type of setup but they were pleasantly surprised when they discover that VoIP gives them:
- Flexibility of remote VoIP handsets,
- Power of a professional business telephone system features, and
- Low call rates of VoIP
Typical VoIP Business Telephone System Call Flow Scenarios
To demonstrate more precisely how many of our customers utilise a VoIP business phone system with the CloudPBX we have created some rudimentary call flow diagrams. These call flow diagrams show you how a small business can take advantage of sophisticated features and work with their staff from their home offices.
The cost to expand your business telephone system
With virion VoIP you can order an extra phone number by sending us an email!
We’ll setup the new number, configure your CloudPBX, setup the VoIP handset and ship it to your location. Within a short amount of time you’ll have the extra service and your staff can get on with serving customers. The cost of these services is very low and will simply appear on your next monthly invoice.
Commander and VoIP
It’s pretty easy to spot a small business or one-man-band these days, just by looking at their contact details. It’s even easier to tell which ones use remote workers, too. You know how? They only give out a mobile number. Even if they tell you otherwise on their website, and give the appearance of being a professional medium-sized business, the mobile phone number always gives them away.
Maybe you’re one of those businesses; you started out small, but as you grew you needed to hire more people. Now you have a sizeable team of remote workers, each trying to communicate with your clients and customers using a mobile phone. Aside from being impractical (how do you transfer an external call to a member of your team from a mobile?), it’s also not very professional.
The Commander of business telephone systems
The problem has always been that for most small businesses, the go-to phone system was the Commander business phone system, which was originally manufactured by Nitsuko Corporation in Japan, until Nitsuko was bought by NEC. They stopped producing Commander phones not long after that, although you’d have hardly realised; they were so hugely popular in Australia that, even to this very day, you can still buy secondhand Commander telephone systems and spare parts for them – and quite cheaply, too.
If you’re looking for a business phone system, picking up a secondhand Commander telephone system might be the way to go, and for as little as $50 in some cases at sites like Gumtree and Ebay.
These old analogue phone systems can be set up in your office but you’ll need someone with the technical skills and you’ll also need analog lines which you’ll need to organise with someone like Telstra. Keep in mind, also, that if you only have four phone lines and each one is in use when someone calls, they might get the engaged tone – pretty bad for business. If you’re looking for some advanced call handling features like call waiting, auto-attendants, and so forth, you may need to get a more modern, more sophisticated business telephone system from Cisco or Yealink.
These cheap analog telephone systems might solve the problem for small businesses looking for a cheap phone system that their staff can use in their office, but what about those remote or teleworkers? If they deal with external stakeholders on your business’s behalf, you’d still want to be able to assign a business number for them.
The Commander’s modern mate: an ATA adapter
Some virion customers have an old Commander business phone system but connect it to an analogue telephone adapter, like one of Cisco’s ATA adapters. By connecting a Commander phone system to a Cisco ATA adapter, ideally Cisco’s Linksys PAP2 device, you’ll be able to add two extra VoIP services, so you can extend the functionality of your phone system AND enable all your outbound calls to travel via VoIP (at a largely discounted call rate).
For less than $100 you can pick up a complete Commander phone system and a Cisco Linksys PAP2 adapter, and then configure if for a VoIP service, making it a low-cost option for small businesses. If you anticipate your business to grow – and quickly – you might consider the benefits of a new VoIP phone system for cheaper than you think.
Commander – Cheap to buy, expensive to setup
Because you’re using old technology, however, there isn’t a lot of assistance available in terms of set-up or troubleshooting if problems occur (you may need to consult the Internet in such instances), and although it might seem like a cheap phone system you’ll then need to find a local technician who’ll need to come to your office and connect to your expensive Telstra PSTN phone lines.
New VoIP business telephone systems may be cheaper
If you’re thinking of switching your business phones to a VoIP service, browse our website to compare our different services or contact us to request a quote for a VoIP system for your business. To learn more about VoIP for business, continue reading our blog.