Written by JohnReinhardt
John Reinhardt’s Forecast: (Note to Fillmore Agents – 12-23-10)
Sales volume will definitely go up in 2011. Buyers are realizing that the best time to buy might have passed as interest rates start to go up. Home prices are likely to rise and fall as inventory is added to the marketplace. Shadow inventory will cause downward pressure on pricing, and pent up demand and value seekers will push prices up again. The road may be a little bit rocky, but we will come out of it with more homes selling as we gear up for the anticipated return to normalcy arrives in early 2012.
Top real estate agents are going to be educating the public as to the reasons why it makes sense to buy now. Even if prices drop a little, the cost to own may never be this good as the lower interest rates substantially affect the buyer’s purchasing power.
So, The Reinhardt Blog is taking a different slant as to how real estate brokerage businesses should react to these anticipated market conditions and predictions.
Here’s how I see it.
Real estate brokerages need to be in the middle of a reinvention at this stage of the game. If you haven’t begun the process yet, you might want to quick start the effort. By reinvention, I mean the total recreation of your company to the company that you have dreamed of.
The good years of real estate have put the real estate brokerage business at a weaker position in relation to individual sales agents. We moved from a centralized system of brokerage to more independent teams and agents where they do everything on their own and the brokerage collects a smaller percentage of the pie.
Fillmore has maintained the course over the years and has managed to keep the responsibility of training, technology and marketing on the broker’s side where it belongs. The common methods and systems deployed properly throughout your brand go a long way towards establishing brand value in your marketplace. While the market has slowed down a bit, we have had the chance to look at the ways we were doing business and analyze ways in which we could provide better and more valuable services for our consumers. The economy caused us to look at things that were not working and gave us the courage to stop the bleeding and wasting money on things that weren’t working well anymore.
We found better and more efficient ways to market properties in the way that the consumer wanted to search for a new home.
We tried online marketing and discovered that there was a better bang for our buck, and we left the print media for most purposes. I think we’ve learned to better measure our marketing dollar’s effectiveness, and if we can’t measure it, we usually stay away from it.
The economy also allowed us to get rid of agents that weren’t in it for the right reasons, or with the right heart and dedication. When you clean out the bottom of your company, your whole company looks better. Our agents today are agents that want to work and need to work. They have the desire to do what has to be done to get the job done. They go to classes, follow our suggested methods and they seem to convert more buyers into sales than ever before. The bottom of the barrel agents weren’t converting our valuable leads, and now since they are gone, we are giving those leads to the better agents and they are converting more of them into sales. Better conversion rates goes right to the bottom line.
As business slowed down from the frantic pace of a few years ago, we had time to breathe and dig deeper into our technology and we’ve created some amazing new tools for our agents and consumer for 2011. We are ramping up for the biggest technological revolution in Fillmore’s history. Our new website along with our new Agentdashboard system will take our online business to the next level. Our new tools allow agents to communicate with the public, community and their buyers and sellers even more effectively by incorporating social media and social networking.
The TOP ELEVEN things that we plan on doing in 2011 are:
1) Goal Setting Workshops: Make sure that each agent/ Manager / Admin has specific goals and strategies created for 2011, and then enter them on our New Agent Dashboard system.
2) Launch New Agent Dashboard and provide at least 25 training classes so agents/ managers/admin can fully understand the importance and power of the new system.
3) Launch New Fillmore.com: Announce to the world the new Fillmore system with all it’s power and tools. We will host seminars for the public and for agents so that everyone understands the proper ways to take advantage of one of the most powerful websites in the industry. Every buyer should have alerts set up either on their own, or together with an agent.
4) The Big Picture Training: In addition to training on all the great aspects of the different technologies that we are using, it is important for us to paint the big picture for our agents and customers. We will host seminars and classes to show everyone why each action taken is so important to the big picture. Recording showings, ads, marketing efforts, offers and other information will all make a difference in the way the consumer sees us and appreciates our efforts.
5) Take Responsibility: Our agents will RECOMMIT to being part of the NEW FILLMORE Team. This team will hold each other accountable and be proud to play their individual parts in making the company even stronger as we turn the corner and establish ourselves as the leader in providing top service in the industry.
6) Customer Satisfaction: We’ve come a long way this year with regards to customer satisfaction, but there is still a long way to go. We’ve learned that providing service and better communications with our buyers and sellers has gone a long way toward satisfaction, and now we are encouraged to turn it up a notch or two. Our recording of feedback and conversations on the new Agentdashboard will help us to self-monitor our performance and thereby increase our satisfaction levels even further.
7) Downsizing Continues: We will look at every opportunity to downsize the company in regards to office locations. If offices don’t perform at a profit, then it’s time to make some tough business decisions. In the glory days, we had the privilege of letting offices ride off other offices coat-tails, but today we need to act swiftly and strongly. Business is getting too tough out there. There is no room for mediocrity and for failing offices. Make changes until they work. Combining offices and/or creating annexes seem to be a strategy that could grow in 2011.
8) Advertising / Marketing: I know that this one might sound redundant , but print ads simply don’t work. Now more than ever before we are realizing just how ineffective they are. Our cost/lead has skyrocketed from $37 – $78 – $145 per lead over the past three years. I’m glad to see that most of the offices have smartened up here, but there are a few who have yet to prove to us that this waste of money makes sense. We should reallocate our funds to places and things that work today.
9) Recruitment becomes Selection: We are no longer a company looking to recruit any agent that can breathe. We now are very selective in the agents that join our firm. They either have to have some great experience or they have to have the willingness to learn and do the hard work that is needed in this market. If agents aren’t willing to perform the level of service that our team has committed to, then they will not be selected to join us.
10) Compensation Incentives: We need fewer agents in the company, and we need better agents. We are willing to better incent the top agents in the industry to come and join our firm. We have seen the best in the market come on board with us, in recent months, and we are excited about continuing this trend. We are working out aggressive compensation packages; sign on bonuses and other great incentives to make sure that Fillmore has all the top agents in the marketplace.
11) Have Fun: We realize that the most important reason why we work in a firm is to produce income so we can provide our families with the things that make their lives better. We also realize that we are the ones that have to work every day to produce the revenue…so why not work in an environment that is productive, encouraging and fun. We want to provide the best offices to work in in town. Our group is becoming more and more known as the team that has the most fun….and earns the most money. Now, if that’s what we accomplish by the end of 2011, then I’ll say that we’ve done a lot.
I’m proud of how far we have come and how much we have grown over the past few years, but let me tell you..I have never been so excited as to where I see us going in the next few years. Buckle your seatbelts and keep your eyes on the road. We’re going places…Together!