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The Great Debate

The great debate continues: Open houses, blogging, cold calling, door knocking, postcards, coaching, newsletters, drip email. If you listen to vendors, they have the answer.

Seems to me Realtors will buy anything – including myself. I’m always looking for the magic key and I like to check out new products. If someone has an idea, I want to hear it. RE/MAX has a whole catalogue of stuff to buy. They call it the Approved Supplier Catalogue. I used to think that that meant I should buy what’s in there, it was approved! Oh brother, have I come a long way since then, but I still may not be all the way there – wherever there is.

Some Things We All Need

There are some things that we all need. Business cards – check. Laptop – check. Car – check (there was an agent in my office who didn’t). Cell phone – check. Website – check. Pens – for how often I accidentally/on purpose lose them, they’re worth buying a box. Signs – check. Personalized letterhead – check. Name badge – check – do I wear it? That’s another post. Brand clothing? Um, if the company gives it to me, I’ll wear it. Moving van? Liability, gas, parking – that would be a no. Car wrap? I want to be able to make illegal u-turns, speed and inadvertently get too close to other cars with anonymity – that would be a no. Blog – love it – double check. Camera – not for houses, for the blog – check.

Once you get past the obvious, it gets a little blurry. When the phone solicitors call and say, “If you make ONE DEAL off of our product, it will be worth it.” I came back with: If I made all of my business decisions that way, I’d be out of business. Then I’d get, “It’s not that expensive.” I went to: It’s not in the budget or I’ve already made my budget and that’s not in it. They don’t have a come back for that one – give them time.

So Then What?

So how do you determine what you need to operate a successful business? That depends. I say get the essentials, make some money then research, research, research.

If you hate doing open houses, don’t. You won’t be good at them. I have a great time. I like to turn them into social events. I invite my friends and clients, have food and music. I typically have another agent or mortgage person there to keep me entertained when there aren’t any visitors or I bring something to do. If no one comes to the open, I try to be satisfied with the fact that hundreds of drivers have seen my name as they pass my signs – I use as many as possible. Do opens work for me? Of course they do. What is the ROI? I have no idea. I like doing them. If I didn’t, they wouldn’t work.

Time Spent Prospecting

That’s not to say you shouldn’t do what you don’t like. I was in a focus group the other day. There was some banter with a struggling agent about how to get business. I said, “70% of your time should be spent prospecting.” He responded, “I don’t like prospecting.” Okay, now, if that’s the case, get another job.

I have to agree with Jonathan; hearing go back to the basics is like the Macarena. It was catchy when it came out. Now it’s just annoying. Any time I read the subject line of an email similar to “the key to selling homes in this down market,” I think here we go again. I’ve got to see what the pill is; but if it sounds too good to be true, it is.

Making Millions In Real Estate

The true answer to making millions in real estate: Work your a** off. It’s not pretty, but it’s the truth. Sorry to disappoint any of you get-rich-quickers.

As a lifelong resident and local Realtor, Vicki has established herself as a respected member of the San Mateo County real estate community. She’s known for her wit, sarcasm, and her personality that shows through in her posts. You can find her spouting off at Twitter, here at ag, and her personal blog, San Mateo Real Estate Blog.com.

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7 Comments

7 Comments

  1. Jacksonville Florida Realtor

    February 13, 2008 at 9:07 am

    Real Estate has always been about getting in front of people who want to buy or sell homes.

    This can be done through the use phone calls, networking groups, a blog, etc. I have seen different Realtors succeed with each.

    Just make sure your chose method is something you enjoy and then do it everyday. Because you do have to work you’re a** off in this business.

  2. Athol Kay

    February 13, 2008 at 10:15 am

    I think the great problem with the get rich quickers is that there is a whole industry that exists off of training a bunch of real estate newbies before they quit the business. So there are very few people actually saying real estate is actual work to people before they get into the business.

  3. Mark Harrison

    February 13, 2008 at 12:45 pm

    I’d intended writing about business cards, but having read comment number 3, I feel I have to respond. I’m speaking as someone who runs (UK) training in real estate here.

    I _do_ say that making money is a lot of hard work over a long time. This means that I’ve not had the stellar success of some of my “competitors” who preach a “make money fast” approach.

    Interestingly, 5 years in from starting that business, most of my competitors have vanished, but I’m still around, pretty much entirely working on referral business 🙂

    The best filter question I’ve found for the property trainers:

    – Do you, personally, make more money from rental property, or from running training courses?

    Right – now to business cards – I stopped using them about 2 years ago. Instead, I now COLLECT business cards, or hand out forms inviting people to signup to my free newsletter. In either case, once I have a potential customer’s contact details, I can make sure they get updates about the property market, legal changes and the like. It typically takes 6-12 months before someone is comfortable enough with the way I think for them to buy a book or go on a training course I run. I realise that the Realtor experience is different – when people KNOW they want to buy / sell a house, they know where to go. When people THINK they want to start investing in real estate, they don’t really know where to turn.

  4. Mack in Atlanta

    February 13, 2008 at 2:43 pm

    Vicki, your last paragraph sums up this business the best. It is amazing but “The harder I work the luckier I get”. There are no magic pills as we would be led to believe. It blows my mind how many of the telemarketers to the real estate industry start their spill with would you like to do more business or can you stand to sell a few more homes every month.

    What each agent needs to do is select several prospecting techniques that they are comfortable with and utilize them.

  5. Vicki Moore

    February 14, 2008 at 5:12 pm

    Thanks for your input, guys. I think there’s a lot more to this topic that needs to be said. I’m going to work on that.

  6. Steve Simon

    September 24, 2008 at 6:22 pm

    Nothing real Earth Shattering to add, I just liked reading your post; it must be your style of writing, it was entertaining 🙂
    I have been telling students for over twenty years;
    “Work at the business half ass and you should be OK, because most I see are at about a quarter ass…”

  7. Vicki Moore

    September 24, 2008 at 7:02 pm

    Thanks Steve. I think I’m pretty funny – glad you do too. I’ve never heard about the “quarter ass.” That’s a good one.

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Business Marketing

Technology is helping small businesses adapt and stay afloat

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Small businesses need to utilize digital platforms to adapt their businesses during COVID-19, or else they may be left behind.

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While many may not have imagined our present day back in March, and to what extreme we would be doing things “remotely” and via “hands-free contact”, we have to give some credit to small business owners who remain flexible and have pivoted to stay afloat. They deserve major credit on adaptations they have made (and possibly investments) in new technology (ordering online, online payments) especially at a time when their in-person revenues have taken a hit.

There are various marketing buzz words being used lately to say “let’s keep our distance”, including: curbside, to-go, hands-free, no contact, delivery only, order via app, social distancing and #wearamask.

The thing is, if you really think about it, small businesses are always in evolution mode – they have to pay attention to consumer consumption and behaviors that can shift quickly in order to stay relevant and utilize their marketing and advertising budgets wisely. They heavily rely on positive customer reviews and word of mouth recommendations because they may not have the budget for large scale efforts.

For example, we use Lyft or Uber vs calling an individual cab owner; we order on Amazon vs shopping at a local mom-and-pop shop; we download and make playlists of music vs going to a record or music store. Small business owners are constantly fighting to keep up with the big guys and have to take into account how their product/service has relevance, and if it’s easy for people to attain. In current times, they’ve had to place major efforts into contactless experiences that often require utilizing a digital platform.

If stores or restaurants didn’t already have an online ordering platform, they had to implement one. Many may have already had a way to order online but once they were forced to close their dining areas, they had to figure out how to collect payments safely upon pickup; this may have required them to implement a new system. Many restaurants also had to restructure pick up and to-go orders, whether it was adding additional signage or reconfiguring their pick up space to make sure people were able to easily practice social distancing.

According to this article from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, “Studies have shown that 73% of small businesses are not aware of digital resources, such as online payment processing tools, online productivity tools, e-commerce websites, online marketing and other tools, that can help them reach customers around the world. If small businesses had better access to global markets, it could increase the GDP of the United States by $81 billion and add 900,000 new jobs. During the pandemic, this could also mean the difference between thriving and closing for good.”

There are some larger corporate technology companies offering ways to support small businesses whether it’s through small business grants from Google, resources and grants from Facebook or Verizon giving them a break on their telecom bill. The challenge with this may be whether or not small business owners are able to find time from their intense focus on surviving to applying for these grants and managing all that admin time. Many business owners may be focusing on what technology they have and can upgrade, or what they need to implement – most likely while seeing a loss in revenue. So, it can be a tough decision to make new technology investments.

It does seem like many have made incredible strides, and quickly (which is impressive), to still offer their products and services to customers – whether it’s a contactless pay method, free delivery, or even reservations to ensure limited capacity and socially distanced visits. There are still some that just haven’t able to do that yet, and may be looking at other ways to take their business to a wider audience online.

We would encourage, if you can, to support small businesses in your community as often as you can. Understandably there are times that it’s easier to order on Amazon, but if there is a way you can pick up something from a local brewery or family-owned business, this may be the lifeline they need to survive and/or to invest in new technology to help them adapt.

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Business Marketing

There’s a shortage of skilled workers, so get learning

(BUSINESS MARKETING) COVID-19 may end up justifying training funds for lower-class workers to learn new skills. Skilled workers are desperately needed right now.

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The COVID-19 pandemic (yes, that one) has ushered in a lot of unexpected changes, one of the which is most surprising: An increased call for skilled workers — a call that, unfortunately, requires a massive retraining of the existing workforce.

According to the New York Times, nearly 50 percent of Americans were working from home by May; this was, reportedly, a 15 percent increase in remote work. The problems with this model are expansive, but one of the greatest issues stems from the lack of training: As employees of lower-class employment transitioned to working online, it became increasingly evident that there was a shortage of skilled workers in this country.

The Times traces this phenomenon back to the Great Recession; Harvard University’s Lawrence Katz points to some parallels and insinuates that this is an opportunity to elevate the lower class rather than regressing, and it seems fair to put the onus of such elevation on lawmakers and senators.

Indeed, Congress has even addressed the issue of skill equality via “bipartisan support” of a $4000 credit for non-skilled workers to use toward skill training. For Congress to come together on something like this is relatively noteworthy, and it’s hard to disagree with the premise that, given the invariable automation wave, many of our “non-skilled” workers will face unemployment without substantial aid.

COVID-19 has accelerated many trends and processes that should have taken years to propagate, and this is clearly one of them.

Supporting laborers in developing skills that help them work within the technology bubble isn’t just a good idea–it’s imperative, both morally and economically speaking. Even middle-class “skilled” workers have had trouble keeping up with the sheer amount of automation and technology-based skillsets required to stay competent; when one considers how lower-class employees will be impacted by this wave, the outcome is too dark to entertain.

It should be noted that non-skilled workers don’t necessarily have to scale up their training in their current fields; the Times references a truck driver who pivoted hard into software development, and while it may be easier for some to focus on their existing areas of expertise, the option to make a career change does exist.

If we take nothing else away from the time we’ve spent in quarantine, we should remember that skilled labor is integral to our success as a society, and we have a moral obligation to help those who missed the opportunity to develop such skills fulfill that need.

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Business Marketing

6 tips to easily market your side hustle

(BUSINESS MARKETING) It can be hard to stand out from the crowd when you’re starting a new side hustle. Here are some easy ways to make your marketing efforts more effective.

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side hustle marketing

Side hustles have become the name of the game, and especially during these turbulent times, we have to get extra creative when it comes to making money. With so many of us making moves and so much noise, it can be hard to get the word out and stand out when sharing your side hustle.

Reuben Jackson of Big Think shared five ways that you can market your side hustle (we added a sixth tip for good measure), and comment with your thoughts and ideas on the subject:

  1. Referrals: Don’t Be Afraid to Ask!
    If you’re going to make a splash, you have to be willing to ask for favors. Reach out to your network and ask them to help spread the word on your new venture. This can be as simple as asking your friends to share a Facebook post with information that refers them to your page or website. Word of mouth is still important and incredibly effective.
  2. Start Where You Are
    Immediately running an expensive ad right out of the gate may not be the most effective use of your (likely) limited funds. Use the resources you do have to your advantage – especially if you’re just testing things out to see how the side hustle goes in the real world. You can do this by creating a simple, informational landing page for a small fee. Or, if you’re not looking to put any money into it right away, create an enticing email signature that explains what you do in a concise and eye-catching way. Check out these tools to create a kickin’ email signature.
  3. Gather Positive Reviews
    If you’ve performed a service or sold a product, ask your customers to write a review on the experience. Never underestimate how many potential customers read reviews before choosing where to spend their money, so this is an incredibly important asset. Once a service is completed or a product is sold, send a thank you note to your customer and kindly ask them to write a review. Be sure to provide them with links to easily drop a line on Yelp or your company’s Facebook page.
  4. Be Strategic With Social
    It’s common to think that you have to have a presence on all channels right away. Start smaller. Think about your demographic and do some research on which platforms reach that demographic most effectively. From there, put your time and energy into building a presence on one or two channels. Post consistently and engage with followers. After you’ve developed a solid following, you can then expand to other platforms.
  5. Give Paid Marketing A Shot
    Once you’ve made a dollar or two, try experimenting with some Facebook or Twitter ads. They’re relatively cheap to run and can attract people you may not have otherwise had a chance to reach out to. Again, the key is to start small and don’t get discouraged if these don’t have people knocking your door down; it may take trial and error to create the perfect ad for your hustle.
  6. Go Local
    Local newspapers and magazines are always looking for news on what local residents are doing. Send an email to your town/city’s journal or local Patch affiliate. Let them know what you’re up to, offer yourself for an interview, and give enticing information. The key is doing this in a way that your hustle is seen as beneficial to the public, and is not just an ad.

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