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The End of the Year Big Bang Theory in Real Estate

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turkeyThe news of the tax credit being extended and expanded rippled through the real estate industry as the masses of “seasonal” Realtors breathed a long awaited sigh of relief. For a while there it seemed like we might have to grind through the holidays (gasp!) and who wants to do that, right? I mean, prospective clients are either all turkey-ed up in their Tryptophan high or fist fighting over LCD screens after Thanksgiving. Everyone knows that the market is dead during the holidays. How about this instead? We take these 5-6 weeks to recharge our batteries and come back with a brand new resolutions list for 2010 that – like all other years – we have zero intention of following through on. Now, where’s that Best Buy insert?

Dissipating Urgency

Stimulus efforts, like any other government action, bring with them strong, polarized opinions that fuel the usual blog posts. But given that as of late, my interest in political debate has been subzero, I am going to leave that for the AG Sunday Politics. From a more pragmatic standpoint however, this thought kept rearing its head in my mind over and over again. In the PreExtension Era, the doubts about the measure passing were causing back muscles to contract, postures to straighten and holiday plans to change. There was more hustling in the forecast with a 50% chance of drumming up more business. Now, as the urgency dissipates many of us are taking the rest of this year off knowing that their fair share of the tax credit dough is awaiting right up the road.

You Get What You Put In

In my last post, I told you about my Russell Shaw-induced ephiphany : Every dollar you make today originates in some action you took 60-90 days ago. With that in mind, what do you suppose will happen come February or March if you take the next month off? Don’t answer that. Look, if mediocrity is a viable option for you, I can’t argue with that. But if you are looking for a way to make the next 4-5 weeks really count, end the year with the Big Bang and fuel the 1st quarter of 2010 to your best ever, here’s your plan:

  1. Exclusive Focus on Appointments – A month full of closings is always preceded by a month (or two) full of appointments. It would seem as obvious as it sounds, until you notice that the overwhelming majority of real estate agents out there seem to do everything but focus on appointments. They love preparing to prepare, even sharing their preparation methods through social media to much praise and applause. But when it comes time to act, it’s just more prep. The harsh truth is you can’t make soup  if you only chop onions from here until Easter. What do I mean by exclusive focus? Tomorrow morning, sit down with your team or yourself and don’t get up until you have answered this question: What can we do to get a minimum of 4 qualified appointments per week, every week starting today? Then brainstorm without worrying about logistics. Come up with ideas that are efficient short term and a plan to implement them. For instance, you might plan an hour a day of phone calls to your past clients – they might be looking to move up or know someone who’s buying or selling or leasing. If you are already generating leads, you make them first priority then you leave 5 empty spots. Nothing gets done until leads are called back and followed up diligently. If you don’t have any leads, your first priority is to generate some. Call some local agents with listings that have been on the market awhile and see if they wouldn’t mind if you helped them advertise the property at your own cost. Then use classified sites to generate business. Or bandit signs. Or expireds. Whatever you come up with, put it on a calendar and follow it like a damn cult. If you are doing it right, there shouldn’t be any time left for Facebook, Yoville, Twitter or the Moron Test.
  2. Get to KNOW your stats – As Matt as pointed out here before, incorporating a stats solution like AltosResearch on your website can result in increased traffic and higher number of leads over the long term. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. I mean KNOW your stats, like they were hardwired into your brain. In my experience, the best way to do this is by preparing for a video market report. Print out the monthly stats released by your MLS on your real estate market and study those figures. Get to know the median sales price, the trend of sales, inventory levels, foreclosure impact etc. When you have to do a concise 2 min segment on your market, you HAVE to know your numbers to get through it. And even if you never publish the video to the world, you have just polished a major selling skill. Next time a prospect asks you about how the market is doing,  your response will no longer be a vague “slow but getting better”. Instead you will blow their mind if you can deliver solid market data in a manner they can digest.
  3. Invest in some 2.0 – The definition of insanity is to keep doing the same things expecting a different result. Ultimately is about generating abundant leads. Point 1 above talks about some short term tactics that could generate some short term success but in the end you have to make some smart and prudent investments to propel your business. If your site stills looks like some software from 1999 threw up some links and endless paragraphs on a page, it might be time for an upgrade. If you have the skill (or the time to learn) create a dynamic site with WordPress.org and bring your look and functionality into the current century for under $100 with premium themes. Or you can have someone do it for you for an affordable price (hundreds) that’s usually just a fraction of the cost on a full fledged custom design (thousands). Next, pimp it with a great IDX search solution, that will pay for itself in just a few months and keep producing for you as long as your site is up. (Diverse Solutions is what I rock). Next, you could elevate your marketing with a syndicated virtual tour tool: Create tours of your own listings or features of communities you cover and distributed them everywhere with a click. (i.e. RealEstateShows and MLBroadcast). Finally, the database is the lifeline of your business and it should be managed as such. Whether you go server-based (REST, Outlook or Act) or web-based (Heap, Javelin or Highrise), pick one that best suits your needs and USE IT.
  4. Exclusive focus on appointments.

Happy Thanksgiving.

Houston Real Estate Rainmaker and Uberproud Father/Husband (not necessarily in that order). When I'm not skinning cats or changing diapers you can find me on Twitter or Facebook. I blog about marketing, social media and real estate. I might not always be in agreement, but you can rest assured I'll be honest. Oh, and I can cook a mean breakfast...

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14 Comments

14 Comments

  1. Joe Loomer

    November 26, 2009 at 7:20 am

    Erion,

    This is a perfect bookend for Ken Brand’s “How to Plough Deep While Sluggards Sleep” post earlier this week, and I’ve had that Russell Shaw quote spinning in my head since your last missive. Great reminders to get out there and get humpin’ – make the New Year sizzle with the business other agents are blowing off right now.

    I do, however, take issue with – “If you are doing it right, there shouldn’t be any time left for Facebook…” If you’re doing Social Media right, it’s a part of your efforts. I take it you probably meant spending time in Farmville or playing Mafia Wars and such?

    Navy Chief, Navy Pride!

    Oh, and by the way – HAPPY THANKSGIVING EVERYONE!

  2. Scott Cowan

    November 26, 2009 at 2:25 pm

    Thanks for a well written and spot on post.

    What we work on today will pay us in 60 to 90 days is the mantra I use daily. I used to wonder why my business was so much like a roller coaster. Now, I know focused work = consistent results.

  3. Erion Shehaj

    November 26, 2009 at 4:14 pm

    Only a Navy Chief would comment on a post at 7:20 am on Thanksgiving Day. Much appreciated, Sir. 🙂

    As far as the Facebook line, it was within the context of the idea that for a relatively short period of time (4-6 weeks) it’s easier to focus entirely on generating business without any distractions. I remain steadfast on the idea that social media must remain part of any agent’s long term strategy.

  4. Matt Stigliano

    November 27, 2009 at 3:32 pm

    Erion – First, thanks for the mention. I would (logically) assume I am the Matt in question. I’ve been thinking about how to best prep myself for the coming year and your post came at a great time for me. Appointments are something I have been lax at acquiring. I get them and I get the business, but I don’t get enough of them. I’m currently thinking of ways to increase this. As for your comments about stats, I love the idea of the video. It’s kind of like practicing a speech in the mirror before the big debate. I do try and understand my stats, but I do find myself to often giving generic answers and then following up with the market report via email or a follow up call. Not sure why I do that, so now I have some work to do.

    Thanks for the post Erion, you may have just helped me be twice as successful in the coming year.

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Business Marketing

How a Facebook boycott ended up benefitting Snapchat and Pinterest

(MARKETING) Businesses are pulling ad spends from Facebook following “Stop Hate for Profit” social media campaign, and Snapchat and Pinterest are profiting from it.

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Phone in hand open to social media, coffee held in other hand.

In June, the “Stop Hate for Profit” campaign demanded social media companies be held accountable for hate speech on their platforms and prioritize people over profit. As part of the campaign, advertisers were called to boycott Facebook in July. More than 1,000 businesses, nonprofits, and other consumers supported the movement.

But, did this movement actually do any damage to Facebook, and who, if any, benefited from their missing revenue profits?

According to The Information, “what was likely crumbs falling from the table for Facebook appears to have been a feast for its smaller rivals, Snap and Pinterest.” They reported that data from Mediaocean, an ad-tech firm, showed Snap reaped the biggest benefit of the 2 social media platforms during the ad pause. Snapchat’s app saw advertisers spending more than double from July through September compared to the same time last year. And, although not as drastic, Pinterest also saw an increase of 40% in ad sales.

As a result, Facebook said its year-over-year ad revenue growth was only up 10 percent during the first 3 weeks of July. But, the company expects its ad revenue to continue that growth rate in Q3. And, some people think that Facebook is benefitting from the boycott. Claudia Page, senior vice president, product and operations at Vivendi-owned video platform Dailymotion said, “All the boycott did was open the marketplace so SMBs could spend more heavily. It freed-up inventory.”

Even CNBC reported that Wedbush analysts said in a note that Facebook will see “minimal financial impact from the boycotts.” They said about $100 million of “near term revenue is at risk.” And for Facebook, this represents less than 1% of the growth in Q3. However, despite what analysts say, there is still a chance for both Snapchat and Pinterest to hold their ground.

Yesterday, Snap reported their surprising Q3 results. Compared to the prior year, Snap’s revenue increased to $679 million, up 52% from 2019. Its net loss decreased from $227 million to $200 million compared to last year. Daily active users increased 18% year-over-year to 249 million. Also, Snap’s stock price soared more than 22% in after-hours trading. Take that Facebook!

In a prepared statement, Chief Business Officer Jeremi Gorman said, “As brands and other organizations used this period of uncertainty as an opportunity to evaluate their advertising spend, we saw many brands look to align their marketing efforts with platforms who share their corporate values.” As in, hint, hint, Facebook’s summer boycott did positively affect their amazing Q3 results.

So, Snapchat and Pinterest have benefited from the #StopHateForProfit campaign. Snapchat’s results show promising optimism that maybe Pinterest might fare as well. But, of course, Facebook doesn’t think they will benefit much longer. Back in July, CEO Mark Zuckerberg told his employees, “[his] guess is that all these advertisers will be back on the platform soon enough.”

Facebook isn’t worried, but I guess we will see soon enough. Pinterest is set to report its Q3 results on October 28th and Facebook on the 29th.

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Business Marketing

Cooler temps mean restaurants have to get creative to survive

(BUSINESS MARKETING) In the midst of a pandemic and with winter approaching, restaurants are starting to find creative and sustainable ways to keep customers coming in… and warm.

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Outdoor eating at restaurants grows in popularity.

Over the last decade we have seen a change in the approach to clientele experiences in the restaurant business. It’s no longer just about how good your food is, although that is still key. Now you have to give your customers an experience to remember. There are now restaurants that feed you in the dark, and others who require you to check all your clothes at the door. Each of these provides an experience to remember alongside food that ranges from good to exquisite, depending on your taste.

Now, however, the global pandemic has rearranged how we think about dining. We can no longer just shove people into a building and create a delectable meal. If you’ve relied mostly on people coming into your restaurant, you may struggle to survive now.

The new rules of keeping clients safe means setting things up outside is the easiest means of keeping large numbers of them from crowding inside. Because of this, weather has become a key influence in a company’s daily income. Tents that were a gimmick before, only needed by presumptuous millennials, are now a requirement to keep afloat. People are rushing to make their yards into lawns that bring some in some fancy feeling.

The ties to the sun in some areas are so strong that cloudy days have been shown to drop attendance as much as 14% for the day. This will become the more apparent the colder it gets. For me, I always mention hibernation weight in the winter, when all I want to do is curl up and eat at home. Down here in Texas we are already finding cooler weather, drops into the 70s even in August and September. We are all assuming a cold winter ahead. So, a bit of foresight is finding a means of keeping your guests warm for the winter ahead.

San Francisco restaurants have started with heat lamps during their cooler evenings. Fiberglass igloos have also been added to outdoor seating as a means of temperature control. A few places down in the Lonestar state keep roaring fires going for their outdoor activities. While others actually keep you running in between beverages by encouraging volleyball matches. This is the new future ahead of us, and being memorable is the way to go.

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Business Marketing

Healthcare during pandemic goes virtual, looks to stay that way

(BUSINESS NEWS) Employment-based health insurance has already been through the ringer with COVID-19, but company healthcare options are adapting for long term.

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Stethoscope with laptop, showing healthcare going virtual.

Changes in employment-based health insurance may end up costing employers more, but will provide crucial benefits to workers responding to the healthcare challenges presented by the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to a recent survey by the Business Group on Health, a member-driven advocacy organization that helps large employers navigate providing health insurance to their employees, businesses will increase access to telehealth, mental health resources, and on-site clinics in the upcoming year.

Besides the obvious impacts of the coronavirus itself, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic have also rippled out to affect other aspects of public health and how we engage with medical care. With so many people staying home to reduce their in-person contacts, there has been a significant increase in the use of telehealth services such as virtual doctor’s visits. According to the survey from Business Group on Health, whose members include 74 Fortune 100 companies, more than half of large employers will offer more options for virtual healthcare in the upcoming year than in the past.

The pandemic, resulting economic fallout, and dramatic changes to our lives have inevitably exacerbated peoples’ anxieties and feelings of hopelessness. As we move into cold weather, with no end in sight to the need to socially distance, this promises to be a particularly dreary, lonely winter. Mental health support will be more necessary than ever. In 2019, 73% of large employers provided virtual mental health services. That number will increase to 91% next year, with 45% of large employers also expanding their mental health care provider networks, making it easier for employees to find the right the therapist or other mental health service provider, and making it easier to access those services from home, virtually.

In addition, there will be a 20% increase in employers offering virtual emotional well-being services. Altogether, 9 out of 10 of the employers surveyed will provide online mental health resources, which, besides virtual appointments, could also include apps, webinars, and educational videos.

There has also been a slight increase the availability of on-site clinics that provide coronavirus testing and other basic health services. This also included an expansion of resources for prenatal care, weight management, and chronic health problems such as diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

These improvement won’t come free of charge. While deductibles will remain about the same, premiums and out-of-pocket costs will increase about 5%. In most cases, employers will handle these costs, rather than passing them on to employees.

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