By Amy Reinink
Having reached the RE/MAX 100 Percent Club for five straight years, Sean Moore aimed for the Platinum Club in 2011. He adjusted his approach, created a stronger presence and achieved his goal. Now, well into 2012, Moore continues to thrive. Is he busy with business? Yes! And he’s very willing – along with several colleagues – to share his secrets.
Because People Know Them
TIP: Master social media
Moore, of RE/MAX Boone Realty in Columbia, Mo., generates many of his leads through Facebook and other social media.
He posts links to each of his listings on his professional Facebook page. Then he shares the original Facebook posting on his personal Facebook page (in order to comply with Facebook regulations for business and personal pages).
“I have about 1,000 local followers,” says Moore, who closed 68 transaction sides last year for a sales volume of $11.5 million. “Not everyone who clicks on those links is a homebuyer, but most of them know a friend or relative who is.”
When Moore closes a sale, he gets permission from the clients to tag them in a post. “Then I post something like: ‘Sold! In 22 days. Thank you, John and Jane Doe, for trusting me with the purchase or sale of your home,’” Moore says. “It’s really effective.”
TIP: Don’t be all business
Moore is careful not to spam Facebook friends with professional messaging, and he tries to post as many photos of himself with his 7-year-old triplets as he does home sales and listings.
“Sharing your success is a good thing, but I think you can overdo it,” he says.
Leslie McDonnell of RE/MAX Suburban in Libertyville, Ill., says she, too, aims to balance her professional Facebook updates with personal posts, such as pictures of her granddaughter.
“I log on twice a day, and anytime I see a client on there, I comment on whatever they’ve posted,” says McDonnell, a Circle of Legends member who was licensed in 1986. “When you do that, and when you post pictures of your family, people look at you more as a human being than as a person trying to get business.”
TIP: Be creative and fun
Kristi Idol of RE/MAX Preferred Properties in Kernersville, N.C., drives a Volkswagen Beetle convertible that’s wrapped in advertisements for her office, with a message to “Just Bug Kristi” if you need an agent.
“It gets a lot of attention,” says Idol, a Hall of Fame and Platinum Club member who closed 84 transaction sides in 2011. “We drive it as much as we can, and on a fairly regular basis, clients will say, ‘I called you because I saw your Bug.’”
Idol also farms the neighborhoods near where she grew up, where many longtime residents remember her name.
“When people know your face and see you around town, they feel a more personal connection with you,” she says. “That can be the edge you need.”
Because They Do Nice Things for People
TIP: Give thoughtful gifts
McDonnell says she’s had great success netting referrals from raffles and small gifts sent to past clients. She includes a $1 lottery ticket in every handwritten birthday card she sends to former clients, and sends a $10 movie theater gift certificate to clients celebrating their wedding anniversary.
In early November each year, she sends postcards to past clients, asking them to respond with a pie order. Right before Thanksgiving, she picks up pies at a local bakery and personally hands them out at her office. When she started the tasty promotion seven years ago, McDonnell gave away 30 pies; last November the number was 220. Each box has a sticker that thanks the recipients for their business, as well as for the referrals they’ve given her in the past. The long-lasting loyalty, and subsequent leads, easily covers the $9-per-pie price tag.
“November is the ideal time of year to reach out and see people,” McDonnell says. “So often, we get people who come in for their pies and say, ‘I’m so glad I saw you today, because my sister’s moving early next year.’”
TIP: Think long-term
These days, it’s not uncommon to meet would-be clients who can’t qualify for a home loan. Idol says she takes as much care with these people as she does with past clients, and frequently guides them toward lenders or other contacts who can prepare them to try again in the future.
Idol even sponsors classes at Experiment in Self Reliance, a local nonprofit that teaches low-income residents financial literacy and other money skills. Her involvement works on many levels: She’s helping people, but she’s also developing future business leads.
“Just because someone can’t qualify right now doesn’t mean they won’t qualify six months from now,” Idol says.
Because They Have Systems
TIP: Get organized
McDonnell says her sales volume skyrocketed from $21 million in 2001 to $90 million in 2006 as a result of implementing effective systems that helped her catch business during the red-hot market. Those systems have helped her through difficult times as well.
“Anything you do more than once should be a system,” says McDonnell, whose team closed 160 transactions for a total sales volume of $55.8 million last year. “I had always maintained a database, but I learned that wasn’t nearly enough.”
Now, McDonnell uses Real Pro Systems – a RE/MAX Approved Supplier – to track everything from price changes to client contacts, and to remind herself about key steps in each process.
Fellow Circle of Legends member Drew Woolcott, of RE/MAX Escarpment Realty in Dundas, Ontario, says implementing easy-to-follow systems makes it simple to add new team members.
“As long as someone has a strong work ethic, we can drop them into the system pretty seamlessly,” he says.
Woolcott uses Top Producer – another RE/MAX Approved Supplier – and a host of spreadsheets to manage systems for his team, which handled 280 transactions last year for a sales volume of $114 million.
TIP: Be there for them
Idol says she has improved her accessibility in recent years. She says that after the market dropped, she made a conscious decision to keep her phone on at all hours, and to follow up on every lead as quickly as possible.
“You can still sell a lot of houses in this market – you just have to put in more effort,” Idol says. “I put extra hours in, and I work hard every day. I even answer my phone when it rings at 10 p.m.; in sales, when someone calls, you need to answer.”
Because They Take Great Care of Clients
TIP: Manage expectations
Buying or selling a home can be intimidating to the uninitiated, so Idol takes care to prepare her clients for steps that may be surprising or upsetting.
“If you let them know up front about what’s involved, it alleviates fear,” Idol says. “This is especially true for first-time homebuyers, because they’re scared to death. I try to hold their hand every step of the way.”
In this vein, McDonnell provides clients with a checklist for every part of the buying or selling process. “If I let my sellers know four days before a home inspection that sometimes buyers bring other family members or that sometimes the inspection takes a long time, I don’t get a panicked phone call the day of the inspection wondering why there have been eight cars parked outside the house for four hours,” McDonnell says.
Because They’ve Built Solid Reputations
TIP: Be seen as the top option
Woolcott says you can’t overestimate the power of being viewed as a top producer in your market. A reputation as an agent who closes sales and outworks the competition – an image enjoyed by many within the RE/MAX network – goes a long way in attracting new business, either through consumers or referrals.
“Being viewed as the go-to person in a certain area is invaluable,” Woolcott says. “Once that happens, the business really increases.”
And when it comes, you need to be ready for it, he adds. “Some agents or brokers spend lots of time and money to generate leads, but when the calls come in, they don’t handle them properly,” Woolcott says. “The fact that a customer can call and not get called back until the next day is astonishing to me.”
TIP: Reach out to other agents
Every summer, McDonnell invites other local agents – whether they’re with RE/MAX or not – to her lake house for a catered party. The fun event is a great opportunity for agents to get to know each other, raising the level of professional respect and courtesy throughout the area.
“When you’re trying to get feedback for sellers after another agent shows their home, it’s helpful if the agent likes you,” McDonnell says.
She’ll often email an agent who showed her listing – blind-copying the client – and ask for feedback.
“When you get an email back that says, ‘I’d love to have a deal with you; they hate the blue carpeting,’ it really shows that the relationship has value, and by blind-copying the sellers, I’m showing them that my relationships work to their benefit,” McDonnell says.
TIP: Be a resource for others
McDonnell is quick to help others, because when she was starting out, she invited more-experienced agents to lunch and asked how they stayed so busy and organized.
“If you want to get to a higher level, reach out to someone who’s more successful than you,” McDonnell says. “Make a connection and find out what their systems are.”
Moore, who has shifted his focus from buyers to sellers over time, even passes business along. Because he generates so many buyer leads, he refers them to four trusted buyer agents in his office.
“These are great buyer agents, so the arrangement works out well for me, for them and for the buyers,” Moore says. “I truly appreciate the assistance. My advice to newer agents is to find a busy colleague in the office and partner up in something like this. The RE/MAX agents I know are happy to share their success.”