It was a great day of learning and collaboration at rebarcamp Vancouver. They were so many great takeaways from professionals that are raising the bar in our industry. Here are our takeaways from presentations we attended.
Speaker: Virginia Munden
What role might compassion and empathy play in your position as an agent? As it turns out, quite a lot, especially when it’s a part of your brand. “The human touch allows you to relate better to your customer,” Virginia Munden reminded participants at the REBarCamp VANCOUVER 2015. “Know what your customer wants to hear.”
Dynamic and personable, Virginia laid out strategies she knows by heart after 25 successful years in the industry. It’s all about building relationships: between agents, clients, partners and other people involved in the real estate industry. The emphasis on relationship building and focusing more on the client rather than the agent set the tone for Virginia’s talk; building authentic rapport appeared as a running theme throughout this year’s REBarCamp 2015 workshops.
She suggests preparing a comprehensive PowerPoint presentation for clients that will underscore the value of your service. “Data and stats don’t lie!” she stresses. Along with 20 points on why a seller needs to work with an agent, the presentation should always include not only a review of the previous year, but a review of the first quarter of the year. “That’s powerful,” she says. “Concentrate on stats, they don’t lie.” It helps to build a client’s confidence, and it accentuates an agent’s knowledge of the local market.
Value is a word frequently heard throughout the industry, but values need to genuinely relate to an agent’s business. She recommends drawing on a wealth of tools readily available to agents: why not emphasize an agent’s membership in real estate boards to highlight the huge roster of agents with qualified buyers at their disposal? Future buyers are on social media; social media platforms and online portals offer rich resources that should be fully utilized. Two things are needed to harness the power of online platforms, she says somewhat tongue-in-cheek: a user name and a password.
Like a mantra, Virginia assures an outstanding customer relationship when an agent presents value, highlights the benefit of that value, and outlines the results of that value. “What’s the value of your brand for the consumer?” she asks. “When you tell a client: ‘I live here, I work here, I know about these things’, you’re creating value in the mindset of the consumer. Be a specialist in your area.”
“Develop relationships and engage with people,” she says. “We need to shift our mindset to increase sales and opportunities.”
Millenials and Technology: How to build trust within the Real Estate Industry with this Eager & Savvy Group of Professionals
Speaker: Christina Kroner
Millennials, that group of buyers that range in age from 18-34 continues to intrigue real estate agents. How do you connect with them? And aren’t they usually broke, labouring under student loans and other debts? Not necessarily so, says Christina.
Ignore them and you are “leaving money on the table.” Twenty-eight per cent of property buyers fall into the 25-34 year-old-range. A good agent will I.D. their needs while at the same time, educate these first-time buyers on a wide range of issues, from financing to closing costs.
Without question, millennials are very savvy consumers. They consult Google for even the most mundane buying decisions (like what restaurant or drycleaner to use) or crowdsource the answer to questions from family and friends on Facebook.
Much of home purchasing information can be gathered online, but it often becomes overwhelming. That’s where an astute agent can step in to act as a filter.
Christina, for instance, has prepared a comprehensive first time buyers’ package that’s easy to digest for her millennial clients. She coaches them on a myriad of details they’ll face as new buyers. She points out that statistics show 55% of millennials may not grasp the costs associated with the closing of a property. “A lot of education goes into the buying process,” she says, “and most of the time, it’s an agent’s job to ensure clients are aware of the buying process.”
She also pairs them with financial planners once she understands their needs, and it’s a process that starts early in the relationship. Sometimes, this progression may take several years, but Kroner will stay in touch with them until they’re ready and able to buy a home.
Social media figures heavily in Christina’s line of work, from her iPad and a handy app she uses to register open house guests (who love filling out their information online rather than signing paper) to using live video on FaceTime to show a client a prospective property if they can’t free up time in a busy schedule. Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and other platforms and apps play prominent roles in her ability to connect and build rapport with millennial clients.
Sometimes, she walks a fine line. “If you post too much on Facebook, it may appear to the client that you’re not working, yet for them, it’s one of their most preferred ways to stay in touch!”
Innovative use of social media tools, creating a searchable online presence, and knowing how to market services to millennials are central to tapping into this important market.
What does Today’s Consumer want? Understanding Buyer and Seller Behaviour!
Speaker: Jon Cheplak
Joe Cheplak grabs your attention at first sight, his boundless, cheerful energy fills the room. “We’re in the human experience business,” he says in cadenced tones, reminding agents to stop trying to be better, instead be different. “Today is about creative excellence.” Look at how to differentiate yourself to be the one chosen by prospective clients, he urges his listeners.
Someone asks how that might be done and Jon tells them he believes in creating awareness, not necessarily providing answers. It’s up to each individual to define what creative excellence means to them in terms of serving their clients. To that end, agents need to look at accommodating the behaviour of their clients; to listen and respond to what they’re telling you, he says. Clients, he believes, want to be talked with, not at.
Similar to other speakers at REBarCamp VANCOUVER 2015, Jon emphasizes tapping into the power of building relationships, and scanning his audience asks: “Are you with me?” Heads nod and no one disagrees with his assessment.
Jon has a lot to say on the subject, but he condenses an agent’s responsibilities into three crucial components under the umbrella of creative excellence:
This, he points out, is one of the most opportune times in the real estate business. Boundaries are limitless and cost to implement tools such as social media cost next to nothing. Agents need to nurture clients. To feed their databases in such a way that business will continue to flow their way. They must stay on top of social media tools. Few think of YouTube as a search engine, yet searches for real estate agents on YouTube have increased by 42%.Think strategy and system, not sales, he says in a world where consumers are at the top of the sales funnel and have more choices and more control than ever before.
Speaker: Kelly Mitchell – Agent Caffeine
According to Kelly Mitchell, podcasting promises to be the new video. Its popularity has waxed and waned over the years, but it’s now enjoying a fresh resurgence worldwide. Even new makes of cars, she points out, support audio apps for enjoying downloaded podcasts.
Why should real estate agents consider creating their own podcasts? In Kelly’s opinion, a huge void appears to exist when prospective homeowners are searching for information about a new neighbourhood. Mitchell recently moved, and while exploring information about her new surroundings, she found data sadly lacking. Some of it in fact, was 4-5 years old. She’s convinced consumers are looking for current information and not finding it.
Podcasts are one way to address this ‘content vacuum’ while connecting with people. “Podcasting could be a game-changer for the real estate industry,” she says. An agent could, for example, interview high-profile community members in the form of a once-weekly podcast. Bring in local experts; a banker might address financing tips or, to personalize a podcast, an agent could talk to the mayor about his latest mountain-climbing adventure. What young mother wouldn’t tune in to hear the Parks and Rec manager talk about the three most kid-friendly parks in their city?
She believes it’s key to branding yourself in a community. If an agent uses “evergreen” material, that is, content that doesn’t age or expire, they will establish ‘staying power’, while building a platform and audience at the same time.
Understanding how to get meaningful content out to clients is one thing, learning to create podcasts is another. A bit of a learning curve is involved, from selecting equipment to learning how to interview subjects. She admits podcasting is an involved process, one that requires commitment, regular broadcasts, and quality content to keep people engaged. Google+ Hangouts is one way to streamline the more technical side of the process, but there’s also Blog Talk Radio, easier for beginners to tackle.
“We’re still talking too much about us; we need to talk more about the consumer and what resonates with them. Podcasting is a great way to start conversations in your community and to build your brand.”
We look forward to the next REBARCamp in Vancouver!!