Saying Mahalo to Long Term Success

Richard Cricchio wasn’t planning on a life in Hawaii or a career in real estate but the two things ended up being pivotal to where he is today, which is consistently at the top of our list of top performing broker offices.

After his parents made a retirement move there in 1989, Richard soon followed to check it out. Attracted by the natural beauty of the island and outdoor lifestyle the temperate weather has to offer, he decided to make a life for himself there, also.

He spent some time working for other real estate companies before making the leap to Help-U-Sell in 2000. Like many good start-up stories, he was initially operating on a shoe string budget and credit cards until all the pieces fell into place. Once his marketing efforts were in full force and his presence was made known on the island, business started picking up, and fast. Which is music to any entrepreneurial ear.

The downside was picking up criticism from other realtors in the community, who were not happy with the competition of a different, successful business model. “When I first started with the set fee model from Help-U-Sell, I got a lot of pushback. I was even told that what I was doing was illegal, which was, of course, completely untrue. The good news is, Honolulu is a small town. When people got to know me, I was eventually invited to join the Professional Standards committee by the Hawaii Association of Realtors and was accepted,” Richard shared.

Regardless of whether the market is good or bad, the name recognition, extensive knowledge and great service makes it easy for the Help-U-Sell name to rise to the top. In Richard’s experience, “Other set-fee real estate companies love opening up when the market is booming. The difference between Help-U-Sell and would-be competitors is that when the market goes bad, we truly excel, whereas others fold up shop. Help-U-Sell remains a resource for home sellers because we can say we’ve been through these downturns before, and we’re especially equipped to help people navigate through it.”

While bringing home sellers savings is a big draw, there a joy in being able to help people through exceptionally trying circumstances as well. “I knew a couple that had gotten themselves into trouble by buying a $700,000 house. They were balancing it against running a struggling business and the stress of the situation was driving them both towards divorce. The market was in a tough spot, but I asked them to not get divorced and let me help them sell their house, which I did. I’m happy to say they are still married,” Richard added proudly. “It’s great helping people in general, but a chance to make a difference to someone on a very personal level is a better happy in my book.”

Success is a happy ending most people can appreciate.

Richard Cricchio

Planning a Prosperous 2018

If you haven’t formulated your plan for increasing revenue in the upcoming year, it’s not too late to start. We’ve compiled some suggestions to inspire you towards growth and greatness as we surge ahead into the New Year.

Get More Out of Facebook

One of the things Facebook makes easy is the ability to drill down into who you want to reach. Being general is great for your hot new listing. Getting into specifics with age, gender, and zip code can be a boon for reaching young families. Advertising to people who are already connected to your page is helpful for generally cementing your brand.

Using gorgeous, eye catching pictures goes a long way. Of course, if you have video footage (bonus points for aerial shots), even better. Always make sure your contact and landing page information is included in your ad. For Facebook post ideas, refer to our Summer 2017 issue of Reconnect, p.8. 

Lastly, it’s worth it to spend some time getting to know the Facebook Audience Insights tool to give you a concrete sense of who is out there before you start spending your marketing budget money.

Get to Know the Neighbors
Host a house warming for your clients. Research a few themes such as a dessert party, a wine and cheese party, or even a cook out to get an idea of costs. Get the names of the neighbors and guests, and take care of the invitations and RSVPS. The laid back atmosphere of these gatherings is a hotbed for potential leads as you talk with folks in a natural environment, establishing trust, answering questions, and furthering your brand recognition. It is also a fantastic opportunity to take fun, casual photos for your social media pages (and tag who you can). Plus you’ll get the emails of the attendees that you can nurture for future leads.

Stay Visible

An open house is a marketing event and you need to treat it like one. Get your signs out early. Increase your general and directional signage by double. Send emails through the new platform in our OMS system and make sure you post it to all your social media accounts.

Sergio Martinez, Broker/Owner of Help-U-Sell San Antonio Hill Country in Schertz, Texas keeps top of mind with his audience with radio spots on conservative talk shows. While it is expensive, the audience responds well to the message: “What is the difference between selling a $200,000 home and a $500,000 home? About $18,000 in commissions.”

Office Pizza Night (or Tacos!)

At least once a month, order dinner in for the office and have everyone start calling all of your buyer and seller leads. Have them inquire where these folks are in their goals and ask questions to reactivate their interest in working with your team.

Mining Expired Listings

Our top producer for 2017, Steve Vincent of Help-U-Sell® Triad Realty in Greensboro, NC was a rock star by closing 169 sides. With a dedicated office person handling the details of this program, part of his success in effectively implementing an expired listings program was paying attention to the results and adding resources to it. To find out more, go to page 4 of our Summer 2017 Reconnect.

The Automated Arounds Program

The Arounds postcard program is a great “Set it and forget it” tool for getting your word out regardless of who owns the listing. Go into the OMS and choose a post card you like. Personalize it with your information and messaging. Set up your areas of choice. Choose your budget and let it roll! When the budget is met, the postcards cease mailing for the rest of month. If you haven’t seen it yet or just need a refresher, watch this Power Hour episode where our CEO, Robbie Stevens, and Mike Paholke from Excel Printing walk you through every step.

Reach Out and Touch Someone…Twice a Year

The best marketing has always been word of mouth. Whoever thinks enough of you to speak well of you as a business person to another individual is pure gold. You are literally being vouched for with every referral. Cultivate and call your Centers of Influence by reaching out personally twice a year. Even if they don’t have a need for your service at the time, they will remember you when they need you.

Listen and Learn

Every Wednesday at noon EST, our Help-U-Sell coaches, James Dingman and John Powell, are hosting Power Hour, which is consistently bringing informative and helpful topics to the discussion table such as the new Drip Email system in the OMS and tips for Short Term Strategizing. It’s always informative, and frequently energizing with a free flow of questions and ideas from the hosts and participants.

As always, if you have questions, please reach out to James and John. They are happy to help you plan your way to a prosperous 2018.

Climb the Ladder – End of Year Report 2017

Take a look at our top producing offices in 2017 ! These hard working Broker/Owners have earned the right to celebrate.

Make 2018 your top year ever by getting involved with coaching, planning and executing new strategies for reaching new clients, getting the right message in front of the right people at the right time, and good, old fashioned hard work. Congratulations, everyone!

Triad Realty 169
Honolulu Properties 162
Metropolitan 154
Greensboro 136
Direct Savings Real Estate 119
Prestige Properties 106
Detwiler Realty 90
Federal City Realty 88
Heritage Real Estate of Steele County Inc. 84
San Antonio Hill Country 76
Options Unlimited 72
Full Service Realty 71
Legacy 67
Select Real Estate 61
Real Estate Specialists 50

Help-U-Sell® San Antonio Hill Country Doubles Business as 2017 Closes

It’s been a great year for Sergio Martinez, Broker/Owner of Help-U-Sell San Antonio Hill Country in Schertz, Texas. He’s recently earned the ranking of second most improved office of all the franchises nationwide in terms of overall growth in sales, increasing his number of houses sold by roughly double the amount in the year previous. How’d he do it? As it turns out, a strategic combination of several actions are at play.

Where It All Began
“I was living in California at the time. My mother asked me to find her a house that was closer to mine. I saw one I already liked, because it had the exact floor plan as my own house,” Sergio shared. “I saw that it was a Help-U-Sell represented home. When I checked it out, I realized the seller was able to save quite a bit on the commission and was in a better negotiating position because of it. I was so impressed by that, I came out of retirement to do it myself.”

Sell and Be Seen Where You Live
Hailing from New York (which is plainly evident when you speak to him) Sergio lives in the community where he also sells homes, about three miles from his office. Living and participating in the community through venues like the Lion’s Club, the Police Club, being seen around town, and constantly reinforcing branding through advertising and full wrap signage on his company vehicles, all help solidify him and his business as a constant presence.

Know Your Audience
One of the largest expenditures Sergio makes is on advertising, which he does a lot of on conservative radio in Texas.

“My spots run on the shows hosted by Larry Elder, Dennis Prager, and Hugh Hewitt. The commercials are voiced by them also. Is it expensive? Yes, but there is a lot of money here in conservatives hands.  The audience responds well to the messaging,” Sergio explained.

The messaging always includes: “What is the difference between selling a $200,000 home and a $500,000 home? About $18,000 in commissions.”

Make It Personal
It’s no secret that the internet has impacted how people see and buy homes, but Sergio believes that many real estate professionals have taken that to mean a reduction in personal service. “When showing a home, there is now less work to do. People see the house they’d like to look at on Zillow or Trulia and call the agent to show it to them. While that exclusivity of information is gone, the opportunity to cement yourself with them is not. I don’t meet half the agents with whom I do business, which is ludicrous to me,” Sergio explained. “So many agents don’t make any calls. They’d rather email or text. Relationship building is everything in this business.”

Once, after setting up a new prospect on a drip email containing new listings, Sergio called the next business day to follow up. The client was shocked: “I didn’t expect to hear from you,” the client said.

“Texting is a way of hiding. I call everybody,” Sergio said, “Good news, bad news. It doesn’t matter. When I drop off paperwork with my proposal, I call back after a day or two to follow up. That face to face time is critical.”

Location, Location, Location
Two years ago, Sergio moved his office into the front of an H-E-B grocery store, where the registers ring around 125,000 times weekly. Not only is there high traffic, there is the opportunity to constantly see the neighbors and interact with hundreds of people daily. The re-cementing of daily impressions is invaluable. People learn who Help-U-Sell is, and remember the brand when the time comes.

“I watch people inspect their receipts and go back to customer service over a 20 cents overcharge. People are highly attuned to the desire to save money, and I can save them thousands. I offer the same product and service at a lesser rate. Once they know that, they choose us. I also love a win/win situation: The seller makes money, I make money. Everyone is happy.”

What Drives You?
In parting, Sergio offered: “There is a word in Spanish: ‘ganas’, which translates into ‘desire’ in English. I get to meet phenomenal people every day. I don’t have to work. I LOVE to work.”

Help-U-Sell Franchisee Helps Hundreds Handle Debt

Before getting involved with Help-U-Sell Real Estate, Jack Bailey, one of our long-time franchisees and a well-respected colleague and coach, was in fact a financial advisor. Knowing his history, the people in his church community asked if he would write a course on managing finances using biblical principles. So, Jack sat down, wrote out a 12-hour course, and started teaching it. Over time, it developed into a way to attack debt and live a debt-free lifestyle, and Jack has shared it with many.

Sometimes, people are referred to Jack from other people he’s helped previously. Other times, it is more organic. Folks have come into his real estate office interested in buying a home, and a more in depth discussion about finances reveals that the family finances would not pass muster to get a mortgage because of excessive debt.  In situations such as these, Jack suggests that they first get out of debt and then think about buying a home.

“The first thing we address is getting control of your lifestyle, in terms of making money and spending money,” explained Mr. Bailey. “It’s quite simple. If you spend more than you bring in, you have to adjust your lifestyle. What’s funny is, people often focus on bigger things, like buying cars or phones, without realizing that if they spend $2.75 every day on a cup of coffee, not spending that money results in savings of almost $1000 per year. That’s a lot of money.”

After they understand that short term sacrifices bring long term benefits, they move onto the next step, which is using some of that freed up cash to establish a reserve fund for emergencies. “You might need new tires for the car, or the washer broke. You never know what life is going to surprise you with,” Jack added. “The important thing is to not burden your credit card debt with these unforeseen expenses.”

Next, Jack moves them on to the stage of attacking the debt. “Some people like to go after big debt first. Not me. If you have four separate debts, line them up from largest to smallest. Let’s say you have an extra $200 a month you can throw at any of it while still maintaining minimum payments on all of them. It will take you 23 months to pay off the biggest debt, and the three smaller ones still exist. If you do it in reverse and pay off the smallest debt first, you can pay off all four debts in 17 months instead. Once you pay off that smallest debt, you start applying that same money to the next smallest one until it disappears.”

When that stage is complete, Jack shows them how to scale down the mortgage debt. “If someone is $20,000 in debt, sure, you could give them the money to fix their problem. However, if you don’t look at the symptoms causing the problem, they are likely to repeat it. It’s why these skills are so important.”

Jack admits that information can spin some heads. “Most people don’t think anything of putting big stuff on credit. By that same token, people are ecstatic to learn these concepts exist. Parents don’t always know this stuff, it wasn’t taught in schools, even though good money management is something we should use every day. Kids should learn to handle money while they are young.”

What really pleases him though, is hearing back later from people he has helped. Jack recently heard from one gentleman, Tim, who shared his experience. “You helped me, Jack, and it worked. I got out of debt and I have stayed debt free. You made me promise that I would help one other person learn this, and I did. Now that person is also out of debt, and I made them promise the same thing. They promised to help someone else.”

Over 20 plus years, Jack Bailey estimates he helped between 20-30 families per year, which translates into hundreds of families. It’s especially interesting to note that Jack doesn’t charge anyone money to help them with their finances. He just enjoys helping people. Jack will sometimes get notes or phone calls from people who have let them know of their positive progress or that they paid of their last debt. “They are excited, and I get excited for them because they are so happy. It’s incredibly gratifying,” Jack said.

Jack Bailey, Help-U-Sell Greensboro
Jack Bailey serves as a coach for Help-U-Sell Real Estate offices.