During the 30-minute interview, Desmond and Snyder discussed the recovery of the Jersey Shore (Desmond’s office is located in Forked River, New Jersey) and Desmond’s favorite food (veal parmesan), as well as Help-U-Sell’s flat-fee business model, the importance of communication, and how imperative inspections and appraisals are in the home-buying process.
As a licensed broker for 11 years, and an active real estate investor for about 16 years, Help-U-Sell Triad Realty’s Steve Vincent knows a thing or two about long-term commitment. He says this consistency is the key to marketing success, too, especially on Facebook.
Triad Realty’s Facebook page has existed for maybe two years, but he didn’t concentrate on it until recently. “It’s become essential to stay in touch,” Vincent, a former Facebook skeptic, says. He now counts it as one of the important spokes in his marketing wheel. This new commitment has produced some results already.
The page has increased its number of fans by 60 or 70 since early February, and Triad Realty has acquired two seller clients through Facebook. One client saw his seller’s photo of her “Under Contract” sign on her Facebook wall and contacted Triad Realty about listing with the office.
The other client, who’s likely to sign this week, is friends with one of Vincent’s personal friends. She has been keeping track of Triad Realty’s activities on Facebook and recommended the office to her friend who’s getting ready to sell.
“Over the last two years, I’ve been communicating with her [Vincent’s friend] without even knowing I was doing it,” he says.
Vincent is still in the learning stage and doesn’t consider himself a Facebook expert, but he has discovered a few methods that have worked for his audience.
Be willing and able to post often. You can’t post once or twice a month and expect something to happen. Over time, you build your brand. Personal posts are best. Congratulating clients, with or without an accompanying photo, seems to get the most reach and interaction. New listings are second best, and third-party blog post links get the least response. Keep posts shorter and simpler. These get more interaction and views. Ask friends and clients to like your page. “We’re not shy anymore about asking people to like our page,” Vincent says. Triad Realty is promoting the page via email, in person and through other methods. Make your page sticky. Vincent has contracted with a third-party company that supplies his page with up-to-date real estate information, including school reports and recent home sales. It also links fans to his website to search for homes.
Next on Vincent’s Facebook marketing agenda is soliciting more client testimonials. So far, the page has received a few glowing posts from happy buyers and sellers just by happenstance.
While Facebook is the newest marketing tool, he remains loyal to his first method also. “The most effective marketing we do is our arounds postcards – our just listed/just sold postcards. They are a staple from the beginning,” Vincent says. As an extension of those, he has added the new co-op postcards to his marketing plan for this year. He intends to send to the same carrier routes at least six times this year, continuing with his belief in consistency.
Tell us about your marketing successes or ask us for Facebook tips in the comments section.
In this era of reduced inventory, Help-U-Sell Options Unlimited in Terre Haute, Ind., is one of the top Help-U-Sell offices for new listings taken in 2012. Broker/owner Brenda Fischer attributes this success to “going back to the basics.”
For her, this means answering your phone and following up as quickly as possible on all emails, phone calls, etc. She adds, “Use your buyer and seller data sheets and follow up. Don’t give up on these contacts until they tell you they are not going to list with you or they are not going to look at any more homes. We find that people may list three to six months after the initial contact.”
Fischer’s office attracts the leads that turn into listings and sales in a number of ways, many of which fit the “back to basics” theme. Every day, the office sends out handwritten notecards to all expireds and withdrawns in its target markets.
Traditional advertising works for Options Unlimited also. “We advertise weekly in the Valley Homes Section of the Tribune Star newspaper. Last year, we had an insert in the Tribune Star, where we placed a flyer in the newspaper once a month for three months,” she says. “During the peak listing season, we advertise on the local radio station.” Fischer says it’s a 20-second commercial that promotes how her office can save sellers money.
She uses her happy clients to help tell the Help-U-Sell benefits, too. “We get testimonials from anyone and everyone we can get them from – buyers, sellers, off Trulia and Zillow, etc. We place these in our local newspaper and on our website,” she says.
Fischer describes Terre Haute real estate as a buyer’s market and says that “buyers seem to be taking advantage of that in a big way.”
“They are asking for more personal items than ever before, and they know which houses are priced to sell. Buyers are looking at a lot more homes than they did in the past, and these include homes that may not fit their criteria. They want to make sure they have seen everything that may remotely fit their needs,” she explains.
Fischer says her office’s goals for 2013 are to have at least 50 listings by July 1 and to have approximately 65 sides in 2013. She intends to use her market analysis to plan when to advertise and where to advertise to get the most bang for her buck. “We are also planning a three-month trial period with Trulia and we plan to sponsor a Little League baseball team,” she says.
As an almost six-year Help-U-Sell veteran, Fischer offers well-earned advice for new franchisees.
“Some of the traditional real estate companies do not like our concept,” she says. “Kill them with kindness and be as helpful as you can to them.” For instance, she recommends making it easy to show your houses by being thoughtful about which lockboxes you use.
Fischer adds that a proper introduction is key when you’re first opening your office. “Send a note to all brokers in town that Help-U-Sell is here and what it means,” she says. “Everyone thinks they understand what we are all about, and they tell people their version. Get yours out there.”
Ginger Davis, co-owner of Help-U-Sell Lake Tahoe Properties, got her real estate license “for fun” eight years ago. After making real estate her career (she has a Master’s in speech pathology) in 2005, she shows no signs of looking back, just ahead.
Davis opened her Help-U-Sell office in 2006 with her husband, after buying a house from and working at an Assist-2-Sell office. She liked the business model, looked at the other options and ultimately chose to become a Help-U-Sell franchisee. With the downturn in the market over the past few years, her husband switched careers and became a general contractor. Davis brought on a new partner earlier this year in an effort to grow her business.
She met partner Brenda Knox while they both were serving on a non-profit’s board. It was a perfect fit. Knox had recently sold her business, and she has an MBA and a real estate license. Davis can now concentrate on the sales aspect that she loves, while Knox is focusing on administration, including optimizing the office’s website and taking advantage of the other benefits Help-U-Sell offers its franchisees.
Davis says the goal for 2013 is to bring on at least two more agents. The Lake Tahoe area has seen growth this year in terms of more full-time residents purchasing property in what has historically been a vacation-home market.
Second-home buyers remain important, so advertising to the two markets requires creativity and balance. “We still [advertise in] ‘Homes & Land’ because vacationers come to town and pick that up,” she says. Zillow and Trulia also help reach the second-home buyers, but Davis adds that her office also does “quite a bit of local radio” because it’s a small community. Print and direct mail factor into the marketing equation as well. “We’re constantly looking at it and seeing what we can do differently,” she says. The office is located in a highly visible new building, too.
For new Help-U-Sell franchisees, Davis encourages them to be able to step back and take a breath to focus on planning for the year. “Know that the business will come,” she says. She also advocates getting involved in the community as a whole and in the Realtor community in particular. “It’s important for agents in the community to see who you are and it helps them understand the Help-U-Sell business model better.”
Share with us your goals for 2013 or your advice for new franchisees.