Category Archives: Agent Life
We are powerful beyond measure – Harcourts Inspirational Women
I have always admired the many talented men courageous enough to step to the podium at our events but during my 26 years with Harcourts I could not help but notice how few women volunteer to do the same. I have two theories on this; 1. They are too darn busy and 2. They don’t believe they have anything of value to say. In 2013 a young woman decided not to give up on her dream to have a career in real estate because of something I said that inspired her to keep going in her struggle to succeed as well as raise a young child.
I realised that ordinary hard working women like me could make a difference for the women of Harcourts.
In May 2016 we launched Harcourts Inspirational women
Harcourts Inspirational Women aims to build a powerful network of ordinary hard working women who have been brave enough to step to the podium to help the many women working in our industry. We may not be professional speakers but we have important stories to share of how we faced the challenges others now face. We may not be famous but we are extraordinary in our accomplishments and the life lessons we have learned. Inspirational Women is also a mentoring program with an online register you can visit to connect with any of our members. We provide practical advice and valuable support that help other women to succeed, to keep trying, to take more opportunities, to be proud of themselves.
- To encourage and help the many women in Harcourts to step to the podium and share their stories, their lessons learned building a real estate career whilst juggling the demands of family and personal expectations.
- To help our women be courageous and understand their value to the many women in our organisation looking for role models, mentors and advice.
- To provide a sense of belonging and sisterhood within Harcourts that will act as a magnet for other inspirational women to belong to.
Harcourts Inspirational Women Speakers
- Every speaker will be profiled in the Harcourts Inspirational Women’s register online with their photo, contact details and a brief outline of the key messages from their presentation.
- Harcourts women who are looking for a mentor can then visit: https://www.academyrealestatetraining.com/speakers/inspirational-women / Speakers / Harcourts Inspirational Women to view our register of Harcourts Inspirational Women.
- Every year one speaker will be chosen from the register to speak at the annual Harcourts Inspirational Women’s event held at our National Conferences. To be chosen from so many is a significant honour.
- Simply contact your local Harcourts Inspirational Ambassador to discuss speaking at one of our events.
I am grateful to the wonderful ambassadors who drive this in their regions. We shall continue to inspire other women to know that they are powerful beyond measure.
If you don’t incorporate videography into your business you will be left behind. Right now there is someone in your market differentiating themselves through quality video but soon it will be the expected norm.
Video shared on YouTube, Pinterest, Facebook, LinkedIn and by email is the marketing strategy of today.
However that is not to say that everyone is doing it well. There is still the opportunity to stand out from the crowd.
Three common mistakes to avoid
- A common mistake agents are still making is creating virtual tours, either using 3D cameras or video that shows every part of the home.
- The purpose of your marketing video is to connect emotionally with the buyers. There’s no need to show every minute detail of a home or even every room. Instead feature brief glimpses of beautiful living spaces, quality features and tasteful decor, like a beautiful stone wall in the courtyard or sun filtering through plants or stained glass. Entice the viewer to want to see more.
- The second mistake agents make is to write a script for the video voiceover and then read it. Reading full copy can sound rehearsed and unnatural. Learn the script, then speak naturally using only bullet points and watch the language you use. Avoid terms such as ‘area’, instead saying ‘neighbourhood’ or ‘community’. Also stand up when you record as it helps to create energy in your voice
- Intersperse your voice over with music in the background as this softens the audio, and creates a feeling, rather than using voice alone. Search royaltyfreemusic.com for background melodies that match the character of the property. For example classical music for a classic style home, jazz or blues for an inner city apartment.
The third mistake agents make is to create long video clips. Viewer click-through drops dramatically after two minutes. Heed this reality and keep your videos short – ideally two minutes or three maximum.
Take video marketing to the next level
Create video that tells a story. Include the community, schools, restaurants, and parks. Why the sellers are moving and what they loved about the property and neighbourhood.
Prepare the home before entering the market and employ a home stager prior to shooting the video. Move bins and cars. Try filming in the day, night and twilight. Find the creative footprint for your marketing. Don’t be afraid to use something of the sellers that tells their story and use this theme throughout the campaign.
Ask your seller to post the video on their Facebook page. Get the neighbours’ email addresses and have the sellers email them the video– you will be surprised how many more listings you will pick up.
If you have your own home stager and videographer you can keep the prices down. Approach a local wedding photographer or hire a recently graduated videographer to get started. Employ them to create your property videos and team promotions, but also have them video local charities and events, new businesses and restaurants openings and all current happenings so you have a stock of clips to feed to your website.
The use of video to market property and your community is quickly becoming an expected part of our service. The use of video to promote you, your team and your services humanises you and helps build relationships. So let’s commit to quality videography.
Online hostile attacks or simply an unhappy client review means trouble. How we manage online engagement is critical to our reputation and our reputation is critical to our success.
Founder of ratemyagent.com Lee Wade stated at our recent Harcourts conference in Australia that the majority of poor reviews come from buyers and tenants.
Less than 30% of us know how to handle negative online reviews. Old thinking was to ignore public displays of criticism with the thinking that any more comment given would only draw more attention to the complaint. Not so online. Just deleting and blocking unhappy customers will damage our business. 88% of our future clients will research us online and 57% will make a decision before making contact with us. A negative review handled badly will see us fall to the bottom of their short list. So here are a few simple guide lines that might help:
- Respond immediately
- Find out why
- Be professional
- Fix the Problem
- Do not delete or block.
- Appoint a champion
Respond to the post with a public message alongside their complaint that says you care. E.g. “I am so sorry you have had a bad experience but thank you so much for letting us know. We pride ourselves on our 98% customer satisfaction rating so this is important to us too. I have reached out to you offline and look forward to putting this right.” Next send them a private message asking them for their contact phone number and a convenient time to call. Alternatively provide your office phone number and email address and ask them to write to you in more detail about their complaint so that you can look into it for them.
Find out why
Communicate however you can – via online messaging or email if that’s all the contact details you have otherwise make a personal phone call or invite them to meet with you at the office. Find out what actually happened in the situation – this will give you some insight into the situation but more importantly will allow them to feel heard and important.
Criticism is hard to take especially if it is unfounded but do not react emotionally. It’s important to be human and genuine, not officious, but don’t get angry, personal or dismissive. It is recommended that someone more neutral than the ‘complainee’ make the initial contact.
Fix the Problem
If you or one of your team have done something wrong, or could have improved somewhere, admit it and make steps to rectify the situation where you can.
Whether you have been able to fix what is done or not, once concluded send a gift with a hand written note. In most cases there is going to be some element of truth to whatever the complaint is. So apologize for it. You have more to lose than they do.
Do not delete or block
Do not delete the complaint or block the person who has made it unless you have to. The customer has the ability to edit their post plus they will hopefully comment on how well their complaint was handled. On the odd occasion the person has a personal agenda with no intention of reaching a solution or if they become abusive then block them from the page and delete their comments or posts.
Appoint a champion
Identify someone on your team skilled to handle online reviews, someone who you trust not to be emotionally reactive and who will be responsible for finding and responding to all online reviews.
Understanding Live Streaming
With Facebook live being made available to every user in April, the world’s largest social network joined Twitter’s Periscope and gave users the ability to live stream from their phones.
Compared to the separate app and clunky (second app) functionality of Twitter, streaming your activities live on Facebook is a relatively seamless process. If you combine the ease of adoption with the much larger user base, and your connections – Facebook live becomes a compelling tool to communicate with your friends and followers.
Facebook Prioritising Video And Live Streaming
On top of the larger user base, Facebook’s algorithm (prioritisation) for displaying content to other users, favours live video over and above all other content. They even have a separate priority push notification that you will receive if a friend or brand you follow goes live.
Try out personal live streaming
From your home screen there is a simple live button that allows you to:
- Set up an enticing title, select your audience (Public, friends or a custom group you’ve created. If you launch the live stream from within a closed group it will also protect those privacy setting as well).
- Before clicking go live, select a spot where wind and background noise are at a minimum.
- Clicking the blue go live button commences a three second countdown that you can use to frame yourself or your subjects correctly and to start smiling.
Stream from your Facebook Business Page
By downloading the Facebook Pages Manager app it is also possible to stream as a page. you can access the functionality by selecting:
- The page you wish to manage.
- Select post.
- Select live.
- Set geo targeting and age targeting.
- Click go live, which again initiates a three second countdown.
As with all videos once uploaded they feature in your timeline and can be found by others. Remember to remove any videos that are only of relevance for a short time or that have promotions or details that expire.
What And Why Would I Live Stream?
Live stream by nature suits to reaching your audience immediately. Here are a few ways to leverage the medium.
Local event – As a real estate professional, customers expect you to be on the pulse of the neighbourhood. Streaming the bustling activity of a local fare or fundraising activity could be a great way to get more folks down and participating. Turn the camera to the scenery around you and let them soak in the action. Of course remember to value their time. Switch off when the action’s over.
Thought leadership – As a business owner or leading real estate professional you could leverage the channel to highlight your expertise. When legislation changes, interest rates move or something significant happens in the market, live streaming could be a great way to bring your followers up to speed.
For Mortgage Brokers this could be a quick fire way to alert customers when a rate change might affect their options of fixed or floating rates.
Being of service to your customers or followers should always be your first thought when sharing – even on livestream. Think would I find this interesting or useful? Another way to portray thought leadership and be of service to your client could simply be to bring a friend/colleague/expert into the conversation. For example, if there was a current forest fire risk in your neighbourhood, then bring on a fireman to advise clients on protecting their property.
Team Updates – As a business owner, an unconventional way to keep your team up to date might be live streaming. For example if a team member has just hit a sales milestone, popping them on live as you congratulate them would be a great way to recognise their commitment and efforts amongst their peers.
Ask me anything or behind the scenes – Two final uses for live streaming could be answering questions from followers or providing a peek into your craft . As a real estate professional I would sue these sparingly and only when something unique or extraordinary is happening in your career. For example if it is unusual for you to have an open home at a celebrity home or the property is very unique. For more tips check out Facebook’s own ideas.
Proud recipient of the Moreton electorate’s Australia Day Award 2016 – Principal and Director David Gowdie of Harcourts Graceville was recognised for his services to the community as the creator of a local magazine called Living in The Shires.
This magazine is hand-delivered by his sales agents to 12,000 homes and businesses in an area covering six suburbs of Brisbane, Australia – Tennyson, Chelmer, Graceville, Sherwood, Corinda and Oxley.
This magazine is David’s brainchild. The primary motivation of was to have a magazine that specifically catered for his community. It is not a newspaper in the traditional journalistic style, but more of a storytelling vehicle – ‘creative non-fiction’, if you like. It tells stories about local businesses, community events, some of the area’s incredible residents, and its history.
A deliberately small back section of the magazine is devoted to Harcourts Graceville, a break from the content marketing and storytelling . Even though David includes some advertising for his Harcourts business in the magazine, this is kept to a minimum.
Living in The Shires is a big investment for David. In terms of marketing opportunity costs, it is a ‘slow burn’, but increasingly the magazine is being associated with the Harcourts Graceville brand in a positive, feel-good, way. The beauty of this publication is that it has become the ‘glue’ for a community, engendering much pride in the area. And it gives the sales agents a fabulous entrée when engaging with local people – there is always something to talk about. The feedback to Harcourts Graceville is that the magazine gets read cover to cover, and its delivery is eagerly anticipated. It truly is a marketer’s dream.
The magazine has been so enthusiastically welcomed that print copies of back issues are now fast becoming collector’s items. The State Library of Queensland, at its request, now holds two print copies of each back issue. Electronic editions can be found on the dedicated Living in The Shires website, as well.
Susan Prior, a professional writer and editor, project manages the publication, which is printed on a quality recycled paper stock using environmentally friendly soy inks. David also uses professional graphic designers. Living in The Shires is rapidly becoming known for its very different and eye-catching cover art – a deliberate ploy to ensure it doesn’t get thrown in the bin.
David’s initiative with Living in The Shires reflects his oft-cited observation that ‘givers gain’. His staff and everyone associated with the publication are incredibly proud of it and David’s success.