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Are You Missing Potential Leads?

March 21, 2014

Author: Jolene Quinn, eBusiness Manager of Alain Pinel Realtors
Are you receiving calls on your listing and your listing is pending? What are you saying to these clients? “Thank you for calling but the property has an accepted offer”. Click
These are prospective clients that you can represent as buyers!  Your response should be “The property has an accepted offer but I know of a similar home in the area. Would you be interested in seeing it?”

  • If they are not working with an agent, offer to show them another home. This is a client who called you who needs assistance finding a home! This is a great lead!
  • Sometimes they already have an agent. Always be kind. You can answer a few questions then refer them back to their agent. If their agent drops the ball then they will think of you if they want to work with a different agent.

Not interested in representing buyers?

  • Refer them to a buyer’s agent in your office. Not only can you get a referral fee from the agent but you’re also building rapport with your peers.  Not to mention, helping the client!
  • When you speak to the client, tell them you work with a great buyer’s agent that you would be happy to refer them too. Make sure to let them know the name of the agent and give a nice introduction.  This makes it more comfortable for both the client and the agent.

Asking these questions before you pass them off to your buyer’s agent helps the agent:

  • What area are you looking in?
  • What price range would you like to stay under?
  • Are you pre-approved for your home loan should you need one?
  • How many beds and baths do you need?
  • Do you prefer a condo or single family home?
    • Do you have pets? (if interested in condo)

Above all, make sure you respond to client inquiries quickly!  In today’s world, clients expect a response within minutes and will quickly move on to another company if they don’t hear from you.  Have a process in place with your referring buyer’s agent so the agent understands a quick response is mandatory if you are to continue referring clients to them.

About Author:

Jolene Quinn is the eBusiness Manager at Alain Pinel Realtors. She has almost 20 years in real estate and over 13 years working directly with internet leads. Prior to working with APR she managed the eBusiness department of a large real estate company that spanned 3 states. She was responsible for taking the department from ground level to one of the most successful eBusiness departments in the nation. 

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Where Do Buyers and Sellers Find Agents?

March 18, 2014

According to data in the 2013 National Association of REALTORS® (NAR)’s annual Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, home buyers and sellers consistently report that they truly rely on referrals from friends and family to find an agent or they use an agent they have worked with before.
Take a look at these stats:

  • Fifty-four percent (54%) of buyers and sixty-four percent (64%) of sellers found their agent through a personal referral from neighbors, friends or relatives or they used an agent they had previously worked with.
  • The next closest way a buyer or seller found their agent was through an online website; however, this was merely nine percent (9%) of buyers and four percent (4%) of sellers.

With these statistics, it’s more clear than ever that an integral part of your business’s success relies on good relationship with your past clients. How are you staying in contact with your past clients to build your relationships with them? Here are some ways:

  • Connect on Social Networks. Are you connected with your past clients on social network? Did you just add them but never interact? Social media opens a wealth of opportunities to interact with your clients in ways that was previously impossible. Learn about their interests, connect on a different level, and at your convenience. Dropping a comment, sending a gift, or even “liking” something they post – keeps you on their radar.
  • Monthly Newsletter. Are you regularly sending out information that is beneficial for your past clients? Are you keeping them up-to-date about their community and market?
  • Drip-Email Marketing. Staying in contact and making yourself a resource is crucial. Putting together a strong homeowners drip email campaign can be useful and establish yourself as an expert.
  • Be personal-able. While newsletters, email campaigns, direct marketing does reach consumers – often your clients want more from you – especially if they’re going to refer you to their friends. When’s the last time you reached out on an individual-level? Do you ask them about their families? Do you remember their hobbies? Did the birthday card you sent them include more than a generic message? No one likes to feel like they’re getting cookie-cutter service – so prove to them you’re not.

There’s many ways to reach out to past clients, but there’s no denying how important it is! Finding new ways to connect will ensure your business continues to grow.

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights Sales Insights

Update Your Skills in 2014!

January 2, 2014

Author: Diane Bravo, Director of Technical Training at Alain Pinel Realtors.
Is your New Year’s Resolution to improve your professional skills and brush-up on industry knowledge? Are you unsure quite how to go about accomplishing this daunting task? Not sure which training resource might best help you reach this goal? As a longtime trainer, this topic is on my dashboard all the time. The answer, unfortunately, is not so simple. What works best for some, doesn’t always work for others – people learn better from different styles. Below are five eLearning tools I’ve found to be most effective. Start using one today and find out which one maximizes the return on your time.
5 easy ways to update your skills online 2014:

  1. Grovo – Grovo is the leading online learning platform that trains users on Internet tools with 60-second personalized videos. The base video offerings are free, with advanced videos offered at a premium. The folks at Grovo are adding lessons at the rate of about 15 per day. What is even more impressive is they do it with down-to-earth style from communication ideas to management tips and more. Sign up and try it today – you can only win with this tool.
  2. Industry News and Newsletters  – No matter what your industry or niche, there is a source for you. These can be newsletters you sign up for with your email address, or groups you join on a social media site you are active on. For example for my real estate news, I follow Inman News – Real Estate Connect on LinkedIn. Not to be left behind in the Training Industry, I follow many groups including my newest addition – Instructional Design and eLearning Professionals Group. But here’s the catch, you have to read whatever newsletter or summary from any group you sign up for. And I get it – we are all overwhelmed and inundated with mail and messages these days and it is tempting to ignore eNewsletters. However, isn’t investing in your skills and staying on top of industry knowledge important? You owe it to yourself.
  3. – This is a little different from the freemium model at Grovo. Instead, Lynda is available in a monthly or annual subscription, but well worth the investment if you’re looking for a more in-depth training. With abundant topics including Microsoft and Google products to Project Management and web design, you can learn to use software right at your desk. It is an online virtual library and the expansive offerings are amazing.
  4. Your Network – Never underestimate the power of your network. With LinkedIn being one of the top social media sites today, it’s easy to keep track of where your contacts are working. When you see them, talk about it! It’s amazing what you can learn and take back to share at work, if you just ask your friends what they are doing in their industry.
  5. Attend a Seminar or Training Course – There are a lot of seminars out there – from free online webinars to all-day in-person trainings. If one comes recommended to you, is about a topic of interest, or has an engaging keynote speaker, it is often worth the investment. Sometimes companies will even help you attend these if you ask – especially if you are willing to share what you learn when you return.

Whatever method you choose, remember investing in yourself is important. Learning will ultimately lead to more opportunity and influence over your sphere. Do something today to improve your skill and lead to a better, more prosperous 2014.

About Author:

Diane Bravo brings 20 years of technical training and implementation experience to Alain Pinel Realtors. In her current capacity as Director of Technical Training, she is responsible for helping all APR agents improve their business through the use of real estate software. Before moving to APR, Ms. Bravo worked for Integrated Device Technology as Business Systems Analyst.

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights Sales Insights

Staying in Front of Your Clients Online This Holiday Season

December 12, 2013

Author: Diane Bravo, Director of Technical Training at Alain Pinel Realtors.
Did you know that according to the National Association of Realtors® surveys of buyers and sellers in 2011 that over 90% of real estate consumers never hear from their Realtor again after closing? Be different. Get more future business by keeping in touch!  The holidays are a perfect time for you to reach out to past, current and future clients in a natural way –and with online tools, it has never been easier.
Here are 5 easy was to get more exposure online this holiday season with the click of a button:

  1. Send a holiday card from your contact management tool.  Want to avoid the religious connotations of some of the season’s holidays?  Select a classy New Year greeting to ring in the New Year!
  2. Post a holiday tip on your favorite social networking site.  This can be anything from a decorating tip, to gift ideas, to recipes, to general entertaining ideas.  Just Google “holiday tips” and the possibilities are endless.
  3. Send a Facebook Gift. Facebook Gifts were launched late last year as a way to send gifts to celebrate the special moments millions of people share on Facebook each day.  It couldn’t be easier and can cost as little as a $5 for a Starbucks gift card. This is a thoughtful and easy way to really surprise your clients and connections in an unexpected way. And it’s simple for them – a message and redemption code is emailed directly to your friends.
  4. Share an online magazine or article. The Autumn 2013 Exquisite Living magazine is the perfect example of an online read to share. The magazine was designed for ease-of-use for the consumer to flip through luxury trends, market updates, community spotlights and some of Alain Pinel Realtors most impressive homes and estates.
  5. Sharing local holiday happenings in your area is another great way to touch base, while at the same time providing useful information. If you don’t already know some in your area – try checking out your local Chamber of Commerce, community events calendars and local news sources and papers. From holiday wine events, art exhibitions, parades and lightshows, to visits from Santa, who wouldn’t want to see a list of nearby events at a glance? In today’s fast paced environment, people seldom have the time to go out and look for things to do. Do it for them!

Whatever method you choose, remember keeping in touch ultimately lead to more sales. Do something today to cultivate more business and fill your pipeline for 2014.

About Author:

Diane Bravo brings 20 years of technical training and implementation experience to Alain Pinel Realtors. In her current capacity as Director of Technical Training, she is responsible for helping all APR agents improve their business through the use of real estate software. Before moving to APR, Ms. Bravo worked for Integrated Device Technology as Business Systems Analyst.

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Sales Insights

Salespeople Need ENERGY!

August 13, 2013

Author: Steve Dickason, Vice President and Marin County Manager of Alain Pinel Realtors.

Salespeople need energy … not only to complete the myriad of tasks we must perform in the execution of our jobs. We need energy in order to project the enthusiasm and confidence clients demand from their Realtors. There are two primary sources of energy drain to watch out for. The easiest to combat is energy loss due to physical exertion. This form of depletion is easily reversed by taking in some nutritious food, getting a good night’s sleep or exercising regularly.

More difficult to recoup is the energy lost through mental and emotional exertion. Creating thoughts, retaining thoughts, reconciling conflicting thoughts, creating emotions, controlling emotions all depletes energy. When we become emotionally depleted we reach for the food. Unfortunately, instead of recharging our emotional battery, eating when depressed just makes us fat and depressed. The secret to preventing mental and emotional depletion is to stay open to the world around us.
Most of us have a natural tendency to see problems where they don’t exist. We each carry with us a vision of the world as we think it should be. When the world falls short of our image (and it does—constantly) we see it as a problem that must be fixed. We expend a tremendous amount of energy each day worrying, fearing unwanted results, trying to solve perceived problems that may never arrive. This nearly constant internal dialog takes its toll.

The solution is acceptance.

Life is supposed to be unpredictable, messy, sticky. Helen Keller said that “Life is a daring adventure or nothing.” If you need life to match the idyllic image you carry in your head, then you’re going to perceive a lot of problems. Start each day with an intention that you will remain open, flexible, relaxed. Rather than judging others for their thoughts or actions, accept them as perfect for that person at this time. Life unfolds as it will, based on the actions of millions of people alive today and millions who came before. By seeing the world in its chaotic perfection we see that there is usually nothing to fix. If you don’t like what you see and have the capacity to change it, go for it. If you can’t change it, accept it and move on. The less you fight the world the more energy you’ll have to enjoy it.

Steve Dickason currently serves as Vice President and Marin County Manager of Alain Pinel Realtors where he oversees the Tiburon / Belvedere, Mill Valley, Corte Madera – Central Marin, Ross and Novato offices. In 1971, after graduating from The University of Colorado at Boulder, he moved to Marin County, became a Realtor in 1976 and a Broker in 1980. In addition to supporting and training real estate agents, Steve has written two books and publishes a weekly personal growth newsletter titled “Caffeine for the Brain.”


(Photo: Flikr/ooberayhay)
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DRE to Become BRE: What It Means for YOU.

April 29, 2013

Effective July 1, 2013, the California Department of Real Estate, or the DRE, will become the Bureau of Real Estate, or BRE, within the California Department of Consumer Affairs. This was part of a reorganization of several California government agencies, but the BRE will retain many of the same core functions.
While a date has been assigned for the change in name, the information regarding a switch from DRE to BRE numbers on “first contact” materials for REALTORS® has not been as specific. However, the DRE has stated that the will permit a transition period for this change, and they will be lenient on brokers and agents transferring their materials to the new nomenclature.
Here are some best practice tips until we know more:

  • If you’re ordering any “first contact” materials that will be used for months to come (and beyond July 1st), then you might be best served to use a BRE number rather than a DRE number. Example: business cards).
  • It is probably in your best interest to ready all websites, Facebook pages, blogs, and other social networks that include a DRE number to be switched over to a BRE number by July 1st.
  • Be on the lookout for any more specific details and deadlines around the transition as we get closer to July 1st. While they have said they’ll be lenient, there will eventually be a deadline for changing all your marketing materials to say “BRE.”


Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Jeff Barnett Asks What We Can Learn From YPNers

February 26, 2013

Jeff Barnett, Vice President and Regional Manager of Alain Pinel Realtors in Los Gatos, also serves the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR) as the Liaison for Large Residential Firms Relations. In this capacity, he oversees a monthly NAR Power Broker Roundtable in RISMedia‘s magazine Real Estate. His latest focuses on the newest generation of real estate professionals and how they are shaping the future of the business  The Young Professionals Network, or YPN, launched by NAR’s REALTOR® Magazine in 2006 has been a driving force of this change. Here’s what a few of the leaders of this generation of real estate professionals had to say.
What’s important for people to understand is I look at Facebook and Twitter and other networking conduits for what they really are: a way to build relationships.” – Tamara Suminski
Social Media is the best way I’ve found to get myself out in front of people … Every day, I try to put my personality and my experience out there … I want people to see me online for who I am and what I know – including what I know about real estate. I’m just myself, and customers find me.” – Imran Poladi
I taught myself all the apps and the fun stuff, and now probably 50% of my business is done by cell phone. But you have to interact with clients and agents the way they prefer.” – Sarah Jacobson
I use a virtual assistant to confirm showings. My files and photos are in Dropbox. All of my contacts, offers, signatures, and communications are handled by phone or online unless someone else prefers it another way … This is just the way the business is going … one thing we all agree on is that service, professionalism and commitment come first no matter how you choose to do business.” – Erin Mendel
For the full article, visit “Building Real Estate Relationships in the New Generation: What the Rest of Us Learn from YPNers.

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

5 Apps That Will Help You Right Now

October 31, 2012

We have all these device and yet most of us don’t get as much out of them as we could. Here’s 5 apps that you should check out now that can help make you more organized today – in your business and personal life:
1) Clear – With hundreds of to-do and list making apps our there, Clear rises above. It’s visually stunning and simplistic, sorting the tasks you add as a heat map based on their importance. You’re busy … this can help you out at home and on the job. Costs $1.99.
2) – With options on any platform and any device, is one of the most popular personal finance apps. It allows your to manage all your accounts from one central location. Manage your spending, budgets, and business expenses. Mint categorizes your transactions automatically and will make you look at your spending a new way. The app is safe and secure and supports almost all financial institutions. Free.
3) MiLog – If you’re a good Realtor®, chances are you’re on the road a lot – and often it’s business related. When it’s tax season, do you take the standard deduction? Or find yourself making random estimations? If so, you’re probably leaving money on the table – which none of us are fond of. This app automatically tracks your mileage through GPS. Break it down into individual trips or clients so you can better understand how you’re breaking up your miles.
4) Find My Phone / Where’s My DroidWe’ve all had that moment where we reach into our bag or our pocket and realize our phone is gone. It’s an awful feeling. These apps allow you to locate your phone using it’s GPS when you can’t find it. Think it got stolen? Find My Phone allows you to lock the phone, display a message on it, or completely wipe it clean. Why wouldn’t you have this installed?
5) Zite There’s a lot of news out there. There’s a lot of sources. With Zite, it gets to know you the more you use it. Select some topics and it scans the internet and aggregates the best and most interesting news stories for you. It’s visually appealing – like your own personal magazine. Stay on top of the topics and news you’re interested in. Free.
Found a great app? Let us know .

Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Sales Insights

Early Bird Gets the Lead

October 12, 2012

The evidence is in – when it comes to internet leads – the early birds gets the worm.
Often salespeople argue that if you’re a strong salesperson, even if you call a lead late, you’ll have a higher chance of closing a lead than someone who contacts them earlier – but so far, the evidence suggests otherwise. Internet consumers not only want, but expect almost immediate responses to their inquiries – and any response over 15 minutes greatly reduces the chance of closing that lead.
Let’s look at the internet consumer:

  • Internet consumers often submit 3-5 lead forms, creating multiple “leads” for multiple agents
  • In a 2011 California Association of Realtors survey of buyers, when asked why they chose their agent, responsiveness played a major role in two of the top five factors named:

What Determines How Buyers Chose Their Agent:
1. Most responsive (28%)
2. Worked with agent before (18%)
3. First to respond (17%)
4. Most agressive (16%)
5. Most knowledgeable (6%)

  •  Additionally, the CAR survey showed that 36% of buyers expected an instant response from agents on internet requests – and 96% expected a response within 4 hours
  • According to MIT*, the odds of contacting a lead more than 5 minutes versus 30 minutes drops 100 times. From 5 to 10 minutes the odds decrease by 5 times.
  • The first to contact a lead increases conversion 238%, speed of response is THE best predictor of a closed transaction
The statistics are clear – the modern internet consumer moves fast – and expects you do too. When they choose to submit any sort of lead from they want information right then. If you aren’t providing it for them, not only are those leads quickly dying, but they’re likely to be picked up by another agent. In that same CAR survey, 86% of leads felt that response time was “extremely important” when deciding their real estate agent.

While perhaps it’s true that not too long ago, a better salesperson could close a lead more frequently even if contacting a lead later – in this rapidly changing industry – that is not what consumers want. An easy way to increase your business and start closing more leads today is to decrease the waiting time before responding to leads. Every agent should make it their goal to respond to any lead within 15 minutes.
Photo Credit: Corn Exchange Clock Bristol (Rick Crowley) / CC BY-SA 2.0
* Research Study by James  Oldroyd, PHD, MIT, October 16, 2007
Business Planning Insights Industry Insights Marketing and Technology Insights

Online Reputation and Yelp

September 19, 2012

In an industry that is built on individuals and relationships – reputation matters. How your potential clients view you, how other agents view you, and how your sphere views you all play a role in determining your success as a Realtor®. In today’s world, with the technology and resources that are available, your reputation extends beyond what is said among friends – it extends to the public on the internet. Sources say between 75-90% of consumers check online reviews before purchases. If consumers are looking for reviews before deciding what brand of camera to buy – there is no doubt they’re looking online before they make a decision about who will represent them in such a large life event like buying a home.  It is crucial that every REALTOR® knows how they look and what is being said about themselves online. Potential clients and past clients are reviewing and viewing reviews of you on Yelp whether you know or like it.
We’ll be talking about online reputation quite a bit on here, but this entry will focus on Yelp – a go to site for restaurant reviews, that increasingly is being used to review professional services. Here are some tips about how to manage your presence on Yelp:

  • Make sure you have a business profile there – this way, you’re in control of the non-review data that is there. This ensure accuracy of contact information. In addition, it makes a designated place where clients can review your services.
  • Make sure it displays your name – not just your brokerage. Too often agents post only their brokers name – and end up with reviews about completely different agents than intended!
  • Let your clients know you’re on Yelp -if they’re active, you won’t even need to ask for a review.
  • Do NOT mass solicit reviews – Yelp has pretty strict filters to weed out solicited reviews that don’t appear genuine.
  • It’s ok to have non-5 star reviews! The digital consumer is increasingly skeptical of reviews, and if the review doesn’t seem genuine and is filled with flowery praise, they won’t believe it.
How do I deal with negative reviews?
Often people dismiss Yelp as just a place where people go to complain. While sometimes it may seem this way, this is not the case – the majority of reviews on Yelp are positive. However, negative comments happen.
  • Don’t panic! Calm down. This is part of being a business.
  • Even if you believe it to be false, reviews are highly subjective and hard to prove false. Yelp rarely removes reviews and sets a high bar for what qualifies as a violation of their content guidelines. Only report a review if there is a clear violation – misleading information, misunderstandings and unfavorable reviews are not a violation.
  • If you feel it necessary, you can respond to a review – publicly or privately and try to resolve any misunderstanding. Empathize with the consumer, offer solutions, or reaffirm your dedication to the best customer service.
  • Legal action, or threats of, are can have very serious consequences and often escalates the situation. They rarely end with either party being happy.
  • Learn from it – why did this client walk away with a bad experience? Why do they believe they had a bad experience? What can you do to strive for better customer service?
  • Let it go and move on.

The best way to increase positive reviews on Yelp is to produce positive experiences for your clients. Overtime, negative reviews will be pushed down the page and or treated as less useful and reliable. What customer service is about is having your happy clients walk away with as much passion as the people who have a less than perfect experience – strive for this.
Yelp has frequently asked questions from business owners here that deal with common issues about reviews, Yelp’s filters, and best practices.

About Author:
Andrew Violante is the Social Media and Communications Coordinator at Alain Pinel Realtors where he oversees social media strategy and implementation for the brokerage.