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RISMEDIA, April 12, 2008-According to various reports, consumer confidence in March was at its lowest point since 2002, even with tax rebates and economic stimulus strategies on the horizon. Despite the most recent Fed interest rate cuts and the media’s attention shifted toward politics, the housing market-for the most part-is still very much in a downturn. So, given all of this, it should be no surprise that many real estate professionals are having a hard time keeping the upbeat and optimistic attitude that’s expected of them. Morale is down…and that’s a fact. In this two-part series, J.L Winn, vice president, marketing & business for VisualTour and Heidi Bergman, general manager of TrackMyFile offer suggestions for keeping employees engaged, enthusiastic and productive.

It’s a Career, Not Just a Job

J.L. Winn
Vice President, Marketing & Business

Recruit and retain agents who treat this opportunity as a career. Their efforts, results, and image are your image, too. Letting agents hang their license with you because they may refer an occasional lead to an “active” agent can cost you plenty. The loss of reputation for a brokerage in these situations far outweighs any potential additional gross commission income (GCI).

Deliver real educational value to your agents. Understand that your agents are either going to value you for the leadership you can bring to their strategy or simply find a broker who will pay them a higher split. Some brokers have given up holding meetings, however, your gatherings are the best way for you to lead your associates and show them that you make a difference. Invite speakers who can demonstrate proven marketing solutions, explain new regulations, and extend your own strategy. Agents don’t need a box of doughnuts. They need leadership.

Stop doing things just because you’ve always done it that way. Market conditions have changed. Don’t spend precious time and money on things that don’t work effectively just to appease an agent or a listing client.

A good example of this that we hear frequently is: “We know we’re throwing money away on print advertising, but sellers demand it. How can we afford to transition to more cost-effective Internet advertising while convincing sellers that their demands are unrealistic?”

This one has an easy answer:

During a listing presentation, ask the seller, “If you were to start searching for a home today, where would you look first?” His or her answer is inevitably “The Internet.” Then ask, “Would you spend a lot of time looking in the newspaper classifieds?” They will answer “No.” If you don’t get these responses, by all means show the seller a copy of the 2007 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers so they can see that 84% of buyers turn to the Internet first. Show them that 29% of buyers found their home advertised on the Internet vs. 3% that found their home in a print ad.

Explain to them that your brokerage no longer believes in wasting time and money or creating false expectations with yesterday’s marketing tools. Instead, you provide your clients with proactive marketing tools that uniquely showcase their home in such a way as to gain maximum exposure with today’s home buyers.

In today’s market conditions, Realtors have too many long-lasting listings to spend their scarce marketing dollars on ineffective advertising just because “they always have” or because “the seller demanded it.” Work with vendors with a track record of providing proven, cost-effective marketing solutions for Realtors and delivering tools that your agents can use to substantiate their own value to consumers.

Next week, in the concluding article, Heidi Bergman offers her take.