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RISMEDIA, June 28, 2008-There are so many ways brokers and agents communicate with their clients these days: e-mail, text messaging, and oh yeah…the phone. They’re so busy keeping in contact with their buyers and sellers, in fact, that something gets lost-communication with each other. Yet, in the current market, it’s more important than ever to keep agents informed and up to speed on company happenings and strategies. In this six part Viewpoints series, six industry experts weigh in on how brokers and agents can open the door to more-and better-communication.

smith_pj_martin.jpgMedium and Message Play Key Roles

P.J. Martin-Smith
Senior Vice President of Marketing
ERA Franchise Systems LLC

Aiming for great communication between brokers and agents would seem to be a given in every real estate office. But what can brokers do to improve communication, and what’s the payoff for brokers who do?

Perhaps the biggest initial payoff of communicating effectively is in setting expectations-a key component of a successful recruitment and retention program. Brokers who can consistently communicate their business objectives and clearly enumerate the tools that they offer to help agents meet their sales goals have taken the first giant step toward hiring and keeping top talent.

The world of real estate-whether virtual, visual or print-is awash in a sea of information. To address agent concerns about information overload, brokers must ensure that agents are aware of tools that facilitate consistent and concise communication with clients. At ERA Real Estate, our Direct Marketing Resource Center (DMRC) couples a comprehensive consumer database with ERA Real Estate-branded print and e-mail direct marketing programs to help our agents keep in touch with consumers.

The next step is for brokers to take a long, hard look at their personal communication style. Once an agent is on board, ongoing, consistent communication is vital. And in an increasingly high-speed, multitasking, fragmented, wireless world, talking the talk is just as important as walking the walk.

How you communicate with your agents is just as important as what you communicate. Shifting demographics, multiple communication platforms and shortened attention spans dictate that brokers must pay attention to the diverse communication styles of their agents, which mirror the diversity of the communication styles of their clients.

A real estate brand must take a multi-platform, multi-layer approach to engage potential clients-for example, our tool TXT ERA delivers property information directly to a cell phone. By the same token, successful brokers must be able to identify the preferred communication style of each agent, and possess the facility to engage an agent via their media of choice, whether it’s cell phone, e-mail, text messaging, etc.

That doesn’t mean that brokers should neglect traditional communication channels. Dave Bartels at ERA Pacesetter Partners in Tennessee oversees a bimonthly newsletter that is e-mailed, printed and uploaded to agents’ personal Web space. It features a calendar of events, step-by-step articles on using ERA Real Estate products and services, office location news, prayer requests, birthdays, website statistics and other useful information. Pacesetter’s president, Chris Schlaff, also sends weekly e-mails with tips for sales associates.

Perhaps the most valuable communication principle in a broker’s interaction with agents is an appreciation of the value of listening. Occasionally take an agent aside in a brief, informal one-on-one. Keep the interaction low-key and open ended. Listen to what agents have to say as well as how they say it; pay attention to tone, volume and body language.

To an engaged listener, a sentence or two can communicate volumes.

Next week, Lyndon Burrell, senior marketing manager, Professional Services Vertical Markets for Research In Motion (RIM), says its all about communication-clear, consistent and concise.