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By Paige Tepping

RISMEDIA, August 23, 2008-While some agents are experimenting and altering their marketing spend between print and online, others have found sources that bridge the gap for them. For SKBK Sotheby’s International Realty, this process has been made easy thanks to their partnership with The Real Estate Book. Here, Douglas H. Hardy, M.D., chairman, discusses other company best practices that helps to keep this Birmingham, Michigan real estate office ahead of its local competition.

Douglas H. Hardy, M.D.
SKBK Sotheby’s International Realty
Birmingham, Michigan

Region served: Southeastern Michigan
Number of offices: 1
Number of agents: 120
Average sales price: $850,000
Average time on market: 207 days
Best tip for making meetings productive: I come into each meeting with a specific agenda prepared. Each meeting focuses on a new tool or marketing or training initiative that will bring value to our agents.
Words of advice for people getting started in the industry: Now is as good a time as any to be in the real estate industry. If you treat it like a job, work full time and act in a professional manner, you are going to see results.
Tech tool you can’t live without: LeadRouter, one of the programs offered by Sotheby’s. Within 20 seconds of a client clicking on a listing for more information, one of my agents’ phones rings with a voice message of the client’s contact information-we often call people back while they are still online.

What are the best ways that your company has found to deal with the negative effects of the media?

The biggest challenge in dealing with the media is to figure out where to draw the line between what makes good news and what is actually being represented. We don’t combat what the media portrays. Instead, we set our agents up so that they can be a resource to their clients. Our agents need to know the current tax laws and market conditions as well as be knowledgeable about the market, as this is what our clients are looking for.

What are your strategies for standing apart from your local competition in terms of online marketing?

Online marketing is important and we have seen continued success through and the national website that Sotheby’s offers. In addition, The Real Estate Book has done a good job of bridging the gap between print and online. Many of our clients are still lagging behind in the belief that marketing should be focused online, so The Real Estate Book allows us to run print ads and see the benefits online as well.

What has been your best strategy for client retention?

We have an e-mail and print campaign that follows up with our clients every four months for seven years. The most cost-effective client that you can get is a past client, and we teach our agents the importance of being a resource to both their old and new clients.

What does your company have in place to communicate with your agents?

Our intranet provides us with the easiest way to communicate with our agents. Not only are company events and calendars on the landing page but with the touch of a button, we can communicate with all our agents at one time about our office meeting agenda or a new product. In addition, our agents can use the program to communicate with the rest of the company as well.