In the following interview, Candace Adams, President of Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England, lets us in on the tools she uses to bolster her company’s online presence.
Number of offices: 50
Number of sales associates: 1,500
Region served: Connecticut, Massachusetts and Rhode Island
With such an already-established presence in the area, why was the switch to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand of benefit to the company?
The BHHS brand is a great match with the professionalism of our team. We celebrated our one-year anniversary on September 25. So much happened in that first year, and we built so much momentum, which catapulted us into an instant relationship with consumers. Consumers really understand the brand attributes and know that by working with us, they will be dealing with a team of skilled professionals who are able to provide the elevated level of service the brand commands.
You recently entered into an agreement to have all BHHS New England listings enhanced on realtor.com®. What motivated you to bolster your presence in this way?
We really looked at the online strategy holistically and believed it was our obligation as a BHHS company to be prominent and accessible to consumers, and provide them with the highest level of service that the industry offers. We believe realtor.com® possesses strong attributes and has more accurate data than others, and we wanted to make sure we were visible everywhere a potential buyer or seller would go. We see our presence on realtor.com® as a conduit to our own Web presence. We instituted a feature on our own site that provides data for consumers to access. So our goal was to get more eyeballs and to better reach consumers.
How are you ensuring that the BHHS New England name is prominently branded?
Each listing on realtor.com® will be distinctly branded to stand out, and any inquiries on the properties will be routed directly to the agents who have listed these homes. Our brand presence on realtor.com® is a benefit to the consumer and it gives them entrance to our site.
What advantage does the relationship with realtor.com® bring to sellers vs. just utilizing your own proprietary website?
We take exceptional care to position our sellers’ homes on the market. We use professional photos and show attention to detail in the presentation of the property. The advantage to sellers now is that their property is exposed to an expanded audience. All buyers are expanding their search parameters and looking at a variety of places, and these places now link directly to our website, which includes even more market data, comparables, property values, etc. Once the consumer gets to our site, they’ll spend more time there, making our site a destination.
This appears to be a company-wide program. Does that mean all of your agents will participate? What is the benefit of doing so?
We want to provide a consistent level of service to clients and make sure all agents are involved in the program and are in line with our value proposition. We’re committed to 100-percent involvement in the program.
While it’s well known that at least 90 percent of consumers use the Internet to search for a home, online leads are still challenging to convert. How are you meeting this challenge?
First, we don’t define them as leads. The most important thing we do is help people understand that we are an immediate resource for them, no matter where they are in the home-selling and -buying process. Every inquiry is handled with the same level of competence and care. We don’t have as much attached to the conversion time period as we do to building a relationship and providing them with the data and resources they’ll need.
Is the ability to capture leads on the fly with mobile an important part of your strategy, and if so, why?
A big part of our strategy is to give our agents access to an individually branded mobile app so that they can respond in a timely way. Most consumers are looking for an agent to have text-message capability so they can connect instantly. But we also stress the importance of humanizing the interactions. We need to be nimble and move with the consumer.
Do you believe this increased investment in online marketing will serve as an important recruitment and retention tool?
Absolutely. This brand attracts some of the most serious professionals to our firm and will continue to do so. We are stringent in the interview and vetting process, making sure prospects are aligned with our service-delivery expectations. We expect to double the amount of people this year, both organically and by bringing in new and experienced agents—also through acquisitions and mergers of smaller companies. So our investment in online marketing is critical to growing how we want to grow.
What other creative marketing and/or technology investments is the company making to attract today’s consumers?
We’ve been really aggressive in conjunction with BHHS in rolling out a new CRM program. We are also continually evolving in the mobile world and have an extensive social media department. Plus, our national branding through television and other media, and our website enhancements, will continue to evolve.
For more information, visit www.berkshirehathawayhs.com.