Earning business for your brokerage requires maintaining a positive impression in your community. It’s a task that requires vigilance on many fronts, since problems can creep in where you least expect them.
Here are three areas that may warrant closer attention:
1. Online Reviews
Did you know that businesses with online reviews are more likely to appear in search results? Your agents may be primarily concerned with their personal reviews on realtor.com®, Zillow, Google and Facebook. As a broker, however, you should expand that list to include small business sites like Yelp, the Better Business Bureau, Manta and Angie’s List.
What about negative reviews? They’re a much bigger problem if they go ignored. Take advantage of the opportunity to demonstrate that you have a make-it-right attitude toward customer service. Respond quickly, but not if you’re feeling angry. Listen and offer remedies. Keep your response as short and courteous as possible.
Action Items: Claim all your local business profiles and set up systems to encourage and monitor reviews posted on these sites. It’s fine to delegate this task to a member of your team; however, consider writing a personal response to any negative reviews, disclosing yourself as the broker/owner. It will make a stronger impression and help ensure the message conveys the best tone.
2. Agent Websites
Instead of relying on your brokerage platform, some agents prefer to create independent websites. It’s a strategy that helps them build their business, but may work against your overall brokerage branding goals.
As I discussed last month, branding touches every aspect of your business and requires constant reinforcement. Ideally, your agents’ sites should present a united front, especially when it comes to how your brokerage differs from the competition.
It’s also essential that all brokerage-affiliated sites are accurate, up-to-date and working correctly, including contact details and reply forms. Unfortunately, agents are vulnerable to missing legitimate inquiries. If unchecked, contact forms could be delivered to an unmonitored mailbox.
Action Items: Ask a member of your team to test every form and phone number on websites and online profiles owned by both your firm and those of your agents. Ideally, this should be done on a smartphone to ensure your efforts to capture leads are mobile-compatible. Alert your agents to any glitches and run a follow-up test to ensure potential clients aren’t encountering similar problems.
3. Fair Housing Infractions
Are your agents unwittingly violating fair housing laws in their work with buyers and sellers? Fair housing violations can severely harm your brokerage’s reputation. Discrimination occurs any time a client in a protected class receives different treatment when requesting the same services. It doesn’t matter if the discrimination was accidental. Please, review your office policies to make sure prerequisites to providing services are consistent and objective.
Action Items: NAR offers extensive resources for helping agents understand their obligations under the Fair Housing Act and the higher standards imposed by the REALTOR® Code of Ethics. You’ll find these tools at www.nar.realtor/fair-housing. Additionally, your state and local laws may prohibit discrimination on an expanded list of bases such as ancestry, political affiliation and citizenship status.
Marc D. Gould is senior vice president of Member Development for NAR, overseeing a wide range of professional development programs for REALTORS®, including the Real Estate Buyer’s Agent Council (REBAC). REBAC is the world’s largest association of real estate professionals focusing specifically on representing the real estate buyer. With more than 30,000 active members, REBAC awards the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation to REALTORS® who have completed the specialized education and documented experience in working with consumers purchasing a home. To learn more, visit REBAC.net.