The spread of the novel coronavirus and COVID-19 has rocked everyone back on their heels. For many small business owners, but especially those of us who work as Realtors, it’s done more than that; it has knocked them clear to the ground. With most real estate offices across the country closed and agents told to work from home, many Realtors are scrambling to cope with a new work environment as well as figure out just what they should do with themselves. If you’re sitting on the couch right now in your underwear wondering what you should do today, get up, get dressed, and get going. This is NOT the time to hide. There are actually many hidden opportunities for you to build your business stronger even while we’re dealing with this crisis. Here are some things you can do right now to keep your business moving:
1. Make an “As Soon As This Passes” Plan With Every Client
Let’s be totally clear about something: This season of anxiety and social distancing will pass. We’re going to figure this thing out, and life (and your real estate business) are going to start making moves back to normal. Sometimes it’s hard for your clients to see past their current fears, so help them do that with a personalized “as soon as this passes” plan. Take some time to think about each of your clients individually and what unique needs they have. What is going to help them weather this storm? Consider what actions and strategies are going to create solutions for their real estate goals. Reach out to your clients one at a time and request a video conference with them. Once you finish presenting your plan or if you can’t reach them, send them your plan and make sure to mention that this is a unique, personalized plan that you developed just for them. Every agent is sending out a “what next” email. Yours are going to be personalized so your clients know you are still working hard for them as individuals, not “clients.”
2. Sort Through Your CRM Contacts One by One; Filling in the Gaps
In the same way that your website is the hub of your customer-facing real estate operation, your CRM is the hub of your agent-facing operation. If used properly, your CRM tracks every client interaction, helps you identify lead opportunities, and gives you the tools to manage your lead funnel so that the most important clients get the attention they need at the time they need it. A CRM’s effectiveness is magnified when your clients’ profiles are filled out with as much information as possible. A name, phone number, and email address are great, but imagine the sort of personalized, timely communication you could plan for your clients if you had birthdays, anniversaries, closing dates, and social media profiles there? Go through each of your contacts one by one, find and fill in as much information as you can. If you don’t have a CRM and are leery of making big purchases now, Freshsales will get the job done well, and it’s very, very affordable at only $12 per month. Plus, they have a free 21-day trial you can start without even entering your credit card, so you literally have nothing to lose.
3. Request a Review From Every Past Client
Since your clients are probably sitting home watching Netflix anyway, now is a great time to ask them for reviews. You know most people are going to be sitting at home anyway, why not give them something to do? If you’re a little nervous about asking for a review and aren’t sure exactly what to say, don’t worry, we’ve got just the thing. Check out this handy set of templates to guide your communication; all you’ve got to do is fill in your client’s details.
4. Use Your Existing Property Photos to Create Video Slideshows For Listings
We’ve known for a long time that video content rules the internet, but now that most of us are unable to host open houses or conduct showings, property videos and virtual tours are even more important. If you didn’t manage to get video content for a property made before social distancing started, you can do the next best thing by creating a video from the still photos you already have. If you don’t have the video skills to get this done, try a freelance marketplace like Fiverr. There are literally thousands of service providers there offering real estate video content work, starting at just five bucks.
5. Make Five Calls, Send Five Texts, Send Five Emails, Write Five Thank You Cards Every Day
Want to know a secret? The real estate business is not about selling houses. It’s about building and maintaining relationships. Yes, we facilitate the buying and selling of houses, but without the human interaction, none of that happens. Don’t let this time of social distancing be a time of community isolation. Set aside some time each day to make five phone calls to your sphere. These can be clients, friends, family members, ANYONE. Talk to them about what’s going on in their lives, tell them about your new normal, and of course, chat about the real estate market. If they’ve been considering some sort of real estate transaction, it will surely come up. Likewise, shoot off five emails and text messages to people you know, letting them know that you’re thinking of them and that you hope they’re well. This sort of empathetic outreach spurs conversation and creates a connection that you can build on. Finally, find five people that you can thank, and thank them with a personalized, hand-written card. Even three sentences written on paper can make a world of difference for someone, and in this challenging time, a little encouragement is a great idea.
6. Achieve Email Inbox Zero
There are two types of people in this world; the people who have no unread email messages, and the people whose Mail icon on their phone needs a comma to display the number of unread emails. We’re not here to judge you (who are we kidding, having 6,100 unread emails is INSANE), we just want to help. Getting your email inbox under control is a great project. Start by making sure you’ve got no unread messages. If an important email comes in, you want to know about it, not try and guess about whether or not you have 321 unread messages or 322. Then, start deleting what you don’t need, categorizing what you do need into folders, all with the goal of getting the number of emails in your general inbox down to zero. It sounds like a bit of a daunting task, but is a great way to spend 30 minutes here and there. Fast Company did a great step-by-step on this process a couple of years back, definitely worth a read.
7. Build Out Your Social Media Profiles
Using social media is a great way to stay connected to your family, friends, clients, and prospects. Since so many people are at home right now, think of this as an opportunity to reach more of your sphere on social media to show them you’re working on their behalf and keeping them educated. As a real estate agent, you can maximize the benefit of this traffic increase by making sure that each of your social media profiles is complete with a fantastic headshot, a short bio, and links to your website. If someone takes the time to visit your profile and see what you’re all about, don’t let that person digitally walk away uninformed about who you are and what you do.
8. Design a Real Estate Farming Strategy
Real estate farming is a prospecting strategy that allows real estate professionals to position themselves as neighborhood experts by focusing on consistent marketing and communication for a specific neighborhood or area. The goal is to create a relationship with the homeowners in that area so that when it comes time for someone to buy or sell a home, you are the first person that comes to mind.
Real estate farming is a simple enough concept, but there are a lot of moving parts, which is why we put together a comprehensive guide to get you started.
Pro Tip: If you want to take your farming strategy to the next level, consider working with Parkbench to build a neighborhood-specific website that can act as the hub for all your farming efforts. Parkbench websites feature local news and events, highlight local businesses, and are a place where neighborhood members can learn more about real estate on their street and beyond.
9. Better Categorize Your CRM Contacts
We mentioned earlier how important it was to fill out your CRM contact profiles; this task takes that a step further by better bucketing them into specific classifications. The more specific a client category is, the more tailored the message can be to them. For instance, think for a second about all your past buyer clients. You’ve probably got a mix of first-time homebuyers, vacation homebuyers, luxury homebuyers, and maybe even some investment property buyers. Each of these client types is going to have different messaging that will provide value to them, so why would you send them all the same generic email or texts? By creating more specific buckets for your clients, you increase the value provided to each of them, thereby increasing your chance at repeat business or a referral from them.
10. Create the Email Drip Sequences You’ve Been Dreaming Of
OK, now that you’ve got those clients bucketed appropriately, it’s time to put together email drip sequences. You know all those ideas you’ve had for drip campaigns? Now is the time to write them and build them. You’ve got some time on your hands. Why not use it to think about exactly what messages your past and current clients will respond to, as well as the sort of thing you want new clients, website leads, and everyone in between to hear from you? Don’t know where to start with a drip sequence? Start with a personalized welcome series for new contacts based on how they enter your CRM. Leads that come in from downloading a home valuation from your website might be interested in:
A thank you email introducing you and the ways you can help sellers in your community
A deeper dive into more of the seller strategies that lead to higher sale prices and faster times on market
An invitation to a virtual listing presentation via video conferencing
So much of your email communication can be automated and still provide the maximum amount of value to your recipients, as long as you can set up the drip sequences thoughtfully and with great content.
It isn’t about knowing more in these times of opportunity but doing and acting on what we already know and should be doing. Don’t let this gift of time slip away. I challenge you to pick one idea and implement and execute on it.