What I learned at the C21 Global Conference

Some of you know that I attended a C21 conference in Washington DC this week. I have been in the C21 system since 1999 and can say that the national conventions are getting better and better every time I attend them. I think the fact that Mike Ferry is so involved with C21 is starting to make a difference.

I am very fortunate to have met with Alex Perillo in a small focus group setting of only 10 people. For those that do not know who Alex is, he is the CEO of Realogy. Basically, he is the boss of the Century 21 CEO, Coldwell Banker CEO, ERA CEO, Better Homes and Gardens CEO and a high end franchise named Sotheby’s CEO. Needless to say, he has a lot of power and influence in our industry.

During the meetings I attended, I took a lot of notes. I have been reflecting on these notes and thought I would share a little information for those that chose to take the time to read them.

Thoughts from the meeting:

1) Real estate agents were spoiled in the beginning when they would sit on office duty and get a call from a buyer wanting to look at a house. Nowadays, buyers call months before they are ready to look at the house. They are on the internet dreaming and decide to email us and ask a few questions even when they are so far away from buying. This is frustrating to the buyers’ agents because they know they are have to invest time in a person who is not ready to buy. I thought this quote was so accurate, “If you ignore the buyer when they are in the dreaming stage then they will ignore you when they are in the buying stage.” The industry has changed and we have to adapt to the new consumer habits or we will continue to lose our business. You have to create systems that allow you to follow up and nurture leads over a much longer timeframe then in the past.

2) After 5 minutes pass without calling a buyer after you capture their info, the chances of doing a deal with that buyer decrease by 50%. After 15 minutes pass, it decreases by another 20%.

3) Buyer leads that convert to a closed sale should be more in the 10% range instead of the 2% range. The quality of the lead is not the issue…the quality of the response time is the issue.

4) Having a listing on the MLS is no longer special. Having a listing on the market with 25 photos, a video and a descriptive story about the property is what will capture the attention of those searching on the internet. Alex Perillo said, “Agents must become better story tellers when working with buyers.”

5) The business is becoming so efficient. As the business becomes more efficient, the amount of business a single agent can do will continue to put pressure on those that are part time. There will always be a part time agent yet the consumer will be able to determine who they are and stay away.

6) It is the opinion of many that Zillow, Trulia, Realtor.com and many others are investing hundreds of millions of dollars to get in the real estate space. They want our listings so they can monetize them by selling our leads back to us. This will drive of our cost of doing business making it tougher for agents and companies to make a profit. This will force our industry to approach our business like a real business.

7) Non Franchise companies are having a much harder time keeping up with the industry changes. The challenge is that they do not have a big enough pool of funds to invest in new technologies to generate business on their own. They are relying on buying all of their leads from third parties like Zillow. As more of them turn in this direction, the demand for the product increases and the price goes up. They eventually price themselves out of the business. Franchises are trending up in market share capture as well as consumer choice.

8) Relationships are important once again. We must continue to work on the service we provide yet we must also work on increasing the amount of people that we can serve well. Taking advantage of the systems that we have through the C21 organization as will as Infusionsoft to communicate with your sellers is critical. You need to figure out how to touch your leads and clients more often.

9) More videos, more videos, more videos. We must each focus on getting videos on Youtube. Videos on our listings, videos about what you do to sell homes or help buyer buy homes. Videos on the do’s and don’ts of real estate as well as videos feature you as a powerful real estate agent. People need to know who you are before they meet you. Use the power of video to get this done.

Each agent should have a goal of having 50 videos on the interent by the end of 2015.

We all know the market is changing and we need to accept that change is good.

I spent some time with Mike Ferry this week and he believes we must be building our business with urgency. Don’t stand on the sidelines and wait for the market to come to you. We need to go get it.

There are so many ways to generate business in this industry. Prospecting is NOT the only way to build a business. The most popular ways to build a business in today’s market are the following…

1) Working you Centers of Influence: You already have a relationship. Going from 4 touches a year to 36 touches a year with you COI database will increase the referrals you receive by 70%. This is an easy and effective way to generate income while serving your COI.

2) Open Houses: Buyers are on the interent and they are mapping out dozens of houses to drive by without real estate agents. I think Open House Teams are going to be huge this year. You take three or four houses in the same area and hold them open at the same time. You have a map prepared to share with every buyer directing them to the other open houses. This is a way to cast a net over an entire community and capture most of the buyer traffic for that day.

Can you imagine holding 3 open houses in Plantation Lakes at the same time on a sunny Saturday? Guaranteed high-end buyers. The interent is making Open Houses profitable again.

3) Direct mail is working because so few people are doing it. A series of 6 pre-planned letters to the expired listings, withdrawn listings and FSBO’s will yield great results. One letter is not enough. It takes a few touches to get their attention.

4) Farming: Focusing more attention and more touches on a small geographic farm is proven to be profitable. The key is to plan out a 12 month marketing calendar and execute the plan. Too many fail because they execute the first 3 months and assume they are not going to get a return. The return comes after the 6 month.

5) Agent Referrals: It would be a great idea to research real estate companies in North Carolina and email those agents introducing yourself and your willingness to help anyone they know moving to the area. NC agents are a huge source of referrals for our area. Set a plan to reach out to them. Put them on a drip program where you email them once a month.

We are in a great industry at a great time. There are a lot of opportunities to generate business that we are could be capturing. Of course, it takes effort on our part. Knowing what to do is not good enough, we need to create a plan and execute. I urge each of you to pick one thing that you will focus on this year. Commit to that one thing and you will surely see a difference in the business. The key though…you have to commit for the year, not just the month.

I hope you find something helpful in this article.

As always, I want to support you in doing more business the way YOU want to do business.

We have the resources and knowledge and need you to tell us how we can bet serve you.