Friday, September 21, 2007

Real Living Host Relevant Summit

This week Real Living hosted a bi-annual summit in Columbus, Ohio attended by brokers/owners and manager from across the United States. The agenda was focused on recruiting and retention of real estate agents and the speakers, insight and participation from the group was outstanding.

One key element I wanted to share via this forum is a statistic one of the guest speakers shared with the group. Dr. Cabot Jafee, from Alignmark
stated that 58% of current real estate agents would be retiring and of retirement age by the year 2010. I have three thoughts about this statistic.

Wow. NAR tells us there are 1.3 million Realtors chasing buyers and sellers for commissions today
. If these agents do retire, it’d leave 546,000 agents and much more business for the remainder. All things being equal, everyone would get over a 100% pay increase! As I’ll allude to next, I don’t think this is going to be the realistic outcome, however, a shocking statistic to share.

Those I know in the “boomer” generation are not retiring. Another speaker at our event was Bill Evans, President of Real Living HER in Columbus. Bill spoke about recruiting through the generations and sited characteristics about the “Boomer” generation including the fact that they, “live to work.” This characteristic is quite different than the “Gen X’ers,” who “work to live.” Over the past two weeks I’ve spoken with a few Real Living mangers, both into their 60’s and point blank asked them when they were going to retire. Both managers replied saying, retirement is not in their vision and that work kept them alive – echoing what Bill Evans stated.

The one thing I know to be true is that if and when these “boomers” stick around, they’ll need to adapt! This leads me to point #3.

Today’s consumer and today’s Realtor are literally generations apart. 80% of which are Gen X and Gen Y. Take into account the following “stereotypes from each of the following generations…

Boomers
- Live to work
- Technology averse


Gen X
- Work to live,
- Adaptive to technology

Gen Y
- Live first, work later
- Do not know a world without technology

With this said, there is obviously a huge clash taking place within our industry as you read this. I struggle to see how those in the Boomer generation who choose to continue doing business as they always have will survive. Boomers and a whole new generation of real estate agent have tremendous opportunity that can be seized when implementing all the tools, marketing, technology, and branding to compete.

If your company or franchise does not provide the technology, branding, and everything else today’s buyers seek, call Real Living. Also, if your company or franchise is not delivering relevant seminars like the one Real Living hosted the past few days, call us. We’re competing in the real world and can show you how to build a foundation and prepare for an explosion when the market improves!

Chris.Svec@RealLiving.com or call 614-203-0801.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Brand Consistency – Even in Your Office

In my role it is great to see so many new Real Living franchisees take the Real Living office concept and implement in their respective markets. As an employee of Real Living for going on 11 years, being able to witness owners sign their franchise agreement and eagerly return home to Realivingize their office is rewarding.

As the next big national franchise, Real Living strives for consistency beyond service, it even extends to our office d├ęcor, layout, and functionality. I hate to use McDonalds as an example but when you select McDonalds for your dining pleasure you know what to expect. Fast, service, consistent menu, in a family friendly environment. You also recognize the golden arches and building style no matter where you travel.

At Real Living we are striving to create a consistent experience for consumers – like McDonalds. Our websites have all the tools a buyer or seller needs no matter where they reside. Our agents posses all the 360 degree marketing tools they need to attract today’s consumer and market homes. And, our offices have a consistent look and feel which differ based on urban, rural and suburban location.

I’ve been harping on the importance of a well managed brand and if your franchisor is not talking about this, why not? Consistency within your network is beneficial – and needs to extend to your office space.

To give a taste of a Real Living office, here are a series of pictures of our grand opening in Orlando, Florida. Real Living Real Estate Solutions is owned by Tony Marino a former top producing Watson Real Estate agent who was ready to explore ownership of his own office and today is on his way to great success in Orlando. Look at the pictures and the number of agents attending the linked event. Other office pictures can be seen on our franchise site.

Office structure, layout and decoration advice is just another benefit to joining the Real Living network. We’ll help you design your office and implement key elements like our coffee bar, banners, Real Living room with fireplace (depending on your market) and children’s play room – to quiet the kids down while Agreements are getting signed.

We also recognize the fact that with Real Living’s mobile tools and today’s mobile agents, office space can be maximized. You no longer need 200-300 square feet per agent. By creating comfortable common spaces for agent and consumer to sit meet and sufficient conference room space, owners can save money on this expensive piece of a P&L. I see this maximization affording Real Living owners the opportunity to add locations in their markets which provides more visibility and strategic placement. Depending on the market, two 1500 square foot locations can work harder than one 3000 foot location.

To learn more about Real Living’s office concepts and how to Realivingize yours, call me at 614-203-0801, or e-mail
chris.svec@realliving.com. Visit www.reallivingfranchise.com too!!

Friday, September 7, 2007

Agent Retention - In A Slow Market

Many brokerages seem so focused on recruiting, recruiting, recruiting, that they lose sight of keeping and maintaining the agent partnerships they have today. With the market being “slow,” there is an enormous opportunity to train agents on the systems and tools provided via your franchise relationship to increase their business, which, I believe, will lead to keeping that agent through the bad times and into the good ones (they will come again).

So, here are three quick items to focus your agents...

1. Contact Management
Real Living provides its agents a contact management solution and makes it easy for the agent to market to their database when populated. Agents need to, to quote a leader in our company, “see the people, see the people, see the people,’ which will create contacts. Encourage agents to add 10-20 contacts to their database weekly. A good book to refer agents to is, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi. This book has changed the way I view relationships.

2. Continue Marketing
If agents do not continue to invest in themselves during the down-times when money is tighter, consumers may assume they’ve went away. There always seems to be a news story telling consumers how difficult the real estate market is - which could plant the seed in their minds that the agent has cut-and-run from real estate. At Real Living we provide agents free and inexpensive opportunities to market themselves including e-cards (an online Hallmark store – free), e-newsletters (goes out monthly – free), direct mail ($.35-$.60/card), agent websites (marketing opportunities nationally – free), and opportunities to tap into blogging systems (minimal cost).

3. Blog
Slow markets create more time and some of this time can be used to establish a blogging presence. This presence will enhance SEO and improve your visibility in the market. It can also, if used properly begin to position an agent as an “expert” in a given area. One of our franchisees from Real Living Southern Homes, Calum MacKenzie is a great example.

Ultimately, take the time the slow market has afforded you and your agents to re-engage with your company’s systems and tools. You want them positioned for the market up-swing that WILL come. Agents will appreciate your dedication and caring for their careers and thank you with their success later.

If your brokerage or franchise does not provide tools and systems for agents, or if you are interested in partnering with a company who provides the systems highlighted above (and more), call me at 614-203-0801 or e-mail
chris.svec@realliving.com.