Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Marketing to Women? Real Living's Been There For Years

Realogy, one of our top competitors and the parent company of Century 21, ERA, Coldwell Banker, Sotheby’s etc., recently announced their licensing abilities for the Better Homes and Gardens brand from Meredith Corporation. A historical point of reference here is that the name Realogy was born around 2005/2006. Yes, that’s REALogy.

Why am I blogging about this? To give the real story.

As the VP of new market development for Real Living, I found each of the three points below to be very interesting and each holds significance as they relate to my role of leading our franchise growth initiatives. As I’ll point out, the BHG purchase shows Real Living is not only on Realogy’s radar, but also in its cross hairs.

First – the very fact Realogy purchased the BHG brand holds significance as it seems that they, possibly due to our success, are finally recognizing that females account for 90% of the purchasing decisions. A woman’s buying power is huge, and other firms are missing out by not recognizing this fact. As I’ve discussed in recent blog posts, I find it funny that in the past, Realogy brands have not recognized the female consumer as a key decision maker. A prime example is that Century 21 is the title sponsor of Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby – a program dominated by a male audience. Hmm. By the way, note the "red" logo on the home run derby link - isn't C21 gold?

Second -- I hear 1000Watt Consulting, a firm Real Living employed to assist with our franchise marketing, is in discussions with Realogy to assist with the roll-out and implementation of the BHG brand. This, while possibly just a rumor, is significant since 1000Watt is very familiar with Real Living’s brand.

Finally -- the very name Realogy coming into existence circa 2005/2006 is interesting. It seems to me that this is an effort to “get REAL” as we’ve been since our inception in 2002.

Maybe all of the above is just coincidence. Yeah, right.

As they say, imitation is the highest form of flattery. As someone who’s been with Real Living for 11 years and witnessed first hand our company moving into 21 states and grow from 400 to 4000 agents, I’m flattered that other companies are trying to emulate our successful brand. While Realogy certainly has the size and capital to effectively compete, I’m confident our leadership, creativity and enthusiasm will keep us one step ahead. Real Living will continue to take pride in staying years ahead of everyone when it comes to the coveted female consumer.

If you are interested in learning more about Real Living, our brand, systems and culture, please e-mail me chris.svec@realliving.com, call me direct 614-203-0801 or visit www.reallivingfranchise.com

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Real Living at NAR

In November, Real Living will be an exhibitor at the National Association of Realtors Convention. Real Living will accomplish 4 goals during the convention…

1. Introduce our franchise offering as “national.” We continually field the question, “are you available in ____ (insert city here)? The answer by the way is, YES!! Our systems, tools, technology is scalable to be inserted into any brokerage, no matter the location.

2. Roll-out our 360 degree marketing system. I’ve blogged about this in greater detail in the past, however, our 360 degree system is designed to provide our agents mobile, digital and traditional tools to reach today’s consumer.

3. Enable perspective franchisees to meet our team and franchisees. Our entire field sales staff will be attending the event and available for personal meetings as arranged. Additionally, key members of our corporate staff and some of our franchisee successes, like Lincoln Crum will be attending. Lincoln has been with Real Living for a year and has grown to 30 agents in just 12 months!!

4. Give attendees a taste of our office and environmental branding packages. As I’ve blogged about in greater detail in the past, a big part of what Real Living’s franchise offering includes is interior and environmental branding. This provides consistency throughout our network and immerses agents in the branding every day they work from their office.

We look forward to seeing you in Vegas. Stop by our booth 2456 to visit us. If you are unable to attend, please call me directly at 614-203-0801 or e-mail

Wednesday, October 3, 2007

Today's Real Estate Office

At Real Living we’ve been hosting 1-2 companies per week in our offices for our Real Deal Presentations. It is during these presentations where our team shows prospective franchisees all of the tools, services and overall value of a Real Living franchise.

During these visits and in my travels a common question arises for companies interested in start-up opportunities. “What kind of office space should I have/do I need?”

At Real Living’s owned stores in Columbus and Cleveland we’ve taken the “old-school” approach to offices – mainly because we’ve been around since the 50’s and have over 3000 agents. Our offices are large, 5,000-8,000 square feet, mega offices hosting private and “plug and play,” areas. When visiting these spaces, often occupied by 70-150 agents, there are typically under 10-15 agents actually working in the office at any given time.

Today’s agents are mobile. They can tap into Real Living’s web-based system anywhere they can get online (Starbucks, home, Verizon Wireless Cards, and other "hot-spots" all over town).

With this mobile trend becoming the norm, we are seeing and encouraging our franchise partners (and even our own offices) to strategically place office(s) in their area with smaller square footage. Start-ups will have one 800-2,000 feet to start and eventually grow to more offices of similar square footage – typically in prime and visible areas. The environments are well branded and offer the primary items today’s agent require – conference room, casual meeting spaces, areas to plug their laptops into, etc.

If a brokerage can grow using this model they will save tremendously in their P&L. Brick and mortar is among the leading expenses brokerages incur and this model saves significant dollars to invest elsewhere.

Additionally, we are encouraging our franchise partners to save money via reducing dollars spent on phone systems, fax machines, and the like. I mentioned the mobile nature of agents today. Agents are using expensive phone systems and the physical phones (which can cost up to $400/phone) for the simple purpose of forwarding their calls to their mobile phone. With that said, why purchase a high-end phone system with capabilities a plenty when you can enable agents to publicize and exclusively utilize their personal, mobile phone? Fax machines are another expense that can be eliminated with a $5-$7/month e-fax account. I cannot tell you the last time I actually faxed something via the dinosaur fax in our offices – faxing can inexpensively be accomplished online.

When thinking of opening your first or another office, think twice and call Real Living. We’ve been in the business for over 50 years which has taught us a lot. We have ideas to save and increase your profitability. Visit
www.reallivingfranchise.com, call me directly 614-203-0801 or e-mail chris.svec@realliving.com.