You have probably heard a lot about how valuable video content is as a digital marketing tool for real estate agents, and for good reason. Integrating video content into your marketing strategy is a dependable way to build trust, showcase your real estate expertise, provide valuable advice to your audience, market properties, and give your social media presence a significant boost.
On top of that, creating video content is more accessible, more affordable, and easier to do than ever before. Getting started will still require some effort, but you really can master video content with minimal investment and the potential for major returns.
The Right Tools for the Job
When you hear about video content, you might be thinking about expensive cameras, specialized lenses, drones, and other fancy tech. But the only fancy piece of technology that you truly need to get started is the smartphone in your pocket. A newer generation of phone is ideal because cameras, lenses, and filming technology all tend to advance with each new generation.
You'll also need a few apps, like a film app and video editing app, along with a mini-tripod to ensure you get stable shots. You can certainly choose to invest in more expensive equipment if you fall in love with creating video content, but other than your phone it takes very little investment to get started.
Getting Started with Video Content
Once you have the minimal equipment necessary, it's time to start experimenting, getting used to the tools, and building confidence. Rather than worrying about publishing something right away, make some practice videos to experiment with filming strategies, get used to speaking in front of the camera, and try out your video editing app. Watching videos from experienced real estate content creators is a great way to gain inspiration and pick up some tips on creating your own videos.
After that, it's all about practice and preparation. Some videos might require a script, some might be more off the cuff, and some videos like property tours will require more careful planning. All of these things will get easier the more you do them.
The Most Popular Types of Real Estate Videos
Are You Ready to Become the Next Real Estate Video Star?
Now that you know a little more about the tools required, the steps that you'll need to take to create video content, and the most popular types of real estate videos, all that's left is to work on the craft. You'll notice that many of the most popular real estate videos have a polished, professional look, and that's no accident.
It takes practice to create great videos, but the payoff is well worth the investment. Perhaps one day you'll be the real estate content creator that other agents look to for inspiration and advice when they begin their own journey with creating video content.
Talk to any business coach, consultant, or leader, and inevitably at some point, your conversation will turn to talk of business culture. Although, sometimes the culture conversation isn't direct, and, sometimes, the word itself might not even come up. Things such as core values, mission statements, the interviewing process, the employee review process etc., etc., etc., might dominate the discussion, but, still, at its core, what you're talking about is culture.
And there's no way to undersell just how important culture is — both in your real estate business and beyond.
In the past ten years, my CEO peer group has often had at least one well-known speaker and, typically, book author, discuss business culture. This past year we had one such speaker that took a unique twist to his presentation and hit me with a line of thinking I had never considered before. During his presentation, he turned the culture-related discussion away from the usual business focus and directed it towards me and my personal life. This was a twist I had never experienced before.
During this speaker's presentation, he discussed not only business culture but family culture as well. He even pressed the family culture discussion further and asked if we had discussed our family's core values with our families or if our spouses and children also knew our family's core values. Admittedly only one peer in my group of 15 business owners could answer yes when asked if his family knew their family's core values. This line of thinking gave great pause to me and the other 13, who also said yes to having family core values. While we all actively work on culture in our businesses, 14 of us, unfortunately, had not done this yet with our families.
As a sidebar, before I bring my thoughts back to the business world, if you want to do something interesting, start trying to answer culture related questions that focus on you and your family, such as:
What are your family's core values?
Does your family filter your family's decisions against your family's core values and mission statement?
Is your family in alignment with your family's core values and mission statement...your family's culture?
Trust me, the family angle is an interesting line of questions to think through when you have time, and I encourage you to do it...but let's get back to talking about the business side of things...
The first point I want to make is that you must be purposeful in your culture. What I mean by this is that culture in your business is something that you are the architect of. And, since you are the architect, culture is something you need to take the time to think about and create. Ultimately, if you go through a culture exercise with a business coach, that coach will ask you all kinds of questions about who your team is, words that describe them, and what they value.
Two years ago, I did a formal culture exercise at Delta. The management team, a business consultant, and I spent about an hour coming up with our five core values. When we were done, we all agreed that our core values accurately described who we were and are as a team. The irony of our core values is that I have valued these things and worked towards them with the Delta team for over 20 years. However, I was not nearly as strategic then as we are today at Delta in building a team representative of these core values. Now, it's a different story as these values I've long respected have become a central theme within Delta's business.
Delta's Five Core Values are:
Get it Done — Being accountable and trusted to complete projects or tasks no matter the effort needed or how much time is needed.
Finds a Way — The answer is never "No." When we see a need, even when the platform wasn't built to do it, or it would require building something completely new, as long as it fits into our core focus, we make it happen.
Passionate — Deeply cares about outcomes. Demonstrates a winning attitude, and it hurts to lose.
Team Oriented — Excels at working inside of a team to work towards achieving a larger goal. Can clearly give and receive feedback about tasks to better the team. Is driven to make sure the entire team succeeds, no lone-wolf attitude.
Do What's Right — Through wisdom, honesty, and compassion, we take the path that will have the greatest positive impact on the current and future health, growth, and prosperity of our company, our team members, and our customers.
It has become much easier over the past two years to make hiring and firing decisions and business decisions by having our core values clearly defined and agreed upon within our management team. Core values are part of our formal interview process and part of our quarterly employee review process.
The second point that I want to make is that the leader ultimately feeds the culture they want by what they focus on with their team.
Last December, at our annual two-day planning meeting for 2022, the management team did an exercise where we each shared two things with every other member on the management team: What is the one thing most admired about the person by you and what is the one thing that you would most like that person to stop doing or start doing?
What the team shared with me that they most admired about me gave me clarity into some of the ways that I have fed the culture at Delta. They shared that they liked my ability to inspire, my honesty, my optimism in adversity, my work ethic, that I am down to earth, and that I am approachable. Now, before you begin to think that I am trying to build myself up with a list of accolades, I should point out that I have another list of things I need to work on that I won't share: My stop doing and start doing list. But, for now, let's focus on the most admired things list...
It is important that each of us as business leaders is modeling that which we desire; that we exemplify the culture, core values, and mission statement of the company we run and the team we lead. I can take each of the items shared with me during the exercise that people admire about me and tie them back to at least one core value. Unknowingly I was living out the core values of the business for the past 20 years, not always to perfection, but I was living them out, and others noticed.
What we need to do as business owners is foster in our lives what we want in our businesses and be intentional about it. To close out my thoughts, I put together a shortlist of questions that you may find helpful as you think through the culture in your business, and maybe even the culture within your family:
To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the February 2022 issue, click here.
This week, Harley goes over general automations in the DeltaNET.
As a real estate agent, you are a local expert. People trust your knowledge about the market and its ins and outs. They rely on your advice not only to buy a home but to identify the best neighborhoods, the top school districts and employers, and how everything will interact to shape their new lifestyle.
There's one problem: They may still have trouble telling you apart from your peers!
Real estate is a highly competitive industry. Many of your colleagues and competitors are true self-starters, focused on continuously improving and making an impact. There may be many agents in an area who can offer a terrific experience to your potential customers.
So, you need to focus your marketing around differentiation.
Your marketing communicates who you are and what you do for others. Differentiation refers to all of the skills, personal traits, and other characteristics that set you apart. Define exactly what you bring to the table, and it'll be easier to highlight all the ways in which you are different.
You can also use your knowledge, skills, and tools in ways that differentiate you. Whenever you pick up a new piece of technology or learn something new about real estate, always think about the many ways you can use it to add value. The more creative you are, the better it will function as a differentiator.
Teams and agents alike need to differentiate — but it is much easier than it might look:
Contact us to learn more about using real estate technology to stand out.
Listing photos are among the most important collateral in selling any property – and they have only gotten more vital with time. These days, customers have the power to browse dozens or even hundreds of properties in a single hour. Yet, a breathtaking photo is what makes them stop scrolling.
You've heard the old adage: A picture is worth a thousand words. To some extent, that's true. Even when it comes to real estate listings. Pictures draw eyes and initial interest, but virtually no homes sell solely on the basis of photos alone. Instead, it's up to the real estate agent to weave a cohesive narrative around the home.
Of course, that can be a challenge. Real estate agents come from all walks of life, and while some enter the industry following other careers, few are former photography pros or authors. As a result, new agents often come to one or both of these aspects of the job with trepidation. But you don't have to be a world-class expert in either field to give your listings a winning advantage.
Listing optimization is a skill you can learn with practice. And when you start off with a few best practices in mind, you drastically decrease the time it takes to elevate your work to the top 20% in your area.
Real estate is never a matter of "perfection" – it's about improvement. There's always more to learn and do. Start with confidence that you can improve your listings, and the skills you need will grow.
Let's break listings down further and look at the simple steps you can take to achieve superior results.
Your Listing Photos: The First Impression of Every Property
A buyer's interest always starts with photos.
On a page of mixed text and graphics, it's all but impossible for someone to notice text before visuals – that's simply how human attention works. Even if they are looking within a narrowly defined area, they will see a photo, feel a spark of curiosity, and then double-check to ensure the address suits them.
So, listing photos are a crucial "hook."
You already know your photos should be of the highest resolution possible and take advantage of natural light. If you can only photograph at one time, choose early afternoon on a clear day. Additional photos in different lighting conditions are greatly appreciated, but daytime photos are the foundation.
Let's expand on those basics to do more with your photos:
Remember: Decluttering Is Always Step One
Fully staged homes tend to sell faster and at better prices. The first step in staging is decluttering, which often requires some enthusiasm from the seller. Clarify, simplify, and organize whenever possible. Remove large, bulky furniture pieces to open up spaces before you snap them.
Go from Decluttering to Staging
Once decluttering is done, build on your momentum. While some real estate agents work with home staging professionals, many pick up the tricks of the trade themselves. Think about the story of each room – how it impacts the owner's lifestyle – and arrange items to highlight that desirable narrative.
Plan Out Which Photos You Need
There are some types of photos you simply can't do without. These include wide-angle shots of the bedrooms, curb appeal shots, the backyard, and at least one photo of each other room. Use your best judgment to decide what else you may need and which rooms you prefer to emphasize.
Deploy the Latest Photography Equipment
You can do some tasks with your trusty smartphone, but listing photos require a professional-grade camera. Once you know your way around your camera, enhance your results by using a tripod and a wide-angle lens. These two simple items unlock all kinds of creative possibilities.
Experiment, Experiment, Experiment
When you arrive at a property ripe for listing, it might feel like you need to get everything done as fast as possible. Slow down and take your time – and plenty of pictures. Get used to taking more than you need, so you'll practice choosing the best, which will translate to a better "photography instinct."
Get Feedback on Your Work
Although you might not have a gallery showing in your future, it's still a wise idea to connect with feedback on two levels. The first is photography pros, who may be glad to advise you on internet forums. The second, of course, is buyers. They will be more than willing to tell you precisely what they liked!
If in Doubt, Partner with Experts
If it seems like you simply can't get the hang of the photography game, don't despair. From small towns to large cities, communities are packed with professional real estate photographers. You'll often be able to work out a very affordable agreement, and their talent will contribute to higher commissions overall.
Unleash the Power of Your Real Estate Photos with Excellent Listing Descriptions
Once you develop confidence with listing photos, it's time to fine-tune your descriptions.
For maximum impact, listing photos and descriptions work together. Ideally, you'll start thinking about how your description should read as you take your photos. Have a convenient way to jot down notes as you go from room to room – an old-fashioned notepad is often faster than a phone app.
Here's how to boost your listing descriptions to another level without having to become the next Hemingway:
Focus Plenty of Attention on the Opening
Just like sending an email, the opening line is the critical factor in whether a viewer reads on. In your introduction, you need to tackle two questions with an economy of words: "What am I looking at?" and "Why should I keep reading?" Do this in one sentence, and you're on your way!
Sell the Story and the Features
The features are the specific attributes of the home, such as the spacious backyard. The story is how those features better the lives of buyers. For example, many younger buyers look at a big yard as the perfect place for Fido to play. Know what motivates your target audience and weave it through your listing.
Beware of Industry Jargon
Real estate shows are more popular than ever before. Unfortunately, they can give buyers and sellers alike a misapprehension of how the whole process works. Avoid jargon terms like "TLC," "quaint," or "fixer-upper," which such buyers may have learned to react to with disdain.
Don't Forget a Call to Action
A call to action (or "CTA") is an essential part of any text meant to persuade. It should tell the reader precisely what to do next without demanding too much. For example, your listing might end with "Call now for more information," which is a smaller request than "Contact us to book a showing."
Implement these tips, and you'll be on your way to better-performing listings. And, just as importantly, you'll be able to approach the process of designing your listings with greater ease and confidence.
To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the February 2022 issue, click here.
Just 19 miles east of historic Beaufort, South Carolina, lies a place called Fripp Island. With its slightly whimsical name and miles of pristine beaches, it's not hard to imagine that Fripp Island is a place where Southern hospitality reigns supreme, where people smile and greet you as if you're an old friend.
At just over six and a half square miles, Fripp Island is also the sort of place where the favored mode of transportation is a golf cart. Tourists — the thousands who flock to those beaches and restaurants and well-manicured putting greens — frequently rent them by the day or week.
Fripp Island is a lot of things, many of them worthy of a postcard. What some people might not expect, however, is that Fripp Island is also home to the origins of the largest and most respected real estate company in the South Carolina Lowcountry and Coastal Georgia regions. What is now Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group/Cora Bett Thomas Realty got its start on Fripp Island when partners Ken Willis and David Hornsby began developing the area in the late 80s.
Turns out, a lot of those golf carts are the product of Willis and Hornsby's work. The pair turned the area into one of the best amenity-based community developments with a marina, two golf courses, a 1,500-member club, and 450 rental units.
Since those early days, Bay Street Realty Group has grown by leaps and bounds, with highly-trained and successful sales associates and by uniting with other top brokerages, most recently, Cora Bett Thomas Realty. Through all those changes, one thing has remained the same: Bay Street Realty Group has never forgotten its start on Fripp Island. That small, picture-perfect island has served as the setting for thousands of family memories over the years, and, to some extent, the same holds for Bay Street Realty Group.
The family-focused mindset that cemented itself in the core of everything Bay Street Realty Group does began on Fripp Island. That mindset has defined the company for over four decades.
"It's all a big family feel, which is nice because that's the atmosphere that we create," Marketing Director Meg Wynne says. "Once you start, we want you to stay forever. We like to hold on to people and create that big family atmosphere."
Growth has always been the name of the game for Bay Street Realty Group. Putting Fripp Island on the map by successfully developing the area wouldn't have been possible without a predisposition and obvious enthusiasm for growth. Still, growth without purpose has never had a place in the company's plans. Instead, the focus
has been on meaningful evolution, on taking the next step because it makes sense. Not just because the company wants to keep on walking — metaphorically, at least.
It's that philosophy that influenced Bay Street Realty Group's expansion over the last few years, and in 2017, the company acquired Island Realty, where partner Todd McDaniel was a managing member and one of the founding owners. Now, Bay Street Realty Group's South Carolina team has over 150 years of combined lifestyle-based community homes sales and development experience. Together, the group also has experience in more than half a dozen markets in and around the Beaufort area, providing would-be and current clients with the sort of knowledge they can't find anywhere else.
"By acquiring and joining forces with some of the best brokerages around, we can offer more and keep our culture and mindset consistent, under one unified brand," says Willis, owner and South Carolina Broker in Charge. "We've worked very hard to bring everyone together and unify our processes and services."
That hard work has paid off, too. By Q3 in 2021 Bay Street Realty Group had boasted 555 transaction sides in the Beaufort Market. But success is not confined to a single area. Or state, for that matter.
In 2019, the company took its next step philosophy up a notch and jumped into the Georgia real estate market with both feet. Partner Will Thurman was placed as Managing Broker for Georgia, and Bay Street Realty Group acquired Southeast Coastal Property, Bob and Reba Laramy's successful Savannah-based real estate company, with 35 new agents. It was that acquisition that initially opened a conversation with Cora Bett Thomas Realty, a long-time market leader in the Savannah/ SC Lowcountry region. Talks progressed quickly, and by early 2020, the acquisition of Cora Bett Thomas Realty was announced.
Suddenly, Bay Street Realty Group had 85 new agents, who collectively produced $291 million in sales in 2019. And they haven't slowed down. In November 2021, the Savannah market saw listings spend an average of just 53 days on the market, down more than two weeks from the previous month. It's those acquisitions and growth, seizing opportunities as they arose, that has quickly turned Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Bay Street Realty Group into the largest agency covering both the SC Lowcountry and Coastal Georgia. It's also ensured that the company has settled into its reputation as a trusted real estate partner, providing unparalleled service.
"Our exponential growth in the Lowcountry displays the strength of our leadership and the trust and knowledge of our expert agents," says Thurman. "We promise trust, integrity, stability, longevity, and the highest standards of work."
Georgia on Their Mind
Combining two different things is never easy. Even the most basic recipes require a good bit of mixing to create the perfect batter, and matching prints is occasionally a fashion risk. But, more often than not, the mixing pays off and whatever comes out of the oven tastes delicious. The new outfit draws compliments and perhaps a social media post or two. When it comes to combining real estate companies, though, the technique isn't always as simple, and even the best-laid plans sometimes have to be altered in the face of an international health pandemic. Such was the case when, in 2020, Bay Street Realty Group and Cora Bett Thomas Realty joined forces under the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices umbrella.
Discussions between the two companies in 2019 were positive from the start. Progress was made, and ideas were tossed around for the collective future of the pair. What they didn't count on was implementing all those ideas at the height of COVID-19 or the challenges that situation would present.
"We went from 40 agents to all of a sudden, you have 100 agents, and you're trying to have everyone get along, work together, and it's COVID, so you can't get them together," Wynne says. "We had to do everything virtually. They were onboarded virtually. We had to turn to technology."
Throughout the acquisition process, finding a balance between the companies was key. That also included Southeast Coastal Property, which came on board the year before. Practices differed from office to office, and establishing a new baseline for everything wasn't always easy when it couldn't be done in person.
"Each office used different technologies for different things. South Carolina office was Google Suite heavy, whereas the Cora Bett Thomas office was not. The Southeast Coastal Property office had different processes and different technologies," recalls Lindsey Nix, Digital Director. "So you were taking everybody's day-to-day systems and saying, 'Okay, well what's working? What do we want to keep? If we want to change something, how do you change it without offending or disrupting?'
Of course, bringing Cora Bett Thomas Realty into the fold wasn't simply about streamlining a single organizational system. Agents had to be quickly brought up to speed on their new normal, as well.
"That took a good year of shifting things around and also people and job roles and saying 'Hey, we value you. We don't want to lose you, but things are going to look a little different,' Nix details. "Everybody did a fantastic job. Sometimes I feel like we're a whole different company a year and a half later.
"You're trying to get everyone together," Nix continues, "and that's not always easy, but, like Meg said early on, we focused on keeping that family mentality because that's what is most important to the partners and staff."
Zoom meetings became more than a trend throughout those early 2020 weeks. Bringing agents together required the technology, packing schedules and sparking introductions, even when it wasn't always the preferred method of communication.
"That was a hard thing because in the South, I mean, it's all about connections and talking face-to-face with people and who you know," Wynne says. "We had to remove that part almost, which did make it hard to get to know the agents, but over time it's all worked out."
Among those things that technology helped work out was adding an almost surprising sense of scheduling ease to the entire endeavor. Yes, Zoom meetings meant less in-person communication. What it did do, though, was, as Nix details, allowed the companies to "hold things more frequently, hold training more frequently."
"If we were doing something with all 100 agents or encouraging all 100 agents to participate, we didn't have to worry about finding a venue that would accommodate that," Nix adds. "There were some pros, definitely, of having it done virtually. Of course, with COVID, in the beginning, that was a big concern. We didn't want to jeopardize anybody's health or put anybody at risk. It made it easy for us to maintain speed, but take into account what was happening in the world."
Despite the myriad of challenges and, sometimes, surprising victories remote work presented, the acquisition did have two rather prominent silver linings. First, this was a move borne of collective desire, with both Bay Street Realty Group and Cora Bett Thomas Realty striving to ensure it happened. Second, it came with the bonus of Cora Bett Thomas' incredible real estate reputation.
"Cora Bett Thomas Realty left a legacy in the Savannah Lowcountry region, and instead of stifling that force and brand, we wanted to bring the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand and support into the mix," Thurman says. "We looked at the strengths and weaknesses of both brokerages and adapted what we felt was the best of each."
One of the most recognized names in the market, Thomas first came to Savannah in 1969 and immediately became active in historic home restoration before turning her attention to real estate in 1976. In 1994, she decided to start her own agency on her dining room table. Thomas has been nationally featured in the Wall Street Journal and New York Times for her luxurious listings, and it was that background that helped spark interest and enthusiasm across the board when it came time to get the companies up and running together.
"We were all very excited about it," Wynne said. "Even though you're working hard, it was fun and a great learning experience, and we gained from the strengths of those around us, as well."
Through all of the changes Bay Street Realty Group has undergone in the last few years, perhaps one of the most impactful was the decision to, in 2018, align with the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brokerage network. Joining the network gave Bay Street Realty Group access to one of the most trusted names in real estate, with thousands of offices across the United States and worldwide.
"We're backed by one of the largest and most successful global real estate networks," Hornsby says. "When our name goes on a real estate sign, it means something. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices is the name buyers and sellers trust."
With Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in their corner, Bay Street Realty Group has built up its training programs, providing agents with the latest updates and information to keep them at the top of their game. Because when they're serving a market as large as the one Bay Street Realty Group agents are, there's no room for missteps.
"All of our agents stay informed on the latest market trends and technology, ready to equip [their clients] with the knowledge [they need in their] next real estate transaction," Hornsby says. "Working diligently behind the scenes is the region's most comprehensive support staff, dedicated to assisting our agents and customers every step of the way."
And while Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices provides a global scope for real estate success, Wynne is also quick to point out the network's personal touch.
"I've felt this since the beginning, we have our family atmosphere within our brokerage, but at a larger level, we also have that," Wynne says. "[Corporate is] always just a call away. There's always someone to reach out to, no matter what the problem is. [Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices] has almost 1,700 offices now across the United States, and you think you'd be lost in that and you're not at all."
Buoyed by that confidence, training throughout the Cora Bett Thomas Realty acquisition was another victory for the brand-new collective company.
"From the Cora Bett Thomas side, we were LeadingRE and luxury portfolio, and that had great training," Nix says. "It built a good network, but I think Berkshire Hathaway offers so much more, so we were very excited about that potential. I know as staff, as well as the agents, once they learned what was available under the Berkshire Hathaway name and network, it became, 'Oh, this is going to be a better situation. This is going to be an improvement. We're going to have access to so much more.'"
Now, more than a year removed from combining forces, training remains one of the most consistent practices across the company's offices. Agents can fine-tune their approach with a host of learning opportunities, and, as McDaniel says, the company prides itself "on our agent support in both staff and technology."
"Whether an agent is new to real estate or has been practicing for years, when they come to our brokerage, it's the common trait of hard work that adds to our overall culture and success," McDaniel continues. "Being a part of such a great network, Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices already offers a great resource for agent training. As a brokerage, we've taken it a step further to offer brokerage-level training and one-on-one training to ensure our agents understand all the tools available to grow their business. We have found that continual and consistent training yields the best results and growth for our agents."
From the very first day in the company's history, Bay Street Realty Group has built its success on the foundation of a strong family atmosphere. People are more than the next transaction opportunity they represent or the numbers they bring in, and every acquisition, every next step, has been a way to expand that family.
But, just like any good family, combining different traits and traditions has required a bit of balance, a hint of patience, and a little determination to see it all through.
"We have a running joke," Nix says, "Chatham County is the county we live in, in Savannah. We always say, 'Oh, well, that's just the way it's done in the state of Chatham.' Some of the things and trends do cross state lines. But sometimes, Meg and I will have a conversation and be like, 'Well that's not how we do it in Beaufort,' and I'm like, 'Well it's never going to fly in Savannah like that," so that does have an impact on our agent culture as well."
Although there are differences between offices and past trends, Nix adds that the biggest similarity is also the most important, saying, "[Everyone] is so hyper-local in a lot of ways."
Finding common ground hasn't always been easy, but Wynne and Nix have prioritized it. The family mindset hasn't changed, but the family itself has, and that's required some getting used to.
"It's almost like Savannah is a New York City compared to Beaufort sometimes, but then there's a perfect middle too," Wynne says. "It's different, but between the two of us, we have done a great job to make sure that the cultures fit together and that we have a happy medium for all of our agents, too."
And when it comes to finding agents who mesh with the Bay Street Realty Group culture, it all comes down to initiative — much like Willis and Hornsby had when they first started on Fripp Island. Bay Street Realty Group is looking for agents who want to put in the work, who understand the markets and the areas, who want to foster relationships. Because it's those relationships that make all the difference.
"People don't often realize that real estate is an entrepreneurial business. You're running your own little business," Nix says. "Of course, there's support from your brokerage, and that's why we're the best because we offer that support, but it's a two-way street. We want agents to show up. You have to produce and do things like that. For us, we're looking for the agent who wants to learn, who shows initiative because if not, there's going to be another agent who's going to come along, and they're going to have that, and they're going to be better."
Bay Street Realty Group has also welcomed the youth movement amongst its agents. Real estate is a constantly-evolving industry, so it only stands to reason Bay Street Realty Group has embraced every shift. Growth is something of a tradition within the company, after all. And by bringing in new agents, those who want to make a name for themselves, agents Wynne describes as having "the drive... the want...and the sales ability," Bay Street Realty Group has built a corps of consistent producers.
"That's one of [our] favorite things, to see when brand-new agents come in, and we get to watch their growth," Wynne says. "I'll get a text and be thrilled because it says, 'Meg! So-and-so just put $2 million under contract.' These young agents in their twenties, you watch them grow from coming in and not knowing anything to being successful and making more money than they have in their entire lives. That's one of the coolest things to see, in my eyes."
Don't forget about that family-focused mindset, though. As new agents stretch their wings with Bay Street Realty Group, they can do so knowing they have the backing and support of those who have been there for years. Experienced agents often serve as mentors and advisors for the newcomers, offering suggestions and cultivating a sense of camaraderie that's apparent in every corner of every one of the company's offices.
"We see a lot of teamwork," Wynne explains, "where we can get an experienced agent who knows the tricks of the trade, knows the language. They can mentor younger agents, but the younger agent can help them with technology or other things, and we see great relationships form that way too."
Creating a Sense of Community
Melding companies, finding similarities between first-time and experienced agents, and setting a tone that crosses state lines has been the driving force behind Bay Street Realty Group's success over the last few years. And that success is clear in just about everything the company does. Boasting a diverse group of agents — ranging from 25-75 years in age —who know the SC Lowcountry and Coastal Georgia region like the backs of their hands, Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Bay Street Realty Group/ Cora Bett Thomas Realty finished 2020 with combined sales of $320 million.
But while the numbers are impressive, this is not a company that has ever spent too much time focusing on the numbers. Instead, it's that family focus, the need to provide every client the best experience possible, and to be a constant presence in the communities it serves that stands as a marker of success for Bay Street Realty Group.
"We think long-term and want [our clients] to be our friend and neighbor, not just our most recent sales transaction," McDaniel says. "Our desire is to be your forever agent and help you for decades make the wisest real estate decisions."
Building that sort of company-wide attitude comes from years in the business and by bringing in the sort of people who share a similar point of view. Life beyond the transaction is important, as is remembering that agents are people who have interests in things outside the scope of their desk and real estate CRM.
With that in mind, Bay Street Realty Group has focused its social media efforts on more than just simple new listing posts. Agent spotlights fill the company's Facebook page, alongside posts touting the beauty and opportunities the South Carolina Lowcountry and Georgia Coastal region presents.
"We call [the area] our slice of heaven," Nix says. "We want to showcase that it's not just about the house. If you move here or if you live here and you don't know about some of these opportunities, how can you get plugged in in this community? How can you, again, go beyond that transaction?"
The work is important, naturally. Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Bay Street Realty Group/Cora Bett Thomas Realty has filled decades with successful work, helping couples find their first homes or families find their forever homes, working on the commercial and luxury side of the industry, and even teaming up with new developments across the 100 Mile Coast. But the work has always been the starting point, a stepping stone for something bigger and, often, better.
Because it's by doing the work that the company can build those all-important relationships and become more than a realty company. These days, it's a group of like-minded individuals with a common goal and shared beliefs.
"We still believe in showing up at the office to work, monthly sales meetings, and time together outside the office for company events," Willis says. "With four offices and two states, we couldn't achieve unification without our yearly brokerage event and holiday parties that keep the lines of communication open to all. Our agents carry that sense of family and honor over to their business relationships, and the Bay Street Realty Group local brand shines. The sense of community we've built within the office is mimicked in each transaction."
Community has always been an important facet of Bay Street Realty Group's company-wide personality. This all started by building the community on Fripp Island, and, really, the only things that have changed in the ensuing years are the location of the communities and how Bay Street Realty Group is giving back.
"Service is at the heart of real estate, or at least it is for us," Willis says. "We know it's just as important to serve our clients and our community. Between both states, we are involved in monthly community events that allow us to give back beyond property transactions. We can't live up to the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices brand without a sense of community."
The company regularly partners with area schools, helping with athletics and school programs. This past holiday season, agents adopted a local child, purchasing items off their wish lists. Cora Bett Thomas Realty also recently served as the primary sponsor for the American Red Cross in Savannah, participating in the organization's annual golf tournament. No matter what they're doing, Wynne says the most important thing is that it's being done, and someone benefits from it.
"We engage our agents," she adds. "It's important that we don't just write a check. We want to be out there, doing what we can."
Taking Tech to the Next Level With Delta Media Group®
Bringing together two of the most prominent real estate names in the SC Lowcountry and Coastal Georgia region
during the COVID-19 pandemic required Bay Street Realty Group to depend on technology more than ever before. And with more moving pieces than ever before, Bay Street Realty Group needed a tech provider who could meet its every need, for every office, in two different states, as soon as that need arose.
That's where Delta Media Group came in.
Before the acquisition, Cora Bett Thomas had worked with Delta, Nix says, while Bay Street Realty Group was partnered with a different company. When the two joined forces, both providers were looked at, as the company's newly-melded leadership team examined what sort of tools and products each offered.
"We said, 'Okay, which [company] is going to serve our new mass?'' Nix recalls. "Somebody was making a transition, one way or another."
In the end, it was the Delta CRM, DeltaNET® 6, and website offerings that stood out. The easy-to-use technology within the DeltaNET gives Bay Street Realty Group agents a stress-free way of staying top of mind with clients and providing current listing information to prospects. And Nix adds that the "pairing of a website and a CRM" has been especially beneficial for agents. No matter what their experience or tech know-how may be, DeltaNET 6 gives them a one-stop shop to maintain all their information, allowing them to take stock and tackle to-do lists with ease.
Training has also been key, with both Nix and Wynne utilizing Delta-provided resources, as well as Tech Tuesday videos and YouTube how-tos, to get the entire Bay Street Realty Group on the same page.
"We take time on an individual level with each new agent to make sure they know the in's and out's of the CRM and website," Thurman says. "With a wide variety of technology skills within our brokerage, agent adoption ranges, but Delta does a great job of providing something for every skill set. Agents are becoming more and more accustomed to using technology in their everyday business."
And, should an agent encounter a problem or a tool they aren't quite sure how to use, Nix credits Delta's industry-leading tech support for answering the call. Sometimes literally.
"That constant communication was a big pro for [Delta] versus another third party company where they were like, 'I don't know, I haven't talked to so-and-so. I don't know how to do this,'" Nix details. "[Delta has] more internal resources."
Change has become a habit for Bay Street Realty Group, and with one of its biggest changes — acquiring Cora Bett Thomas Realty — came another: Redesigning the company's website. Updating the site was, as Nix detailed, one of the main reasons Bay Street Realty Group opted to partner with Delta, and, months after making that decision, the company has never second-guessed itself. Filled with new features and designs, the site embraces Bay Street Realty Group's need to showcase everything the company offers. From history to property searches, relocation resources, and the company's blog, the retooled site gives would-be, past, and present clients everything they're looking for.
"When Delta Media shared some of the new features and design updates, we were quick to make sure these changes were implemented on our website," McDaniel says. "Not only are the new changes going to improve our overall look and feel, but they will also make the user experience better, which is most important. We want our clients to feel at ease navigating our website."
Staying current with their tech is always Bay Street Realty Group's goal, and, with Delta, that's easier than ever. Just like Bay Street Realty Group, Delta has long embraced that family focus and families often share. Even the tech-based ones. Because if a certain update can benefit more than one client, Delta is quick to implement it for everyone.
"One of the things that I've always loved and still love today about Delta Media Group is when a thought process from one brokerage comes out, and it can make the site as a whole better, Delta adopts it for all," Nix says. "It's not, 'Oh, we're just going to give brokerage A this neat thought and this custom whatever. We're going to make it where we take that, and we put it into all of our websites or all of our CRMs because it's going to better the whole real estate industry.' That's one of [Delta's] better qualities."
There are plenty of ways and words to describe the last few years for Bay Street Realty Group. Growth, of course, immediately springs to mind. Change, too. Occasionally hectic, with jam-packed schedules and brand-new mindsets, using tech in brand-new ways — those all fit the description bill. But there are good words, too. Decidedly positive ones like exciting and new and plenty of opportunities.
Together, all those words make up a mindset that is as focused now as it was during the early days on Fripp Island. Because while the markets have expanded and the world itself has changed, Bay Street Realty Group is still a company built on the idea of family, on offering the best possible real estate experience for clients and a professional home for agents to flourish.
And that won't change anytime soon.
"Beyond the obvious answer of keeping up with and exceeding our sales records, we want to continue to find more opportunities to aid agents in their marketing efforts and community involvement," Hornsby says. "Agent success is ultimately what creates brokerage success!"
No matter whether you're a solo real estate agent or work as part of a 100-person brokerage, you're sure to see new challenges in the coming year. The housing market is evolving fast. Buyers and sellers alike will be affected, and they'll count on you for the expertise to reach their goals.
Technology will be the key to adapting, growing, and flourishing in 2022.
Some agents worry new digital tools are diverting attention from the relationships at the heart of the industry. But good technology doesn't replace relationships; it deepens them by empowering you to communicate clearly and consistently with more people.
Real Estate Technology Is a Strategic Multiplier for Your Business
From the very beginning, the purpose of technology was to reduce human labor. Look at all the "simple machines" that the ancients came up with and this one factor ties them all together. The same is true of the best real estate technology available today, despite how sophisticated it is by comparison.
Equipped with the right technology, one person can do the job of many. A small team can stand toe to toe with one several times its size. In the past, it was not unusual for most of the benefits of technology to go to the largest organizations with the most resources — thankfully, that is no longer the case.
Even solo real estate agents working without a support network can now make an impact on their local market faster than ever. Growing, mid-sized firms should look to technology before raising headcount.
It's that powerful.
Where bigger brokerages leverage their strong brand awareness to increase market share, smaller ones need to differentiate on performance. Whatever special skills and unique talents you bring to the table, technology helps surface them and bring them to your ideal customers faster than you could before.
Let's look at some of the different ways that plays out in practice:
Today's technology can't do it all for you, but it ensures you maximize your time spent on what really matters most — your customers, your strategy, and the value-added activities that move you toward your goals. You can get it all in a single high-performance AI-driven center of excellence for real estate.
Contact us to discover real estate technology that helps you get more done in less time at any size.
When you're searching for a service provider, business, or product online, how
do you decide which one to pick? If you're like most people – including real estate prospects – then online reviews likely play a starring role in informing your decision. It's difficult to overstate the importance of online
reviews, especially as young, tech-savvy people continue to grow into the largest demographic of real estate clients. Whether you're already familiar with the concept of social proof or you're just getting started with online reviews, now is the time to take advantage of this powerful tool for growing your business.
Why Social Proof Is So Important to Your Real Estate Brand
Word of mouth has always been one of the most powerful, reliable ways to generate highly qualified leads, and that remains true in our modern, digital world. The difference today comes in how the word is spread — via social media, online reviews, and testimonials. Social proof is like word of mouth for the social media era, and it's one of the most important tools you have for attracting new business.
Online reviews, especially on websites that aggregate large numbers of reviews, are a quick, easy way for prospects to see that you're trustworthy and learn about how you serve clients. Testimonials are a more personalized, narrative-driven form of social proof, perfect for sharing on your website and social pages. And reviews on social media offer an interactive, engaging form of social proof.
No matter what form they take, online reviews have so many benefits. As we'll get into shortly, though, you can't automatically expect your clients to provide reviews and testimonials. Acquiring that social proof will often require a little effort on your end, but the payoff is more than worth it.
Knowing When and How to Ask for Reviews
While some clients will take the initiative and leave reviews on their own, many will require a little nudge from you in order to take that crucial first step. Naturally, you will want to wait until after the client's real estate transaction is complete before you ask for a review. But, once you have reached that point, the general approach to asking for reviews is pretty straightforward.
You can frame the request for a review in a variety of different ways, but remember that it's important to ask for specifics. Ask the client about how happy they were with your services, what they liked, and what feedback they would give on the overall process. Let them know why online reviews are so important to your business, and direct them to popular review platforms like Yelp, Facebook, and Google. Of course, you'll want to let them know how much you appreciate them leaving a review.
Testimonials Are Like Gold for Your Real Estate Marketing
Testimonials are all about showcasing the positives of how you serve your clients, which is why they should be featured front and center in your real estate marketing. A client who was happy with your services may be willing to provide a testimonial that can be featured across your digital marketing platforms.
Just like with reviews, it's important to ask for specifics from clients who are willing to provide a testimonial. In order to get those specifics, it's helpful to have some questions prepared that your client can answer in their own words.
Always encourage clients to be authentic. Prospects are used to encountering inauthentic or flat-out fabricated testimonials, which they'll quickly tune out. If possible, ask your client to provide a photo so that you can pair a name and face with their testimonial. This step alone will significantly boost the credibility of the testimonial in the eyes of prospects.
Once a testimonial is ready for the world to see, you'll want to showcase it as much as possible across your online platforms. Put the best testimonials on the homepage of your real estate website, and create a page where website visitors can find even more testimonials. Highlight testimonials on social media, and integrate them into your marketing materials.
How Video Reviews and Testimonials Change the Game
We've already touched on how pairing a face with a review/testimonial adds major credibility, and putting it in video form takes that concept to the next level. Video reviews provide a level of authenticity that a text-based review can't match and help the viewer form an emotional connection with the reviewer. Video content is also incredibly popular online and more likely to be shared on social media. People simply trust video content more for reviews and testimonials.
So if a client is comfortable in front of the camera and willing to go the extra mile, then you should do everything you can to help them create a video review or testimonial. You can even consider running a contest or giveaway to encourage clients to leave video reviews by offering the chance to win a prize in return for their effort.
How to Handle Negative Reviews
Let's be honest. No matter how well you typically serve your clients, every real estate business will receive negative reviews on occasion. Maybe the client is hard to please, maybe their real estate transaction didn't work out how they had hoped in a challenging market, or maybe they simply have some genuine concerns about the process. No matter the reason for a negative review, the last thing you want to do is panic or ignore the review.
The best thing that you can do is respond thoughtfully. Start with a public response, where you address their review in a general way and let them know that you will be reaching out privately to discuss their concerns directly. In addition to showing the reviewer that you care, this public response shows anyone else who encounters that negative review that you're proactive about addressing client concerns.
When you reach out privately, remember to be courteous and listen. Learn the specifics, and do everything that you can
to solve the issue. If you're able to remedy the situation, ask if the client is willing to update their public review. When a prospect discovers a review where the client had some concerns that you ultimately addressed in a positive way, that reflects well on your business.
In some cases, the person who left a negative review won't be happy no matter what you do to address their issues or won't bother to respond at all when you reach out after they leave a review. When that happens, it's generally best to move on and let it go. As long as you serve your clients well, your positive reviews are likely to far outnumber the occasional negative feedback.
Make Reviews and Testimonials Work for Your Real Estate Brand
No matter the size of your real estate business, your market, or your target demographics, online reviews and testimonials should be a critical element of your marketing mix. Make sure that you're taking all of the necessary steps to encourage clients to leave reviews and testimonials. Then make it as easy as possible for prospects to find that social proof when they're researching your business.
To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the February 2022 issue, click here.
In this weeks Tech Tuesday, Harley goes over the Haves and Wants System in the DeltaNET.
How often do you reach the end of the workday feeling like you accomplished everything that you set out to do when the day began? The life of a real estate agent is filled with surprises and unexpected demands on your time. It's so easy to end the day feeling like you missed opportunities to market properties, promote your business, generate new leads, and nurture existing leads.
But it doesn't have to be that way. With the right real estate technology, you have access to reliable, easy-to-use tools that allow you to automate key tasks, make your day more productive, and free up more time to focus on the things you love most about being a real estate agent.
Email Marketing and Lead Nurturing
Email marketing is one the most important places where automation can increase your productivity. Creating and sending email marketing manually takes so much time, and there are so many tools available to automate the process while still sending effective, appealing email marketing materials.
Lead Segmentation and Tracking
Pursuing dead-end leads is a serious drain on any real estate agent's time, but segmenting leads takes time as well — at least, segmenting leads takes time when you do it yourself. Your real estate CRM should provide automated tools for segmenting leads, so that you know which leads are hot, which ones are cold, and where your leads are in the purchasing/sales process.
In addition to lead segmentation, you should be able to rely on your CRM for tracking lead activity with IDX search tracking, as well as tracking saved properties, property searches, and views. All of this information can save you time and allow you to focus on leads that are ready to convert.
Content Creation for Your Blog and Marketing Materials
At the end of a long day of serving your clients and pursuing new leads, how often do you feel like sitting down to write a blog post for your real estate website? Save time by integrating custom content creation for your real estate blog by professional content creators and taking advantage of automated tools for creating marketing materials. Keep your website stocked with content, your clients/prospects informed, and free up more time for productivity.
Quickly and Easily Promote New Listings
When you have a hot new listing, speed matters. You want to get the word out quickly on multiple channels, reach a wide audience, and start generating interest in the property. Take advantage of automation by automatically creating flyers for your new listings, and automatically promoting new listings to your social media pages. Once the word is out, you can easily let clients tour homes from anywhere with tools like virtual open houses and showings.
Are You Using Real Estate Technology to Become More Productive and Make Life Easier?
If you want to make your life easier and enhance productivity, then you need access to a seamless, high-performance real estate technology platform. In addition to tools for automating tasks, your real estate CRM should also include an extensive suite of tools for making so many other tasks easier to accomplish. Does your real estate CRM provide everything you need to thrive? DeltaNET®6 includes all of the automation features mentioned in this article and so many more tools that can boost your productivity as a real estate agent.
It started with an opportunity.
And perhaps, just a hint of hope. Hope that purchasing a small real estate company in Northeast Ohio was the right choice. Hope that the venture would succeed. Hope that all the work would turn into something wonderful. Turns out, all that hope was well placed. More than 50 years after Ardis DeHoff decided to buy what would become DeHoff REALTORS®, the North Canton-based company continues to thrive.
"[She] decided that this'll be fun, let's try it," President Linda DeHoff says of her mother-in-law's initial decision. "Then my father-in-law, who was with the Hoover Company for many, many years, decided that choosing between Hoover and his wife, no problem. So, he joined her, and the two of them built the company. We were so blessed to have the right foundation."
At DeHoff REALTORS®, that foundation has rested on the principles of uncompromising ethics with a dedication to serving every client, customer, employee, and sales professional the company interacts with. This is a local, family business, yes — and it likely always will be, but there is more to DeHoff than its name. There is always the next opportunity, the next chance to provide exemplary service, and it's the drive to seize both that has defined the company for generations.
"The brand, the name, has been built, is known, is respected, and it works," says Dave Maltese, General Sales Manager. "It's who we are. What we do, how we do it, and how we're connected to our community so much, it works because it is local. We think local, but still are global in our outreach."
"[CEO] Robert DeHoff uses that quote a lot," Technology Coordinator Ty Colucci adds. "Live locally, think globally, and I'd say that's on point with our brand."
Setting a Foundation
Quality is key when it comes to DeHoff REALTORS®. Whether it's maintaining the company website, designing the FOR SALE signs that sit on lawns across the greater Canton area, or even deciding how to bring new agents into the fold, the dedication to quality is persistent. In fact, it's right there in the company's mission statement:
"To provide high quality, ethical service to you, our customers, and clients that exceeds their expectations."
Building a brand and a company-wide culture is never easy. Changing with the times is a prerequisite for success — especially in an industry as constantly evolving as real estate. What might have worked in the early 60s wasn't feasible in the 80s and is little more than memory now. But what doesn't change, at least for DeHoff REALTORS®, is that commitment to quality service, striking a balance between a local real estate office and big-scope business. And while the line can be a fine one to walk, DeHoff has managed to, all while maintaining a focus on the inherent humanity of the real estate industry.
Because, at its core, real estate is about people.
"Can a big corporation have the core values of a small family company? Yes," Linda DeHoff says. "They don't have to be different. If we think about them, they're the same. It's just the mechanics of it all."
"It's in the DNA of who we are," Maltese adds. "Our core values have been around since the start. We haven't strayed from those. We're always looking to do the right thing, be involved in the community, and encourage our agents to be involved. It's about doing the right thing."
Finding agents who mesh with that DNA has made all the difference for DeHoff REALTORS®. As Linda DeHoff explains, "this is not a headcount company."
And, of course, it always comes back to quality.
"We look at quality characteristics, and I think because of who we are and our reputation in the community, we attract those types of people, and it's a nice blend," Maltese says. "We're a large company, but yet still a family company."
Part of DeHoff's family feeling comes in the form of training — the kind that Colucci says is "constantly evolving."
"We are always reviewing our training, talking about our training, if we're fitting the needs of our agents," he adds. "And so, that training process is constantly evolving with the industry."
Much like DeHoff itself — striking that blend of family and far-reaching — the company's training is a well-balanced mix. New agents can shadow those more experienced, getting a hands-on look at the ins and outs of the markets DeHoff serves and how best to interact with clients. By the same token, more experienced agents, those who didn't start their careers with technology as it is now, may get some tips and tricks from DeHoff's burgeoning real estate stars.
"We provide a lot of different levels [of training]," Maltese says. "Which is also the way the consumer likes to receive it. We have consumers that are going to want to see a piece of paper and sit down and talk, and then we're going to have the other spectrum where it's like, can you email me that, and I'll sign it electronically, I'll get it back to you, and I don't need to see you today. So, we as a company try and deliver those same services to our agents so that they can, in turn, do it to the consumer."
From the Ground Up
Ardis DeHoff used to have something of a motto; one Linda recalls she would share with her quite often. She'd say, "Linda, don't worry. You get the car and worry about the garage later." What did that mean, exactly? It meant that concerning yourself with where to put your new car wasn't the most pressing issue. First, you had to get the actual car.
The same held true for real estate and, in the case of DeHoff REALTORS®, growing that real estate business. Since first opening its doors in 1962, DeHoff has embraced growth and change in stride, but the key to successful growth came from a natural progression. Much like the company's beginnings — needing a new owner before Ardis purchased it — DeHoff's view on growth is a mix of organic and opportunistic.
"Growth, oftentimes, comes not just organically, but from a need," Linda DeHoff says. "Somebody will come to us and say, 'There's a couple of people that want a certain product here that we are not delivering yet,' and that's almost how we grow. By people coming to us and saying we need this or need that. Obviously, we're looking out for opportunities too."
From its beginnings with only a handful of agents and a brand-new name, DeHoff REALTORS® has grown with, as Maltese details it, "quality in mind," adding that "we've adapted along the way to market factors." In addition to buying and selling residential homes and consistently bringing in new agents, DeHoff has also developed 20-plus residential neighborhoods, plus apartments, and shopping centers, while offering multiple real estate services, including buying, leasing, and investing.
Offering so many services to so many people not only allows DeHoff to become a one-stop-shop for clients' real estate needs but cements the company's reputation as a partner and presence in the community. For years, the DeHoff name has been synonymous with the Northeast Ohio real estate world, and that's only become more obvious with DeHoff Developments. Currently, the development division has about half a dozen people who work on commercial and residential projects.
As part of those residential projects, DeHoff has literally been on the ground floor of single-family houses, condos, villas, apartment complexes, and assisted and independent living centers. Working on these projects offers DeHoff the opportunity to be part of the communities and neighborhoods from the very start. Same goes for the commercial side of the division; these buildings will become businesses that all those people in all those homes will visit.
And for as much as it's been a natural part of DeHoff's growth to venture into development — including over 3,000 acres of land in Stark County the company developed for neighborhoods — it isn't an opportunity taken lightly. There's a certain responsibility that comes with building; one DeHoff is more than willing to shoulder.
"I give the DeHoffs a lot of credit because they give thought to their developments: sidewalks, street trees, street lighting," Maltese says. "You go through a development that's ours, it has a look and a feel, and they, over the years, have looked at what characteristics people like. It almost goes back to, well, we're not just building a development, we want something that we can be proud of that is going to serve the community well, and it's going to be here a long time."
DeHoff developments also add to the Northeast Ohio community in a way that some may not expect — with job development. Someone has to build those buildings, after all.
"Even in the residential realm, it creates jobs," Colucci says. "Then when you get into industrial parks, and they're putting up these buildings, they can say, 'Well, listen, this is going to bring 600 jobs to the area. This is going to bring 900 jobs to the area.' So, I think that goes back to the community deal, and it's cool to be part of job creation in the local market."
Those metaphorical people who come up with clichés say that home is where the heart is. For DeHoff REALTORS®, the cliché might be true. Home is where the heart of the company is, and that home is a 20,000 square foot corporate center in North Canton, Ohio.
Built about 20 years ago, the office came from a need for a centralized space, one that allowed everyone associated with DeHoff to work side by side, building relationships, and that all-important company -wide culture. Executive offices are few and far between here, and if they do exist, their doors are often made of glass. Open floor plans create a sense of community as soon as someone crosses the office threshold.
"When this [space] was developed, we did a little research and found that salespeople, in general, tend to be social,"
Linda DeHoff explains. "We developed that. And you'd never know necessarily the number one agent by where that person is positioned.
"We did a lot of observation, and we have four rooms that are for conference centers. And one of them has an attached children's room," she continues, "so this room is attached with all kinds of things to play. The other rooms were developed in other styles. And the lobby was designed so that everyone is welcome. Agents see each other by means of the design. We wanted it to be friendly. It's developed by style and not production."
The DeHoff office provides plenty of what Colucci calls "congregation areas," making it easy for anyone to sit down, start a discussion and form some sort of plan. What that plan centers around is constantly changing, but the most important part is that it's being talked about and worked on together.
"This is not an 'I'm going to come in here and sit down at my desk, and I don't want to talk to anybody' place," Colucci says. "Part of the magic here is that we all can communicate. We all hang out together and talk business, and I think the development of this building allows us to do that."
With so much going on, DeHoff's office allows the company to keep everything on track. Clients can be brought in to detail their real estate transactions, agents can work as a collective unit, and the DeHoff leadership team is only a few steps away.
"Linda, Robert, and President Dan [DeHoff] are all in here every day, so if you have something that you need to go to them with, they're here," Maltese says. "It's not like we have a hundred offices, and Linda's here once a month, and we've got to wait for her to reply, so it certainly has a family atmosphere."
The office is also another way DeHoff can give back. Opening the corporate center to the public simply made sense, with two conference rooms that area non-profits use as often as three to four times a week. And it's not just organizations using the space, either — one of DeHoff's agents recently hosted his family's Thanksgiving meal there.
A Pillar in the Community
For decades and multiple generations, the DeHoff family and the business that bears its name have become synonymous with Northeast Ohio and the communities that make up the area. Service, as far as the DeHoffs are concerned, is simply another facet of the real estate industry. To some extent, it's the company's invisible partner, and the company has long made good on that partnership.
"We've said meaningfully that the career is an excuse to do what we're supposed to do anyhow," Linda DeHoff explains. "In many ways, certainly financial, [the career] helps us keep these lights on, but we're compensated in other ways, as well. By friendship, by support, by seeing that the family's happy, if it's a client in retail, that they're successful.
"It's not an obligation; it's an opportunity," she continues. "We feel an opportunity to support those who helped us become who we are."
DeHoff agents and leadership team have lived up to that mindset for years. A survey of those agents found that over 90% were involved in not-for-profits, either participating by giving of their time or money. As a company, DeHoff REALTORS® also regularly works with the United Way of Greater Stark County and Arts In Stark, which uses the arts to inspire local children, create new jobs, and establish healthier communities.
"We've been successful raising funds for the United Way through our agents and staff," Colucci says. "As long as I've been here, 100% of [DeHoff has] given something to the United Way."
In addition to Arts In Stark, DeHoff's corporate center is home to its own art gallery, showcasing the works of Lowell Ellsworth Smith. The 50 or so original paintings showcase the greater North Canton area going back almost a century, providing a window into the area's history.
No matter how DeHoff is giving back, the crux is that the company is giving back. Service has always been part of the company's very fabric, and that isn't about to change anytime soon.
"We care about people, and it starts there because we can teach [agents] how to sell real estate, we can teach them how to do certain things, but you can't teach people to care," Maltese says. "And if you have your heart in the right place, things are going to evolve in the right direction."
Tandem Tech: DeHoff & Delta Media Group®
Live locally, but think globally has been DeHoff REALTORS'® unofficial rallying cry for years. It's also one that Delta Media Group shares. And that's what ensured the duo's technology partnership has worked so well for over a decade.
"Delta has continued to expand their services with the real estate community," Maltese says. "They're real estate focused, and we're real estate focused. It started with a website many years ago, and then they've added client follow-up and call services and showings and everything else. They're progressive, and we feel we're progressive, and that has blended well."
Together DeHoff and Delta Media Group have paired up on the company's website, providing detailed information on everything DeHoff offers prospective and current clients. The DeltaNET® 6 CRM also provides DeHoff agents a simple, user-friendly way to organize and maintain all the information that goes into a successful real estate career. And with Delta's regular updates, DeHoff REALTORS® is confident the technology it's using is as good as can be.
"We get the updates in our emails from [Director of Partner Success] Harley [Wolfarth]," Colucci says. "And occasionally I'll call [Dave] like, 'Do you see that new thing that they put in there?' So, I think one of the key things for us is that they're constantly evolving and upping their game."
Growing with the technological times is more a necessity than anything else these days, but DeHoff, as usual, takes the twists and turns in stride — especially when it comes to social media. With a diverse group of agents, there's plenty of know-how to share, and that's led to plenty of success.
"It's formed this unique partnership [between agents]," Maltese details. "On the surface, way back five years ago, it seemed like, well, that may not work, but then it does, and we embrace it, and we figure out how to leverage it to grow our business and service."
Taking the Next Step
Looking to the future of DeHoff REALTORS®, there is no specific plan. No blueprint for what comes next. After nearly 60 years in business, the best way to prepare for what comes next is simply to embrace it. Because, at its core, DeHoff is a people-focused business, and while anything else may change, that certainly won't.
"It's about relationships, absolutely," Linda DeHoff says. "But maybe all businesses, if they meet their potential, are relationship businesses."
In the end, it's not about the money. Not really. Or the business cards handed out. Or the social media interactions. It's about providing something for someone to call their own — a home, a business, whatever the case may be. It's about building, sometimes from the ground up, and giving dreams a bit of a shape with the four walls around them.
"We had a campaign once, called buying a home is like falling in love, and it is," Linda DeHoff says. "There's a lot of parallels that go with that, and no one, I bet, has ever looked back and said, 'Oh, I had such a big family room!' That's not what it's about. It's not the mortar but the neighborhood. It's the memories. It's all the other things that go along with it."
What makes a good lead? Understanding the what, why, and how of lead qualification can save so much time for real estate sales associates, allowing you to focus your energy on leads that are more likely to convert while setting aside dead-end leads. In order to effectively qualify leads, you need to have a reliable process in place to identify promising leads with speed and efficiency.
In short, a good lead is someone who is ready to buy or sell a home. They've likely already put significant thought into the process, have an idea of what they want to accomplish, and are looking for a real estate agent they can trust to get the job done. These are the leads that you want to prioritize over other, less qualified leads who are further from taking real action.
How to Qualify a Lead
In order to identify which leads are good ones and which can be put on the back burner or discarded, you need to ask the right questions. Ideally, you want this to happen as soon as possible when a lead enters your pipeline. That's why it's so important to have a system in place for qualifying leads and to use it consistently.
Use the Right Tools to Turn Qualified Leads into Satisfied Clients
Of course, qualifying leads is just the first, important step in the process, and the right real estate tech can make the next steps in that process so much more efficient. The right real estate all-in-one solution, like DeltaNET®6, offers so many valuable tools for converting leads. Whether you're sending AI-driven newsletters, reaching out with convenient SMS text messaging, helping people tour homes from afar with virtual open houses & showings, taking advantage of integrations with all of the top real estate platforms, or using one of many other tools, DeltaNET®6 provides everything you need to get the job done in one convenient package.
This week, Harley goes over market updates in the DeltaNET.
Let's face it — not everyone loves marketing!
If you're someone who'd rather spend time on other priorities, the idea that you need to "do a little bit of everything" to find what works for you might be demoralizing. Even those who enjoy marketing can get worn down every now and again.
Luckily, you can achieve more by doing less.
The idea you need to put your brand everywhere and anywhere to succeed is based on a misunderstanding. In other industries, it may take anywhere from eight to 15 mentions of a brand for a prospective customer to even remember what it is. Real estate is different.
If you are marketing where your ideal customers are found, they don't need to see you fifteen times. On the contrary, they may reach out the first time they hear about you — assuming they're interested in getting into the market.
No matter how great your marketing is, you can't get someone to buy or sell a home unless they are committed. So, there's no need to plaster your name all over town. Instead, zoom in on the most targeted and effective approaches for you.
Streamlining is the path to a real return on investment — and that's what marketing is all about.
Here's how to make it happen:
Contact us today to discover easier, more effective marketing through automation.
TikTok became a rising star in social media at the start of 2020, and it has been going strong ever since. With more than a billion active users, it has quickly become one of the most popular social media platforms in the world, and creative real estate teams have found many interesting ways to integrate TikTok into their social media marketing. If you're new to TikTok, consider this your introduction to the platform and your guide for how to get started.
Introducing TikTok, the Newest Social Media Sensation
Before we dive into the details of how to use it, we need to answer one important question: What is TikTok, exactly? In short, TikTok is a social video-sharing platform focused on short-form content, which allows you to create, edit, and share quick video clips. Originally the platform allowed you to post videos up to 15 seconds in length, but the limit has since increased to three minutes.
TikTok was first established worldwide in 2018 and surpassed two billion downloads for the first time in late 2020. Today, it ranks behind only Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube in terms of active users for social media platforms. The fact that TikTok videos are short, to the point, and easy to share has made the platform especially popular among younger users. So if you're trying to do more to reach Gen Z and Millenial clients with your real estate brand, TikTok is an excellent place to be seen.
While mastering TikTok takes time, its popularity also comes from how relatively easy it is to get started. You can quickly shoot videos on your phone, use editing features within the app to customize your video, and post it to the world. Video content is already such a great fit for real estate marketing, so TikTok is a natural place to invest some of your social media efforts.
Want to Build an Audience? Start with Consistency
While TikTok hasn't been "figured out" to the same extent as Facebook or Instagram, we do know some things about how the platform's algorithm works. For example, one of the most critical factors in growing your audience is posting content consistently.
Like with many social media platforms, it's helpful to create a posting schedule. This might mean posting a video every day or posting a few times a week. Whatever schedule you establish, try your best to stick with it. Consistency doesn't mean overnight success, but it's a big key to growing your audience over time.
Keep It Short and Sweet
While the video length limit was expanded from 15 seconds to three minutes, the most popular TikTok content is still short, sweet, and to the point. The length of each piece of content that you post will naturally still depend on the topic. For complex topics, a longer video may be more fitting. But for most content, shorter is better.
There are a few reasons why shorter videos tend to be more popular. First, TikTok started as a platform for sharing concise videos, and that's how many users still see it. But there's also the simple fact that your audience is more likely to watch a short video to the end and engage with the content. As you make more videos, your analytics will tell you more about which lengths work best for your audience.
Be Authentic and Show Some Personality
Whether you're browsing TikTok or watching a commercial about the platform, it quickly becomes clear that TikTok is all about self-expression. That means celebrating the authentic version of who you are, and many of the most popular TikTok accounts do just that. Put another way, it's hard to succeed on TikTok by pretending to be someone you're not. So, don't be afraid to show some personality, give people a peek behind the curtain at what life is like as a real estate agent, and be authentic with your audience.
Make Complex Content Relatable
Educational content is quite popular on TikTok, but users aren't necessarily looking for long, complex content that overwhelms with detail. The most popular real estate TikTok accounts tend to break down those complex ideas to make them as relatable as possible for their audience.
YouTube might be the place for a 15-minute deep dive on a real estate topic, while TikTok is the place where you take the same idea, break it down to the essential concepts, and explain it in a quick, accessible way. While the shorter length of TikTok videos makes things easier in some ways, it can be challenging at first to break down big ideas into relatable concepts. Practice, check out what other agents are doing on TikTok, and experiment to see what types of videos work best for you.
Experiment with Themes and Series to Keep Your Audience Coming Back
No matter how well you break down a topic, some big ideas just won't quite fit within the 3-minute limit for TikTok videos. And that's okay! Creating a series of short, relatable videos about the same topic can be a great way to educate your audience and keep them returning to your account to check for fresh content.
Themed posts are another powerful way to grow your audience while making it easier to stick to your posting schedule. For example, you could post advice for buyers on one day, home improvement posts on another, highlights of local attractions on another, and fun, personality-driven videos to cap off the week. The possibilities for themes are nearly endless, so it's well worth experimenting with and researching themed post ideas for real estate.
Use Relevant Hashtags to Help Interested People Find Your Videos
Now that you have some ideas for how to make great TikTok content, we'll close with a topic that will be familiar to any agent who's dipped their toes into social media marketing. Like with most social platforms, TikTok is big on hashtags. By tagging your posts with relevant hashtags, you can reach people looking for content related to those hashtags.
Relevant is the key word there because you're trying to connect with people interested in real estate content. Using popular hashtags that aren't related to the actual post may provide an initial, artificial traffic bump but won't result in people sticking around to see what you have to say.
The Bottom Line for TikTok Success
One of the biggest themes of our TikTok advice is that it's crucial to experiment and find out what works for your brand. This is because TikTok is still a relatively new platform, but also because authenticity and self-expression are such integral elements of TikTok success.
Of course, the agents who have already found success on TikTok are also excellent sources of ideas. Don't be afraid to check out their content, discover what works for them, and adapt the best ideas to fit your needs. By carving out a TikTok niche, you can ride the wave of the most popular new social platform in years while building connections with the Gen Z and Millenial audiences that are quickly becoming the largest demographics in real estate.
How do you measure success? Every successful real estate firm prioritizes slightly different metrics, which means that there's no one right answer to that question. But with the ability to track so many metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs), it's easy to feel a little overwhelmed by all of the data at your fingertips. The important thing to remember is that metrics are more than just numbers. Tracking results, from lead generation to closings, is one of the most reliable ways to help your team grow and unlock higher levels of performance from your sales associates.
Prospecting and Lead Generation Metrics
Analyzing results and projecting future performance starts with understanding what your sales associates are doing to generate leads. Statistically, luck tends to even out over time, which is one reason why volume is a key factor in many prospecting and lead generation metrics.
Measuring Results and Client Satisfaction
Of course, results matter too! Keeping track of how many leads are converted, how many deals are closed, and how happy clients are with the service they receive can provide important insights into the performance of your team.
Improve Tracking and Success with the Right Real Estate Tech
Is your real estate CRM providing you with all of the data that you need to help your team thrive? With DeltaNET®6 you get more than just a comprehensive suite of tools for lead generation, marketing, and relationship management. You also get more ways to track performance, discover which tactics work best for your team, and analyze results. If you want your team to learn, grow their confidence, and thrive, then it's critical to provide them with the right tools for the job.
This week, Harley goes over sold listings pages in the DeltaNET.
No matter what technology you incorporate into your real estate practice, one thing is for sure: It's all about people. Technology doesn't replace the human touch — it gives you more time and opportunities to make the connections that are so important to your success.
At Delta Media Group, we're going into the new year with a commitment to put people first.
Now is the perfect time for brokers and real estate agents to think about the best ways to place customers at the center of their practice. The idea of the "customer-obsessed" business has become a cliché in recent years, but nowhere is it more relevant than real estate.
Why Customer Experience Matters for Real Estate More than Virtually Any Other Industry
In today's modern market, there are no industries out there where customers simply don't matter. But the world of real estate is very different from the norm. Real estate professionals rely on achieving a level of customer experience excellence above and beyond other sectors of the economy.
Customer experience encompasses every interaction a person has with a brand, no matter big or small. Each one of those interactions will influence the customer's brand sentiment, adding up to a picture of what they think of you and what you can do.
It doesn't matter how you market yourself or sell your services if those brand messages are out of harmony with what a customer has directly experienced with you. In real estate, this effect becomes more pronounced because it affects your entire future.
Most people will be in the real estate market only every 5-8 years. Customer experience is the defining factor that determines whether they will come back to you, enhancing their lifetime value. Even more crucial, it can mean the difference in hundreds of thousands of dollars in potential referral business.
As real estate businesses mature, it is important to go from "chasing leads" to earning referrals. A healthy real estate business will have a strong mix of referral clients and new leads attracted to their digital properties through inbound marketing. There'll be very little "chasing" involved!
By putting people at the center of your business, you make it far more likely that they will stick with you over the dozens of competitors they might otherwise choose. Making a good impression on someone can transform your bottom line, even if you never work directly with that person again.
If you are part of a team, being people-centric has other aspects you should be aware of.
It means giving those around you the resources and opportunities to thrive. Paradoxically, it also means recognizing that people have limits, individual weaknesses, and significant priorities outside of work — and showing some grace to the whole, human person you work with. This is essential to stave off burnout as we enter the third year of a global pandemic!
The Biggest Ways to Put People First in 2022
Real estate technology makes it easier to bring your whole self to the work you do. To learn more about upgrading your business with real estate marketing automation, just contact us at Delta Media Group.
We hear the term constantly — company culture. Building it, honing it, creating something that defines a company is often at the crux of that company's success. But while they're familiar words and sentiment, we still have to ask ourselves: What is company culture all about?
In many other industries, "culture" is everything a business does to motivate its employees outside of paying them what they're worth. Trying to build a culture that values the team on a foundation of cut-rate compensation is saying one thing and doing another. Naturally, actions speak louder than words.
In real estate, however, company culture is a totally different ballgame. Because commissions are the norm for agents and brokers, everyone in the office brings some intrinsic motivation to the table.
Like other sociable, sales-driven industries, you will meet plenty of colleagues driven by the fact that they are the biggest factor in their own success. Every agent in an area faces the same housing stock, local economy, and "lake" of clients, though they might choose to fish in different spots. Company culture is a massive differentiator in how individuals make the most of these resources – and whether they stick around long-term, look elsewhere, or go solo.
The worst thing you can do is let culture happen by accident!
Some kind of culture develops any time a group comes together for any purpose. Really! But even if your culture has been on autopilot, it's not too late to change for the better. By focusing on supporting your people – with technology and humanity – you can create a culture that works.
There's no better time to do it than now. New year, new outlook!
Wrapping Your Mind Around Company Culture
The idea of "company culture" has been used a million different ways by a million different businesses, many of which use "culture fit" when looking to fill open positions. For this reason, culture can seem devilishly slippery. If it's something that bends to every definition, is it all really just hot air?
Company culture can be discussed in a way that's superficial and, ultimately, not very helpful. But there truly is something to the concept. Once you get a sense of how it affects your tangible business results, it becomes much easier to see how you can change it for the better.
There are two big things company culture is not:
• Company Culture Isn't Just a Package of Perks
Company culture doesn't just mean free coffee or a foosball table in the break room. The idea you can boil down culture to a certain idea of fun – one that's wacky and zany within carefully prescribed limits – comes largely from high-tech startups. Companies like these aim to recruit recent college graduates who haven't necessarily developed healthy boundaries or expectations around what work asks of them.
• Company Culture Isn't Just Your Company's Values
These days, companies of all sizes are being asked to articulate their values around various subjects. Millennials and Generation Z are growing their share of the economy, and they want to know they are spending their money in harmony with their worldview. But, while culture can spring from a clear statement of values, the values are only the beginning. They are not the whole story of what culture is.
So, then, what is company culture, exactly?
Company culture can be described as "the unwritten rules," the way things are done in an organization. It is less about written policies and more about how, whether, and when they are followed. Since it is more an art than a science, it is best understood through analogy.
You might want your culture to reflect a positive orientation toward learning and growth. But mistakes and oversights are often made along the path. If a manager's response to mistakes is punishment and scorn, that person values perfectionism and rules-following, not growth.
Luckily, it's simpler to understand how to fine-tune your culture to realize one specific goal, in this case, agent retention. And since company culture is very responsive, all you have to do is commit to a more intentional stance around culture and start taking some of the right actions. Positive change will follow, and then it will be easier to chart a course forward.
The Seven Best Ways to Create a Culture that Values, Cultivates, and Retains Agents
Equip Agents to Succeed with the Right Technologies
It was not that long ago when the average agent needed to dedicate hours every week to ensure they were on top of the latest changes with their prospects, leads, and customers. These days, Customer Relationship Management software centralizes all these functions in one place. A real estate CRM, like DeltaNET® 6, offers complete visibility and may even help you know when to follow up using artificial intelligence.
Remember: Priorities Emerge from Values
While values aren't all there is to company culture, they do matter. Values act as the North Star that everyone can consult when choosing between two conflicting priorities or courses of action. For example, a company that upholds compassion as a key value might make customer care a top priority and would choose to help the customer feel heard over handing calls off as fast as possible.
Encourage Support and Mentoring
Teaching others is often the fastest way to sharpen your own skills. With that in mind, it's wise to spark an interest in mentoring within your office. Allow junior team members the opportunities to think through their challenges without having to reinvent the wheel. As a result, genuine relationships are built that help you to integrate your company into the wider industry community and thus attract top talent.
Success happens every day, on both an individual and team level. Of course, when the team reaches its goals, it's cause for celebration. But personal milestones are also important, assuming the individual consents to have their story heard. So whether it's the big sale or a firstborn's birth, don't be afraid to cheer others on.
Create an Inviting Work Environment
Many agents and brokers are more productive when they have a quiet, enclosed space where they can do blocks of focused, uninterrupted work. That said, you can create opportunities for collaboration by setting up plenty of common areas where ideas can be shared. That makes for the best of both worlds.
Retention all comes down to whether someone feels valued. Agents and brokers often have a dozen other opportunities right in their own backyard, so crafting a retention-focused culture is crucial. These seven tips will put you on the path to long-term retention and the outstanding results it can lead to.