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December
1

Founded nearly 50 years ago, Dickson Realty has elevated its way to the top of the real estate market in Northern Nevada and California. 

Established in Reno, Nevada, by Fianna Dickson in 1973, Dickson Realty is an innovator in the Western region. Rebecca Dickson, Fianna's daughter, now serves as one of the Broker/Owners and VP of the Luxury Division at Dickson Realty, following the path her mother began almost 50 years ago. Nearly all of the owners of Dickson Realty are family, and the family atmosphere transfers to the agents and employees of the company.

"Dickson Realty has been an innovative company from the beginning when it was founded by Fianna Dickson in 1973," says Andrew Reel, the VP of Marketing & Technology at Dickson Realty. "And this was a time when being a woman and owner of a real estate company was very innovative." 

Dickson Realty was also ahead of its time in selecting the Reno and Sparks region to lay its foundation. When they started their brokerage, those areas were nothing like what they are today. They have grown exponentially over the time Dickson Realty has been in business, which has lent itself well to the growth and expansion of the company. 

"As Reno and Sparks grew in population and size, the company expanded too, representing developers and builders of the most prestigious master-planned communities in Northern Nevada," says Reel.

After seeing such growth within the area, the company set out to expand again in the early 2000s, this time to Northern California. They set up offices in the mountain communities surrounding Lake Tahoe, as well as in the resort town of Truckee, California. 

"We now have over 325 agents in 10 offices spread throughout the Reno metropolitan area and Lake Tahoe," Reel continues, "And in California, we have offices in Truckee, Northstar, and Portola." 

Today, Dickson Realty helps residential and commercial buyers, sellers, and renters in Northern Nevada and California. The company also offers 1031 exchange services, instant offers, and bridge-buying services. 


An Elevated Experience For Clients 

The team at Dickson Realty knows that to best serve clients in any market, you need to be someone they can come to for information about the local market. So every agent at Dickson Realty is required to be knowledgeable about the area. 

Reel says, "We are the trusted advisor to our clients, and we are experts in the neighborhoods that we represent." 

Aside from being knowledgeable, one of the most important values at Dickson Realty is providing the highest level of service for their clients. And that means providing them with the best possible experience.

Reel says, "Our tagline is, 'Experience Elevated.' We realize that we can have top agents, we can have top staff, but really, the client experience needs to be elevated to a higher level and it needs to be seamless." 

Committed to Their Communities 

At Dickson Realty, they value the people and the businesses in every community they operate in and are committed to serving those communities as best as possible. And that doesn't stop at real estate transactions.

"We're committed to serving the communities in which we live and work," Reel continues, "And we give back. We put money and time into the initiatives that make our communities better." 

Due to this being such an essential part of their business, everyone at Dickson Realty is involved in serving their communities, and that includes partnering with, and attending events for, numerous local organizations.

"It's a safe bet to say that everyone at Dickson Realty is involved in serving our communities," says Reel. "The company owners, agents, and employees participate at every level of many organizations. From the board of directors of the Community Foundation of Northern Nevada to the restocking of supplies in the Grassroots Karma Box program — and our own Dickson Realty Community Fund  is yet another powerful demonstration of our civic devotion."

Being a leader in their community is such an integral component of the culture and the values that Dickson Realty represents, so they recruit agents who feel similarly. Reel says, "Since being involved in the communities that we serve is a core value, we recruit to that value."

Supporting the Well-Being of Every Agent 

With excellent leadership and an open-door policy coming from the brokers and owners, along with a support staff that's always ready to assist with any problem that comes their way, Dickson Realty shows us that supporting their agents is a top priority. 

"Dickson Realty has the deepest leadership and support bench in the region," remarks Reel. "The owners and brokers have a true open-door policy, and they are always available to support agents on their cell phones. Any agent can contact any broker for help or guidance. Any agent can also contact any of our support staff for help with market research, marketing of listings, or technology support." 

Along with continuous agent support, Dickson offers new hires the opportunity to participate in a mentorship program, one-on-one learning, and group skill-building sessions. When an agent joins the company they are enrolled in Dickson University, a six-week intensive that gives them all the information they need to be a successful member of the Dickson Realty team. 

"We're a learning organization,'' Reel continues, "In addition to our six-week intensive Dickson University for new agents, we have mentoring programs, ongoing classroom and one-on-one learning, and skill-building opportunities. So really, no other real estate company compares with the level of support that's available at Dickson Realty. All of these things work together to help us attract and retain the best agents." 

At Dickson Realty, they follow the Ninja Selling philosophy, which is a unique training system based around building relationships, listening to your customers, and helping them achieve their goals. Refreshers and continued courses on these philosophies are also available for agents. 

Reel says, "In 2000, we embraced the Ninja Selling philosophy and system. Every agent at Dickson Realty goes through a Ninja installation, and several of our agents have attended multiple installations or refreshers. We also coach our agents in weekly interactive meetings on the skills they need to attain mastery in the practice of real estate and mastery in their personal lives." 

Another way Dickson Realty supports its agents is by providing resources for their mental and physical health. They understand that the real estate business can be stressful, especially in times like these where inventory is low and interest rates are rising. And when business is booming, their busy schedules can cause them to neglect their well-being. 

"We're doubling down on the health of our agents," mentions Reel. "For the last two to three years, we've been so busy, and it's also been stressful. So now as the market is normalizing, we're recognizing that our agents are feeling it and we're there to support them." 

The culture at Dickson Realty is team-oriented, which means that the agents are there to offer support to one another. They understand that although real estate may be a competitive field, the way to stand out and be the best is by working together. 

Reel says, "We're a highly collaborative team at Dickson Realty. It's rare in any sales environment, which is competitive by nature. And our collaborative spirit sets us apart from our competitors."

 A Land of Luxury 

Covering a beautiful area with so many amazing luxury homes, it's no surprise that Dickson Realty has its own luxury division, and Dickson Luxury has several partnerships and affiliations, including Luxury Portfolio International®, a global network of over 200 independent brokerages that sells more luxury real estate than any other luxury real estate network. Dickson Realty is proud of where they stand and the progress they've made within that market over the years. 

"We're really proud of our leadership in the luxury real estate market, '' says Reel. "Our involvement with the region's master-planned communities began back in the mid-1980s and continues today. And it helps with our luxury experience and growth in luxury real estate marketing. We were one of the original firms in the '80s to join Great Estates, which later became Christie's Great Estates. And then since 2005, we've been affiliated with Leading Real Estate Companies of the World® and Luxury Portfolio International." 

Having been in the business of luxury for many years, Dickson Realty represents a significant portion of the luxury market share in the Reno-Sparks region. According to Reel, "Today, Dickson Realty represents nearly 45% of home sales over $2 million in the Reno-Sparks metropolitan area and 51% of home sales over $3 million." 

Their success in the luxury division can also be attributed to their marketing strategies, which they believe are key when it comes to marketing luxury homes. When speaking about these strategies, Reel says, "Dickson Realty is data-driven. They include a mix of print, digital search engine advertising, and targeted social media ads to areas where the luxury home buyers are coming from." 

Busy All-Year Round 

Given that Dickson Realty spans several resort towns and areas ideal for any time of year, things don't seem to slow down quite as much as in other locations during winter. It's not just luxurious in the Reno-Lake Tahoe region, it's a hot year-round destination for world-class summer and winter sports and recreation. There's everything from PGA-level golf to hiking, skiing, and mountain biking. 

"The lifestyle of living in the Reno-Truckee-Tahoe area gives us a huge advantage to overcome a slow winter season," says Reel. "While winter does bring a slower sales pace to many parts of the country, we're fortunate to have Lake Tahoe in our backyard and the largest concentration of ski resorts in the lower 48 states." 

Reel also mentions that living in Nevada not only brings a great quality of life but comes with financial benefits as well, noting, "The advantages of living in Nevada can be financial, especially for our neighbors in California. Nevada is a zero-income tax state, and the winter season is when many business owners and high-net-worth individuals are involved in their tax planning strategies." 

Despite serving in such a sought-after area offering many advantages for home buyers and investors, they still experience tough times and slow market conditions. Even in a location like this, nothing is ever certain, especially during an economic downturn.

"Our market does slow down from time to time, and there's certainly uncertainty in geopolitical and economic markets as we've had now for several months," says Reel. "When market conditions turn up or down, our agents are equipped to provide advice to their clients, enabling them to make informed decisions." 

A Tech Partner That Knows What They Need 

When it came to choosing a tech provider, given all the mergers and acquisitions within the industry, Dickson Realty wanted a partner who was committed to not selling — like Delta Media Group® is. It took them a while to find Delta, but they eventually did and couldn't be happier. 

"Our search process started a full year before we came to an agreement with Delta," says Reel. "There's a lot of competition in the space. Aligning with a partner who would commit to not selling out was very important to us." 

Aside from a promise to remain independent, Dickson Realty also wanted to partner with a provider that offered all the tools they needed to be successful in the real estate industry and understood what was needed to best serve clients. 

"In our business, relationships and expertise are key," says Reel. "It's very important to Dickson Realty's leadership that we're aligned with a technology partner that understands our industry, is responsive to our business needs, and is regarded as the go-to expert in providing the tools and resources we need to be successful. It's also important to have a partner that understands and supports our Ninja Selling philosophy of being in flow with our clients." 

Technology That Makes Life Easy 

Dickson Realty recognizes DeltaNET® for the way it ties all of the marketing and lead-generation tools together and integrates with their website. They feel that it helps both their agents and their marketing team, each in different ways. 

Reel says, "The DeltaNET is the centerpiece of our tech stack. The integration of our website with all the tools in the DeltaNET helps our marketing team and our agents on multiple fronts." 

Specifically, they love how it makes staying in touch with clients and prospects so easy and provides them with new ways to market everything from open houses to new listings and recent sales. They also value being able to create automated CMA reports in Delta Pitch, send automated email drip campaigns, and contact customers via SMS text messaging. 

Reel says, "We can easily and automatically stay in touch with prospects and clients while providing relevant content via email, text message, and/or social media. We can easily create CMAs and listing presentations for print and virtual presentations. We can easily market property listings and services with print and e-brochures, social media campaigns, and email blasts announcing new listings, open houses, and new sales." 

Along with being able to stay connected and create marketing materials, they appreciate that they can provide clients with relevant and accurate information on topics they want to know. This is an integral part of their communication with clients, which can be accomplished by automatically creating reports using market data, sending My Customer for Life (MCFL) newsletters, and regularly posting blog content. 

"We focus on being advisors to our clients, providing relevant information and advice, so our clients can make informed decisions about their real estate investments," says Reel. "All the automation tools built into DeltaNET help us disseminate that information and advice, and help us keep the channels of communication open with our prospects and clients." 

Reel believes that having all of these tools that make the agents' lives easier is the reason they have such a high adoption rate of the technology at Dickson Realty. 

"I'm using the word 'easy' a lot here, but this is the word I hear most often from our agents," says Reel. "Having a technology platform that's considered to be easy to learn and easy to use by our agents translates directly into adoption, where we're seeing greater than 50% of our agents logging into the DeltaNET in the first six months." 

Reaching Their Goals With the Help of Delta 

Over the past few years, Dickson Realty has seen great growth and success. One of their goals for the new year is to continue growing and increase their market share even more. 

"Our goals for 2023 include continued growth and success," says Reel. "For three of the past four years, we've increased our market share despite more competition from large corporate real estate companies. We intend to continue our growth trajectory." 

Another goal they have is to continue to recruit agents who represent their brand well and mesh with their culture. Aside from bringing on new agents, they strive to retain their current agents and help them succeed both individually and as a team through continued education and support. 

Reel says, "From 2020 through 2022, we attracted and retained about a quarter of the region's top-producing agents. We're going to continue to recruit agents who fit our culture and want to build upon their success with the top-ranked firm in the area." 

He believes that Delta Media Group is going to play a substantial role in helping them achieve these goals, given that the tools and features provided through DeltaNET supply everything they need to keep leveling up. 

"We're confident that Delta Media Group and the DeltaNET will be key in helping us reach these goals," says Reel. "The depth and variety of the toolkit that Delta Media brings to our company, I believe, is second to none."

Celebrating 50 Years in Business

In 2023, Dickson Realty will celebrate 50 years in business, which is not a small accomplishment. With a long history of success in their rearview, they are always making updates to keep things fresh. 

"As the largest real estate firm in Northern Nevada and the 96th largest independent real estate firm in the country, we're launching a modern, more contemporary brand to take us into the next decade," says Reel. 

One of the keys to their success over the past 50 years has been their consistency in maintaining a high standard of service. Dickson Realty plans to keep this up for the next 50 years, and the next 50 years after that. And this goes beyond the way they treat their customers; it's also the service the staff provides for their agents and that they provide for their communities. 

"We're positioned to continue to provide the same high-level customer service, industry leadership, and community service that Dickson Realty has become known for," says Reel. 

Climbing to New Heights 

By supporting their communities, prioritizing the well-being of every agent, and elevating the customer experience, Dickson Realty has risen to the top of the Reno-Lake Tahoe real estate market. Reel feels that Delta has helped make all of this possible with its significant impact. He encourages others in the industry to try DeltaNET themselves to experience the same impact. 

"I could go on and on and on about how much we love Delta, but to learn about the full impact of what Delta Media can do for a successful real estate company is to experience it," says Reel. "So I encourage anyone who's reading this or who is seeing this and is interested in learning more to schedule a meeting with the Delta team."

Dickson Realty is always climbing to new heights. As they continue to raise their standards even higher, we don't doubt that 2023 will be their best year yet!

September
28

The pandemic changed the way we do many things, and one of those things is how companies train employees. The days of in-office face-to-face training are nearly over, and a new method, virtual training, has been widely adopted. Virtual training is the new norm, but with endless emails and Zoom calls, it's growing tiresome for many people. 

What if there were another way to train your agents and staff virtually that also saved both parties a great deal of time and energy? 

This past spring, Delta released its first-ever training platform: DeltaNET Academy. This unique interactive virtual training platform helps agents get acquainted with their new technology and company practices through slideshows, videos, and even quizzes. And better yet, they can participate on their own schedule. Without needing to commit to attending a training session ahead of time, they can train whenever it's most convenient for them. 

Train Agents with Built-in Courses 

When logging in to DeltaNET Academy for the first time, you'll see that four pre-built courses are already available to get sales associates up-to-date with the DeltaNET and Delta's various marketing and technology offerings. 

These built-in courses include: 

  1. Welcome to the DeltaNET! – This course introduces agents to the DeltaNET and its tools and features. 
  2. Let the DeltaNET Do it for You (Automation) - This course shows agents how DeltaNET uses automation to assist with everything from lead generation to digital marketing. 
  3. Customizing Your Website – This course shows agents how they can custom-create their website using DeltaNET. 
  4. Organizing Your Client Database - This course teaches agents how to organize their client database in DeltaNET. 

        With detailed displays and engaging features, these courses are there to walk your real estate team through the ins and outs of Delta technology, so you don't have to. They are a great way to get your new hires accustomed to using the technology that will set them up to succeed. 

        Custom Create Your Own Courses 

        The built-in courses are just the beginning of DeltaNET Academy. As an admin, you can create custom courses that cater to your company. 

        As the course maker, you are the teacher; you make the curriculum. So, your courses can be about anything you wish — from the office dress code to agent conduct or how agents can market themselves on social media. Designing new courses allows you to tap into your creative side and set the standards for your associates. 

        To create a course in DeltaNET Academy, click "New Course." You can give it a name and choose to whom it will be visible — whether you want it to be for specific agents, offices, or everyone in the organization. Then you will need to add a description of the course. Next, it will take you to the course builder, where you can start designing the course. There you can make multiple "modules," which are like classes. These modules may consist of video content, slides, or both.  

        In the course builder, you can create quizzes for agents to complete at the end of each course. To make a quiz, you just input your questions and possible answers and then mark the correct answer. When making a quiz, you get to decide what percentage of the answers need to be correct for the "student" to pass the quiz. So, depending on the subject and its difficulty level, you can set the bar higher or lower. 

        Courses and modules can easily be rearranged on pages using the system's "drag and drop" feature. And don't worry if it takes you a while to make a course because, in DeltaNET Academy, you can save courses being built as a "draft" and continue to work on them over time. 

        Admins Have Total Control 

        With total control over your courses in DeltaNET Academy, you can assign courses to certain groups and set deadlines. 

        Whether you have a small or large brokerage, you likely want the ability to train agents based on their strengths and weaknesses. Or you may want to assign certain courses to agents or staff in certain geographical areas or that do or don't come into the office. As an admin for DeltaNET Academy, you can choose to whom you assign specific courses. You can even make and assign courses specifically for administrators. That might include training on navigating the admin side of DeltaNET or how to lead a team. 

        When you assign a course, you can also assign a deadline. You can track an agent's progress in a course and see when they finish it by visiting the reports page. There, you will get a list of all your agents, and by clicking on a name, you can see what courses that person is assigned to and what they've completed.  

        Suppose, instead of wanting information on a specific agent, you want to know how many agents have completed or have yet to complete a course. In that case, you can just click on the course preview, which will tell you the names of the agents assigned to it and those who have completed it. 

        Although the platform is called DeltaNET Academy, you have the option to rebrand it for your company with a new name. It's your training platform, so call it what you'd like. You can add new designs and import your logo to match your brand. 

        As an admin, it's your job to activate DeltaNET Academy and create a tile for it to show up on the dashboard for your agents. New tiles can be created by going to the personal side, finding the landing page to which you want to add the tile, then clicking "Edit Tiles" and "Add Tile."  

        Navigation is Simple for Agents 

        Navigation is simple on the agent side. Agents can access Delta Academy through their dashboard in DeltaNET and complete courses with only a few clicks. They can begin a course and come back to it as they please. 

        It's also easy for them to keep track of their courses. When agents log in to DeltaNET Academy, they automatically get a list of the courses they have been assigned, noting what courses have yet to be completed. Next to each course listed is a "start" button for them to click on to start or continue that course. Once they complete a course, it's removed from their list. Aside from having their courses and deadlines listed on their home page, the due dates for their assigned courses will also appear on their calendar, reminding them of what they need to get done. 

        With simple navigation for agents throughout the training platform, your team will be more like-minded than ever. Your real estate team will operate efficiently, and you won't have to worry because everyone will be on the same page.  

        An Even Better Version is Coming 

        Although the platform is already full of awesome features to help your real estate business and its employees thrive, there are always improvements to be made. DeltaNET Academy will soon be launching into phase two, which will be complete with more actions and features to make training your team even better. 

        With this new version, you'll be able to restrict an agent's access to certain features, depending on whether they completed a course. For example, if an agent has not completed the website design course, they can be restricted from making their website until they do. Or, if they have not completed the digital marketing course, they can be blocked from sending email campaigns. 

        Phase two will also include "achievements," which are like badges. These will be displayed on DeltaNET after completing a course. Not only will this feature give associates a sense of accomplishment, but as an admin, you will be able to identify who is trained in what areas based on the presence of these badges. 

        This update will also offer an option to host a "class." So, if multiple agents want to complete a course simultaneously, they can do so by joining the same training event. Attendees then pass the course based on their attendance rather than a test or quiz. That is unless you still wish to give one anyway, which you always have the option to do. 

        Your Agents Will Love DeltaNET Academy 

        DeltaNET Academy is built into the DeltaNET and requires no additional purchase or cost. It's entirely free; no surprises or hidden fees.  

        So, instead of stressing over getting all your agents together for a Zoom call and checking to see that everyone shows up and pays attention, start designing courses through DeltaNET Academy and see if it improves your company's operations. Odds are, it will. 

        October
        13

        With the launch of DeltaNET 7, it's an exciting time to be a real estate professional. Using the feedback of thousands of agents and brokers from all over the United States, we've fine-tuned DeltaNET 7 to deliver better ease of use, no matter your level of experience or comfort with technology. There's never been a better time to get started and fold DeltaNET 7 into your daily operations. 

        One of the biggest innovations of DeltaNET 7 is the introduction of the role-based system. This will transform your workflow, tailoring your interaction with the platform to your exact goals and needs. 

        What Is the Role-Based System? 

        The role-based system expands on the former concept of Agent Packages. However, instead of being limited to pre-set options, you can create customized roles for every team member. Administrators can set roles for individuals or groups, specifying which pages appear for each agent who holds a given role. Roles are essentially an expansion of "privileges," meaning you can set any user to an account type of agent, office, or management user. You can then apply a privilege level to them that determines whether they can access only their personal side or have access to the admin side. Roles can also be set for non-agent roles within your company, such as an office manager or broker. 

        With this technology, the pages an agent has access to will show up in both their top bar and sidebar. Not only can you customize each role's selection of pages, but you're also able to adjust how the page's navigation works. This means a fully granular experience aligned with each user's expertise. 

        All in all, a role-based system means the DeltaNET 7 CRM is truly future-proof. It can change and adapt based on your team and its objectives. The administration is so simple; it takes only minutes to adjust roles. And support is always only a click or call away. 

        The Benefits of a Role-Based System 

        Everything in DeltaNET 7's role-based system can be customized to work for your team. So, users never comb through features that aren't relevant to them, and building skills with individual pages is easier than ever before. Even those who aren't experienced with CRM systems can quickly learn what they need to know. 

        Agents who are completely new to DeltaNET 7 can get off to a running start with custom roles that cut out clutter and confusion. They won't need to sort through unnecessary features or hunt around for the right button — each role is streamlined to include only what the user needs to succeed. Your CRM administrators can update roles anytime, and changes occur instantly, empowering leaders to develop roles for newcomers, experienced professionals, and specialists.  

        For example, DeltaNET 7 roles can coincide with the roles in your company, like "Office Manager," "Agent," or "Broker." No matter how your organizational chart evolves, your CRM changes with it! 

        Roles Can Cater to Different Tech Levels 

        The guiding principle behind DeltaNET 7's design is to simplify and streamline the system. That doesn't mean making it less powerful — on the contrary, you'll spend less time and fewer clicks getting to those powerful features you use daily. That serves to flatten the learning curve for users of all skill levels. 

        Agents who only need the most common CRM features can get off to a running start using the pre-configured "Basic" role. Our testing tells us it only takes a day for the average "non-tech savvy" user to get familiar with this role. 

        By contrast, power users and team members interested in getting the most out of the technology will want to try out the "Advanced" role. Here, they can leverage all the tools DeltaNET 7 has to offer. The toolbars, modules, and pages are more sophisticated and provide granular access to deeper features. 

        Customization also helps agents take gradual steps towards mastery of the system. You may choose to define roles based on the technical skill of your team members and make DeltaNET part of your efforts to drive talent development throughout your organization. 

        The Role-Based System Benefits All Users 

        With a role-based system, everyone benefits — no matter how confident you are with technology. DeltaNET 7 raises efficiency both individually and for the whole team. The role-based system is just one of many exciting improvements incorporated into the rollout of DeltaNET 7. 

        October
        3

        Get ready to unlock a whole new level of creativity and convenience.  

        Say hello to Delta Create! This suite of creative tools allows you to easily create marketing materials, messages to clients, listing brochures, and more, all in one place. Start with a template, customize it to suit your unique needs, and exercise your creativity with time-saving features that leave you more time to serve your clients.  

        Let's take a deeper dive into what you can expect from Delta Create and a closer look at some of the features that will help you grow your real estate brand. 

        Why Delta Create is Valuable to Your Real Estate Brand 

        Branding is an essential element of success in real estate, whether you're an individual agent or overseeing a large brokerage. Potential clients want real estate services from a brand they can trust, so the quality of your marketing materials and outreach ultimately makes a big difference in earning their business. 

        Put yourself in the prospect's shoes. Are you choosing a company with DIY marketing materials that look like they were created with a computer from the 1990s? Or would you be more interested in a brand that promotes itself with professional, polished, modern marketing materials that stand out for all the right reasons? High-quality marketing inspires confidence. 

        Design is essential to producing marketing that turns heads, generates leads, and earns business. If you want marketing that puts your brand in the best possible light, you need the right tools. Delta Create puts all the design tools you need at your fingertips and allows you to quickly create marketing materials like a pro. 

        Just as importantly, Delta Create doesn't limit you to one template or style. Start with a pre-designed template as your base, then customize it to suit the unique needs of your real estate brand and stand out from the crowd. When you combine creativity with customization and convenience, you have everything you need to grow your brand. 

        Get to Know the Features of Delta Create 

        The key word to remember with Delta Create is customization. The tools within Delta Create offer the perfect mix of customization and time-saving templates that empower you to make your marketing materials your own. Here are some of the tools that will make your life easier while giving your brand a boost — with outreach to both current clients and fresh leads. 

        • eCards for Every Occasion  

        Staying in touch is critical to retaining clients' business over time, and Delta Create makes it easy to create customized eCards for all of the biggest moments in life. Create cards for birthdays, anniversaries, holidays, and so much more in one place. Stay top of mind so clients will think of you first when they — or someone they know — has a real estate need in the future. 

        • Easily Create Flyers 

        Get the word out with customized flyers that you can design within Delta Create and send directly to your local print shop. Have them delivered right back to your door without ever leaving the office. 

        • Build Your Own Social Media Graphics 

        When it comes to shareable content on social media, few things can top a timely, creatively designed image. Design professional-quality graphics within Delta Create by uploading your own images and customizing each key detail. Whether you're promoting a property, sharing useful data, or informing your audience about your brand, Delta Create truly is your one-stop shop for all your design needs. 

        • Conveniently Create Stunning Property Listing Brochures 

        You want your listing brochures to make a memorable first impression, and designing distinctive listing brochures is easier than ever with Delta Create. Handle the entire brochure design process from start to finish by uploading photos, customizing the brochure, and automatically pulling key info from the property listing page. Show off your listings to generate interest in properties and show leads that you'll go the extra mile when you're marketing their listing. 

        • Easy to Use Email Templates 

        We know you don't want to spend all day sending emails and coming up with the perfect words to say. That's why Delta Create has tons of pre-designed email templates that simplify the steps of sending the right message at the right time. You can customize each template to suit your needs and your brand. Make every email pop, and save time in the process! 

        Look Out for More Exciting Features and Updates in DeltaNET 7

        Delta Create is just one of the many exciting updates included in DeltaNET 7. With new features, updates to existing features, and plenty of small changes, DeltaNET 7 was built to make your life easier. But don't worry; all the existing features and functionality you love will still be there waiting for you — and they'll be even more powerful for growing your real estate brand. 

        September
        26

        From Instagram and Facebook to LinkedIn and Google, Paid Media Marketing can help you gain new leads and recruit top talent. 

        Everybody knows that in this day and age, digital marketing is the key to business success. However, that's only if it's done right. Your ability to gain traction online can make or break your real estate business. That's why you need Delta Media Group's® Paid Media Marketing Services. 

        The Benefits of Paid Marketing 

        There are many benefits to paid marketing that you won't get through organic media posting. Having the right message and good-looking graphics can only take you so far if they aren't shown to the right audience — or even worse, they aren't reaching an audience at all. You may think posting to your feed on social media is enough, but your lack of leads likely begs to differ. Organic posts on social media are only shown to approximately 2-3% of your followers and rarely to anyone who isn't following you. Plus, your ads are almost guaranteed to get buried in their feed and never resurface. With paid ads, your content never gets buried at the bottom and is directly shown to those looking for the real estate services you provide. 

        Even if you have a well-designed website and some great listings, prospects won't find you immediately. With Google Ads, your ads find them. Utilizing audience targeting and keyword research, paid ads are sure to reach the right demographic, allowing you to quickly and effectively land new leads by positioning your brand in front of high-value customers.  

        Why Choose Delta for Paid Media? 

        Now that you're sold on the benefits of paid marketing, you might still be wondering why you should work with Delta as your paid media provider. First, Delta Media Group is a Certified Google Ads Partner, one of only a few hundred in the United States to be recognized for our high ad performance. With Delta's top-tier technology, your website connects automatically to your Google Ads account, Facebook Business Manager, and Google Analytics, so everything seamlessly works together. 

        When choosing Delta, you get the assistance of leading real estate technology and the knowledge of a licensed Realtor® and Paid Media Strategist. We use the most up-to-date marketing practices, keeping an eye on what ads are working for brokers and agents across the country. We also invest in privacy to keep you ahead of the curve. 

        The experience of working with Delta for paid media is extremely hands-off, giving you more time to focus on conducting business elsewhere. Similar to our other tech offerings, you can "set it and forget it." Our specialists will take care of all the rest. However, unlike third-party agencies you rarely communicate with, you're never left in the dark with your paid advertising efforts when working with Delta. Although we do the heavy lifting for you, as a family-owned business, we also understand the value of communicating with our customers. When you choose to work with us, you will receive one-on-one care from our specialists and have regular calls or Zoom meetings to discuss your campaign progress and goals. Additionally, unlike most third-party agencies, no long-term contract is required for our paid media services. We operate on a month-to-month basis. 

        Another benefit of working with Delta is having everything — from your CRM to your website and digital marketing toolkit — in one place. Having to piece together different providers is not only a hassle but can also hinder your marketing efforts. When working with an all-in-one provider, there's no need to go anywhere else.  

        Get to Know Our Paid Media Specialist, Winston Widdes 

        Winston Widdes has impressive credentials as a digital marketer and 17 years of experience as a licensed Realtor®. He knows the ins and outs of both paid advertising and the real estate industry. 

        Winston's grandfather was a builder and contractor; his father worked for their family's construction business. Since working in the industry seemed to be a family tradition, in 1998, Winston started an apprenticeship with a real estate flipper. Then in 2005, he got licensed as a Realtor®, joining Century 21 Award in San Diego, CA. During his time at Century 21, Winston quickly learned that the way to become a top producer in real estate was to have great marketing. His hard work and skilled marketing efforts ultimately landed him the titles of Top Producing Agent and Top Listing Agent in 2007, just two years after starting his career. 

        "I was always looking for a way to become a top producer, to do the best I could and get an edge over my competition, and I discovered that marketing was the way to do that," said Winston. 

        Leveraging the skills he acquired throughout his time in real estate, in 2009, Winston transitioned into marketing. He began working as a Marketing Manager for a kitchen and bathroom remodeling company. There, he first gained experience with paid advertising by managing ads on Google, Yelp, and various other platforms. Three years later, in 2012, Winston started working with real estate investors, and in 2016, he started working for FortuneBuilders, a real estate investment consulting firm owned by the stars of HGTV's "Flip This House." In this role, Winston worked as an Internet Marketing Consultant for real estate investors. During his time at FortuneBuilders, he completed over 6,000 consulting calls. 

        Pick the Package That's Right for You 

        Delta's Paid Media Marketing Services include four different marketing package options. Paid Media Marketing packages can be purchased as an add-on to your digital marketing toolkit in DeltaNET®. Let's look at what they are and what they have to offer. 

        Google Ads for Buyers and Sellers - With Google Ads for buyers and sellers, you get custom-made targeted ads for potential buyers and sellers in your area displayed throughout the internet. These ads will increase brand awareness, drive your website traffic, and earn you new leads and customers. 

        Luxury Listing Ads on Google - Do you have luxury listings struggling to reach the right audience? Get your listings seen by high-end customers seeking a new home through targeted Google Ads, and start seeing your luxury homebuyer leads skyrocket. 

        Facebook & Instagram Ads – The average online user spends about 2.5 hours daily on social media. Instead of only showing your ads to a select few people with organic social media postings, touch tons of prospective buyers and sellers through targeted posts on Instagram and Facebook. If you're already creating content to post organically, you can see what might perform the best and use that for your paid ads or have our team create your ads for you! 

        LinkedIn Recruiting Ads – Recruiting top talent is an important part of growing your business. With LinkedIn Recruiting Ads, reach a whole new pool of talented real estate professionals and those new to the industry looking to join a team like yours. Through using precise market data, multiple ad formats, sponsored content, text ads, sponsored InMail, and dynamic ads, we help you recruit talent by bringing your brand front and center. 

        Start Reaching the Right Audience 

        While Delta's paid media services cover many different aspects of marketing, each tool is tailored for the same express purpose of reaching the right audience. Every process step is finely tuned and accounted for, from creating marketing materials sure to spark engagement to customizing your ads to speak to your ideal customers. Not only is everything taken care of for you, but it's performed by an expert who knows how to get you results. When trying to do it yourself, you will likely need to do more trial and error and waste time researching and learning how to design a good ad. By allowing us to handle your paid advertising, you'll have more time to focus on other areas of your real estate business.  

        To start using Delta's Paid Media Marketing Services and reach the right audience, contact Franklin Stoffer at sales@deltagroup.com. 

        October
        31

        As a real estate brokerage in the digital age, you need a well-rounded CRM that's simple for sales associates of varying tech levels to navigate — and that's DeltaNET® 7. 

        One of the primary goals for Delta when creating DeltaNET 7 was to be something that worked for ALL agents, not just the less than 10% who consider themselves tech-savvy. In doing this, Delta Media Group® updated its CRM platform to provide more of an app-like experience for users. 

        Pages are Simplified in DeltaNET 7 

        Taking customer feedback into account, the pages are simplified in DeltaNET 7. There's no more endless scrolling; instead, they're organized with widgets, filters, and thumbnails. Plus, with a mobile mentality, you can easily navigate them on the go through your smartphone or tablet.  

        For example, the Traffic Report and Calendar Module pages have been condensed, eliminating unnecessary content. Also, responding to leads is as simple as clicking a button — just choose between a call, text, or email icon and type your message. 

        The email campaign page in DeltaNET 7 has been simplified as well. Now, you can see what campaigns are active and which are not. You can even see which ones you created and which were created by Delta. This page will also tell you when the campaign ends and allows you to chain on and send a new campaign when the current one ends. 

        The Role-Based System Eliminates Confusion 

        With DeltaNET 7, we're introducing the role-based system. This change allows admins to control which links, pages, and features are available in the DeltaNET on a per-agent basis for further customization. Also, "default roles" can be applied to any user, eliminating the need to build roles from scratch.  

        The role-based system is there to reduce clutter and confusion within the DeltaNET. By setting specific roles, agents know what features to use and are not bogged down with extra buttons. They can easily locate and navigate those key features with a streamlined dashboard. 

        Although many agents wish to have only a few features in their DeltaNET to keep things simple, that doesn't mean agents who want to do more have to be limited. If you have some tech-savvy agents who want to utilize as many tools at their disposal as possible, they still can. That's the beauty of being able to cater to each individual user. 

        DeltaNET Academy is There to Train You 

        Although everything is simplified in DeltaNET 7, that doesn't mean you'll automatically know how to use it. And that's okay. Like anything in life, DeltaNET 7 requires learning. That said, you can easily learn how to use the updated CRM with training through DeltaNET Academy. DeltaNET Academy, Delta's virtual training platform, is already integrated into DeltaNET 7, so training can be completed without ever leaving the system. 

        DeltaNET Academy is equipped with built-in courses designed by our technical support team, who consistently make updates and build new ones. These courses provide training in areas such as navigating the DeltaNET and its features, creating your agent website, and more. Along with these pre-provided courses, admins can create new courses to educate their agents on company policies and Delta technology.  

        Leverage the Help Center 

        DeltaNET 7 also features a help center. So, if you want the answer to a question and don't want to sit through a whole training course, you can use this convenient resource and find the answer in just a few seconds. All you have to do is type your question in the search bar at the top of the page. You can also search by categories already listed on the page. Either way, a list of articles and videos with the answer to your question will be generated automatically. Finally, look through the content provided to find your answer. 

        Visit Our YouTube Channel 

        Another valuable resource for getting accustomed to your new technology is the Delta Media Group YouTube channel. This comprehensive channel is full of webinars, Tech Tuesday videos, and other content to help you better understand how to navigate the DeltaNET. 

        If you aren't familiar with Tech Tuesday, these are videos Delta Media Group uploads every Tuesday, demonstrating a specific feature or function. Voiced by Harley Wolfarth, Delta's Product and Technology Manager, these brief yet informative videos are perfect for visualizing and refreshing your knowledge of the tools and features you use daily. Some examples of Tech Tuesday videos include demonstrations on how to set up your blog system, change your settings in Social Connector, or send My Customer for Life (MCFL) email newsletters.  

        Our YouTube channel isn't the only place to find updates and new information about Delta products. Our social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn, are also great resources for staying in the know. With blog posts and daily announcements, you can continue learning about DeltaNET 7 and how to get the most out of your technology.  

        A Provider That's Approachable 

        Over the past two years, the Delta Media Group team has been focused on creating an approachable platform for all agents. We wanted to construct a technology that everyone would feel comfortable using. We want your business to succeed, and we know that the easier it is to use the tools you need, the more you'll get out of them.  

        Even though this next generation of the DeltaNET has arrived, as always, we will be looking ahead to the generations to come. As an independent, family-owned company, we aim to satisfy our customers and provide the best platform possible for all its users. 

        October
        17

        The #1 real estate CRM has never been more simplified, more automated, or more customizable. 

        Just as your iPhone or MacBook needs an upgrade every few years, so does your CRM. Give your tech platform an upgrade with DeltaNET 7, the all-in-one solution made simple for all agents, no matter their tech level. 

        DeltaNET 7 gives you what you need to grow your business. It allows you to be powerful, be efficient, be creative, be reliable, and be different. Featuring new products like Delta Pitch, Delta Create, and DeltaNET Academy, with DeltaNET 7, there's more you can do than ever before.  

        How It All Started 

        Dating back to its early days in 1993, Delta Media Group® has been a pioneer in real estate technology. It all began when Wayne Mangold founded the Delta Group company in Beaverton, Oregon, with the vision of bringing real estate information out into the world. Remember that this was before the invention of Google and well before smartphones. So, online real estate listings and agent marketing felt like mere dreams for the future. Nevertheless, Delta created new technology for those in the industry to begin posting their listings online.  

        In 1994, the company served numerous clients across the country as they aggregated MLS data feeds that included property photos. Years later, in 1997, Mangold brought on a new partner, and together they were solely invested in growing the company and taking the technology to a larger scale. They created Delta Doors, the groundwork for the DeltaNET® we have today. 

        In 1998, Mangold partnered with Chi Chi Cao, re-branded the company as TigerFly Inc., and moved the business headquarters to Sunnyvale, California. TigerFly operated as a business-to-business provider. They had two goals in mind: to help real estate brokerages and franchises take their business online and to build an online MLS platform or e-commerce platform that the brokerage would own and control. 

        Two years later, Delta's current CEO, Michael Minard, and three other partners bought TigerFly. They moved the business to Barberton, Ohio, and re-branded it once again, creating Delta Media Group. Delivering the perfect setup for success, Minard came from the tech industry, while the other three partners brought in knowledge from the real estate industry. Minard changed the windows server that TigerFly had in place for their platform to .NET; thus, the DeltaNET CRM was born. 

        DeltaNET Through the Years 

        The DeltaNET has come a long way since its inception almost 22 years ago. Starting as a simple way for brokerages to list properties online, it evolved into one of the most comprehensive marketing and technology platforms available on the market. And innovation never stops. 

        In 2001, as part of DeltaNET® 2, the first version of the lead routing, lead management, and lead distribution platform was formed and integrated into the technology. From 2001-2008, Delta focused on growth within the company and its technology. Accepting and implementing client feedback became a huge priority for Delta, as it still is today. 

        Between 2008 and 2016, Delta Media Group worked tirelessly to implement automation, incorporating Artificial Intelligence (AI) into DeltaNET for the first time. Then in 2017, soon after Minard became 100% owner of the company, DeltaNET® 5 launched, followed by DeltaNET® 5.1 in 2018. 

        A year later, in 2019, Delta implemented its real-time data translation platform, becoming the only provider on a national level to sync real-time with MLS data. That same year, Ad Wizard and Open House Connector® were created and added to the growing toolkit in DeltaNET. 

        DeltaNET® 6 launched in 2020, with new features such as SMS text messaging and email drip campaigns. Patent-pending Quick Actions were also launched in tandem with DeltaNET 6, giving users a quick and simple way to perform daily tasks in the system. Creative Studio was introduced as well, providing agents the ability to design graphics and make custom marketing materials like eCards, flyers, property listing brochures, and more.  

        The Arrival of DeltaNET 7  

        Now, the next generation of real estate technology is here. Providing the same functionality as DeltaNET 6, with a new interface and workflow, DeltaNET 7 is more simplified, more automated, and more customizable. It's easy to use, allows for creativity, and leads the way with the latest trends in real estate marketing and technology.  

        Simplification 

        Comprised of all the products and features you already find indispensable, DeltaNET 7 is simpler to use because instead of catering to the 10% of tech-savvy agents, it's built for the other 90% who aren't. Here are some of the ways in which DeltaNET 7 has been simplified: 

        • Enjoy an App-like Experience 

        With a mobile-first mentality, DeltaNET 7 is more of an app-like experience. Whether you're using it on a phone, tablet, or desktop computer, your toolbar is streamlined to only include the actions you need. 

        • Simply Navigate Pages 

        We take customer feedback very seriously at Delta, and one issue we heard often was that in DeltaNET 6, there was seemingly endless scrolling on many pages. With DeltaNET 7, there's barely any scrolling necessary, as tabs are used to organize pages. A uniform filter icon is also displayed throughout the entire platform to sort through nearly anything you want.  

        • Plan Ahead with the Calendar Module 

        The Calendar Module is one page in particular that will be much simpler in DeltaNET 7. Previously the calendar did not fit on one page and required scrolling to see what events you had coming up. Now, the calendar not only fits on one page but is far more organized and easier to read, helping you plan better for the week or month ahead.  

        • Easily Manage Your Listings 

        Managing your listings is also much simpler with DeltaNET 7. Instead of having a table list view on the page, there are now thumbnails for all the properties you have listed. So, rather than having to scroll through them to find the one you're looking for, you can easily locate and manage any listing by clicking on the thumbnail. 

        • Stay Up to Date on Company News 

        Another efficient upgrade you'll find in DeltaNET 7 is on the Company News page. Instead of scrolling, company news is now shown in boxes, appearing like a calendar, with the option to filter updates by date instead of searching for them.  

        • Easily Edit Your Agent Profile 

        Navigation on the agent profile page is made simple with a workflow that allows you to quickly jump into different sections — such as your website, social media, or phone numbers. Before this, in DeltaNET 6, you would need to scroll through various boxes to find the section you were looking for. 

        • Manage Your Open Houses Using Open House Connector®

        The latest version of Open House Connector makes it almost effortless to manage your open houses. Through this app, customers can find all the information they need on your open house and easily sign up. It then provides you with a list of attendees and their contact information to follow up and stay in touch with following the open house. Also, you can create a quick survey for customers to take after the open house. This information will help you identify the strengths, weaknesses, and level of interest in the property for sale. The settings in Open House Connector can be easily managed as well, allowing you to turn specific features on and off. 

        • Simplify Navigation with the Role-Based System 

        The role-based system makes navigating DeltaNET 7 more comprehendible for everyone. With this change, admins can set default "roles" for their agents, which can be basic or more involved based on what that agent needs. They can also create new, customized roles for agents, brokers, or other positions within the company. Agents will only see the pages and features that match their role with this system, eliminating confusion.  

        • Storage is Simplified with CloudDelta 

        Similar to popular platforms like Dropbox and Google Drive, CloudDelta is a file storage system built into the DeltaNET. This system eliminates the need for a third party to store all your files, and it's as easy as ever with DeltaNET 7. 

        Automation 

        Nearly everything is automated in DeltaNET 7, saving you and your team valuable time. Here are some ways in which automation is used to assist you in DeltaNET 7: 

        • Send Automated Smart Drip Email Campaigns 

        Smart Drip Email Campaigns are automated campaigns you can send with already prepared emails for buyers, sellers, and homeowners. No matter where the client is in their homeownership journey, these campaigns will ensure that you'll be the first person they call whenever they need something. 

        • Send My Customer for Life (MCFL) Automated Newsletters 

        At Delta, we know that staying in touch with customers can be difficult, especially when you have a laundry list of other tasks to get through. That's why we created MCFL. From homeowner tips to guidance for new buyers and advice for selling your home, MCFL newsletters include the information your customers want to know. And with new newsletters published weekly, there is never a shortage of creative content to choose from. MCFL newsletters are pre-written by Delta's amazing content writers, so all you have to do is send them out to your mailing list.  

        • Share Social Media Posts Using Social Connector 

        To attract new clients and keep your existing network up to date on all your latest endeavors, you can automatically share posts on social media using Social Connector. With Social Connector, you can share anything from new property listings to open house information and other news without ever having to leave the DeltaNET.  

        • Automatically Pull Client Testimonials from Social Media 

        Positive customer reviews are a proven way to land new clients, so you'll surely want to show them off. DeltaNET 7 can pull client testimonials from your social media accounts through automation. They can then be displayed on your website for visitors to see. 

        • Automatically Create a CMA Report with Delta Pitch 

        With Delta Pitch, Delta's Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) tool, you can automatically create a CMA in just two clicks. Plus, when a potential seller visits the AVM page on your website, they can fill out a form to request a CMA. From there, the CMA will automatically be created for them and sent to you as a flipbook for you to present to them. Providing a simple way to impress sellers with your knowledge of the current market, Delta Pitch is guaranteed to land you new listings.  

        • Send Auto-Generated Market Watch Reports  

        There is also an opportunity in DeltaNET 7 to generate branded Market Watch Reports. These auto-generated reports can be created in seconds using informative data on housing market trends, average home prices, recent sales, and more. 

        • Send Customers the Latest Listings with My HomeFinder 

        Through My HomeFinder, you can provide your clients and leads with the most up-to-date information on homes for sale in the cities and neighborhoods they're looking to buy in. It even allows you to track user activity to see who's been browsing and what listings caught their eye. 

        • Send Auto-Generated Seller Reports 

        Seller Reports are also auto-generated. These reports show clients how you've been marketing their homes. Sent weekly, Seller Reports include information such as a traffic report for their listing, the current listing price, any pending sales, and comparable listings. 

        • Manage Your Workflow with Auto-Generated To-Do Lists 

        To manage your daily workflow and help you stay organized, DeltaNET 7 has the ability to make you an automated to-do list. Through this list, you will be reminded what leads to follow up with and when based on customer interaction on your website. 

        Customization 

        DeltaNET 7 is highly customizable, giving you the power to take charge and be in control. Here are some ways in which customization comes into play with DeltaNET 7: 

        • Custom Design Your DeltaNET 

        As an admin in DeltaNET 7, you can white-label the entire platform, giving you total control over the design and navigation. You can change anything from the colors to the name. If you don't want the platform to be called DeltaNET, it doesn't have to be. You can name it whatever you want and refer to it that way internally within your company. Our partner success managers are here to help you create your own unique version of DeltaNET that works best for you. 

        • Customize Your Website 

        Along with customizing your DeltaNET, you can custom-create a beautiful website in DeltaNET 7 to attract new customers and show off your brand. Delta websites are not only pleasing to the eye, but they're easy to navigate and have all the tools you need, providing you with the ability to post property listings, open house information, client testimonials, and so much more. 

        • Create Custom Blog Posts 

        You can custom-create blog posts to share with customers through DeltaNET 7 as well. Whether you want to give recommendations for local spots in the area, give new homebuyers a checklist of everything they need to know, or give your opinion about the rise or decline in interest rates, you can do so through your blog. And better yet, Delta's talented content writers are always available to consistently write and publish new blog posts for you.  

        • Customize Training Courses with DeltaNET Academy 

        In DeltaNET Academy, you can custom-create training courses for your agents. Although the virtual training platform has pre-designed courses for just about everything you need to know inside DeltaNET 7, admins can design new courses for their associates related to anything in their business. Courses include customizable slides, videos, and quizzes to teach your team and test their knowledge. Admins can also assign and set due dates for specific agents or groups. 

        • Custom Design CMA Reports Using Delta Pitch 

        Delta Pitch allows for customization with the templates and presentations you can create for CMA reports. Delta Pitch is not just a CMA builder; it's an entire presentation builder. Once you create a CMA, it will be integrated into a beautifully curated flipbook. You can customize your flipbook by choosing from pre-made templates and adding and deleting pages as you please. Then, when you're satisfied with the final product, send it to the customer, and schedule a Zoom call to present it. With your presentation skills, market knowledge, and stunning flipbook, when the potential seller decides they're ready to list their home, you'll be the first person they call. 

        • Create Custom Graphics in Delta Create 

        In Delta Create, you can do everything from design posts for social media and create property listing brochures to make flyers and eCards to send to customers. With pre-designed templates, designing new graphics and marketing materials is simplified, just like everything in DeltaNET 7. 

        Transitioning to DeltaNET 7 

        If you've been a long-time customer of Delta Media Group, then you likely know how the transition works — as it will be similar to the transition from DeltaNET 5 to DeltaNET 6. If not, you should know that the transition is seamless and requires little action on your end. 

        DeltaNET 7 can be enabled on a per-user or per-office basis, so not everyone in your company has to transition simultaneously. That way, if you wish to at first only turn it on for office managers, you can do so, and they can get accustomed to it before your agents begin to use it. 

        When transferring to DeltaNET 7, not only do most of the products you already use transfer over but so does all your data. Everything from your leads to your history and custom emails and templates will transfer over with you so that nothing will be lost. By transferring everything over for you, the transition will have little to no disruption for your business. 

        With tools like DeltaNET Academy, the help center, and Delta's YouTube channel, all the information you need to get started is already at your disposal. If you want to learn how to use a certain tool or feature, it's as simple as taking a course in DeltaNET Academy. And if you have a specific question, type it in at the top of the help center page, and a list of articles and videos on the topic will automatically pop up. Check out our Tech Tuesday videos, which can be found on our YouTube channel and our social media. In these videos, Delta's Product and Technology Manager, Harley Wolfarth, demonstrates how to use different features in the DeltaNET each week.   

        There is also no risk with transitioning to DeltaNET 7 because in the unlikely event you're not happy with it, you can always turn off the update and stick with DeltaNET 6. It's your choice. Just like with everything in DeltaNET 7, you have the power. 

        Take Advantage of the All-in-One Platform 

        With more you can do than ever before, DeltaNET 7 has everything you need to keep up with current real estate trends. And better yet, it's all in one convenient, easy-to-navigate place. From digital marketing tools like MCFL and Social Connector to managing your listing and prepping for open houses with Open House Connector, DeltaNET 7 is a one-stop destination for all your real estate business needs. Leveraging artificial intelligence, the CRM allows you to work smarter, not harder. 

        Delta Media Group designed the DeltaNET 7 interface just for you, based on your feedback from DeltaNET 6. Our goal was to simplify the technology you already know and love, further improving your day-to-day operations. Start using DeltaNET 7 immediately and take advantage of the simplest, most automated, and most customizable all-in-one CRM on the market today. It will change your business for the better. 

         

        October
        6

        Delta Media Group® is taking CMA reports to the next level with its automated custom CMA and presentation builder, Delta Pitch. 

        This past May, Delta Media Group launched Delta Pitch. Being completely automated and customizable, this Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) and presentation builder goes hand-in-hand with DeltaNET® 7. Leveraging high-tech automation to generate accurate CMA reports you can present to customers, Delta Pitch is here to help you connect with and impress new leads. This can be accomplished with just a few clicks. 

        How Does Delta Pitch Work? 

        There are two different ways automated CMAs can be generated using Delta Pitch. The first is when a prospective seller visits your website's Automated Valuation Model (AVM) page and fills out a form requesting a CMA. The other is by creating one as an agent in the backend. 

        If a customer requests a CMA through the AVM page on your website, not only will a new lead be created in DeltaNET, but you will automatically be sent links to the auto-generated flipbook and PDF with the completed CMA. Then you can send it back to the customer and schedule a Zoom call to present the beautiful CMA report and dazzle them with your presentation skills. 

        To create the CMA in the backend, when you open Delta Pitch, under "Find Your Property," there will be an option to enter the property address or MLS ID number as well as the name of the customer you're making the CMA for. Enter those fields accordingly, and if the customer is not already in the system, you can add them by clicking "Add New Customer." You can even leave the customer field blank and add in the customer's name at a later time. Then, click "Create CMA," and it will automatically generate a CMA report with comps pulled from public record data. Finally, you can share it with the customer. 

        With Delta Pitch, all your CMA reports are stored in one place, where you can edit and keep track of all the ones you've created and previously sent. You can filter the CMAs by the customer, too, by visiting their profile. 

        Customize Your CMA with Pre-Designed Templates 

        Agents can customize a CMA report in Delta Pitch by choosing from pre-designed templates. Included with Delta Pitch are three pre-made templates for CMA flipbooks catered to your company's brand — integrating the color scheme and logo. However, these templates are customizable with the option to make changes to the content. For example, every pre-made CMA template has an introductory paragraph on the first page that, as the agent, you can edit or rewrite yourself. This page is meant to introduce you as an agent so that the first thing the lead sees when they open the flipbook is who you are and how they can get in touch with you.  

        With these pre-made templates, you also have the option to edit and customize the comps and report data. You can add, delete, and reorder pages using "drag and drop" or the drop-down menu, depending on if you're on a computer or using the mobile app. You can even set a template as your "default template." In that case, the system automatically uses that template to create the CMA, whether a customer requests it through the AVM page or you create it yourself. So, if you like a particular design, you can continue to use it for every CMA you make. 

        Although Delta Pitch comes prepared with these pre-made templates designed by the Delta team, admins can also create templates. If you're an admin, you can create new templates for your agents and customize everything from the colors to the page layouts and images. And if you already have a CMA report template saved on your computer as a PDF, you can upload it to Delta Pitch and generate the same template in the system to add to the portfolio for your agents to choose from. It's in your control as the admin to grant agents access to certain templates and designate whether or not a template allows for customization. CMA templates can always be saved as a draft and finished at a later time.  

        Get Started Using Delta Pitch 

        Like all Delta products, Delta Pitch is integrated into the DeltaNET®. It's included with all of Delta's digital marketing packages; however, you can still purchase the product as an add-on without a digital marketing package. Once you purchase Delta Pitch, you have the authority as an admin to choose when to launch Delta Pitch for your agents. You can do so by going to your settings and clicking "yes" or "no" to enable it in the system. You also have the option to only enable Delta Pitch for specific agents and offices.  

        Innovation is never ending at Delta Media Group. As we do with all our products, with Delta Pitch, we will accept your feedback and use it to improve the product over time. We will continue to grow it and integrate new features as we see fit.  

        Delta Pitch helps agents share their market knowledge with leads, gaining new listings without sacrificing time. Reach out today to activate Delta Pitch and begin custom-creating CMA reports that will inspire leads with just two clicks. It won't take long before you start seeing the benefits it can have for your real estate business. 

        To get a quote and activate Delta Pitch for your business, contact Franklin Stoffer at sales@deltagroup.com. 

        October
        24

        When designing a good interface, the trick is not to get too hung up on the interface itself. When you think about designing an interface, you specifically think about the settings it needs to change and the functions it needs to perform. In the end, you find yourself with something very functional but not particularly useful. The best interfaces are as close to invisible as possible. This allows the user to focus on what they need to do instead of how they need to interact with the interface to do it.  

        Look at thermostats, for example. A designer thinking about the interface makes a functional device with up and down buttons to change the temperature, a button to turn it on and off, a switch to change it from heating to cooling, and maybe it displays the current time somewhere just for fun. The really fancy ones might include a calendar display to let you set it to change the temperature automatically based on the time of day or day of the week.  

        If, instead, you think about the task the user needs to perform or the overall purpose of the device, you start to look beyond the interface itself, and you might design something very different. You can see an example of this in the "smart" thermostats that many people are starting to use. Instead of looking at the actions the device needs to perform, they looked at what the end user is ultimately trying to accomplish and the specific problem they're trying to solve. They want to be comfortable. What's more, they want to be comfortable without using more energy than they need to, not just in terms of how much actual energy is needed to heat and cool their home, but how much energy they spend manipulating the thermostat's interface to get it to do what they want. This mentality gave us a device consisting primarily of a target temperature display and a knob to change it.

        Additional settings allow for customization, but they're tucked away in the background as something users rarely need to interact with, if at all. The device keeps track of your schedule and whether or not you're home, determining when to maintain a comfortable temperature and when to kick on the heating or cooling to ensure your house is comfortable when you get home. When you do need to use it, the task you need to accomplish most is right in front of you and very simple to work with. The result is that this device you use to keep your home comfortable is nearly invisible.  

        The same concept applies to software development. Perhaps even more so in the case of a CRM and marketing platform. A user wants to write an email to all their contacts asking them to leave a review when they close a transaction. Maybe they want to put a little personalization in those emails to refer to the customer by name and mention the address of the property they just bought or sold. You want the user to think about the content of that email and have an easy way to write it and add variables for the customer's name and the property involved. You don't want them thinking about how to add the customer to the CRM, configure an email campaign, add a transaction to that customer, and mark that transaction as closed. We've worked hard to adopt that kind of mentality throughout DeltaNET® 7.  

        What if you only needed to enter your transaction into a transaction management platform, as you always have, and the related CRM and marketing actions took place automatically? You thought about the kind of message you want to send to the customer and when, and the path to creating those things was obvious and intuitive. Afterward, the platform automatically identified the closed transaction, set up the customer in your CRM, associated the transaction with them, and sent the message. This, and so many similar workflows and automations, is a reality in DeltaNET 7. We've been walking the line between an immense amount of functionality, customization, and general ease of use. Historically, we've leaned toward more functionality in believing those things were mutually exclusive (we're developers and engineers, after all). However, in DeltaNET 7, we've finally found a solid balance. The things you need to keep your mind on the task are right at your fingertips, while the settings and customizations are folded into the background to be readily available should you need them.  

        It's not perfect. Sometimes the easiest path to accomplish a task isn't clear, or different users may think to accomplish the same task in different ways. Still, it's the best marriage of functionality and simplicity since the zip tie. Think about it; it's just a piece of plastic with a little flappy tooth to keep it from sliding apart. But I once had a 1986 Audi 4000, and about 30 of those things were the only thing keeping it out of the scrap yard. But I digress; everything that can be done in DeltaNET® 6 can be done in 7, only faster and easier. The overall capabilities are clearer, so you don't have to search for things because they generally live right where you would expect them to. The interface is also clean and uniform throughout, so knowing how to interact with one function means you know how to interact with them all. 

        When it comes to getting users closer to the task they need to perform, perfection will come when the computer can read your mind. I can't decide whether that thought is more exciting or horrifying, but it might not be that far off. I'll make a note to keep that in mind for DeltaNET 10.  

        October
        20

        For the first 17 issues of Real Estate Marketing & Technology, we featured our customers, their stories, and ways to improve your business through more than 1,000 pages of editorial content. However, we're doing something a little different with this Special Edition that we hope you'll benefit from. 

        For most of our customers, DeltaNET® is their lifeline. With their help, we have continuously improved the CRM, resulting in the current version, DeltaNET® 6. We are now excited to introduce you to the newest version, DeltaNET 7. 

        What is DeltaNET 7? 

        We knew we needed to take our technology to the next level and create something that would be a game-changer for our clients. Other CRM tools in the marketplace offer something very "easy" to use and visually appealing, more so than DeltaNET 6. However, they lack substance, functionality, customization, personalization, and results. 

        DeltaNET 7 is the marriage of everything. It fuses automation, technology, deep customization capabilities, and tools that make it remarkably easy to use. Aside from being simplified, DeltaNET 7 is the most "visually appealing" version of DeltaNET yet. It's underscored by the addition of some amazing new features that will wow you and your agents. For the smoothest possible transition, more time was spent creating an exceptional user interface and the best default user experience in DeltaNET 7 than on the entire development of DeltaNET 6. 

        How Did We Get to DeltaNET 7? 

        While Delta Media Group was founded in 1993, the journey of the DeltaNET itself started in the year 2000. The vision for version seven came to light during the development of DeltaNET 6 when we couldn't spend much time on the user interface and what we call "roles" within the DeltaNET. 

        The real work for DeltaNET 7 — whether our enterprise clients realize it or not — started to pick up with the formalization of our Client Advisory Committees in 2021. We wanted to ensure that we had a well-functioning and formalized feedback loop with our deeply engaged and vested clients that effectively functioned in our development cycle. 

        With the help of our Client Advisory Committees, we began the User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX) work because the UI and UX of the DeltaNET was the most important thing to us with DeltaNET 7. After months of work on the UI and UX, we created some mockups and shared them with the committees. The feedback was unanimous that it was simply amazing, along with the immediate question of "when can we have it?" 

        Something that the Client Advisory Committees made clear to us was that we did not need to add additional functionality to the DeltaNET. They confirmed that we needed to work on how "easy" the DeltaNET is to use. We often heard that we needed to "simplify the DeltaNET for the agents," and we agreed. It's safe to say that 99% of the work going into DeltaNET 7 was about UI/UX, and 1% added functionality. 

        Where is DeltaNET 7 Going? 

        By the time this article is released, DeltaNET 7 will be out, at minimum, in beta form for agents to use. The administrator version of DeltaNET 7 is planned for release in early 2023. 

        DeltaNET 7 will certainly take on a life of its own. For the first time, the DeltaNET can be personalized to different user experiences at such a level that it's possible to have versions so unique in their configurations that no one would ever know they're the same platform. Many people will choose to use an "out of the box" version of the DeltaNET, but for those that want a customized CRM for their agents, it's fully possible now. 

        Additionally, we will have multiple "default builds" of DeltaNET 7 to choose from in the coming months. These builds are more than "skins" or the "shuffling of pages." Each item in DeltaNET 7 is a module, meaning entire pages, seductions, navigation, and style can be customized and re-arranged as desired. It will even be possible to have various "builds" of DeltaNET 7 for different agents within the same organization.  

        Now that you know all the basics of DeltaNET 7, take a deeper look into the new features and updates you'll find within this version in the coming pages. There's a lot to unpack! 

        September
        6

        With the economy on the brink of a potential recession and headwinds heading our way, now is as good of a time as any to evaluate how you can save money in your budget for 2022 and start planning for 2023. Some of the biggest expenses real estate brokerages face are with their online technology and digital marketing. With more than seven years of experience helping real estate firms consolidate their technology budgets, I'd like to share my experience on where to start this process.

        First and foremost: recognize where you still need to spend. The worst thing you can do when evaluating where to make cuts is jeopardize your future growth. I have always been fond of the analogy: stepping over a dollar to chase pennies. I have seen brokerages make one huge mistake over and over again when looking to save money quickly. That mistake: cutting SEO/digital marketing expenses.

        One area where Delta Media Group® specializes is search engine optimization. SEO is the most cost-effective long-term strategy to keep your brand visible in search engines and generate qualified leads online. Many brokerages fail to realize that SEO is not a silver bullet that grants immediate results. It typically takes three-to-six months to get an effective SEO campaign started. Think of it as getting a snowball ready and starting to push it down a hill. Once the ball rolls downhill, it accumulates more snow and gets bigger and bigger. SEO is the same way; the longer you do it correctly, the more Google rewards your domain and begins to feature it more often in the search results.

        The problem that many brokerages don't realize is that you can't just stop doing SEO and expect those results to stay the same. If you've been conducting an effective SEO strategy for years and believe you can simply stop that spending without impacting your results and lead generation, you would be dead wrong. As I said, SEO is like a snowball, and the longer you do it effectively, the better your rewards will be in traffic and leads. Once you stop doing SEO effectively, Google is quick to slow down their crawling of your site, impacting site visibility, traffic, and leads. We have seen time and time again companies who spent tens of thousands of dollars for years on SEO simply stop doing it to tighten up budgets. Once that decision is made, the website domain loses all the traction they've spent years earning in as quickly as one month.

        One example, I recently saw a brokerage of ours that was on our platform for more than five years. This company had tens of thousands of pages indexed in Google (which effectively means those were all pages Google had crawled and ranked, allowing people to find their website domain through Google's search engine). Within 30 days of stopping SEO services, their number of pages in Google's index had dropped to less than 3,600 pages. That is an 86% decrease in site visibility. For this particular brokerage, more than 60% of all leads generated on their website were attributed to organic traffic through SEO. This is a massive blow to the new listing and buyer lead opportunities that will no longer hit their site.

        Another example is a brokerage partner of ours who ceased SEO in 2019. In early 2021 he shared with me that he could directly track more than $400,000 in lost GCI that he would've had if he had continued his SEO spend with us. He lost more than $400,000 in an effort to save money (his total spend was $2,000/month). I would spend $24,000 to make $400,000 every day of the week. This is a prime example of stepping over a dollar to chase pennies.

        Another area you absolutely need to keep in mind when figuring out which expenses to keep versus cut is your CRM/online advertising. One of the first things I do when consulting with real estate brokerages to either make a switch to our platform or evaluate their existing package with us is to run a usage report to find out which tools are actually being used by their agents. Finding out which tools are being used versus which are not is the first step in recognizing what to cut or keep.

        A major trend I'm seeing more and more in the real estate world is brokerages choosing what technology services to provide for their agents versus which tools the agents should be paying for themselves. For example, you may want to provide every single agent in your organization with a website + CRM solution. You can do that fairly affordably, but it may not make sense for your organization to provide every agent with a full suite of marketing tools that less than 30% of them use daily. There are options and packages available on the market today that would allow a brokerage to provide agents with a baseline technology package. It would also allow the agents to enter their own credit cards to purchase these additional technology services/offerings for themselves. The brokerage saves money, and the agents, who actually want to use these tools, can pay for it themselves. In this model, many brokerages will provide their top producers with the technology stack for free based on production.

        Now let's talk about where to start looking to consolidate. I'll be the first to challenge the industry consultants who are continuing to push brokerages more and more towards a "best in class" type technology stack where companies are going out and purchasing premium products that are really just a feature. I believe some brokerages in the real estate vertical have been steered down a dangerous path over the last two years out of fear that has been conjured up by industry consultants looking to get as many technology vendors integrated with a real estate brokerage as possible. You don't need five different companies implemented to service your CRM, email marketing, website, property search, or listing notifications. It's an exorbitant expense to try and get five different vendors integrated and working together to do the work that any all-in-one platform could accomplish for a fraction of the price.

        I will say it again. The all-in-one technology model is by far the most effective way to get a polished technology platform that will do everything you need it to do. The reality is technology platforms like the DeltaNET® can be both all-in-one and best in class. I know many brokerages fear "putting all the eggs in one basket" due to major technology acquisitions in the last decade. Look at Booj's acquisition by Re/Max, Compass acquiring Contactually, or, more recently, Propertybase getting acquired by LoneWolf. The simple fact of the matter is there are truly independent technology providers in the marketplace that have survived economic uncertainty and even have a guarantee to remain independent. In every Delta Media Group contract, there is a guarantee that CEO Michael Minard will remain the sole owner and operator of Delta, with protections for our clients that we will not sell.

        Particularly in the last two years, I have seen many technology vendors enter the marketplace that do "just one thing really well." Premium email marketing companies or premium CRM services that charge an extremely high per-user fee should be some of the first vendors you evaluate cutting when looking to shore up budgets. Why spend $40/month for a stand-alone CRM product when other services on the marketplace can accomplish nearly the exact same functionality for a fraction of the cost? I have seen direct examples of brokerages that are spending more than $150 per agent per month on technology solutions that could be provided in an all-in-one platform like the DeltaNET for less than $30 per user per month.

        It's not just CRM services, either. True "all-in-one" providers should be able to give you everything your business needs to run effectively. For example, you may not need to pay for a stand-alone "Automated Valuation Service" to be integrated into your website. For some companies, it's a product to sell. For true all-in-one providers like Delta Media Group, it's simply a feature built into our website services.

        Another example of an area to look at when consolidating is CMA products. While many boards across the country offer a free CMA product included in their dues, there are also many markets where agencies are forced to go out and purchase their own CMA products. True all-in-one providers offer that as a feature of their services. We recently launched Delta Pitch, which is marketed as the industry's easiest-to-use CMA builder on the market. Customers on digital marketing packages with Delta Media Group received this CMA builder as a free add-on to their services, allowing them to save money by cutting other third-party CMA products.

        One of the biggest expenses brokerages face is social media content. Making their brand and their agents look good on social media isn't cheap. There are entire companies whose sole focus is curating real estate content and publishing it to social channels. Within the DeltaNET, our brokerage partners receive automated social media postings to all their social channels included in our all-in-one package. It's not only "just listed" or "just sold" content, either. Our digital marketing team adds more than a dozen articles to our "My Customer for Life" newsletter platform each month. That content includes buyer, seller, and home improvement articles, which can automatically be shared to all of your agent's social media accounts. This is true content running to their channels at no additional expense.

        Other areas to look at are open house management apps, learning management systems, automated listing videos/virtual tours, and enterprise file storage platforms. Within our all-in-one environment, we feature built-in services like Open House Connector, DeltaNET Academy, Properties in Motion, and Cloud Delta, all as integrated services bundled in with our digital marketing packages to save our customers money. If you were to piecemeal just these services, you would be spending more than $60 per user just for these four products. With an all-in-one provider, you get all of that and more.

        The final area I want to highlight is paid advertising strategies. In our decades of experience with online advertising, we have seen brokerages with budgets over $400,000/year for online ads. While Pay Per Click and social media advertising spending are certainly effective, they often aren't accomplishing quite as much as you'd think. While I certainly don't advocate cutting your paid online spending entirely, I would challenge you to consider where you spend your money for online ads. Spending $2,500 on Facebook Ads versus Google Pay Per Click advertising will yield entirely different results. In our experience, social advertising will greatly boost the total number of visitors to your site; however, it will have a minimal impact on lead generation.

        On the other hand, spending that money on Google PPC will yield much less traffic to the site, but you're likely to generate significantly more leads. These leads will not be as qualified as organic traffic from SEO efforts; however, they are still leads nonetheless. If the goal is more brand impressions, then social advertising is the way to go. If the goal is immediate lead generation, you're better off spending the money on PPC. If the goal is a long-term quality lead strategy, you're better off putting that budget into SEO. Clients on our platform typically see an average cost per lead of $2.00-$10.00 from SEO strategies, while you may see an average of $20-$30 per paid lead with PPC strategies.

        If you're looking for help or want to know how to analyze the technology products your brokerage has in place and consolidate those services to save money, please reach out to me through sales@deltagroup.com or give us a call at 866-233-9833.

        August
        29

        What is it about established, top-producing real estate agents that no matter what's happening in the real estate market – higher interest rates, lower inventory – they still thrive?

        It comes down to how top producers approach their business. They often do things other real estate agents don't do when the market shifts. They also avoid doing things many agents are prone to do, especially when a great market tightens.

        As a broker/owner, can you imagine what impact it could have on your business if you could harness the good habits of your top producers for more of your agents?

        Let's look at four secrets to success that many top producers share:

        1. Top producers have well-honed systems and processes. They execute a steady stream of actions and activities daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. Top producers embrace the adage, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail."

        Planning out each day, creating and executing activities needed to achieve your goals each week, revisiting those goals monthly, and reviewing them annually to prepare for the next year are crucial to success. But most importantly, one of the most common traits among top producing agents is that they have a system. For most, it has taken them years, if not decades, to create, implement, and perfect.

        But other agents have something available today that most top producers did not have when they started: a system instantly available to use. So, agents don't need to create a new system because we have already built it for them.

        Today's all-in-one DeltaNET® platform can deliver the system agents need to become top producers. Most automated features take just minutes to "set and forget." The content and processes are available inside the DeltaNET platform. Once in place, these marketing campaigns automatically keep agents in front of their sphere.

        Most importantly, agents don't need to maintain, improve, or add to their DeltaNET system; we do that for them.

        Agents can adopt a platform that took tens of thousands of development hours and more than $40 million to create as their system.

        A great example of how agents can use DeltaNET as their system comes from Key Realty in Toledo, OH. Donika was recruited from a small brokerage with a half-dozen agents early last year. During the first six months, she sold three listings.

        In June 2021, Donika adopted the DeltaNET platform – white-labeled KeyWorld – embracing it entirely as her system. She first loaded 150 contacts into her CRM and started using the marketing tools built into the platform.

        In the second half of 2021, Donika posted 37 more transactions. Remarkably, 30 of those deals, or 80% of her new business, came from DeltaNET marketing tools.

        Donika is a "true believer" in DeltaNET – her top-producing system – and is now training others at Key Realty, sharing how she transformed her business with its marketing tools and ready-to-send content.

        2. Top producers remain consistent. When the market turns, watch top producers' behavior and then look at what other agents are doing. When market conditions make it more challenging to generate new business, top producers never hunker down – they double down.

        One of the first things that happens when a market tightens, other agents will start to cut costs. They are paralyzed and stop doing many of the things they did before. These agents mirror a self-fulfilling prophecy: the market is tough, so my business will drop. And guess what? It does!

        Top producers put on blinders and ear plugs. They ignore herd instinct. By disregarding the noise around them, they continue to do what they have been doing. Top producers do those same things throughout every market change and type. And sometimes, they do even more. They understand that when everyone else is panicking, the ones who remain calm and steady are the ones who are going to thrive.

        Consistency is easy to maintain when an agent fully uses the DeltaNET platform. Take our My Customer for Life (MCFL) campaign. All an agent needs to do to generate new business from this automated program is set it up once and continue to "feed the bear" by adding new contacts as they build their spheres.

        Think about it. Using DeltaNET's MCFL campaign, a new agent can get an average open rate of over 60 percent! Most marketing emails are lucky to bring about a third of that. And that's just one program.

        In DeltaNET, a single click can create new Delta Pitch CMAs. Agents can automate social media campaigns with Social Connector and benefit from powerful websites that are lead generation machines. At the core of DeltaNET is the most powerful and easiest-to-use CRM integrated into everything.

        Leveraging all the features and benefits of DeltaNET makes it painless for agents to remain consistent throughout every real estate cycle.

        Here may be the best part: with the work that Delta Media Group® tech developers are close to completing, every agent will benefit from more automation, more artificial intelligence, and more machine learning. That means more time spent face-to-face with clients and less time sitting in front of a screen.

        3. Top producers measure and adjust. Gone are the days of using newspaper ads to promote listings as a "go-to" marketing tool. Top producing agents also know that recipe postcards are not the best way to stay in front of their clients. And leaving self-promotional flyers or business cards on a neighbor's doorknob or front porch is unlikely to win any business.

        Yesterday's marketing tactics have one thing in common: they are nearly impossible to measure their effectiveness.

        That's no longer true with digital marketing, which is the backbone of most top producers' marketing programs today. The best thing about digital marketing for real estate isn't that it works. It's that you can measure it.

        And sometimes, like all types of advertising and promotion, digital marketing doesn't work. But unlike your old newspaper ads that didn't work either, you can track and see when digital marketing isn't working.

        While top producers may have the luxury of having more marketing dollars to spend, they want to spend those dollars wisely. Of course, no one wants to throw good money after bad, but if you're not measuring – or can't measure – your marketing effectiveness, you may very well be.

        DeltaNET automatically monitors and tracks agent digital marketing activity. That's the benefit of having an all-in-one, fully integrated platform: to see how things are going in real-time.

        If you can measure your marketing, then you can adjust it, and that's what top producers often do. When something isn't working, they can replace it or tweak it until it does.

        Most importantly, because DeltaNET shows you what works well, you can do more of that and less of what's not working. If you don't track and adjust your marketing efforts like a top producer, you may be throwing good money after bad – and not even know it!

        4. Top producers respond quickly. Technology can be a mixed blessing when it comes to customer service. Many brokers and agents attempt to leverage technology to generate new leads. But the challenge remains industry-wide that too many leads go untouched.

        Studies continue to find a disconnect between agents and lead responsiveness. Potential customers expect a rapid response. Yet several studies show that over 40% of internet-generated leads of potential customers never got a response.

        When we live in an age where a customer expects a response in five minutes or less and most agents respond hours – or days – later, a great customer experience is lost. Top producers understand the short-term value and the long-term importance of a quick response. They see every inquiry as a potential opportunity to create future business. By treating everyone well today, they start the relationship off right and may have the chance to work with them tomorrow.

        Every inquiry becomes a potential customer when you have a system that helps you generate and manage leads – like the DeltaNET platform. Every prospect can be added to your CRM database, allowing you to stay in touch with even the coldest leads. Top producers will tell you that if you incubate those cold leads, they will warm up and one day be a hot prospect.

        One thing is certain: if you don't respond quickly, you will likely lose potential business, which is something top producers understand.

        Turn more of your agents into top producers

        Every agent has a go-to marketing tool or tactic that they rely on to maintain current connections and generate new ones. But when they embrace more tools and implement new tactics, they develop a lot more business.

        The DeltaNET platform can help more of your agents become top producers. When agents do more within DeltaNET, they get more in return. Innovations in automation speed up their ability to work smarter, not harder. All agents have to do is just set something up once, and their DeltaNET system does the rest.

        August
        26

        Real estate is an industry of perseverance and adaptability. Market trends can shift in what feels like an instant, leaving agents to sort out what comes next in both good and challenging times. The most successful agents know that there's always a rainbow waiting at the end of a storm for those willing to work for it and take proactive steps to bring about positive outcomes.

        There are countless stories of agents adapting, meeting challenges head-on, and creating new opportunities even in difficult times. Here are five ways agents have spun tough times into gold and emerged with new tools for growing their businesses.

        • More Marketing and Making Marketing Work For You

        One temptation during tough times is to hunker down, cut back on expenses, and wait for things to change. While the idea of cutting back and saving can be a good one, your marketing budget is not the place to do it. In fact, one key way to thrive in tough times is to double down on marketing, open up new channels for lead generation, and diversify your marketing plan.

        If your old marketing plan worked well enough in good times but isn't delivering the same results now, then it's time to try something new. If you relied primarily on traditional marketing in the past, now is the time to embrace digital marketing. If there are blind spots in your digital marketing plan, now is the time to fill them with proven tactics that work with a modern audience.

        You don't have to throw out the marketing tactics that have served you well to this point, but you should always be looking for new opportunities for promoting your real estate brand. More marketing can help get you through tough times and provide more opportunities to maximize your success during the best of times.

        • Segmenting Your Sphere For Better Results and Efficiency

        Are you reaching the right people with the right message at the right time? It's a fundamental market question that becomes even more important when times are tough. Segmenting your sphere of influence can help you create a clearer picture of what each segment of your audience wants, how best to reach them, and how to convert more leads into clients.

        Think about it similarly to how you would consider segmenting leads. Some are ready for action right now, some will require more nurturing before they're ready to make a decision, and some can safely be put on the back burner until they move closer to making a real estate transaction. Once you understand where each lead — or segment of your sphere — stands, it's so much easier to reach them with the right message at the right time.

        Segmenting your sphere can also help you uncover opportunities that you may have missed when looking at the whole picture. This can prove especially valuable during tough times when every advantage you can create matters more than ever.

        • Busting Myths to Give Clients the Real Facts

        Real estate clients and prospects have more information at their fingertips than ever before, which can be both a blessing and a curse. It's great for them to be able to research data, trends, and information on their own, but not every so-called "fact" online is as true as it may seem. That's where you can enter the picture, add value for your audience, and make a real difference during tough times.

        Your real estate expertise isn't just an asset in your day-to-day business interactions. It also allows you to create content that debunks the many myths and overblown headlines that your audience encounters. Even when a client comes to you with good information, you can provide context that no quick online news article or social media headline can match. Your expertise is great for helping individual clients and for your marketing as a whole. Leveraging your expertise to help clients endure tough times can boost your business when needed most.

        • Making Social Media a More Engaging Experience

        It's easy to treat social media like just another item on your daily to-do list. Pop in, like a few posts, maybe share a link or two, then call it a day. Job done, on to the next task. It's not just common among agents. Brands and service providers of all types are prone to making the same mistakes and then wondering why social media isn't generating the business that it should. After all, they blocked out time, invested their 15 or 30 minutes per day, and made a token effort to connect with their followers.

        Think about the brands and businesses that you follow on social. How many are memorable for the right reasons, and how many simply fade into the background of your busy newsfeed?

        If you want better results on social media, then you need to use your time as wisely as the agents who make the most of their social influence. Invest more time participating in conversations, answering questions, and engaging with your audience directly. Rather than simply liking a few posts, jump into local groups and start building meaningful connections. Encourage your audience to ask questions that matter to them, and create content that provides answers to the most common questions. When you share content, follow it up with a conversation.

        Generating engagement on social media requires effort, but the results are more than worth the time spent. The meaningful connections you build on social media can be an incredibly valuable source of leads and referrals in tough times.

        • Creative Outreach With Modern Marketing Tools

        Do you ever feel like all of the marketing you encounter looks the same? Same message, same template, same look, same value proposition. Now imagine being a seller in a competitive market, receiving countless postcards, emails, and online ads from local real estate agents making the same exact pitch to list your home with them. Try putting yourself in the position of a buyer who has indicated an interest in local listings and faced a similar marketing barrage.

        Wouldn't you start to tune things out if you were in their shoes? Creativity matters in marketing, especially when trying to stand out in a crowded real estate market.

        The suite of tools in DeltaNET® provides everything you need to get creative with your marketing and outreach. Leads not responding to emails? Try SMS text messaging for a quicker, more convenient communication option. Having trouble keeping up with leads long-term? Use our CRM to store the vital information you need to plan your marketing and use customizable eCards to reach out on meaningful days. Use email drip campaigns to keep leads warm over time and AI-driven newsletters to easily provide the market data that your audience wants to see.

        DeltaNET is also packed with integrations that include dozens of marketing platforms, from big-name standards like YouTube to specialized real estate marketing tools. There's no end to how you can flex your creative marketing muscles, and creativity is one of your greatest assets for spinning tough times into success stories. 

        In Tough Times and Good Times, Never Stop Striving to be Your Best  

        There are many lessons to be taken from agents who have faced adversity head-on and spun tough times into gold. The first, most important lesson is that there's always hope for better outcomes, as long as you're willing to keep trying, innovating, and using creativity to overcome challenges. Tough times are ultimately what we make of them, and there are always silver linings if you're willing to search for them. Sometimes, you might even have to create those silver linings yourself. 

        Another valuable lesson to be taken from these experiences is that you don't have to wait for tough times to refresh your approach to attracting and retaining clients. Taking an honest, self-aware look at what's working, what's not, and what could be improved is something you can do at any time. No matter how successful your marketing and outreach may be in the best of times, there's always room to improve. That way, even when times are tough, you'll be ready to embrace the challenges, adapt, and continue to thrive. 

         

        August
        24

        When a real estate agent enters the field with a newly minted license, what's the first thing they do? Generally, before they set up a website, print business cards, or anything else, they start telling everyone they know — "I'm a real estate agent now!"

        This approach is natural. After all, you start off with no connections besides the people you know. As the #1 second career in America, everyone comes to real estate with their own unique network and background. And strong relationships are the key to lasting success.

        But there is one little way in which this time-honored tradition backfires: The average person doesn't just know one real estate agent. They know three or four.

        How can they decide who gets their business once they're actually in the market? It might come down to their relationship with the individual or to their specialization. But whatever the case may be, you can't guarantee you'll get work even from people you know.

        Now, extend that out to all the thousands of people in your community. Everyone knows real estate agents, and some have agents in their own families. Even if you have a foot in the door, the key to building and sustaining a relationship is maintaining your visibility. You can't meet in person with every lead or be on the phone all the time, so you need a variety of methods.

        You Need Life-Long Customer Relationships, Not Business "Up for Grabs"

        Even though the average client knows many real estate agents, they don't always use that knowledge. In fact, most clients only interview one agent. Usually, they've done online research on several — but in the end, the first person to get the call is the one who closes an agreement. What happens after that? Sadly, it's more bad news for the average agent.

        Although 87% of people surveyed say they would be glad to use the same agent again, unfortunately, only a small percentage actually do. In part, that's because it may take anywhere from three to seven years for them to re-enter the market. During that time, they may have made plans to move far out of their original agent's service area. But more often, they've simply forgotten that person's name.

        After a few years, who can blame them? So, no matter what stage you've reached in your business, you need to be a consistent presence — what industry experts call "staying top of mind." You know you're top of mind for someone if your name instantly comes to mind when they think about a real estate agent. That's a challenging process — but it's far from impossible. By combining the right techniques and technology, you can get there.

        "Top of Mind" in the Digital Age

        It wasn't all that long ago when real estate agents who wanted to stay top of mind used giveaways like branded pens or refrigerator magnets. The idea was that, as you used or saw these objects daily, they acted as built-in reminders about the professionals in your community.

        Nowadays, branded merchandise is quickly lost. Although most brokerages issue business cards for all of their agents and brokers, a declining percentage of customers have a dedicated space to keep them. No single touchpoint or piece of memorabilia can do the whole job of staying top of mind. Instead, you need to make your own positive imprint on your community.

        When you raise your community profile, the people whose lives you've impacted will help do the work of marketing and advertising for you. More people will know who you are, what you do, and whom you serve, ensuring that they point the way to your brand when others need you.

        Likewise, a strategic effort to raise your community profile means people you've worked with in the past have more opportunities to become re-acquainted with you, even years later, and are less likely to forget about you. Combined with a customer retention plan, you'll grow your business faster.

        Staying top of mind is much easier with the right technology in your corner. A modern Customer Relationship Management platform provides a sound foundation to build your entire approach.

        Even so, that's only the beginning. When you decide to elevate your community profile, you yourself are your greatest marketing asset. You're giving people the opportunity to meet you and learn all about the unique value you can provide – but it's crucial to do that in a sustainable and scalable way.

        Get Familiar With All the Features of DeltaNET®

        One of the most challenging parts of presenting your brand to the community is finding the right way to manage all the different aspects of marketing your services. With so many options to choose from, real estate agents need something that can cut through the clutter and illuminate opportunities. The DeltaNET real estate CRM does just that.

        By providing an AI-driven, all-in-one center of excellence for marketing and advertising, it helps you maintain complete visibility into your network. You'll always know who your prospects, leads, and customers are, where they stand in any pending transactions, and when to follow up.

        With information unified in one place, it's much easier to develop approaches that make a winning difference. DeltaNET enables you to plan, fine-tune, and execute marketing campaigns in a matter of minutes. They can run one time or continue for months with minimal oversight. That ensures consistent, targeted communication to everyone in your community.

        Here are some approaches that have worked for real estate professionals just like you:

        1. Flyers for Sponsorships and Events

        A community's most prominent real estate brands often build their reputation on involvement in events and causes that make a difference in the local area. Whether it's a holiday soup kitchen or an annual 5K run for cancer research, every location has events that make up the unique texture of its culture.

        Whether you'll be sponsoring an event or planning your own, DeltaNET can help you with the digital and print materials you'll need. Not only can you publicize your events through email, social media, and more, but you can also collect registration details on attendees and "no shows" for future follow-up.

        2. Local Content and Collateral

        Any community presents countless opportunities for mutually beneficial collaboration. The more you know about local restaurants, clubs, theaters, and other amenities, the easier it is to cross-promote. A real estate agent can also make a positive difference in high school sports and other organizations.

        When someone is contemplating a big move, they're not just choosing a piece of property. They're also making an important choice about the community, amenities, and people who will shape their future. A local expert like you can help them make an informed decision by developing targeted content.

        3. Neighborhood Newsletters

        When it's time to get granular, DeltaNET is there for you. Whether you specialize in buying or selling, a common tool used by many real estate agents is the Neighborhood Report. Sellers need it to know how a home should be priced, while buyers use it to understand their options.

        Designing, researching, and writing a neighborhood report is traditionally a major undertaking that can soak up several days of work — and by the time you finish, your data might be out of date. But with a white label Market Watch Report, it generates directly from DeltaNET.

        4. Automated, Event-Driven Social Updates

        Of all the different professionals posting on social media today, it's undeniable that real estate agents have the biggest opportunity to yield consistent sales and revenue from their activity. Still, efficiency counts; you don't want to spend hour after hour on Instagram or Facebook.

        Luckily, you don't have to. With DeltaNET, you can send instant hands-off updates to your social media feed regarding important events. When listings go live, details change, or there is an upcoming open house, your audience will know.

        A sterling community reputation as a real estate agent may take years to earn. But the best time to start is always now, and you don't have to do all the legwork yourself. The right technology will save you time and effort.

        August
        22

        At its heart, real estate is about relationships. It's a marketing occupation. Agents are tasked with communicating the facts, supporting informed decisions, and ultimately, stirring customers to action.

        Not all agents are "born marketers." Real estate consistently ranks as the #1 second career in the United States. People join from all walks of life, but each is tasked with the same challenge: learn how to get through to their customers and motivate and inspire them.

        It should come as no surprise that most agents have a few tried-and-true marketing methods they go back to time and time again. These methods usually represent the first few things that worked for them when they were new to the industry.

        At the very beginning, some agents are anxious about marketing their services. Others aren't but consistently find other priorities to focus on. That means agents can proceed far into a career without developing a versatile base of marketing tools.

        Getting Agents to Adopt New Marketing Tools Can be a Matter of Perspective

        There's always something new to learn in real estate. And once someone has plenty of leads, active transactions, and former customers to stay in touch with, they need to prioritize that all.

        Under these conditions, many agents leave marketing on the backburner. But marketing isn't a "nice-to-have," it's a must-have. It extends a brand's reach in the community and helps ensure the people you help understand just what you can do for them.

        Ideally, all agents within a brokerage would be contributing to the marketing strategy in some way. But that doesn't mean that every agent needs to embrace all the bits and pieces of marketing. On the contrary, it simply means they should expand their existing specialization – taking one step out of their comfort zone.

        After all, marketing is most effective when it's consistent. If an agent tries something new but doesn't stick with it, it won't make a dent. They won't have opportunities to see real results, and that time is as good as wasted. But it doesn't have to be that way.

        Marketing automation technology makes the whole prospect easier. Even agents who've been stuck in a rut when it comes to their marketing endeavors can turn over a new leaf when they see just how easy automated real estate marketing can be.

        With the right technology in play, you never have to worry about starting from scratch with marketing. Something that seems complex, like email or social media marketing, can be distilled into simple steps that take only minutes a day rather than hours.

        Plus, once you've begun to experiment, it's much easier to see what's working and what's not. Digital marketing provides you with the powerful advantage of clear, comprehensible data that always tells you what resonates with your audience. That helps you make the most of your valuable time.

        Modern Real Estate Marketing Automation is Straightforward and Approachable

        Your real estate agents are already doing their best to manage their time and optimize their efforts. To get them excited about new marketing approaches, you need to offer them a new perspective – one they've never considered before. That's precisely what Delta Media Group® technology does for you.

        Combining thousands of hours of work with input from agents and brokers all over the United States, Delta Media Group designed the world's first Customer Relationship Management suite built entirely around the unique needs of the real estate industry.

        Customer Relationship Management aims to provide full visibility into your network, including leads, customers, and past customers who might use your services again. But our solution goes a step further by incorporating artificial intelligence for marketing automation.

        With marketing automation, it only takes about an hour to set up an all-new marketing campaign using a method you might never have attempted before. After that, ongoing monitoring of your efforts could take as little as a few minutes a day, preventing marketing from becoming a time sink.

        Even agents who don't consider themselves technologically savvy can extend their marketing reach and incorporate new techniques. The end result is more leads, more first-time appointments, and ultimately, more satisfied customers. Plus, the DeltaNET® CRM even supports your customer retention strategy. Let's take a closer look at some of the most popular marketing approaches DeltaNET has packed in:

        • My Customer for Life Email Newsletters

        Email is one of the most efficient and cost-effective real estate marketing tactics, providing more than $30 in ROI for every dollar. Yet, many agents and brokers don't take advantage of it. Worries about data privacy rules and other potential complications hold them back.

        With My Customer for Life, you can remain in constant contact with subscribers, sending each one helpful and informative articles based on their interests. That deepens your brand relationship and helps establish credibility, which is essential for those who have not yet reached out to you.

        When closing day arrives, My Customer for Life continues to deliver value. Past customers can enter their own "segment" on your email list, learn about home improvement and interior design, and get the most from their investment until they are ready to buy again.

        • Market Watch Reports

        Market research is the foundation of any agent's local expertise. It's crucial to know your comps whenever you're looking at a new property for sale. Yet, compiling all this information takes hours of effort. By the time you have the facts, they can be well on their way to changing.

        With Market Watch Reports, you get all the market information you need in one accurate, timely package. They fully illuminate the latest sales activity in an area, from a single street or block to a large metroplex. It takes only seconds to produce the report, and it's always based on accurate intelligence.

        Market Watch Reports provide a powerful asset for pricing customer properties, but that's only one use. They can be fully white-labeled and presented to leads or customers at any stage of the journey. One of these reports is often the perfect incentive to join your email marketing list.

        • Social Media Ad Wizard

        Social media has immense power, but it also brings its perils. There's no doubt that professionals in real estate get more bottom-line revenue opportunities from social media than anyone else online. But that hardly makes a difference if it takes hours and hours to derive those benefits. Instead of spending hours on social media, Social Media Ad Wizard can condense your investment to just a few minutes per day. You can plan, perfect, and monitor Facebook social media advertising for all of your most promising properties. It all happens within a single, convenient view.

        Even if you've never used digital advertising before, Social Media Ad Wizard will have you off to a running start in a fraction of the time. You'll see exactly which ads are performing and how you can improve them to get even better results, potentially cutting weeks off your timeline to attract buyers.

        Reduce the Learning Curve and Make Modern Digital Marketing Part of Your "Go-To" Toolkit

        Any method becomes a "go-to" when you know it works. At one time or another, every one of those methods was still unfamiliar. With a willingness to learn, any team member can master all-new ideas that will make them more successful.

        Digital marketing doesn't need to be intimidating. Any agent, at any stage in their career, can benefit. The key is having the right tools, support, and motivation. We provide the first two, and you can light the spark for the last when you engage your team members with their marketing opportunities.

        Doing something new doesn't mean you need to give up on what's worked well in the past. Digital marketing automation saves so much time that new and old methods can co-exist seamlessly. Pursue one new idea for a quarter, and you'll see it gain traction and begin to produce real results.

        It's never too late to try something new with your real estate marketing, but the best time to begin is always right now. Instead of starting from scratch or reinventing the wheel, use the right technology to accelerate your results – and keep you on the steady path until you get the ROI you want.

        August
        17

        What does a real estate firm have in common with the greatest hockey player to ever lace up a pair of skates? More than you might think. In sports, your opponent rarely cooperates with your best-laid plans, and more often than not, success requires innovating on the fly. In real estate, so much of what we do is dictated by both market and broader economic trends. What works one month may be outdated the next, and what works in one type of market may fall flat in another. So how do you get ahead when there's so much inherent uncertainty to contend with within the industry?

        Wayne Gretzky said it best: "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been."

        Anticipate, adapt, and thrive. Think one step ahead of what your opponent – or the market – is doing right now, and gain advantages that others miss. In challenging markets, the best aren't satisfied with the status quo. They discover ways to adapt and thrive while others are busy burying their heads in the sand.

        When your competition is clinging to the way things have always been or sticking only to the strategies that worked in the past, you have a natural opening to innovate. A willingness to try new things, adapt to shifts in the market and reexamine the effectiveness of old habits gives you a substantial advantage over competitors who aren't willing to do those things.

        But if it were as easy as "skating to where the puck will be," why doesn't everyone do it? One reason is that you run the risk of being wrong. But is that really so scary? After all, even Gretzky sometimes missed the mark. The occasional miss is simply the cost of doing business and staying one step ahead of the competition.

        You can keep going to where the puck was and get the same results. Or you can skate to where the puck is going, dictate what happens next, and unlock opportunities that your competitors don't even see.

        The Time to Innovate is Right Now

        If you look at a challenging market as an opportunity, you will see possibilities where others see roadblocks. Before you can innovate, however, it's wise to take stock of how things are right now. One easy place to start is with your marketing. Which marketing activities are generating the most qualified leads? How well are you segmenting leads, and what steps are you taking to convert leads at varying stages of their real estate journey? Are you taking advantage of all of the modern marketing channels available to reach new clients?

        These questions are always worth asking, no matter what the market looks like. Discovering what tactics are and aren't working is the first step toward adapting to what comes next. Sometimes, the answer is as simple as doing more of what works and less of what doesn't. At other times, success is all about embracing new ideas.

        Here are a few adaptable marketing tactics and tools that every agent should have in their toolkit:

        • Real Estate CRM

        The right real estate CRM makes life much easier for your agents and their clients. You want a CRM that provides easy access to all of the modern marketing tools that agents need to connect with clients and prospects. Of course, you also want your agents to take advantage of everything your CRM offers. This may require some training for less tech-savvy agents or experimentation for agents who are already more comfortable with technology. When agents see the value that the CRM has for marketing, easily accessing client information, and maintaining strong relationships, they should be happy to integrate it into their daily workflow.

        • Social Media Marketing

        Just like with real estate markets, trends with social media can change quite quickly. One thing that doesn't change is how valuable social is for connecting with modern real estate prospects and clients. There are so many effective platforms for social media marketing, which makes it easier for agents to find a platform that suits both their needs and the needs of their clients. If your agents aren't making the most of social media marketing, now is the time to change that and reap the benefits.

        • Email Newsletters and Drip Campaigns

        What do you do with the prospects who aren't quite ready to make a real estate transaction right now but seem primed to need your services in the relatively near future? Email marketing is a great way to stay in touch, stay top of mind, and be ready to convert when the time is right. Email drip campaigns make it easy to stay in touch through informative, automated email marketing tailored to each client. AI-driven newsletters are ideal for keeping clients up to date on market trends and helping prospects see when the time is right to plan their next move.

        • Real Estate Website

        A high-quality, feature-rich real estate website is the essential tool that you have for connecting with the vast majority of clients who start their search for real estate services online. It's where people go to search listings, consume your content, learn about your team, and discover all that you have to offer. If you feel like your website could use a "fresh coat of paint," now is the time to get a website that helps your brand stand out from the competition.

        • Virtual Open Houses, Showings, and Tours

        People aren't just searching for real estate agents, firms, and listings online. More than ever, they expect to be able to tour a listing in-depth from the comfort of their favorite devices. Virtual open houses, showings, and tours make it easy for buyers to fall in love with homes and for sellers to maximize the marketing impact of their listings.

        Providing Your Agents With the Tools and Skills to Thrive

        Just like with your business, your agents should be asking themselves questions about what works, what doesn't, and what could be improved. Every agent has strengths, and every agent has some things that they would probably like to do better. Of course, agents shouldn't be alone in their pursuit for improvement, or for new agents, their adjustment to the real estate industry as a whole.

        Providing the necessary training, resources, and continuing education for your agents should always be a priority. If you want agents who adapt, you need to give them the tools to do so. The right training can make all the difference for new agents who are trying to gain a foothold in the industry. Continuing education keeps experienced agents fresh while allowing them to adapt more easily to the ever-changing nature of the real estate industry.

        It's important to note that training doesn't just apply to agents' day-to-day actions to serve their clients. All the marketing tools mentioned above become much more valuable when agents are trained in how to use them and shown how each tool can help them attract new business. The best agents never stop learning, and the most successful real estate firms provide them with the tools to do just that.

        Making Your Investments Work For You

        Anticipation isn't the only thing that separates once-in-a-lifetime athletes like Wayne Gretzky from their peers. The most successful people in any field tend to invest in themselves and work hard to maximize the value of every investment that they make. In sports, that may mean investing in the latest tools to keep their bodies in great shape and the best trainers to help them hone their already sharp skills.

        In real estate, that investment comes in the form of the many marketing tools that we've mentioned so far and the educational resources that you provide to your team to help them maximize their skills. The ability to adapt, adjust, and go where the puck is going doesn't come about by accident. It's a result of the investments you make in your team and the investments that each team member makes in developing their own real estate skills.

        August
        12

        This time around, instead of offering some advice or action items related to running a real estate business (I'm hardly an expert in that regard, anyway), I wanted to explore some of what goes into developing new functionality in the DeltaNET®. Specifically, we run into hurdles when designing the functionality before any technical ones even come into play.  

        We love to build out new functionality based on customer feedback and requests. After all, our customers are the ones actually using the platform and working in the industry it's meant to support, so they are the ones most likely to see its shortcomings or where the opportunities for growth lie. However, some challenges to this software development approach weren't immediately obvious to me as my role at Delta Media Group® changed from one related to support and training to one that is more deeply ingrained in the direction of the DeltaNET itself. Simply put, "you don't know what you don't know." 

        My time in technical support has made me deeply familiar with the concept overall. If you really don't know anything about an issue or a process that's having a problem, you don't even know what questions to ask to troubleshoot it. It turns out that the same concept applies to designing new functionality. For example, if I wanted to design software that simulates the flight path of paper airplanes, but I knew nothing about paper airplane flight mechanics, I wouldn't know what the software should take into account when creating the simulation. This is where the research begins.  

        If there is some existing software out there that does something similar to what I'm trying to do, I can start my research there. Not to make my own version of what they're doing (because what would be the point?) but to gain some insight into the context of the problem I want my software to solve. This isn't always an option, though. Sometimes, you are designing something completely novel, so there's nothing in existence with which you can compare. In that case, you move straight to the next step, and you consult an expert.  

        Software developers are experts in developing software, not necessarily the industry where that software is meant to be used. Therefore, they need to rely on the expertise of people that work in that field to know what to build and how to build it. It sounds straightforward enough, but in practice, that's where some interesting issues come up. It turns out that, in addition to not knowing what you don't know, when you're an expert on some subject matter, you often don't know what you do know either.  

        To stick with our paper airplane example (because who doesn't love a good paper airplane?), if you're out there designing and flying paper airplanes every day, much of what you do to make one fly well has become automatic to you. Suppose someone came to you and asked, what are the most important elements to consider when designing a new model? In that case, you might be able to point out the shape of the wing and the weight distribution from the folds in the paper immediately, but you've been folding in the tip of the airplane on every model for so long that it's become second nature. You then leave out that detail because it's just so obvious to you that it doesn't come to mind. This leads to version 1 of the software leaving it out, too, so nothing flies quite right. This is why it's so important to think through every element of a feature in as much detail as possible when designing something new. 

        Try as you might, but you'll never think of everything the first time around. That's why it's important to create things with as much flexibility as possible. And even if you do manage to think of everything the first time around when designing new functionality, times change. Maybe a few years down the road, a new kind of paper will hit the market that turns the whole paper airplane-making convention right on its head (it's a bit of a stretch, but you get the idea). We need to be able to account for those kinds of changes. 

        Even though many of our features and revisions come from customer feedback, unfortunately, not everything can make the cut. Keep in mind that something that sounds like a good idea on paper might either not work or not be particularly useful in practice. More commonly, ideas will come in that just lack insight into the bigger picture. It's a great idea by itself, but when it comes to implementing it into the larger platform, it either doesn't make sense or just doesn't make sense exactly as presented. In an ideal world, everyone would get exactly what they want, but when it comes down to it, leaving out some things will result in a more reliable and well-rounded system overall, to the benefit of everyone using it.  

        We have to make this tradeoff to have the best overall platform. So just remember, if you're one of those customers sending us your feedback and good ideas, even if we don't implement your idea, that doesn't mean there isn't value in it. Elements of your idea influence the platform and how we think about what we add to it. Also, consider it an idea that might not be a good fit today but could still become one in the future. We may never find perfection, but we'll never stop striving for it, either. And every idea, suggestion, or bit of feedback gets us closer. So, keep them coming. 

        August
        11

        We all admire forward thinkers: people who envision what others are incapable of seeing.

        When I think of forward thinkers, I think of people like Steve Jobs, Albert Einstein, Henry Ford, and Elon Musk, just to name a few. I still remember back in 1997 when Steve Jobs put an end to the Newton. I loved the Newton but didn't like how it had to be docked to a computer to synchronize all the data. Later on, when Steve Jobs opened up about why he put an end to the Newton, which was very popular at the time, he said that it was because he envisioned a device that could be connected wirelessly and synchronize wirelessly in real-time. And, since the Newton couldn't do this, it didn't make sense to him. That sounds funny today, but in 1997 it was crazy thinking, and Steve Jobs got blasted for getting rid of the Newton. We now know that he was envisioning something much bigger. That something ultimately turned out to be the iPod and then the iPhone. It was certainly forward thinking in 1997.

        So, what does forward thinking mean to you and me?

        For me, forward thinking is about all aspects of my business, including the products we develop and the market we serve. For you, I want to focus on forward thinking about our market: the general real estate market.

        I recently had a conversation with someone I know that's in the real estate business, and we discussed how he believes that home ownership has dramatically changed for Baby Boomers. We also talked about how it will have big effects on the real estate market for the next 10 years because of all the conveniences available today. Think about someone in their 70s or 80s. Just five years ago, if they couldn't get around very well, they would most likely sell their home and move into some sort of assisted living facility. However, today, with the ability to have groceries delivered, see the doctor virtually, have medication delivered, meals delivered, etc., their lives are very different, and they have choices they didn't have just three or four years ago.

        So much has changed in how people live, and those changes have lasting effects on the real estate industry.

        I used to joke a few years ago that I'm not sure that homes will continue to need garages because of self-driving technology. Someday, I'm not sure exactly when, but someday when self-driving technology gets mature enough, many people will choose to no longer own vehicles because there will be ride-share services with self-driving cars. So, when this day comes, does it mean that the average suburban home no longer has a three-car garage and only has a one-car garage for the "classic" non-self-driving weekend vehicle? Will the homes have more living space?

        Who would have considered that people would become interested in homes with two offices two years ago? Yet today, it's quite common for people to want a home with one formal office and another room (usually an unused bedroom) that acts as the second home office. This is because two people now work remotely instead of from office buildings.

        I could continue giving examples, but what you and I need to do is look at all the changes going on around us and think about how these changes can affect the real estate market. Even though you may not be able to predict the future, just thinking about it on a regular basis makes you more prepared for the changes when they come.

        To close out my thoughts, I challenge you to envision home ownership in the year 2030. What features does the home have? What services do the homeowners want? At what age are people buying and selling homes? Envision all aspects of home ownership in 2030, then envision what kind of business you need to have to serve the real estate market and how this may change the scope of your business.

        One thing is certain: things are changing.

        July
        28

        Serving Pennsylvania, Delaware, New Jersey, Maryland, and beyond, every agent and customer at RealtyMark is treated like a VIP. 

        Looking to change up the real estate game, Ramon (Ray) Gaber founded RealtyMark in 2010. After starting in the Philadelphia area, the business quickly grew to New Jersey, Delaware, and Maryland. RealtyMark is now licensed in New York and expects to be approved soon in Georgia before expanding to Florida and California. 

        Gaber founded the company with the goal of making the lives of real estate agents better. At RealtyMark, agents earn 100% commission, and their transaction fee is $275, capped at $2,750 annually. The base fee to be an agent at RealtyMark is $100 a month; however, the first year is free. Plus, if you bring a new agent to the company, you get an additional free year for recruiting that agent. 

        "I always say there are only two ways to have more money in the world: make more or spend less," says Ray. We give them [agents] both at RealtyMark because we allow them to earn more money, we teach them how to earn more, and we let them keep it." 

        The Agent Experience 

        Not only is it possible to earn more money as a RealtyMark agent, but there are many other enticing incentives for them to succeed. For example, there's an annual RealtyMark cruise offered to agents who do between six and 12 transactions per year. The cruise is usually between seven and 10 nights. Last February, they went on a nine-night Royal Caribbean Cruise that stopped in Haiti, Labadee, St. Martin, and Puerto Rico. An eight-night Royal Caribbean cruise will be available next year. 

        "It's good camaraderie for the agents to be able to not just see someone in the office," says Ray. "They're at the pool. They're at the beach. They're at dinners, lunches, breakfast, shows. It's more of a social atmosphere. A lot of our agents have become really close friends because of the cruise. So, it's a little different than a normal office atmosphere." 

        RealtyMark's agents also have the opportunity to be racecar drivers. All they have to do is bring in sponsors. 

        "NASCAR is the second most-watched sport in America," says Ray. "So, we have race cars on the street that look like NASCAR. And we have programs where if an agent can bring some sponsors in, they can get their own free car to drive around." 

        Aside from these awesome benefits, RealtyMark agents can work from wherever they choose. While live training sessions are hosted several times a week or even multiple times a day, all of them are held virtually over Zoom. Agents are never obligated to come into the office if they don't want to. 

        "Everything can be remote," says Ray. "If they want to come in, great, we have offices all over. But a lot of them never come in at all." 

        Another perk of being a RealtyMark agent is having the RealtyMark Concierge Team at your disposal. This special team does all the agents' paperwork for them, so they don't have to. The concierge team is available seven days a week and will have a client's paperwork ready to sign that day. 

        "I created this about two years ago, the RealtyMark Concierge Team." Ray continues, "I say besides creating RealtyMark and my two children, it's the best creation I ever made. The agent can be inside the house, and if the client says 'we want to put in an offer,' they can pull out their phone, go onto our site, enter between 10 and 15 items, and within the hour, all the paperwork is sent back to the agent ready to DocuSign." 

        RealtyMark also provides constant support for their agents, and that includes having a 24/7 broker hotline they can call to ask for help. And no matter what time of day or how big or small your issue is, they will pick up the phone and answer your question. 

        "At any time of the day or night, they can call and talk to a real estate broker," says Ray. "And basically, we always say, there are no dumb questions. We'd rather they ask the question first instead of getting in trouble." 

        First-Class Treatment 

        At RealtyMark, it's not just the agents who get treated like royalty — it's the customers too. While, of course, they provide excellent customer service and care, they also offer some unique programs clients love. 

        First, through RealtyMark's Closing Protection Program, clients have peace of mind not only throughout the selling process but also right up until the very end. 

        "If, for any reason, our clients do not go to settlement on time, and it's no fault of their own, RealtyMark will put them up in the hotel or motel of their choice for up to three nights," says Ray. "A lot of times, they say, well, why would that happen? Well, if we're representing the seller, all their stuff is in a moving van, and then something happens with the people that are buying their house, and now they have nowhere to sleep except on the floor. It's a nice extra touch to be able to do that." 

        Also, since at RealtyMark "Everyone's a VIP," if the client needs a ride to the closing, RealtyMark will send a limousine to pick them up for free.  

        "We send limousines for our clients; we own the cars. We send them free of charge to bring the clients to and from the closing because everyone's a VIP at RealtyMark," says Ray. 

        RealtyMark gives out free cars to their customers to keep. If a buyer uses a RealtyMark agent that's also the listing agent of the property, they can get a free car leased for up to three years. 

        "We give cars away if the buyer uses our listing agent," says Ray. "So, if we're the listing and they buy the house directly from the listing agent through a dual agency, we'll offer them a free car relative to the value of the home." 

        They also do some exciting promotions, such as if you buy your new house with RealtyMark, they will list your old house for free. 

        "We do promotions like buy your next house with me, and we'll sell your house for free," says Ray. "So, a lot of crazy stuff." 

        Live on TV! 

        Like any successful brokerage, RealtyMark has some excellent strategies for digital marketing. While they still use the essentials like social media and email marketing, they also have something far more unique: a TV show! 

        For nine years running, RealtyMark has had their own show, RealtyMark Showcase of Homes, which airs every Sunday at 9 a.m. EST on PHL17. PHL17 is a popular local station that shows events, including Phillies games, Philadelphia Union soccer games, and the Mummers Parade — which, if you aren't familiar, is a famous Philly tradition that takes place every year on New Year's Day. Airing in 40 different counties throughout four states, many homes have been sold to viewers who watched the show and saw their dream home listed. 

        "We've sold hundreds and hundreds of homes just because people saw it on TV," says Ray. 

        Knowing that their house will be shown on the show also makes sellers more interested in listing with a RealtyMark agent. 

        "It's a listing tool because if you lined up 10 agents that you were thinking about listing your property with," Ray continues, "And if we said, 'well if you list it with me, we'll put it on TV,' my agent's probably going to win out over the other nine." 

        Plus, while television ads tend to be very pricey, RealtyMark agents can feature their listings for free on the show. So, it not only gives them a great way to advertise their listings to a wide audience, but it saves them money too. 

        "A lot of work and many hours go into it every week," says Ray. "And I think it separates us because our agents can put their listings on for free. If they were to just buy commercial time anywhere to put their house on TV, it would be thousands and thousands of dollars. It's one of the benefits of coming to RealtyMark." 

        Another nice thing about the show for both agents and clients is that there's a chance for their kids to be cast in the show. Instead of bringing in talent from elsewhere, RealtyMark gives kids in their own network the chance to have their television debut. 

        "We put a lot of the agents' or the clients' kids on TV; we call them bumpers, and they're in between the houses for sale," says Ray. "We'll have little kids say, 'RealtyMark, don't make a move without us,' or they'll say, 'RealtyMark is selling America, one home at a time.' We give them different things to say, and obviously, the parents have to sign the video release because they're under 18. So, that's a cool thing, and a lot of our agents' kids are on TV." 

        Talking About Tech 

        It wasn't until 2021 that RealtyMark partnered with Delta Media Group®, which was recommended to them after their previous provider discontinued its website product. 

        The first step in working with Delta was custom designing their new website — which they did with half premade templates and half custom design. 

        Dimitri Yarbrough, RealtyMark's Operations Manager, says, "Delta was really efficient and helpful in making a custom website that fit our image." 

        Once the website was up and running, they introduced their agents to the DeltaNET®. With agents of various levels of interest and understanding of technology, they liked the fact that it was something everyone could use. Aside from being easy to navigate, it was efficient and equated with industry standards. It was a "well-rounded solution." 

        "It [DeltaNET] gives them the software they need for marketing, and the agents need their websites, and it's hands-off as well," says Dimitri. "It's pretty easy to use. It helps our agents, especially those who aren't interested in actually engaging in technology. They can just click the button, and they have what the industry standard is. You need that stuff these days." 

        Dimitri believes that it's important to have products like DeltaNET that cater to the older generations and those that aren't as adept at using technology. Otherwise, those people will get left behind — and they shouldn't. While traditional print marketing and community outreach are still viable options for some, it's not where the industry or the future is headed. 

        "In the near future, it seems like there's going to be a big divide between the technology cans and the technology cant's," says Dimitri. "There's going to be a divide between those two groups of people, so I think what we try to do is get the happiest medium because you can't just abandon those people." 

        RealtyMark is the Future 

        RealtyMark's slogan is "The Future of Real Estate." They feel that they are the industry's future because they not only look toward the future but are consistently coming up with innovative ideas that haven't been developed yet. 

        "We're definitely outside-the-box, not your normal vanilla company," says Ray. 

        They aren't looking to be like their competitors. Instead, they strive to be something different and offer something other brokerages don't. RealtyMark always has a new idea waiting to be unveiled, even with all the creative initiatives they already have in place. 

        "We have a lot of cool stuff on deck that we're about to launch because our industry's changing every day," says Ray. "Every time they raise interest rates that will slow the market, there are fewer houses, so the more creative ones get the listings, and that's what we teach our people: how to beat out the others because that's what's going to make them survive instead of giving up." 

        RealtyMark is extremely fast-growing, amassing thousands of agents in just under 12 years of business. And as they expand to new parts of the country, they're looking to double their numbers. If they continue to provide high-quality service and use their creativity to change the industry, there's no way they won't succeed. 

        To learn more about RealtyMark, visit realtymarkllc.com

        August
        3

        Assisting buyers and sellers from Northport to Stony Brook to Garden City, Coach Realtors has been providing luxury on Long Island for nearly 70 years.

        In 1954, two friends who met during World War II created a small one-office firm called Coach Realtors. Around 1980, Coach Realtors merged with another small firm, Northport Realty, owned by Lawrence and Georgianna Finn. Now led by Lawrence and Georgianna's children, Whitney Finn-LaCosta and Lawrence P. (LP) Finn, Coach Realtors lies on a foundation of both friendship and family. 

        Coach Realtors has come a long way since the merger. Today they have 19 offices throughout Long Island and more than 700 high-performing agents. They also have luxury partnerships with a number of organizations, including LeadingRE®, Mayfair International Realty®, Luxury Portfolio International®, Christie's International Real Estate®, and Who's Who in Luxury Real Estate®. 

        Innovation in Recruiting 

        A major factor in the growth of Coach Realtors has been their ability to recruit the right people in the right way. 

        "As far as bringing on agents, I always said that we brought in more agents to our company because of the good agents we already had," says Whitney. "We have really wonderful people that work for our company and like attracts like." 

        First-time agents at Coach have had immense success in starting their careers. Coach Realtors is a mentor company: they take in new people and help them develop their real estate careers. Many of their recruits have now been in the business a long time. 

        "We've been very good at taking in new people and developing a real estate career they've had for a very long time," says Whitney. "And we've had people that have been very successful in our company, started their careers here and been with us for 10 years, 15 years, 20 years, 30 years plus." 

        To attract new agents, Coach Realtors recently set up their very own recruitment website, Join Coach, through Delta Media Group®. This site allows potential agents to get a sense of Coach's culture and the resources that would be available to them as an agent. It also gives them an easy way to get in touch with the leadership team. 

        Time to Teach 

        Over the years, Coach Realtors' leadership team has taught and mentored hundreds of sales agents. This comes as no surprise considering the company's core values and background in education. 

        "My mother was a teacher, and I was a teacher. So, the importance of education runs deep throughout our company," says Whitney. 

        As soon as an agent signs on, the training process begins. Coach Realtors has a comprehensive two-week program to get agents integrated into the company, the technology, and the real estate industry. 

        "We have a professional start program that we call Pro Start," says LP. "It's about a two-week program for when agents first join the company, and it's to get them associated with Coach and start to understand social media marketing, the DeltaNET®, and those aspects of the business. Then we also go into tips and tricks for listing presentations and how to prospect for business, so it encompasses a lot." 

        Although Pro Start ends after two weeks, the education at Coach never does. Whether achieved through mentoring, weekly training sessions, or bringing in top-level speakers and panelists, there are endless opportunities for agents to continue learning. 

        "The training in our industry is never-ending, and it has to be consistent and ongoing," says LP. "There's always an opportunity to learn and grow in our business if you've been in it for two days or you've been in it for 20 years." 

        "The Best Work Comes From the Heart" 

        The motto at Coach Realtors is "The Best Work Comes From the Heart." The staff has used this saying to create an environment based on unparalleled positivity and support. The team not only believes in providing this for their customers but for each other as well. 

        "I always say the company and office environment should be an environment where when you have your worst days, you should be able to walk in and they pick you up, and they dust you off and help you get back out there." Whitney continues, "And when you have your best days and your biggest successes, they should be clapping and championing you and championing those successes." 

        In an industry like real estate, where there are endless obstacles to overcome, optimism can be hard to come by. But Coach Realtors understands that it is much easier to have a positive outlook when you feel supported. 

        "I think that positivity is when you have support, and you feel supported, and you know that there's someone there at any level no matter what you need, may it be from marketing, technology, your CRM," says Whitney. 

        Selling Luxury 

        At Coach Realtors, they aren't just selling homes. They're selling luxury. And that means more than just showing a well-appointed home. This sense of luxury also includes how they treat their customers, the experience they give them, and how they make them feel. It's a whole package. This level of care remains the same no matter the property's price. 

        "We do have some high price points on Long Island, but it's important to realize that no matter what home someone's selling, whatever home anybody is buying, that is usually the top of what they can afford," LP says. "And they deserve to have that luxury experience, no matter the property price." 

        Along with providing a high level of customer service, selling luxury is also about selling something special. That's why every house Coach Realtors sells comes with a story. 

        Whitney says, "We make sure that we deliver a story, something unique that talks about the property and talks to the potential buyer, tells them why that property is special." 

        Delivering Through Delta 

        To assist them with their technological and marketing efforts, Coach Realtors has been working with Delta Media Group since 2018. They chose Delta for several reasons and feel that they made the right decision with the company's future in mind. What initially drove them to Delta was that, unlike other tech firms, everything they needed was all in one organized place. 

        "A lot of the service providers out there are like an ugly ball of clay, just kind of bolting stuff on, and you have this big bumpy, lumpy mess at the end," LP says. "The ecosystem Delta has created is all in one spot. It's a nice, small, clean round ball that plays well. There's no need to keep bolting things on." 

        Not only are they satisfied with the product and find it easy to use, but they are also fond of Delta's leadership and how they are always looking out for their business and their agents. 

        "It has to do with the leadership of Delta too, their willingness to listen to what the needs of the companies are and then to create new products or make changes," says Whitney. "And it's about the agent and what the agent needs to make their business better. And I think that Delta has a really good understanding of that." 

        The Coach Realtors team is also pleased with Delta's responsiveness and ability to both accept and implement feedback. 

        Coach Realtors' Communications Director Shannon Heyman says, "I've worked with a lot of different types of technology platforms, but Delta Media Group is the first company I've worked with that is so responsive and encourages feedback. And they not only accept the feedback, but they make the changes that the feedback is requesting. At Coach, we also put focus on listening to our agents' wants and needs, and we try to make the necessary changes to accommodate those requests. I think that is why our partnership with Delta Media Group works so well. Both companies prioritize the customer and agent." 

        A Vision for the Future 

        With a proactive approach, Coach Realtors constantly uses new technology and innovation to think ahead and plan for their future. From the very beginning, Lawrence and Georgianna Finn had a vision for the company's future. 

        "My parents always had good focus and a good vision for what they wanted to happen," says Whitney. 

        Coach Realtors has recently used their "vision" to launch Coach Video Studio. The studio is run by professional videographers who work with their agents. To create it, they converted one of their conference rooms and added backdrops and props. 

        Delta Media Group assisted with this recent development by creating the Coach Video Studio website, where agents can sign up for appointment times with videographers. So far, the video studio has been a huge success and proven beneficial for Coach agents in their marketing efforts. 

        "We understand the importance of video, and that's really where a lot of marketing, especially in real estate, is going," says Shannon. 

        Ideas like this are what sets Coach Realtors apart and ensures the company will be prepared for the industry's future. If you have a vision for where things are going, you can never get lost.  

        "Coach has been around for quite some time, but a large part of our continued success is the ability to see where the industry is going, the marketing needed to get there, and then acting quickly to provide our agents with the necessary tools to adapt and continue to grow their business," says Shannon. "This part of who we are is something we're really proud of." 

        To learn more about Coach Realtors, visit coachrealtors.com and joincoach.com.

         

         

        July
        25


        Founded by a mother and son, Joyce Realty is a force to be reckoned with in the New York metro area — covering all five boroughs of NYC, northern New Jersey, and the New York Hudson Valley.  

        When Kevin Joyce was growing up, he never imagined following in his mother Mary Ellen's footsteps and entering the world of real estate. He had a passion for the arts and wanted to be an entertainment lawyer.  

        "During elementary school, middle school, high school, and college, my mother was always engaged in real estate, working as an agent/broker for Patriot Realty, which eventually became Century 21," Kevin continues, "At the time, I had absolutely no aspirations to actually go into real estate." 

        That all changed when Kevin took a real estate course as an elective in college. 

        "Running out of electives in college but needing extra credits to graduate, I took a real estate course, and to my surprise, I realized I had a passion for it," says Kevin. "Needing a sponsoring broker to take the class, I turned to my mother's broker, Patrick Nealon, and started doing real estate. When I approached my mother and told her I was going to work real estate for the summer, her advice was, 'don't do it.' However, right out of the gate that summer, I made $58,000, and I thought to myself, 'ok, I have the gene.'" 

        From this experience, Kevin ultimately realized that even though she warned him not to pursue it, his passion for the industry was passed down to him from his mother. Continuing on this path with Century 21, out of 8,000 agents in the Northeast, Mary Ellen was ranked #3, and Kevin was ranked #5.  

        After having such immense success during his first few years in the business, Kevin proposed the idea to his mother of the two of them starting their own company. And together, they decided to go all-in, and that was the birth of Joyce Realty, joining together as equal partners in 1994. 

        Sadly in 2013, Mary Ellen passed away after a long and courageous battle with ovarian cancer. Her 15-year odyssey through this disease considered a miracle in itself at the time, was a testament to her faith, strength, and unwillingness to ever give up. Since then, Kevin has served as the company's president and principal broker.     

        Setting up for Success 

        The first step in starting Joyce Realty was opening the first office in Pearl River, NY. This 5,000-square-foot location is currently the brokerage's main office. Kevin laments, "If we were a Macy's, that location would be considered Herald Square for our company."  

        After setting roots in Pearl River, Joyce Realty branched out to northern New Jersey, setting up shop in Mahwah in Bergen County. They recently opened a beautiful new office in Throggs Neck, on East Tremont Avenue, a prime location in the Bronx, even offering a water taxi service bringing you to midtown Manhattan in 20 minutes. Joyce Realty not only sells properties in the Bronx but in the other four boroughs and Westchester County as well.  

        Although there is a great deal of competition in New York City, Joyce Realty recognizes the benefits and opportunities that come with being in that market, such as the high price points.  

        "The New York Metro market is a prime marketplace to be in," Kevin continues, "And I feel very fortunate sometimes because I've been going to places where, for instance, in the Midwest, a broker that did 2000 transaction sides, but their average sale price is $170K. My market is $680k right now."  

        Kevin has always known exactly what he wanted Joyce Realty to be. He never needed to be the biggest brokerage in the city, but rather one with a good reputation that speaks to the hard work of its team members.  

        "I like to think of myself as maybe not the biggest company, but I like to say that we're like a battleship boutique brokerage in the hottest markets in this country," says Kevin.  

        Cultivating a Brand  

        In the company's early days, Joyce Realty had its own magazine to advertise their listings, which were sent to over 30,000 people. It was sent out 10 times a year over 10 months. Unfortunately, this venture ended when the publisher closed its doors and print started transitioning to digital.  

        "We had our own magazine," Kevin continues, "It was a private cover for what's now The Real Estate Book, which is Network Communications. We jumped on their distribution, and I had 72 advertisers in my magazine."  

        To market current listings in the digital age, Joyce Realty joined REBNY (Real Estate Board of New York) and is part of four other multiple listing services, including one in New York and three in New Jersey. They are also the exclusive affiliate for Leverage Global Partners.  

        Considering he's an artist and his father owned a paper company, design comes naturally to Kevin. Therefore, he worked side-by-side with a designer to create the brand's original graphics and other marketing materials. He still assists with many of the company's creative projects today.  

        "A lot of the stuff that was built, ad-wise, I did with the graphic artist hands-on," says Kevin. "I'm used to that type of diet, and I like it because it's creative."  

        Trying Times 

        In the first 10 years of Joyce Realty, the company grew considerably, to the point where by 2007, they had seven different offices. However, the early 2000s was a trying time for brokers. Kevin vividly recalls the 2008 market crash and how it affected the company and the real estate industry as a whole. But instead of giving up, he saw it as a chance to restructure and make necessary changes.  

        "We had been a much larger company managing seven offices at one time, but then 2007-2008 hit us, and I knew I had to swallow any type of pride that may be inhibiting us from moving forward," says Kevin. "So, you have to renegotiate with your landlord to get out of leases as well as contracts with multiple vendors." 

        Despite these challenges, Joyce Realty survived the recession and came back better than ever. Plus, going through that made them better prepared for the current market and the obstacles that came with COVID-19. Kevin also recognizes that the city and suburban markets are vastly different, which has become even more apparent over the past few years.  

        "The concentration and the population in the city are a different animal than, say, dealing with suburbia," says Kevin. "We are seeing our unit values, the transaction sides, go up exponentially. We are experiencing where the lack of inventory and the rate-raising environment has created a vacuum where I'm seeing bids go over $100,000, waving inspections. The fed is raising the interest rates because they're trying to tame down inflation."  

        Joining Joyce 

        Recruiting new agents is an important part of Kevin's role as president of Joyce Realty. That's why one thing that initially appealed to him about Delta Media Group® was the ability to custom-make his own recruiting website. With the help of Delta's design team, Kevin created JoinJoyce.com, an innovative recruiting website to attract new agents. 

        "I did some digging within Delta, and I saw some other companies that had recruitment websites," Kevin continues. "And that's a big part of my business."  

        Although Joyce Realty is often looking for new recruits, when it comes to hiring talent, they certainly value quality over quantity and thus only want to work with those that are a match with the company. 

        "Recruitment is important to me, but it has to be a fit," says Kevin. "I usually sit with somebody, and we chat, and then I see what their motivation is. We have amazing systems in our company with onboarding people into our group. But I would rather have 50 really well-fed agents than 200 agents doing two transactions."  

        Having Their Backs 

        Kevin feels that in order to run a successful business, a leader should be someone who is always there to run ideas by and lend a helping hand.  

        "I love succeeding; I love getting people what they want and doing a good job," says Kevin. "And I love seeing my agents succeed, and I'm always their wingman. They know they can pick up the phone, and if they need to talk to me about something, or brainstorm about something to get something done, I'm always there for them."  

        He also understands the importance of giving the team the proper resources and a clear set of guidelines. So, aside from providing them with top-tier technology to make things simpler for agents, Joyce Realty has a handbook that is updated every year as the industry changes. Company processes and expectations change along with it.  

        "We have a policy and procedure handbook that everyone can get every year," says Kevin. "Anything and everything that could come up is inside that book."  

        Kevin believes that agents should feel like their broker is working for them, not the other way around. For agents to feel supported, they need to know that you have their backs, no matter what. 

        A True Partner 

        Kevin first came across Delta Media Group after noticing that other well-known brokerages in the area had been working with the company. He saw the benefits the partnership could have and how it was run and decided it was the perfect opportunity to take Joyce Realty to the next level. 

        "I've been a huge proponent of building infrastructure and having processes that will bring value and bring in business," says Kevin. "And that's what attracted me about Delta." 

        He has found that the products Delta offers are worth the investment, saying, "I'm investing more with Delta because it's smart." 

        Although Delta Media Group is Joyce Realty's tech vendor, Kevin sees it as so much more than that. 

        "I don't think of you guys ever as my vendor; you're a partner to me," says Kevin. "You're my online window to the world. That's where people look." 

        What Kevin values most is the team at Delta. He appreciates being able to meet with the staff regularly and is always aware of what's happening and what's new with the technology. 

        "Just keeping the pulse where no one feels that they don't know what's going on. That was an important thing for me," says Kevin. 

        Targeting the Younger Generations 

        Being in a metropolitan area packed with young people, the majority of Joyce's prospective clients fall into the Gen Z and Millennial categories. Because of this, using generational marketing to directly target their customer base is an essential part of Joyce's marketing strategy.  

        Joyce Realty targets these younger groups by showing them the data and giving them the information they need to start the home-buying process. On their website, they have a First Time Home Buying Guide as well as a Millennial Homeownership Guide. These guides are complete with everything young buyers need to know — from reasons to own your house to understanding down payments, mortgages, and the loan approval process. 

        "I think Gen Z appreciates the value proposition of giving them really strong data and a one-stop package type of situation and streamlining everything," says Kevin. 

        Another way they market to younger buyers is through their blog on their DeltaNET® website. While their blog appeals to every demographic, posts about saving for your first home, local restaurants and bars, dog parks, and Instagram-worthy spots are reeling in those Gen Z and Millennial buyers by telling them the information they want to know. 

        Joyce Realty also caters to first-time home buyers because they have their own mortgage company, QuestStar Mortgage, that Kevin created himself. QuestStar Mortgage is a full-service mortgage company specializing in conventional, FHA, VA, jumbo, and refinance loans. Through the Joyce Realty website and the Loanzify app, the home loan approval and mortgage calculation processes are made easy and can be done from anywhere. 

        "I recruited from one of my competitors, a loan processor, and we're online now with seven of the largest banks, and we can cater to every need that people have," Kevin says. "It's a one-stop-shop solution that we offer." 

        Kevin believes that Gen Z is the industry's future and feels that the younger generations are starting to see the value in homeownership and having a place to call home. 

        "I think no matter what generation, even though it's Gen Z and they say that Gen Z is not going to stay at the same employer for a long time, they're going to jump around," Kevin continues, "I think what's happened to everybody with us dealing with this COVID plague is we recognized that home is where the heart is." 


        Moving Forward 

        Aside from revamping their technology with Delta and introducing new generational marketing strategies, Joyce Realty has recently made several other updates. They renovated their corporate office and did the build-out of their mortgage suite. 

        "We got all licensed," says Kevin. "I got personally licensed as a mortgage loan originator, which was a new thing. We grew that side of our business. We want to have the experience for our clients to have a one-stop real value where you can say, well, I'm going to check this out. I can beat the retail bank anytime because I deal with the largest wholesale banks in the nation." 

        During the pandemic, Kevin took the time to build a new structure for the company. He declared it his responsibility to lead his team through such a difficult time. 

        "It was a lot during this COVID period; we were moving forward and building the business up and infrastructure up to be ready," says Kevin, "That's really what my job has been: to lead. I was hands-on with the whole build-out of our sites from square one." 

        Kevin feels that consistency is the key to continued growth and success; nothing lasts if you aren't always striving for better. 

        "The biggest thing I think to have longevity is consistency," he says. "I'm never completely 100% satisfied because I want to do better." 

        Kevin also believes that having the right tools and support in your corner is essential to keeping momentum, which is something every business needs to move forward. 

        "It's called momentum," he explains. "You can't let the grass grow under your feet. You have to keep on moving with everything. And that translates into not just work, but personal life, fitness, just being a good person and growing. You have to keep the wheels turning, get things locked down, and get your position in place for where you want to be and where you're going to grow." 

        Leaving a Legacy 

        Although Kevin's mother isn't around to run the business with him anymore, the lessons and values she instilled in him during his childhood and early career remain present. 

        Kevin's mother always told him, "Always be ethical. Keep your sense of humor. Try your best and be consistent, and you'll be above the pack." Kevin takes this advice with him everywhere he goes. It represents the company and the values that every staff member and agent at Joyce Realty follows each and every day. 

        Another lesson Kevin learned from his mother is that people don't become successful by others getting things done for them, but rather by watching the examples others have set for them while making something their own. 

        "My mom never gave me any leads, but I did watch her," says Kevin. "And I don't think anyone that's truly successful in real estate emulates exactly; you make it your own, and you internalize it." 

        Finally, Kevin puts people first and cares about his clients, just as his mother always did. His primary goal is to help his agents and clients succeed, and he loves doing it.  

        "I really care about the people first before my transactions," says Kevin. "And I think that's where my strength has always been, with my agents and my clients and everything that I deal with and growing the company because I believe in it, I'm passionate about it, and I really I love what I do, and I don't think many people can say that." 

        As Kevin continues to follow his mother's advice, the example she set for him, and always puts his customers and agents before himself, Joyce Realty will continue to leave a legacy — just as Mary Ellen did. Real estate runs deep in the Joyce family, and the leadership qualities, talent, and passion Kevin inherited are truly what sets Joyce Realty apart from the pack. 

        To learn more about Joyce Realty, visit joycerealty.com and joinjoyce.com.

        June
        23

        The most successful real estate agents tend to have a steady routine. They know their team, their brand and what they must do each day to achieve their goals. So, change can be a challenge even for the most experienced agents, just as it is for newer agents who are still establishing their foothold in the industry. A merger represents a significant change for any agent, but it can also lead to new opportunities for agents to thrive.

        Keeping your agents happy throughout the merger process comes with its challenges, but it's one of the most important things you can do to make your merger a success. Transparent communication, honesty and a willingness to listen are all key ingredients in keeping your team on the same page as you transition to a new era. So, let's take a deeper look at what you can do to keep agents happy before, during and after a merger.

        There are two sides to the coin for agents who are part of a merger, with the fear of change and the unknown being balanced by the new opportunities that the merger presents for them to grow their careers. How each agent perceives a merger depends largely on how you communicate with them, how well you prepare them for the transition and what they have to look forward to once the merger is complete.

        Start With Open, Transparent Communication

        Change is scary. That's as true for agents who've been with you for 25 years as it is for the promising, new agent who has recently closed their first few deals. How much that fear of change influences agents depends on how well you communicate with them throughout the merger process. So much of the fear of change comes from fear of the unknown, which is one reason why transparent communication is so important.

        When you keep your agents informed, provide details and focus on open, transparent communication, those agents will naturally have less to fear. They will know what to expect from each step of the process, how to prepare themselves for the transition and where they'll stand when the merger is complete. Just as agents want clients to be able to imagine what their lives would be like in a potential new home, you want your agents to be able to imagine what their careers will be like after the merger.

        These conversations won't always be easy, but they are necessary. The bottom line is that every agent is planning for their own financial future, and the possibility of a merger can have a big impact on their personal career plans. Effective communication helps keep everyone on the same page and gives you the best chance of keeping agents happy during a merger.

        Provide Frequent Updates Using All Channels of Communication

        Transparent communication is important, but it can only have the desired effect if that communication is also consistent and accessible. One of the easiest mistakes to make during a merger is to provide your team with a healthy dose of information upfront but then let communication trail off as time passes. Even if those initial details give agents a lot to look forward to, fear of the unknown is sure to creep back in if communication doesn't remain consistent over time.

        So, you'll want to have a plan for providing frequent updates throughout the process to keep your agents informed and give them confidence about what comes next. When you're providing those updates, don't just rely on one channel of communication. An email with bullet points can provide important facts, but a video message or video call can provide greater context while allowing for a more personal touch.

        Communicating through multiple channels has another key, practical benefit. Most teams have agents from various generations, and each agent will have their own preferences regarding communication channels. By providing updates through all channels of communication, you can ensure that your message gets through to each agent in the most comfortable and accessible way.

        Create a Private Facebook Group to Provide an Open Forum For Conversations

        So far, we've focused mostly on how you can communicate effectively with agents. However, it's equally important to ensure that agents have an open forum for communicating with management, and with one another. Starting a private Facebook group for your team to discuss the merger is a great way to foster the back-and-forth communication that is crucial to success.

        This is one area where your willingness to listen, understand where agents are coming from, and respond in a thoughtful, transparent way will be critical. Agents will have questions, concerns and curiosities about what the future will hold for them after a merger. Those questions won't always be pleasant, and that's okay. Agents will naturally be concerned about their professional futures during a merger, and any tough questions they may have will be coming from an honest place.

        A private Facebook group also provides a safe place for agents to interact with one another regarding the merger. Keeping an eye on what agents are discussing can provide valuable insights into what they're thinking and feeling, which can ultimately help you communicate more effectively with your team.

        Showcase the New Tools and Opportunities That Agents Will Have

        Another key element of effective communication is showcasing all the positive things that agents will have to look forward to after a merger. While the details differ case by case, mergers often provide new perks to help agents thrive.

        Perhaps you're merging with a company known for its effective digital marketing practices, which can help every agent grow their personal brand within the larger company while generating more and better-quality leads. Maybe the combined financial strength created by the merger allows you to invest in new technology that will directly benefit agents, like a modern, feature-rich real estate CRM that can make their lives easier in many ways.

        In many cases, the merger may create opportunities for agents to reach new markets or gain a stronger foothold in their existing markets. A merger might mean adding new divisions to the company, which will allow agents to branch out into luxury or commercial real estate if that is their preference. A larger team also means more learning opportunities, whether through mentorship for new agents or through experienced agents trading tips on what works best for them in specific markets.

        Whatever the benefits are that agents can look forward to after the merger, make sure to communicate them clearly. It's so much easier to keep agents happy during a merger when they know that they'll have tangible, professional benefits that can help them grow their own careers and increase their earnings after the process is complete.

        Stay Focused on Positives While Providing Proper Context and Perspective on Negatives

        Let's be honest. In most cases, a merger is a mixed bag for agents, especially from their perspective. Ideally, the positives will strongly outweigh the negatives, but those negatives will still exist. Since agents are naturally so focused on how the merger will impact their own careers, it can be easy for them to focus on the negatives even if the merger will have positive benefits for them in the long run.

        Keeping agents focused on the positives is an important part of your job during a merger. As we detailed in the previous section, there are usually plenty of things for agents to be excited about regarding a merger, so you should have no shortage of benefits to focus on when discussing the future with your team. Always be honest, but try to keep conversations focused on the positives as often as possible.

        However, focusing on the positives doesn't mean ignoring any negatives that may be part of the process. Instead, try to provide the proper context and perspective on any factors that agents could view as negative. Even if they don't like one aspect of the merger, it will be much easier for them to digest if they understand why a change is necessary. When agents focus on the positives while understanding the context of the negatives, the transition of a merger is much easier for everyone involved.

        The Bottom Line: A Successful Merger Starts With Communication

        If there's been one consistent theme in our deep dive on mergers, it's that effective, transparent, consistent communication is the key to unlocking a prosperous future for both you and your team. Keeping your agents informed is the best way to keep them happy throughout the process while making them feel involved and invested as a result. Fortunately, you have a wide variety of tools available to help you keep them up to date. Balance honesty with positivity, and be prepared to answer questions in a transparent way.

        Remember, too, that the merger is just the start of the journey. Communication isn't only important during a merger. It's also a key factor in the transition period after the merger is complete, while your agents adjust to the new normal. Keep your agents on the same page, and your business will emerge from a merger stronger than ever before.

        June
        20

        Is your team taking advantage of every opportunity to expand into new niches, unlock new markets and reach new clients in your existing ones? Targeting niches is one of the best ways to expand your real estate brand and create new opportunities for your team. But it's not something that your agents will do automatically. There's competition in every major real estate niche, so success requires a plan for your team, motivation from team leaders and modern marketing tools to help you effectively target every niche that matters to your business.

        The first step to successfully targeting niches is getting your agents on board with the process. This may require a little bit of convincing, but savvy agents will ultimately recognize the value of targeting niches for their own career as well as the team as a whole. So, you can start by asking each team member to take on an extra specialty – ideally, one that suits their skills and ambitions as an agent.

        Depending on what types of properties are available in the markets you aim to conquer, your team should have quite a few options when choosing a niche. Luxury real estate, new home sales and land/lot sales are always popular choices, but they're far from the only options. Also, consider specialty property sales like waterfront homes, equestrian properties, agricultural properties, condos and golf course homes.

        Find the Niche That's Right For You

        These are just some of the most popular niches that your team can target. The best niches to target will depend on the types of properties and opportunities available in the markets you wish to reach, which will naturally vary from one market to the next. Here are some tips to help team members pick a niche that fits their passions and skills:

        Choose a Specific Geographic Area

        Expanding can mean establishing your brand in a new geographic area that you haven't served before or expanding into a niche that you didn't previously cover within your existing markets. Either way, choosing where you want to target a new niche is the perfect place to start.

        · Research Demographics and Market Trends

        Once you know where, it's time to discover which niches are available in that market. Demographic research can help you find out more about the potential clients in a market and whether there could be a niche targeting a specific generation of clients like Millennials or Baby Boomers.

        Researching market trends and the types of properties available within a market is another key step. That's how you'll find out whether it makes sense to target one of the many property niches that we have already mentioned above.

        · Pursue a Passion

        Naturally, as an agent, it can be helpful to pursue a niche that you already have a passion for. If you tend to gravitate toward a specific type of property and have built up a strong knowledge base around it, that niche will likely be a great fit to pursue further. Remember, though, that having an initial passion for a niche isn't a requirement for success. If you identify an excellent opportunity to cater to a niche and find success within it, that passion will likely develop over time.

        · Identify Opportunities in Existing Networks

        Along the same lines as pursuing a passion, evaluating your existing personal and professional networks can also provide insight into which niches are the best fit for you. If you already have extensive connections within a specific niche, that can provide a big advantage compared to starting from scratch.

        Create Opportunities by Specializing in New Ways to Buy Homes

        Specializing in specific types of real estate is a great start, but it's not the only way for your team to target niches effectively. More than ever, buyers have an increasing number of options for how to purchase a home. Having one or more team members focus on new ways to buy homes can help you unlock new markets while showing your target audiences that you can accommodate all of the needs of modern, market-savvy clients.

        Though they cater to people who want to buy or sell homes through technology, iBuyer services rely on local agents to supplement their online services. Power Buyers provides unique financing options for purchasing homes, with a larger national footprint and a more agent-focused model than iBuyers. With such a fast-paced modern real estate market, providing Cash Offer solutions can also be a great area to target.

        With how quickly real estate evolves — especially in recent years — it's critical to keep your finger on the pulse of the many ways people are buying and selling homes. Being an early adopter of new buying/selling tools does come with risk, but gaining an early foothold can give you a major leg up on the competition when a new way to buy homes becomes more mainstream.

        Leverage the Right Real Estate Tech

        Of course, choosing the right niches is just an important first step in the process. In order to expand and truly conquer those new markets, you're going to need to back your team by providing the right modern marketing tools to help them thrive. Our DeltaNET® 6 CRM combines the best modern real estate tech in one convenient, easy-to-use package, allowing each team member to market their niche confidently and unlock sustainable ways to attract new clients.

        · Virtual Tours, Open Houses and Showings

        With more buyers expecting to be able to tour homes in detail online, providing virtual tours, open houses and showings are a must for breaking into your new niches. Providing these modern options will help you appeal to tech-savvy buyers and anyone shopping for a home in a market far from their current location. It also adds appeal to sellers, who will see that you provide the best tools available for marketing their listing.

        · Lead Management, Tracking and Automated Lead Segmentation

        No matter the niche, it's so much easier to accomplish your goals when you know which leads are ready to pursue, which ones will need some nurturing and which ones can safely be put on the back burner. Automated lead segmentation makes life easier for agents and boosts productivity by allowing them to focus on the right leads at the right time.

        · Smart Drip Email Campaigns

        Email marketing is one of your best tools for nurturing leads within a new niche, allowing you to send timely, relevant content that helps to convert leads over time. Even if they're not ready to buy or sell right now, smart drip email campaigns make them more likely to think of you first when they're prepared to take the next step.

        · Customizable eCards and Flyers

        Whether you want to send an eCard online to promote a new listing or create a more traditional flyer, we make it easy to create appealing, informative marketing materials with hundreds of templates that are easy to customize to suit your niche. In addition to promoting properties, eCards are excellent for recognizing your clients' special days and reminding them that you're always there to help with their real estate needs.

        · AI-Driven Email Newsletters

        Keep your clients informed on the latest market happenings in their niche with auto-generated, AI-driven email newsletters. Clients benefit from having relevant, up-to-date information on the markets that matter to them, and agents benefit by having an automated, timely tool for keeping clients in the loop.

        · Digital Marketing Services

        In addition to all of the tools found within DeltaNET® 6, we offer comprehensive digital marketing services to help you conquer new niches. Whether you want a fresh, modern website with excellent SEO, a more robust social media presence, niche-specific content for your blog or an easy way to launch paid advertising campaigns on the biggest platforms, our digital marketing services are here to help boost your brand as you expand into new markets.

        Remember That Conquering New Markets Requires Time and Commitment

        In some cases, if a niche is truly under-served in the markets you aim to reach, team members can find something close to instant success in targeting that niche. However, most of the time, expanding into new markets isn't an overnight process. It takes a certain level of effort and commitment to establish a lasting place in new markets.

        As we've covered extensively, choosing the right niches and providing your team with the best real estate tech for marketing to those niches will go a long way toward establishing your brand in new markets. The long-term benefits of conquering new markets are more than worth the effort for individual team members and your real estate brand.

        June
        16

        What's in the news sometimes feels like it has no connection to daily life. But world events can have a real impact on the housing market. Even though happenings overseas won't directly influence housing stock, they can change the perceptions of buyers and sellers.

        Just think about how the arrival of COVID-19 transformed the real estate industry. Never before in history did so many professionals come together, questioning the basic assumptions they had relied on for so long. But to protect agents and their customers, nothing less would do.

        Now, we live in a world with unprecedented virtual transformation.

        It was once unthinkable that buyers would purchase a home without ever setting foot in it. But thanks to virtual tours and open houses, it's now a regular part of doing business. Change has arrived throughout the value chain, with "drive-through" closings still available in some areas.

        Even as the pandemic fades into the rearview mirror and mitigation measures disappear, the industry has learned new ways of adding value that aren't going away. Buyers and sellers have come to depend on these innovations, and now they are a way of life in real estate.

        All in all, it's safe to say real estate will never go back to the old way of doing things.

        Of course, international events can positively or negatively affect housing. It's hard not to wonder about the ramifications of Russia's invasion of Ukraine, for example. We live in a world where nothing is impossible and unprecedented events can happen at any time.

        For our customers and communities, real estate professionals must be ready.

        With that in mind, let's look at how world events impact home sales. It's a big question, and even the most accomplished scholars often disagree on the answer. But if we break this down into a few core aspects, it'll become much easier to see what the future might hold.

        How do Larger Economic Conditions – Macroeconomics – Affect Home Sales?

        Over the last few years, the biggest economic indicator real estate pros have followed is the interest rate. Buyers and sellers alike have been waiting with bated breath to know when interest rates would rise and how quickly.

        We all know that higher interest rates mean buyers spend more money servicing their mortgage loans over a lifetime. Historically low-interest rates drove millions of Americans into the housing market who might have otherwise had to wait.

        Some prospective buyers will be pushed onto the sidelines if interest rates regain their former levels over time. Likewise, sellers will no longer expect to get caught up in the middle of a profitable bidding war. Yet, no one really knows what the future holds for interest rates, either.

        That raises the question: What might happen with home sales if the global economy shifts?

        World economic conditions often follow the United States, not the other way around. An upturn in the global economy is good for home sales, but the reverse is not always the case. Poor conditions abroad may have limited effects on the U.S. housing market or no impact at all.

        Historically, housing inventory has an even greater influence on selling than world events or even interest rates.

        Combined with buyer and seller demographics, housing inventory is the major factor that determines which way a housing market is going at any given time. Markets are so responsive to inventory that local, state, and regional sales trends can be markedly different.

        This is one of the reasons why local expertise is so essential to successful real estate agents.

        While problems like higher fuel prices will raise business overhead for agents and the people they serve, there is no reason to believe any of the global economic factors we currently know of are setting up for a dramatic or long-lasting impact on homeownership in the United States.

        Low Inventory is Keeping Prices Up in Many Parts of the Country

        Higher interest rates mean that financing packages are harder to come by for the average buyer, and some may need to put their homebuying plans on pause. At the same time, however, low inventory is helping to sustain lofty housing prices. In some hot urban markets, they are skyrocketing.

        The growing prevalence of remote "work from home" jobs means that small towns and cities around the country are getting new interest from buyers who often have significant savings and disposable income. Along with investors, these buyers continue to make a brisk trade in markets from coast to coast.

        All signs indicate that low housing stock will continue to be an issue for several years to come.

        Like most other industries, home builders saw a demand slump. Many have slowed down their overall pace of operations and paused major developments. Even as businesses return to a robust schedule, they still face supply chain issues that could substantially drag their finances.

        Hot housing markets may soon drop to a simmer. But the wise agent should not be discouraged by the sudden change. While others batten down the hatches, don't give in to the temptation to reduce your investment in your business. In particular, agencies and brokerages must continue to do marketing.

        The last two years have seen an unprecedented pivot from traditional face-to-face marketing to a mix of digital methods. The nature of digital marketing is that each piece of collateral you create has a chance to make your website more visible in online searches relevant to your business.

        In a world where most buyers go online to start their home search, it's crucial to commit your time and resources to online visibility. A brand new digital marketing strategy may take about three months to gain traction. Still, as it continues, it provides compounding returns – helping your website climb the ranks of relevant searches. That means more first-time website visitors every month.

        Real estate agents are uniquely positioned to turn their websites into lead generation engines. They can also benefit more from social media than virtually anyone else online. A consistent digital marketing approach is the key to achieving work-life balance and ending the days of "hunting down leads."

        But that requires real estate agents to prioritize their digital marketing, rain or shine. Even when there are market headwinds to hinder your growth plans, the agents that reap the most benefit from an economic recovery are those who have continued their marketing through the worst.

        The Demographics Are in Your Favor

        One of the biggest success stories of the pandemic era is the strong showing older Generation Z buyers made. With the elder cohort in their mid-20s, Generation Z is having kids and looking at homes. They also have a distinctly "old-fashioned" orientation to buying that may prove helpful.

        Unlike much of the Millennial generation and Gen X before them, Gen Z sees buying a home as a key goal for their early life. Many say they want to get it done by age 35, some by 30. That puts them on track with their grandparents' generation, seeing a home as an essential asset for wealth building.

        Don't count Millennials out, either.

        While some Millennials remain wary of home buying (and big financial institutions in general), others recognize opportunity in the fast-changing housing situation. Now long past tired of renting, they are the largest demographic group in the market today and will remain so for some time.

        Over the past few years, Millennials have been:

        • The largest group of homebuyers
        • The largest group of first-time sellers

        That underscores the point above: Marketing is a sound investment. Savvy brokerages and agents must be marketing to Millennials. Make sure your real estate website is fast, modern, and looks great on a smartphone, which an increasing number of young people use as their primary form of online access.

        No One Can Read the Tea Leaves on Interest Rates

        From ordinary buyers and sellers to highly trained analysts, everyone waited to see what would happen with interest rates. And, sure enough, the general trend for a while was up. Then it was down. What's next? The truth is, no one knows.

        Rising interest rates would have some very predictable outcomes for the housing market, which may be one reason why everyone is so focused on them. But when it comes to the actual timing of interest rate increases (or decreases), uncertainty is the only sure thing.

        Recent events have proven that nobody has a crystal ball on interest rates, not even the Federal Reserve. So, if you find yourself thinking about the subject a lot or the planning around it, it may be prudent to step back and put things in perspective. No matter who you are or where you stand in your career, you'll always get the most done by focusing on the things under your influence.

        Real Estate is Cyclical – Tune Into Your Own Sphere of Influence

        Real estate agents rise by their local expertise. Because they know their markets well, they are trusted to set a steady course under any conditions. Instead of looking over the horizon or overseas, it's better – and much easier on your nerves – to zero in on what's directly in front of you.

        There'll always be people right in your backyard who are ready to buy or sell a home no matter where you are. Some agents have seen both the best and the worst markets of their careers over the last few years, but the ones who got through with the greatest ease maintained a steady hand.

        Change is the only constant, but you can continue to deliver the highest quality of service to your customers, deepen your network, and show others how you can help them both online and off.

        There's Never Been a Better Time to Leverage DeltaNET® 6, the World's Best Real Estate CRM

        A good Customer Relationship Management app provides complete visibility into your entire network. You can see at a glance where prospects, leads, and customers stand in their real estate journey. And you can continue strengthening relationships with a timely, relevant follow-up that makes a difference.

        In a time of uncertainty, the best thing to do is improve your fundamentals. Many real estate agents are still tracking their relationships manually, spending hours figuring out when to follow up and how to do it. To save thousands of hours every year, a CRM suite is imperative.

        DeltaNET 6 is the first real estate CRM developed by and for real estate professionals. In consultation with agents and brokers from across the United States, it was built with your needs in mind. And it brings world-class artificial intelligence and machine learning into your business like never before.

        With DeltaNET 6, you never miss a beat when others interact with your brand or show interest in your listings. It brings together user behavior data from your website, social media, email, listings, and open houses, so you are with leads every step of the way as they move closer to choosing an agent.

        Plus, it helps you establish the rapport that makes you the most trusted agent in town.

        Providing event-driven updates to your subscribers and followers based on their interests and behavior, DeltaNET 6 ensures you are always in touch and always adding value. You no longer need to work into the night manually writing your emails, blog posts, or social media updates – it's all done for you.

        2020 introduced a new era in real estate, and the pace of change hasn't slowed down since. It's normal to feel worried or confused. But while there's little you can do about the state of the world, you can always elevate the state of your business. The most effective way for agents and brokers is to make sure they're using the right technologies to realize their top priorities.

        June
        15

        In the wide world of housing, "brain drain" is associated with a mismatch between financial capital and human needs. When young, educated people leave an area en masse, usually seeking more affordable housing, it means less innovation in the communities left behind.

        This kind of brain drain often happens in the wake of a housing bubble.

        But there's also a different kind of brain drain, a kind that strikes organizations. When talented people leave, two weeks is often not enough to replace them. And even if their role gets filled, they take with them valuable insights and best practices that are undocumented.

        As a result, the next person in the role takes even longer to acclimate. Depending on the situation, they might never quite reach the performance of their predecessor. Meanwhile, other members of the team and even other departments lose the benefits of that person's special expertise.

        We often look to standardized certifications as a measure of knowledge in real estate. Valuable as they are, though, they only tell part of the story. Soft skills are developed only through experience, which may be lost as colleagues retire or move on.

        Once people are gone, it's often difficult to point to the full extent of their contributions. Brokerages and agencies do their best to train new hires well and find candidates with comparable skills. Still, there's always something irreplaceable – and they may not even know exactly what they lost.

        Luckily, you can solve the problem of brain drain by being proactive.

        By uniting the right hiring practices with the right technologies, it's possible to mitigate the impact of brain drain before it gets felt. It takes time, effort, and preparation to make this happen, but it will positively impact team performance and the future of your enterprise.

        When you prepare for brain drain in advance, you can ensure:

        • New hires adjust to their roles and ramp-up to their full productivity more quickly
        • Retention improves, with fewer "cascades" of losses after a key figure resigns
        • There are no abrupt downturns in productivity arising from one person's loss
        • It is easier to keep people on track in their skill and leadership development
        • Your brand is better able to deliver consistent results to all of your clients

        The brain drain problem might seem amorphous when it isn't happening – out of sight, out of mind. But when a talented individual at any level is lost, it often means others need to pick up the slack. If someone ends up doing two roles for the price of one, they can easily be lost ... and so on and so on.

        Luckily, the inherent flexibility of real estate gives you plenty of ways to strengthen your team.

        Let's look at some of the ways you can connect talent with talent, keeping your organization strong:

        1. Create Advisory Groups to Keep the Different "Generations" of Your Organization Together

        Real estate leaders are learning that offboarding their departing employees may be almost as vital as onboarding them. Just as onboarding sets clear expectations for the newcomer, offboarding creates a chance for an ongoing and productive relationship.

        As a result, some of the most prestigious brands in real estate are making strides in turning their former colleagues into proud "alumni" who continue to support the organization years later, no matter where their careers take them. You might recognize this same vision at work in top strategic consultancies.

        One of the ways to realize this approach is to create official "advisory groups" to link retiring leaders and the high-performing agents who remain behind. An occasional "roundtable" between the two groups is a powerful way to brainstorm and problem-solve emerging industry challenges.

        Today's technology makes this easier than ever. A brokerage can build the right foundation by creating a private group on LinkedIn and inviting departing employees to join during their out-processing. This group allows them to continue to contribute to their departing organization and share their insights at any time.

        Also, from the group, they will be invited to "high touch" events where they'll be able to discuss matters with agents in real-time. Facilitating this kind of event is now simple, thanks to the deep experience most agents have with Zoom and other video conferencing apps, making it truly ideal for real estate.

        Some organizations shy away from the idea of vigorous networking with former employees. They worry that this will create a pipeline for existing talent to depart more quickly. But everyone must leave sooner or later. Being mindful of this can help instill greater loyalty driven by shared values.

        2. Improve Retention by Using Real Estate Marketing Automation to Reduce Workloads

        When one person leaves, the work they would have done and the results they would have produced get dispersed throughout the rest of the organization. This is even true in real estate, where agents tend to be more independent and self-driven than in other industries.

        If there is an upside to this, it's the fact that – unlike in other workplace settings – it's very rare for just one person to end up "picking up the slack." Still, the need to work harder and do more can negatively impact the whole team. That's true even with the schedule flexibility many real estate agents have.

        Luckily, there is a way to achieve more in the same amount of time.

        When real estate agents want to go to the next level in optimizing their productivity, AI provides them with the answer. With AI, you can automate many rote tasks that you perform every day or every week.

        That may save you thousands of hours a year, but the results don't end there.

        With real estate marketing automation, you:

        • Continue to build relationships with leads and customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week
        • Extend your brand's reach in social media and email marketing with event-driven updates
        • Gain more insights into the behavior of your network and how to serve them better
        • Ensure everything you communicate delivers the highest standards of professionalism

        A modern real estate technology strategy starts with Customer Relationship Management. A CRM suite gives you complete visibility into prospects, leads, and current customers. You'll no longer have to spend hours each week apprising yourself of where everyone stands or what needs to happen next.

        The power of machine learning makes a real estate CRM even more effective. Your CRM can connect the dots between millions of data points as you work, surfacing patterns no human would notice. That enables them to score leads more efficiently and cue you at the best follow-up times.

        3. Pass on Wisdom to Newcomers Through an Internal Mentoring Program

        In the first two years, a new real estate agent learns a tremendous amount of information.

        That first year is usually dedicated to learning the ropes. With a good command of the basics, year two is the beginning of defining an individual brand. The agent must decide which clients, transactions, and key problems they specialize in. The right level of specialization allows them to attract their ideal customers.

        To prevent burnout, it's essential that this process flows along without delay. New agents may feel the temptation to work late into the night and skip weekends, but this must end sooner rather than later. Mentoring is a way to accelerate talent development and keep new agents from reinventing the wheel.

        An internal mentoring program is one of the most cost-effective ways to identify high-potential leaders and help them rise. It also positively affects senior agents and leaders who do the teaching, bringing them to a new level of understanding and sophistication.

        It is said that you don't "really" understand something until you can explain it to others, and mentoring shows the truth of this. Both sides of the mentor-mentee relationship will see higher productivity and greater confidence, setting the stage for deeper, more meaningful relationships.

        In the competitive realm of real estate, it is essential to set the right tone from the very start. When a mentoring program has a firm support and robust participation at all levels of the organization, it shows new hires "we are all in this together" in a way few other perks can.

        Naturally, you'll need to adjust the specifics of your mentoring program based on the individual skills of your team members and the ways in which your organization aspires to excel. In the beginning, it helps when a mentoring program has an executive sponsor who can show top-level buy-in.

        4. Acknowledge Your Valued Managers and Agents to Keep Morale High

        By now, it is fairly well-known that positive reinforcement works better than negative reinforcement. People love to have their hard work and contributions acknowledged. They remember how they feel when recognized, adding to the complex motivational stew that results in higher performance.

        Social media is an apt way to drive recognition for your managers and agents. Real estate agents are the most active of all the professionals on social media. They're also most likely to build a business where social media is a robust and reliable part of their marketing mix.

        So, a social message – from a leader or directly from your brand account – can be a terrific way to give a "shout out." But be aware that everyone varies in their communication preferences. Some people might react even better to a personalized, face-to-face interaction that provides specific feedback.

        Slack, email, and video are other potential methods for recognition. Whatever you choose, be careful to align it with the other person's preferences so that it will never feel impersonal or rushed. Whether it's a peer, report, or client, the key to social relationships is to take a genuine interest in the other person.

        5. Use "One to Many" Video Education Centered on Your Seasoned Leaders

        Over the last few years, video has become an indispensable tool in real estate. Video is used throughout the value chain, from listings to open houses and everywhere in between. Experts also realize that, by and large, a video might be the most effective choice for educating agents.

        Studies suggest that people remember the content of a video much more clearly and for longer periods than with text content alone. They are also more likely to take action on the information they hear. These advantages translate very effectively to your internal training initiatives.

        Video education might seem like a substantial investment. But just like your marketing materials, every piece of video collateral you create has the opportunity to make a positive impact for many years into the future. A full library of video content is a formidable asset that can be used in many ways.

        As with other talent development initiatives, video education is almost as beneficial for trainers as it is for students. Trainers who've had difficulty adjusting to being on camera in the past may see this as an opportunity to get to another level, making virtual tours and video marketing more compelling.

        Video education also allows agents to build rapport with organizational leaders they might rarely see in person. This is another plank in the effort to create consistency and camaraderie. Each person within the hierarchy can see their colleagues as trustworthy resources with important contributions.

        A Multi-Layered "Generational" Approach Helps Head Off Brain Drain Before It Happens

        What brings all of these ideas together?

        Simply considering they prevent people from getting siloed off, it is all too easy for some of the best minds in any business to be isolated based on their experience or seniority. With these methods, you can make sure your organization becomes fully integrated.

        In the near term, it means everyone feels more supported. And in the long run, when it's time for someone to bow out, they will be "gone, but not forgotten" – as others continue to reap the benefits of their contributions.

        June
        13

        Let's start with the basics. What is an AVM? AVM stands for Automated Valuation Model, and in today's marketplace, it is one of the best tools at a brokerage's fingertip to help win new listings. For years, I have heard real estate agents push back on the idea of providing consumers with automated home value estimates being worthwhile. After all, those automated home value estimates used to be way off and lead to more uncomfortable conversations for real estate agents than positive ones.

        That status quo has most certainly flipped in the last couple of years. Automated home value estimates have only continued to get more and more accurate. Certainly, they will never beat an estimate given by a licensed professional able to see the house in person. However, the industry has learned how to turn a potential home seller's curiosity into a new listing. This knowledge didn't come overnight, nor did the automated tools provide these curious prospective home sellers with a real-time home value estimate.

        Delta Media Group® has been in the real estate technology software space dating back to the mid-90s (1994 to be exact, when we launched the first website in the country providing live MLS data & photos). It was shortly after the company moved from Sunnyvale, California, to Barberton, Ohio, in the early 2000's that the idea for automated home value estimates started to surface at Delta. A recent review of our Delta AVM platform revealed a history dating back to 2002, when the work first began on what would eventually turn into our built-in automated home-value tools.

        Back in 2002, Delta Media Group was looking for a way to bring more accurate market data to the forefront of our website visitors' minds along with reverse prospecting tools. We looked to build tools to compile automatically generated email reports and landing pages that would feature up-to-date data about market trends in specific areas around the country. Building these types of reports and then further automating them to be emailed directly to potential home buyers and home sellers was a major project that was ultimately completed and launched in 2006 under our "VMA" product — otherwise known as Virtual Market Analysis.

        The Virtual Market Analysis tool allowed customers on brokerage and agent websites to complete a short form, filling out details about their own home and information about the city and state where the home was located. While filling in these details, the customer would be prompted to fill out how often they'd like to receive automated updates about the market. The VMA would then provide the customer with a real-time market report showcasing how many homes were for sale in the market their home was located in, the average asking price for properties in that market, recent homes sold in the area and the buyer interest in that market. This system would also automatically generate a lead for an agent to be able to create a true Comparative Market Analysis (CMA) and reach back out to the prospective client.

        The VMA tool was a hit, generating thousands upon thousands of leads for agents using the DeltaNET® platform for years. As with most tools in the DeltaNET, development never stopped. The VMA system saw continual refinement through the years, ultimately culminating in a partnership with a long-time Delta Media Group partner to expand our VMA product.

        The project to expand the VMA into a full-fledged automated home value estimate service ultimately evolved into the AVM tool we have today. The product allows website users to enter their address directly from the website's homepage and be given a return of multiple home value estimates powered by data from sources like Collateral Analytics and RPR.

        Since launching the AVM tool, we have delivered over 33,000,000 home value estimate requests.

        Shortly after the full rollout of the AVM, we continued the expansion of the product. We added Zillow home value estimates (Zesitmates) as an option to the service, giving prospective sellers up to three different home value estimates with calls to action, getting the person to engage and become a lead opportunity. We introduced the concept of "Door-Knock leads" to help drive new listing potential. With this new concept, a client could enter an address and see home value estimates without filling out a contact form. This still would generate a new lead opportunity for the brokerage, who could add that address to their print-mailing rotation and try to farm engagement from properties that had been looked up online.

        In the past few years, we expanded our AVM tool even further — this time redesigning the entire lead capture page from the ground up. Google maps street view of the property was refined, and buyer heat maps graphically showed the prospective home seller where potential homebuyers were saving searches that matched their property. The saved search data was compared directly against the AVM, giving us the ability to introduce reverse prospecting reports. For example, if a company had 500 potential buyers with saved searches running (EG; two bed, one bath, 300k max price in a specific school district) and a prospective seller ran an AVM on their property, that seller would be able to see that more than 500 people were looking for a property just like theirs if they listed the home. On the back end of the software, agents were able to run more detailed reverse prospecting reports to see all the homebuyers in their CRM that may be able to be connected with this prospective seller should they list their home.

        We didn't stop there. More AVM data sources were also connected, introducing appraisal home estimates as another option for brokerages to connect. We developed our own in-house home value estimate tool and included it in the product at no additional charge, giving us a 5th home value report. This time, we also expanded our AVM tool to be included at no additional charge for all Delta Media Group website partners as a part of our SEO platform.

        Ultimately, that brings us to today. More than 20 years since we first began working on our VMA product — which was designed to give automated marketing insights and generate CMA lead opportunities for agents — we at Delta are launching our own in-house CMA product: Delta Pitch. Delta Pitch is designed to be the industry's easiest-to-use, most automated CMA builder ever.

        An agent using Delta Pitch would be able to generate a "quick-build" CMA in as little as one click. Enter the property's address, and click "build." You've now got a highly accurate, engaging CMA built into an interactive flipbook with comps, recently sold homes, information about the market and more. Delta Pitch comes pre-loaded with a variety of templates to select from, the ability to create your own CMA templates (with custom pages and more) and, of course, gives agents the ability to customize all of the information in that CMA to give an accurate recommendation to win the listing.

        Here's the part that's even more exciting to us. Bringing things full circle, we wanted to push the envelope even further. One of the many features baked into the DeltaNET / Delta Pitch / Delta AVM platform will give us the ability to offer fully-automated CMA's. Picture this: a prospect visits your beautiful website and sees that they can enter their address to get home value estimates. They plug in their address and see a semi-accurate picture of their home's value.

        Entering this address means that Delta Pitch has automatically built an interactive CMA and emailed it to an agent who gets this lead opportunity. No manual work is needed. Your CRM platform has already responded to the customer and let them know a CMA is awaiting their review and gives them the ability to schedule a meeting with you. You're given an automated task through your CRM to review the CMA prior to the meeting, and the call with the prospect goes perfectly. You win the listing.

        This is the future of real estate technology. Your website is automated. The home values are automated. The CMA is automated. You're empowered to go prospect more business and focus on winning more listings. The most exciting part about Delta Pitch, and the future of our AVM platform, is that the innovation never stops. We aren't a technology company that has built our entire company around a feature. The VMA and later AVM were just features that grew into full products of their own. We believe in all-in-one, so existing Delta Media Group partners don't have to pay extra for these features. And more importantly, unlike other automated home value products on the marketplace, your data is yours. Rest assured knowing Delta Media Group is never reselling your prospective seller's address or contact information to third-party mortgage companies.

        Keep an eye out for more information about Delta Pitch, Delta's AVM product, and more in the coming months. More exciting automation is on the way.

        June
        6

        In the past few months, you've probably noticed that listing inventory has been extremely low, at least in most of the country. As if it wasn't enough that current homeowners are less apt to sell during these uncertain times, labor shortages and supply chain issues have slowed new home builders down. When you're used to most of your real estate marketing being centered around new listings, it can be tough to keep the leads coming in with limited listings on the market.

        But fear not, because I've laid out some tools you can use to keep marketing your brand so that when people are looking to sell again or for those that are still looking to buy now, you're the first name that comes to mind.

        Use Ad Wizard to Post to Social Media

        Even when you don't have any active listings, you can still market yourself and your website on social media. There's nothing wrong with a Facebook or Instagram ad that just features you and links prospects back to your website instead of features a listing. Even when inventory is low, plenty of buyers are still looking, and your website can still provide them with a lot of value, given that buyers must find and inquire about a new listing fast if they want to have any hope of getting it in today's market.

        Suppose a customer comes to your Delta website and saves a search. In that case, they can be notified immediately via both email and push notification when a new listing that matches their search criteria comes on the market. That has always been useful, but with how fast listings are selling at the moment, having that kind of edge is more important than ever. Ad Wizard is a feature that can be found in DeltaNET® that allows you to create several different kinds of ads and post them to Facebook or Instagram. It includes simple branded ads to market yourself and get people coming to your website to save those searches or even just look around.

        Set up "My Customer For Life"

        The My Customer For Life (MCFL) system is another great feature of a Delta Media Group® website and CRM that can keep your customers engaged even when you don't have listings to show them. If you've read any of my articles before, then you know that the MCFL system is a common topic for me. What can I say? It works. We even have the data to back it up. Whether they're buying, selling or are happy right where they are, clients like these articles, and the open rates prove it. There's no better way to keep a customer engaged than sending them the information they actually want.

        For those unfamiliar with the MCFL system, this system allows you to share informational articles related to buying, selling and homeownership via email, social media and your website. Even those past clients that are no longer in the market will find a lot of value in reading them. The best part is that, in addition to making them available to read on a page of your website, you can add your clients to a mailing list to have a few of these articles sent directly to their email each week. The system then keeps track of the articles they engage with so that it can send them more of those kinds of articles in the future. New articles are created in-house each week by our extremely talented content writers. Did I say they're talented? Well, they are.

        Start Blogging

        If you'd rather create your own content, Delta websites also include a blogging platform. Like the MCFL system, these articles can be shared in ways beyond just your website. You can subscribe past clients to your blog, or they can subscribe themselves on your website so that they're notified every time you write a new article. You can also share these articles on social media or, even better, configure the Social Connector system in the DeltaNET® to post them to your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn pages for you every time you write a new article.

        Share Good Reviews

        Next to listings, there's nothing that brings customers directly to you more effectively than good reviews. Not only can you store your customer reviews in the DeltaNET and display them on your website, but you can use the Email Campaign or Eblast system to solicit them from your past clients. You can even configure Social Connector to share them to your social media accounts automatically as they come in. This is a great way to market yourself and your website when there aren't a lot of listings, and like MCFL, it's almost entirely hands-off after a little configuration.

        Make eCards and Flyers

        Don't forget about ecards and flyers. Creative Studio, along with the legacy eCards & Flyers system found on the Marketing Center page, might be something that you're accustomed to using for sending out ecards for listings. However, there are numerous templates in both systems designed to help you market yourself too. Some are just branded marketing pieces, but there are a wide variety of designs for occasional greetings like holidays and birthdays as well. There are even designs meant to celebrate pet birthdays. Every time you send a "Happy Birthday," "Happy Easter" or "National Donut Day" ecard to a past client or prospect, it becomes that much more likely that you're the person they'll call when listings start coming back on the market.

        This all goes to show that, even in times when there aren't many listings available, there are plenty of ways you can continue to market yourself. Real estate marketing isn't entirely about listings. Content related to homeownership and even things as simple as a holiday greeting card can help put your brand on top when the listings return and buying and selling ramps up again. It's coming, and your diligence will pay off when it does.

        June
        1

        As I sit in my home office, I find myself gazing out the front bay windows staring at the bright green grass that's starting to grow, the Bartlett pear trees that are beginning to flower, the pine trees blowing in the wind and the oak trees lining the streets. Spring is finally here after what seems to have been a long Ohio winter.

        The picturesque, almost mesmerizing view is perfect for clarity breaks. It makes me think of past times; it's hard to believe that Delta Media Group® turned 28-years-old this year. I don't know if there is a dog-years equivalent for technology firms, but 28 years seems like 100 in "technology years."

        This got me thinking about how Delta has evolved into an all-in-one provider. In 1994, the journey started with simple real estate websites that contained property photos and data. Doing those websites was no small task back then, and I think we were the first to do it. Today the listing data and website thing is quite trivial to us, even though we handle nearly 100% of the listing data in the United States and some outside the country. We have evolved so far since then.

        There is so much talk in the real estate industry around "all-in-one" versus "best-in-breed." I want to explore this dichotomy a bit.

        First, let me try and clearly define both terms:

        All-in-One — This is a term used to describe technology firms with a broad technology offering where many technologies are bundled together in one package that solves multiple needs.

        Best-in-Breed — This is a term used to describe an approach where firms purchase multiple technology tools instead of purchasing all the tools from one provider.

        If the technology entrepreneurs and the venture capitalists (VCs) are honest about it, what everyone is chasing is an all-in-one "holy grail" for the industry. I have been watching VCs pull together all the technology pieces needed over the past twenty years to try to bolt them together. That's why we see so many acquisitions of smaller niche technology firms in our space. I also know first-hand that VCs view Delta as a highly coveted hub that could pull off this all-in-one "holy grail," and I agree because that is exactly what I am trying to accomplish.

        I believe the small niche technology providers have coined the best-in-breed phrase, and honestly, it is brilliant marketing. I mean, who doesn't want to have the best? I do. You do. Everyone does. The problem with this approach is that historically speaking, I have not seen where these small niche technology providers can survive long term.

        Regardless of everyone's opinion and approach to technology, Delta will continue to pursue the all-in-one platform approach and allow the so-called best-in-breed approach with our platform. To me, the holy grail of technology is an all-in-one platform that is continually improving and evolving and that plays well with others. That's why today, we have hundreds of industry integrations, and the list continues to grow.

        As time moves on, I believe that the all-in-one platforms will continue to mature and evolve and there will be fewer and fewer feature providers. What will drive this shift are three specific things.

        First, healthy all-in-one providers continue to evolve and improve their systems. As one example, at Delta, we are working on DeltaNET® 7 CRM right now, and I believe it will be the best and easiest-to-use CRM in the industry.

        Second, the all-in-one providers are automating more and more of the mundane tasks that should be automated. This simply is not possible outside the all-in-one ecosystem. As one example, at Delta, we are automating the whole AVM to CMA process. Salespeople will be able to configure how they want it all to work. Imagine someone visits your website, runs an AVM, and seconds later, you have a CMA delivered to your phone that you can share with that person and you didn't have to do anything. There are hundreds of automations like this inside the all-in-one platform ecosystem.

        Third, an all-in-one approach is more affordable for the customer and more profitable for the technology firm. There is reduced overhead, shared resources, more seamless and deeper integration and everything is streamlined. I predict that we will see another wave of small feature technology providers going under during the next down cycle of the real estate industry.

        At the end of the day, though, everyone has to implement a strategy for their business. If your strategy is best-in-breed, that's fine, but I would recommend that you at least partner with an all-in-one provider that plays well with others, such as Delta.

        At Delta, we are all-in-one when you want it, and we support best-in-breed when you don't.

        May
        26

        Nearly 40 years ago, a school principal took a leap of faith and started a small real estate firm in Mansfield, Ohio.

        They say it's never too late in life to switch gears and try something new. While many people talk about changing their careers, very few actually do it once they get comfortable. Arnold Haring, an Ohio elementary school principal, started selling real estate as a side business in the late 70s. A decade later, in 1983, Haring Realty was born. Now, nearly 40 years after the firm's conception, Haring Realty is led by Arnold's son, Peter, and is still operating in Ohio. Arnold's courage to make the change led to success for both himself and his family.

        "My dad started the business. He was an elementary school principal, and he decided he wanted to earn a little extra income," says Peter. "And before he knew it, it took on a life of its own, and he decided to throw out a shingle and get started."

        Over the past 40 years, Haring Realty has grown substantially. The company now has three office locations along with a welcome center in Mansfield on North Main Street. Haring Realty provides home buying, home selling and relocation services for their clients. They offer well-developed, strategic programs to bring buyers and sellers to the top of the market. They also do commercial real estate.

        "Where Caring is Key"

        The staff at Haring Realty feels that caring for one another and their customers is of utmost importance. That's why their motto is "where caring is key."

        "Caring is kind of in our DNA," says Peter. "My dad had that kind of mindset of caring for the customer. And so, we try to hire people that have a servant's heart or a servant's mindset."

        Everyone at Haring is considered part of a family, and they believe that "a good family is on the same page." That means being a team player, which comes with certain characteristics.

        "I read a book a while back called the Ideal Team Player by Patrick Lencioni, and in it, he suggests that the ideal team player has three characteristics," says Peter. "Team players are hungry, humble and people smart. So, if we want to have a cohesive family, we all need to be team players."

        Hunger is the willingness to go after business, and humility is the willingness to learn and listen to what the customer wants. At Haring, they consider humility "key," therefore, it is what they look for most when recruiting new agents. People smart refer to interpersonal skills and a person's core values. Haring Realty has a specific set of core values they practice and instill in their agents. These values are respect, thankfulness, reputation, community, productivity and excellence.

        "While Haring Realty is not a Christian business, my faith in Jesus Christ has greatly influenced me and my organization's core values," says Peter. "So, one of our first core values is respect. And that's because everybody is made in God's image. And so, we hold our customers in high regard, and we hold our coworkers in high regard, so they're important people."

        At Haring Realty, they foster these values at their weekly sales meetings. They also build on this culture they are creating by hosting "lunch and learn" sessions, where they will come together to develop proficiency with their technology platforms, like DeltaNET®, or work on their selling skills.

        When speaking about the lunch and learns, Peter says, "We'll bring in some pizza, and we will not just have a training presentation, but we will actually workshop, work on some of our technology tools, practice the use of those technology tools and learn from each other."

        The Power of Marketing

        According to Peter, entrepreneurship seemed to run in the Haring family. His grandfather was in the meat business; he was the owner of Haring Meats. As a business owner, he always stressed the importance of marketing and advertising. Because of this, when Arnold started Haring Realty, a marketing manager was one of the first positions he hired. This focus on marketing was key to the initial growth of the company and one of the reasons the company is so successful today.

        "One of the things my grandfather always preached was, you want to make your sign as big as possible." Peter continues, "And he always preached to my dad and his siblings when laying out the meat in the meat cooler that it's all about merchandising and setting that up to look really attractive when a customer walks in the door."

        Due to his grandfather's advice, having stunning photography and video to appeal to clients was a big part of Haring Realty's marketing strategy from the very beginning.

        "We decided a picture's worth a thousand words, so we always did color photography. And we were the first company in our market to think we had to have good photography."

        That being said, Peter mentions that his mother was their first-ever photographer. He recalls a time before everything went digital, and photos still had to be developed.

        "She was our first photographer, and I remember her making trips to Walmart every day to develop stacks of photographs," says Peter. "Since that time, we've had professional photographers take our photos."

        Peter believes that one of the key components of good marketing is rolling with the punches. Whenever there is a shift in technology or a shift in the industry, Haring shifts with it. For example, they were one of the first real estate companies ever to have a website in the late 90s. None of their competitors had them, which gave them a huge advantage in the market. They were also one of the first companies to have a magazine to advertise their listings. These were distributed through the mail and in local stores. Aside from making their own, they advertised in other real estate publications such as Harmon Homes.

        "As the market changes, our culture is changing, and the profile of our buyer is changing. We also have to change, and we have to be relevant," says Peter. "So, we've always tried to identify, okay, are there any new tools or approaches that more effectively reach today's customers? Where are the opportunities."

        Tapping Into Tech

        As mentioned before, Haring Realty tends to move with the times and quickly adapt to the new way of doing things. This is also true when it comes to technology. They have found that with Delta Media Group® they are always up-to-date with the latest technology, which has been a great benefit to their real estate business.

        "We tend to be an early adopter of new technologies and different marketing techniques." Peter continues, "For years, we included floor plans with all of our listings. We were the first agency in the Mansfield market to start using Matterport 3D virtual tour technology. Today, we include Matterport with most of our listings, and because it is increasingly imperative that we effectively interact with our clients digitally, our relationship with Delta Media has become more critical."

        There are certain features in DeltaNET they've found particularly useful in retaining and seeking out new clients.

        "Something that we were able to quickly adopt for everybody in our organization was the My Customer for Life Program," says Peter. "And through that, we're not just sending our past clients or sphere of influence a newsletter, but we're sending them relevant content that's of interest to them individually."

        Staying Positive

        Even with all the issues and changes they face in the uncertain world of real estate, Haring Realty always makes an effort to stay positive. For them, it's not just about looking on the bright side but being a calming force for their clients.

        "As we think about serving our clients, it's about being the calm in the midst of the storm," says Peter. "There's a lot of provocative news out there regarding the real estate market, sensational news. And if we can remind our customers of the long view, we essentially can be the people walking on water in the midst of the storm."

        When thinking about this, Peter recalls a situation he once found himself in on a flight returning from Hawaii, a situation in which he could have certainly benefited from some positive thinking.

        "I remember I was on a flight from Hawaii one time. I'd never had this kind of turbulence before. There's got to be six people throwing up around me, and this lady I haven't spoken a word to, she's gripping onto my wrist like we're going to die," says Peter. "I'm looking up at the flight attendants, thinking, 'Okay, is this normal?' They were nervous, and you could tell they were freaked out. And so, all of a sudden, consequently, I'm more freaked out. So, it always reminds me, as we're serving our customers, to make this a positive experience for them. We have to be the calming influence in that transaction."

        The Future of Haring Realty

        As they approach their 40th year, Haring Realty looks to continue its growth and success. The first way they plan to accomplish this is by using their technology tools, primarily through Delta, to generate growth and professional development for their support staff and sales team.

        "We want to be more effective at using DeltaNET and some of the technology tools we already have to serve both our sales team and our clients more effectively through better communication from contract to closing," says Peter.

        They are also implementing several new marketing initiatives, one of which is promoting their properties' communities.

        "Each property we're selling is in the context of its community," says Peter. "We have a big emphasis this year on promoting and providing better community information for each of our listings and telling the story of each of our communities as buyers look to where in particular to locate."

        Improving their multimedia content for listings is another priority for them. After all, top-notch photography, copywriting and video are all essential to good advertising. Along the lines of enhancing its brand, Haring Realty also plans to upgrade its facilities this year as they continue to meet with more customers in person.

        Arnold Haring's leap of faith started this wonderful company back in 1983, and the core values that came with it remain at the forefront of everything they do today. With their positive outlook, care for their customers and unmatched marketing and technology, there is no limit to how high Haring Realty can fly.

        May
        24

        They say that family is the heart of the home. And for MJ Peterson Real Estate, a family business serving the Western New York region for over 91 years, that certainly rings true.

        In the early 1930s, following the Great Depression, Marvin Peterson and his family moved from Detroit to Buffalo and started building houses. What began as a simple home-building venture ultimately became one of the most successful real estate companies in Western New York. With Victor (Pete) Peterson III being the current owner, four generations later, the Peterson family still owns and operates the business they started many years ago.

        For over 91 years, MJ Peterson Real Estate has been serving the Western New York region. The company saw a huge expansion and achieved substantial growth during that time. Today, MJ Peterson has eight office locations and over 200 agents. They have over 3,300 units for rent — including apartments, condos and houses — along with residential properties, commercial properties and new construction for sale.

        "With the Peterson family, we really take people all the way — from getting college kids into their first rental, to their first condo, to their first home, to their golden years home, and then downsizing," says Bret Llewellyn, General Manager at MJ Peterson.

        What Makes Them Special

        "At MJ Peterson, we do more than list and sell houses...we make our client's dreams come true," says Pete Peterson.

        Since the company was founded, MJ Peterson has built more than 6,000 single-family homes. They developed some of Buffalo's oldest neighborhoods and have contributed to HUD-sponsored moderate and low-income housing developments. Following World War II, MJ Peterson built starter homes in Tonawanda and Amherst. They also built luxury condominiums, family and senior housing developments and commercial properties, such as office buildings and retail shopping centers.

        MJ Peterson's efforts were recently recognized by community organization Buffalo Business First with a 2021 Family Business Award. The honor highlights "multi-generational and family businesses in Western New York for overall excellence, innovation, ethics, philanthropy and strength of the region."

        Unlike most other real estate companies in the region, the work at MJ Peterson doesn't start and end with renting and selling properties. The organization's long list of services includes new home construction, property management, domestic and international relocation services, land development, lease option and trade-in programs, property appraisals and mortgage placement.

        Partnering With the Community

        MJ Peterson offers so many services because of their incredible partnerships, one of which is with Premium Mortgage. MJ Peterson strives to work alongside their clients to help them move forward. In cases where people have been renting for two or three years to save up for a home, MJ Peterson will pair them up with Premium Mortgage to assist them with credit counseling and help prepare them to buy. Once they are ready, the company will release them from their lease and automatically pair them with an agent to help them find the perfect property to buy. This partnership is not only useful and educational for clients, but agents appreciate it as well.

        "I think that's a good model. It keeps our tenants engaged in the process of homeownership versus renting," says Terri Campbell, Branch Manager at MJ Peterson. "It gets them some credit counseling with our mortgage partner, and it keeps some of our agents on their toes."

        For MJ Peterson's unique building division, they work with local builders. They have been partnering with Chris Tucker of Tucker Homes for over 30 years and have since added several other builders. According to Campbell, the building division has made a huge impact on the company's growth, considering "if you've got the land, you've got the listing." This is especially important in the current market, where inventory is particularly low. At the moment, they have about 250 lots in Lancaster, NY.

        MJ Peterson has also established an effective partnership with Robitaille Real Estate, which was acquired in 2018 to form MJ Peterson – Robitaille Relocation LLC. That same year, Mike Robitaille, former NHL defenseman for the Buffalo Sabres, signed on as VP of Public Relations.

        Thriving in the Digital Age

        It's no secret that technology has changed the way we do just about everything in our lives, and selling and buying real estate is no exception. What was once accomplished through direct contact or putting an ad in the local newspaper is done almost completely digitally now. With websites, social media, email and third-party real estate apps like Zillow and Redfin, there's nothing you can't accomplish with the touch of a button.

        "If you're going to survive, it's got to be in the social media aspect. It's got to be in the IT at this point," says Llewellyn.

        At MJ Peterson, the staff understands the importance of adapting to the digital age, that the days of print ads and yard signs are behind us. The company recently hired its first-ever Social Media Director and has a skilled IT Director on staff, Bill Trautman. Bill is there to help the agents at MJ Peterson with all of their technological needs, whether that be with DeltaNET® or something else.

        "Now that we have the internet and the wonderful opportunities that we have through programs like DeltaNET, it's a no-brainer," says Campbell. "And sometimes I think that teaching old dogs new tricks is difficult, but I will tell you that Bill Trautman in our IT department will sit one-on-one with any agent in the company and get them up to speed."

        Finding the Right Agents

        There is a lot to consider when it comes to finding the right agents. For instance, some recruiters look for industry experience, while others have no problem hiring someone new to the real estate game as long as they fit in with the company culture.

        For MJ Peterson, it's the latter. When hiring a new agent, they consider qualities like community involvement and likeability. Whether they have experience in the business or not isn't the issue; it's whether they have the skills and the right personality for the job.

        "I like recruiting people from other aspects of business in this town, and two of the very successful, rising stars in one of our offices that we were able to recruit, one is an attorney who works in the trust department at the local bank," says Campbell. "The other was a branch manager of a bank for 20 years and then was an office assistant in a legal firm. These are the people you want. These are people who get business in town. They know a lot of people, and this is a great opportunity for them."

        When recruiting new agents, they also seek out those who exemplify true passion and motivation. They believe this is particularly important in an industry like real estate, where you won't necessarily have instant success, and people tend to weave in and out.

        "I really like to go ahead and start out with an agent that's been in the market a year or two who is doing that $1 million, $2 million, $3 million, because taking somebody from that $2 million to $4 million or $6 million with the right tools is much easier," Llewellyn remarks. "And it's like we want to go ahead and know that they have the motivation and they have a passion for this because nine out of 10 new agents are gone after year two because they don't want to pay their dues, because they only sold two houses."

        Training New Hires

        Once an agent is welcomed aboard, the training process begins. At MJ Peterson, they have a comprehensive program that allows new hires to quickly and effectively get up-to-date with the industry and the company processes. MJ Peterson has a "Leap into Success" program, which is a five-week course. During this program, participants have the opportunity to listen to various speakers on different subjects.

        For new agents, training also includes learning the technology and setting up their custom website, customer database and digital marketing campaigns through DeltaNET. Overall, the training process is meant to cater to each agent's individual needs. At MJ Peterson, they believe that this is the best approach, considering every agent is different and has a unique set of skills and experience.

        Once an agent completes the onboarding process, the training doesn't end there. MJ Peterson offers continuing education courses throughout the year. One of their favorite events is the Breakfast of Champions, a Q&A series with the more experienced agents where they discuss topics like luxury living and how to survive tax season over coffee and pancakes.

        Maintaining a Family Culture

        "We remain committed to never lose[ing] sight that our business is people," states Pete Peterson.

        MJ Peterson may have grown quite a bit since its early days, but that doesn't mean it doesn't strive to maintain the same family culture that the company was founded on. Pete Peterson prioritizes instilling the same values in his current staff that his family had when they first arrived in Buffalo and began building houses. One way that Peterson does this is by having an open-door policy that allows agents to stop in at any time. Whether they want him to attend their event, give his two cents or answer a question, he's always there.

        "If anybody ever needs anything, Pete's always available. His door's always open. He'll address whatever your concerns are and make sure he takes care of you," says Trautman. "So that's one of the good things about coming to a family company, and that's why I'm here. I've seen both sides, family companies, and I've seen corporations where the family company is far better because you're out one-on-one with the owners, and it's a first-name basis."

        Being located in a smaller city like Buffalo also helps MJ Peterson maintain that family feel. Having a more tight-knit community enables them to use a community-oriented approach and achieve a sense of trust and community among agents and staff.

        Addressing the Issues

        Shortage of inventory. Inflation. Interest rate hikes. These are just a few of the issues that may come up when working in real estate. That said, it's important always to stay ahead of the curve.

        For MJ Peterson, that means a lot of things. First, during a time like this, when inventory is low, they can rely on their rental properties to keep things moving. They have more rentals than just about anyone in Western New York, and they are close to the University of Buffalo, meaning young adults are constantly moving to the area looking to rent. Their building division also helps prevent a shortage of inventory from becoming a problem because if you build houses, you will always have houses to sell.

        When it comes to navigating issues like interest rates and inflation, it helps to ensure that clients are educated and prepared financially. Hence, they're ready to buy in any climate. That's why MJ Peterson's partnership with Premium Mortgage is so essential. These partners will come to their offices, sit down with a client and work out a path for homeownership that works for them. So, when the time comes, whenever that may be, the client has what they need to buy, and the agent can make a sale.

        Another way they keep momentum is by making sure they are placing their offices in the right locations and that those communities continue to thrive. MJ Peterson recognizes the importance of seeking out clients in areas with profitable, growing businesses. For example, in Buffalo, there is an M&T Bank that is currently hiring over 2,000 new employees. This growth has paved the way for a surge of new homebuyers to settle in the area. MJ Peterson is also centrally located in Amherst, which happens to be the second-largest city in Western New York, providing them with a vast pool of potential clients and businesses.

        "They're Here Because of Delta"

        MJ Peterson believes that working with Delta Media Group® has had a huge impact on the success of their company. They feel that Delta is why so many agents want to work there and why they stick around.

        "I've talked to so many agents that [have said] they're here because of Delta," Trautman says. "They don't have the technology anywhere else. And then once they see everything that Delta has to offer, they love it."

        One of the main reasons they love Delta is its impact on recruitment. This is largely due to Delta's patent-pending SEO, which puts agents on the map.

        "Google your name and then google your competitor's name and see where you land in the search results. Every time we're in the top two," says Trautman.

        Another game-changer provided by Delta is how simple it is to find sales leads. At MJ Peterson, they have found that over 50% of their leads are generated through Delta. They have also noticed that Delta is particularly beneficial for new agents when finding their first leads, enabling them to hit the ground running.

        The staff at MJ Peterson is also very fond of the digital marketing tools Delta offers, such as blog posts, email campaigns and electronic postcards. They've found that these resources assist them both with finding new clients and retaining current ones.

        Where Are They Going?

        Over the past three years since using Delta, MJ Peterson has brought in over $140 million in new agent business. And in the past three months alone, $45 million. They feel confident that with Delta, they can continue to grow even more.

        "We're planting seeds out there. We're growing them. We're going ahead and watering them," says Llewellyn.

        The company plans to expand to have nine or 10 offices in the near future. However, they plan to stay local. Their ultimate goal is to become the person to go to in Western New York, not to extend to places like Syracuse or New York City that have completely different markets.

        Over the past 91 years, MJ Peterson has come a long way. The previously small family construction business is now one of the top real estate organizations in the region. It has so much more than just building and selling homes to offer. It's an organization that people in the community want to work for and work with. But despite seeing tremendous growth, MJ Peterson's original vision remains the same: to build strong neighborhoods based on family values.

        May
        23

        When two real estate companies that share the same goals and values come together, there is nothing they can't do. Living proof of this is one of New England's finest real estate companies, Badger Peabody & Smith Realty.

        Crystal clear lakes, majestic forests and breathtaking mountains. Luxury ski resorts and snow lodges. Biking, hiking and kayaking. All of this can be found in the beautiful region of New Hampshire that Badger Peabody & Smith Realty is lucky to call home.

        Serving residents and travelers in New Hampshire, the Northeast Kingdom of Vermont and Western Maine, Badger Peabody & Smith Realty has agents and offices scattered throughout New Hampshire: in Berlin, Bretton Woods, Franconia, Holderness, Jackson, Littleton, North Conway and Plymouth. The firm offers full-service real estate services. They are dedicated to ensuring the process of buying or selling a home is as simple and painless as possible for their customers.

        With properties in some of the most magnificent parts of the region, much of Badger Peabody & Smith Realty's business is with second-home buyers. Given the abundance of ski resorts in the area, many people come looking for a seasonal home during the coldest, snowiest months of the year. And for those who don't enjoy winter sports, they can still travel in the summer to visit the lakes and mountains and experience the various biking and hiking trails.

        Coming Together

        Badger Realty, originally located in North Conway, NH, was founded in 1965 by Dick Badger. It was a family business from the very beginning. A community icon, Dick Badger helped transform the town of North Conway into the ski resort and tourist destination it is today. Dick loved what he did. He practiced real estate until the month before he died in his early '90s.

        Formed in 1993 by Andy Smith and Jere Peabody, Peabody & Smith Realty covered the western part of the White Mountain National Forest. Like Badger Realty, they had a big market for vacation and primary-home buyers and those looking to escape the stress of urban areas.

        The two firms covering different territories of the White Mountains ultimately merged to become one. In February of 2021, the two officially came together to form Badger Peabody & Smith Realty.

        Blending two organizations isn't easy, so it only makes sense to do so if the companies and their core values align. Thankfully, Peabody & Smith Realty found that they shared similar values with Badger Realty, making their merger much easier.

        "We had a lot of similarities growing up and raising both our companies and our families in our respective communities," says Andy. "We always wanted to be part of the local community, and as I got to know Dick as both a competitor and a colleague over the years, we had very similar philosophies and mutual respect for each other's company."

        They also each placed value on the hard work of their agents and knew that the key to success was doing whatever they needed to help their agents succeed.

        "There was a high ratio of staff to agents, and a high level of support in both companies and that philosophy has continued and made the merger even easier," says Andy. "It wasn't going from one business model to another."

        Jessica DiPietro, VP of Operations at Badger Peabody & Smith Realty, felt similarly that Peabody & Smith Realty aligned with Badger's values.

        "I feel like it was a long time coming; it was meant to be," says Jessica. "It was a long courtship dance of going back and forth, but I think even years ago, we all knew it was going to happen. I know Dick knew it was going to happen before he passed away. The merger and transition were very easy culturally and value-wise."

        Building a New Brand

        When you create a new company, you need a new brand. So, despite each organization holding its own distinctive identity, merging meant it was time to start from scratch and rebuild.

        When building a brand, one of the most important things to consider is who you're trying to attract. Being located close to mountains and lakes, Badger Peabody & Smith Realty knew it needed to appeal to a demographic of people who love the outdoors. So, with mountain ranges and natural-looking colors incorporated into their logo, they chose to target their ideal audience directly.

        The logo design needed to be more progressive yet still look modern for years to come. So, they worked with a branding firm to create a logo not only unique to their newly established brand but one that's visually appealing as well. This image is important because it's on every sign, business card and piece of merchandise the company distributes.

        Along with the visual aspects, a good brand always has a clear, well-stated message. To refine theirs and their logo, Badger Peabody & Smith Realty worked alongside branding expert Steve McKee from McKee and Wallwork in Santa Fe, NM.

        Although a modern brand is what they wanted, Badger Peabody & Smith Realty aimed to keep the integrity of both brands while creating their new one by using the design elements from their previous logos. They felt it was important to acknowledge where they came from and continue each company's legacy.

        "We've done high-level brand marketing and all sorts of things, including a new logo, clothing and more. Andy continues, "But I think, overall, we've wanted to maintain the integrity of both brands. That's been important."

        They also wanted to have the right technology to market their new brand. That's why, when merging, Badger Peabody & Smith Realty gave their tech a refresh. They created a new website through Delta Media Group® and established a new and improved online presence through Delta's SEO and digital marketing tools. They introduced the world to their new brand using social media, eblasts in the DeltaNET® and traditional print media methods.

        While it may have been a long process, Debbie Anderson, Marketing Director at Badger Peabody & Smith Realty, cherishes the opportunity the marketing team was given to reinvent the brand, start with a clean slate and build entirely from the ground up.

        "We literally have reinvented ourselves," says Debbie. "It's such a dream job, from my perspective, to be able to be involved in something like that."

        On Dec. 1, 2021, the firm hosted an internal rebranding event. During this, Badger Peabody & Smith Realty announced their new name and debuted their new web page and logo design for all the agents and staff. The event was held over brunch at Polly's Pancake Parlor in Sugar Hill, NH. They gave out swag bags, journals, holiday presents and branded Yeti tumblers. Although they would not introduce the new brand to the outside world until over a month later, this was an exciting day for Badger Peabody & Smith Realty as it marked the beginning of a new chapter.

        Overcoming Obstacles

        Although Badger Peabody & Smith Realty's merger was ultimately a success, that doesn't mean it came without challenges — some of which they were prepared for and others they weren't.

        First off, getting the agents up to date and answering their many questions wasn't easy, but the staff from both teams came together and made it work as effectively as possible. One thing that made the transition easier was the agents in both companies were already accustomed to using DeltaNET. Plus, the staff could do most of the reworking in the back end, making things far less complicated for them.

        "We ran parallel, and we did it behind the scenes," says Jessica. "Most of the time, our agents didn't even know anything was going on or was different, so they were not interfered with on a day-to-day basis. Our goal was to do everything and try to get those pieces aligned and connected as much as possible and get everything flowing before we made any tweaks or changes that would interfere with their lives."

        While the plan to merge had been in motion for years before making it official, most things did not go as planned due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The team had to meet virtually instead of in the offices and rely solely on technology.

        When speaking about the impact that COVID-19 had on the merger, Jessica says, "I think it prolonged a little bit of the personal connection, not so much with the management team because we kind of still saw each other, but with the agents. It's hard to connect on Zoom."

        For Andy and the rest of the team at Peabody & Smith Realty, going remote wasn't much of an issue considering they were 100% paperless and used technology for most of their work already.

        "We put all that technology into place so when we couldn't come into the offices and we had to do closings in the parking lot, we were able to continue along pretty well from a functionality standpoint," says Andy.

        But for the staff at Badger Realty, it was a bit more difficult. They hadn't quite reached their technological goals prior to going remote, thus finding it more challenging to navigate at first. However, instead of letting it set them back, they used it as an opportunity to lean into the technology and virtual resources they had available to them and get on the same page as Peabody & Smith. In the end, they were happy they did so.

        The pandemic also deeply impacted the economy as people were told to stay home and stay put. When the first shutdowns occurred, big cities like Boston and New York took the biggest hit. Luckily, Badger Peabody & Smith Realty saw the perfect marketing opportunity as most of their properties reside in more off-the-grid areas, ideal for social distancing. As people all over the country were fleeing big towns and cities, they were there providing a safe destination filled with peace and quiet.

        "We're a second-home resort area for Boston and the Northeast feeder market in the White Mountain National Forest, both to buy for summer and year-round recreation," says Andy. "So, during COVID, we were the safe place to rent and buy, and our sales volume went up tremendously."

        Onboarding New Agents

        During the merger, both firms maintained their current staff, and with the opportunity to expand, there was room to hire new agents. For Badger Peabody & Smith Realty, while they wish to grow in some regard, it's not about bringing on as many agents as possible but rather finding the right ones. This is something else both companies have always aligned with.

        "Both firms always looked for career-orientated agents. It was neither one of our goals just to have the biggest amount of agent licenses hanging on the wall," says Andy. "We had a commitment to a very high level, well-qualified client service. We always have and will continue to believe this is a career that requires good, educated full-time agents giving the very best level of service."

        Instead of looking at numbers like years of experience, Badger Peabody & Smith Realty prioritizes finding a certain personality. They feel that the skills can be taught as long as an agent has the right mindset for the job.

        "We are looking to grow, but that's not our first driver. The first driver is to find the right match with our existing agents," says Andy. "We try to hire on the personality and the skillsets they bring, not necessarily real estate experience."

        Badger Peabody & Smith Realty's extensive onboarding program lasts about 60 days. They use the Leading Real Estate Companies of the World (LeadingRE®) training platform, and they provide a mix of internal, staff and management training. For agents stepping into the industry for the first time, they offer a valuable mentoring program in which a new agent gets paired with a more experienced agent to learn the ropes.

        When speaking about the training program, Andy says, "It's a combination of everything depending on what the new agent needs. They may be a very experienced agent that just needs to get up to speed on our tech stack or a brand-new agent who needs full-service mentoring."

        From a technology standpoint, they are excited about DeltaNET Academy and how that can help improve their tech training process.

        Supporting Their Team

        The support doesn't end after an agent finishes their training — it's only the beginning. As previously mentioned, supporting their agents is one of the top priorities for Badger Peabody & Smith Realty. Support means providing and assisting agents with using all the right tools and resources to succeed.

        "Both companies have been focused on providing agents with the tools, resources and support that they need to best do their job," says Jessica. "We have staff members who assist the agents with the paperwork and putting listings in the MLS. We have our closing coordinators help with the closing process. We have our in-house marketing team, which is amazing because they can do projects that if we outsourced it, we wouldn't be able to do."

        Supporting their agents also means supporting them as human beings, not just as talent. That's why they ensure agents are taking care of their mental health. In a time like this, in a pandemic where buyers are tired and listings feel few and far between, this is especially important.

        "There's a buyer fatigue, and there's an agent fatigue; they're trying so hard to do right by their buyers and despite how hard they work, they can't do anything about it," says Andy. "I try not to use the word work-life balance because, in this industry, it's a balance of everything. You live and breathe real estate seven days a week if you're successful in this, but it's balancing all of that and understanding you just need to be able to encapsulate and walk away from it and take care of your own mental health."

        The support at Badger Peabody & Smith Realty includes not only the staff supporting the agents but also the agents and staff supporting each other. And that support goes beyond the office.

        "From a cultural standpoint, we rally to each other's causes and support each other professionally and outside the workplace," says Jessica.

        The real estate company has found this support not only fosters a great work environment but also provides excellent results for agents.

        "Our average agent in 2021 did 24 sides, so certainly higher, much higher, than the industry average, and of course, we have some that do three times that," says Andy. "For the most part, everybody shows up and takes their career very seriously, and we want to always provide them with the highest level of support so that they can do 20, 30, 40 sides."

        Showing Appreciation

        Although supporting your agents certainly goes a long way, showing appreciation can be highly valuable too. That's why Badger Peabody & Smith Realty makes sure to let agents and staff know they're appreciated on a regular basis. While that can simply be done through daily praise or words of affirmation, the company holds several annual events to show its appreciation for its agents and staff on a larger scale.

        Each year, they hold a gala to celebrate their success from the previous year. This February, they held their annual gala at the Omni Mt. Washington Resort in the grand ballroom. Everyone got dressed up; they had a delicious dinner, a photo booth and a raffle to win prizes. During the event, they gave out awards to agents and gifts to the staff. Since they had just recently launched their new brand and firm, they wanted to make this year's event extra special for everyone, and it was.

        In addition to the gala, they had a company event at Mt. Cranmore over the summer, where everyone got to socialize and take a ride on the chair lift overlooking the mountain. This was a great way for agents and staff to catch up, get outside and enjoy the great outdoors.

        Badger Peabody & Smith Realty doesn't only believe in showing appreciation for those who work for the company but for their customers too. Another annual event they host is the Customer Appreciation Barbecue. They've been hosting this event for almost 20 years. This year, they brought in a food truck to offer free meals to customers.

        Connecting as a Community

        Before the merger, both teams were made up of people who believed in serving their community and maintaining a community-oriented approach to their business. So, when the two came together, engaging with the community was a top priority for everyone.

        One way they support the community is through providing sponsorship and donations. In 2021, the company gave over $35,000 to local community organizations. Some of the organizations they have supported include Pope Memorial Library, Good Neighbor Food Pantry, the Boys and Girls Club of North Country, Holderness Historical Society and the Colonial Theater.

        Merging Has Its Perks

        Aside from working well with one another, there have been some obvious perks to Badger Realty and Peabody & Smith Realty joining forces. First off, they can now expand their reach, covering more area. Before merging, although they worked within the same region, they never really crossed paths. They each had their own territory, and they stuck to that. Now that they are working together, the team has more space to explore.

        "Covering such a large service area with the two companies together has been wonderful," says Debbie.

        Also, with the merger, they are seeing growth on all sides. By combining referrals, they have been able to expand their customer base. This has allowed them to hire more agents and even add some new and necessary staff positions — such as a Manager of Agent Success. This position, held by Gaige Pequeno, has made a huge impact on keeping agents engaged and informed in all processes.

        "We were both in the 30-agent range independently, which is a good size for the kind of rural area that we're in," says Andy. "But it still wasn't quite big enough to do some of the things we thought we could do if we joined forces and then it would just maintain our competitive advantage, and it certainly has done that so far very well."

        Another benefit, particularly for the Badger team, was becoming part of Luxury Portfolio International®, the luxury division of LeadingRE. While they were always in that second-home and vacation market, they weren't part of Luxury Portfolio International, which Peabody & Smith Realty was. So, by merging with them, they could offer a luxury affiliation for clients and customers. With Luxury Portfolio International, they can now market globally, allowing them to advertise in higher-end magazines and on global websites for the first time.

        "Although we could market locally and nationally, joining forces and being a part of Luxury Portfolio International has given us advertising opportunities that as a smaller company, just the budget allowing for that kind of marketing was difficult," says Debbie.

        Couldn't Have Done it "With Anyone Else"

        Badger Peabody & Smith Realty believes that Delta played a significant role in the merger's success. Jessica says, "I don't think we would've been able to do it with anyone else."

        For them, it wasn't just about the technology Delta provided or the strategies. It was the dedication and commitment to helping them they valued most.

        "Delta is more than just a tech platform," says Jessica. "They have been an integral part of the strategic portion, the advising portion of the merger and have been a reliable 11th-hour lifeboat throughout — providing that 'Oh my god it's 9 p.m., things are breaking down, and someone will hop on a Zoom call with me,' type of unparalleled support on more than one occasion. Plus, the fact that an agent can call the helpline and troubleshoot with a live person is unheard of these days and very much appreciated." 

        The staff at Badger Peabody & Smith Realty feels that Delta has consistently kept their company goals in mind and shares the same values for customer service.

        "Once the agent gets that relationship, gets the lead, sells them a house, whatever it is, we want that customer-for-life relationship to be forefront all the time," says Andy. "It's a good partnership with Delta because they feel the same way, and they have helped us refine that."

        There are many tools and features that Delta offers that have made both the staff and agents at Badger Peabody & Smith Realty's lives easier as well. These include being able to work within both the back and front end of the CRM, view and comment on seller reports, make customized marketing materials and send campaign emails to lifelong and potential customers. Chrissy Smith, VP/ Sales & Marketing at Badger Peabody & Smith Realty, sees that the agents are happy and more productive using Delta.

        "I think what's nice about the DeltaNET is the agents like it," she says. "Of all the CRMs they've used in the past, it's the easiest to navigate and to understand, and so the bottom line, the agents really like it."

        Looking to the Future

        Now that the pandemic is seemingly coming to an end, it's time for Badger Peabody & Smith Realty to look to the future. They are excited to be back in the office and be able to collaborate in person again. They are also excited to be back to hosting events and plan to continue coming together in 2022.

        Even with all the fun, the work doesn't stop — the team is always generating new ideas. They have a few marketing and social media initiatives in the works they're looking forward to launching soon, such as a social media campaign to get to know their agents.

        "It's nice because it's out there for the public to see who the agents are, but we're also able to use that internally where agents can read about each other in a more personal manner and kind of get to know a little bit of background on those agents as well," says Chrissy. "So, I think that'll be a really nice piece to help everyone learn more about each other."

        While the industry will always be unpredictable, the staff at Badger Peabody & Smith Realty remains optimistic.

        "I think our industry is going to survive the next couple of years in fine shape," says Andy. "We can't sustain 15% or 18% appreciation, that's not going to happen, but overall, I think the agents are going to have a good year in 2022. I think buyers that have been patient and struggled and put in 10 offers and lost, everyone will see more inventory coming in the next 60 to 90 days, and they'll be able to get into a house."

        Managing to master a merger in the midst of a global pandemic is certainly something to be celebrated. The benefits of the decision are clear, and both companies' core values remain intact. With all the right tools, including DeltaNET, and their dedication to their agents, community and customers, there is nothing they can't accomplish.

        We look forward to seeing Badger Peabody & Smith Realty continue to grow, and as they do, Delta will be there every step of the way to lend a hand.

        January
        24

        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."

        Expanding Horizons

        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."

        Brand Power

        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."

        Cultivating Culture

        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."

        Looking Ahead

        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!"

        January
        19

        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

        January
        26

        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?

        • Whatisyourfamily'smissionstatement?

        • 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 DoneBeing accountable and trusted to complete projects or tasks no matter the effort needed or how much time is needed.

        Finds a WayThe 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.

        PassionateDeeply cares about outcomes. Demonstrates a winning attitude, and it hurts to lose.

        Team OrientedExcels 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:

        • Are you pushing your team in the right direction on a regular basis by championing their behavior and feeding the culture you desire most?
        • It is 2022, and we are well into a technology-driven era, so are you sharing technology success stories with your organization, and is technology representative of your culture?
        • Are you highlighting stories within your organization on a regular, consistent basis that also highlight your core values (we call them core value call-outs)?
        • Do you train to your culture and your core values?
        • Do you discuss core values with the organization on a monthly basis?
        • Are culture and core values formally part of your employee review processes?
        • Are the core values posted somewhere for all to see?
        • Have you sat down and discussed core values or mission statements with your family?

        To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the February 2022 issue, click here

        January
        24

        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

        January
        17

        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."

        Building Together

        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."


        To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the February 2022 issue, click here

        January
        10

        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.


        To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the February 2022 issue, click here

        January
        3

        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

        • Give Your Agents Clear Opportunities to Grow Their Skills
          An agent's performance revolves around two things: Skills and confidence. Confidence grows when skills are developed and mastered. There's always something new to learn in real estate, and your willingness to define a clear path to professional growth is a big part of your investment in your team. Plus, you'll reap the benefits of greater productivity that come along with that expanded perspective.
        • 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.

        • Tune In to Individuals' Different Motivations
          Many real estate professionals are driven, competitive, and attuned to opportunities to make money. That said, everyone is different. People will vary in the kind of incentives that motivate them. They also differ in how they prefer to be recognized for their achievements, whether one-on-one or in a group setting. The better you know your team members, the easier it is to tap their attention and energy.
        • 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.

        • Celebrate Success
          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.


        To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the February 2022 issue, click here

        December
        27

        I think I am like most entrepreneurs. I'm constantly looking for opportunities to do something new or to improve what is already being done. You are probably a business owner yourself, or you work for someone that is constantly pushing for improvements in technology and marketing to grow the business you are involved in, so you understand.

        Because of that mindset, I like to take time at the end of every year to review the past 12 months: What worked, what didn't work, what was learned, and what is the plan for the coming year? So, for my article this issue, I am doing an abbreviated version that I can share with you as it relates to Delta Media Group. Hopefully, it will inspire you to do the same, and hopefully, it will give you more insight into Delta Media Group® as a major provider to the real estate vertical.

        What are the Highs of 2021?

        Building and Launching Local Showings™
        The industry was rocked by the sale of the most widely used property showing management platform this year. The day that the announcement was made, I, with the support of Delta's management team, decided to launch Local Showings with a no-sell guarantee. As I sit here at a local coffee shop thinking about this decision, a short eight months later, we have our first MLS launched with more to follow. This rocked the industry so much that we are actively talking with three-quarters of the industry. Local Showings is a huge success for Delta and the real estate world.

        Search Engine Optimization Success
        We undoubtedly have the best SEO in the industry, and it got even better in 2021. Our sites are quicker, our blogs are deeply integrated into the property and local market data, and our SEO ranking has improved. In a year full of significant SEO ranking changes, this is a huge win, especially as I see the success of our business partners. This is the result of paying attention to SEO for 20 years, a fantastic platform, and an even more amazing team at Delta.

        Buying and Remodeling a new Office Building
        Undoubtedly 2020 was a year of change, and it changed how I viewed Delta's workforce and Delta's office space, so it was time for another shift in 2021. I purchased a new office building, completely gutted it, and remodeled it specifically for a telecommuting hybrid workforce. Next month the new office will open complete with a three-thousand square-foot cafe and large outdoor patio. Ten years ago, I would have never imagined having an office with such a large cafe and a large outdoor patio where team members could come and work the entire day in either of those areas. It seems almost bizarre to me, but I consider this a huge quality of life win for Delta's team members for 2021.

        Expansion of Deep Integrations and Automations
        The Delta team massively expanded our technology platform integrations this past year. For some major industry technology and marketing providers, we have the deepest integrations available right now from anyone in the space. This makes me proud because of how this benefits all the DeltaNET® users.

        The Best Support in the Industry
        We have the best support in the industry. But, more importantly, the high of 2021 is that the entire Delta team is working hard to make our support much better. The management team is not happy with just being the best when compared to other providers; we want to achieve an even higher level of support satisfaction.

        Deploying a New Server and Storage Infrastructure
        This past year we deployed a new server and storage infrastructure for the DeltaNET and other platforms. For over five years, we have enjoyed 100% uptime, but we knew we had to make significant changes to support our growth in the future. It is shocking that we currently peak at around 100-million sessions per month, and that is massive. I am proud that our team executed this deployment with minimal hiccups.

        Launching Three Technology Advisory Committees
        Saying that we listen to our customers is not just marketing, and this year we launched three technology advisory committees composed of dozens of our top partners. As far as I know, we are the only technology company doing this at this scale. We share what we are working on, we listen to their business, technology, and marketing needs, and we respond! But the biggest thing that I have seen come out of these committees is how groups of companies can work together within their advisory committee to benefit and grow their specific technology and marketing eco-system, especially with franchise groups. This is a massive win for 2021 for Delta and our partners.

        Implementing EOS at Delta
        I was and am hyper-paranoid of continual improvement as Delta experiences massive growth, so in 2020 I introduced EOS (Entrepreneurial Operating System) to the Delta management team. As I type this, we have EOS fully implemented at Delta. This has benefitted not just Delta but Delta's partners (customers) as well, which is a huge win.

        What are the Lows of 2021?

        I was reluctant to share some of Delta's lows for 2021, but I think it is good that I am transparent. So as I share the lows, I will come from the perspective of what was learned in the situation.

        Not Having an Office Building to Use While We Remodeled it
        In hindsight, that was a huge mistake. I, and the management team, assumed too many things with a telecommuting work model, especially when adding so many new team members throughout the year. I will never make this mistake again. We are more intentional on team culture in a telecommuting model and more intentional on team training. Not having an office building to use for six months has been painful, and it had a negative impact on the business.

        Creative Studio™ Pains
        In 2021 we launched a new marketing platform called Creative Studio, and it was a huge win and a huge failure that we then had to turn back around into a win. Creative Studio made it more complicated for the sales associates to create marketing pieces when it originally launched, and we will work diligently to make sure that mistake never happens again. With the sales associates, we have one opportunity to win them, and we need to execute perfectly from the start. As a result of this failure, we instituted the following changes for all products: An ongoing monthly management team product review cycle; intentional product development with an emphasis on user experience along with technology; intentional product Quality Assurance processes; and earlier involvement from our partners through our monthly technology advisory committee meetings.

        Not Meeting our Internal Support Metrics as We Grew
        Honestly, this was frustrating and very disruptive to Delta's overall operations. Even though at our lowest, we still had the best support in the industry, our business partners were so accustomed to phenomenal technical support they noticed the decline. This will never happen again. As a result, we had to make the following business improvements: Proactive technical support metrics, so we are proactive in staffing rather than reactive; ongoing platform and career development training with technical support; intentional career development within the technical support team itself, so it is a career path on its own and not just a conduit into other departments.

        Having Hiccups as we Deployed our New Server Hardware
        Sometimes when you experience success for so long, you get caught off-guard, and that is what happened with our new server hardware deployment that was also a high for 2021. The reason it was a low for 2021 is because while we still met our uptime commitments, we could no longer tout the 100% uptime that we had achieved for the five years before this. In hindsight, we delayed moving to new infrastructure management tools for too long. Unfortunately, we also delayed this upgrade for too long, and this will not happen again. We already have plans for working on our next major upgrade in 2022, so we are no longer caught like this, and we can once again tout 100% uptime.

        What are we Doing for 2022?

        Note: These are only major highlights that I can share publicly!

        Massively Staffing Up and Training Up Our Support Staff
        At Delta, we are working to raise the bar even higher for quality of support. We are very focused on this for 2022!

        More Search Engine Optimization Improvements
        Work is already underway to improve our SEO platform. When you are #1, you can only go down, so we are pushing hard to be even better at SEO.

        Solidifying Our Telecommute Work Hybrid Model as We Continue to Grow
        Telecommuting is here to stay, and at Delta, we are intentional in making this model work. Our team members love the fact that they can work from anywhere, and I love the freedom it gives them. We will be even more intentional in developing this model to the benefit of our team members, the business, and our partners.

        DeltaNET 7
        Yep. You heard it here first. DeltaNET 7 is already in the works. While DeltaNET 6 is the most advanced CRM in the market, in my humble opinion, we are working to further the customization of the DeltaNET with version 7 and bring massive simplification to it as well. More will come out soon, but we are already excited about the direction of DeltaNET 7 and what it will do for those using it.

        Pushing Open Standards in all Products (DeltaNET, Local Showings)
        I have been pushing Delta's integrations since 2015. Right now, we have hundreds of integrations, a flexible SSO platform directly within DeltaNET 6, and very robust APIs for all Delta services. This is why we are the business hub for all of our large clients today. Massive expansions are already in the works, especially in the area of open APIs. They will become much easier to use and manage and more robust in 2022, especially for DeltaNET 6+ and Local Showings.

        CMA / Presentation Product Launch
        We have been working on a CMA product that, quite honestly, will also double as a presentation product. We took what we learned from the Creative Studio launch, and we have been working on polishing up the product before launch. By the time you read this, it will either be launched or be very close to launching, and we have big plans for this in 2022.

        Training and Resources Center
        Another new product that is very close to launching is our new Training and Resources Center. This has been in development for quite some time and may also be launched by the time you read this. The most promising part of this platform addition is that it is built in such a way that our business partners can utilize this to power their own unique training and continuing education. We also have big plans for this in 2022.

        December
        22

        Work hard, play hard, and give back.

        Simple and straight to the point, the words, and the meaning behind them, have served as a guidepost for Coldwell Banker American Homes' company-wide culture — particularly this year. Because before this year, Coldwell Banker American Homes didn't exist. At least not in its current form.

        Following two and a half decades of success in the Century 21 system, as Century 21 American Homes, co-brokers and owners Michael Litzner and Thomas Gallagher, in April, announced the acquisition of Coldwell Banker Realty, a residential brokerage in New York owned and operated by Realogy.

        Suddenly, two of the top 10 companies in one of the nation's most competitive markets, Long Island and the New York metro area, were one. Coldwell Banker American Homes was born, and with it came plenty of changes. More than just the name. Agent totals nearly doubled, with more offices across Queens, Kings, Nassau, and Suffolk Counties, giving Coldwell Banker American Homes more opportunities than ever to provide clients with the best real estate experience possible.

        "We took two of the top companies and put them together, which is no small feat," Litzner says. "We went from 650 agents to [over 1,100] agents in 24 locations overnight. And here we are, learning and growing and continuing our path in real estate."

        Through all the headline-making changes, not one of their agents lost sight of the end goal or the simple words defining the company. And it's that mindset that's continuing to inspire the entire Coldwell Banker American Homes family as it settles into its new name and new position in New York real estate. Because culture is still culture, no matter what the name on the office door is.

        Even when there are two dozen offices.

        "We have a fantastic leadership team, and I think they do a fantastic job of extending those values into the local offices and bringing them down to the agents, the admins, the support staff," Litzner says. "So it's in every fiber of the company. It's okay to have fun while working; as long as you're not so busy having fun, you take your eye off the ball. The work hard always comes first, so we have a culture of hardworking people."

        JOINING FORCES

        The opportunity to merge two of the most prominent real estate names on Long Island only comes once a certain amount of work has been completed. Decades worth, really. In this case, Coldwell Banker American Homes began when an 18-year-old Litzner started taking classes to obtain his real estate license and, in 1983, began his career at a small independent company in East Meadow, New York.

        A short train ride from midtown Manhattan, East Meadow is still suburbia through and through, but it was more than enough for Litzner to get his real estate feet wet. Fast forward a year and a half, and Gallagher joined the company. As time went on, it became clear that the company's owner was looking to retire, and it didn't take long for suggestions to come regarding what should happen next.

        "One of the guys said, 'Why don't [you and Gallagher] buy the office?'" Litzner recalls. "That's how it started. We bought the first office in East Meadow, New York. I was 23. And we were learning the business, and we were pretty good producers, still growing into our roles and were now office owners."

        From there, the partners continued to hit their stride, buying a second office that Litzner calls "the big pivot" in their careers.

        "As we continued to find our legs and work our way through," Litzner says, "we started to generate a certain level of activity that caught the attention of a lot of the brands."

        One of those brands was Century 21. At the time, the company had been part of "a loose affiliation of brokers under this banner called Home America," but the chance to join their two offices under the Century 21 name was simply too good to pass up. With the move came a new name, Century 21 American Homes, and all the tools provided by a nationally recognized brand.

        "We got a lot of support and insight, many friends and fellow brokers that we've networked with over the years," Litzner says. "When you join a brand, you can have access to its branding tools. It could be technology; it could be training; it's numerous things, especially over the years. It's a matter of taking the best pieces of what they offer you and applying them to your company."

        With 10 offices and more than 650 affiliated independent sales professionals, Century 21 American Homes had grown into a dominant presence over its 25 years, but, once again, an opportunity presented itself that simply could not be ignored. Bringing together Century 21 American Homes and Coldwell Banker Realty made sense, a significant move not only on Long Island and the surrounding New York areas, but across the country. Combined, the two companies boasted 5,096 transactions and $2.7 billion in sales in 2020.

        Now, with two impressive names combined, Coldwell Banker American Homes is on the precipice of unparalleled success, with agents and a leadership team who are determined to stay at the top of their game. From October of last year to the end of this September, a 12-month span, the numbers were an astounding 5,975 sides and $3.5 billion. As of this printing, the 2021 year to date is $2.6 billion and 4,330 sales.

        "It's critical to have trust, loyalty, committed professionals as part of the whole team," Litzner says. "And we've exhibited or enjoyed the loyalty and commitment of many long-standing professionals in our company. I think two of our agents, or two of our management leadership team, have been with Tom and me for over 30 years now. That's a big part of it."

        KNOWLEDGE IS POWER

        If you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. That's what they say about New York, after all. One of the world's most competitive and constantly evolving real estate markets, New York and its surrounding areas present a distinct challenge for sales associates and the companies they work under. The same holds for Coldwell Banker American Homes.

        To find success in a market like New York, the key is to use every tool at your disposal.

        Training at Coldwell Banker American Homes begins by making sure agents understand what their job entails. It's not just about helping a client buy a house. It's about helping a client find a home they love, about finding a foundation, both literal and metaphorical, on which they can build the rest of their lives.

        "We talk extensively about our tools, system, and support," Litzner says. "I need agents to be the most productive, with the most professional reputation. We often say the easy business for an agent to convert is the referral business, and referrals happen by design, not by accident. So again, part of our core value is it's a service industry."

        No matter where an agent is working, from the most competitive markets to small towns across the country, real estate has always been a deceptively human industry. Sure, there's plenty of money to be made. Properties to be bought and sold, too. But, at its core, real estate is an opportunity for people to help people. To be a partner in one of the biggest moments of their lives, and for Coldwell Banker American Homes, it's that opportunity that continues to be the driving force in everything the company does.

        "It's not about trying to sell [clients] something they don't want," Litzner explains. "It's about understanding what's important to them, and help them wade through the choices in the marketplace, and help them find the house that best meets their needs.

        "It's a rewarding business in many ways, economically, but also emotionally," Litzner continues. "When you're helping people, and you see the excitement when they buy their home or the relief when they sell a property. When you see that come to fruition, closings happen, and it's rewarding on many levels."

        Of course, there's more to Coldwell Banker American Homes than simply ensuring everyone's operating with the same mindset. That's where Coldwell Banker American Homes' comprehensive training program comes in. With support at all levels for both new and experienced agents, the company covers everything from the fundamentals of a career in real estate to deep dives into technology offerings and the ins and outs of the market.

        Coldwell Banker American Homes provides agents with marketing and technology-driven productivity tools, including those offered by Delta Media Group®, as well as professional mortgage and title services. No agent is left on an island to understand those tools, either. Support comes from the management and leadership team, assisting agents every step of the way as they find their niche. So, whether an associate wants to pursue residential or commercial sales, leasing, business brokerage, property management, branch management, new homes sales, or relocation, the opportunity to tailor their career to their interests is there.

        "The goal that we have for all of our tools, systems, and support, including our training, is to give our agents the highest rate of return on their investment, which is their time," says Chief Technology Officer and Associate Broker Chris Manteria. "That's their biggest investment at the end of the day. I don't care how much money you put into this business; you can't generate more time. You can generate more money. You can't generate more time."

        And training doesn't end with those initial instructions. Coldwell Banker American Homes' Educational Program offers multiple classes, allowing agents even more chances to learn and fine-tune their approach in the real estate world. From Agent Success, a weekly 2-hour module for both newly licensed and experienced associates, to commercial training and coaching, agents never have to worry there isn't an answer to whatever questions they may have.

        Soaring to Success, a 10-session program written by National Real Estate Coach and Speaker Debra J. Asher, now a member of Coldwell Banker American Homes' leadership team, is also a top-rated course and one that's relevant to agents with every sort of background and success level.

        "As an experienced agent, I took it after being in the business already [for many] years," Manteria says, "and I was able to capture a lot of different pieces of the puzzle that I had missed before, or it changed my thought process on how I presented information to my customers and clients, which allowed me to have a higher rate of return."

        In addition to company-wide training offerings, managers also do trainings in their specific offices. It's that sort of unique training that cements Coldwell Banker American Homes' support and allows agents to interact one-on-one with those they work closest with.

        "There is a very personal touch, a high touch in all of our offices," Manteria says. "Every single one has a full-time non-compete manager, who takes the agents by their hands and walks them through the process. No matter what level they're at, whether they're a brand-new agent, experienced agent that needs to get to that next level, or the top agent that comes in or has been with our company for a long time, that just needs support. Those managers are there for them. I truly believe that our leadership team is top-notch."

        Litzner echoes the sentiment, adding that it's the ability to connect with agents that makes training all the more impactful.

        Providing that specialized focus, taking the time to truly understand what agents want out of their careers — that can make all the difference.

        "Where the rubber meets the road is on application," Litzner says. "So, by having centralized training, we can control the messaging, the information, the flow of information to our agents in scale. It's having those high-level professionals in our office work with those agents, saying, 'What did you learn? How are you going to use that in your business?' That's phenomenal."

        SUCCESS IN A NEW YORK MINUTE

        Ask any person what they imagine when they picture New York City, and the odds are pretty good that you'll hear conjured images of Times Square. Flashing lights and yellow cabs, bumper to bumper traffic, and sidewalks covered in pedestrians and tourists. And that's true; Times Square does look like that. But that's far from all New York and its surrounding areas is.

        With so many different characteristics to define so many different boroughs and neighborhoods, every area Coldwell Banker American Homes serves presents its own distinct opportunities and challenges. In Brooklyn, clients may be looking for brownstones, or condos and co-ops, while Queens generally runs a bit more residential and rent-prone. Then, take a drive out on Long Island, and depending on what town or village you stop in, you'll find distinctly different real estate markets. Nassau County is full of suburban living, but keep going east out the Long Island Expressway, and you'll quickly find farms, vineyards, and the beaches of the Hamptons.

        "We have such a diverse marketplace," Litzner says, adding that the acquisition has only increased that scope. "We've acquired offices in some of the highest-priced, global luxury markets. So we have this North Shore/South Shore dynamic now that we didn't have prior. We also have unique markets. Like we have the leading REO guy on Long Island as part of the company.

        "We also have probably the top rental person," Litzner continues. "We have relationships with management companies that we control thousands of units of rentals and represent them in that end of the market."

        Learning what works and what doesn't in any given micro-market is crucial to an agent's success. Each area comes with its own idiosyncrasies, both good and bad. Understanding what clients expect and want when searching for a real estate partner in Brooklyn won't always be the same as someone in Suffolk County. Coldwell Banker American Homes' associates understand that, and thanks to the training they receive as soon as they join the company, as well as the individualized and hyper-focused information from their specific offices, those same associates have proven time and time again they're ready for the challenge.

        Then, of course, there is also Coldwell Banker American Homes' Commercial Division. What Litzner calls "a very different discipline," from working in residential real estate, the Commercial Division operates under Coldwell Banker Commercial AMH as "a separately licensed office with separate tools and systems." And while the Commercial Division adds another bullet point on the list of everything Coldwell Banker American Homes offers, it's also another chance for the company's agents to truly specialize their careers.

        Ultimately, no matter what an agent decides to do or where they decide to do it, Litzner says two defining factors will determine someone's success: Personality and passion.

        "They hold true in every single market," Litzner says. "Having the right commitment to professionalism. Do they attend training classes? Do they learn the tools and systems? When you partner with companies and vendors like Delta Media, who support us with their suite of websites, company, office, agents, the CRM at the center of their Open House App. It doesn't matter which one of those markets you're in; the fundamentals hold."

        MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE COMMUNITY

        Since first deciding to partner together, Litzner and Gallagher have made it a priority to provide every opportunity for anyone looking to begin their careers in real estate. With the Recruiting America's Heroes initiative, that also includes United States veterans.

        "It's about helping provide benefits to America's heroes," Litzner details. "That's the people that have served our country, and so it's about helping them transition back into a life and explore career opportunities and essentially the entry-level to a real estate career."

        Getting into real estate can sometimes be seen as an easy career move, but Litzner is the first to point out that there are a handful of steps that can quickly become obstacles. Thanks to the Recruiting America's Heroes program, however, those obstacles are a bit less intimidating for those who have previously served, ensuring veterans have a structured plan for the next phase of their lives. Complimentary continuing education courses are offered, as well as first-year registration for the Global Conference, a multi-day event that brings together some of the top Coldwell Banker names from around the globe, in addition to discounts on pre-licensing and new agent materials.

        "The concept was a way to thank the service members who are transitioning back, to try to reach out and offer them the ability to transition into a new career," Litzner says. "And they say that discipline, the service-minded mentality that service members have, translates well into the real estate business."

        Recruiting America's Heroes is just one instance of Coldwell Banker American Homes' core values in action. Work hard, play hard, give back. Those were never hollow words and, over the years, the company has made sure to place a clear emphasis on the last two in particular.

        "We've always been a service-minded company," Litzner says. "My business partner and I have been in our local Chamber of Commerce [for years]. We're very, very involved in the Kiwanis organization, a non-denominational charitable organization."

        Through their past affiliation with Century 21, the company frequently donated to Easterseals, a charity focused on responding to the needs of people with disabilities, their families, and communities, with a variety of services. Coldwell Banker also fostered a strong relationship with St. Jude Children's Research Hospital.

        Giving back has long been one of the fundamental building blocks of the company that is now Coldwell Banker American Homes. Still, although Litzner says it's fantastic to work with national charities, the company's presence across Long Island and in the New York metro area makes it ideally suited to give back at home. Because Coldwell Banker American Homes helped thousands of people buy those homes. So, about four years ago, the Heart of American Homes Foundation was formed through a collaboration of like-minded individuals, both agents and brokers, who were working under the Century 21 American Homes umbrella at the time.

        "[The charity] is fully housed within our offices," Litzner says. "There are no paid employees, and a hundred percent of the money that we raise in that organization goes back into our local communities."

        The Heart of American Homes Foundation continues to host multiple fundraisers throughout the year, all with a specific hometown focus. For example, lottery fundraisers are held, as is the annual Night at the Races, and company-matched donations whenever an agent contributes a certain amount from their closed transactions. This year alone, Litzner says, Coldwell Banker American Homes has matched agents with $50,000 in donations to various causes — all as a result of closing transactions.

        Deciding which causes to highlight and how to give back is also a true company-wide effort. Each Coldwell Banker American Homes office elects an agent or office member to sit on the Heart of American Homes Foundation board of directors, so, as Litzner explains, "they all have ownership in it."

        Each member of the board has taken that ownership to heart with different programs and causes supported each year. Not every initiative has to be a $50,000 donation, either. Sometimes it can be as simple as putting in handicapped ramps or as impactful as helping people afford life-saving medication and assisting with funeral costs. So long as it benefits the community — the same one Coldwell Banker American Homes has helped so many find a home in — the company wants to ensure it happens.

        "It's had a profound effect on the agents and the culture of the offices," Litzner says, "because one hundred percent of that money goes back, and they see it. It's something that I'm proud to be part of. I believe every member of the American Homes family shares that sentiment."

        Coldwell Banker American Homes still regularly donates to those national causes, of course, but being active and present in the communities the company services, in the neighborhoods that, although so strikingly different from one end of Long Island to the other, are home to so many clients, is something that cannot be overstated. Nor can the impact this mindset has had.

        "The agents, since this has started, have entirely changed their engagement," Manteria says. "They've increased their engagement tremendously because [they] do want to give back to their communities. When we have fundraisers, we'll have a couple of hundred people at a fundraiser, and 90% of them are from our company."

        THE NEXT STEP IN TECHNOLOGY

        Bringing in hundreds of new agents and combining the long-term successes of two dominant real estate companies may have become official seemingly overnight, but the path leading to the creation of Coldwell Banker American Homes was a much longer one than some may assume.

        "Realistically, we've been on this path for about a year and a half," Litzner says. "Something of this magnitude, you don't just wake up and say, 'I think I'll buy a billion and a half dollar sales company in the morning.' We took a long, hard look at our company, where we were, what we were doing, how we were doing it, where we wanted to go, and said, 'What's our vision for our company in 10 years?'"

        While preparing for the future, Litzner says the company that would eventually become Coldwell Banker American Homes also realized it needed a technological facelift. Calling their previous platform "outdated," Litzner adds that the tech "didn't communicate well; everything was separated. And we said, 'You know what, this is not good enough. We can do better.'"

        So, much like preparing for its headline-making acquisition, the company took all the necessary steps to find the perfect tech fit. Researching multiple platforms and vendors, Litzner says certain factors were "non-negotiable, and Delta Media Group® was one of them that checked every one of those boxes." Still, nothing was decided on immediately. Instead, a committee was formed, including Litzner and Manteria, and about 15 demos were held between a handful of companies to ensure that every aspect of the platform was worth the effort to implement, integrate and ensure adoption with the company's agents; what would be all 1,000-plus.

        Because, as Litzner put it: "If you do all this and the agents don't use it, what's the difference?"

        Luckily, Delta Media Group continued to stand out throughout the process, a platform that wasn't only an excellent fit for the company when it was still Century 21 American Homes but one that would be there every step of the way through this next stage. Combining companies is as challenging as it is exciting, and with Delta Media Group in its corner, Coldwell Banker American Homes knew it had a tech partner in the truest sense of the word, one that would operate within the framework of the company and assist, rather than hinder, throughout the hectic nature of the last year.

        "Since we've implemented our relationship, [Delta has] continued to work with us on further integrations," Litzner says. "We've laid out a wishlist, our roadmap, and Delta's at the center of it. Delta has been a partner that's developed their product to play nice, to communicate well with all the other technologies we're able to bring in. So we've been able to develop our own technology that works for us."

        Delta worked with Coldwell Banker American Homes to function with its Just Engage Today (JET) Platform, a company-provided turn-key productivity platform meant to propel agents directly into a profitable real estate career. With all of Delta's best features directly at their fingertips, agents have tech tools that are undeniably real-estate focused, something that hasn't always been the case.

        "One of the things that I've often found myself saying is that in the past, we knew technology would come in, but a lot of the technology came in, and it didn't work the way we work," Litzner says. "What we feel we've been able to do for the first time, through this transition, is get the technology to work intuitively and follow the natural transaction pattern that an agent goes to when generating a customer or client to converting that client, to signing up contracts to mortgage, title, closing. Delta has been a great partner."

        Ease of use has been a major factor in Delta and Coldwell Banker American Homes' partnership over the last year or so. Often, Manteria says, multiple agents work with the same client, and Delta allows them to do that without "any sort of cross-contamination."

        "[It doesn't lock] out the agent from being able to work with [clients]," Manteria adds, "and the open architecture, the ability for us to bolt on other technologies into it and have data transferred back and forth using APIs made a lot of sense."

        With so many agents operating in so many different markets working on so many different transactions, DeltaNET® 6's one-stop-shop format has also proved crucial. Instead of bouncing between X or Y to do multiple tasks, Delta has integrated almost everything an agent needs in a singular spot, allowing them to focus on the task, not the technology.

        "Let's be honest, our agents are good at selling real estate," Manteria says. "They shouldn't be worried about being technology experts. It's not their job. And Delta is the closest technology out there that lets our agents use their natural workflow and allows us to integrate multiple tools to work together."

        Manteria also commends Delta for its willingness to work with Coldwell Banker American Homes. If the company wants something new, Delta does its best to make it happen, a trait that isn't always true of other tech providers.

        "The reality is, we needed a partner in this and [Delta has] been a great partner," says Manteria, who also serves on Delta's Coldwell Banker advisory committee. "I can't tell you how many times I call [Product Development Manager] Harley [Wolfarth]. [Vice President of Sales] Franklin [Stoffer] hears from me all the time, looking at how we can make Delta better because the better you become, the better we become, the better it is for us. So the fact that [Delta] looks at this as a partnership, as opposed to a vendor-client relationship, that alone sets it apart."

        WHAT'S ON THE HORIZON

        This has been a year of change for Coldwell Banker American Homes. Of embracing new and building on a reputation that was already impressive. It is also a jumping-off point for what comes next. With sights set on the future, Coldwell Banker American Homes has no plans of slowing down. How can it when the company is so firmly entrenched in the markets it serves?

        Listing Concierge, a new program that allows agents to access new marketing tools and professional photography for their listings, is already underway. Lessons learned during COVID-19 won't soon be forgotten, as agents took their marketing and engagement games to the next level even from a distance. In fact, throughout the pandemic and 2021, the shift to virtual has been a success, particularly when it came to things like training.

        Manteria credits Coldwell Banker American Homes' local leadership for keeping the company on track recently, "because many of them were quasi-comfortable with some of the technology going into COVID, but they stepped up, and they embraced the technology, and once they did, they were able to get that extra engagement from their agents."

        Having a manager for every office location provided personalized leadership and assistance that has become the norm for Coldwell Banker American Homes at a time when nothing was truly normal.

        Whether it was changing franchises or contending with an international health pandemic, every single person with Coldwell Banker American Homes on their business card was still able to work with confidence, thanks to the support they received.

        "We have engagement with a leadership team that cares about their agents," Manteria says. "And at the end of the day, everybody agrees that giving our agents what they need is what this comes down to. Having that support that you won't get in other companies, having that training, having that company culture, where we give back to all of our local communities."

        Getting the best of both worlds can sometimes seem like an impossibility when combining companies, but Coldwell Banker American Homes has made it a reality: Providing agents with the sort of professional home that inspires growth, backed by decades of experience with leaders who embrace the company culture every single day. And that won't change any time soon.

        "We are taking the best and picking and choosing and bringing it into the new ecosystem," Litzner says. "So I think our opportunity is to improve our company and transform it into something that is best in class. I'm excited about where we are and our opportunity to go forward. I think we hit it out of the park. And honestly, if I do say so myself, I'm excited about what the next 10 years bring."


        To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the December 2021 issue, click here

        December
        8

        At Delta Media Group, our mission statement is literally: "Automate to Elevate Life," so it should come as no surprise that 2021 was a year of constant innovation for our team. Of course, this challenges us to constantly look for ways to automate processes within our business, and more importantly, automate processes for the agents and brokerages that utilize our all-in-one CRM & website platform, the DeltaNET®. With this in mind, I wanted to look at some of the biggest technology updates we saw in the real estate industry and what to expect in 2022:

        • Automated all-in-one marketing solutions
        • The rebirth of real estate mobile apps
        • Customized tailor-made CRM systems

        First and foremost, I believe that automated marketing tools are the biggest time saver offered to a real estate agent. Building high-quality marketing designs for things like new listings, "just sold" postcards or multi-page brochures can be a huge time sink. Earlier this year, we officially launched our Creative Studio™, which allows agents to quickly gain access to dozens of flyer designs, postcards, multi-page brochures, and more.

        The initial launch of the system brought new functionality with integrations into third-party printers, like Xpressdocs, giving agents the ability to see dozens of beautiful designs, select one, and then check out and order their print through a third-party printer. One of the biggest benefits of marketing systems like the Creative Studio within the DeltaNET is the ability to automate your marketing completely.

        REALTORS® are busy, and even finding the time to take five minutes and choose a flyer to send off for something like an open house doesn't always fit into the schedule. So, we launched our "Automation Wizard" that allows a real estate agent to pre-select their favorite designs for categories like "New Price," "Just Sold," "Homeowner Anniversary," "Client Anniversary," and more. This means within minutes of new listing data being pulled from the MLS; a beautiful flyer design can be automatically built and sent to a group of prospects. At Delta, we typically pull in new MLS data incrementally every five minutes or less.

        We've also continually made refinements to the Creative Studio over the last year. With automation in mind, we made it even easier for real estate agents to quickly select any prebuilt flyer design in the system and automatically have their company's colors and logos applied. We even added a dynamic "disclaimer" system for the designs, so in states like New York, where disclaimers are required, our NY-based clients could still use the designs. This has been a game-changer for the agents.

        One last note I should add is that your marketing system should also have the ability to import Adobe InDesign files. Most marketing departments already have professionals who build amazing designs in InDesign, so we added functionality that allows you to build a design in InDesign and then import it into the Creative Studio. As a result, we have seen clients with more than 200+ options for different market flyers for their agents to use!

        Going in a different direction, I believe 2021 was the rebirth of the traditional mobile apps. What was once a trend back from 2012-2015 had quite a bit of a renascence this year. Years ago, we provided dedicated mobile app versions of our client's websites so they would encourage their clients to download and use the mobile version of the site. At the time, we noted across many different mobile apps that the usage rates simply weren't there. Even if the consumers downloaded the apps, we saw less than a 5% usage rate, so we deprecated support of those apps in 2016 and thought that would be the end of that.

        Five years later, the mobile app space within the real estate world has started to boom. It's not the consumer-facing website apps that are popular, though; it's applications for the real estate professionals to use to automate their business even further. In just the last two years, we've launched two dedicated agent-centric applications to great success.

        The first app, launched in 2020, was our Open House Connector® App. This application allows real estate agents to seamlessly run an open house where the attendees can register, receive updates about other upcoming open houses, and leave feedback for the seller/real estate agent regarding what they thought of the property. As the app launched during the pandemic's peak, we offered "contactless" registration for open house attendees, where they simply scan a QR code to sign in and answer survey questions.

        This open house app ties directly together with the agent's CRM, where they can have dynamic follow-up campaigns based on how the attendees answered different questions. For example, if an open house attendee said another agent was already representing them, we wouldn't import that customer as a contact into the agent's CRM. In another example, if an attendee said they were looking to put an offer in on a property in the near future, they could be automatically enrolled into a "potential buyer" follow-up action plan/ drip campaign available within the agent's CRM.

        The second app we launched just a few months ago. For the first time, our mobile-responsive CRM system, DeltaNET 6, was now available in the form of a mobile app in the iOS and Android app store. By having a CRM that supports a traditional mobile app, it opens the door for many additional notification updates that were just not feasible with a strictly web-based CRM.

        For example, let's say I'm an agent with a great website that has lead capture forms built-in. That website is automatically tied into my personal CRM, so whenever a customer fills out a form or saves a search, I get an email or text notification. Thanks to the power of mobile applications and their real-time push notifications, we can do new things like automatically notify the real estate agent whenever a customer is currently active on their site and looking at properties. We could also send a notification directly to the agent's phone if a customer has just signed up on their site or even clicked on an email they had sent. It allows the agent to get instant insights into which of their clients or prospects are truly active on their site and with their marketing.

        Another significant step forward for CRM technology in 2021 has little to do with automations. Still, it is one of the more important things that brokerages should be looking for in any tech stack they may be evaluating. Beginning in 2021, the DeltaNET platform officially began customization of our actual backend tech stack. No longer was the CRM an "off the shelf" offering. Brokerages can now build dynamic dashboards, workflows, and even white-label the entire system to be EXACTLY what they want their agents to have in front of them.

        I like to use this analogy to describe the importance of this type of functionality: Typically anyone can find a good-looking suit, and take it off the shelf and make it work. However, the feeling of getting a suit tailored and wearing a suit that was specifically fitted for you is a totally different feeling than just putting on something off the rack. The tailored suit will last longer, will feel better, and will look better. That's the power of customizing your CRM for your firm's unique needs.

        Our thought process was simple. We build great technology, but we're not REALTORS®. Each business operates differently, with different cultures and skillsets. Rather than force every brokerage to play in the same sandbox, we gave brokerages the ability to put unique dashboards together that can differ from company to company and even office to office within the same organization. Our clients can change their navigation and brand the entirety of the system to look like it's an in-house tech system and not something built by a third party like Delta.

        This has been huge, especially for our enterprise partners, as they can take our DeltaNET framework and have a beautiful tailor-made CRM solution that their agents feel like they can ONLY have with their current broker. It's become a great retention tool because even if the agent left the brokerage using the DeltaNET, they wouldn't be able to purchase that same version of the system provided by our brokerage client.

        This is a perfect segue into what I feel brokerages will need to have in their business in order to stay on the bleeding edge in 2022. As it relates to customization of your backend systems, Delta is planning to massively up the ante next year. All of the great tools we have internally to build unique versions of our CRM platform will be put into the hands of our clients and brokerage admins to build and dynamically change their own system on the fly. By putting these tools in the hands of our clients, they will have even more flexibility to listen to their agents' feedback about usability and apply their feedback to the system in real-time. We feel this will boost the adoption of the system and make it easier to use.

        What else is needed to stay bleeding edge in 2022?

        • An Intranet/CRM system that you can build for your company

        • Built-in learning management functionality

        • Cutting edge automated CMAtools

        • True video marketing that is more than automated slide shows of listings

        I also see the future of these "all-in-one" systems adopting more training and learning
        management type functionality. One of the most exciting updates we've been working on at Delta is our Training and Learning center that offers dynamic course creation, out-of-the-box DeltaNET training classes, built-in quizzes, and more. It will allow our clients to make the DeltaNET a critical piece of their new agent onboarding, as they can take assigned courses right in the software.

        Of course, integrated all-in-one systems should have a built-in CMA builder as well. So in early 2022, we will be launching our much-awaited DeltaNET CMA tool. Unlike many other systems in the all-in-one space, we want to offer this as an integrated tool, not a paid add-on.

        Finally, I expect to see more and more push for video content marketing. While video marketing is nothing new, I believe we will see a bigger call for even more tools that sales associates can use to integrate automated videos into their marketing packages. We've provided our automated listing video product, Properties in Motion®, to thousands of agents since 2014, and have been working on some incredible updates to that platform that I believe will blow our users away.

        Many automated listing video services today include dynamic photo slideshows, feature the listing agent's information, and perhaps automatically post to places like Facebook or YouTube. Historically these products didn't offer much in the way of customization and were usually nothing more than a glorified vTour. That will change in 2022, as products like our Properties in Motion system receive updates that will allow agents to upload dynamic photos or video snippets into the automated video, have unique animations, upload their own voiceover scripts, and more. The goal is to take the static automatically generated video and give the agents tools to bring it to life.

        To conclude, I'm excited about the advancements that have been made to real estate technology over the last year, but I'm even more excited about where things are headed in 2022. As a sales professional who uses these tools in my own business, I can't say enough how important these types of automations are in giving me back time in my day to focus on the more human-to-human relationships that matter so much to a salesperson.


        To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the December 2021 issue, click here

        December
        7

        If there's an exception to every rule, then, sometimes, the cliché isn't true: Everything isn't always bigger in Texas. And that's a good thing.

        At least when it comes to RE/MAX Capital City.

        For more than two decades, RE/MAX Capital City has been one of the premier real estate brokerages in the greater Austin area. Buying and selling homes is a success story waiting to be written for RE/MAX Capital City agents, and while there has been plenty of growth since opening in 1994, owner Jeff Osborne says, nearly three years ago, he realized it was time to "refocus the company."

        So, RE/MAX Capital City shifted its collective approach to real estate: Working, more than ever, directly with agents and making sure those individuals receive all the hands-on help they need to take their careers to the next level. Accomplishments are no longer measured in just facts and figures but in what each agent can do when they have the backing of an entire company behind them.

        "Everybody wants more agents, lots of agents, virtual offices, and virtual offices can mean virtually no service, sometimes," explains Osborne, a broker since 1989 and two-time winner of the RE/MAX of Texas Broker/Owner of the Year Award. "So I decided we needed to be a different organization, specializing in supporting top-producing agents that share our values."

        RE/MAX Capital City's new norm is a strong culture, a host of training opportunities, and a leadership core that not only takes its roles seriously but enjoys working closely with agents. Things are more focused and, sometimes, a bit smaller than they've been in the past. What used to be a three-office operation is now two. Recruitment has evolved. Even the company's technology offerings have changed since partnering with Delta Media Group® earlier this year.

        No matter what else has changed, though, those values haven't. The desire to provide the best real estate experience — for agents and clients — is as true for RE/MAX Capital City now as it was on day one, and in almost 30 years of business, that's made all the difference.

        "The four pillars of our success and my commitment to RE/MAX Capital City are vision, leadership, guidance, and inspiration," Osborne says. "Having the right support staff is key; I can't stress that enough."

        CHANGING THE CULTURE

        Honing the sort of support system RE/MAX Capital City wants to provide begins at the top, with Osborne as the driving force behind the shift in mindset since its inception. And while his experience in real estate makes him an incredible source of information and inspiration for any aspiring agent, it's something else, something a bit surprising, that's allowed him to be so involved. He retired from selling real estate in 2002.

        Having an owner who is knowledgeable about the market without actively selling real estate gives RE/MAX Capital City agents a unique advantage. Because, as Digital Marketing Manager Jennifer Dorr explains, "this results in a full-time commitment to supporting agents and producing an optimum work environment for them to prosper and grow their own business."

        In other words, his sole focus is on helping. Providing agents with every opportunity to achieve their goals is the goal of RE/MAX Capital City. And with Osborne taking such a personal approach to cultivating the company's culture, it's easy for the rest of the leadership team to follow suit. Whether it's providing compliance assistance, offering training classes, detailing everything agents can do within the DeltaNET® 6 platform, or managing the Cedar Park and Round Rock offices, Osborne calls the staff a "huge part" of what RE/MAX Capital City does.

        In addition to providing as much on-site support as possible, RE/MAX Capital City also offers what Osborne calls "direct support services to our agents from human resources."

        "We help them find their assistants, manage their assistants, take care of a lot of that," Osborne says. "We're always finding ways to help people that could be doing much better and doing things for them that are otherwise preventing them from moving ahead."

        Once agents have that help in place, it's only a matter of time before they hit their stride. Getting up to speed with systems like DeltaNET 6 or learning the ins and outs of the greater Austin real estate market is suddenly simple because agents have the resources to contend with any potential bumps in the road.

        "It's been a good strategy," Osborne says. "I love working with people that are committed to making a lot of money, being successful, having abundant lives."

        This goes hand-in-hand with the company's long-held mission statement, "RE/MAX Capital City is dedicated to Maximum Professionalism, Outstanding Customer Service and Individual Associate Success."

        SETTING THE CURVE

        Finding the right people, those who mesh with RE/MAX Capital City's culture, is a process that's grown and evolved as much as the company itself. Whereas in the past, agents may have arrived from other companies or as a product of active recruitment, now, Osborne says recruitment is far more organic.

        Current agents often bring other people in, suggesting names and individuals they believe are a good fit. Having that personal connection from the get-go is a perfect foundation for new agents to build the rest of their careers. They already know someone within RE/MAX Capital City and, by extension, know what the company expects of its associates.

        "This helps to get the kind of people we want joining RE/MAX Capital City," Dorr says, "and keeps the culture supportive and positive."

        Of course, simply knowing the right people isn't all it takes to get the RE/MAX Capital City name on a business card or in a Twitter bio. Potential agents meet with Osborne before they're brought on board, and Operations Manager Shelby Meyer is quick to point out, "it has to be a good fit, and they have to fit in with our culture."

        "Sometimes people get into this business for the wrong reason," Osborne adds. "I like people that are committed to delivering the best service and the best support for their clients."

        Once an agent is brought in, though, the real work begins. New associates sometimes come from other fields, and while Osborne credits them for "very impressive former careers" and "the work skills and disciplines and drive to succeed at their second career," getting the right training to make sure that can happen is crucial.

        "We have two-hour training classes with new agents, direct hands-on," Osborne says. "We have classes on agent proficiency that are well attended. It's fun to have people turning out and feeling like what we do is valuable."

        More often than not, one of the biggest training struggles for new agents is getting a handle on all the technology available to them. Because, while agents are, as Osborne puts it, "really good salespeople," occasionally they "are not as strong with technology."

        "We try, with many agents, to get them engaged with what [technology] does and what it can do," Osborne says, "and find out what they want to use it for. And then that's, again, a lot of direct staff support. We implement those things for them. We get their website, their CRM, their database running for them if they can't get it kicked off. They can't get off square one if they have to do all of that administrative input work and set up."

        By taking the time to work with agents, to understand their wants and what they need both in the field and in their office, those same agents have blossomed under the RE/MAX Capital City banner.

        "The numbers this year have been phenomenal," Osborne says. "We have several agents and teams on the precipice of making the RE/MAX Chairman's Club this year, which is an astronomical height for a RE/MAX agent or any agent. Then, 55, 60% of our agents will make the RE/MAX 100% Club, which in the RE/MAX system, that's a $100,000 year. Those are some big numbers for a real estate brokerage."

        TAKING TECH TO THE NEXT LEVEL

        RE/MAX Capital City has made change a habit. From evolving training to fit agents' needs to learning the best ways to work with those agents and their clients, embracing the idea of something new is a fundamental part of the company. So, it's no surprise that RE/MAX Capital City was once again willing to try something different with its technology.

        Enter: Delta Media Group.

        Dorr spent much of the summer last year examining new tech options, looking for a platform that would help RE/MAX Capital City achieve everything it wanted to accomplish. Each option was demoed, with all available features examined and discussed, and out of all the choices, Delta stood out. Not only for everything the DeltaNET® 6 platform can do, but because of the personalized support RE/MAX Capital City received during the initial process.

        "[That was] one of the things that tipped me over the edge," Dorr says. "[Holly Christiansen] came to do a live demo for us, and that was awesome. And then through the whole onboarding process, just getting things set up, the constant meetings to make us feel at home. This was the best decision for us."

        As soon as RE/MAX Capital City partnered with Delta Media Group, the task then became getting agents acclimated to a new system. Naturally, there are still challenges associated with that, but, as it has for the last few years, RE/MAX Capital City made training a priority, and with Dorr leading the charge, ensured that it was as easy to understand as possible.

        "I show them what [Delta] can do," Dorr details. "We have some agents that are working in there every day and coming to me with recommendations. And Delta is very open to making the system as best as possible, taking that feedback and growing the system. We've already seen some of those changes implemented for our agents, and that makes them feel that we made the best decision for them.

        "Over the years, we've had a lot of agents say, 'Well, I'm looking for this,'" Dorr adds. "And our previous tools didn't have those features. It's great to be able to say now, 'Oh, you want to do that? Well, here's how we can get that going.' So that's awesome."

        Delta workshops are now regularly held, with standing room only attendance as agents want to get a handle on the technology that can so clearly help them. Agents learn how social media automations take the hassle out of posting, and should an agent not be entirely comfortable using social media, RE/MAX Capital City staff can easily go into the DeltaNET to help set everything up. It's what Dorr refers to as a more "concierge-type service for our agents," allowing them to "focus on real estate."

        "We've also had agents that were not so tech-savvy," adds Cedar Park Office Manager Letty Cantu, "but after we go in and complete quick tasks for them like creating an Open House flyer or registering them for an upcoming training class, they will often then give me a call saying, 'Hey, send me instructions on how you did that so I can do it myself next time.' So [Delta has] helped them grow their technology skills and strengthened them as an all-around agent."

        Blog content provided by Delta Media Group also guarantees agents can post the sort of local information that's appealing to clients, while My Customer for Life emails make it easy to stay in touch with everyone in their system.

        "Some agents were paying for that service through other companies," Dorr says. "Now, it can be offered to them for free, and it's a set and forget it type of thing."

        Of course, with any new system, nothing will be entirely perfect. Osborne admits that when RE/MAX Capital City first partnered with Delta, there were a handful of things the company didn't like. Delta didn't flinch. Instead, change once again took center stage, as each question was answered, each request honored, and each problem fixed. Even now, months after onboarding, Dorr continues to meet monthly with Delta to discuss what's working and what isn't and to forecast what's next on the technology horizon.

        "It's been phenomenal," Osborne says. "We have a lot of things we want to improve, and the work goes on all the time with Delta, but everything that we've looked to get implemented so far is there. [Delta] is on top of it."

        STAYING LOCAL

        Keep Austin weird — and wonderful and growing. Especially growing.

        Over the last few years, Austin, and its surrounding areas, have become the much-desired landing point for everyone from Millennials to families, business professionals, and retirees, all flocking to the city in a way few other locations can compare to. And despite the differences in their descriptions, each group of brand-new Austin'ites has one thing in common: They need somewhere to live. That's where RE/ MAX Capital City comes in.

        "We're focusing a lot on the fastest growing suburban county, which is Williamson County, just north of Austin," Osborne says. "I don't think there's any county in the United States that has experienced the kind of price appreciation that we have here. We have to adapt every week, every day, strategically, and for our agents to have excelled so well in the last 12 months, particularly with that market reshaping going on, that I think it is a real tribute to the people we have."

        All that growth often comes with an uptick in housing prices, and although that can mean good things for agents, Osborne says those working with RE/MAX Capital City are hoping to see the curve flatten out soon. Big-budget transactions are always good for making big waves in the real estate world, but they aren't always what drives a RE/MAX Capital City agent.

        "That's one thing my agents like, is helping people, making a difference in their lives," Osborne says. "We're starting to see some first-time buyers back in the market, and that's been good."

        Real estate has long been a distinctly human business, particularly at RE/MAX Capital City. Most of the company's leadership team has strong Texas roots, living and working in these communities for years, and it's that family feel that has impacted the company's culture for the last 25-plus years.

        "Agents that join us feel like they're part of a family, and they know we've got their backs," Meyer says. "Many of our staff and agents have kids at the same schools, attend the same churches, and we run into them around town. There are a lot of connections between the staff and agents and the agents and each other, not just working at the same office."

        Building off those connections and a desire to do good, RE/MAX Capital City's reputation for giving back to the communities it serves has grown with Austin. For years, RE/MAX Capital City worked with Children's Miracle Network, the nationwide RE/MAX charity, but about eight years ago decided to turn its attention to local organizations, donating, initially, to Hope Alliance, a shelter in Williamson County.

        "We promised $25,000 a year for five years, and we surpassed that goal," Meyer says, "and it allowed them to secure other types of grants and loans and other types of funding. They're doing amazing now."

        In the last two years, RE/MAX Capital City has also opened up charity options to its agents with a new initiative called "Bottomless Charity." Any nonprofit agents want to work with; the company will help facilitate donations. Overall, Meyer estimates that RE/MAX Capital City now donates to 10-15 charities every quarter.

        A YEAR OF CHANGE

        The end of any year always brings with it some reminiscing. For RE/MAX Capital City, that means looking back on the adoption of a brand-new tech platform, of taking advantage of everything the DeltaNET has to offer, and, perhaps most importantly, of continuing to provide the best opportunities and most comprehensive support system for real estate agents in the greater Austin area.

        Guidance and support are at the crux of everything RE/MAX Capital City does, and now, as the calendar flips, optimism is high for what's next. More tech, more agents working with Delta Media Group, and an expanded commercial division, which began early in 2021, are all on the docket for 2022.

        "I look to the future of this evolving and ever-improving company, knowing we have great things to come due to our dedication and willingness to progress, to keep a positive mentality and open-mindedness throughout," says Osborne. "With a reputation built on integrity and professionalism, our unique group of highly successful REALTORS® has laid the foundation for continued success at RE/MAX Capital City."


        To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the December 2021 issue, click here

        December
        6

        I can't speak for everyone, but I can tell you that, at Delta Media Group®, we learned a lot this year. We learned that deer will go out of their way to climb onto an expressway and jump in front of your car even in broad daylight (maybe only I learned that). We learned that working remotely really does work, but it's not for everyone. We learned that when big hedge funds are involved, the stock market looks a lot like a casino. Lastly, and most importantly, as far as this article is concerned, we learned that simplicity is one of the most important elements when it comes to making something that people want to use.

        I don't mean to make things simple at the cost of functionality. It's more about knowing how your clients will use whatever it is that you're building so that you can know what functionality to put right in front of them, and what can be tucked into the background. It's also about recognizing — and, in some cases, eliminating — any unnecessary steps in a process. There's little more frustrating than performing the same task repeatedly, being asked the same question as part of the process of completing that task, and answering it the same way every time. The easy remedy is to just use that answer automatically so that, in 99 out of 100 tries, it's already correct, and the user gets to skip a step. For that 1 out of 100 anomaly, there just needs to be some alternative way to change that answer in that single case.

        This has all been pretty abstract so far, so let's look at some specific applications. In the DeltaNET®, it's possible for an admin to customize what buttons appear on the landing pages and Welcome page for their agents. If you can predict the most common actions, your agents take when logging in, you can add the necessary buttons to develop a workflow there that will take them where they need to go in the least amount of time. For example, let's say that the thing your agents do most when logging into the DeltaNET is add a customer and send them a "Happy to be Working With You" e-card. You can put an Add Customer button at the top of their Welcome page, so that's the first thing they see when they log in. They need only click it and enter their customer's information. You can put a Send e-card button right next to it that will take them straight into Creative StudioTM so that they just need to choose their template and click send. The button that links to Creative Studio could even take them to a page that's already filtering the templates to those in the category of e-cards they're most likely to want to use.

        The same principle can be applied to every landing page in the DeltaNET. If users are usually looking to create or modify their custom pages when they click on the Website tab, why not give them a button right on top that takes them straight there? If they're generally interested in adding a blog article every time they click on Marketing, give them a shortcut there. You get the idea.

        The other side of that coin is to avoid presenting a lot of extra buttons and options that the majority of users won't be interested in using. Of course, you still want those things to be available, but putting them right at the same level as "Add Customer" is going to add clutter, distraction, and sometimes even confusion. Fortunately, the DeltaNET allows you to make something called a Tile Collection. It basically allows you to put a button on the Welcome page that simply opens a modal that contains other tiles. With this, you can put your Add Customer, Send e-card, Send Email buttons on the Welcome page, then have a single, additional button labeled something like "Advanced Features" or simply "More...". Clicking on that would then pop up a window that contains tiles to the other equally valuable but lesser-used features. This allows you to cater to the power users while keeping it simple for everyone else. The easier you can make it, and the fewer distractions and extra options the user needs to read through to get to what they want, the more everyone will use it. This, in turn, leads to more agents sticking around for the tools that make it easier for them to run their business.

        This really translates to the public website side of things as well. At Delta Media Group, we have ongoing projects to assess the usability of various features of the public websites that are shared throughout the system. However, especially when it comes to the individual sales associate websites, there's a lot you can do to make it a more friendly experience for clients that are coming to your website to search for properties. Nobody knows your clients and your market better than you do. As a real estate sales associate, you're the expert there. So why not use that expertise to drive your clients' experience on your website? Your quick search stays front and center for those users that know what, or where, they're looking and want to jump straight into the results. For those that might not be so sure, you could put links to common searches right on your homepage or in your top navigation. Maybe there are some popular school districts or subdivisions in your area. You could put obvious links to search results pages for those areas right on your homepage. You can even go a step further by creating dedicated landing pages for those areas. This has the added benefit of setting your website apart (for those clients and search engines) by adding some valuable, unique, market-specific content to it. You can put a search results section right on that page as well. That presents customers with a single page of dedicated listings in the area they want that gives them information and highlights about that area as well as a display of all of the available properties there.

        Just how a well-structured and intuitive DeltaNET helps with agent adoption and retention, a user-friendly and intuitive website leads to better client adoption and retention. Your expertise in the markets you know gives you an edge over all the big portal sites by allowing you to make a website and real estate search experience that really caters to those interested in your market. If you can provide those clients with the superior experience, they'll keep coming to your site. They may even tell their friends, thereby driving more traffic and leads to you. It's all about providing the best and easiest experience.

        Let's face it, the reason people are lined up around the block for the small, locally owned, one-room restaurant instead of heading to the nearest big chain restaurant is because that local place does it the best. The best food and the best experience. In real estate, you can't do much about the "food," but you can provide the best experience, and that's what's going to get them to come to you instead of the portal sites.

        At Delta Media Group, we're taking these ideas to heart. It's good to be driven by the feedback of the vocal, power users that make up the minority of the user base. But while that feedback is very valuable, if that's all you look at, you can lose sight of keeping it simple in favor of adding the newest great idea. The key is in adding those features without distracting from the simplicity that the other 99% want and need to run their business every day. The DeltaNET needs to remain as robust and powerful as ever, and we will always endeavor for it to be your one-stop shop for all of the tools and resources you need to run your real estate business. However, right on the surface for day-to-day use, the things that you need most, and most often, will stay right in your face so that you don't need to go looking for them or go through a dozen clicks, pages, or windows to use them. This year, we learned about "easy," and that's a lesson we're going to keep with us from here on out. We hope you do the same.


        To view past Real Estate Marketing and Technology articles and read more from the December 2021 issue, click here

        December
        1

        Meet Abbey Parsons.

        A North Dakota native and University of Utah alum, Parsons' journey toward finding a professional home within the real estate industry has been one filled with ups, downs, trials, tribulations, and even a few pirouettes. Parsons was once a professional ballet dancer, you see. And a hotel manager for Marriott. But while she's donned plenty of metaphorical hats throughout the years, something clicked in 2013 when, two years after initially moving to Spokane, Washington, Parsons joined Coldwell Banker Tomlinson.

        Working with her clients to help them find their forever homes also helped Parsons feel at home herself, settling into a career that's become more than simply successful. One of Coldwell Banker Tomlinson's top-producing sales associates, Parsons has established herself as a go-to real estate partner, relishing the opportunity to make lifelong business and personal connections. How does she keep those connections flourishing, though? Even after a transaction is completed?

        Simple. She uses every tool available to her — including everything Delta Media Group® has to offer.

        Utilizing DeltaNET 6 is part of Parsons' daily routine, starting each day with a quick look at her CRM and client database. By taking advantage of all the tech Delta provides, Parsons has leaned into time-saving automations and taken her engagement to the next level with out-of-the-box marketing that's gotten visible results. Parsons took some time to speak with Real Estate Marketing & Technology, sharing how she uses the DeltaNET and her best tricks for getting the most out of your real estate tech.

        What initially drew you to use the DeltaNET as your CRM?

        I was [originally] going to go all-in on DeltaNET because it's included [with CB Tomlinson], and I don't have to pay anything. But it has everything that I need. I know lots of CRMs. I like to do research, and every CRM has its flaws; one's not perfect. [And] when I started selling, I knew the value of [DeltaNET] because I trained on that...so I went all in, and I started with my past clients, putting them in there, putting them on the Market Watches, putting them on the monthly market reports. And then, as I started to get more leads, I made it a priority, every Thursday, I updated my database, and I was disciplined about that.

        How did you start, and how do you continue to organize all your clients and leads within the DeltaNET?

        I probably started with like 30, honestly. It wasn't very big because my past clients, if they sold their house and left, I didn't really have them anymore. So I started... and I think now I have somewhere like 500 or so, just growing it. And, honestly, I'm still getting used to it, like using it daily, and I started by organizing my homepage. Like, what do I want to see first when I log in because that was something that I would log in and I would get distracted. I'd be like, 'Oh, shiny thing. Cool. Let's click on that.' So I made it so that my customer list is the first thing I see when I log in so that I can see who I need to follow up with that day.

        What are some of the DeltaNET features that stand out to you? What do you find sparks the most interest and engagement with clients?

        All these different coaching programs, they say the same thing, 'You have to have a system, you have to have a program, you have to send a Market Watch.' It's not even an option anymore. All of your clients want to know what their home is worth on a monthly, quarterly, whatever it is basis. You have to automate that. And so, that's a big one because there are, of course, competitors to DMG, but what I love about the DeltaNET is that I don't have to go out and search for all these tools. I just log in, and it's there in one place. I don't have to pay for it [either], and it's automated. So, I don't have to go out and look for all those individual different tools. They're all right there for me.

        As a one-stop CRM, how much time does using the DeltaNET open up in your schedule?

        What I love about it is you can say, 'Okay, if a lead comes in, it looks like this, do this with it.' And so it automatically happens. There still is, for sure, some human interaction that needs to happen, but if I'm on an appointment or if I can't [work] right that second, at least they're getting a response, and then I can follow up with them later. So, that's what I do like. Like I'm going to do an online lead today, and I'm going to be flying [later]. And I'm like, 'It's fine,' because I know that if I'm in the air, if I'm in that half-hour where I don't have service, they're still going to be followed up with. Otherwise, I might not have placed that ad today. I might wait and then think, 'Oh, what's the perfect day for me to do a lead?' Well, that's not a good business practice, to put your life on hold so you can do a lead form. So it definitely gives me peace of mind that people are being communicated with, but it's not necessarily me having to do it all the time.

        Knowing when and how to follow up with clients can sometimes be a challenge. How much does the DeltaNET help with that, and how have you used automation to your advantage on that front?

        One thing that I started doing just a couple of weeks ago is to go in and see who's interacted with my website or the emails in the previous week or two, depending on how long it's been. And I see who's active. Oh, they opened that. They clicked on that. They opened their Market Watch; they clicked on it. They wanted to know more. So that person is subliminally saying, 'I want more information.' And so those are the ones that I focus on, talking to those people, communicating with them saying, 'Hey, how's it going? How's your family? What did you think about that Market Watch?' It allows me to see what they're doing and that they are somewhat interested. So I started doing that to start warming up those people, [and] that's how I'm prioritizing who I contact.

        With such a focus on technology, particularly over the last two years amid the COVID-19 pandemic, what features in the DeltaNET have proven to be a game-changer for you?

        I thought QR codes were gone. I mean, I was like, 'That is such a thing in the past, you have to have an app.' Then COVID happened, and every menu in the world is a QR code, and everybody's camera automatically does it now. So, I said, 'I want to create a QR code' and [our marketing team was] like, 'Oh, it's already [in the DeltaNET]. So I started combining that with direct mail, and I started farming out of state owners during COVID.

        I thought, if they're thinking about selling, maybe this is the time, and I want to be in front of them because I want listings. So I started mailing to them and then putting the QR code on there that says, 'If you want to know what's going on in your neighborhood, sign up for the Market Watch.' And they'd scan it, and then it would take them to the Market Watch where they could fill out their information. Or I did a specific zip code, and I did a blog post on zip code 99212, what's going on in that specific zip code, and then I made the QR code point to that blog post, so then there was a video and some stats. So I combined today's technology with the old technology of mailing, and about half of my business this year is from out-of-state owners. It worked. I mean, it definitely works.

        DeltaNET 6 is easily customizable to fit every agent's specific needs. In what ways have you used customization to make using the platform easier?

        One thing that stops agents sometimes is they're like, 'Oh, well, I want it to look like this, instead of like that.' And so what really helped me is knowing that the homepage is customizable; you can edit the tiles. Knowing that you can customize it to be exactly what you want to see was a game-changer for me because I wanted to see my people first. I didn't want to land on the landing page and then try to find which tab it is. So, that really helped me. Knowing that it is customizable, I think, is important because so many people get stuck in the mindset of 'Doesn't look exactly how I want it to look. So I'm just not going to do it.' So I think that's big.

        Delta Media Group offers plenty of support to make sure client