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."
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.
"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.
Your sphere of influence should be one of your greatest assets for generating leads as a real estate agent, but only if you make the effort to maintain and utilize it. Thanks to online marketing and social media, your sphere of influence can now expand much further than it would have in the past. That's in addition to your more traditional sphere of influence, which of course includes friends, family, and everyone that you connect with in your community. By utilizing your sphere of influence and taking advantage of the tools available to make your life easier, you can generate a steady, sustainable supply of fresh, highly qualified leads as a real estate agent.
How to Define Your Sphere of Influence
Your sphere of influence starts with the people you know best but should also expand far beyond that group. Think about all of the people who you interact within your community: small business owners, community organizations, volunteer groups, sports leagues, places of worship, service providers, former colleagues, other parents from your children's school, and any other group that you connect with on a regular basis.
Now, add in your online sphere of influence, which reaches beyond the communities where you work and live. There are people you connect with through your social media, real estate website, the content that you create, and the leads generated by your online marketing. When you add it all up, your sphere of influence likely extends much further than you'd guess at first glance.
Consistency Counts with Your Sphere of Influence
It's a mistake to think of your sphere of influence as a "set it and forget it" source of leads. Instead, think of it as something that you consistently have to maintain and nurture in order to generate the best results. The more effort that you put into building and maintaining relationships with the people in your sphere, the more business you can expect to generate. That means reaching out at the right times, being a trusted source of advice, connecting on a personal level, and being as consistent as possible with maintaining relationships.
Use Your Real Estate CRM to Segment Leads and Plan Your Outreach
Utilizing your sphere of influence is much easier when you have the right tools for the job, and your real estate CRM is at the top of that list. Use your CRM to organize your contacts, keep track of vital information about each connection, segment your leads, and ensure that you're reaching out to the right people at the right time. Take advantage of tools like drip email campaigns and AI-driven newsletters to stay in touch while lightening your workload, thanks to automation.
Stay Active and Engaged on Social Media
Naturally, your social media presence is one of your best tools for growing and nurturing your sphere of influence online. Social media marketing can help you build new connections, and engaging with your social connections is key to generating leads from your sphere of influence. When you share content, get involved with the conversation that it generates. Join social media groups where you can share your real estate expertise, and build connections with your community. Be mindful of how you interact with people, show genuine interest in their needs, answer questions, and be helpful.
Use Real Estate Content to Share Your Expertise
Your real estate content is a great way to grow your sphere of influence, provide valuable advice, demonstrate your expertise, build trust, and help convert leads that come from your sphere of influence. Whether you create real estate blog posts, video content, or a mix of both, make sure that you're sharing your content where your sphere of influence can see it.
Showcase Your Social Proof
Even people you already know may need a little extra push to trust you with their real estate needs, and integration of social proof is the perfect way to provide it. Make sure that you're asking clients for online reviews and testimonials after they've used your real estate services. Showcase those testimonials on your real estate website and your social media pages.
Do Some Good, Old Fashioned Networking in Your Community
Near the beginning, we mentioned some of the many groups within your local community that may be part of your sphere of influence. Getting out and networking in person is a dependable way to maintain your connection with those groups while bringing new people into your sphere of influence.
Your Sphere of Influence Is Always a Work in Progress
If there's one thing to remember, it's that utilizing your sphere of influence is a constant process. Investing consistent effort and utilizing the right tools to make your life easier will allow you to maximize the lead generation potential of your sphere of influence.
Most homeowners would be glad to work with their real estate agent again — but they never do.
It's true. The average homeowner will own three or four properties in a lifetime, with most purchases spaced out between three and seven years. But even when they are thrilled with the service their real estate agent offered, they often end up using a different one for every transaction.
How can this be?
Some of the reasons are purely logistical. If someone is moving across the country, odds are they connect with a real estate agent in their desired area as one of their first steps. But there is a bigger reason: traditional real estate marketing is focused on customer acquisition, not retention.
Customer acquisition can be an all-consuming part of any real estate agent's first year on the job.
After that, it's important to start building referral business. This means you can spend less time going after that next client and more time building the long-term assets you need for the kind of firm you really want. In the long run, retention is easier than acquisition, which can cost 25x more.
Long-term engagement is the key. And it can start with the clients you have right now.
Long-Term Engagement Turns Customers into Allies for the Life of Your Business
According to research from 2018, real estate agents are among the least trusted professions in America.
In fact, only 11% of respondents consider real estate agents trustworthy, placing them above only politicians and car salespeople. Responses varied by region, with those out west feeling most suspicion of the profession.
That's bad news, of course. But it means that when someone finds a real estate agent they trust, they don't really want to start over again from scratch. By recognizing and working with that reality, you can create lasting loyalty. That, in turn, has the potential to multiply the value of every customer relationship you hold.
Getting more transactions from a single customer is an obvious example. You could double or triple lifetime value from your customers if they keep coming back to you every time they're ready to buy a new property. But that's not all: you can also get dozens of referrals from each customer over the lifetime of your practice. From that perspective, having even a handful of strong relationships could drive your revenue goals for years.
After all, long before you have the opportunity to meet a client-in-waiting, that same person is expressing their desire to buy a home. . . to their family, their friends, and to just about everyone they know other than you.
Referral business is a hot ticket, letting you be the very first real estate agent to talk to any buyer or seller. That positions you to build trust and continue the cycle, helping more people while growing your business.
Set the Stage for Long-Term Engagement with Digital Marketing and Smart Follow-Up
Real estate digital marketing becomes easier than ever when you adopt the right technology. Good technology doesn't get in the way of relationships; it makes them easier — allowing you to check in with people in helpful, meaningful ways without wasting lots of time on data entry.
Here's how you can strengthen client relationships into real bonds of trust:
Contact us to learn more about how digital marketing fuels better relationships.
Any sound business starts with a plan. But what is a business plan, exactly?
A formal business plan can be comprehensive, investigating many aspects of the business and how they work together, or it can go deep into a single subject: most successful real estate agents have a marketing plan, for example. But if you've never written a business plan and have no idea where to start, it's not too late.
According to Harvard Business Review, you should spend no more than three months working on a business plan. Developing a business plan has a tangible effect on your results, making your practice much more likely to grow — but you don't need three months. In fact, you can get started in a fraction of that time.
Five steps get you the basics of a business plan you can continue to expand.
Step 1: Write Your Summary
The executive summary provides a capsule view of the problem your business was formed to address. It must be specific enough to demonstrate your basic market positioning. It should also include the basic strategic goal that you want to achieve with your business and the timeframe for reaching it.
For example, a real estate executive summary might say:
Next Nest Realty is a Nebraska-based real estate firm specializing in downsizing and retirement homes for retirees and those preparing for retirement, aged 55+. Next Nest simplifies the process of selecting, closing, and moving into a single-family residence for retirement. Sales are projected to reach $500,000 in Year 1, $1 million in Year 2, and $2 million in Year 3.
From the perspective of an investor or other reader, this establishes:
You understand precisely who your business will serve and how
You can translate your real estate insights into tangible goals
You have considered what products and services will be successful
Naturally, your text will vary considerably based on your interests and specialties. But giving deep thought to your market niche will help you hit the ground running with marketing and advertising that resonates with your ideal clients. That helps you stand apart from other real estate pros in your area.
Step 2: Define Strategies and Tactics
Strategies describe your overall objectives and the messaging and audiences that relate to those goals. Tactics are the specific initiatives that you use to realize your strategies. (All tactics can be broken down further into business projects and processes — but these are too granular for a standard business plan.)
If your strategy is to improve brand recognition among your target audience, your tactics might include joining a professional association, attending networking events, and launching your first marketing plan. Within that plan, you would then need to decide which methods are most likely to connect you with your target audience.
As more Millennials buy their first home, the vast majority of new home searches are starting online. Adoption of digital technology continues to rise among older buyers and sellers, too. So, no matter what kind of client you're targeting, it's a wise idea to include digital marketing in your plan.
For example, if you wanted five warm leads to contact you through your website each month, that strategy would be backed by tactics like SEO, blogging, video marketing, and social media.
Step 3: Assign Deadlines
Sometimes, deadlines may feel stressful. But deadlines aren't the enemy — in fact, they're your allies.
That's because deadlines are what turn wishes and hopes into action.
Assigning a deadline to a goal gives it a sense of urgency. Since many tactics are process-based, however, it is not always easy to know what a reasonable deadline might be. In cases like these, following the process is more important than using a specific amount of time — for example, publishing one blog post per week on your blog.
Step 4: Estimate Costs
Calculate projected income and expenses as best you can for the four quarters after your business plan goes into force. Not only does this help you get the best return on your business investments, but you will also hone in on areas where you need more information on cost versus value before you make a purchase.
Step 5: Measure Results
Measuring your results can take several forms. In the most basic sense, check in with your goals every week to ensure you are following the right processes. This helps you stay aware of results as they develop and course-correct if you get off track.
In some cases, as with digital marketing, measuring results might mean using analytics software to see how your campaigns are affecting your online visibility, including visits to your website. DeltaNET 6 is the powerful real estate solution that makes it faster, easier, and even fun. To learn more about making marketing a strategic priority, contact us.
After a year that seemed like it would never end, 2021 is already steaming ahead. Before we know it, the holiday season will be just around the corner once again. But is your year off to a strong start? It's a question all real estate agents must ask themselves. There are dozens of proactive measures real estate agents can take to ensure that they're moving in the right direction — but there are also a few pitfalls that should be avoided.
4 Do's & Don'ts of 2021
Even though we're into January, it's not too late to start the year off on the right foot. There are plenty of realistic and attainable goals that you can achieve if you start working on them now. Here are a few tips for making sure 2021 starts off strong.
No one knows what the real estate market will look like this year, but one thing is for sure: there will always be a need for a real estate agent. People from all walks of life will continue to buy and sell houses. The best way to increase your likelihood of having a successful year is to start putting in the time and effort in January. By acknowledging your agency's strengths, identifying its areas for improvement, and being receptive to new ways of pursuing your goals, your brokerage can begin laying the groundwork for a successful year.
Franklin Stouffer, Delta Media Group's Senior Key Accounts Consultant / Sales Manager, sat down with Jeff Kennedy, Director, Sales and Business Development for Leading Real Estate Companies of the World, in an interview during their Brave New World webinar series to discuss "What We Can Do Today to Set Ourselves Up for Success in a Post Quarantine Market."
Listen to the webinar now.