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Real Estate Brokerage

It’s REALTOR® Safety Year, and there are no more excuses

Realtor Safety is a critical issue. Let’s remember those whose lives were lost, and the lessons they gifted us with so we can keep our teams safe.

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September is Realtor Safety Month. It’s traditionally a time for us to reflect on the physical dangers of our occupation, and then get too busy to make any changes in our businesses. We forget about the issue until the next year, when we’ll reflect again on our associates who were robbed, assaulted, and murdered.

2015 has been different, though. There are a number of brand new causes making real headway for Realtor safety that have the potential to logistically transform how we do real estate sales.

This year, we’re going to remember

So let’s get to the point with what you can do, and why you can’t ignore it any longer:

Remember when Vivian Martin was murdered in Ohio showing her listing?

If you have broker friends like Vivian, they’d benefit from everyone signing on to a policy like that of Iowa Realtors. The Realtor safety pledge, to always meet new clients at an office or verify ID, could alter consumers’ view of how we do business. If it becomes standard practice, it could keep many of our associates out of harm’s way.

Remember when Mike Emert was murdered showing a vacant home in WA?

If you had a friend like Mike, you would’ve wanted your Realtor board to join a cause like Realtor Safe Harbor. State boards across the country are starting to endorse this idea of sharing our office spaces for the mutual safety benefit of our members. It’s putting safety before competition.

Remember when Ashley Oakland was murdered in a model home in Iowa?

You probably have agents in your office who could benefit from safety awareness training. Create a supervised environment for agents like Ashley to work in, and give them the training necessary to avoid dangerous situations.

Remember when Sarah Anne Walker was murdered at a home in Texas?

Agents like Sarah Anne who work with buyers would benefit from a number of smartphone safety apps. She could have gotten a scan of her murderer’s ID and known if he was a long-time criminal before going to that home. Better yet, she could have scared him off by just asking him to text over a picture of his ID before going to the appointment.

Remember when Ann Nelson was murdered in Wisconsin showing a home?

If you have co-workers like Ann, they could use any of NAR’s recommended safety timers, devices, and even jewelry that alert others when they are in distress. At the first signs of trouble, these devices save valuable minutes in getting help to our friends.

Of course, we all remember Beverly Carter’s murder in Arkansas.

You can do something as an individual business to prevent that kind of crime from happening to an agent you know. Sign up your team for Open Door Partners and let agents use your lobby, instead of an empty home, to meet unknown clients.

Realtor safety is a difficult topic to sustain. It’s not glamorous, and it’s not driving dollars into our businesses. It is, though, at the heart of what we do. Real estate is a people business, and if we don’t make our agents’ and brokers’ safety our top priority, we’re just burying our heads in the sand.

The danger is real, and when it hits home, no amount of sales volume can make up for what we’ve lost.

2015 is Realtor Safety Year. Let’s remember this year. Let’s take action.

#RealtorSafety

Sam DeBord is managing broker of Seattle Homes Group with Coldwell Banker Danforth, and 2016 president-elect of Seattle King Country REALTORS®. You can find his team at SeattleHome.com and BellevueHomes.com.

Real Estate Brokerage

Brokerages rarely write an internal communication strategy, here’s how

(BUSINESS) Almost no real estate brokerages have an internal communication strategy, but absolutely should.

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It’s still early enough in the year that you can start fresh personally and professionally. Help your organization start fresh by taking into account what’s happened in recent history and where you want to go. From there, you will determine what steps are necessary to achieve your goals.

Writing an internal communication (IC) strategy can be the first step in mapping your goals and is virtually unused in the real estate industry. According to All Things IC, an “internal communication strategy is like a map, an outline of your organization’s journey. It’s the big picture of what you want to achieve.” This can be done by a brokerage, or an independent agent alike.

Great! So, where do you start? First, know what an IC strategy needs to address. This includes the where, how, what, and why.

Write down the current state of the company, then state where you’re headingm or where you’d like to be. Create a list of objectives to support this.

Then break into your “how.” Explain how you are going to get to where you want to be, as well as how long it will take and why.

You’ll then venture over to a “what” by outlining what is involved along the way to your goal. Then, throw in a little “why” by explaining why this approach is the best for the job.

Go back to “how” and tell how you’ll know when you’ve reached your destination. This part will require tangibles, measurements to support a change in reaching your goal.

Finally, give one more “what” and address what will happen if you don’t change the way you’re currently operating. If things are working for your organization, that’s great! But, there is always room for improvement.

For an internal communication strategy, it is important to include the following: a title, an issue/purpose, structure, executive summary, audience segmentation/stakeholder mapping, a timeline, channels, measurement, communication objective, approval process and responsibilities, key messages, and an appendix.

Now, what was missing from the initial inclusions was a “who.” So, who should be the one to write this document?

Well, it needs to be someone with a strong understanding and implementation for internal communications. This can be done internally by someone on staff who is an expert; or, it can be outsourced to an expert. Regardless of who writes it, make sure it is clear and concise for the audience at hand.

What is most important to remember is that writing an internal communication strategy is just half the battle. Your work is not done once this document is agreed upon by the leadership team. And finally, you must be willing to enforce what’s written on these pages and be ready to make the changes you’ve outlined.

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Real Estate Brokerage

How JetBlue earns undying loyalty, and how you can too

(BUSINESS NEWS) Getting people to remember, let alone love a brand is near impossible, but JetBlue shows a promising path forward.

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As customers become increasingly aware of marketing techniques and underlying motives for brands, it becomes more difficult to sell to them. Luckily, there are still a few brands whose techniques you can learn from – and, perhaps surprisingly, one of them is JetBlue.

JetBlue, a major airline, sees their customers as individual people, not just numbers. This “human” aspect of JetBlue’s branding is their most important trait; especially in the airlines industry – a market oversaturated with stale experiences (and peanuts)—it’s crucial to stand out. JetBlue does so by going the extra frequent-flyer mile to make customers feel at home through genuine, human interactions.

Another interesting JetBlue method is categorizing their customer engagement.

There are two different categories of interaction – micro and macro – that refer to small, one-on-one encounters and the big picture, respectively. With an emphasis on making the individual experience as pleasant as possible without losing sight of the forest in the process, JetBlue creates an atmosphere that balances hospitality and efficiency.

One of the most oft-overlooked aspects of customer engagement is that it goes two ways. Responding to customers is objectively important, but it’s an exercise in futility if you aren’t also listening to what they’re saying in the first place. Too often, a customer service team’s first response is to address comments or concerns with damage control in mind; instead, have a dialogue with your customers.

If the interaction doesn’t feel like a conversation, you’re doing it wrong.

JetBlue also has a profoundly healthy response to crises. Where others merely apologize, condescend, and/or brutally drag people off of the airplane when faced with an overbooking or a late departure, JetBlue bends over backward to ensure that their response is both heartfelt and actually useful to those affected.

This is something with which I actually have experience – at one point, JetBlue had to delay one of my flights for several hours, a circumstance to which their response was complimentary drinks and $75 vouchers for future flights. There’s no replacing convenience, but JetBlue did their damnedest, and that’s what I remember about them.

As you approach this year’s customer encounters, remember the two-way approach and avoid falling into the trap of talking rather than listening.

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Recognize and use free time at work like the gift it is

(PRODUCTIVITY) Free time during your workday can lead to furthering your mind and productivity.

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Clocked in but clocked out

We’ve all had those slow days at work where we’re looking for ways to kill the time until the clock strikes five.

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While it can be tempting to use this time to text or mess around on the Internet, there are much better ways to use that free time that will make your future so much easier.

Cleanliness is next to godliness

First off, tidy up your workspace. Papers and items have a way of accumulating and may be distracting you even if you don’t realize it. By organizing your stuff and throwing away what you don’t need, you’re able to breathe and focus within your workspace.

It also does wonders for your work brain to clear up your email inbox.

Once that’s all done, plan out the rest of your work week. Make a list of the major goals you’d like to accomplish and then a sub-list of how you’ll knock those goals out. Update your calendar and make sure everything is on track.

Social media, networking, and research

It’s also beneficial to use this downtime to further yourself and your organization. Three ways you can do this is through: social media, networking, and research.

If you have access, take some time to look through your company’s social media and see what can be done to enhance it. Either throw up some posts yourself or pitch ideas to the social media manager.

Networking can be done in this small amount of time by sending out “catch up” emails to old colleagues, “welcome emails” to new clients or introduction emails to LinkedIn contacts.

Send them a “how’s it going?,” tell them what’s new with you, and see what they have going on. You never know where networking can lead so it’s always good to stay in touch.

With research, see what the latest trends are in your field and study up on them. This may give you new ways to look at projects and tasks at hand. And, it’s always beneficial to have continued learning.

Get Smart(er)

While on the subject of continued learning, take this time to mess around with something you may not feel completely knowledgeable of. Maybe dig around RPR data, perhaps practice using different computer programs it is never a bad a idea to nourish your brain.

Having free time during the workday is something of a gift. If you can help it, try not to waste it.

#FreeTimeNotWasteTime

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