6 Ways To Make the Most of a Conference

As we prepare for Real Estate Connect in San Fran, we found it only fair to share some advice from the team. Whether its Real Estate Connect or another event you attend this year these tips will help you make the most of your next conference!  

1. Formulate a plan

action-planPlan plan plan! With so many things happening over the course of a few short days you won't have time to waste trying to decide what to do next. Study the schedule and the sessions you're interested in ahead of time and then prioritize them. Make note of which sessions you want to see and when they are. Many conferences now have mobile sites or apps to help you navigate through the day, find them and bookmark them in your phone! Write down your goals for the conference as well: do you want to make new contacts or learn something new to improve your business? Be prepared, but also remember to be flexible. Speakers may surprise you by presenting something you weren't expecting to hear, or cancel all together. Be in tune with what is happening around you so as to not miss any opportunities that you may not have planned for! 

2. The buddy system

You've made your list and realize that unless you clone yourself it will be impossible to see every session you're interested in AND still find time to network, meet new people, eat, sleep etc. You'll be networking at pre-conference events and breakfast - use this time to ask others what their goals for the conference are and what they're interested in and you might find handshakesomeone with complementing interests. Take this opportunity to offer to split up some of the sessions you both want to see and plan to meet at lunch or happy hour to swap notes. Not only will you be making a new connection but you'll both be getting something out of it!

3. Do your research

This might be obvious but being well-versed on the speakers and the session topics that you're planning on participating in will go a long way. You'll be ready at any moment to strike up a conversation on the topic or ask insightful questions. This will also help you identify the people you'd most like to meet and spend time with. Figure out something of value that you can share with them and start networking early - don't be afraid to try and connect via email or LinkedIn to set up a short meeting over breakfast or during a coffee break. 

camera-icon4. Take pictures

Conferences can be overwhelming, so much is happening at once and it can be challenging to remember and absorb everything you're learning. One of our secrets is to snap lots of pictures. Think of it almost like a photo diary, as you go through the day, capture moments that resonate with you: it could be anything from a keynote speaker session to the sign outside a session room. Flipping back through pictures after the whirlwind is a great way to recall and reflect on everything (and one) you've learned and met! 

5. Take a moment to focus on networking

While conference content was one of the biggest reasons for attending, remember how else the conference will help you advance your career or business through networking. Skip the last panel of the day for the networking room or a hallway session. Everyone will be buzzing about what they've just heard or learned, another great opportunity for you to learn, share and meet new people.networking-event

6. Think outside the box

Are you thinking to yourself, this next conference won't be my first rodeo? What else do you have for me? Maybe you're traveling a long ways and need a way to maximize your visit. Our advice is go beyond just the actual conference and search for outside events like happy hours or breakfasts hosted by different companies. These events are typically more intimate and less hurried than the conference workshops and often times might be the easiest way to meet and talk to people. Tip: use the conference twitter handle to find these types of events quickly.

Best of luck at your next conference! If you'll be at Real Estate Connect in San Fran next month be sure to connect with us on twitter via @R_E_Ally.

Looking for events in your area? While not a full list this is a great place to start: Events in America : Real Estate Conference & Conventions


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Countdown to #ICSF: Uberfication of Real Estate

Just a little less than a month to go until #ICSF 2014! As we countdown to Real Estate Connect we will be highlighting some themes that have emerged and will be the focus of this year’s conference.

Uber Uber Everywhere

For those that haven’t heard of it, Uber is a mobile app that has disrupted the transportation industry by changing the way passengers connect with drivers. Need a lift? Simply open the app, see drivers nearby and request a ride from your current location within a matter of seconds. The entire system is cashless for convenience (connected to a credit or debit card) and drivers are independently contracted. Uber thrives off of and feeds into the human demand for “I need it now, and I need it fast.”Screen Shot 2014-06-18 at 1.19.52 PM

 Leading up to ICSF it seems like everyone is talking about the Uber-version of X, Y and Z. The San-Fran based start-up has created a ripple effect as companies in all industries, including those in real estate, have adapted the Uber model to drastically change the way business is done, thus coining the phrase “the Uberification of Real Estate.”

Homesnap and MRIS

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One of the largest multiple listing services in the U.S., Metropolitan Regional Information Systems Inc. (MRIS), recently announced a partnership with mobile app Homesnap to add power to a revolutionary experience for real estate professionals and home buyers. Playing off the “nearby” feature of Uber, home buyers can see available listings near their current location and even ‘snap’ a photo of a home to instantly find out listing information. Features also include finding nearby agents, as well as services and partnerships for agents and brokers. MRIS and Homesnap execs David Charron and Guy Wolcott will be presenting on July 16th of the conference to talk more about the Uber theme and the new partnership.

Power in the Pocket

Whether it’s Uber, Homesnap, or an HD camera, there is no denying the power that resides within the pocket of the average consumer - their mobile apple iphone pocket-1024x768phone. Instantly connected to everything, how does one measure the infinite capabilities of our phones? Raj Singh, another featured speaker at #ICSF will dive into “What Our Phones Know” and will speak to the benefits that mobile tools can bring to real estate professionals. Commenting on the Uber trend in a recent interview: “The Uberfication of services has been transformative in that it is democratizing walled gardens (e.g., taxi industry, hotel industry, etc.), but it’s also enabling a new workforce. I’m absolutely an advocate of how mobile-first can enable new experiences whether it’s access to immediate information, context as an assistant experience, access to quick services and more.”

Outlook

We know that technology is changing the real estate industry, but what does it mean for real estate professionals if the trend for Uber-like services and apps continues? Clients are going to demand faster turnaround times on everything at the convenience levels they have become accustomed to. How will your agents or brokerage adapt to these changing trends in needs?

What other Uber-like apps have you seen? Which ones will be most influential? We want to hear from you!


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Do You Know How Much Your New Client is Worth?

When you do the math, the numbers may surprise you.

At Real Estate Ally we love showing brokers and agents how data and numbers can help them better understand what's happening in their business. Inman News had an interesting webinar recently analyzing the value of a new client and how it relates to an agent or broker's overall marketing strategy. The CEO of Adwerx, an online advertising agency for real estate, walks you through how to actually make that calculation (complete with a free downloadable excel calculator) and how to increase the lifetime value of a client through analyzing the referral multiplier. The referral multiplier is a factor of average client age, the average years in a home, probability of repeat clients, and the average referrals you might receive from a single deal. These are values that you input based on your experience. You can download the calculator here

Here is a peek at what the calculator looks like: 

 

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Is the $19k figure in this example surprising? Many agents and brokers underestimate the long-term impact of a client with a high referral multiplier. Try it out for yourself and see how each of these factors affects the client lifetime value.

Clients vs. Transactions

We agree with Adwerx CEO Jed Carlson's theory that in order to boost a client's referral multiplier, real estate professionals must have a client-centric business vs. a transaction-centric business. Quality over quantity actually leads to more quantity. Being able to identify clients that have the important connections and networks that lead to more referrals and therefore a higher lifetime value (despite possibly having a lower comission now) can be invaluable for your business and will guide your strategy for client aquisition and retention. Understanding the client lifetime value or CLV allows you to plan long-term and prioritize where to spend your time and effort for acquiring new clients.

We used the excel calculator to illustrate the mulitplier effect. Say for example the above conditions held true, but the client happened to be the head of the PTA in their community, increasing their referral rate from 2 to 6.

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That simple ability for someone to refer an agent 4 more times can increase their value almost $40,000. That is signficant dollars from efforts that can be easily managed with the right customer service and networking.

If you're interested in watching the free webinar click here. The first twenty minutes focuses on the client value analysis and tips for actually boosting your referral multiplier and then moves on to different marketing strategies (specifically with the Adwerx platform). Inman.com holds webinars just about once a week on a variety of useful topics, all which can be viewed at a later time from their library.

Want to know more?

If this calculator is getting you excited, see what else Real Estate Ally can help you discover about your business with a free personalized business insights report. See how you can be making more money for your brokerage with action items you can start using right away.

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5 Reasons the Cloud is Good for Real Estate

Cloud technology is changing the way all types of companies are doing business. Empowering employees to be more productive through sharing documents in real time and putting speed and flexibility behind processes. An increasing number of real estate firms have been taking their business to the cloud. Let's take a closer look at why that may be.

Escaping the desktop

literally-chained-to-my-deskProbably the best part about using cloud technology is the power it gives users with the ability to access their documents from anywhere on any device. This could not be more important for real estate professionals that need to be spending as much time as possible in the field - not stuck at a desk filing paperwork. Agents can easily connect their mobile device to the firm's system and stay up to date on the information they need to share with clients and process documents instantly.

Customizing needs

Depending on the platform you choose, moving to the cloud could give you the freedom to pick and choose the system that best works for your firm. From CRM to trasanction management, there are various platforms to choose from that have strengths in specific areas that best suit your firm's workflow, style and company culture.

It's business senseicon-increase-revenue-300x300

Running a real estate firm is data and media intensive. With cloud technology, firms can increase efficiencies through sharing and collaboration among employees and reduce IT costs from maintaining old and outdated servers. According to a survey of over 1000 small and medium sized businesses done by accounting software company MYOB, business operators in the Cloud were more likely to see an increase in revenue in the past year and expect the same for the following year. Is your brokerage's infrastructure outdated and expensive? This could be the time to move to the cloud to increase efficiency and cut costs.

Insights and visibility

See your firm like never before. Using cloud technology enables firms to use analytics to evaluate their processes. Improve marketing, generate more leads and improve financials are just some of the things brokerages are now able to do after employing cloud technology.

mobileStaying ahead of the curve

So much of the industry is now online, mobile and tech-driven - and with new apps coming out everyday for things like home searching to finding a real estate agent, its where your customers are. Moving to the cloud now will help position your firm for the future, allowing you to take advantage of all the emerging ways you can connect with and serve your clients.

  

Common Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

So maybe you're ready to take the firm into the cloud. Before making the change, here are some common mistakes that have been found during the transition and how to best avoid them for an ideal cloud operation. purpleoops-1024x682

Not backing up data. Better safe than sorry is the motto here. The recommendation is to back up your data at least 3 times, think services like Carbonite and Mozy and then also have everything backed up to local drives as well. 

Not setting up the right security. It seems like every day there is another news story about a technology security breach, but don't let this deter you. Security goes hand in hand with data backup. Security for your cloud will help prevent data loss or breaches and support. Here is a great resource for how to protect your business in the cloud.

Not providing training. Switching to a new system or platform can be painful, especially for the busy real estate professional. Providing training and resources for a smooth transition can go a long way when implementing a new system and will keep your agents on board by not slowing them down too much.

The Future of the Cloud in Real Estate

More than likely there will never be complete abandonment of local servers for the cloud. Many small businesses still have a hard time justifying the time and costs to move to the cloud if they're already established with exisiting applications. The benefits of cloud technology will depend where your firm falls in the spectrum. However, the migration can be done gradually, in a way that won't disrupt the brokerage's day-to-day while still bringing the best of benefits listed above.

 

Real Estate Ally's mission is to empower brokerages to better understand their business with personalized insights on a convenient cloud-based solution.

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How to Attract and Retain Top Talent

"It's harder to recruit agents than it was 10 years ago" was the theme from a survey of 260 brokers conducted by Imprev, a Seattle-based real estate marketing firm. What's happening in the industry? As we know, the median age of all Realtors is creeping towards 60, in fact, 40% of all Realtors are older than 60 according to NAR's most recent member survey. The problem is less about age and more about the fact that the agent pool as a whole is aging out and brokers need to be ready.

Imprev's survey asked leading broker-owners and executives of large brokerages what they viewed as their current top business challenges. 70% and 65% stated recruiting younger agents and top talent respectively. "Recruiting has become much easier due to the systems, technology and training we provide each agent" said one. So what is the best strategy to attract and retain top talent? A combination of old school and new school will get you there.

Maintaining Contact

Tenure is a big obstacle when trying to attract talent. Many agents will say they are happy at their current firm and not be ready to make a handwritten-note1change yet, which is why it's important to keep in touch over long periods of time, says Jeff Smith, Regional VP of Development at Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Bradfield Properties to RISMedia. And even in the age of e-mail, texts and social media, the power of a handwritten note will always go so much further.

Technology and Training

How mobile are you? The question will be asked by newer and older agents alike. The influx of mobile apps and touchpoints on the consumer end is what is pushing the demand for technology backwards up the channel. Being tied to a desktop will only inhibit agents from Man-Chained-to-deskbeing more productive in the field - ultimately hitting the brokerage's bottom line.

 

Continuous training is also key for both retention and recruiting. The opportunity to continue learning in-house is invaluable for agents. Smith on the value of his training sessions: "Anyone who attends the training has the opportunity to meet the company's current agents and gain a better insight into what the company is all about and what it would be like for them working here."

Attracting Younger Talent

In a Chicago Tribune interview, Player Murray, Berkshire Hathaway Homeservices Carolinas Realty, speaks to this difficult challenge. Many agents come into real estate as a second or third career. On recruiting college grads, "The hardest part is showing them that real estate is a career possibility for them." You might be thinking, why do I want graduate-healthcare-jobsyounger agents that probably have never had the experience of buying a home? Communication and connection are key. "Every good broker out there feels like they can connect with the buyer and can adapt quickly to work with everybody. But there's just no way that everyone can connect with everyone. It's just impossible. This industry needs younger agents to fill those gaps."

Agent-Broker Dynamics

Many of the key points for attracting new agents (sophisticated and useful systems,
mobility and training) are obviously going to help you with retaining them with the brokerage for years to come. But it's also important to remember that finding the right fit in the first place is going to largely determine how long that agent will stay. What is your company's culture? What are the dynamics on your team and does the agent you're recruiting fit in? If yes, then keeping them with you will be a lot easier. But skipping over this part just to fill empty openings could be detrimental. Bad hires can hurt your firm financially and by affecting employee morale. Don't take the risk - spend the extra time finding the right fit, it will be worth it.

 

Moral of the story: when it's time to recruit, make sure you offer the services and support that all agents want, and look for the ones that are going to fit in with your firm's dynamic and culture.

Want more? Here is a great resource for recruiting and retention!

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Featured Feature: MLS Integration

Our 'featured feature' blog series continues with one of the more unique and advanced features of Real Estate Ally: MLS integration.

The top pain point felt by many brokers and agents is having to double-enter listing information in both (or all) of their MLS's PLUS their brokerage's back-end office. Double-entering is a slippery slope: outdated information and human error are some of the risks brokerages face.

The extent of most brokerages' capabilities is pulling down data from the MLS to run reporting on market data, or if they have the technology, they can input listings on the MLS and feed them into their back office system.

With Real Estate Ally, the agony of double-entering is gone. Using the Real Estate Ally platform opens up an easy 2-way connection between brokerages' back-end office and the MLS, allowing for consistent, accurate and up-to-date information. 

What about brokerages that don't have a back-end office?

Real Estate Ally also acts as a platform for brokerages to integrate all segments of their business into one place. MLS listings, transactions, customers - are finally united, allowing brokerages to not only better organize the business but make insightful decisions with Real Estate Ally's analytics feature. Read more about analytic capabilities here: Featured Feature: Analytics.

Brokerages that DO have a back-end office might be asking, will we be starting from square one if we move over to Real Estate Ally for MLS integration? The answer is no! Brokerages can also upload past MLS data, or transfer their existing back-end office into the Real Estate Ally platform.

CRMLS' Big Announcement

The country's biggest MLS recently announced it will finally be moving towards allowing brokerages to upload listings from their own system directly to the MLS. CRMLS will be working with RESO (Real Estate Standards Organization), a non-profit that works towards standardizing real estate data so direct uploads can be possible. Unfortunately this change will not happen overnight, and still leaves challenges for smaller brokerages. In an article from Inman News, RESO executive director, Bob Gottesman stated: "Implementing [the] update, is not for the faint of heart...technologically speaking, any firm can do it as long as they have the know-how...obviously it's the bigger brokers that have the techncical chops. But you could have a smaller broker that has a really sharp vendor that knows how to do it." 

We are excited for the CRMLS to make this transition, and anticipate other MLS's to follow suit. We are equally excited for our ability to help smaller brokerages that will need the technological solutions to implement it! You can read the rest of the Inman article here.

Interested in seeing analytics on your brokerage?

Coming soon - we will be providing FREE analytics for brokerages. With a data snapshot, see how your firm is performing re: days on market, pricing efficiency, cash flows and more. Contact us to be on the list!

 

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Our New Favorite Apps For Real Estate

Fresh from the Xplode Conference - one of the best conferences for real estate technology - we have a handful of new real estate apps we're really excited about!

Evernotehero evernote

Evernote is like Pinterest meets personal organizer. Save all of your notes, interesting articles, photos of things you want to remember, all in one place. While not created specifically for real estate, there are plenty of ways it can be a useful tool for busy real estate professionals. Agents can snap a photo of business cards and receipts to make some quick notes about a business lunch.

NextDoor

NextDoor is a private social network for neighborhoods. It acts in a similar way as nextdoorFacebook but only includes verified residents in a specific neighborhood, creating a secure, private network for you and your neighbors. Their philosophy is to build a stronger sense of community through the power of technology. This could be helpful for agents looking for new ways to connect with their own communities. NextDoor is available in many areas but might not have been started yet. Start one in your neighborhood or better yet - find out if one has started in the neighborhoods of your listings and add it as a selling point.

KeyMe

Losing a key to a property could be detrimental and costly - until now! Keyme is an app that creates digital copies of your keys and allows keymeyou to get copies made through several options - on-site delivery, locksmith, mail-order, or a local self-service key cutting station. Users can even share keys with friends, family or clients. Everyone here at Real Estate Ally already has all their keys backed up on their digital keychains!

Shake

shakeIn their own words "We strive to combine the simplicity, convenience, and collaborative spirit of a handshake with the protection of a legal agreement." Amen. Shake enables the creation and signature of legal documents all from your smartphone. Including but not limited to: freelance, buy/sell, rent/lend, loan and confidentiality agreements. This can be a useful app for agents or brokers that need to create custom documents fast from the field.

 

 What are some of your favorites?

We want to hear from you! What apps are you using that are helping you in your day to day? Let us know at: [email protected] or tweet us @R_E_Ally

 

 Real Estate Ally's mission is to empower Real Estate Agents, Brokers and Owners to take better control of their businesses and manage for improved results through a unified and convenient cloud-based business intelligence solution. Learn more about how Real Estate Ally can revolutionize your business here!

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We're Moving!

After being headquartered in Monterey, CA for over a year we have recognized the need to be closer to where the action is. So we're movin' on up to the Golden City - San Francisco! And this monumental move wouldn't be fit without - you guessed it - an infographic! Here we pulled together some interesting real estate facts for the great City by the Bay. Enjoy!

San-Francisco

Are you a real estate professional who's tired of spending time making all of your management systems try to work together? Contact us and find out how the Real Estate Ally platform can help you!

 

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How to Succeed as a Digital Real Estate Agent Without Really Trying

This article was first featured on Digitial Marketing Direction - see their blog and the original post here.

It is truly amazing to see how much the world of real estate has transformed in the past decade. Modes of communication have doubled on themselves. You don't just pick up the phone now, but answer e-mails, post photos, retweet tweets, pin items, link up and then blog about it. How does a real estate agent manage all this and - oh yeah - sell houses too? Getting connected online can be a floundering experience, leaving an agent feeling like they're drowning in the ocean of interwebs. Here are some key tips we've found to be most helpful for our users: 

 

1. Understand your marketing goals

Take a few minutes to think about what you're trying to achieve with your online presence. Are you looking to increase leads? Organize your business? Or do you want to find new ways to connect with your current network? Whatever your goals might be, make them clear for yourself and set small milestones, say 5 leads each week, so it doesn't seem so overwhelming! marketing-goals-300x218.jpg

2. Focus

Facebook, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter...it's easy to get sucked into creating profiles on every social media outlet. For the sake of time (and sanity), you're better off picking one or two outlets and being really good at keeping up with them vs. trying to be EVERYWHERE. What social media do your customers tend to use? Find out where they are and focus on building connections and a strong presence there.social_media.jpg



3: Attitude not Age! 

According to the NAR's 2013 Member Profile the median age of realtors is 57 years old. But age is just a number, and with the right attitude there's no reason any agent, regardless of age, can't jump right into the digital realm. Willingness to adapt, especially to modes of communication that your clients prefer, will be crucial to survival. Take for example, another recent study by Google and NAR, 68% of homebuyers used a mobile app during their home search and 89% used a mobile search engine throughout the search process.

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4. Don't be afraid to try something new 

With so many choices for technology solutions it's hard to know where to get started. But who's to say you can't pull a goldilocks and try different options out until you find the one that's just right? Many apps and platforms offer free trials - allowing you to poke around and see what you like and don't like - and if its not working for you then move on. Being familiar with different online platforms allows you to keep a pulse on what's available and shows you're knowledgeable about where the industry is moving.

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Ok, so maybe you'll need to try a little...but increasing your online Real Estate presence doesn't have to be cumbersome or intimidating. Remember to specify your goals and pick the outlets that will best suit your customer base while complementing your current business.

 

Cristina is a marketing intern for Real Estate Ally. Real Estate Ally’s mission is to empower Real Estate Agents, Brokers and Owners to take better control of their businesses and manage for improved results through a unified and convenient cloud-based business management solution. Learn more about how Real Estate Ally here.

 

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New System Updates!

Integrated Create Functions Now Available!

We've been making a lot of changes lately! Most recently we have fully integrated the 'create' and 'edit' functions for creating listings! What does this mean for you?

  • From 10 clicks to 2! Save time when creating new listings. Previously, if a user was creating a new listing with a new customer the user was required to back out of the listing and create the customer in the customer screen first. Now the customer can be added right from the listing screen!
  • Current customer information is also now immediately editable! Real Estate Ally will even indicate how old information is so users can check and make updates without skipping a beat!

New Report Available!

  • Now agents and brokers can run reports to highlight residential properties in different price ranges.

Find a bug? Have a suggestion?

We've added an easy feedback module so you can let us know.

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Real Estate Ally’s mission is to empower Real Estate Agents, Brokers and Owners to take better control of their business and mange for improved results through a unified and convenient cloud-based solution.

 

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