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CHICAGO EDITION

7 Simple Tips That are Proven to Help You STAY AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION PROPERTIES: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly COVER STORY

TAMIKA MARKS

KEEPING IN TOUCH – How to Stay in Your Clients’ Lives for the Long Haul 5 Tips to Make New Hires a LONG-LASTING SUCCESS


CHICAGO EDITION

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TAMIKA MARKS

CONTENTS 4) 5 TIPS TO MAKE NEW HIRES A LONG-LASTING SUCCESS 13) KEEPING IN TOUCH – HOW TO STAY IN YOUR CLIENTS’ LIVES FOR THE LONG HAUL

19) PROPERTIES: THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UGLY 20) 7 SIMPLE TIPS THAT ARE PROVEN TO HELP YOU STAY AHEAD OF THE COMPETITION

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5 Tips to Make New Hires

a Long-lasting Success Bringing a new employee into the mix is process commonly known as onboarding. The idea behind onboarding is to make the transition from new hire to team member as efficient and pain-free as possible. However, polling shows that some 31% of entry-level and intermediate level hires leave their new posts within just six months of starting. The question is: why? The hiring and training process is time-intensive and doesn’t come cheap. This means that making 4

a good match for the long haul requires more than just assessments of skill and personality. To ensure a talented new hire sticks around and is truly positioned for success, the onboarding process must be executed with the same care applied during hiring. For a few ideas on how to make the most of the onboarding process, consider the tenets below as you guide your new hire toward long-lasting success within your company.

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1. Be honest about the scope of the role

2. Build in some perks

Let’s say you’re looking to add a new buyers agent or loan processor to your team. You write up the position’s responsibilities, but neglect to mention that you want the new hire to handle a host of administrative tasks, as well. Maybe it doesn’t seem important enough to outline in detail, as it’s the sort of thing the rest of your does. Miscommunications like these are a leading reason why new hires leave their roles. If there isn’t clarity and transparency about a position’s true responsibilities, then new hires may become quickly disillusioned and seek out greener pastures.

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While stocking the breakroom with bagels every Friday may seem like a small gesture, it’s often those little morale-boosting moves that build loyalty and comradery among the team. Bike-to-work incentives, subsidized gym memberships, and benefits that match the needs of your employees—all are ways to demonstrate appreciation and investment in your team. Likewise, the right candidate will return the favor and invest his or her energies into their new role.

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1. Be honest about the scope of the role

2. Build in some perks

Let’s say you’re looking to add a new buyers agent or loan processor to your team. You write up the position’s responsibilities, but neglect to mention that you want the new hire to handle a host of administrative tasks, as well. Maybe it doesn’t seem important enough to outline in detail, as it’s the sort of thing the rest of your does. Miscommunications like these are a leading reason why new hires leave their roles. If there isn’t clarity and transparency about a position’s true responsibilities, then new hires may become quickly disillusioned and seek out greener pastures.

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While stocking the breakroom with bagels every Friday may seem like a small gesture, it’s often those little morale-boosting moves that build loyalty and comradery among the team. Bike-to-work incentives, subsidized gym memberships, and benefits that match the needs of your employees—all are ways to demonstrate appreciation and investment in your team. Likewise, the right candidate will return the favor and invest his or her energies into their new role.

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TAMIKA MARKS Top Agent Magazine

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TAMIKA MARKS “As a full-service Chicago real estate professional, I work with buyers, sellers and investors in real estate transactions spanning all price ranges and property types.� Top Agent Tamika Marks of Trademarks & Associates, LLC in Chicago Is a fullservice real estate professional who has earned her reputation as an agent who can be trusted to provide her many grateful 8 Copyright Top Agent Magazine

clients with the very best service available in the Windy City. Her thoughtful, intelligent approach to buying and selling homes has firmly established her as an expert in her field. Top Agent Magazine


Like many of her peers, Tamika first became interested in the real estate industry when she was in the process of buying her own home. “It looked like real estate was a really cool profession,” she says. After obtaining her license, she began her new career in 2003 and hasn’t looked back since. “As a full-service Chicago real estate professional, I work with buyers, sellers and investors in real estate transactions spanning all price ranges and property types,” says Tamika, though she is quick to point Top Agent Magazine

out that residential single-family homes a large number of which are bank owned - comprise the majority of her business. Condos, multi-family homes and vacant land sales also fall within her range of expertise. One of the most common complaints about real estate agents is the fact that they often don’t communicate with their clients clearly and on a consistent basis, and Tamika recognizes this fact. She approaches her work with a focus on being available to her cliCopyright Top Agent Magazine 9


“I think one of the things that sets me apart from my peers is that I try to catch every phone call, and return every message.” ents at all times. “I think one of the things that sets me apart from my peers is that I try to catch every phone call, and return every message. I think my clients appreciate that they are always able to get ahold of me.” 10Copyright Top Agent Magazine

While Tamika works as a solo agent, she does have a support team for which she is extremely grateful. “While I work solo, I do have a team of contractors, vendors and family members who work for me in my office.” Tamika also demonstrates her social Top Agent Magazine


conscience by hiring non-licensed people to assist her, providing much needed income for those who desperately need it. “I try to offer opportunities for folks to work with me in different non-licensed activities, day to day. Things like cleaning up yards, and other tasks to get work done for my clients. It allows me to help young people in the neighborhood by giving them summer jobs.” For the past six years, Tamika has sponsored Top Agent Magazine

local students, providing them with summer employment. “I’d also like to be able to grow that to include, perhaps, some of the unemployable people who can’t get jobs because of past records. Non violent, of course. I’d just like to give people an opportunity and help some of the displaced homeless.” Tamika deeply appreciates the fact that she is not working a standard, nine-to-five desk Copyright Top Agent Magazine11


job. “I love that my days are always different. Because I sell so many bank-owned properties,” she says, “there are no two properties that are alike and there is always a different challenge and opportunity to learn something.”

Tamika’s love of real estate extends far beyond her working hours. When asked what she enjoys doing in her free time, she almost sheepishly admits, “I love looking at houses. Believe it or not, I really love real estate. I love architecture.”

For more information about

TAMIKA MARKS,

please call 773 - 656 - 9895 or email marksrealtor@yahoo.com 12Copyright Top Agent Magazine

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g n i p Kee h c u in To

HOW TO STAY IN YOUR CLIENTS’ LIVES FOR THE LONG HAUL

One sign of a great real estate agent is there long list of loyal client following. Part of achieving a great referral base is being a great realtor during the transaction. But, that’s only half of the work. To truly be your client’s realtor for life and keep them coming back to you as well as referring others to you, you have to stay in their lives past the transaction. Keeping in touch with your past clients can be one of the most important parts of your business, and one that many realtors tend to push to the wayside. Do you stay in your client’s lives, or do you disappear? People refer people that they feel they know well and that they trust, people they consider friends. However, earning and keeping your client’s trust involves maintaining a delicate balance with how much you contact them. Experts recommend reaching out to your clients at least quarterly. But, it’s not just about how often you stay in touch. You also need to be mindful about how you are reaching out to them. Here are some tips on how to keep in touch with your clients for the long haul: Top Agent Magazine

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INDIVIDUAL PERSONAL CONTACT One of the best ways to keep in touch with your clients is to simply give them a call every once in a while. Follow up and see how your clients are doing. Offer them assistance if they need it. Personalized contact helps to ensure that you remain as important to your clients long after the sale as you were during the transaction. Giving your clients a call on special occasions such as birthdays or holidays also makes for a great personal touch. Of course, nothing beats face-to-face contact. Stopping by to say hello can be a great way to keep in contact. An even better way to catch up and maintain that friendship is to set up a lunch or coffee date with past clients. Giving individual clients your undivided attention goes a long way towards maintaining that bond you formed during the transaction and earning your client’s loyalty and trust. Interactions like this make a lasting impression on your clients. Of course, many busy REALTORS® may not have time to follow up with every client oneon-one. A great way to still give personal attention to your clients without meeting each and every one for lunch is to throw a client appreciation party. This allows you to get in some face-to-face time with each client and make sure they all get your undivided attention and quality time to catch up with you, even if it’s only for a short time. Now, if you have a lot of past clients, this can be difficult to manage during one party. One way to get around the numbers problem is to organize smaller events based on client’s inter-

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ests. Instead of throwing one giant party, host a pool party for the families with kids or a wine and cheese get together for single clients. Hosting special events like these ones goes a long way towards keeping your contact with past clients more personalized and setting you apart from those businesses that simply send them a calendar once a year.

PROVIDE CLIENTS WITH USEFUL NEWS PROVIDE CLIENTS WITH USEFUL NEWS One way that many REALTORSÂŽ keep in touch with their clients is by sending them newsletters. This form of contact can be a double-edged sword. You want to make sure you provide them with useful information that reminds them of your value as a real estate professional. Otherwise your communication will amount to nothing more than spam, and clients will think of you less as a trusted friend and more as a nuisance salesperson. Clients react much more positively to communication containing information that is pertinent to their lives. Update your clients on what is going on in their local community and housing market. Demonstrate your knowledge about the community and the things that are important to your clients. Include information about local cultural events, community news, housing statistics, information on the mortgage market, home maintenance advice, home design tips, and anything else that your clients will find personally useful. Your clients will always be interested in value.

SEND CLIENTS MEMORABLE AND PERSONAL CARDS Sending your clients cards related to important events in their lives and letting them know that you remember those events and care will go a long way towards building and maintaining a close personal relationship with them. You want to make sure your cards stand out, though. Sending popular holiday cards can be a mistake, as they will most likely get lost amongst all of your clients other holiday cards and will be quickly forgotten. Instead send something more personal such as: HOME ANNIVERSARY CARDS: Send cards to each client on the anniversary of the closing of their home.

CONGRATULATORY CARDS: Remember important events such as wedding anniversaries, graduations, new babies, etc.

SPECIAL BIRTHDAY CARDS: Instead of just sending your typical birthday card, add something special to yours that will stand out. Include a $1 scratch off ticket or a $5 gift certificate to Starbucks. Make sure to include a handwritten personal note. Top Agent Magazine

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GIVE CLIENTS AN UNUSUAL GIFT Make sure the gifts you send your past clients stand out. Send your past clients an odd gift at the beginning of the year or on a holiday. Think outside the box and send things like funny magnets, customized mugs, a personalized piece of wall décor, and other fun and unusual items. A great way to make your gift stand out even more is to include a funny note with it that will catch their attention as well as make them think of you. For example, one cute idea is to send clients a bag of popcorn with the note, “Real estate is popping, give me a call.” You could send a bag of goldfish with a note attached that says, “I’m fishing for your referrals.” Get creative and have a little fun with it, your clients will notice and remember you for it.

TAKE ADVANTAGE OF SOCIAL NETWORKS

Social networking sites make staying in contact with past clients in a more informal and friendly basis much easier. Connect with your past clients on Facebook. This will help you stay up to date on the important things happening in your pact clients’ lives. In return, it provides you a great platform for keeping those past clients up to date with what is going on in your business as well as keep in contact in a more informal manner. Use Facebook to remind past clients to check their basement after a heavy rain or that they can contact you for help during tax time. 16

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You can even organize your contacts on Facebook into customized lists such as “past clients,” “industry contacts,” etc. This will help you better manage your Facebook contacts. This will also allow you to view specific news feeds based on these lists and send messages to a particular list of contacts. Don’t forget about the many other social networking sites such as Twitter or LinkedIn either. Utilize this technology to drive personal contact with your clients.

STAY ORGANIZED

No matter how you choose to keep in contact with past clients, make sure to be consistent. Consistency will help you stay organized and diligent about reaching out to your past clients regularly. A tool used by many real estate professionals to stay organized is a customer relationship management solution. Whether you use one that is online or a computer software program, this will help you stay organized when managing your contacts and allow you to set notifications to alert you when you need to contact certain clients, send out gifts, plan a client appreciation event, and many other things throughout the year. Staying organized and consistent in your contact with past clients will help you continue to build and manage your referral base, as well as open the door to repeat and referral business. Top Agent Magazine

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Properties: The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly by Denise Lones

I was shocked. There it was. An expensive property near a busy intersection that had stayed on the market for almost a year. I asked one of my agents, “Why hasn’t this one sold?”

But none of these are reasons to put this property on the back shelf. In fact, there is a market for every market, no matter its location or condition. Too often, we make the mistake of shortchanging sellers who don’t have manicured lawns on cul-de-sacs with perfect houses. We prejudge our own listings to the detriment of the people we’re supposed to be serving.

He said, “Because it’s a dog. Look at it. Nobody wants those turrets that stick out like that. And besides, it’s at that intersection where there’s traffic all day long.” I’ve been there. I’ve driven to properties hoping for a terraced I couldn’t believe what I was masterpiece with a stunning garden, hearing. This agent had “classified” and then felt that sick dropping this property in his own mind as feeling in the pit of my stomach something that wasn’t worth the when I finally saw it. trouble to market—pretending to service his customer while doing What do most agents do? They’re nothing. True, it wasn’t as beautiful polite, they take the listing, and they or pristine as surrounding neigh- get out of there fast. They rely too borhoods. True, it was in a not-so- much on their own opinion of the prime location. True, it could use property rather than pulling statistics to determine its true market value. some handyman work. Top Agent Magazine

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OR they tell the seller, “This house isn’t going to sell unless you change the carpet, fix the paint, install new roofing, etc.” Beware! This could lead into a legal nightmare. While on the surface this agent is giving generic advice, what if the seller does everything the agent suggests—and the house still doesn’t sell? That agent might want to call a good lawyer.

If a property needs work, that’s never a reason it won’t sell. There are investors, handypersons, contractors, and do-it-yourselfers who love these properties. Go to your local real estate investment club meeting and you’ll find people searching frantically for such properties. Advertise it as a “Handyman’s Special.” Target these people directly. You may be amazed how many of them are out there.

Here’s the truth: Every property— True, you may have to advise the good, bad, and ugly—will sell if seller they won’t get top-dollar if priced right. It is always about price. a lot of work needs to be done. There is always someone in the But this is the true issue here—not market ready and willing to buy the work itself. It’s always about right now for the right price. price. 20

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Let’s talk ugly. A house is in pristine condition, but has a rather peculiar look. Well, I have news for you: Just because you think a house is ugly doesn’t mean there isn’t someone out there who will say, “This is the home I’ve been looking for all my life!”

cannot tell you how many times my jaw dropped when someone told me, “Perfect! We love it!” So, I’ve learned never to judge a house by its paint job, landscaping, or design.

You are not the world’s taste critic. You cannot tell what people want. I

Copyright© 2014, Denise Lones. All rights reserved.

You have a job to do: sell the house at top-market price. You are hired to be the market expert. Sellers don’t Did you know there are people out have the time to do so themselves. there who prefer ugly houses? Yes, That’s why you have a career. ugly houses! Some people don’t care about the outside of a property. It’s always the market that They’re only interested in the determines what sells. No matter the inside, where they know they will shape, size, or condition. And you be spending most of their time. are not in charge of the market, These are people who don’t buy to which as always is based on supply impress others, but rather to please and demand. Whatever is in demand themselves. Thank goodness for will sell, whether it’s a beachfront these people. Without them, we’d mansion or a shack in the woods. Be have to tear down half the planet! creative. Use your marketing to target people who truly want these I’ve seen houses that look like properties. But most importantly, something from a Stephen King price the property correctly for the novel sell overnight while another market. that could be on the cover of Home and Garden languishes on the market Know thy market and thou shalt for weeks. Why? Because somebody know what sells—good, bad, or wanted that house. Period. ugly.

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7 Simple Tips that are Proven to Help You Stay Ahead of the Competition So you’ve created a successful business, congratulations! You probably did it by providing an unsurpassed level of customer service that not only meets customer expectations but exceeds them in a way that has made you stand out from the rest. As anyone can tell you, starting a successful business is not easy. Now comes the even harder part. Not only sustaining that high level of performance, but continuing to grow and outpace the competition. There is no resting on your laurels in a competitive business market. Companies that stay successful for the longterm, make an active effort to keep on top. Here are just a few ways you can do the same. 22

1. Know the competition It’s not enough to know what you excel at or what makes you unique, you need to know what your competitors are offering that makes them stand out. This serves two purposes: it will allow you to more clearly define your differences, or it may help you identify an area that you hadn’t considered before, opening up a potentially new way in which you can excel above the rest.

2. Know your customers You might know your clientele very well, but as economic conditions change, so does your

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customer’s needs. What might have been a priority a year ago, won’t be if we are in the midst of an economic downturn, for example. As a business owner you should always be evaluating your strategies in every area constantly, knowing what your customer wants and needs from you is key. In fact you should be using your expertise to analyze potential market changes and anticipate those needs to stay ahead of the curve.

3. Have a strong understanding on what makes you unique Once you accomplish the first two, you should have a clear idea of what unique advantage you offer people. This needs to be clear to everyone, so you can then take that idea and run with it. Find your niche and then market yourself with a focus on that idea. If you have a clear thing you’re selling, it is well worth the investment to market yourself to the hilt with that in mind.

5. Think like your competitors One way your competitors looks to gain customers is by potentially taking yours. It goes without saying, you don’t want to let that happen. You’ve probably built great relationships, so really maintain those relationships by not only providing great service, but service that truly goes above and beyond. Find ways to give more to your customers. You might even want to start offering surveys, where your clients can tell you exactly what they’d like to see.This makes your clients not only feel heard, but blown away when you implement any changes they suggest.

6. Look for untapped markets Don’t settle for maintaining what you have, there could be untapped markets out there. If you don’t get to them, your competitors will. So even if they come eventually, hopefully you’ll already be the dominate force in that market.

4. Keep up to date

7. Be a great boss

This goes for everything from technology to systems, marketing, and even your own personal image. If you have a brick and mortar location, you want to also keep things looking fresh and modern there, as well. First impressions are important for a reason. Everything about your business should tie into your marketing and branding. What are you selling and does everything line up to support that, from your business cards to your social media pages. Remember the key to branding and marketing is a consistent message.

One of the best things you can do to keep ahead of the rest, is by being a company where top talent and motivated newcomers want to be. Be the company that offers more than a competitive paycheck. Be a place that fosters talent, and offers scheduling and compensations packages that appeal more to people who think outside of the box. This will attract more innovative thinkers who value flexibility. Not only will you benefit from their talents, more importantly, your competition won’t.

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