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MASSACHUSETTS EDITION

Keeping in touch –

How to Stay in Your Clients’ Lives for the Long Haul

COVER STORY

How to Recognize

TRUE LUXURY PROPERTIES

Robb Cohen Team


MASSACHUSETTS EDITION

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ROBB COHEN TEAM

CONTENTS 4) 4 EASY WAYS TO REDECORATE YOUR OFFICE THAT WILL BOOST MORALE & IMPRESS CLIENTS 6) HOW TO RECOGNIZE TRUE LUXURY PROPERTIES

15) KEEPING IN TOUCH – HOW TO STAY IN YOUR CLIENTS’ LIVES FOR THE LONG HAUL 21) WHEN IT’S TIME FOR A HOME OFFICE

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4 Easy Ways to Redecorate Your Office that Will Boost Morale & Impress Clients Your office is a battle-station of sorts. It’s where you field business, launch your communications, and make the magic of your enterprise happen on a daily basis. While you’ll certainly need to have all the functional elements of an office in order to get your work done—desk, chair, internet—have you really considered the physical environment you’ve cultivated in the process? Think of it this way: working all day in a windowless, poorly lit room 4

wouldn’t exactly inspire productivity or morale, would it? The fact is humans take all sorts of social, behavioral, and emotional cues from our environments. And as a real estate professional, you likely already understand the power of the visual and the benefits of making a good impression. With all that in mind, how can you redecorate or retool your

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office space in a way that will boost your mood, productivity, and client relationships? For inspiration, here are a few tips to keep in mind as you consider the ambiance and environment in which you conduct business.

1. A little goes a long way Redecorating your office space doesn’t have to break the bank. Style and décor are often about tiny details adding up to make an overall impression. For instance, paint color, plant life, and lighting are all straightforward ways to rejuvenate a room without spending a fortune. Have dark, drab walls? Consider springing for a lighter, fresher color that will breathe new life into your space. Have bare window sills or empty corners? Buying and potting a few low-maintenance plants like ferns or succulents can add freshness and pops of color to a sparse room. Rely on fluorescent lighting? Consider sprucing up your space with a few well-chosen floor and table lamps that add accents of taste while warming up the tone in your office. A few intuitively placed items can inspire renewed energy.

2. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle One way to make a big change in your office environment without spending a penny is to declutter and reorder. Let’s say you have rows upon rows of crowded, bulky filing cabinets. Try digitizing your records and cut the clutter, opening up square footage in the process. Maybe your desk has faced the same wall for years. Have you considered rearranging your existing furniture and décor? Just by reorganizing the flow of your workspace, you can give your office the cheapest face-lift possible. You can also make work areas flow more intuitively, based on the processes and collaboration you’ve adapted to over time. Top Agent Magazine

3. Think like a client Imagine you’re walking into the office for the first time. As a client, what details would stick out? What red flags would come to mind? While you’re used to working in the same space every day, clients are coming into your office with no set expectations. With that in mind, complete a walkthrough of your office area to address eye sores, clutter, and whatever feels unprofessional or amateur. Half the battle of redecorating your space is finding opportunities and seeing things anew, instead of being content with the status quo.

4. Build out your brand Redecorating your space is about aesthetics, but it’s also about creating a unifying setting for your professional brand. If you’re catering to luxury clientele, it makes sense that your office space should appear elegant, high-end, and sophisticated. If you’re selling second homes out in the country, perhaps a more rugged but well-curated ambiance would set the right tone for your services. Maybe you’re courting the Millennial market or touting your tech-forward approach to real estate. In that case, a modern, sleek, progressive layout would speak to your company’s values and culture. Whatever the case may be, think of your office environment as an extension of your brand that communicates with clients, motivates your team, and sets the tone for your day-to-day operations. Even if decorating isn’t exactly in your wheelhouse, there are plenty of simple and philosophical shifts you can make to your space that will maximize your presence and productivity. What’s more, real estate is a business built on relationships—so it doesn’t hurt to create an office where clients are comfortable and confident in the environment you’ve built.

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How to Recognize True Luxury Properties What to Consider Other Than Location When luxury home buyers are looking for a new abode, they are often advised to pay most of their attention to location, location, location. And it’s true that good locations often have better properties, but if you’re only looking at location then you might be forgetting what it is in a luxury property that makes it luxury. You could view a property in a great location, and because you completely ignored any of the other factors that make a property high end, you might find that once you move in, you aren’t as pleased with the actual house itself as you thought you would be. Here are the other things you should look out for when purchasing a luxury home: • Architectural Uniqueness: The simple fact is that good

architecture retains its value. Do your homework on architects and find the ones that have a good track record of designing beautiful, but practical homes. Don’t simply pay attention to how the building looks today. Consider how it will look in a few decades. Keep an eye out for the “bones” of the building, and decide whether they will stand the test of time or not. Things such as a solid foundation, high-grade materials, unusual details, and artistic components are good aspects to consider. Will the structure hold up well or will it degrade and crumble without constant upkeep? That funky molding may look artistic today, but in ten years will it be considered artistic or just plain weird?

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• Practical Layout: Make sure you have enough room to live

in comfort. As a buyer of luxury property, you probably have quite a busy social schedule. You want to make sure that the layout will lend itself to helping you maintain clear separation between your social areas and private ones. You don’t want guests having to go back into your bedroom to use the bathroom. Look out for places with stairwells, awkward columns, long hallways, and other wastes of space.

• Unobstructed Views and Light: You want to live in

a home that gives you lots of natural light, such as one that is open to the outdoors. That natural light will improve your mood, as well as the resale value. The openness of a space filled with natural light will make you feel more comfortable and happy in your new home. What about the view? Do you see a Do you park, a bridge, a river, or a skyline? Is the see a park, fantastic view out your window protected? a bridge, You’ll need to understand the surrounding air a river, or a rights and zoning allowances of neighboring buildings to understand the possible risks. skyline?

• Windows: Windows are the primary source of losing heat and

cooling. Make sure they are double-paned with good insulation that will protect your home against weather and noise. Unless the windows are already like this, it is unlikely that the condo or co-op board will allow you to install your own.

• Ceiling Height: Consider the cubic footage of the property.

You want to look for high ceilings that increase the openness of a room. Of course, you don’t want to go too high. Above 14 feet will get you diminished marginal returns.

• Storage: If you’re a woman, you will understand this one. We need

lots of closets and additional storage room to fit all of our clothes, shoes, jackets, hats, purses, etc. However, lucky for you, your potential home’s existing closet square footage will not limit you from putting in more storage space. Custom closet companies can create any kind of storage

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space you desire. You will have to, however, make sure that your new home does have an area that you can turn into this storage space. • In-Unit Laundry: In-unit laundry has become necessary for

any luxury home or apartment. Do you really want to have to trek down flights of stairs to use the basement laundry? If you still consider it wasted space, you can convert it into more closet space.

• The Gym: Having a fitness area nearby is an amenity that is especially

important, particularly in winter when you don’t feel like walking to the gym a few blocks down. One thing to consider is the Do you really want of the gym in relation to have to trek down size to the size of the building in flights of stairs? light of common area fees. • Move-In Ready: I’d advise against buying time-consuming and

frustrating fixer-uppers no matter how much you want to add custom kitchens, finishes, fixtures, and other characteristics. Choose a property that already has all of these amenities taken care of. These properties have already had the same designers you would hire fashion the house at a fraction of the cost you would pay to have them do it after you move in. In this light, it is worthwhile to pay a little extra for the move-in ready home.

• Reputation: Pay attention to the reputation of the building. A

property that has a good reputation tends to retain its value. You can easily find this out online on posts, and established locals are likely to have an opinion.

If you want to buy luxury property that is really worth it’s price, then I would suggest adding these points to your list of things your new home must have. If you want to get a high quality home that is a true luxury, you’ll want to watch out for these aspects as well as the location. Some properties might claim to be luxury based on their location, but when compared against this list, they don’t make the cut. So, don’t be fooled by imposters, and make sure you find a true high-end property. 8

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Robb Cohen Team

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Robb Cohen’s clients feel like they’re on top of the world when they’re working with him.

Director and Associate Broker Robb Cohen of Engel & Völkers in Boston - has achieved a level of success that is impressive by any measure. At the time of this writing, Robb and his team have sold over 980 homes, totaling nearly a billion dollars in sales. Though he can rattle off a staggering list of awards, designations and sales records, he demonstrates a surprising modesty and prefers speaking of his clients and the extent to which he will go to ensure their happiness and satisfaction. 10 Copyright Top Agent Magazine

A Boston native, Robb believes his passion for real estate was born when he attended a prep school in Cambridge and fell in love with the 19th Century Victorian home where classes where held. “It got me really interested in architecture, interior design and Boston and Cambridge homes.” Later, while preparing to attend college in Boston, he and his soon-to-be wife were scouting for homes in downtown Boston to live in, and that passion was reignited. “I just absolutely loved Top Agent Magazine


Visiting offices in Naples, Italy

the process. “I knew I had to work in real estate so much so that we both earned our real estate licenses within a few years of moving to the city.” First, though, came the manufacturing business he started after finishing college, one that had its genesis in the necessity to provide for his new family, and grew from ten employees to over three hundred with over $30 million dollars in sales. Upon the successful sale of that company, Robb was able to transition into real estate Top Agent Magazine

full time as his sought after second career. “I felt that now I could finally do something to serve others and be a force of change in the lives of both my clients and my family,” he recalls. In the twenty-five plus years since, Robb has more than earned his reputation as a real estate professional who truly cares about his clients, and consistently goes the extra mile for them. Not only is he perennially recog11 Copyright Top Agent Magazine


A home sold by Robb on Beacon Street in Back Bay, Boston

nized as the top listing / marketing broker and top buyer’s representative in the Boston market, he is also one of only 70 Engel & Völkers advisors – out of 10,750 – to hold their prestigious Private Office Advisor designation. Copyright Top Agent Magazine Copyright 12

“That means I’m basically a liaison for the brand nationally and internationally with our main office being in Germany to assist high net-worth individuals who require discretion when buying or selling homes,” Robb explains. The value he places on continuing education is also evident in the slew of other designations he has earned: CRS (Certified Residential Specialist), ABR (Certified Accredited Buyer Representative), ASR (Accredited Seller Representative), CNE (Certified Negotiation Expert) and the CLHMS (Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist.) Top Agent Magazine


Robb represents Boston and contiguous suburbs

Overseeing an equally-dedicated and consummately professional team – which includes his wife - and of which he can boast as having nearly 100 years of combined experience – Robb’s business, though pleased to assist all clients on all levels, is based significantly on repeat and referral business, perhaps the surest proof of the results-driven, knowledgeable and personable service his clients have come to Top Agent Magazine

expect from him. Of the impressive number of reviews he has received, there is one he points to with great pride, and which reads: “Robb is one of the best brokers in Boston. With most brokers, you wonder why they make so much for doing so little. With Robb, you think ‘wow, this guy is underpaid.’” Honesty, integrity and clear consistent communication are just a few of the many elements that comprise the remarkCopyright Top Agent Magazine 13


able service he and his team provide. “Every client leaves 100 percent knowledgeable of all options available for their specific needs and beyond satisfied with our service,” says Robb, proudly. “We make the entire process absolutely transparent and seamless for them. We do not sell them homes – We assist and educate our clients in the process of buying homes” Robb believes in giving back both to the real estate community and his community in general.

Personally, he supports local homeless shelters, food pantries, youth sports programs, and through Engel & Völkers he is involved with the Special Olympics. He is also involved with the Greater Boston Real Estate Board and is a member of the National Association of Realtors. “I work to a very high standard,” says Robb, “and I surround myself with people who honor and respect that it’s all done for one reason: the satisfaction of our clients.”

For more information about Robb Cohen, please call 617-962-0142 or email Robb.Cohen@EngelVoelkers.com

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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. 18

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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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When It’s Time for a Home Office by Nancy Michaels

So, you’re tired of clearing your papers off the dining room table every time someone wants to eat (how dare they!). And you’re still recovering from the business call you were forced to take that time your 5-yearold pressed the phone into your hand just as you stepped from the shower (it’s amazing how professional one can sound while wrapped in a towel and dripping wet).

fairly easily for this purpose. Use bookcases, filing cabinets, plants, screens, even lighting to define your work space. It’s essential that you remain committed to your space as office space. Without this psychological distinction between home and work, the two areas of your life may slide into one another, causing you to lose focus, and thus, productivity.

Sounds like it’s time for a home Choose furnishings that are ergooffice. nomically correct, and which fit in with the decor of the rest of your Ideally, you’ll have a spare room to home. Lighting should come from turn into office space—preferably three sources: natural, ambient and one with a locking door. An extra direct. Give yourself enough storage bedroom, the basement, or attic can space to keep your work area all serve this purpose. If you don’t uncluttered. You may want to store have room for a dedicated office, your supplies in another part of the take a look around your house to see house, keeping just a week’s worth where you can carve yourself some in your office. And schedule a space. A closet, bedroom corner, weekly or biweekly cleanup where hallway alcove or even the area you go through your papers and files under a stairway can all be converted and either throw away or stow away Top Agent Magazine

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anything that is not essential to the event of a power failure. An daily operation of your business. uninterruptable power source supply is also a must for the home office. Almost every business requires a This will keep your computer runcomputer system. Don’t skimp. You ning during a power outage until want something with enough speed you’re able to safely shut it down. and memory capacity to last into the future. A good-quality inkjet, or Another essential component of the preferably, a laser printer is also home office is telecommunications, essential. Investigate the all-in-one meaning telephone, fax and Internet printer, fax, copier and scanners. access. An account through an These may save you money as well Internet service provider or online as precious office space. I also service shouldn’t cost more than $20 recommend a computer backup per month and it will give you the system, which will protect the ability to send and receive e-mail. contents of your hard drive in the 22

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It’s essential that you remain committed to your space as office space. You’ll probably want more than one answering” from your phone comphone line, three if you’re using one pany. It’s just a few dollars a month line for a fax and modem hookup. and sounds more professional than It’s wise to invest in a business line, an answering machine, and which which allows you to list your won’t break down while you’re on business name and number in the vacation. phone book and with directory assistance. To keep costs down, use A home office can either improve that line for incoming calls only. If productivity, or harm it. You may find you don’t want the expense of a yourself doing paperwork at 2 a.m. business line, but can do without a when you should be sleeping, or repeat of the shower scene, order flipping to General Hospital at 3 p.m. “distinct ring” service from your when you should be working. It’s phone company. This is a separate helpful to treat your home office as phone number which rings into your you would an outside office, complete home line, but sounds different from with “starting” and “quitting” times. your normal ring. This alerts you This will help you stay focused, and family members to incoming organized, and productive. And your business calls. If you’re dishing up family will appreciate having their dinner or washing the dog, you’ll dining room table back. know to let your answering machine, or better yet, your electronic voice Nancy Michaels, of Impression Impact, mail system, grab the call. If you’re works with companies that want to reach in the shower, hopefully your 5- the small business community and with small business owners who want to sell year-old will know to do the same. more products and services. Copyright©, You may also want to order “call Nancy Michaels. All rights reserved. Top Agent Magazine

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