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MONTANA EDITION

COVER STORY

Rising Team Liz Francis & Jenna Monson KEEPING IN TOUCH—How to Stay in Your Clients' Lives for the Long Haul

Top Agent Tips and Questions for CHOOSING YOUR LISTING AGENT

CONNECT BEYOND REAL ESTATE to Attract Future Clients


MONTANA EDITION

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Team LIZRising FRANCIS & Liz Francis & JENNA MONSON Jenna Monson

CONTENTS 4) CONNECT BEYOND REAL ESTATE TO ATTRACT FUTURE CLIENTS

19) TOP AGENT TIPS AND QUESTIONS FOR CHOOSING YOUR LISTING AGENT

13) KEEPING IN TOUCH— HOW TO STAY IN YOUR CLIENTS' LIVES FOR THE LONG HAUL

22) LIVING ON COMMISSION

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CONNECT BEYOND

REAL ESTATE

to Attract Future Clients What kind of content are you sharing on your blog, website, and social media? Does most of it have something to do with buying or selling a home? While sharing the latest market information or tips on how to qualify for a mortgage, or when someone should buy or sell is important and demonstrates your value as a REALTOR®, it shouldn’t be the only subject you cover. If you only focus on real estate, you’ll be missing the chance to connect with future clients that might not be ready to move just yet. By sharing a lot

of industry-heavy content, you are only going to appeal to those who are currently in the market rather than a broad base of potential clients. To pull in those other future clients you want to provide fresh, interesting content that will appeal to those possible future clients that aren’t quite ready to move yet. However, you also want to still tie this content back into your business goals. So, how do you share content that will speak to a wider audience, but also still be relevant to your business?

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Talk About Your Philanthropic Activities

The philanthropic work you do to support your community says a great deal about who you are as a person. Many people will be attracted to working with you because of the charitable works you are involved with. While you may be hesitant to share these efforts because you feel it may come across as bragging, you also need to remember that sharing information about the charitable organizations you support will actually help those organizations. Many of them have small marketing budgets, so any free exposure you can give them helps to promote their cause. In fact, they want and need you to promote them. And you can promote them without coming across as a braggart. Focus your content entirely on the organization. Talk about why you support them, how they help the community, and how others can also get involved. This turns what could have been bragging into something that benefits everyone. n

Your Local Community

We humans are connected to each other through our community – our local sports teams, parks, churches, schools, and much more. What better way is there to connect with people in your community than to talk about your community? Demonstrate that you are an expert on your community, and bring that community to your followers. Share information about a local event; perhaps even share the actual event through live-stream video. Interview city officials to get the low-down on the latest development project. Share information with your followers about things they didn’t know about their community. Consult with local historians or the historical society to share interesting information about your community that your followers will want to read. You could even turn it into a series of podcasts or videos. n

Use Your Creativity to Connect

Find creative ways to engage your followers on the topic of real estate. Try engaging your followers in an interactive project such as posting photos of interesting front doors. Doors are the entry point into our homes as well as our private lives. The way we adorn our front door can give someone a sense of our style and personality. Ask followers to submit photos and choose one to post each Friday. Make sure to watermark each photo with your logo at the bottom and include an inspirational quote that ties back to the importance of home. You could also ask your followers to provide a little story or caption to go along with the photo that tells something about them and their home. These kinds of projects are interesting and unique, and clearly connect back to your business. n

Share Your Hobbies

Are you an adrenalin junkie who has bungee jumped from some of the tallest bridges in the world? Are you a foodie that grows your own organic vegetables and fruit? Do you have a Top Agent Magazine

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secret passion for photography? Everyone has hobbies that they enjoy outside of work. When you look past the surface people become quite interesting. People also happen to find interesting people interesting, and tend to remember people based on their distinctive traits. We humans love discovering a person’s behind the scenes story, the mind behind the face. While you don’t want to talk too much about yourself, sharing pieces of your personal life and things that interest you can be a great way to connect with followers. By sharing interesting facts about your life, you will find that many followers will feel a strong, personal connection to you based on your hobbies and personal interests. n

Divulge Interesting Experiences

This is somewhat similar to the idea of sharing your hobbies. Sharing some of your more interesting personal experiences such as a fateful conversation with a stranger or an exciting adventure you had while in another country can be a great way to connect with followers as long as it also relates to some kind of life or business lesson. Talk about experiences you’ve had with clients or purchasing your own home. Experiences that relate to your business are great ways to connect with future clients in a manner that goes beyond the world of business. n

What and Who Inspires You

No matter what you’ve chosen to spend your life doing, you didn’t get there alone. You may have had a mentor that made a special impact on your life or someone already in the business that you looked up to and who perhaps inspired you to get into real estate. You may have found inspiration through a love of architecture or design. People want to know why others do the things they do. Sharing who or what influences you in your personal and business life is a great way to connect with followers. Recognizing that you didn’t get to where you are now by yourself shows humility, and talking about those people that had an influence on you shows others that you stay connected to the world and people around you. Connecting with potential clients is something that is essential to any REALTOR’S® business. If you’re doing the work to create interesting blog posts and make those connections, you want to make sure that you’re sharing the right kind of content to draw in those future clients. It takes a lot more than simply providing the latest market news. To get the most out of what you share, you need to provide a wide array of interesting content

that will draw in a broad range of followers. Providing the right kind of content can make all the difference when it comes to connecting with future clients and building the right kind of relationship with them right from the start. Connecting through your website or social media and sharing more than just real estate advice will help you build confidence and trust with future clients before you even meet them.

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Rising Team Liz Francis & Jenna Monson

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Liz Francis & Jenna Monson Relative newcomers to the Billings, Montana real estate scene, Liz Francis and Jenna Monson discovered they “shared a drive for success and the energy that fuels it,” shares Jenna. “We decided to team up when we realized we have different strengths and skills that would allow us to be more diverse as a team.” Liz, a Billings native, was working as Director of Marketing for a title company when she decided to switch to real estate sales. Since her first days as a REALTOR® in April 2014, she has participated in over 20 transac­ tions. Jenna, born and raised in Idaho, relocated to Billings and through her own relocation experience, was able to dive into her new community where she discovered her passion for notes, “We are more available for real estate. our clients. Operating our real estate Billings, the agents say, has been a business is more fun as a team.” hot market since they started, with many more leads and clients than Liz tends to be business­oriented either could handle on her own. Liz while Jenna is creative and great at 8 Copyright Top Agent Magazine

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marketing. For example, the team will be rolling out “Billings Collective,” a new website focused on the pair’s hyperlocal approach, showcasing local residents, restaurants, and vol­ unteer opportunities. Top Agent Magazine

Liz and Jenna also aim to expand their specializations. Jenna who grew up in a small town is drawn to mountain properties. Both agents would like to grow their business to include nearby resort towns, popular 9 Copyright Top Agent Magazine


When you give to others in the community, they give back. I think people are excited to help build a business, especially if you have helped theirs to grow. Jenna and I are so passionate about this career. I think people can sense our energy How does this relatively new team and commitment to them and are build their client base? The team’s drawn to us by our excitement,” sphere of influence includes per­ shares Liz. sonal friends, referrals from other business owners, and past clientele. Liz and Jenna also focus on social “Our philosophy is quite simple. We media like Facebook, Twitter, and are in the business to help others. LinkedIn. Liz says many out of town with buyers in search of a second or vacation home as well as retirees. The two agents have also started to handle commercial, farm, and ranch properties, as well as investment properties.

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“Our philosophy is quite simple. We are in the business to help others. When you give to others in the community, they give back.” at a time. It’s important to surround yourself with people who support and motivate you, who drive you to be better than you were yesterday. Track the activity in your area; see Jenna advises, “Most new agents what’s new on the market, what has have a long list of goals. Take one step sold, and what’s pending. Make clients find the team through word of mouth and the agent has built relationships with local companies who refer relocating employees.

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yourself familiar with the market.” What’s next for Liz and Jenna? The team is at work building their Billings Collective brand at Granite Realty, focused on providing unparalled service. Jenna adds, “We want to

personalize as much as we can. We hope to have a career for years to come and that people will come to think of us when they are buying or selling. Connecting new people with new homes is what we really enjoy doing.”

For more information on Liz and Jenna at Granite Realty visit www.lizfrancisrealestate.com Liz at 406­860­2931 | lizfrancisrealty@gmail.com Jenna at 406­672­4089 | jennamonsonrealty@gmail.com 2800 Central, Suite A | Billings MT 59102 12 Copyright Top Agent Magazine

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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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Top Agent Tips and Questions for Choosing Your Listing Agent Now that you’ve decided to sell, it’s time to select the professional to help you market your property. Before meeting with agents, however, consider Top Agent Magazine’s tips for preparing yourself. Frist, ask yourself what kind of relationship you’d like to have with your listing agent. Are you seeking a casual, personable relationship and the latest marketing tools or are you interested in a more formal, traditional relationship and approach to marketing techniques? Next, populate your list of agents by attending open houses and asking for recommendations from recent buyers and sellers. Finally, schedule your meetings at your home, where you’ll be able to gauge the chemistry between you and each agent. During your meetings, expect any Top Agent to ask you several questions, but also consider discussing the following: Top Agent Magazine

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Will you please describe your sales experience and local network?

Ask your Top Agent to describe recent listings and sales of homes comparable to your own. Ask about the sellers’ priorities, the original list price, market time and number of offers. Top Agents will also describe how well they are connected with other REALTORS® in the region as well as their contacts with relocation companies, local corporations and chambers of commerce. Be sure to ask about each agent’s knowledge of how your market has changed over time and what has influenced change.

You’ll learn a lot by listening to agents’ opinions.

How will you market the property? Each

Top Agent has a unique set of online or local marketing tools at his or her disposal. Some use lead-generation applications and nearly ever luxury agent take advantage of video. Even video marketing tools vary from agent-to-agent, however. You’ll get to decide if you prefer an agent with higher-end video production and 3D Matterport tours or an agent with more intimate techniques featuring walk-and-talk style video tours. What factors influence your list-price recommendation? Before an-

swering this question, most Top Agents will have several questions for you, including whether you’re more focused on a faster sale or a higher list price. They’ll also educate you on how best to balance both market time and list price relative to sales histories your area. Now that you’ve seen the home, what repairs or improvements do you recommend before listing? You’ll learn a lot by listening to agents’

opinions on your home’s sale potential with or without some improvements. Most Top Agents will also recommend a full professional inspection prior to listing to avoid surprises during buyer inspection.

How will you help with staging? Some Top Agents will pay for part or

all of the staging costs. At a minimum, however, a Top Agent will have a staging professional or two in their partner network. While they’re at it, they may provide referrals for carpet cleaning, painting, gardening and other minor finishing touches. 20

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What attributes of the property will you want to highlight? Each Top

Agent will have a somewhat different answer to this question, but that’s a good thing! Even if you have your own ideas about your home’s greatest attributes, you’ll glean insight into the current market by considering different agents’ opinions. In learning their views, you may even change your mind about your home’s most marketable features!

What is your approach to Open Houses? How many agent-only Open

Houses will your Top Agent want to host? How many truly Open Houses? Some Top Agents may even reveal a “swankier” approach to the Open House – such as an evening cocktail party or by-invitation “open” hours to which buyers visit along with the agent representing them.

Who will be our primary point(s) of contact from your office? This

important question will help you understand the scope of your agent’s practice. You’ll get to see if your agent runs a robust team with many hands on deck or if he or she works by close, one-on-one contact with each client. Either approach is wonderful; you get to decide what suits you. Now, let’s list! Top Agent Magazine

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Living On Commission by Linda Brakeall

Commissioned sales is one of the few places where you get paid exactly what you’re worth. One of my friends really hates that concept. “I could never live on that!” But loan officers have to do it all the time. The most successful people I know love being on commission! They love being able to give themselves a raise just by working harder. Most people need a little help learning how to budget, and how to put away money for taxes and infrequent but important expenses.

and maybe a third will go directly to the government for taxes. You should be putting at least 10% away for savings and investment and 5% for surprises is not unrealistic. When I took over a large real estate office a few years ago I found out that one of my new REALTORS® was going through bankruptcy proceedings. I knew she a sold a lot of real estate and I couldn’t figure out how she got in that situation. One evening over coffee she told me about being a rookie with another company. She fell into a land deal and made the single largest sale her company had ever made.

So here’s the rule: Never plan to spend more than half of any paycheck. You can have all kinds of Within six months she received a fancy formulas but that’s it. You huge six-figure commission. Within have to assume that at least a quarter two years she was in debt over her 22

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Commissioned sales is one of the few places where you get paid exactly what you’re worth. head. The problem? She spent it all! She started borrowing trying to pay her taxes. She was so stressed out over the tax situation that she didn’t sell any more real estate for the next year.

REALTORS® or other commissioned sales people. A little planning in advance for regular and predictable expenses and a slush fund for surprises and you’ll be covered!

Don’t let that happen to you. Loan officers aren’t that different from

Copyright© 2014, Linda Brakeall. All

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