In today’s fast-paced, immediate gratification, online insurance quotes world, convincing customers that they still need an agent can be difficult. Why should customers put in any extra time and effort on something that can be accomplished from their smartphone screen without ever interacting with another person? Because you’re more valuable to them. That’s why. Agents like you are often the first call when the unexpected happens, and you have the experience and compassion that trumps a glowing screen any day. Here are three ways to demonstrate your value to potential customers.
Find a nicheYou can’t be everything to every customer. That’s okay. Your time is better spent on focusing on a specific customer base. An agent in Texas partners with a large corporation employing hundreds of ex-pats. He was the go-to agent for auto and renters insurance for people brand new to the US. He knew the ins and outs of insuring brand new US drivers and finding all discounts that were available to them. For you, it might mean finding an office space near a car dealership or partnering with an apartment complex to be the go-to person they refer new renters to. Find a niche and be the best at it.
Go above and beyondPersonal touches can make a big difference. What if you sent cookies to your home insurance customers each year around their renewal? Or an air freshener to your auto customers? In our social media-saturated world, those extra efforts can make a big impact. It only takes a few customers sharing on Instagram the delicious chocolate chip cookies you sent, for others to take notice. Their insurance company isn’t doing that, especially if they don’t have an agent. Take that, computer. Don’t underestimate the value of letting your customers market for you. According to Inc., customers are more likely to trust word of mouth than traditional advertising.1
Be an expertThe average customer really doesn’t understand the coverage they need. While an online quote is efficient, it cannot provide personalized expertise. You can, which is precisely why people need agents. When it comes to protecting our lives, families, and assets we need real knowledge and experience. Most people don’t need full coverage on that 1987 Honda Civic, and they need you to explain why. The world is changing by the minute, but faster isn’t always better. With a little effort, you can prove your continued worth in the evolving marketplace. Don’t find yourself locked in a battle of wits with online quote sites. Download our free Business Plan Health Check to help discover opportunities to make your agency stronger. 1https://www.inc.com/nicole-carter/jonah-berger-marketing-word-of-mouth.html
A long-time customer calls. They’re asking about new discounts. Their policy is about to renew and their premium went up. They’re definitely shopping rates. The strange economy this year is going to cause consumers to hold their wallets more tightly, and you’ve got to be ready for some tough conversations in order to keep your agency healthy. It’s more important than ever for you to be at the top of your game. So if you find yourself losing steam, here are 5 easy tricks to keep yourself going.
1. Start your day with breakfast.I know, you’ve heard that a million times before. And you know it’s good advice, but who has the time? Figuring out the right on-the-go nutritious breakfast option for yourself is worth the effort. According to Inc.1, studies show that breakfast is good for your mood and your concentration. What better way to deal with cranky customers than starting off your day in a good, focused mood? May it’ll be contagious enough to help you calm them down and keep their business.
2. Take a walk during your lunch break.First of all, that means you have to actually take a lunch break. This should be a non-negotiable part of your day. Take a few minutes during your lunch break to get outside for a quick walk. If the weather is bad, walk around your office. This isn’t cardio time, this is a quick mental break to refresh and a quick break from sitting at your desk.
3. Leave the office on time.Set a goal to be home on time at least three days per week. None of us are at our best when we work extended hours, stay late, and eat dinner at 9 pm every day. The work you do in the hours after you were supposed to leave isn’t going to be your best. Studies show you’re more likely to make mistakes after-hours, among a host of other ill effects of working late.2
4. Organize your desk.Having a clear mind is difficult when you have a cluttered desk. Your organization system doesn’t have to be what works for anyone else. No does it need to be Marie Kondo approved. You shouldn’t toss out files for customers who don’t spark joy in you. (that would be a very bad idea.) What you need is simply something that works for you. Put everything in a place that makes sense for you.
5. Plan time for yourself.In our go go go world, finding time for friends and family is hard enough. Finding alone time can be even harder. No matter your personality, some time alone to yourself is healthy and necessary. Keep it simple. Maybe on one of those days, you leave work on time you grab a coffee on the way home and sit in your car for 10 minutes to enjoy it and decompress before going in the house. Taking a little better care for yourself doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming. Try one or more of these now and see how quickly spending a little more time on yourself helps you focus better at work.
What’s next?Did you find these tips helpful? If you’re looking for more ways to improve yourself so you can stay strong in business, check out our free Personal Evaluation! Fifteen minutes with the Personal Evaluation will help you make a plan to improve your work, yourself, and your community. Download the Personal Evaluation here!
Is it a buyer’s market? Is it a seller’s market? Should I focus locally? Or maybe look to expand? When you start asking more questions and getting fewer answers, it’s time to get back to the basics. The market may be uncertain but by taking a few steps in the right direction, you can make sure that you are prepared for anything that may come your way.
Start with a business planIt doesn’t matter if you’ve been in the business for years, hit your first million in sales, or just signed with your first broker-you need a business plan. Check out this real estate Business Plan Health Check from Cole Information. It helps create goals for you no matter where you are or where you want to be. Preparation and forward-thinking will help you develop that ounce of prevention that will get you through any market.
ProspectingBack to the basics indeed. Stop depending on your current cache of clients and expand your contact list. You may have been able to coast by on who you know, but that list may dry up quicker than you’d like to think. Be prepared. Prospect! Think of all the potential clients out there as the wide part of a funnel. They are swimming around, looking at home listings online, considering a home sale, contemplating breaking into the world of property management, or looking to buy that dream vacation home. Some of those potential clients won’t be ready for months, some will be ready next week, and yet others won’t be ready for another year. However, at some point, one of those clients will be ready. And when they are, they will slide down into the skinny part of the funnel and become your client. Every real estate agent has a funnel and every real estate agent gets to decide how many people are in their funnel. The more people you have in yours, the better chance you have that a steady stream of clients will be headed your way- no matter what the market looks like. So how do you get people into your sales funnel? You guessed it. Prospecting. Think about running a voicemail campaign. You can use your custom lists from Cole Realty Resource with apps like SlyDial to maximize your prospecting time by dropping a pre-recorded message straight to in someone’s voicemail. Buy ads on social media. While others are slashing marketing budgets, be the agent in people’s feeds. Get some new business cards made. There is nothing like having shiny new cards in your pocket or purse that makes you want to hand them out. Leave your card everywhere. On counters, in bowls for drawing, ask to pin them to bulletin boards. You may find that getting back to the basics not only fills up your funnel but re-ignites that sales fire that may have started to flicker out. Harness that newbie, go-get-em energy that used to get you out of bed in the morning and do your business proud. Time may change, but the fundamentals of business stay the same. Build and evaluate your business plan, prospect constantly, and sell real estate, One. Two. Three. Go got this. Download the Free Business Plan Health Check today!
Spring 2020 isn’t shaping up how anyone anticipated.What should’ve been the busy season for home services has been the uncertain season. Hopefully, the economic downturn hasn’t affected too many of your customers and you still have a decent amount of work you can do. If that hasn’t been the case, you can still use your time working from home to make a plan and shore up business for the coming seasons. You can do two things to weather this unusual season: figure out how to pivot and create a sales pipeline.
Figure out how to pivotIf you’re in landscaping, use your skills to educate people who are at home. Interest in home gardening is seeing a resurgence.1 You can position yourself as a valuable asset to those who are new to gardening. Share useful tips and tricks on your social media. Give advice on what to grow and how to be successful growing in your area or teach people about composting. Not only can you help your community, develop their green thumbs, so you can help boost the moods during quarantine. And don’t worry, they’ll still need you when this is all over. Most people won’t have time to garden when they return to their normal schedules.
Create a sales pipelineHaving a healthy sales pipeline is essential right now. Due to uncertainty for everyone, it will take longer to bring new clients on board. Get started now so that when you’re able to get back to work, you’ll have a stream fo customers ready to go. Think creatively about what you can do to generate new leads during this time. Send out special offer postcards to your lists from Cole Neighborhoods to lock in service requests. Or use that list to create a Facebook ad that specifically targets homeowners in your area. For solar and roofing, lead with cost savings. Many people are evaluating their expenses right now, and this is the right time to remind them how your product saves them money. Just because you’re “stuck” at home doesn’t mean your business has to be stuck. Using your lists from Cole Neighborhoods, you can reach homeowners right from the comfort of your own home. Download our free Business Plan Health Check to make sure your business is in good shape post-quarantine. 1https://www.usatoday.com/story/money/2020/04/14/coronavirus-gardening-hobby-and-self-sustainability-create-interest/2923047001/
As businesses all around the country are adjusting to and preparing for what the future may hold, you may find yourself looking at the real estate market and feeling confused. Don’t worry too much about that. You’re not the only one. There is a wide variety of thoughts and opinions about how the market will react to this pandemic. Some analysts believe that market will stall and hypothesize that sellers will be apprehensive to list their homes and buyers will not want to make large purchases during unpredictable times. In fact, some markets have seen a 50% decrease in the market when compared to last year’s inventory1. And yet, other markets are showing an increase not only in homes no the market, but in escrow openings and closings2. In these areas, there has been as much as a 36% increase in new listings and a 15% increase in real estate transactions. Still, confused? Again, don’t be. What we are learning from these seemingly conflicting perspectives in what we need to follow the data. Every market, every area, every zip code has the potential to be radically different from its neighbor. Knowing your market, adapting to developing trends, and developing a business plan are all ways you can service your clients and your profits accordingly.
Know Your MarketKeep track of trends in your area. Your clients essentially have a local product to sell so make sure that you know your local market. Is there a flood of low-end buyers? Perhaps a trickle of high-end clients? Maybe a mixture of both? You don’t have to be great with statistics to understand the climate. Dedicate some time every Monday or Friday morning to read about the trends in your area. Make friends with your local mortgage companies and ask about their numbers from the previous week. Utilize those logistics options on your listing services to do the grunt work for you. Keep an eye on the lending rates. Currently, the federal lending rates are historically low3 but what does that mean for someone who is interested in listing their house? You often act as a real estate translator for your clients so be informed. Lenders and escrow companies are usually keen to partner with real estate agents to secure a steady flow of clients. Use that opportunity to expand your resources and knowledge about the market and to develop relationships with people you can dialogue with and discuss local trends.
AdaptMaintaining awareness of the market helps keep you ready for the twists and turns that the market will inevitably throw your way. Currently, people have been hesitant to go into the homes of strangers or to let strangers into their homes. For some agents, this may be present as a roadblock to the sale- but not for all, and if you adapt, not for you either. More and more agents are offering virtual tours by making videos and posting them on their social media pages or by video calling their clients and walking them through the home remotely1. This helps to dampen anxieties during unsure times which encourages clients to keep their home listed on the market until it sells and not to take it off prematurely in a state of panic. Stay current with evolving technologies and use the real estate market to benefit your business. In climates such as this, larger firms will sometimes buy up smaller ones4. If this happens to you, adapt – don’t react. Use the backing of a larger firm to scratch that consulting itch you’ve always had or to finally dip your toes into property management. Change does not have to be bad. And in a market that seems to always be evolving, let change work for you.
Be PreparedFinally, be prepared. Have a business plan – a serious business plan. Like, one that is written down. Don’t know where to start? Cole Information’s Business Plan Health Check can help you put your thoughts to paper and encourage you to take a good look, hard look at your business plan. When you have a goal in front of you, you might just take that extra step that will bring you closer to your picture of success. Through all of this change and flux, it has become more obvious than ever there is no way to predict the future. However, if you know your market, are willing to adapt, and the time to prepare a business plan, you can be sure that you are ready for just about anything that may come your way. Download the free Business Plan Health Check today 1https://www.ktvu.com/video/667582 2https://ktvl.com/news/local/how-covid-19-is-impacting-real-estate 3https://www.fool.com/millionacres/real-estate-market/articles/will-the-covid-19-crisis-push-home-values-lower/ 4https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbesrealestatecouncil/2020/03/27/the-2020-real-estate-market-correction/#53ab45b62931
Aiding in crisis is exactly what insurance is about.The pandemic may not have your customers filing claims, but maybe they need to hear from you anyway. In uncertain times, one of the most comforting assurances is that others are there for you. Take some time to reach out to all of your clients and as many leads as possible just to check-in and see how they’re doing and see if you can help them in any way. Since resources can be scarce, consider partnering with a church or business that might have relief programs available. Have some resources available for your clients who are in need. Check-in on your clients. Use this targeted approach to reach customers in an effective order rather than going alphabetically.
Start with your elderly customersSince the elderly are in the highest risk category, they are the most likely to need help right now. Offer to pick up groceries. Or just be a friendly voice in what can be a lonely time.
Check in on families with young kidsKeeping a household running with young children is hard enough during normal circumstances. Under a global crisis, it can be quite chaotic. Consider dropping of sidewalk chalk or bubbles.
Speak with single adultsWhile adults who live on their own without children do not have the same responsibilities as a family does, they have the added uncertainty of every responsibility falling on them. If they’ve lost a job, there’s no one else in the household to potentially count on. You may not have all the answers for your clients, and that’s okay. Odds are good your network is larger than theirs and maybe you know someone who can help even if you can’t. The time you invest in looking out for your customers when it’s above and beyond the service you’re being paid to do will tell them exactly the kind of person you are. That’s a value they can’t get from an insurance website. And when it comes time to deal with a claim, they’ll be confident that they have you in their corner. Building a healthy business isn’t just about transactions. It’s about relationships, both inside and outside your agency. If you’d like to spend more time working on the health of your business, download the Business Plan Health Check to get started.
Whether it’s bad weather, or a new baby, or a global pandemic, life is often full of experiences that throw our normal routines off-kilter How do you maintain a work-life balance when everything is out of balance? Here are five helpful tips for navigating uncertain circumstances.