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Vendor Management

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Ian Barnes, Using the Force

Anyone who ever doubted the impact of systems in running a successful property business would doubt no more after hearing of Ian Barnes’ skyrocketing move from rookie agent to breaking the million dollar mark in three years.

Mr Barnes, from Evolution Realty in Applecross WA, tried a few careers on for size - including banking, fast food management, sales rep and direct selling - before finding the right fit in real estate. In his first year he tipped $200,000 in fees, moved up to $650,000 in year two and then cracked $1.5 million by his third.

Putting this success down to fierce determination and motivation, Mr Barnes said he knew it was his responsibility to succeed in the industry – and he liked how that sounded. “I saw this [real estate] as an opportunity which didn’t have a capped income. It was 100 per cent merit based, so if you wanted to achieve, it was up to you.” His other driving force was his wife and seven children.

Adding Value to Data

After enjoying continuing success as an agent for a number of years, Mr Barnes decided to open his own agency and implemented effective systems that have gone on to generate lucrative opportunities. Using Real Estate Academy CEO Lee Woodward’s mantra, “If you do something more than once, you’ve got to create a system for it,” Mr Barnes set up a tailored database with prospecting letters and systems perfected over his eight years in real estate. The database also includes a history of all contact with buyers, birthdays and gifts, right down to the wine they drink and the football team they support.

“What I learnt early in my career, is every time we had a piece of communication - whether it was a prospect, a buyer, a seller or a vendor – if that was ever going to happen more than once, it needed to be labelled, numbered and easy to find later on. There was no point recreating something every single time,” he explained.

Knowing the number of times a prospect must see or hear of you before they take notice, Mr Barnes keeps the letters simple and effective. “Your role with a prospecting letter is not to sell the property - it is to get noticed; and get remembered; and to follow it up again with another one. The first letter isn’t designed to get you in the door and get you a listing; that’s the problem with a lot of rookies; they expect too much too soon and they give up after the third letter.”

Direct mail campaigns have been very effective for Evolution Realty, however Mr Barnes also uses letterbox drops, email marketing, bulk SMS, email newsletters, blog, Twitter and Facebook. “At the bare minimum my piece of correspondence will get read, especially if it’s hand signed, compelling, different and a little bit up beat,” Mr Barnes said, adding that when the time came to list, vendors did think of him.

Value Proposition

When your fee is likely to be one of the most expensive in the market, Mr Barnes said it is important to explain your value proposition so price is not the issue. “I can look them in the eye and justify my value. It’s about your negotiation skills; it’s about understanding the psychology of the negotiation; it’s about understanding the difference between the bargain hunter and the heart buyer and understanding that not every buyer is right for your property.”

This idea is cemented by Mr Barnes’ Jedi Knight analogy, where he sees himself and his team as the highly skilled, incorruptible guys who, if your life depended on it, you would want in the trenches fighting with the light sabre to protect you from all the drones. “We’re the Jedi Knights - unashamed vendors’ agents. The seller starts thinking, do I really want to appoint the guy down the road who was $2000 cheaper, or do I want to pay a bit extra for that level of commitment?”

Vendor Management

Once a vendor has committed, Evolution Realty provides customised weekly reports which help manage vendors’ price expectations. Each property is priced using three methods: current fair market value, current fair marketing price and agent’s opinion on current fair market value. The report also includes information on the advertising spend, the next open home, who will open the home, at what time and meetings requests, along with copies of internet figures and advertising.

Vendors also receive a 20-page magazine-quality guide introducing Mr Barnes’ team, outlining his time off and explaining the process involved in selling their property. These tools build the level of respect needed for an effective agent/vendor relationship and leads to Mr Barnes’ legion of ravings.

Mr Barnes’ final piece of advice is: “Start with the end in mind – a raving fan card carrying client - mainly repeat and referral business. The only qualification you need to know you are any good is testimonials, not the commission.”

Mythbusters Campaign

All Evolution campaigns are based on client benefit and professionalism in real estate. The agency wanted to tackle real estate myths, such as listing with the highest quoting agent, or the one with the cheapest fees or the agent who pays for marketing.

“We listed the myths; if I want to get the highest price, I choose the highest quoting agent; if I want to make the most money, I go with the agent that has quoted the lowest fees; the agent with the most ads in the paper is the agent that is most successful,” Mr Barnes said.

The campaign centres on Mr Barnes’ strengths, promoting each strength as the solution to a myth. One side of the DL brochure had a picture of the myth and the other side said, “BUSTED” and explained the solution.

Choose Your Neighbour

Good agents know the power of the community when a new property is listed, and Mr Barnes taps into that with his ‘Choose Your Neighbour’ concept. “Neighbours have an intense interest in who their neighbours are going to be.

We want to engage those people in our business,” he explained. This approach not only shows the community how proactive the agency is, but throws the net wider in finding people who may be interested in buying the property.

Evolution Realty creates a database of the six people either side of the listing and 12 people across the road and then direct mails a simple letter explaining how they can help choose their neighbour by encouraging friends who are interested in buying to call the agency. They will also be invited to the first open home.



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