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Peter Thomas, SEO Stockdale and lego, Technology, the tools of the trade

Our industry is based on communication. The easier, the more effective, and the broader that communication, the greater the tendency to prosper. Streamlining and enhancing communications via time and money-saving technology actually creates more time to engage in quality interactions with selected clients on a personalised, face-to-face basis.

Rapid technological advancements have forever changed – and will continue to revolutionise – our industry. Technology has become our key business development tool. Its power to facilitate business operations, and indeed build thriving businesses, is quite extraordinary. Not only can it greatly increase listings, sales and rentals, it facilitates and enhances the core elements that lie at the foundations of any successful real estate business.

Some of these include: databasing and record keeping; marketing; enhancing office and individual profiles; networking and attracting referrals; efficient systems and processes; action plans; strategy development and implementation; training and professional development; access to resources; data interpretation and dissemination; business support and development, and even more key areas. While relatively few have fully embraced the gamut of technological opportunities, some have gained limited benefits by dabbling in an ad hoc way, while others remain relatively unaware of its phenomenal potential.

The following very briefly outlines just some of the ways Stockdale & Leggo has seized the opportunity to give its franchisees a competitive advantage supported by a range of cutting-edge technology

What sort of technology and why?

QR Codes are simple barcodes scanned via the camera in a mobile phone. Most of today’s phones have a QR Reader installed. If not, they can be easily downloaded from the Internet. Wherever a QR Code appears on a Stockdale & Leggo brochure, window card, rental list, board or business card, scanning the code gives potential clients instant, mobile Internet access to additional property details, photos and important agent and office information.

A State-Of-The-Art Website is one our most valuable business development tools. The Stockdale & Leggo website, in addition to comprising listings, agent and office details, business opportunities, and a wealth of resources, also:

  • Is constantly being Search Engine Optimised through both carefully-selected text and technical elements like coding, structure and linking. SEO means it ranks higher in search engines, thereby generating more traffic and potential business.
  • Embraces electronic publishing and Flash technology via the Welcome E-Mag, enabling users to view listings and images via an online magazine, which agents can also send to their database.
  • Uses advanced audio-visual technology for providing engaging market commentary

While some have embraced business and life-changing technological tools, the majority yet haven’t. Given that capitalising on every available resource means getting, and staying, ahead in our competitive industry, one might ask, Why?

Resistance – Many remain intimidated, which is understandable, and resist directly interacting with new technology. Others are simply better at the conventional methods they’re familiar with. The response? Some will put it in the too-hard basket and be left behind. Others, however, will delegate the responsibility to other, often younger, staff who thrive in technological environments. To illustrate, given a vision for growing the company by offering franchisees every available opportunity (and the demands of running a large real estate network), it made good business sense to appoint Group IT Manager David Marinakis and a designated team to develop, implement and train and support members in essential technology.

Time – Many agents are too busy running around dealing with day-to-day operations to access, implement and utilise new technology. It’s common to lose sight of the well-known fact that continually working in your business instead of on it means that business foundations and growth are neglected, a recipe for potential disaster.

Lack of Support – Many independent agents simply don’t have easy access to the ever-increasing range of new technology. Knowing where to start, sourcing the appropriate software and hardware, contracting IT specialists, and learning new systems and programs can all be a bit overwhelming.

Social Networking

is a highly effective tool that encourages large numbers of people to interact with agents’ listings, offices and staff members. The social, interactive aspects of Facebook, YouTube and blogs provide a subtle, yet very powerful doorway to developing relationships and large networks, which can translate into increased business. Stockdale & Leggo supports its franchisees in the use of social networking media, with some agents reporting they’ve discovered ‘a whole new world of opportunity’.

iPads

via their ability to present extensive audio-visual information and engage prospective vendors in a one-on-one, interactive way – are currently revolutionising the Sales Submission. Many Stockdale & Leggo agents are archiving the traditional folder of laborious text on sometimes-fly-away pages, opting instead for the Stockdale & Leggo iPad Presentation, including marketing images, videos, testimonials, market information, and more – at the click of a button. The process is more meaningful and enjoyable for vendors – and creates excellent rapport-building opportunities.

The stockdale and leggo intranet and marketing centre

gives franchisees access to a huge range of resources that would otherwise take endless hours, not to mention money and highly specialised expertise, to source and develop. This type of resource-rich technology provides, from the comfort and convenience of one’s office or home, access to:

  • Suppliers through which to purchase office supplies; all manner of printed stationery, including business card templates; employment agreements; and many other business essentials.
  • A range of marketing materials, including drop cards, window cards, email signatures, promo advertisements, email templates, and merchandise for promotional purposes.
  • Company testimonials, newsletters, editorials and media coverage, which franchisees can use for individual office and agent promotion.
  • An extensive library comprising books, CDs, DVDs and tools relating to relevant real estate matters: legislation; prospecting, selling, negotiation and closing techniques; personal and business development; staff training; marketing; the property market; time-management; cost-cutting and more.
  • Stockdale & Leggo’s Hot Tips, presented via audio-visual footage of the company’s most successful franchisees and sales agents.
  • Presentations by Australia’s leading industry experts, motivational speakers and sales trainers, including Lee Woodward.

Officeplus

 is a highly specialised, constantlyevolving program that eliminates manual processes at the click of a button – and can maximise listings, sales, rentals, efficiency, marketing reach, productivity – and franchisees’ bottom line. Such technology allows members to:

  • Generate all property-specific marketing and promotional materials, saving valuable time.
  • Generate their own individual sales and rental magazines in-house, either on their own or with neighbouring Stockdale & Leggo agencies.
  • Give clients tangible, printable Vendor Feedback Reports based on valuable feedback received throughout the sales process, which not only enhances agent-client communication, but also enables important decision-making throughout.
  • Access inter-office referrals and share information across the entire network.
  • ‘Attend’ a wide range of training sessions presented by industry experts via the Internet, audio-visual technology and conference calls – from their own home or office.
  • Access the highly advanced Contact Management System, which facilitates record-keeping and efficiently handles: listings, databasing and buyer matching; mail merging, bulk email and sms marketing; and action plans that span and monitor the sales process and assign tasks to relevant staff.

 

Those with a penchant for over-filling their too-hard basket should be aware that the type of technology outlined above is not only the way of the future, but actually makes business much easier and more rewarding, especially if supported by personal, on-site set-up and training. For those procrastinating about biting the technology bullet, I highly recommend you do – before it bites you on the proverbial.

Peter Thomas, Stockdale & Leggo CEO, opened the company’s first franchised office soon after starting his real estate career at age 20. Unbound by traditional constraints, he realised the potential of franchising and developed the prominent, 100-office strong network spanning Victoria and interstate. His innovative, progressive ideas continue to fuel his visions for Australian real estate into the future.

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Peter Thomas, SEO Stockdale and lego,