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Virtual agents moving with the times

With Stephen Cromarty

Stephen Cromarty, the dynamic Managing Director of Love Realty, has been engaged in company prospecting and connective marketing programs for years. He’s always run lead generation as part of a larger lead conversion team. With his cracking lead conversion team in place and harnessing the power of the digital age, Stephen has now developed his newest innovation - virtual agents.

What’s a virtual agent you ask?

Virtual agents, Stephen believes, increase the scope and reach of an agency and also give agents a sense of autonomy and ownership of the business. Stephen says, “A sense of ownership is having the ability to run with something that you have true ownership of, whether that be a percentage of profit or the ability to make it your own and take it within a direction that suits your framework.” Stephen’s business is based around Newcastle and he has just employed his first virtual agent, Matthew Pester who works an hour away in the Upper to Lower Hunter Valley. Matt’s office is his house.

Stephen says, “I guess the way I would view the word ‘virtual’ is that we have now, in essence, partnered with Matthew and created an office without the expenses where he gets to run his own agency in his hometown and be supported by our brand and benefit from the lead generation system, and have the back end support without the cost. He doesn’t have to worry about managing a trust account, sales administration, answering phones, and compliance. Matthew simply needs to focus on enjoying being a real estate agent, connecting with people, and helping them move.”

Stephen knew that Matt would bring value to the brand, and even though he started basically cold as a virtual agent, Matt has already achieved amazing results. Stephen explains, “Our goal is to bring value out to Matthew, giving him the ability to have leverage through duplication of producing his own results combined with the opportunities that we provide to him. I think that’s unique because in everything we've ever done, it's about providing value to the people within our team so it’s just extending that to the next level where it’s giving us a greater reach of growth.”

In terms of lead generation, Stephen says, “We’ve got an eye on today’s business and tomorrow’s business for Matthew.” To assist Matt, Love Realty has extended their yearly company marketing program. Stephen explains, “We’ve got individual marketing programs that we do for Matthew in his region and we're only doing a minute percentage of the region that he’s in. The success that we’ve had together has been amazing given the reach that we’re doing. We're doing specific marketing campaigns for Matthew; we’re also doing generic marketing campaigns.”

Love Realty does mail box drops, the back office follows up with phone calls, contacts are retained in the database and information is sent out to people who have indicated interest. Stephen says, “Once we’ve located someone, every month on the 15th of every month or the 14th, depending on when we get our act together, we'll send out specific marketing to our database. These are all the people that we've done an appraisal for at their home and they’re people that are in the pipeline who we hope, through management, will come out through the other end with Love Realty. They’re receiving phone calls and any relevant information that we feel needs to be sent that month, based on sales, testimonials, case studies, market statistics, anything that, I guess, agitates them with the information that makes them market curious.”

With this blended approach, and with Matt working an hour away from head office, a phenomenal 72 appraisals have been generated in 10 weeks and Matt has listed 16 properties and sold a considerable amount too. Stephen says, “There would probably be another 50% on top of that who are in the system. We have a part time agent who's also working and gathering data in that area and on the suburbs, the fringes of that area. Part time agents are something that we’re looking at expanding as well - they will have a dual purpose, working within the business, but also supporting our virtual agents. They’re finding potential sellers and storing them in the database although we might not, at this point, have conducted an appraisal.”

The approach works because Stephen worked hard to develop a functioning and high performing back office and lead generation team. He says that Matt can turn up to a client and the paperwork has been prepared, the CMA prepared. “He doesn't have any back end administration. That’s something that we worked a lot on in the current model until we realised, through chance really, that we had something where we could allow someone like Matthew to take it to the next level,” Stephen explains. Being released from the burden of the administration has allowed Matt to focus on what he does best – sales. He says, “I spend a lot more time with the client or future client, if you like. I don't need to rush off. I can actually book the time. With conversation, yes, sometimes you get carried away and that's where you're building the repertoire with the people. They’re buying you. They actually understand that you’re there to help them and they appreciate that the system is going to work in their favour.”

In terms of how customers have responded once they realise that his office is actually his home, he says, there hasn’t been a backlash. “Just a curiosity of how it works and luckily, being a simple bloke myself, it’s pretty easy to explain the whole system to them,” Matt says. “To be honest, as far as I’m aware, I haven't lost a listing because we don’t have a physical office. Like most people, we’re all on the internet straight away - as soon as we have got five minutes to ourselves, we’ve got the phone out. The people that are looking for property may want to pass an office, but if they’re serious about looking, they’ve got their reminder set on their search engine and they're just looking for property. It’s all on the web. People are a lot more open now to moving along with the times.”

If you’ve got the lead generation infrastructure maybe it’s time to think about bringing in some virtual agents - who knows what you can achieve?


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