THERE ARE ONLY 24 hours in a day, and most agents appreciate that this acts as an earnings ceiling. But what if you could outsource something such as prospecting? Carl Quested looks at how this could make all the difference to your productivity.
WHAT IS CLEAR TO most agents is that if you look at any top performing agent in Australia, or around the world, they’re not going it alone. They are surrounded by an exceptional team.
But let’s just say you’re a solo agent, bribing your other half or your kids to help with the letterbox drops, stuffing envelopes in return for pizza. Or worse, those ‘prospecting’ tasks simply keep getting carried forward on your to-do list.
The good news is there is help.
Now, usually at this stage, we’d start talking about the many benefits of bringing on a PA, of growing a team that you have to manage. And the problem here is that you probably didn’t become an agent to deal with superannuation, sick leave and holidays. Nor might you have a clear understanding of what a PA should be doing for you.
So, you’re not ready to commit to a new staff member, but you need something that is more effective than your ever-growing to-do list. There’s a little step in between – it’s called outsourcing. And what I’m talking about is outsourcing your non-dollar productive tasks that generate dollar-productive activities.
Think about it: is it dollar-productive to spend time stuffing envelopes with your newsletter?
Is it dollar-productive to be yelled at on the phone, or leave messages on umpteen voicemails? And is it productive to spend three hours trying to create your latest just-listed flyer in Publisher? All of these tasks are important, as they lead to dollarproductive activities. But it doesn’t mean you have to do them.
Outsourcing has become a dirty word. We hear horror stories about overseas staff that don’t understand our needs, or worse, do something with all the passwords we share with them. The truth is, outsourcing is any process that we delegate to someone else – and that doesn’t have to mean overseas. And it doesn’t have to be complicated either; you just have to know what to outsource, and where to look for help.
As the hardest thing to stay on top of is usually prospecting, it makes sense to outsource this, to ensure it is consistent and persistent to your market.
These are some of the key prospecting activities you can look to outsource:
Letterbox drops – You can look to use a contract company, hire a local, work with a church group or even utilise Australia Post. Perhaps you have set a goal to drop to your area at least once a month, or on the completion of each sale. Outsourcing means that, no matter how busy you are, your drops still happen.
Direct mail – If you send out any more than a couple of hundred letters, you should be outsourcing it. The economies of scale that a mail house achieves through bulk printing and mailing mean that it will cost basically the same, if not less, than doing it yourself, with none of the associated headaches (paper jams, sticky labels, envelope stuffing, and so on). Don’t let your monthly newsletter slip to quarterly just because you don’t have time; your market is looking at your consistency of marketing when it comes to choosing an agent.
Telemarketing – Many of the top performers still attribute their success to telemarketing. Now, they often have a team around them to assist in hitting their call numbers, but if you keep finding excuses to move telemarketing down the priority list, outsource it. And don’t just trust it to anyone; the company needs to understand the importance of your brand reputation. They should be well versed in all things real estate, and their operators need to be able to speak clear English, preferably without any overseas accent. That’s not prejudice; it’s just that a telemarketer generally gets about six seconds to make an impression, and the corporates have ruined the overseas call centre operators’ reputation with us in Australia.
Graphic design – How many hours have you sat trying to get that red border to wrap around the photo properly, only to sneeze and watch it move out of place? Our desktop publishing programs were not designed to create high-quality designs, nor were you trained to be a graphic designer. Using a designer doesn’t mean you have to shell out hundreds per hour, or get charged for changing the Z to an S in some type. Many cost-effective options now exist that allow you to give a simple brief of your needs and receive a professionally designed flyer, newsletter or even pre-list kit in next to no time. And if you really can’t part with doing it yourself, at least look at using the right kind of tools.
Website maintenance – Again, your website maintenance in itself is not a dollar-productive activity. The results it produces become dollar productive, but get the back end stuff looked after for you.
Copywriting – Copywriting can be the difference between one enquiry and one hundred. It is an art form that takes years to perfect. It isn’t just about being able to use descriptive words; it’s about being able to evoke certain emotions, cause a reaction and ultimately make someone take action. Just because you are able to write, it doesn’t mean it’s something you should do.
Outsourcing is all about understanding your strengths and finding those who can assist you with your weaknesses. Ultimately, it’s about making you more effective with the 24 hours you have in a day.