2010 was a great year for Help-U-Sell Real Estate.
As we continue to re-tool our technology to lead the industry in systems for the broker and the consumer, we experienced a number of milestones. The first quarter saw a buildup of excitement as we worked toward the rollout of the Help-U-Sell Broker websites in March. They were introduced at the Tech Summit programs held in Sarasota and Las Vegas. Brokers from across the country attended the events, got excited as they learned about the new tools, and enjoyed reconnecting with other Help-U-Sell brokers they’d not seen in many months. Rallies were also held across the country and weekly training and round table calls saw plenty of great ideas and content being shared amongst brokers.
Thank you for being part of this magnificent team. There is no lack of passion in Help-U-Sell and that is an energizer for all of us. Let’s all work to make each other proud in 2011!
Gains in Technology
During 2009 we moved our corporate website and email into our own control and onto our own servers. We also started working with focus groups to drive the direction of the new broker websites which were revealed at the Spring Technology Summits. Since then the broker websites have been tweaked and new features have been added.
Being able to build our websites to suit our brokers needs in today’s ever-changing internet world is just one of the many benefits of building our technology in house. This also provides us with the ability to support our products and not rely on third party vendors for maintenance and support.
Another huge benefit is the cost savings. Since these products are built at cost by Help-U-Sell and our in house development team, we do not pay any hefty profits to development companies or third party service providers.
The savings in technology cost has allowed us to offer broker websites, email and MLS integration and data hosting free of charge to our brokers, making Help-U-Sell the first company to provide all these services to our offices in house.
The broker websites also come with a powerful Content Management System (CMS) which allows you to add and edit pages to your website. You can also easily set all the meta data for each page. This puts the power of customizing and editing your website back in your hands. Our support team is also available to help with localizing your website.
In 2010 we mapped data from 41 MLS boards covering about 85% of our offices. In October we started pulling additional data fields from the MLS boards which will be vital for our January 2011 project of upgrading our search pages. New searches will include include additional filters such as school districts, neighborhoods and counties, property views and additional types to name a few.
Tech, Roundtable and Training Calls
Early in the year, we expanded our regular twice a week broker teleconferences to three: Tech Tuesday, Roundtable Wednesday and Training Thursday. Each session was well attended, but the strain on brokers trying to make the various meetings was intense.
We elected a few months ago to combine the Thursday call with the one running on Wednesday. Wednesday’s call now might be a Roundtable call, Training or a National Sales Meeting. The two hour long meetings (Tuesday and Wednesday) remain one of the principal ways we use to communicate with our team members in the field. Rallies
A full schedule of rallies took place through the Spring, Summer and Fall. Groups of brokers came together for updates, camaraderie and brainstorming in locations across the country, from Baltimore to Oakland to Minneapolis. More are planned for 2nd and 3rd quarter 2011 and you are urged to attend. The information shared at the Rallies and the quality of broker-to-broker interaction is not to be missed.
In November, Help-U-Sell returned to the National Association of REALTORS Expo and Convention in New Orleans. It was the first time in three years we exhibited and we did so to announce to the world that we are ready to start selling franchises and growing the brand again. We were well received, with a number of attendees from around the world showing interest in Help-U-Sell.
Help-U-Sell Stimulus Program
Finally, we worked through 2010 with the help of the Help-U-Sell Stimulus package. Royalties for the year were reduced from the current 6% rate down to 5% on transactions closing between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31 for those offices that “opted in” on the Royalty Modification Program amendment.
We are pleased to announce that, given the continuing uncertainty in the market, the program will be extended through Dec. 31, 2011. That’s right: Royalties will remain at 5% through NEXT December!
Though we weren’t actively selling franchises in 2010, we did add a few new members to the Help-U-Sell team.
Roy Perry came in to work Elko/Spring Hill, Nevada. Roy is a 30 year veteran of the industry and is off to a great start.
David Reading recently converted his office in Ventura, CA, recognizing that a strong brand and consumer offering could help him grow as the market begins to turn.
Long time Help-U-Sell Franchisee, Tammy Whitehead, returned to the brand after a hiatus of several years. Her office in Riverside, CA is doing remarkably well and she continues to be energized every day.
What’s coming in 2011
As mentioned earlier, 2011 will be a year of Franchise Sales and growth for Help-U-Sell. Ron McCoy has created a plan to reach out to the Realtor community that includes email marketing, targeting and even some print advertising. If you know of a broker in a neighboring town who might be an asset to the organization, please share that with Ron McCoy. We want to be careful in our growth to bring in the best brokers possible and you are in the best position to know them.
As we gear up for Franchise Sales, we’ve put more energy and resources into completing the new Help-U-Sell University. The new program will be administered online and will include content delivered via multimedia modules with coaching follow-up all the way. University will also be activity driven so that the new member can complete the learning process with business already taking place. Jeanne Strayer, whom many of you know is working with us to complete this big project.
We will be announcing a Spring – Fall rally series in the first part of the year and will be giving you enough time to make plans and travel arrangements. Even if you are a couple of hundred miles away, most areas have a regional airline that makes it affordable to go to the meeting early in the morning and return home in the evening.
Finally, we’re planning a Broker Retreat for late Fall/early Winter. Though it’s been a few years since we held such an event, they were always well worth the investment of time, energy and money in the past. Help-U-Sell Brokers from around the country will come into a location for a couple of days of meetings and fellowship. We will have details for you by the end of first quarter 2011.
• We will be adding a free virtual tour service in January that will be added to Listing module in the OMS.
• There will be a Seller back end and tools accessed via the brokers website.
• We will upgrade the Advance Search function on HelpUSell.com and all broker websites.
• A new Leads Management Module is scheduled for March 2011.
• The Drip Email Campaign module is due in June.
• The new Help-U-Sell University will be available online.
• We started with re-branding the OMS and it should be completed before the new year.
From an industry perspective, things appear to be slowly improving around the country. Interest rates and prices seem to have hit rock bottom, making this an excellent time to buy and consumers seem to be getting that message. Retail sales are up, the stock market is improving and real estate seems to be waking up. Just as most of our offices did better in 2010 in 2009, we expect 2011 to be incrementally better as well.