HUSKA

Who remembers this?  What is HUSKA? Why is it important?

History Lesson:  One legendary Help-U-Sell Broker – who later became a Regional Director – used the ‘word’ to motivate and elevate her fellow brokers.  I believe there may have even been pins with the word on it. (If you have one, I’d love a picture).

That Broker/RD was Kris Hazard, who now lives in Hawaii.

And now, what does HUSKA mean or stand for?

Help-U-Sell Kicks %*S$!

Thanks John Powell and Maurine Grisso for remembering!

Cool Stuff From Success Summit!

summit-pic

There was so much NEW at this year’s Summit!  The large group of attendees brought an energy that sustained us for three days and made it hard to say goodbye to Las Vegas.  In no particular order here are SOME of the  cool things that happened:

  • Mr. Westman attended!  Head of our parent company, Infinium, Ron Westman tends to stay in the background usually letting his team navigate the important Help-U-Sell meetings that occur from time to time.  Not so this Success Summit! He was present and involved for every minute of meetings and social functions as well.  It was a wonderful opportunity to interact with the man that got us through the worst real estate market in history.  Thank you, Ron Westman!
  • A new CI followup program was unveiled.  Working with Mike Paholke and Excel Print/Mail, Jack Bailey, John Powell and  the home office team developed a series of 8 customizable postcard mailers for staying in touch with past clients and other Centers of Influence.  The program is remarkably inexpensive and provides automatic followup to our most important friends.  Watch your email and attend the weekly Power Hour meetings for details.
  • A partnership with Movement Mortgage was presented.  This rapidly growing mortgage banker comes with an interesting proposition.  Instead of waiting to process a loan application until the closing date is imminent, they process everything immediately, completing the package in 7 – 10 days regardless of closing date.  This enables buyers and sellers to close early if they choose but more importantly, exposes problems EARLY so that there is no last minute panic.  In addition, Movement Mortgage has agreed to undrewrite 25% of the cost of the new CI program mentioned above!  Now it is an even better bargain!
  • Robbie Stevens showcased our new corporate website, slated to go live around the first of the year.  It knocked my socks off!  Really:  clean and sleek, very forward looking and modern, it makes our competitors’ sites look ancient.  And the functionality – rich in video and short on verbiage – is superb.  There is a great new home search function that includes a drawing component where any customized geography can be searched.
  • OMS Lite was presented.  This is a new app available at the Apple Store for Iphone and pad that enables Help-U-Sell brokers to add a new listing on the fly.  It includes the ability to upload photos and even phone-shot video directly into OMS.  An Android version is running through the approval process and should be available soon.
  • Platinum Edge got a dusting off and an update.  This tool for use with luxury properties has a new look:  stunning black and silver.  Guidance on how to use this tool when working with the top of the market will be a feature of future Power Hour meetings.
  • Ron McCoy presented a revamped awards program that recognized top listing offices, top buyer side offices and  top closed side offices as well as a new Don Taylor Award of excellence.  Congratulations to Jack and Cheryl Bailey and Help-U-Sell Greensboro for being tops in Buyer Sides with 59,  and to Richard Cricchio and Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties for being tops in New Listings with 151.  Honolulu Properties was also #1 in total Closed Sides with 167.  The special Don Taylor Award went to Brenda Fischer at Help-U-Sell Options Unlimited in Terre Haute, Indiana. In a smaller market with a lower average sale price Brenda, through some aggressive and very creative marketing has captured a BIG share of the market and shown us all there is more to parades than marching!
  • Maurine Grisso, back from almost two years of illness, delighted the group with her newly published book ‘Before You Sell Your Home.’ Available on Amazon.com and Kindle, it will be on SPECIAL for one day, October 22, for the ridiculous price of $.99.  Mark your calender, buy the book and then give Maurine a favorable review on Amazon.

If there was a theme about this meeting is was that marketing – particularly core marketing to your geographical target market – is supremely important today and that no group deserves more attention than our CIs.  Systems to get those two things done automatically (and others) are key to growth.

Having missed last year’s Summit, I have to tell you I spent many months hungry for the kind of interaction that only comes when Help-U-Sell brokers from across the country come together to share and learn.  I am delighted that I could attend and if I ever miss another – I’ll probably be dead!

Identity Crisis

(April, 2013 is turning out to be the biggest month we’ve ever had at The Set Fee Blog. With 7 full days left in the month, we have already had more visitors than in any month since our inception – which was September 2010. I think it’s mostly people getting ready for the BIG DEBATE coming up in a couple of days. Along that line, Good Luck, Dan! I know you’ll be great.)

I’ve been chatting with Michael Del Rosario, a real estate broker in Cerritos, CA, about a new agent directory website he is building, Agents For Less. He’s allowing agents and brokers who offer some kind of financial incentive to buyers and sellers – whether commission discounts, flat fee, fee-for-service, limited service, etc. – to be listed in a searchable, consumer friendly database. We were talking about categories today and it was a little un-nerving. I realized we have a bit of an identity crisis in real estate, and it all revolves around ‘Full Service.’

Consumers intuitively know what ‘Full Service’ in real estate means:

  • Expertise/Consultation (preparation for sale, pricing, planning, staging)
  • Marketing (which might include MLS, Internet, Open Houses, advertising, signs, flyers, etc)
  • Representation/Negotiation (weighing offers, avoiding mistakes, anticipating next steps)
  • Transaction Processing/Problem Resolution (making sure everything is done properly, handling problems as they arise)

The problem is that almost everyone in the business – traditional percentage-based brokers, discount brokers, flat fee brokers, fee for service brokers and so on – claims to do all of those things!  The only brokers who might admit to NOT doing some of it would be self-described ‘Limited Service’ brokers or ‘MLS Only’ brokers.  With so many different kinds of brokers laying claim to  ‘Full Service,’ the term becomes meaningless . . . except that consumers don’t realize this.  In the muddled mess of real estate company marketing, they have come to believe that  ‘Full Service’ must also mean ‘Full Commission.’  >>> (and therefore, less than full commission means less than full service)<<<

Let that sink in for a moment.

Of course, nothing could be further from the truth.  If your less-than-full-commission offering is based on a better, more efficient business model that enables you to be profitable while charging people LESS . . . then the debate is not about the level of service, it’s about how much the consumer wants to pay to sell a house.   And here’s a news flash:  s/he wants to pay as little as possible to get the job done quickly, efficiently and effectively.

If you aren’t charging a full percentage-based commission, you have to go the extra mile to make consumers understand that you actually ARE Full Service.  It’s a nagging bit of marketing that has to be undertaken if you are going to do anything different with your fee structure than what your ordinary competitors are doing.

At the same time, ‘Full Service’ will become the imaginary club your competitors will wield to beat you in the marketplace.  They will insist that you don’t provide ‘Full Service’ because you charge less . . . which taps into the consumers’ sub-conscious belief that ‘Full Service’ and ‘Full Commission’ are somehow intrinsically tied to one another.   When Suzy Sixpence from Acme Realty says, ‘Help-U-Sell?  Oh, they’re not Full Service . . . I know they’ll say they are, but they really don’t do anything for their sellers except put the sign in the yard.  Sometimes they won’t even put you in the MLS – and of course, without that, you’re not even on the market!  We all know you get what you pay for, and that’s really true when it comes to Help-U-Sell and the other discounters,’ . . . when she says that, she sometimes gets a head nodding Amen from her audience. But they are not nodding because what she’s saying about Help-U-Sell is true. They are nodding because they know there is a difference between Nordstrom and Wallmart . . . and she successfully uses that knowledge to twist perception in the real estate arena.

John Powell created the Help-U-Sell Service Comparison chart for use in Listing Consultations:Help-U-Sell Service Comparison Chart(Note: this is a generic version of the chart used only as an example in Help-U-Sell training. Don’t try to draw any conclusions from this example – it’s totally fictitious) John has used it effectively for years – in fact, it is the centerpiece of his Listing Consultation.  It graphically illustrates what his office does for sellers and compares it with what his four biggest competitors do.  And, of course, it shows that he does everything they do plus a lot more.  It neutralizes the ‘less than Full Service’ bomb quite effectively.  Trouble is:  you have to get face to face with a seller before you can use it – and if Suzy Sixpence has gotten to them first . . . .well, you may not get the opportunity.

Getting the opportunity is a function of marketing.  We spend major marketing resources getting information about what we do for sellers for a set fee out into the marketplace.  It usually takes a lot of mailbox marketing to install the message and, increasingly, a lot of SEO and Internet marketing.  Your marketing is successful when a consumer, sitting across from Suzy and hearing her spout her nonsense, experiences the natural discomfort that occurs when the crap-meter goes off!  When that happens, Suzy just looks . . . slimy.

Consumers:  when you talk to real estate brokers about level of service and fee structure, use the four bullets above to evaluate what they say.  If they don’t do something, ask why.  (There may be a good reason, i.e. newspaper advertising.  In many markets it does not produce results – defined as leads – and therefore is wasteful and ineffective.)  If the fee seems lower than what others are charging, ask how they are able to do that and still be profitable.  And ask what, if anything, you are giving up for the lower fee.

OR:  just put this all aside.  Remember that the shortest distance between point A and point B is a straight line . . . and call Help-U-Sell.  You’ll get ‘Full Service.’  You really will.  And you’ll pay much less because Help-U-Sell is a different, more efficient business model.  We can charge less and still make more because we don’t run our offices like . . . well, like Suzy runs hers.

**PS: Help-U-Sell Brokers, why not get listed on www.agentsforless.com?  It’s free and is just one more way consumers may be able to find you . . . and getting found is half the battle.

 

Top Producers at the Help-U-Sell Success Summit

Four of our top five Brokers were in attendance at the Summit, Nov 14-16 in Anaheim this year.  I asked Jack Bailey to facilitate a panel discussion around what they’re doing to grow their businesses in this market.  Here are:

  • Patrick Wood – Help-U-Sell Prestige Properties – Chino Hills, CA
  • Richard Cricchio – Help-U-Sell Honolulu Properties – Honolulu, HI
  • Karen Detwiler – Help-U-Sell Detwiler Realty – Carlisle, PA
  • John Powell – Help-U-Sell Galleria Realty – Tucson, AZ

Because of time limitations on YouTube, there are four videos here, ranging in length from 12 – 14 minutes.  Sound improves about half way through the first segment, when we miked the group.

Part 1

Part 2

Part 3

Part 4