21 Low-Budget Ways to Keep the Revenue Flowing During a Recession
Think 2007 was bad? For some burnt-out and near-broke real estate agents, it’s hard to imagine things getting any worse. But who knows what’s in store for the rest of 2008.
And, even if the economy hasn’t hit rock bottom in your part of the country, it has slowed down significantly in many states.
Worse, it doesn’t take a recession or even a soft economy to create problems for your business.
Every business has ups and downs. Even if things are going great for you right now, you need to develop revenue-generating strategies that succeed when times are tough.
See, recessions are the economy’s little reminder that your marketing needs to be more efficient. You and lots of your friends are being asked to produce more sales with less resources.
(And if you’re reading this post, that might sound familiar to you.)
Many real estate agents fear a flat market. The reason? If the economy is poor, clients will stop spending, and buy only from discount agents.
All of this is true. But only to a degree.
Of course, an economic slowdown can be a problem for your business. Or, it can be an opportunity to gain new clients and boost your sales…if you know and have mastered the marketing and sales methods that work best in times of downturn.
1. Make your ads pay. Starting today, eliminate your old “image” campaign and replace it with one that’s designed to produce bottom-line results. Every ad must communicate benefits and make a strong call to action that produces a measurable response.
2. Track the results of your marketing efforts. Place response codes in all your ads and lead-generation tools.
3. Take advantage of focus groups and surveys.
4. Stay abreast of the latest research and published articles to discover your target market’s current needs, desires and buying preferences. Put customer feedback forms on your Web site and take steps to make your online presence more interactive.
4. Increase your visibility. Associate with a charitable cause or community-based group for a special event. Take a high–profile position-rather than melting into the crowd. But be careful to avoid the appearance of giving for the purpose of self-aggrandizement.
5. Beef up your networking activities. Designate several days a month to get out and attend different groups. Assign goals for follow-up and regularly add contacts to your database.
6. Communicate frequently to your entire prospect database. I recommend about once every six weeks by direct mail, e-mail, fax, phone or in person. Do this and you’ll come out of this downturn with a strong and loyal customer base.
7. Intensify your media relations efforts. Targeting several media outlets with story ideas tailored specifically for your prospects. Identify specific journalists or editors to receive your information and find out if they prefer releases via fax, e-mail or standard mail. After sending your initial information, follow up with phone calls and a polished press kit.
8. Know your scripts. When change hits real estate, consumers look to the experts for guidance. That’s you, so do you homework.
9. Explain in layman’s terms what a buyer’s market is. How it differs from the seller’s market, why the market has shifted to a buyer’s market and what to expect in such a market. And don’t sugar coat this—tell your sellers exactly like it is and that they can expect picky buyers. They’ll thank you later and you’ll keep your reputation intact.
10. Know your numbers. What are the listing prices versus the selling prices in your market area? What’s the average selling price? Is that up or down from the same period last year? What are the days on the market? What is the current supply of homes on the market? This will lead to a price that fits the current market.
11. Categorize your leads. “A” leads are ready to buy or sell now. “B” leads plan to buy or sell in the next month or two. And “C” leads might buy or sell in the next three to six months. It’s easy to salivate over the “A” leads, especially in a slower market. But stay in touch with the “B”s and “C”s—they’re your future business.
12. Share selling tips. Share real estate best practices with buyers. Consider providing a home staging guide or offer to list the home.
13. Offer a higher commission. Give 4 percent commission instead of the standard 3 percent to the buying agent. Lure them in. This really works.
14. Promote your successes. Because the high number of foreclosures has made prospective buyers nervous, let everyone know if any of your communities have zero or very few foreclosures.
15. Offer credit advice. Consider partnering with a credit improvement service that can help customers correct false information and resolve credit problems that are preventing them from getting the best loan.
16. Maximize referral marketing. Your delighted customers are your best sales tool. Sponsor weekly events and activities that bring prospects and loyal customers together so that potential buyers can hear first-hand what a great builder you are.
18. Stage your listing properly. Recommend home improvement projects carefully to your sellers because returns on these improvements are relative. They’re less likely to recoup top dollar on a new master suite or third full bathroom if they’re the only one on their block doing it. They should improve the home relative to other homes nearby. And also consider using a free product like Showing Feedback to help you get easy price reductions and much needed improvements.
19. Combat the media. There are a lot of good reasons to buy a home today: interest rates are still low, housing prices are falling, home builders are offering sizable cash credits and incentives, and a surplus of new homes means that there are a lot of choices for buyers. Share this information.
20. Revamp your lending. Consider working with brokers who are better equipped to shop around for the best deals. Opt for a variety of partners who are willing to hustle for your home buyers’ best interests.
21. Achieve customer loyalty. The businesses that are holding their own during these tough times have a pipeline of happy customers making referrals. By maximizing referrals, some builders have been able to keep sales steady instead of declining. If you don’t have many sales coming from referrals, you have much lower chances of survival.
Main point: keep your feet moving. Don’t stop.
Yes, change can be tough. But if you stay focused, concentrate on the basics and stay informed on the market, you can weather the shift and continue to make money.
Leave a comment if this post was helpful or if you have anything you’d like to add. And if you like what you read, subscribe to the real estate marketing blog.