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Ray White’s Amber and LJ Hooker Compete with Purple & Jim’s Real Estate Play

Woodrising a sign for Toronto Ray White Amber Agent

Real estate agents are seeing purple!

Woodrising a sign for Toronto Ray White Amber AgentTHE REAL ESTATE INDUSTRY IS undergoing substantial disruption. Only the real estate agents and agencies that decide to innovate will make it out the other side.

A big part of that means letting go of the traditional model and embracing a new, transparent real estate sales model, but many agents are still reluctant to change.

And that’s a mistake.

Disruption to the real estate industry coming from many sources

Although much of the disruption is coming from technology companies, such as REA Group and Domain Group in Australia, as well as the tech giants Facebook and Google, other established players, recognising that the timing is right, are entering the fray too.

Together, these businesses are changing the way real estate in this country and across the world is bought, sold and rented. If real estate agents aren’t proactive about this change, they’ll end up being reactive. And they’ll miss out.

One of the Case Studies in our Digital & Social Media Marketing Courses centres upon a McGrath agent based in Sydney’s Cammeray. This agent, Derek, comes to realise his own personal brand is as powerful with local residents as the McGrath brand because he is a hard-working agent and his vendors love him.

Via the virion Digital Agency we were able to help Derek create a website and social media campaign to further hone and build his brand as a property expert.

Jim’s to cut agents’ grass

Jim Penman's Jims Group getting into low cost low commission real estate agency model - tradies might pass on vendor sales leads - AFRTake Jim’s Group, the franchise group known for mowing lawns and fixing broken antennas. Last week, they announced their intention to enter the real estate fray with a new, low-cost service for both agents and homeowners.

The division, which is being headed up by a Jim’s Group veteran and the former sales director of low-cost real estate service Hello Real Estate, will charge agents a flat $1,800 a month franchise fee.

Homeowners will also be able to suggest how much commission they’d like to pay the agent to sell their home. (It’s understood there’ll be a threshold for how low commissions will actually go.)

Jim’s agents will work remotely from their home offices — or their cars — as most Jim’s franchisees currently do, and they’ll have substantially lower overheads so they can provide the same service to homeowners as a traditional real estate agent, only for less.

As an existing and trusted franchise group in Australia, they won’t have to overcome the same barriers like name recognition and trust that new entrants to the market — your Purplebricks, say — did. (Of course, the Purplebricks service is also quantifiably different to the proposed Jim’s service.)

Agents who don’t think Jim’s will make a serious dent in the industry may be right. But that misses the point; the franchise model is about giving business owners a cushion between them and flying solo. Plenty of people work in franchises — real estate is the most franchised industry in this country — but not all of them do. There’s plenty of room for independent agents to take this idea and operate their own agency the same way — and keep their $1,800 franchise fee while they’re at it!

Proptech sector friend or foe?

That brings us to the biggest source of disruption in the real estate industry: the proptech sector. In Australia, agents need to be cautious of

  • REA Group,
  • Domain Group,
  • Purplebricks,
  • BuyMyPlace,
  • Facebook and
  • Google.

But they also need to be wary of any new entrant that puts an “Uber” spin on the sector. (Domain recently opened up its developer APIs to encourage tech startups to use their data to create disruptive new services.)

At the moment REA Group and Domain are focussed on moving closer to the transaction, but they’re also heavily investing in tech to ward off any disruption from tech titans Facebook and Google, which they consider the biggest threat to the real estate industry in this country, and the world. (eBay-owned Gumtree also shouldn’t be excluded from this conversation.)

Would you advertise with a competitor?

Mortgages

Both real estate groups have acquired (or launched through partnerships) their own mortgage broking businesses — Domain’s Domain Loan Finder is a JV with online broker Lendi; REA Group acquired mortgage broker Smartline, and launched its own white label service in conjunction with NAB, called realestate.com.au Home Loans.

Trades & Everything Else!

They each also own stakes in tradie sites Oneflare (Domain) and hipages (REA), connection services Compare & Connect (Domain) and Beevo (Domain), property data and mapping firm PriceFinder (Domain), real estate CRM MyDesktop (Domain) [read more about the best real estate agent CRM’s], and property inspection app Homepass (Domain); Domain will also launch insurance comparison service Domain Insure and real estate agent training and education program Domain Academy.

And REA Group is busy building robots and virtual assistants, which can respond to customer enquiry — requests for Section 32 documents, schedule inspections, and so on.

Neither Domain nor REA are likely to bite the hands that feed them by introducing a real estate agency service or cutting agents out of the picture entirely — this year, REA Group posted revenue of $633.5 million from its Australian operations, of which $538.2 million was derived from agents advertising on its site.

Agents need to innovate NOW

But by owning the real estate “ecosystem”, they make the role of the real estate agent much less vital — and ripe for a new service to come in (like a Jim’s Real Estate) and say, “hey we can do it better.” Before long, that’ll become the “traditional” real estate model, just as the classified websites that usurped newspaper classifieds are now considered the “traditional” model of buying and selling stuff online.

To stay ahead of disruption, agents need to educate themselves. Continuing professional development (CPD) is a mandatory part of staying licensed in every state or territory. Provided agents undertake recognised training and keep their CPD points up, they can study anything relevant to the business of real estate.

Digital marketing is a fundamental part of real estate. Agents who understand how to market themselves online to get new business and demonstrate transparency about how the process works will stay ahead of the curve. Derek Farmer used educational videos and blog posts to explain the buying and selling process, and share market news and analysis.

This makes a sales agent an indispensable source of knowledge and a trusted advisor to buyers and sellers throughout the process, which can’t be replicated by a robot, virtual assistant or app. Virion also helps agents create a digital market strategy for their business, and to fill up their website or social media pages with content that provides information to buyers and sellers they’re currently getting from … Domain and realestate.com.au!

Agents should create their own property ecosystem

Domain and REA are doing their darndest to keep people on their sites for longer. They’re sewing up the entire property buying and selling process with complementary services (insurances, connections, mortgages) and they’re pushing more and more into content (videos, journalism, content marketing); Domain is particularly innovative in the content space, thanks to its Fairfax roots.

As a result, buyers and sellers are coming to agents forearmed, and again, the role of the agent is diminished. But agents can stay in home buyers and sellers minds by creating their own property ecosystem: start a website, fill it with good quality content, use a CRM to manage your lists of buyers, sellers, tradespeople — who have become one of the most important players in the sales process — and pump messages out your database regularly.

Finally, look at introducing a different fee or commissions structure for certain types of property or across the board. This is where the industry is heading and fighting it will only leave you in the same position the newspaper industry was in with the advent of online classifieds; cable TV providers with the rise of VOD services; music labels with streaming services, and so on.

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Visit the EzyLearn website to learn more about our continuing professional development (CPD) training courses. To create your own property ecosystem with a digital marketing strategy and content, visit Virion’s website for more information.


 

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What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Facebook Advertising

Facebook – Great for Local Marketing

using facebook for bookkeeping marketing
Facebook can be extremely useful for marketing to a local audience.

In its decade of existence, Facebook has built up a wealth of data about its users, data that it likes to sell back to those who need it, in the form of targeted advertising. Facebook advertising, though similar in its approach, is very different to Google Adwords in what it delivers. Real estate agents discovered the value of Facebook advertising early, and have used a combination of images and videos to successfully deliver their marketing messages and sale pitches directly to their target market and in order to set their prices.

Be Local, Not Global

Real estate agents specialise in knowing their local area. It’s how they get listings and it’s how they find buyers for those listings. In a former post, when we talked about setting your prices, we suggested getting to know your market and who your customer are. As a contract bookkeeper, you can, in theory, work for any business, based anywhere in the world, but you should still specialise in your local area, the reasons for which are twofold:

  1. Fewer to compete with: This isn’t about being the biggest fish in the smallest pond. It’s about getting clients, and that’s what you want. If you’re based in Sydney, specialise in Sydney. Don’t try and compete with everyone in Australia, if you can just complete with Sydneysiders.
  2. Convenience: The truth is, lots of businesses still like to meet their contractors in person. If you’re happy to fly all over the country to earn your regular bookkeeping rate, then by all means. If you’d rather not, then look for clients that are nearby — in the same state, at least.

When you’re setting up your Facebook advertising campaign, instead of trying to target everyone interested in bookkeeping services in Australia, stick to your state or local area, depending on the size of the market for your services in your local area. Sure, this reduces the pool of potential people seeing your advertisement, but it also reduces the pool of potential competitors.

When Local is Appealing to Global Clients Too

And just a note on getting international clients: Try to land international clients who are looking for an Australian, because you have skills they need — you’re in the same country as their Australian clients, you understand Australian tax, and so forth. Remember also that Australian wages are higher than anywhere else in the world, so international businesses need to be willing to pay that because you provide a service or possess skills they can’t get elsewhere.

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Our EzyStartUp Course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning, plus much more. If you’re starting a bookkeeping business or you already have started on, enrol in our EzyStartUp course to ensure you’re not selling yourself short.

Facebook and social media online training courseAlternatively, learn all about marketing your business online with our Marketing, Advertising and Sales courses.

Our Facebook Marketing Course which not only teaches you how to set up a Facebook Page, but how to use Facebook for business, how to advertise on Facebook; it also features our own real life case study.

 

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What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Using Video and Images

Focusing on Education Rather than Sales

how bookkeepers can use videoTHE INTERNET HAS CHANGED the way businesses market their services to prospects, from a simple sales message to an educational one.

Real estate agents caught onto this shift in buyer trends early and started creating online content to cater to these buyers.

Visit the website of any real estate agent and you’ll find lots of images and videos educating potential buyers about their services, previous sales and the local area they represent.

Just like bookkeepers can learn from real estate agents how to set their prices and perfect their sales pitch, a bookkeeper should also take note of how real estate agents are using video and images online to develop and hones their digital marketing messages.

How Video and Images Help Attract New Business

  1. Identify yourself: As a contract bookkeeper, your identity is your brand. Create a website or LinkedIn profile (or both), and include a picture of yourself. If you’re operating a business, don’t hide behind your business name. Include pictures of your team, even if that’s just you at this stage.
  2. Educate with video: Show prospects that you know your stuff, by creating short videos explaining common issues businesses may have using MYOB, QuickBooks, Xero, etc. You may also create video tutorials that explain how you like clients to set up MYOB, Xero, QuickBooks etc.
  3. Capture the local scene: Establish yourself as a local business, by taking photos when you visit a local business (whether it’s a cafe, hardware store, or clothing shop) and put them on social media. Be sure to connect with those businesses on social too, so they can share with their customers. Do the same with your clients. It’s a good way to establish firm connections with the businesses you work with, and to update them on your other business projects.

 

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smiling woman learning how to run her own business
 

Using video and images to build your online presence should be part of your broader marketing strategy.

Our EzyStartUp Course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning, plus much more.

Alternatively, learn all about marketing your business online with our Marketing, Advertising and Sales courses.


 

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What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Sales Pitches

Never Fear: A “Sales” Pitch Can Really Just Be a Conversation

bookkeeping sales pitch
You actually don’t need to be ‘salesy’ at all; just find out how your services match another person’s needs.

After you’ve set the correct prices for your bookkeeping services, it’s time to perfect your sales pitch. It’s good to think about the way real estate agents sell a property to prospective buyers: Good sales agents don’t pitch to the buyer at all. Instead, they get to know the buyer and their needs. If that happens to suit the property they’re selling, they tell them so. If it doesn’t they tell them that too. Often, they’ll mention another listing they have that might better suit the buyer.

A successful sales pitch isn’t really a pitch at all. Remember that. It’s a conversation with a prospect to determine if their business needs and your services are a good match. If you set your prices correctly, by valuing your services strategically, then you should have only attracted prospects that fit a particular profile of your ideal customer.

The Three Elements of a Sales Pitch

Think of a sales pitch as possessing three key elements:

  1. Identify problems the prospect needs solved: The first step is to identify their business problems, so you can offer a solution. If a prospect identifies “poor cashflow” as a problem, ask them if they’re invoicing regularly, have set up clear payment terms, have implemented a credit management policy. From here, you should determine what services they’re in need of, and explain those to the prospect.
  2. Provide references: There’s no getting around this, unless you’re willing to work for free on a trial basis, something you should absolutely avoid. Real estate agents refer prospects to vendors they’ve represented previously, so you should do the same. If this is your first client offer to do some small task (daily reconciliations, say) as a one-off service, paid of course. Remember, a plumber or electrician doesn’t offer to work for free — they don’t even provide references. You don’t have to work for free, either. 
  3. Explain your process: Be clear about how you work straightaway. Most misunderstandings between businesses and freelancers or contractors occur because neither party agreed to a particular process in the beginning. If the business has contacted you, then you have the upper hand. Outline the procedure for getting work to you, payment terms, etc. If you contacted them first or responded to a job advertisement, you’ll need to work in with their processes, so be sure the opportunity is right for you before agreeing to it.

Don’t be a Commitment-Phobe in Business

closing the sale bookkeeping

Always remember to end the conversation by asking for a commitment. This is still a sales pitch, after all, so you need to make some business proposition that they agree to. You may propose to provide a small paid-task obligation free, to see how they like working with you, before they sign onto to a long term commitment; you may ask if you can contact them again in the future, if they don’t seem quite ready for your services right now (get their business details, add them to your marketing database).

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Understanding the value of your services and how to pitch them to clients is vital to your business’s success. Our EzyStartUp Course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning, plus much more. If you’re starting a bookkeeping business or you already have started on, enrol in our EzyStartUp Course to ensure you’re not selling yourself short.

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What Bookkeepers Can Learn From Real Estate Agents: Setting Prices

Don’t Reinvent the Wheel: Glean Relevant Info from the Property Industry

how much to charge as a bookkeeper
As a bookkeeper you can learn much from the humble, or not so humble, real estate agent!

As a bookkeeper, or someone thinking about becoming a bookkeeper, you may be surprised how much you can learn from real estate agents. For an example, take the way a real estate agent has to price a property for sale.

The key to selling a property quickly and efficiently, is setting the right price. A real estate agent who sets a price that’s too high for the market, isn’t doing her or his job properly. In such cases, the property will sit around for many weeks, or possibly even months, until the price is eventually reduced to one the market will bear, sometimes to well below market value. Real estate being what it is in this country, agents rarely undervalue their properties. When a buyer tells their friends they got a great deal on their new home, it’s usually due to the property being originally overvalued, rather than undervalued.

Most New Contractors Set their Prices Wrong

When business people, such as first-time or newly contracting bookkeepers, first start freelancing or contracting professional services to other businesses, very few know what their services are actually worth. Therefore they frequently overvalue or undervalue themselves. In the case of the former, they’ll discover pretty quickly that they’re overpriced (they don’t get any clients), but in the case of the latter, it may take a while longer to determine that they’ve undervalued themselves and their services.

The lesson bookkeepers can learn from real estate agents — good ones, at least — is to never do either. Here’s how you should value your booking services, to set the right price, just like a real estate agent would.

Value Your Services Like a Real Estate Agent

Know Your Market:

We cover this in our EzyStartUp Course; and it’s important to note that knowing your market isn’t simply confined to the start-up period. Continue to look at the market throughout the life of your business, because times change and you need to move with them. When we first put our training content online, we were one of the first training companies to do it; now you can do a whole university degree online!

Value Your Services Strategically:

Have you ever seen a real estate agent market a property as being identical to another one, even if it’s right next door? As a bookkeeper, you’re already competing in a crowded space, so always establish a point of difference between you and your nearest competitor(s) — a niche industry, a particular way of doing business. Whatever it is, find it, and capitalise on it.

Don’t Try and Be All Things to All People:

Know where to find your customers. Real estate agents know where their buyers come from and precisely what they’re looking for, then they market directly to them. You should do the same. Think about your local market, your services, and the type of customer who’d be looking for a business like yours. Then market to them and them only. Don’t waste marketing money trying to be all things to everyone.

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Valuing your services correctly, and setting the right prices, is vital to the success of your business. Our EzyStartUp course covers researching the market, setting prices, and an introduction to marketing and business planning. If you’re starting a bookkeeping business or you already have started on, enrol in our EzyStartUp course to ensure you’re not selling yourself short.

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CPD points are available for our MYOB, Xero and Microsoft Excel courses

Earn CPD points to maintain your certification

Continuing professional development and education for registered and certified bookkeepers and BAS agentsIT’S THAT TIME OF THE YEAR again and many students are asking us if they can use our courses towards their annual CPD point requirements — the answer is yes and you can see how many points at the links below.

When stricter requirements were introduced by the Tax Practitioners Board (TPB) for anyone responsible for signing off the financials that are lodged at BAS time, the bookkeeping industry started to go through the type of regulation that has been in place for financial advisers and accountants for many years already — to continuously maintain their education regarding their industry.

How CPD points are calculated

I originally thought there was a universal method of calculating CPD points, but very soon after exploring how our online courses can help students with their CPD, I realised that the world of continuing professional education is varied. The best explanation I could find was actually from a 2008 document relating to the changing requirements for licenced real estate agents. You can get a copy of it from our “Selling Your Property Guide” Page.

That real estate industry document takes you through the method of calculating how to earn 1 CPD point, 2 CPD points or 3 CPD points and it’s centred around the type of training institution you use for your education. Government events or university courses earn the highest points while ordinary courses earn the lower points — there’s also a significant different in the price of these events 🙂

1 hour equals 1 CPD point

The most common method of calculating the amount of CPD points you’ll earn for an education activity is based on the time you spend learning. A 1 hour webinar will earn 1 CPD point while a one day course may earn you 8 CPD points, so we provide estimates of the time to complete our online courses based on how long they use to take in a classroom environment and you can learn about them at our CPD page.

The other interesting thing I learnt was that as long as you can justify that the learning you participated in applies to your industry, you’ll be able to put it on your CPD record form and present it to your industry association to confirm and apply to your CPD register.

 

Continuing professional development CPD record form for accountants and bookkeepers from Chartered Accountants Australia

Tax Practitioners Board makes the rules for bookkeepers

The TPB as they are fondly know as sets the rules and manage their compliance through Recognised Professional Associations. If you go to their association website you’ll find that there are a number of associations you can join to make certain you are compliant with the TPB requirements.

These are some other interesting links you should probably know about if you’ve reached this far in the blog and are still interested!

  1. If you are a professional bookkeeper you are required to know about the Tax Agent Services Act 2009 including the Code of Professional Conduct.
  2. A maximum of 25% of your CPD points can be earned from professional reading and here are their other guidelines on what is acceptable for CPD — they refer to it as CPE (for Education)
  3. This is how the TPB expect you to keep your records for CPE attendance.
  4. TPB’s main landing page for Continuing Professional Education.

What about Accountants?

Chartered Accountants also have their CPD requirements and you’ll want to check their CPE pages out:

Chartered Accountants Australia CPD Requirements

Association of Taxation and Management Accountants

CPA Australia CPD requirements

IPA Institute of Public Accountants CPE requirements

ICB in the UK!

 

CPD Continuing Professional Development and Education applied to bookkeepers and real estate agentsReal estate agents must complete CPD training courses to be compliant

I recently wrote about the similarities between bookkeepers and real estate agents and in doing some research our team came up with the CPD requirements for real estate agents and you can see that, along with a Certificate IV level qualification both professions need to maintain their continual education and keep evidence of it!

CPD Requirements for Real Estate Agents in NSW

Most real estate agents in Australia are sales agents and they must comply with the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act. The regulations for property ownership are different in each state and because sales agents receive deposits in their trust accounts and have a fiduciary responsibility to the people they act as an agent for, they must maintain professional standards just like accountants. Because real estate agents can misappropriate their clients deposits it is important that they maintain a good professional standing and be a person of good character.

Ongoing lifelong education is an important part of that process because it ensures that agents are familiar with the rules and regulations as they change over time but training is important for lots of reasons and one of them is to help real estate agents be better at what they do – even with their digital marketing.

 

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EzyLearn Online Course CPD points for bookkeepers and marketing professionalsWe can help with your Accountant, Bookkeeper & Real Estate Agent CPD Points

EzyLearn has helped Accountants & Bookkeepers learn about accounting software and spreadsheets and even marketing for their own businesses. We’ve also helped Real Estate Agents stay ahead of their competitors with Google, Facebook and other Digital and Social Media Marketing Courses.

Check out the total hours to complete our CPD courses and include that in your records.


 

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Announcement: Learn about every person who touches your property before it sells

I’ve created some education guides for real estate agents

Selling Your Property Information Guide 2 - Learn about every person who touches your property before it sellsIf you’ve read my recent blogs about the free WordPress training video for Youtube and real estate agents or Facebook Advertising for real estate agents you’d get the feeling I’ve been pretty submersed in the real estate industry! Well, you’re right and the good news is that if you’re a bookkeeper looking to start your own bookkeeping business this will help when I start sharing what I’ve learnt about the sales techniques used by real estate agents to sell property – it could help you sell your bookkeeping services.

For now I just want to share with you the news about our latest education guide on selling your property – it’s yours for free and has all the steps in the real estate sales process from the sales contract to settlement.

About the Selling Your Property Education Guide

Now, just to be clear we’ve done a LOT of research to come up with this guide because we make it available to the real estate agents that use our Digital Marketing services over at virion. Real estate agents can use this guide as a giveaway as part of their “Call-to-action and Lead Capture“. In creating this Education Guide we interviewed:

  • real estate agents,
  • property valuers
  • conveyancers,
  • property owners,
  • property stylists,
  • photographers,
  • video producers
  • auctioneers,
  • building and pest inspectors
  • tradies
  • online marketing experts, and more

Winter is the perfect time to plan your property sale

Spring is the season that is most often touted as the best time to sell your property. Property buyers start coming out of their homes after the chilly winter to go and inspect properties at open houses and most people want a sale to be made before Christmas. If you’re one of these people looking to sell then this guide will explain why you need to start preparing now. Here’s what we’ve included in this guide, our table of contents:

Selling Your Property Information Guide 2 - Learn about every person who touches your property before it sells - Table of Contents

If you are a real estate agent you can use this

Content marketing has been my marketing method of choice since 2008 after we spent a lot of money on Google Adwords and other advertising methods to try to attract students to our online training courses. I like content marketing because people (like you) get to know a bit more about us, you get to see the quality of our work and over time (after over 500 blog posts!) you get to see my commitment to EzyLearn and EzyLearn students. This is the type of commitment I believe real estate agents will need to make to stand out from the crowd and become more relevant in a digital age.

I’ve been fortunate to work with Derek Farmer (real estate agent in Sydney’s Lower North Shore) who understands the need for agents to change the way they come across. He spent tens of thousands of dollars to create a series of educational videos about each of the steps in the property selling process because he wants his vendors to understand each of the steps. He also realised that he was spending a lot of time explaining what goes on during the selling process and created the videos to share his experiences in these situations and inform vendors about how they can deal with their emotion and what decisions they can make when these situations arise.

If you’re a real estate agent and you want to re-brand our “Selling Your Property” Education guide please make contact with us via our Digital Agency (virion). Happy preparations!

Facebook Course  - 1 Creating a Facebook Page COVER PageComing Up… The Facebook Page Checklist

Facebook is one of the tools that real estate agents are jumping onto as quickly as they can and there’s a good reason for it demographic targeting – they can promote their brand to every person who lives within 2km of their office or “sales patch”. Bookkeepers or any other businesses can also use this targeting for their marketing and we’re putting the finishing touches on our Facebook Page Checklist AND our first Facebook for Business Course – Setting Up Your Facebook Page.

We’ll be giving away the Checklist for free so make sure you subscribe to receive it via email.