How is the return on investment from your office rent?
Make it great! It was one of the best dollar-for-dollar marketing spends I made! Having an accessible and visible physical office location was one of my best methods of getting completely new customers. I see so many real estate offices that don’t take full advantage of the opportunity they have to attract new business… it kills me!
Your physical location is typically a long-term commitment so as I write this I acknowledge some of the recommendations I make won’t be possible for everyone to follow. Take a look at what you CAN do and consider your options going forward. If you are starting up your own brokerage or renting some space for your real estate team pay close attention!
The biggest mistake I see in real estate office creation is that so many are designed with two priorities:
- Minimize cost.
- Appeal to the ego of agents.
HUGE mistake. The number 1 priority OUGHT to be:
1) Maximize the Return on Investment of Office Fixed Costs
Get where the clients are!
For an industry that likes to trump “Location, Location, Location!” to clients it is shocking how many realtors completely ignore location when setting up shop. Get close to your clients. Be where they already are and you are automatically a step ahead of your competitors. Think how often you see a dominant team with crazy market share in a particular section of a city. They almost always have a highly visible and accessible office in a busy walking/shopping zone in that community. Lots of agents think “If I had as much business here as they do I would open an office too!” They are missing the point. The office HELPS them get that market share and keep it. It’s like planting a flag in the ground.
Make Your Office Welcoming!
Make the office easy to approach. For the general public real estate is intimidating and real estate agents are sleazy sales people they would really rather not have to talk to. (Sorry but it is true. Real estate agents and car salesman are similar in the minds of many.) When you see large brokerages with tinted windows and a stodgy brand sign on the building it just looks like “stay away” to a consumer. It is far better to look welcoming and maybe even a little dorky. Be approachable! Make it clear that walking in doesn’t have to be a commitment.
Depending on your climate, consider propping the doors open when you possible. Throw some bright colors on your exterior if you can within the bounds of property management rules. If nothing else, putting an a-frame outside with some balloons on it can go a long way to looking friendly, welcoming and open.
Take Advantage of Temporary Sign Locations for Your Office
Real estate agents are masters of putting out open house signs and famously determined to get yard signs in front of their listings. Be just as determined for your office. There are opportunities nearby your office for temporary signage. One of my offices was inside of a shopping center. We used to put an a-frame sign with our logo next to the main road with flags on it just to make sure anyone driving by knew we were there. We also had a rolling yard sign we affectionately referred to as “Big Bertha”. We would roll it out on the sidewalk going past our office to give us an eye-level bit of signage for cars going by. Permanent structure signs were not allowed but temporary unattached signs were good to go! Free exposure like that in a high traffic area is worth a lot and we took full advantage of it. You should too!
The Big Advantages of an Office Walk-In Prospect
- You get a chance to make a personal connection and impression. HUGE.
- Far more information is shared face-to-face that over the phone or initial email.
- Better than an open-house walk-in where buyers have seen lots of agents all day.
- Good chance of sellers walking in to gauge the market value of their home and the current sales climate.
- You catch these sellers at the perfect time. They probably started researching online but now want quality information in person. They aren’t quite ready to have hopeful agents showing up at their house for dreaded “listing presentations”. This is your window to save them the trouble!
Take the time to do what you can to optimize your office expense. You are already spending the money every month. Make the most of it! The only downside to how powerful my physical office was as a marketing tool was that I couldn’t ramp up the spend on it. Unlike other marketing channels you can’t really buy more location quickly and easily each month. Wishing you could invest more in a marketing channel is a good sign!
By the Way:
Do you do some pretty cool stuff with your office advertising? I’d love to see it! Send in some pictures! Want to know whose office is in the picture?