Focus on Growth – Introduction to Business Development
Not all clients are equal.
Sure, every client deserves your best work, but it’s important to recognize that not all clients are of equal value to your business. It’s even more important to recognize the clients who are.
We know that real estate photographers and iGUIDE® professionals are busy and have very little time to spend with existing clients and also go out and win new ones. Which is why it makes sense to be strategic when developing your real estate photography business by focusing on building your valuable clients.
We’ll go through the process for identifying your most valuable potential clients and share tips for learning about your clients’ business and what they value in your services. We’ll look at strategies for retaining your high value clients, and lastly how to get more business from, and through, these valuable clients.
Let’s look at some important statistics that will be referred to throughout this series:
There are 1,360,000 registered realtors in the United States and the 2018 National Association of Realtors Member Profile provided an average number of listings per realtor.
|Realtors||% of Realtors||Total Value (Shoots)||% of Business|
|1 Listing||17%||17 (@1 ea.)||6%|
|2 to 5 Listings||25%||75 (@3 ea.)||28%|
|6 to 10 Listings||7%||49 (71 ea.)||19%|
|11+ Listings||6%||126 (@21 ea.)||47%|
17% of realtors only had one listing.
25% had between 2 and 5 listings.
7% had between 6 and 10 listings.
6% of realtors had more than 11 listings.
This means that 45% – over 610,000 realtors did not list a single home. Why is this important to know?
A professional real estate photography business is about listings. Without listings, you don’t get paid.
Your market is real estate and your client pool is made up of realtors, but two-thirds of your potential clients have very little or no value to your business because they don’t list enough homes to sustain your business. It’s important to your success that you begin to look at your pool of potential clients and decide how much effort you’re going to invest on winning their business by looking into their potential value to you.
Even more importantly, you want to focus on the small segment of your market, the 6% who represent the most significant opportunities for your business. These are the productive realtors who list more than 11 properties per year.
When we launched iGUIDE in our first local market, we had a goal to create a 1,000 iGUIDEs and laser-focused our sales and marketing efforts exclusively on a small group of potential clients who could get us to that goal. We had very little time to invest in sales and marketing, so we needed to be efficient. We developed a strategy for generating the most potential sales activity in the shortest amount of time
And, when we completed our first financial year in 2014, we broke down our number of iGUIDE sales per Realtor to analyse our strategy.
|Realtors||% of Realtors||Total Value (Shoots)||% of Business|
|1 Listing||41%||128 (@1 ea.0)||8%|
|2 to 5 Listings||42%||375 (@3 ea.)||24%|
|6 to 10 Listings||11%||255 (71 ea.)||17%|
|11+ Listings||7%||774 (@21 ea.)||51%|
The small group of potential clients we focused our efforts on, became the top 7% of our clients; and they gave us 774 iGUIDEs, close to our goal of 1,000. The other 93% of our clients gave an additional 758 iGUIDEs and contributed to nearly 50% of our total business for the year.
Why is this important for you to know?
We focused our sales and marketing efforts on winning the highly valuable top producing clients, yet look at the amount of additional business we gained. We nearly won all the business we wanted from our high value targets and half of our total business walked in the door with our targets. These other clients saw our work in the marketplace and wanted to do what the top producers were doing. We didn’t need to focus on them, they simply saw our incredible results and came on board.
Our success came from focusing on these valuable, high producing clients. The lessons we learned in our first market were applied in every new market we opened and are applied by many successful iGUIDE teams today.
As you watch the next videos in this series or read these articles, try to have your client information on hand, so you can work through identifying and understanding your most valuable clients.
As a valuable exercise for you, we’ve included a simple Google sheet on our Building Blocks webpage for you to download and work on.
Fill in their total dollar value for 2018 and the total number of jobs you did for them. If you shot drone, photos, and an iGUIDE for the same property, count that as a single job. Then, when you’ve entered all your clients, find out your value mix by grouping them into totals as indicated at the top of the worksheet.
What does your value mix look like? Is your business driven by the top performers or the smaller producing agents? If spending time on sales and marketing is a challenge, then your goal must be gaining more high performing clients and fewer small, occasional clients.
Now you can take this knowledge and apply it to your marketing and sales efforts to be more methodical and efficient with your time. But this is just the start. Stay tuned for future videos in our Focus on Growth series to continue to unlock the crucial strategies for growing your real estate photography business.
Focus on Growth – Blueprint Your Success
When you’re focused on growing your business, it’s essential to not only identify the strategies that lead to your success, but to be able to reliably reproduce them. Tune in for the newest video in our Building Blocks – Focus on Growth series that’s all about Blueprinting Success!
When we started off the Focus on Growth series, we looked at stats from the National Association of Realtors (N.A.R.) that broke down the average number of transactions per agent and asked these important questions:
- How much of your business is coming from that top 6%?
- How many of your clients used your services more than 11 times last year?
- How much your total business do these agents represent?
In order to maximize your potential growth, you need to focus your efforts on your most valuable group of agents.
By now, you should have a list that identifies your key clients. If not, you’ll want to watch the Introductory video of this series and catch up. Now it’s time to hone in on them to gain a greater understanding of their businesses and the value you bring, because:
- Understanding your clients, their business, their challenges, and their needs will make it much easier for you to sell to them, and to those just like them.
- Understanding your valuable clients will help you build a profile of your ideal client that you can apply to other top producers you are not yet working with.
- Understanding your valuable clients will help you improve your entire operations.
By doing this, you’ll learn how to make your business more efficient while improving your customer service. You’ll also be able to more accurately plan and forecast your sales.
So here’s a tip to start understanding your valuable clients: Success feels good and when we’re successful we like people to recognize it and we like to share it.
Look at our network of exceptional iGUIDE professionals. We have iGUIDE professionals who willingly share their experience and wisdom with other new iGUIDE Pro’s. Your most valuable clients are no different. They appreciate a sincere recognition of their success and, if graciously asked, should be more than willing to share some insights with you. Especially since these insights will help you to better serve them in the future.
This group is a vital artery for your business and we recommend you make time to spend with them. Start your understanding process by thanking them for their support last year and let them know how much they mean to your business. Ask them if they could find 30 minutes for you to come in and meet with them. Offer to bring coffees or treats for them and their team. (We are not above bribery!)
We like meeting at their office because it provides an opportunity to meet, thank, and talk with all the members of their staff. It’s important to have a relationship with the whole team.
For your first few meetings with your top clients, prepare a list of questions you would like to ask them and explain that since you appreciate how valuable their time is, you want to be efficient and not waste it. Ad lib if you are comfortable. If not, go with the list.
Here are some tips for structuring your questions:
- You want to get their thoughts on their business.
- Their thoughts on your business.
- How do they feel business went last year?
- What do they feel went better than expected?
- What do they feel did not go as well as expected?
- How do they think this year is going to be?
- What are their goals for this year?
- How do they plan on achieving these goals?
- What barriers are in the way of accomplishing these goals?
These questions are about gaining insights so try and get expanded thoughts, not one word or short answers.
- Why did they give your team that first try?
- What brought them back for the second time?
- What keeps them coming back to you?
- What did they think of you?
- When do they think of you during the transaction?
- Is it when they’re winning the listing?
- Is it when they start preparing the listing?
- Then how frequently do they use you?
- Do they use you on all their listings or only on the high end?
- If only certain properties, what’s preventing them from using you on more of their listings?
- What role do you fill in their business and are there any other roles they wish you could fill?
- Last if they could give you two suggestions for improving your business what would they be?
When you’re done, thank them for their time and again, thank them for their support. Let them know you enjoyed and appreciated their insights and would like to do it again in the future.
Important business etiquette tip: The next day, follow up again. Thank them and their team; letting them know that it was great to meet with them. This extra effort reinforces how much you value them and their willingness to make time for you in their schedules.
Investing time in getting to know your valuable clients is good for your business today and tomorrow. The insights you get from this process will have a profound impact on your business. Your new understanding will make it easier to work with other top producers, improve your operations, efficiency and customer service and ultimately, will help you forecast your sales based on their activity.
Did you miss the first video on our Focus on Growth Building Blocks series? That’s okay. Just follow this handy link to our Building Blocks videos to catch up. We’ve got more great tips and strategies coming, so be sure to check back for more soon!
Focus on Growth – Identifying and Targeting Top Producers
You know you need to focus on the Top Producers in your market, but how do you find and approach them?
This week’s Building Blocks – Focus on Growth video is all about how to use the information in Top Producer lists and reports to build a case study for approaching the Top Producers in your area. Read on to see how it’s done.
This is one of our favourite times of the year.
It’s the time that the research from last year comes out in a series of reports and posts like the:
We comb through these reports for the wealth of information they share about the real estate market. These lists are essential for providing valuable insights into home buyers, home sellers, and your clients – the agents.
The content in these reports can help you become an industry expert and a valuable resource for your clients, agents, teams, and brokerages.
Another reason we love this time of year is because all the Top Producer Lists come out. You know that it can be difficult to identify those highly valuable clients in your market. The ones who can make a big impact on your business through their large volume of transactions.
Just last week, we saw a post on Facebook from the awards presentation at the RE/MAX R4 conference in Las Vegas. They presented awards to all of their global Top Producers and published this list on social media and their awards banquet website.
This is a great opportunity to go through the list and identify if any of your current iGUIDE clients are noted on the list.
If they are, you will want to spend a couple minutes and send them some personal notes of congratulations.
In this way, you will also be able to collect testimonials that you can potentially use in your marketing on your site and social media. Testimonials and recognition from Top Producers are valuable because we know from experience that they influence the behaviour and activities of other agents.
Today, we’re going to give you some suggestions on how to use these lists to identify and target Top Producers in your market.
As an example, we’ll use Kate, a recognized top producer from Ontario, Canada. We found Kate listed on her franchise’s Facebook page this week. Kate was recognized as a top 1% realtor for the franchise nationwide. Kate is a public figure, a very successful realtor, and someone we would like to have as an iGUIDE client.
This is our process for preparing to approach Kate, and explaining the value iGUIDE can bring to her business.
Before we initiate contact with Kate, we do the necessary homework and try to get an understanding of her business.
Google search results will show her online footprint and what pages and tools are getting her the greatest ranking results. These results indicate how important online activity is to Kate’s business.
Read the “About” section first. This section gives insight into her business. Is she a single agent or does she have a team? Her biography highlights her business values, professional priorities, and strategies.
In Kate’s case, our research reveals that she has a team of other agents, which also means that she likely has a support team who handles their large volume of transactions. This information is important because we know Kate has a team who we will also need to educate and win over as much as Kate herself.
After looking at the About section, you should now turn the spotlight on their current listings and go through a number of them to see if their property marketing program is consistent.
Dig into their published listings and examine the media tools they are using to promote and market their properties, and how they are using them.
For example, we found that Kate is using virtual tours, but they are used through a multimedia, off-page link instead of embedding tours directly in her page.
It is obvious from Kate’s Google results that web marketing is important to her and we also know that embedding iGUIDE technology in her listing pages will help Kate tremendously.
We have our first value proposition.
Based on our professional experience, we know that Kate’s market requires that she enter room measurements and floor area calculations when creating a listing. Since we don’t see any floor plans, we will assume she is not creating them.
We’ll also assume that Kate’s current provider is not collecting this information for her; which we’ll verify when we research her provider.
These assumptions mean that she’s either using another provider for this information or a member of her team is spending time gathering this data. This process represents another added cost for Kate that iGUIDE could alleviate and now we have another iGUIDE value proposition.
We can give Kate floor plans, her room measurements, and floor area calculations, saving her time and money.
Through Kate’s multimedia virtual tour link, we then visit her provider’s website to see what other services they offer, their pricing, and unique value proposition.
We drill down to isolate the services Kate is ordering and look at what’s included and what she paid.
Now we compare this to our services, to build another element of our iGUIDE value proposition; all the tools we offer for a comparable cost.
With a few minutes of time invested; we have built a pretty good understanding of how we can add value to Kate and her real estate team.
We’ve now gathered enough information to intelligently discuss with Kate and her team, how iGUIDE can add unique value to her business. In our conversations we’ll be able to demonstrate our research and understanding of her business. We’ll be able to discuss her current property marketing program and demonstrate how we can do a better job for her and her team.
This effort is often what’s required to win the valuable Top Producer’s business and this is the time of year when all these top producers become known to us.
If you’re not taking advantage of this wonderful time of year to find out who your top producing clients and targets are, we emphatically encourage you to do so.
Keep an eye out for our next video in the Focus on Growth series and feel free to subscribe so you don’t miss it!
Focus on Growth – Creating Value
In order to grow your business you need to retain and expand with your current clients, while earning the business of new ones. Today we’re going to talk about understanding the value you bring your clients, but also figuring out how to expand on that and increase your opportunities by creating even more value.
Earlier in this series, we asked you to look at your sales last year and segment your clients by their activity with you.
We asked you to identify and highlight your most valuable clients.
Ask yourself a couple of questions:
- Can I be doing more business with these important clients?
- Are there more clients like them in my market, who I am not doing business with yet?
If you answered ‘Yes’ to either of these questions, you have untapped opportunities to grow your business. To unlock these opportunities, you need to know your value. If you know what your clients value in your company and your services, you can figure out how to unlock new value for them and create opportunities with new clients.
We read Inc.com magazine because it offers great articles that help build successful businesses. A recent article written by Karl Stark and Bill Stewart, Co-founders of Avondale Strategic Consulting, 5 Simple Steps for Unlocking Customer Value, provided some really useful tips that we’d like to expand on.
Have you taken my challenge to meet with some of your most valuable clients? That conversation will have given you hard data on what it is about your business that your clients value.
- Do they value the time you save them when preparing their listings?
- Do they value being able to share your work with their clients and homebuyers?
The questions you asked and the responses they offered should have given you insights into what they value about your business and how you could do to get more of theirs.
Your value proposition is equal to the benefits your clients receive from your services, less the cost they pay. You likely have competition who charge clients fees for photographs and virtual tour services, that are similar to yours.
As iGUIDE Professionals, you can deliver photographs, virtual tours, floor plans, room measurements, and floor area calculations for the same fee. You are able to offer clients incredible benefits for the same cost. This is a value proposition. Now start identifying more of them.
value than your competitors
How are you offering value that your competitors are not? When you look at growing your business through new clients, look at the ones who already value the services you provide.
They already see benefits from those tools because they are using your competition for those services. Because you offer those services along with the additional benefits of floor plans, room measurements, and floor area calculations for the same relative cost, you have a better value proposition and a strong probability of earning that business.
Satisfied clients won’t tell you that you are not charging enough, but unsatisfied clients sure will. And they tell you by either leaving you for a competitor or by not using you for every opportunity.
Value is equal to benefits less cost. Our first attempt at saving a client’s business or winning a new client’s business is to highlight our benefits or create additional benefits.
Failing those, we look at cost and for some clients, we may need to adjust our cost to create value.
The price you charge should be a win for your business and also a win for your clients.
To maximize the return on your time and efforts, your sales and marketing should be focused on clients who can bring your business the greatest value. Knowing the clients who bring you the greatest value will deliver the greatest return.
Following these five steps are a great way to build your business case and grow your business. They require you to determine your value, develop your value proposition, and look for the greatest opportunities to demonstrate value and grow your business. Now put it all together in a standout presentation.