It’s time to put in place a strategic communications system.
Real estate brokerages are filled with people-people—a group of leaders, staff, and agents who love connecting. That’s why you would think it’s a place where strong communicators would run rampant. Instead, almost all of the real estate brokerages I’ve come across struggle to communicate for a variety of reasons.
The first is the breakneck pace of the real estate environment. There’s so much going on—so many deals, offices, and agents—that having a strategic communications system is challenging to set and maintain.
The second reason is the entrepreneurial nature of the industry. Each office tends to have its own culture and each manager his/her style. Most leaders are fearful that any effort to infringe on a manager’s work would hinder their spirit. The third is the agent-led system. While most leaders would love to have their agents tethered to the company, the reality is that most would rather have them selling and producing.
THE TIME IS NOW
If we believe challenges are to be met and overcome, I believe it’s time for brokerages to adopt better systems of communications. I can’t tell you how many broker-owners I’ve spoken to who feel they’re continually showcasing and defending what they offer. They’ll say, “We have X, and we have Y, but the agents don’t come to our meetings and don’t pay attention.” The agents have left the barn. The more they disconnect, the harder it is to share what you offer.
Unfortunately, this has led many to have fewer sales meetings hoping that the exclusivity of these events will be a draw. I’ve seen that many have drastically cut back on emails and newsletters.
The problem is not how often you’re trying to communicate, it’s what you’re sharing that has gone astray.
When communicating, no matter if you do it through emails, texts, newsletters, video or meetings, you have to understand the audience and what they want and need to hear. They come first. Once you hook them, then you can weave in your messaging in a way that will engage them. Of course, you also need to understand the underlying themes you want to get across.
Here are some ideas that may help you better communicate with your teams:
1. Your intranet site is not a communications vehicle. It’s a holding cell. You still have to get them there.
2. Newsletters work. You should have a healthy mix between what the agents want to see and what you want to tell them. As a simple example, if your agents love celebrating birthdays, include a list of birthdays for that week. Write concise, scannable chunks of copy along with bold graphics so that agents can read it on the go. I’m a fan of the weekly newsletter rather than a monthly dump of information.
3. Emails work as long as you’re not overusing them. Only major items should be shared in a company-wide email. Consider a targeted approach where agents interested in a specific topic get those appropriate messages.
4. Facebook groups work. Your firm should have a closed Facebook group where you can communicate, share, congratulate, etc. The group also allows for an environment where agents see energy, learn and engage. Keep it updated with only current agents and staff, and never allow it to become a listings bazaar.
5. Sales meetings work. You must have them. And the broker-owner should be scripting them with the manager’s input. Every office—and every agent—should hear the same thing. The meetings should ooze company culture, energy, and vibrancy with time set aside for hardcore real estate along with traditional pieces that agents love (i.e., new listings).
6. Managers must be in the know.
As leaders, we want to equip managers to tell the company story. If they’re not on the same page and have trouble articulating the firm’s value, that has to be fixed immediately. Then, get buy-in on the importance of consistency and the tools that the company will use to share the message.
What challenges do you have communicating?
David Siroty has spent 30-plus years in marketing and communications, the last 15 in real estate. He launched Imagine Productions, a marketing and communications consultancy focused on assisting real estate brokerages, in December 2016 after 13 years leading global communications for Coldwell Banker. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.