This month, we’re celebrating our 5000th student at Horkey HandBook, and this is a great time to reflect how things have changed since the launch of the first 30 Days or Less course.
When Gina first launched the website and the online biz, about five years ago, having to explain what a virtual assistant does was a daily occurrence.
Oh, how things have changed!
We’re now at a point where more and more entrepreneurs are looking to work with support professionals and virtual assistants to save time, money, energy, and stay ahead of the competition. And we’re not just talking about online entrepreneurs here.
Take realtors, as just one example of brick-and-mortar businesses that can benefit from having a VA on board. In today’s guest post, Dave Lawrence, the head of sales and marketing at Follow Up Boss (a platform that caters to realtors) tells us how working with a specialized virtual assistant can be a revenue booster for real estate agents.
Take it away, Dave!
According to a Workfront survey, most people spend less than 45% of their workweek on their core job activities.
Where does the rest of the time go?
Well, according to the survey, 14% of their time is spent on email and a whopping 40% is spent on meetings (read: interruptions) and other administrative tasks.
Let’s pause to think about that for a minute.
If you work 40 hours per week, you likely waste 16 of those hours on low-impact tasks that don’t move the needle on your business. Just think of all the appointments you could book if you had those extra 16+ hours per week!
And the truth is that most realtors work way more than 40 hours per week.
That’s where a real estate VA can help.
A real estate VA can be the firm right-hand of any high-performing real estate business, handling all your business systems and the admin heavy-lifting, so that you can spend more time connecting with and converting more leads.
And yeah, we know what you’re thinking: Isn’t a VA just some digital errand-runner?
Not if you use them right. In fact, when Minnesota-based Realtor Dan Frank realized he “literally couldn’t digest the amount of business” coming in, he hired a VA to help take his commissions to the next level, without working extra hours.
So, how can you use a VA to grow your real estate business?
Let us count the ways!
What does a real estate virtual assistant do?
First, let’s make one thing clear:
Virtual assistants (VAs) and Inside Sales Agents (ISAs, experts at lead response) are NOT the same thing.
A real estate VA does a lot more than just lead response. They can handle anything from marketing, operations and even sales. And according to most successful agents, they should be the very first hire for your real estate business.
And if you’re reading this, you’re probably dying for some help right about now. Be careful not to rush into it. While a VA can definitely take a ton of tasks off your plate (more on that in a minute), it’s best to slowly transition them into your business so they can help you build your systems as you grow.
Once you’ve seen a firm uptick in transactions, then you can get creative and start using your VA to their full potential.
Here are just some of the ways a rockstar VA can help you skyrocket your revenue.
1. Offload the boring admin tasks
No salesperson likes spending time on paperwork when they could be closing deals instead.
Fortunately, VAs are well-versed in business administration and can easily lighten that load.
Here are some common areas you can delegate:
- Calendar management (think: scheduling and coordinating meetings)
- Consistently responding to emails and other messages on social media
- Personal admin tasks (holiday cards, organizing family events, etc.)
- Any and all other red tape
Depending on how you’ve set up your business, your admin requirements will vary—and if you have no idea where to start, don’t worry.
Your VA can help streamline your workflows so you know which tasks to offload first.
Pro tip: With every task you hand over to your new VA, ask them to help you create a standard operating procedure (SOP) for your business. Together, you can build your entire business system as you go.
2. Stop getting buried in transaction management
Speaking of boring admin tasks, let’s talk about the massive amount of time agents can win back by offloading the transaction management process to a super-savvy VA.
Here are just a few tasks a VA can take over for you:
- Input listings into the MLS, including all applicable attachments and photos.
- Handle your sales from ratified contract to verifying the closing disclosure.
- Hold all parties to a timeline.
- Keep you compliant all the way through.
- Set up an automated workflow for all of the above.
Rainmakers like Barry Jenkins, team leader of the #2 Better Homes and Gardens Real Estate Team in the US for 2018 have saved over 15 hours per week by working with a VA to automate the “science side” of the business.
And guess what? Barry doubled his transactions in the process.
Pro tip: Use Zapier as your “digital duct tape” to connect your transaction management systems to your CRM and make the entire process 100 percent seamless and trackable.
3. Win with marketing
Real estate marketing gets more sophisticated by the minute and it can feel impossible to keep up with.
In the words of real estate VA, Diane Sweeney, “[Agents] need to be connecting with clients, showing houses and selling them, not hanging out on Facebook scheduling posts or creating ads.”
Depending on the size of your business, a VA might not be able to replace your entire marketing team, but they can definitely make things easier by taking on some of your most important marketing tasks.
Here are some things to think about when hiring a marketing-savvy VA:
- 50% of real-estate buyers find the home they purchase on the internet. A VA can promote your listings on social media and build a presence in areas where potential buyers are hanging out.
- Real estate blogs that publish 20+ posts a month bring in 5x more traffic (read: way more leads) than a blog that doesn’t.
- Some VAs have a knack for graphic design which can save you hundreds or even thousands on hiring a designer.
Pro tip: Consistency is the name of the game in real estate marketing so ask your VA to structure their agenda so that they’re spending at least a little time each day keeping your marketing channels fresh and up-to-date. Using systems and templates (here are some great examples) in your marketing efforts can help keep your entire team on the same page.
4. Make your listings memorable
Bottom line: You need your listings to shine.
Here’s how your VA can help you create unforgettable listings:
- Help you find, hire and manage a great real estate photographer.
- Make sure every home is well-staged and camera-ready.
- Upload all listings to the most relevant sites.
- Update listings with the latest data.
- Create a listings checklist to make the entire process faster for everyone.
Pro tip: Make sure your VA knows the best listing sites to use and the important nuances of each. For example, some third-party listing sites can take approximately 72 hours to sync MLS data, which can be a major source of confusion for customers. A smart VA can plan updates accordingly and be ready with a professional reply for any incoming inquiries.
5. Provide stellar sales support
The internet is growing at a rate of one million new users each day.
And the competition is fierce. The agents who win will be those that go above and beyond to create a genuine connection with leads and customers.
Here’s how an awesome VA can help:
- Although 86% of consumers read online reviews, only 32% of real-estate websites have testimonials. A VA can handle tedious review collection and build solid social proof that will give you an edge over your competitors.
- If you’ve been in business long enough, you probably have a growing database and client network. A good VA can work with your CRM system to help you manage (and maximize) your leads.
- Your VA can help you create your business systems by organizing the right training, scripts and processes to make it easier for everyone on the team (even new agents) to follow a high-conversion sales process.
Pro tip: Ask your VA to set up prompts in your CRM that can help walk new team members through your sales process. In Follow Up Boss, you can customize an Action Plan to alert your agents to the next step when following up with a lead.
Delegate, but be smart about it.
A good VA can be a true catalyst for your real estate business.
The only catch? You’ve got to do it right.
Once you start winning back your time, it can be tempting to over-delegate. Be careful not to delegate high-priority tasks like meeting clients or signing contracts. The goal is to eliminate the things that aren’t worth your time, so you can spend your energy growing your business.
And remember, it will take time (and experience) to fine-tune a system that works for you. But with the right tools and support, VAs can be the best-kept secret for any top producer.
Dave is the head of sales and marketing at Follow Up Boss, responsible for helping real estate teams to achieve growth within their business. He regularly connects with leaders in the industry to bring their experience and learnings to the doorstep of ambitious realtors worldwide.