RISMedia's Real Estate Magazine

MAY 2016

Real Estate magazine is the industry's leading source for real estate news and information since 1980. Published monthly by RISMedia, Real Estate magazine offers timely and relevant real estate news to the industry's top brokers and agents.

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66 May 2016 RISMedia's REAL ESTATE {Broker Best Practices} Technology Lays the Foundation for Customer Cultivation by Paige Tepping Charles Nitschke CMO Tomlinson Sotheby's International Realty Coeur d'Alene, Idaho Region served: Northern and Southern Idaho, Eastern and Central Washington Years in real estate: 18 Number of offces: 17 Number of agents: 800 You have one of the most interesting brokerages we have come across. From what we understand, your group owns a Sotheby's company, a Coldwell Banker and a Century 21 brokerage. How did this come about? It's been coming about for a while. The frst Tomlinson Real Estate offce was founded in 1938, and over the years, Bob Tomlinson (founder of The Tomlinson Group) has expanded the company by becoming part of the Coldwell Banker brand, partnering with Jeff Bond to open the region's frst Sotheby's International Realty offce, merging with the region's dominant Cen- tury 21 group, and most recently rolling up all of our partnered offces to become the 800-agent, 17-offce group we are today. From the begin- ning, it's been a progressive group of great brokers who found that it made sense to lever- age the horsepower you get when you become a larger company. How long has online marketing been part of your business plan, and how is it working for you? Online marketing has been part of my business plan since the beginning. We were one of the frst real estate groups to have an aggressive website, and this was back in 1999. In fact, the site was voted as one of the 10 best real estate websites by REALTOR® magazine. That being said, technology has always been at my core, and that's what ultimately attracted me to this group of people. The Tomlinson Group is mak- ing a huge investment in technology by having a real regional website and making technology available to its agents. This has been the cor- nerstone of everything we do. Where are the opportunities to get a beter return on online marketing? When it comes to online marketing, the biggest opportunity comes from measuring what we're doing. There's no shortage of companies that want to sell you leads, but in the end, the leads are all the same, which caused us to spend a lot of money in different directions. To measure where our leads were coming from so that we could determine how to best spend our money, we initially integrated Realogy's LeadRouter into the mix, a system we have since outgrown. We recently made the decision to invest in FiveStreet, a more modern tool that has gotten rid of all the pain points we experienced in the past. Many brokers have come to the realization that without both a quick response and a plan for cultivating customers to the point of closing, the odds of success are not good. Has this been your experience? This has absolutely been my experience, so we've made it a huge part of our ongoing train- ing. The frst step toward being able to respond quickly in order to cultivate customers is invest- ing in a lead routing tool that allows us to get leads to agents within 10 minutes, with a goal of grinding that down to fve. It's also impor- tant to remember that claiming a lead doesn't necessarily mean the agent has acted on it. As consumers continue to demand information and expect it to be delivered at a moment's notice, the frst person to get them the info they're look- ing for is the person they tend to work with. By using FiveStreet in conjunction with Top Produc- er, our agents can accept a lead and follow up instantaneously, which ultimately leads to better conversions. Are your agents on board when it comes to implementing technology solutions that ensure follow-up? Just because a solution is recommended at the broker level, there's no guarantee that agents will endorse the plan. However, with Top Pro- ducer and FiveStreet, the agents were the ones demanding that we make the products available to them. This is the frst time we have had an overwhelming response to using new technology.

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