In the course of my career, I've been lucky to meet or interview hundreds of Realtors and I have a huge respect for them. Many of the agents I have connected with have large offices and do huge amounts of business.
So what makes a successful agent?
The first thing is always passion. It's a hard business and it takes a lot of attention to detail and a commitment to great customer service. In talking with agents I've noticed that the truly great agents also share the attributes below:
They return calls and emails at lightning speed – These are the people that get a lead and don't let it go. They immediately make contact and they follow up. They answer any questions and are happy to stay on the phone with nervous clients. They are the warriors of email, text, and phone and they keep that rhythm right up through the whole transaction, busy Washington DC agent Jeff Vinson told me he calls it his land, sea, and air approach, reaching out to clients through as many channels as possible in the beginning even using Skype. Their clients feel like they are very important to the agent. They also switch their communication style to match the client. If the client prefers text, they text, if the client wants a phone call, they call. They mirror the client's communication style so the client feels more comfortable.
They are up on the latest technology – They are iPad toters and smartphone addicts. They do everything from anywhere. They don't just have a tablet and a smartphone; they make sure they have great data plans so they are never stuck without an internet connection. They try to go paperless as much as possible. They read a lot of information both about the real estate industry but also about general trends regarding technology.
They know their neighborhoods intimately – The phrase "neighborhood expert" gets bandied about quite a bit but when it comes to top agents, they are walking, talking encyclopedias of neighborhood lore. Ask a question about a street and they know what's on the market, what sold recently, and the overall status of the neighborhood. Tell the agent what you like in a neighborhood and suggestions on places to look will come tumbling out. Looking to sell? The agent knows what is on the market, what just sold, and what you can get for your money. Top Santa Cruz agent Sally Lyng told me that she teaches map classes for her agents to help them get familiar with the area. These days anyone can look at houses online but the top agents know what lurks below the surface and they keep their value that way.
They explain everything they are doing – Like straight A students doing math homework, successful agents show their work. When they meet with the client for the first time they explain the process, the potential roadblocks, and a few scenarios that could occur. They let the client know that they are negotiating, they keep in regular communication, and they adjust their strategy as needed. When I attended the Hear It Direct conference in Orange County last fall, one of the things that sellers told the audience made them most satisfied with their agents was regular communication on what was happening with the efforts to sell the home.
They get leads any way they can – Nobody really likes to talk about leads but leads are how many agents get clients. A lead is an introduction to someone the Realtor hasn't met yet. Smart agents are experimenters, they try out different types of lead sources, they explore different types of ad campaigns, and they take notes on what works and what doesn't. They understand that having a social presence is important and that staying top of mind means being active with their clients through social media, through advertising, and even through more traditional methods such as postcard mailings. Postcards and bus stop bench ads are still around because they still work in some cases.
They have a great network– These agents don't just have a network to bring them clients they have a network of top-notch partners who provide the same level of service they do. They know the best contractors, appraisers, lenders, and insurance providers in the business. They are what Malcolm Gladwell designated in the Tipping Point as a connector. The agent is the hub of a group of professionals that can advise and assist with anything real estate or home related. Top agents care for their network and are happy to refer clients that they know will get top care. They are ruthless about cutting out anyone who doesn't provide great customer service to their clients.
Overall, great customer service is about two things, knowledge and authenticity. The agents that succeed are able to treat each client's purchase as vitally important. They are able to steer the client through any hiccups in the process and leave the client feeling that the whole process was as easy as possible.
Re: Great graphic The government can certainly provide incentives, but without a clear set of guidelines and expectations, the outcomes may leave much to be desired. The diversity and availability of EHR providers probably correlates with the number of health insurance providers, with little interoperability between them. With each system purchased, maintenance costs including software updates, data backups and storage, and expanded databases need to be considered. Infrastructure to support all this can also be considerate. Security measures to protect all of the above add to the overall cost.
If a regulatory agency such as Health & Human Services were to mandate standards, conventions and interoperability between EHR systems such that any patient, licensed physician or authorized health care provider can access an individual's health record at the click of a blue button, we would certainly see enormous cost and time savings. Patients would not need to retrieve their health records from one agency, institution or provider to another by contacting such, making a formal, probably written request, paying for such and having it sent to a new provider. Doctors in emergency rooms would be able to retrieve comprehensive health records on patients with identification and without the wherewithal to provide an accurate accounting of their health histories. A single, comprehensive cradle-to-grave integrated EHR system, something akin to a single payer system in terms of health insurance, would have considerable startup costs, but would certainly bring down the costs of health information IT.
The Interagency Program Office is currently coordinating efforts between the Department of Defense and the Veterans Administration to implement a working iEHR. The pilot is in place at a North Chicago Health Care Center which is a facility integrating a VA and a couple of military hospitals in the area. An individual's health record typically includes demographics, health incidents related to military operations, follow-up at military health centers, military separation followed by enrollment at a VA facility, and all subsequent treatment at the VA or any other VA, should the individual move around the country. Post-mortem follow-up benefits are also part of the record for the patient's next of kin.
Imagine if this approach was applied to all private and public EHRs. With comprehensive healthcare, insurance and tort reform, and in conjuction with focused patient education via the numerous online resources available, we would be one step closer to a better, cheaper standard of care and to real civilization.
Re: Great graphic In any funding exercise, it's always a big question about what was left off the table. It bothers me sometimes to think that some great ideas are either getting ignored, or being swiped for use by someone for another purpose. IT vendors like Google have sponsored contests, for instance, to get proposals. One wonderw where all the ideas ended up.
Re: Great graphic Too true, Mary. I was thinking the same when watching the videos from the Mayors Challenge and wondering if there were better ideas out there that just didn't make the cut because they weren't produced or delivered as well.
Re: Great graphic I'd love to see a breakdown of costs, Hazel, In most of the Beacon Communities, the electronic records have been implemented as part of a specific kind of project focused at monitoring and informing/educating patients with certain kinds of ailments most common to the community -- ie, heart disease or diabetes.
This is just one aspect of what healthcare IT is supposed to be.
Re: Great graphic It's not clear to me why Detroit fared so well in receiving funds, Nicole. But as with every government funding program, grants must be applied for in a process that may or may not work for certain applicants. Money is available, but it's often an art as well as a science to actually obtain funding of any kind from the federal govt.
Ever heard the saying, "We hired (her, him) because they're great at grant-writing"?
Re: Great graphic It's clear to me that more is needed for real healthcare IT savings than simply automating records. That should save costs if the records are networked properly. And sure, it's going to cost something up front to get records digitized.
Once a system is in place, though, I think real savings will accrue from a combination of proactive actions taken as the result of analytics, mobile apps patients can use in place of office resources, and telemedicine. We're a way from having any of this, even in facilities that are showing good progress in electronic recordkeeping.
Re: Great graphic This is informative in terms of showing us how much the government has slated for healthcare IT. What would also be interesting if we had a breakdown of sorts with regards to where this money is going or how it's being used.
Re: Great graphic I agree the amount budgeted and the eventual expenses of the IT will more due to policy changes, more infrastructure.
This inforgraphic captures the amount spent by the govenrment and patient, which is very important. Whenever there is a discussion on the usage of cloud sevices for eHealth records or EHR initiatives I was skeptical of the savings. I was always of the opinion that any introduction of technology (be it equipments or documentation) would be additional cost on the patient, but I am surprised to see that IT has resulted in 35% increase in costs.
Great graphic This graphic really does a nice job of demonstrating the situation in the US where healthcare IT is concerned. I was surprised to see how much healthcare costs have increased, when they were expected to decline.
The perceived value of IT is often overestimated. Too often we consider what the tech is capable of and make projections from there, without considering the human element in any of this. But if providers and patients aren't ready, or properly educated, and if the government isn't doing its part to make this kind of evolution easier, the tech isn't going to move forward on its own.
Let's hope the cities involved in the Beacon Community effort can help us move forward here. One thing, I was surprised to see Detroit receive the most in funding. I wonder why that was?
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