How REALTORS® can stay in touch with clients during the COVID-19 pandemic

COVID-19 has impacted virtually every business in every industry. But any business that relies on human connections and relationship building, like real estate, has been particularly hard hit.

While real estate has been declared an essential service—allowing for thousands of current transactions to officially close—that doesn’t mean it’s business as usual. Open houses and in-person showings have been cancelled across the country.

CREA is continuing to support members with immediate workarounds for current transactions, as well as longer-term strategies to help you develop new skills for the future, such as training webinars.

The real estate industry is built on personal relationships, so it’s challenging to maintain those relationships while physical distancing and self-isolating. But there are easy ways to stay in touch—and stay productive.

Communication is key

You’re probably already using email, but there are ways to utilize it more efficiently. Add specific subject lines and only contact people if necessary. Be clear and concise, keep it short (use bullet points), specify tasks for specific individuals and request feedback by a certain date. If you want to make your email more personal, add video; BombBomb is one option for recording and sending video from Gmail, Outlook or any email with the Google Chrome extension.

You can create templates for emails such as newsletters using a marketing automation platform like MailchimpConstant ContactCampaign MonitorSalesforce Pardot or Marketing Cloud. These platforms can help you improve your engagement by delivering personalized messages to your clients. You can also use these tools to segment your subscribers to create personalized content, use A/B testing to optimize performance and more. Don’t forget to include an “unsubscribe” link and take other steps to to comply with Canada’s Anti-Spam Legislation.

Tip: A/B testing is the process of sending different variations of your email to a sample of subscribers. It allows you to see if one email is more effective than another in driving metrics like opens, clicks or conversions. You can test changing the subject line, call to action, greeting or time. Only change one thing at a time.

Texting is an easy way to communicate short snippets of information to clients or co-workers, such as asking a question or sending a photo—or just to stay in touch. Some popular options include Slack, Microsoft Teams (available to those already using Office 365) and Hangouts Meet (available to those already using G Suite).

For REALTORS® who haven’t already embraced video calls, now is a good time to start. Platforms include Zoom, GoToMeeting, Webex and FaceTime; many are free and easy to use. Keep in mind that some tools are tied to a specific platform (for example, FaceTime is for users with Apple devices), so it might make sense to use a more generic tool with clients. Just be cognizant free versions, such as Zoom’s free platform, may have time limits.

Also, don’t dismiss a phone call. You can understand more from the tone and inflection in a conversation than you can from a text message, and anything that needs to be documented can be sent via email afterward.

TIP: Stay in the loop on our product and marketing updates, events, advocacy efforts and more by ensuring you’re subscribed to CREA’s communications including NEWS2Me and Read All About It. Want to share popular REALTOR.ca Living Room blog posts and product and market updates with your clients? Create a REALTOR.ca account and select your communications preferences.

Videos and virtual open houses

Many home buyers were already in the process of buying or selling a home before the virus wreaked havoc on life as we know it. Some have already sold their home and now need a place to live; others bought a new home and need to sell their existing home to finance the purchase.

“A lot of people need help,” says Nabil Imani, Associate Director of Marketing at the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), “so we’ve come up with live streaming open houses.”

On REALTOR.ca, you can advertise your live stream events to clients as you walk through an empty property, showcasing its features and answering questions in real time. CREA is working to make virtual tours—as well as links to social media sites that support broadcasting such as Facebook Live and Instagram Live—more visible on listings.

As always, you can also upload videos of a property on REALTOR.ca. Along with photos, REALTOR.ca supports up to 10 video platforms, allowing you to help potential buyers conveniently see properties virtually.

Free training webinars

This is also an ideal time to master tools, such as CREA WEBForms®. Webinars are hosted every Monday and Thursday at 2 p.m. EST. There are 400 slots available each week (register here).

Advanced tools and technology

Document Management: Now is a good time to start organizing documents—contracts, sales materials and other paperwork—in a cloud-based document management system. Once stored in the cloud, documents are easily accessible from all of your devices, and you’ll always get the latest version. Options include Google Drive (which offers both personal and business options), Microsoft OneDrive, Apple’s iCloud (for Mac users) and Dropbox (for individuals and teams).

Customer Relationship Management (CRM): Ditch the business cards and keep all of your contacts organized in a CRM system (or update the one you already have). Not only can you keep track of contacts, you can add details such as how you met and when you last connected to help maintain those relationships. Some tools are free for basic services, but most advanced features or products have a monthly subscription fee. Options include Salesforce, HubSpot and Zoho.

Task/Work Management: If you work with a team, there are several platforms that can help you collaborate, prioritize tasks and stay in sync, such as Trello, Basecamp and Asana. It’s an easy way to share documents (and avoid duplication), create to-do lists, schedule tasks and have group chats. If you don’t already have something in place, this type of platform will help your business now and in the long-term.

Other resources

We’ve created a hub to help members access the information you need regarding the pandemic quickly: What REALTORS® should know about COVID-19. We’ve also introduced REAL TIME: a new podcast for REALTORS® to keep members connected and offer insights from real estate experts.

The CREA Café team is responsible for the official blog of The Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA). The CREA Café is a cozy place for CREA to connect with our valued members and friends by sharing our thoughts and insights over a virtual cup of coffee.


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