Luxury Real Estate Marketing: Is Customer Service a Luxury?

“The greatest danger for a luxury firm is to lose its status as a differentiated, premium brand, but wealthy consumer perceptions suggest that luxury overall may be in danger of losing its cachet,” said Milton Pedraza, CEO of the Luxury Institute. “This calls for a renewal of efforts to be unique and exclusive and to execute well on customer service.

The most frequently cited qualities that define luxury-superior quality (76%), craftsmanship (65%), and customer service (57%) – are the areas where wealthy consumers are finding the greatest dissatisfaction. More than half (56%) say that craftsmanship of luxury products is on the wane; 51% say that quality is decreasing; 50% notice a slippage in customer service quality and 48% say that luxury products are losing their design value.”

How does this apply to luxury real estate marketing? Real estate as a profession is a service business, real estate agents and brokers are service professionals. As we interview agents across the country for our series 50 Top Luxury Markets in the USA, we find that those who respond immediately to our queries are thriving in their marketplaces and those who want to eclipse the market leaders. They are easy to access, willing to share their insights, passionate about their marketplace, return calls and emails promptly and are a delight to talk to. One of the top market leaders recently interviewed said that you have to be nice to everybody regardless who they are or what their status in life. He returns everyone’s calls personally. As a result his client lists grows and referrals are plentiful.

Many of the agents we interviewed who are market leaders did not have websites, do not engage in social media, and do not know or care what SEO means or being #1 on Google. They are differentiating themselves on service, manners and excellent communication skills. They knock on doors; they meet people day in and day out. They are relationship oriented. They network face to face. They practice the fundamentals of business. They water plants for their sellers when they are out town. They send handwritten notes, birthday cards, and take their clients out to lunch. Tech is not the priority focus in their success equation and in many cases has been relegated to the back burner.

Luxury by definition implies rarity and exclusivity. Given the results from the Luxury Institute, it is evident that customer service is a key indicator in choosing a brand/service professional. People will remember you for your luxurious service. In our practice as branding and marketing strategists, we feel that customer service should take priority, and technology should facilitate customer service.

How Do You Know If Your Real Estate Agent Is Doing A Good Job?

Many home seller’s hire a real estate agent either from a referral from a friend or relative or from a piece of the real estate agents advertising. Once the seller interviews the agent many times they are hired on the spot. After this how as a seller do you know if your home is getting the exposure that it deserves or know if your agent is doing a good job on your home sale? Many times this is hard to distinguish especially when you as a seller have many other concerns and other items to worry about I.E.: work, imminent move, other normal things going on vs. your real estate agent and the job they are doing for you.

Here are a few tips for you to know exactly what type of job and representation you as a seller are getting from your agent/ brokerage company. The first is how often does your agent communicate to you updates and market conditions about your home sale? A good rule of thumb should be at least once every 2 weeks and preferably once a week at least a call to you with a detailed update, for number of showings, sign calls, and other measurable ways to see how the marketplace is responding to your home. I would also recommend that agents should complete at least one open house during the first 30 days your house is on the market many times this will help get neighbors, and others that live close by to see the property which in turn sometimes makes a sale because someone that they know gets told about what the relative or friend saw at the open house down the street. As a seller you should also try to ask all questions about the transaction as you think of them so that your concerns can be taken care of ASAP, this will also help you to determine how much knowledge your agent truly has.

Agents that also seem to be exceptionally knowledgeable about every aspect of your sale should also be given more room to operate then someone who never really has an answer to your questions quickly. I say this because many times as a seller you will have questions about the transaction process as it evolves, the agent that does not give you answers right away and feels confident in the answers given should be watched very closely. There’s nothing worse then an agent that does not give you confidence as a seller that the right things are being taken care of correctly for your transaction.

A real estate agent as everyone knows is typically well paid to obtain a buyer and handle the transaction of your home sale, which for most locations is in the hundreds of thousands of dollars if not more. The reason agents are so well paid is simple they are in charge a large sums of money and only when they get a property closed do they get paid for their services, having said this I would only consider a real estate agent or brokerage that was going to market and advertise my property in several areas. For me as an agent I know every marketplace is different and what works for a single family home here in Tucson Arizona may not work for a large farm property in the center of Ohio, but the general advertising that works for most properties IE: Internet advertising, newspaper, and home magazines should all be considered by the real estate agent you employ. I employ a very sophisticated and complete internet marketing portfolio for my sellers and it works for them because in this part of the nation many people move here from across the nation and the internet is the best way to expose the property to those buyers who would not know of the home any other way. I would suggest that regardless of what advertising avenue your agent wants to use that the advertising is a complete and solid plan to give your home exceptional exposure. If they say they are going to run newspaper ads make sure you get the run dates and then buy a paper that day and look up the ad yourself to see what it looks like. A sloppy written ad or an ad with a poor picture of your home should set off alarms that maybe your agent is not doing a good enough job representing your home, and your interests. This is extremely important don’t think because your agent maybe “works for the largest brokerage around” or “Has been in the business for 20 years” means that they do a good job, I cannot tell you how many agents out there do the absolute minimum for their sellers and nothing more and only you the client suffers.

Hopefully these quick tips help you to select a highly competent real estate agent to represent your home. Many people have “bad” experiences with real estate professionals and think they (real estate agents) in general are horrible and the clients themselves could do a better job of selling their home. Well unfortunately they are probably right, but not because all real estate agents do a bad job BUT because they happened to hire the wrong agent to represent them. It’s a fact that 90% of the real estate sales are completed by the top 10% real estate agents in the local marketplace. DO yourself a favor when hiring an agent and get a top producer that knows how, and has the track record to get your home sold and get you top dollar. If you need help selecting an agent I have an extensive amount of contacts across the nation and will have no problem recommending one for you, just send me an email to moliver@SellingTucsonRealEstate.com and give me some details about your home. Also if you live in the Tucson or Phoenix Arizona or surrounding areas please consider my team in your choice of representation to get your home sold.

Investing In Real Estate In Up And Down Markets

Some people who doubt that there is a right time to get started in real estate investing worry that there are too many people buying houses to find a deal. Competition is everywhere. If you can’t understand – that in business, competition is normal – then real estate investing is not for you. Just take a look at the marketplace in companies such as Coke and Pepsi, Nike and Reebok, McDonalds and Burger King, and a million other services and products out in the marketplace. So if you see a lot of investors competing against you then know that it’s a rewarding business to be in because you are not the only one that sees the potential for profit. Plus, there are more than enough deals to make everyone rich, in due time. At any given time there are hundreds of properties for sale in your own local market niches, enough for each investor looking for them.

Some investors know that events such as the September 11th tragedy, the huge number of job layoffs and the decline in the stock market will kill the economy, and anything they buy will go down in value. But, once again, this need not be the time to fold-up your tent and quit before you get started. In order to be successful in investing, learn how to make money in “up” and “down” markets. Have strategies to utilize in both “up” and “down” markets to survive when the economy is bad or thrive when the economy is booming. And if everyone else is forecasting “doom & gloom” it only clears out the competition as you have more market share to profit from, as this is a good thing!

Ask yourself: “When do I want to make money?” And the answer is usually right now!

Thus, go out and get your investing business going, right now! And not base your actions on what others are saying because the majority of the population is not rich, only those few who dare to take the right risks and take the necessary steps to be successful.

Stay in ‘the Game,’ and stay ‘the Course’ (persist)

One of the major disappointments of the conventional, ‘rental real estate’ approach is there’s just no money in it NOW, only after a long period of ownership. There’s not enough spread between the income realized from rent – versus – the expenses of mortgage payments and repairs for the investor to make any money today. You barely get by in the early years of your property’s ownership. You’ve got to have other income to support your lifestyle. You can’t just count on the rentals to support you.

Most likely, in the beginning you’ll be supporting your properties with your other income if you bought via the traditional way. That’s not too attractive. A lot of investors don’t have the stomach to endure the rough and tough financial stresses of the rental business. Even more so – people just don’t have the desire to hang in there to make it work, in due time. Thus, if you persist you will outpace your competition because they will no longer be in the business, and you will have “no competition”. This business is a long-term commitment and over 80% of real estate investors – who have been in the business for that long, go on to become millionaires. What I’m saying to you is this: Stay the course, and you will beat most all of your competitors because you can ride the ups and downs of the market in the Real Estate Game, in due time.

Opportunity is everywhere

This is ‘NOT’ a common statement I hear from new investors. True, it may work differently in some markets than in others, but there are investors making money in every city (large or small, metro-area or the rural-areas), every day of the week. You have to learn your market: the rents, the trends, the local customs, the lenders, the title companies, etc.

Then, learn the techniques and adapt them to your market. One thing is for sure, everyone needs a roof to live under, either renting or owning. People need to live somewhere. So study your market carefully, because there are tons of opportunities in every marketplace. You just have to learn your market and be able to service your market accordingly. If you don’t believe this, simply read the ‘Success Stories’ of all my students achieving financial independence and earning big profits using my field-tested and perfected real estate investing system.

Typically, the main argument of real estate “Nay-Sayers” is by associating real estate with toilets, bad tenants, property damages, tenant evictions, etc. – all the bad tasting things that may happen to an investor getting ready to jump into the real estate game.

For somebody who believes the only thing to real estate is getting a loan and buying a run-down duplex, in a bad part of town, entering the real estate game most certainly could turn into a major nightmare very quickly. However, an individual open to possibilities and who is willing to learn various techniques and strategies – will very quickly discover that’s this methodology is not the most profitable way to be transacting real estate deals.

A True Wealth Builder

Well, if you shudder at the very thought of spending your nights and weekends unstopping troubled toilets, painting scarred up walls, and pacifying angry/upset tenants, you are in good company. I have no interest in dealing with ill-affecting and time consuming renter-problems or their negative attitudes. When you follow a systematic approach to investing, you won’t have to deal with negative outcomes!! There are other creative ways to manage properties that involve no hassles and no headaches whatsoever, such programs exist in our “Automated Management System” which take away those ownership nightmares.

Much more profitable strategies exist if you are open to ‘non-traditional’ ways of investing in real estate. For example, in our System approach, there are “Rent Credits” used to maximize your time, while minimizing your overall risks, while creating positive cash flow versus, living with negative cash flow and tenant-troubles. There is a better way!! Your properties will be beautifully managed and maintained. Your Tenant-Buyers will be happy, you will pocket plenty of positive cash flow and you’ll be able to spend your free time locating additional real estate investments, doing the things you love and have passion for doing, which is the very point of becoming a professional real estate investor in the first place!!

If you really are serious about real estate investing and do extensive research into the real estate business, constantly learning and improving your knowledge level you will realize that your risks are minimal when compared to other business models.

If you talk to any knowledgeable real estate investor and compare the cost of starting a real estate investing company versus some other type of business, you’ll see that a real estate business has far less risks. I like to be upfront with you that you will need some marketing dollars at the least to launch your real estate business. You also need to have a long term vision of this venture and at least give it at least a good 6-12 months to make it work. Otherwise, your money (marketing budget) and time will be a waste.

I know this but most people don’t know that it takes at least some money initially to make money as a real estate investor. I don’t mean to scare anyone away but let’s compare a real estate investing business to a restaurant/carryout business. I know these types of businesses very well because relatives of mine own restaurants/carryouts, so even though I never owned a restaurant, my relatives have taught me the inner workings of that business and what it takes to sustain it to be profitable.

First, for a regular restaurant it takes $30K in gross sales just to break even each month. And this does not include the 15 hour days, and six days per week, and the initial investment of $120K down payment with great credit for a bank to even lend you the money needed to open it. You also have to have years of knowledge and experience before you invest your life savings to start a restaurant business. Then, it usually takes about 1-3 years until the profits really come in, thus, this is only if you can survive to stay in business that long. My father-in-law is currently running a carryout and he has had over seventeen years experience and he tells me how fed up he is with the restaurant business. That is why he’s also getting started as a real estate investor and he’s asked me to invest some of his money into our rehab properties. He sees the huge rewards and minimal risk involved in real estate compared to his restaurant business or other businesses he has been in. And he is seriously considering selling his business to do real estate investing full-time.

When you compare risks in real estate investing versus investing in other business avenues and/or endeavors, as you can come to your own conclusion: real estate investing is the ‘Best Game’ in town, when it comes to generating great wealth, while achieving your American Dream for financial independence.

Real estate investing has cycles just like any other business

The stock market has it’s cycles. We experienced that after the September 11th Tragedy. Only less than two years prior, we saw a peak in the stock market with high tech stocks soaring and making stock market investors ‘paper rich.’ The stock market has it’s ‘ups’ and it’s ‘downs.’

Modern real estate thrives on doing things smarter, wiser, strategically – not harder, more time consuming, with profit-eating outcomes. At the end of the day, the key to success is to focus on being a ‘great entrepreneur.’ I asked an experience investor (he owned about a quarter of Blacksburg, Virginia) what his specialty was in real estate investing and his response was not that he was good at Lease Options, Wholesaling, Short Sales, REOs, Rehabs, Notes, Residential, Land Developments, or Commercial real estate. But he said he was an ‘expert at making money.’ We both laughed at that but I will never forget that conversation. You need to know about the marketplace and technical factors involved in a deal, but your main duty whenever you are investing is always to make money. Thus, at the end of the day, your job is to make money in ‘up’ as well as ‘down’ markets. And if you focus on being a ‘great entrepreneur,’ you’ll be able to make money with many techniques, strategies, and skill sets to be successful in any market.