Real Estate Virtual Assistant FREE TOOL ALERT: All -In -One Video Converting Tool, Perfect For Beginners!

OK, I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am on a quest to learn more about all of these video trends that are taking off in real estate, because frankly I only see it becoming more and more valuable to our businesses. As a real estate virtual assistant, I’m always trying to keep myself educated so that I’m trained to provide the best assistance when new trends are arriving on our doorstep, so that we can assist agents, and free up their time.

The video file formats can be a bit daunting, as they are all different. We have video from our cell phones, digital cameras, flip-videos, iMovies, webinars, downloaded from and to Youtube, our blogs etc, iPods, iPhones, and other video devices. To be able to use these files on the platforms that are most useful to our businesses, there will come a time when one format needs to be converted to another, especially MPEG 4.

Well, I stumbled upon a program that will allow even video newbies to convert almost any video format to another, and its called ANY VIDEO CONVERTERgreat name huh?

To quote their website:

Any Video Converter (for PC) features include:

* User-friendly interface that is easy to use.
* Converts all video formats to Apple iPod Video, Sony PSP and more
* Batch convert any video formats including avi, wmv, asf, mpg, mp4, etc.
* Support DivX and Xvid avi format as importing and exporting video
* Support default video/audio settings or user customized parameters for video and audio.
* Has the option to preview the video in real-time before conversion .
* World’s fastest video conversion speed with stunning video and audio quality.
* Supports adjust many video/audio options for MP4 files. For example, video/audio sample rate, bit rate, video size…

I’m still trying to wrap my brain around most of this, but this FREE program is a good place to start, and is a good tool to bookmark for future reference…as you may need it:)

Oh, yes…and for the MAC users out there(you know who you are;)…here ya go: There is an AVC for MAC!

Laura Monroe | Real Estate Virtual Assistant | Copyright 2008

WARNING: Does Your Website Host Have Control of Your Domain AND Your Email? You Better Think Twice..

Real Estate Virtual Assistant True Story…#26

Ok, I’m frustrated and hope to prevent anyone this frustration in the future, I am going to present a WARNING to you! Nope, I will not name names, but I have worked with a certain real estate website company that has JACKED with a client of mine, and I’m mad.

The Scenario: Agent buys a nice, catchy domain name for their coming soon website. After looking at all the nice RE website providers, you decide to go with one that will “conveniently” transfer your brand-spanking new domain to their servers, offer you all sort of domain associated email mailboxes into one nice little package that you pay a nice fee to. (STOP RIGHT HERE! Don’t do it!)

Scenario cont- Things are going fine until you decide to take your nice catchy domain to another website provider. Well, your current website provider does not want to make it easy for you to leave, NO!

When you contact your current website provider to move YOUR domain, you are told that your domain manager is a 3rd party host that has nothing to do with your website provider. However, they are nice enough to give you a link to your domain manager so that you may log-in point the domain, however there is no support contact information for actually transferring your domain.  Your domain associated email, is also hosted by another 3rd party host, ( a different host) but if you move the domain, your email will go down. How long..? Who Knows..?

Such is the case with one of my clients. This may not seem like such a big issue, but if your website servers go down, your email goes down with it, and you will have no idea how long it will be down, so you better have a way to deal with that issue, when your website provider tells you its “not their problem”

So, let’s make this simple. When you get your domain at GoDaddy.com or another host, keep it there, where YOU can manage it!!! Do not allow another website host to host it for you, because they may set-up a 3rd party manager for you. If and when you go to move your domain you will not lose as much time waiting while your emails end up in the middle of nowhere!

Nuff said.

The Jing Project: A Great Tool for Virtual Assistants

Communicating virtually can sometimes be a challenge! In today’s technology driven real estate market the more efficient I can be at communicating, and explaining is vital to productivity, so yes, I’m always on the look-out for tools and techniques, and I found another one that I love, and finally put to good use this past week. The Jing Project. This free program allows me to visually record my computer screen, and my voice at the same time allowing me to send the video via email, blog etc.

I have clients that are a Top Producing Team of 5, a Mega Team that have joined together at the first of the year. Very busy as usual, communication to all 5 team members can yes, be my ultimate challenge! Our goal this year was to get the team to start blogging on their individual and team blogs. But, not having as much time to sit and walk them through this new concept in person left me trying to find a way to walk them through posting, logging in, adding photos, media etc. Bring in the Jing Project!

First of all…a little about me. I like tools that are free and have short learning curve. I signed up quickly for a free account, downloaded the software, took the video tour, and that was it! I was able to record a “blogging tutorial”, with my voice, and send it on its way to all five members of the team!

Because of this tool, I was able to communicate directly and efficiently…and more importantly..VIRTUALLY!

Mobile Real Estate Marketing..Taking Your Online Presence Mobile for FREE

logo.png How hooked are you on your cell phone? How hooked are your kids..? In the age of immediate down-loadable information, complete with photos and links, you have top ask yourself are you ready..? Is your real estate business ready for this mobile technology? In real estate information is becoming more and more web-based. Agents are getting over the flyer boxes, and adding in audio tours and hotlines to drive-by clients. You need to be creative about getting your information out there to keep up with the advanced technology, so ask yourself…

Is your real estate marketing mobile friendly? What if YOUR Website was mobile friendly? What if your blog was mobile friendly? What if your virtual tour was mobile friendly..? How will this online dominance capture your future business? How can you take advantage of that now…?

That is where having a .mobi domain will come in very handy. If you set up your website and/or blog to have a .mobi domain, then your sign riders listing that domain can instantly turn buyers/sellers cell phones into a mini computers that display your site, your listing information, etc. They have access to your contact information, and web site lead capture system, and your virtual tours. Your branding, your info, your face, your business available and viewable on a simple cell phone. At .Mobi you can get an account for free and build your pages for your website.

Check out a sample of a .mobi real estate website http://htex.mobi

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Test your web site to see if it’s ready for mobile customers!


If its not viewable in the emulator, consider getting your sites set up as a .mobi site as well, and capture the next generation of online marketing!

Real Estate Virtual Assistants: The Ultimate Guide Part 3…Finding, Hiring & Keeping Your VA!

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OK Folks! Its time for another lesson in my Ultimate Guide to Real Estate Virtual Assistants Series. It’s been a while since I’ve put out another part to this, and long over due. I am seeing questions and mis-information pop up all over the place and I’d like to go back to REVAs 101.

Click below for Part 1 and Part 2 which are the Prerequisites to this series:)

Real Estate Virtual Assistants: The Ultimate Guide Part 1…What You NEED to Know About Professional VAs BEFORE you Take the Plunge!

Real Estate Virtual Assistants: The Ultimate Guide PART 2……Creating a Virtual Action Plan Before You Delegate!

Ok, have you read part 1 and 2..? Good, because reading those will tell you if you are ready work with a VA. It takes a certain mind-set to findthe right VA for you, and if you’ve done your homework, you are well on your way to a long and rewarding relationship. BUT, a word of caution. No relationship will work without communication, so be prepared to communicate.

 TIPS FOR FINDING A VA

First Choice: Get a referral. If you know someone who has a great VA, ask to speak to them first. Or get on your real estate network and ask your colleagues if they know of one. However, if the VA works for your agent friend in the same local market, you may not have access to that VA due to confidentiality agreements and ethics in place by the VA. Its a common practice to be exclusive to only one agent per market. But they maybe able to help you find another suitable VA, and refer you to a high quality Associate.

Second: Place an RFP (Request for Proposal) on ActiveRain, network or organization that allows you place a job description, and requirements, so that you may receive applicants and set up consultations with the interested VA. Active Rain has a Find a VA RFP System to help you find a VA. Simply post your requirements, and field your responses. Others include the IREAA, Reva Professionals. Be specific with your job description. Are you looking for a Listing/Marketing Coordinator, Transaction Coordination, Lead/ Database/CRM manager or all?

Third: Internet Search Search for Real Estate Virtual Assistant, and you will see many websites from companies that specialize in real estate support. View the websites and contact the VAs by phone or email to set up a consultation.

 

 TIPS FOR CONSULTING & HIRING A VA

By now you should have quite a few qualified candidates to interview. Have your job description, requirements any other questions ready. Set up your consultation appointments and get rolling. What do you say, talk about..?

1. Introduce yourself, and allow the VA to do the same. Briefly review your needs and goals, and ask the VA if they offer those services and what strengths do they have that would serve to be the most helpful to you. Check for your VAs response, level of communication and understanding of your goals. Ask if they have had clients facing similar challenges and what they have done to offer support.

2. Are they Compatible? Ask about their computer systems, hardware, & software compatibility. Ask them about specific vendors that you work with like Top Producer, Number 1 Expert, Point 2 or any other program you would like them to operate and manage for you. Are you willing to work with any learning curves..? Ask the VA if they charge you to learn a new product or tool, or if they do it on their own time? How vital is that to your success?

3. What is their Availability? If there is only one VA you will be working with, how do they handle their client load, and overload..? If there is a team of VAs, how is that work delegated and managed..? Discuss hours, rates and plans that are available.

4. How do they track the hours or time that they work, and is this time available to you at all times? The return on your investment is crucial, and VAs will probably vary on their speed and turn around times.

5. Conclude your consultation by allowing the VA to ask you questions about you, your business, and your work style. Make mental notes, on friendliness, enthusiasm, pro-activeness, and listening skills. Let them know if you have worked with a VA before, and how your experience was and wasn’t.

 

 5 TIPS FOR KEEPING A HAPPY, PRODUCTIVE PARTNERSHIP WITH YOUR NEW VA

1. Create a clear job description. Start small if its hard for you to let go and delegate, it takes getting used to! Get systems in place, and communicate regularly. You can always add on later.

2. Establish clear lines of communication. Whether by email text message, phone or other means clarify what you prefer, what your VA prefers. Clarify that the VA confirms received emails etc.:)

3. Schedule Weekly and Bi-monthly update meetings. Keep your VA on track, stay on top of updates and continue to brainstorm new ideas. Your VA cannot read your mind, and may not know what challenges you a face daily or are in the pipeline. Build that rapport by sharing up- coming events so that your VA may prepare to support you when things get crazy. The more lead time we have the better;)

4. Create your goals and establish deadlines. Once you have your VA up and running on your systems and tasks, take this time to establish new goals for your business, set deadlines and share them with your new team member. If there are things you have been putting off, now is the time to move those BIG ROCKS.

5. Provide constructive feedback! Everyone loves to hear feedback. If there is something that is working well, and you are happy with, PLEASE share that with your partner. It helps the VA get to know you even better, and what your expectations are for accountability and progress. If something is not working out, see if there is a problem in communication, lack of knowledge, or a larger learning curve than expected. Work together to find solutions.

Working with a VA is an investment and not to be taken lightly, just like any assistant. But the rewards can be immense and long-term if done right and done well! Let your VA help you, and its a win win for everyone!

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Don’t Second Guess Your Marketing Efforts! Keep it Consistent with your Real Estate Virtual Assistant

feet.jpgNEVER LET THEM SEE YOU SWEAT! Remember that deodorant commercial?  It can be applied to so many areas in our businesses, you can’t help but relate to it.  I have to say that one of the many benefits of being a real estate virtual assistant, and owning my business is that I get to partner up with agents at all different levels in their businesses. From Top Producers, new agents and teams the challenges are as different as the individuals themselves. But sometimes, I see them sweat.

One recurring theme that often pops up when considering options in an agent’s marketing efforts is the overwhelming amount of vendors and choices to be made. Branding yourself, as we all know is extremely important. But with so many options in direct mail, email marketing, property marketing pieces is your branding really consistent, or do you often change mid-stream only to start over because you have found something better..? Or do you start over because a competitor has better looking marketing pieces or logo…? Has your franchise been pushing one way to do things, but you feel your way is better?

Stop the madness, and stop second guessing yourself! It is far better to develop your branding and marketing by starting small, consistent and top-notch, then to go to every vendor in the world to get as many marketing pieces out as possible, only to change your mind. Second guessing your marketing efforts will cost you more money and more business in the long run. How can you stop this madness of second guesses, and create your image and branding that will carry you to your next transaction, and to the referral after that..? How can you track your ROI on your marketing efforts to find out what is working or not working..?

This is where a real estate virtual assistant can be a huge help! Navigating the sea of real estate vendors is one of the things that VA’s do best. We know what works, what doesn’t work, what’s in and what’s out. We can help you navigate through the options to develop a system, an image, a brand that will consistently grow your brand and your name, and we can track your ROI to make sure you are getting your money’s worth from your choices. If you haven’t yet gotten comfortable with a CRM lead/database management system that works for you, your real estate virtual assistant can guide you to a system that may work for you and your work style. Not only that, but your real estate VA has probably used to some extent or another many of the programs and vendors out there, and may or may not have to be trained.

Get your image and branding to the level you want, keep it consistent, keep it top-notch, and whatever you do….keep it! Let your real estate VA help you stay on the path you have created for success. If you are second guessing yourself, your potential clients are too! And remember…never let them see you sweat.

7 Steps to Creating Your Business’s Operations Manual: A Must Have for 2008!

“As well as you personally do something, it can be improved upon. And the fact is that unless you write down how you currently do it, you won’t really be able to improve upon it.” Gary Keller, The Millionaire Real Estate Agent

So, how did you do last year? What worked, what didn’t work? What do you need to improve on, and what needs to be implemented right away for 2008? Its something I’m pondering for my own business, as I am hoping to grow in 2008, but how can I plan 2008, without spending my time re-inventing the wheels that turn, or be able to delegate to my team without explaining myself over and over again?

I’m creating first ever Operations Manual.

Perhaps I should have been doing this all along, but now I know I need to do it! If there is one thing I learned last year: don’t wait until you are too busy to have a system in place for being busy. Plan it, expect it, and document it.
I have high standards for myself, and my company. I know I must always try to achieve new standards, but to do that I have to create accountability.

I’ve turned to the Millionaire real estate Agent Book many times, but am using it as my reference, and you can too. This is something that will always be a changing process, not a project, your work may never be done. This should be done before you add in your first hire for your business, and should be done on a regular basis. This will also help you when you grow your team, so your service can remain consistently wonderful, no matter how big your database gets!

So here goes:

Step 1: Take out a note pad and write down all the things you as bullet points. This will be a LONG list, but leave nothing out.

 

WHAT I DO:

  • Answer Phones
  • Show Homes
  • Create Ads
  • CMAs
  • Open Houses
  • ETC….

Step 2: Break the list down into six to twelve different categories.

CATEGORIES:

  • Communications
  • Listing Management
  • Transaction Coordination
  • Buyers
  • Sellers
  • ETC…

Step 3 Each of those categories gets its own page, and your job is to copy all of the activities from Step 1 under the appropriate category headings.

Listing Management:

  • Prepare CMA and Listing presentation
  • Input listing into MLS
  • Order signs
  • Lock Box
  • Set-up showing feedback system
  • Etc…

Step 4: Place all the category pages pages into a three ring binder with tabs for each category and a table of contents. (P.S. This will be your Operations Manual!)

Step 5: Next go to the first tab and for each item under it create a new page with that “Action” as a heading.

  Listings Management Prepare CMA Input Listing on MLS
Operations Manual

  1. Prepare CMA & List Pres.
  2. Input listing on MLS
  3. Order signs
  4. Etc..

Step 6: Now, take each “action” page and detail exactly how you want each item done.

Prepare CMA

  1. Step One
  2. Step 2
  3. Step 3
  4. Etc…

Step 7: Lastly, add the appropriate forms, scripts, and dialogue examples behind each action page.

Your Operations Manual is your first step in creating a training and support foundation as you build your business, and holding those accountable around you. It will help you form your first job description, and will show you the things that are and should be delegated. No matter how big you get, how many assistants you hire, whether a Virtual Assistant or an in-house assistant, your steps will be clearly documented and can be changed and added to as you grow!

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