Your brand is not the colors, fonts, and logos on your website. Your brand is the experience you and every agent provide for customers. It is a complex mosaic made up of every client interaction and adds up to way more than what you present online.
That said, what you present online does matter. At best, your online brand is an expression of the ideals you have for your company. In our company’s most recent branding session, our consultants told us that having seen our training sessions live, they felt our website didn’t line up. They said the experience people got in person was innovative and edgy while our website was more conservative. So we made changes to add brighter colors and images to make the online experience more congruent with what our customers get in the field.
Brokers: Have a look at what you’re presenting and what actually happens with new clients. Do you know what kind of experience customers have with your agents? Does that experience line up with the brand you’re presenting online? If your website says that you’re all about the customer experience, then what’s happening in the field needs to line up with that. You’ve built your business on certain ideals. Do your agents walk and talk those values day to day? For example, when the market is hot, do agents treat customers as a dime a dozen and move on quickly and casually after each sale? Or do they provide the same care in the busy seasons as they do when they have to pound the pavement for each client and each sale?
To build a consistent brand, ask yourself the following three questions:
1. Do you teach agents and give them examples? If so, how often?
Sometimes what you say in the office never makes it to the field. That may be because the message isn’t communicated at all or that it isn’t communicated with enough frequency to make it stick.
If your website says you lead buyers to their dream home, then agents need to know what that means in practice. Use examples to help them understand the value. You may share a story about an agent who went beyond meeting prospects in the office and instead walked through their current home—asking questions about what they loved about their current home and what they wanted to be different in the next place. Talk about the value they can bring to the transaction and the way it is expressed frequently enough that the idea sticks with agents beyond the meeting room.
2. Do you have consequences in place if the behaviors in the field don’t line up?
Agents rarely interact with customers at the office. They spend their time in their car and in the properties they sell. They are in the field so much you may not even see the agents for a week at a time. It’s easy for them to go rogue.
But that’s no reason to let go; your agents are an extension of your business and values. If they aren’t building your brand, they’re damaging it. That’s why you need to have a system in place for working with and coaching agents to meet your standards.
3. Do you have feedback from customers?
Having checks and balances in place ensures what you present in meetings actually happens in practice. One way to do this is to get customer feedback. You may conduct an e-mail survey or call customers to thank them for their business and ask a few questions. If you ask the customer to explain your brand in two sentences, will they be able to communicate what your website says? If so, it’s working. If not, there needs to be some accountability.
To be sure the client experience represents you well, communicate the standard regularly, have a process in place for rogue agents, and establish methods for getting customer feedback. The real-life experience is what should guide the online expression of your brand—not the other way around.
Reprinted from realtormag.realtor.org, July 2015, with permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®. Copyright July 2015. All rights reserved. realtormag.realtor.org