As a working Real Estate Photographer, one of the most critical relationships that I have is with Real Estate Agents/Brokers. In fact, my goal is to provide amazing services that make them feel like my business is simply an extension of their team, a true team player 😉. In order to make that happen, it’s important to put in the work. Agents are some of the busiest and hardest working professionals I know, so working with agents can get tricky. If you are just getting started in real estate photography or simply interested in improving your relationship with your clients, here are some tips to help you navigate.
I feel the very first step is getting out there and meeting Agents. Of course, everyone wants to work with the super successful, top 2% agents, but don’t forget to meet and interact with new agents too. New agents don’t necessarily have a team in place and could be a great starting point to begin an amazing business relationship. It’s important to attend events that Agents attend (now that we are beginning to open up a little). Join your local Agent Associations and show up. Learn about what’s happening within the industry. Volunteering within the real estate industry is also a great way to network and meet new people. You may not begin working with anyone right away but stick with it. Build the relationships and the work will come.
Another important tip is being flexible. There are so many different options available and many ways to communicate. Find out what works with the Agents that you support and do what you can to meet the different needs. For instance, some agents prefer to book appointments via text, others online, and still, others prefer to make a phone call. If you are flexible and provide multiple options you are increasing your potential to succeed. I have an amazing online system that is a blessing to my business thanks to HDPhoto Hub (we can talk more about it another time, but the scheduling and follow up is amazing), but some of my agents prefer to send a quick text or an email including their client so that we can quickly nail down a date and time. Guess what, I’m here for it all. I can’t fall in love with a system and subsequently close myself off to those who have a different preference.
The Feedback Loop
Once you have built solid relationships and are doing work, never hesitate to ask how you are doing. Feedback is love. Send a follow-up survey from time to time, or invite a agent a week to coffee to check on them (remember they do a lot and may need a check-in too) and also ask how you are performing for them. When I first started with real estate photography I had no idea of what I was doing. I’m super technical and love to know the ins and outs of why I do what I do but I had NO CLUE. Put a flash on the camera and frame it up and boom. Not so fast!! There was so much more to learn and thanks to feedback that I received (and yes I already knew that I needed to learn more) I was able to study, learn and grow. I don’t even like looking at my first real estate shoots. Point is, if I hadn’t received feedback and been open to it, my real estate photography career might have been short-lived (Thanks Sheena and Carrie).
Don’t stop learning/growing. While this portion of the blog doesn’t directly correlate to working with agents, it does intrinsically because what you learn and do within your business will help position them for success. Make sure you stay on top of the latest technology (not just to buy the latest toy because some are just that) because we are living in the greatest time to get amazing tools. Find out what works and if it can help your business grow (just like the amazing floor plans from the CubiCasa app ~ shameless plug). Learn better techniques. Figure out if outsourcing works for your business or how to best integrate it. If you don’t outsource or hire you will be limited to what your hands can handle and that isn’t a lot.
I sent a survey to some agent friends from 4 different states to get some of their thoughts and ideas and wanted to share some of those findings with you. 75% of Agents surveyed listed photography as the most important thing in their marketing kit for listings (this number is actually 90+% because 2 of the answers included photography along with floor plans and video). 41.7% indicated that they would include floor plans with listings 200k and up and 66.7% started at $325k. Even in a hot market, only one person felt they should offer fewer services than normal. The rest felt you should provide the same or better service (I wholeheartedly agree because what you do today affects what happens tomorrow and we know the market won’t stay this way). I asked how they ordered professional pictures and 66.7% ordered via an online ordering system, 25% by phone, and 33.3 by text. One big one for all you photographers out there looking to increase revenue, 75% of the agents surveyed don’t currently sell floor plans with their listings. This is a huge opportunity to ensure we are showing the value and maybe offering a free or discounted floor plan to show them how amazing they are.
It’s a great opportunity for us to ensure that we highlight what we offer on our websites, specifically the importance of floor plans. Tammy Dwight highlighted some of the awesome ways CubiCasa photographers are accomplishing this goal. Stay tuned for the next blog article.
Get Out There and Have Fun
Listen, take the time to get to know the agents you work with. I have had fun building a business, but more importantly, building relationships and friendships. Even in the midst of moving across the country, I stay in touch with my agent friends, encouraging and cheering them on from afar. Remember, kindness goes a long way. Take some time this week to get to know some of your local real estate agents.