Real Estate Webmasters doing better than ever!
I had another call today (I've had a few since we started running promo's in July or whenever we started) where the customer was concerned about the financial well being of Real Estate Webmasters. Basically the assumption some have made (which I totally understand) is that if we are giving away such good deals or running so many promo's we must be in some kind of financial trouble. Nothing could be further from the truth.
REW's best quarter in history
When I ran my "too busy to sell hours" promotion in July I did so because I honestly and truly was concerned that I would not be able to keep up with my usual sales volume due to my commitments in putting on the REW Conference in September (oh yeah, and there was the slight detail of my getting married on August 15th) – I had never done anything like this before so the result was extremely unexpected (and appreciated). What happened was that we sold something like 1600 hours of billable labor (I can't remember the exact number) in less than a week (and I was only trying to sell 1200) – the end result (because my other sales staff were still working of course) was that we shattered all previous sales records at Real Estate Webmasters for a given month (by over $50,000 I think). Needless to say, I didn't mind this at all – although it did mean lots of overtime and a very busy billing / HR department. The end result was that I learned that even though we were billing less per hour, with the time we saved in terms of processing and sales etc, we actually managed to be more profitable – so I figured, "Heck, if that worked so well, why not run more of these?"
The next major promo I ran was for $2000 USD off the setup of CORE IDX – people were like "WHAT? You must be going under...". Nah – let me share some insight into my thought process (I was right btw). First and foremost it is true that in selling built-in CORE IDX's at $500 a pop we lose money, but what I was thinking / planning on is that we would land a ton of "new" customers (that didn't have REW sites / hosting accounts, etc, which we do profit on) so it was a pretty good experiment to see if, with the right motivation, we could dramatically increase our customer base. Once again, it worked (and we sold out plus a lot more than we meant to). I also counted on (and this happened as well) customers taking those savings and investing in upgrades (at full price) thus making the IDX a very effective loss leader.. and how many of you reading this, who bought during the IDX promo, spent a bunch of $ on extras? Virtually all of you – pretty smart, huh?
So I was 2 for 2 with amazing sales (and record months) with promo's - I should keep this up! I am working less (on the sales end) which was buying me more time to work on the technology side (where I am happiest, and also where I can build you all new and exciting technology like the calendar functionality upgrade I am currently working on for CMS 2.0). So I ran the 25% bonus on your order promotion - and it flopped! The concept was good (and the justification was great – I mean shoot, we were used to getting par on the dollar, and all of a sudden we are gettting $1.20 per dollar). Even with the discount to US customers, we are stilling making the same coin - seems logical right? Wrong! For some reason the promo didn't take off and I basically just let it fizzle out because it wasn't generating any more orders than our normal course of business and I am not running promos just to be a nice guy (they need to be of mutual benefit - better bottom line for us, better deal for the customers). After this one I said to myself, "Okay, too many promo's – obviously if I run them too often, they don't have the same impact (and I need to switch them up)." Thus I have decided to run less promo's and only use them when there is something I really want to push (such as the new LEC program) OR when I need some time away from the sales floor to work on technology.
Which leads me to our last promotion of the year (sorry, there won't be any more this year I don't think, unless you guys don't mind waiting until spring for your projects). I REALLY want to push hard for our LEC program (it's one of those win-win products for us and our customers) so I ran the promo to push (first and foremost) the LEC's (I needed to get some out there as examples for my sales team to use in their pitches) and the other items I tossed in because we are still kicking butt with the dollar and I figured it would be a nice thank you for all of our customers who have been so good to us all year long. (Thank you again btw.)
The end result (again a complete success) was that I was able to process 25 new orders of just the LEC 2.0 alone (never mind the rest of the items on the promo, and of course lots of these folks ordered other non promo upgrades at full price) and we are basically completely sold out (our custom department was already booked through February pretty much even before the promo, and now our products department is sold out for the entire month of December and have been before the month even started).
The best part! (for me at least) is that I will be fielding virtually no new leads or processing sales requests this month (with the exception of key accounts but even with these, I have even pulled another of my sales team into my office just to help out (thanks Ryland, you are doing a bang up job). This means that I am free to work on your new technology and some new initiatives at REW for 2009. For those of you who might be curious – here's what I'm doing:
- LEC Program - once again, probably the most win-win website package we have ever offered (nice profit margin for us, immense cost savings to our customers even at full price). I am going to be working on the marketing materials and several add-ons for our current LEC's as well as completing both LEC 3 and 4 (both in the works already).
- REWards program - the REW referral program. It has existed in secret (we have like 5 resellers) for quite some time but I am finally going to get around to finalizing the documentation and processes so that we can offer it publicly.
- REWIDX (iFrames) - although built-in search engine friendly IDX is absolutely the best investment you can make - it is expensive. Not every Realtor can afford it AND we have pretty much already cornered that market - so we are going to take a run at a low cost iframe alternative (to be tested in MRIS / CRRA) - to be launched January '09 if I have anything to say about it.
- CMS 2.0 Calendar / reminder system - everyone wants it, and I have been working on it slowly forever! I WILL be getting this into a beta this month dammit! Seriously though, it should be ready for purchase soon.
- SEO / Key account attention - I am still the team lead of the SEO department, and I am looking forward to giving some extra love to my (full service) SEO customers and some of my key accounts as well (let's make sure we hit up 2009 guns blazing).
There's more on my December wish list – but my fingers are tired, and I have to head into the dev area to get back to work on this stuff.
For those of you that were worried about us (our financial situation), please don't be, we are more than just "fine" financially, we are having the best end of the year that we have ever had and ecstatic that we were able to achieve this while at the same time offering some nice discounts to our loyal customers.
Have a happy holiday and a great new year - I am looking forward to working with you all in 2009.