Separating product and Agency at Real Estate Webmasters Inc
It’s been a record year in real estate and our customers across the board are benefitting from incredible growth and increased profitability. Sales prices and demand have never been higher and yet inventory in most markets is still incredibly low.
This is the story for 2021 that virtually every Realtor®, team leader and broker can relate to. It’s basic supply and demand. And so far, it’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Because of this, Realtors® are having to be far more selective with who they work with, and which prospects they spend their time on. There are 50 buyers for every house and time for all of us is the limiting factor. The smartest business minded leaders in our space are realizing this and making adjustments to their follow up and business models to ensure that they are able to identify their ICP’s (ideal customer profiles) and implementing policy and process changes to make sure they are maximizing their business potential during this time of prosperity and opportunity.
I have started this post using the real estate analogy to help frame the upcoming changes we are making here at Real Estate Webmasters. The reality is, we are in exactly the same boat.
Because of the amazing opportunity in the real estate market right now, and the huge value Real Estate Webmasters services provide, our existing customers are investing incredibly heavily into their platform’s, marketing, lead generation and training.
The “demand” for our services (similar to the demand in housing) is at records highs.
We have analyzed REW’s agency services across all disciplines since the beginning of our fiscal year and these are the numbers:
Programming services have averaged 102% and are already sold out 104% for November
Design services (branding, custom design, front end development have averaged 99% and are not only booked out to 120% by November, but in December (a higher vacation month) we are booked to 173% to our capacity.
SEO has averaged 100% and is also completely sold out for November and even after hiring several more team members will be sold out shortly for December as well.
That’s the demand side. And what we know for certain, is that every year in the last 2 months our demand spikes even higher as Realtors® finally slow down, take a breath from selling and start evaluating their goals for the next year as well as realizing in many cases that they have made a lot of profit and need to get expenses into their own fiscal year.
In short: Demand is going to increase dramatically.
In a balanced market (again much like real estate) this much demand is a good thing. Go into recruiting mode, higher a bunch more agents, double down on grabbing market share and rapidly expand your business.
But this is not a balanced market. No matter how much demand there is out there from buyers, there just isn’t enough inventory to sell. At REW’s agency, our “inventory” is our professional capacity. And again (just like real estate) there is an unprecedented shortage of professional services labour which extends beyond just those services that are utilized into all facets of our business.
We are in one of the most competitive spaces in world (marketing and tech) and we only hire the best of best when it comes to our agency, and so we must also make adjustments to our business model and processes to ensure that we are identifying our own ICP’s and focusing our limited resources on our best opportunities.
Defining our ideal custom profile:
At Real Estate Webmasters we have identified 2 ideal customer profiles.
Renaissance + leads (no custom work): This customer profile is an agent, team or brokerage who is wanting the best out of the box front end website, lead generation and IDX product on the market. They Are focused on immediate growth and recognize that speed to lead (going live and capturing as much business as possible in this current climate) is far more important to their business than engaging in custom work.
They also recognize the benefits of not customizing which include far less investment of their team's time as well as considerable cost savings.
And finally, by selecting out of the box they are eligible for constant low cost (or no cost) upgrades that keep them current and don’t require any of their time, attention or $ in order to implement.
This customer typically buys:
REW PPC (pay per click)
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
Zero custom work
To accommodate this custom, REW has made adjustments to our programs and launched REW “Fast Track”.
The goal is to get you live inside of 30 days and start generating leads immediately.
With fast track, we coach that it is not about getting your website “perfect” (there is no such thing) before you go live, and it’s not about filling it with custom content (you can do that after you’re live but honestly, we don’t need you to do it in order to generate you leads and chances are you’ll be to busy closing deals to ever get to it anyways).
The idea is this: Once your logo is on it and you’ve done your IDX paperwork, it’s already better than what you have (it’s a Renaissance site) so let’s take it live! We’ll still help you after you’re live learn how to do all the page setup, take you through all the settings, (all the things we already do for all customers) - but the major change is, instead of leaving it on a dev for a month (or two, or three) while you stress about filling it with custom content or what unique custom ideas you have, you flip the order and get it live as soon as possible, so you don’t miss out on the current opportunities.
For REW, this customer is ideal because we handle as much volume as comes to us. Unlike REW agency (which currently has a 2+ month waiting list) you can order your Renaissance site, add PPC for immediate leads and be live.
To incentivize this type of customer we are going to be exploring several offers during our 12 Days Of Christmas promotion that reduce the barrier of entry and also provide some really compelling bonuses for anyone willing to “go live, purchase PPC and customize later (or never).”
If this is you - reach out to your rep, we’ll get you started right away.
Showcase Client (agency) - Our other ideal customer profile is what we refer to as a “showcase client”. This is a customer profile that not only has the budget, personnel, experience and sophistication to be a great candidate for our custom agency, but they are also the kind of customer that we at REW can turn into an amazing growth focused case study.
A showcase client is typically already in the top 5% of their market. They do want to grow (and often aggressively) however they also typically have a strong pipeline of inbound leads and business and are now looking to leverage their success and improve their overall brand and platform.
Showcase clients are not discount clients. They value quality and accountability and are looking to enter into a long term relationship with their vendor as a true partner in their business. They understand concepts like supply and demand and plan their projects factoring in known timelines and resource availability.
A showcase client does expect high value communication and transparency and very much is willing to engage with their agency to ensure the relationship is delivering to expectations for both sides.
A showcase client typically buys:
Large up front custom design / branding package (300+ hours)
REW Retainer (20+ hours per month)
SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
PPC (pay per click)
Showcase clients are our highest value relationships and consume the vast majority of our professional services. As such, it’s important that we do what we can to ensure that they get priority access to our agency so that they can continue their strong growth path for 2022.
In order to increase availability of our agency services for our showcase clients, we are making some changes to our offering to effectively slow down demand (as opposed to increasing prices).
Starting this week, we will be implementing a minimum 25 hour purchase order for any net new customer wanting to join work with our agency. While this is considerably lower than the average first order of an agency customer, it is designed to set a clear boundary around agency services as exclusive and meant to discourage potential clients who are only looking for an hour or two of custom work.
For existing clients, we are implementing a minimum 5 hour order for agency work. What we have found is that smaller orders take up almost as much time as larger orders to negotiate and manage, oftentimes have a higher tendency to escalate and are generally not profitable for us.
As such, we can no longer entertain orders below 5 hours. It just doesn’t make sense for our business.
Scheduling our work via retainer. The final change we are making is we will be scheduling all REW agency work via our retainer program. Most of our customers already operate under this model, however for those unfamiliar, what a retainer means at REW is that your time purchase is also pre-scheduled in our delivery schedule. It is generally booked 1-2 months in advance, and once we have booked it, you are guaranteed that spot and that we will deliver on that purchased time. (That’s the benefit) However the downside is that if a customer is unable to provide the scope prior to their retainer, they cannot roll forward those hours into future months, as we already reserved that spot for them and thus could not sell the time to another waiting customer.
These are the changes we have made to our programs in order to help set proper expectations and ensure we are targeting the right kind of customer for us (and ensuring we are the right vendor for our customers).
In doing so, we believe we will be able to deliver a much higher quality level of service, and the relationship will be both positive and profitable for both parties.
If you have any questions at all, please don’t hesitate to reach out to your account manager. They will be happy to explain further.
Looking forward to yet another amazing (and busy) year in 2022 for all of us. Thank you for choosing Real Estate Webmasters Inc.