“The New Normal” is a multi-story Inman series exploring what returns to normal after the pandemic subsides and what will never be the same again. Don’t miss part 1 What if the brokerage house of the future is not a brokerage house at all? Part 2 What if real estate agents never returned to the office?, Part 3 What if agent compensation was more than just commissions?, Part 4 What if only 3 obstacles stand in the way of the fully digital transaction?, Part 5 What if specialization is the answer? and bonus content What if the past year made real estate easier? And join us June 15-17 when we take the live chat at Inman Connect.

As we return to the office, things will obviously not be the same as before. During the pandemic, working from home and using virtual meeting platforms (such as Zoom) have proven to be very beneficial.

Let’s face it – virtual meetings save us time. It’s no secret that officers don’t have love interrupting their days to get to meetings, and frankly, clients don’t necessarily like that either. If you have the choice of taking the kids to a babysitter to go to your agent’s office for a brief meeting or click on a link, which one would you choose?

Not to mention that as brokers we can save and reuse training videos when onboarding new team members – which, again, saves us time. Perhaps these forced virtual meetings will continue to benefit everyone.

Meetings of the future

Here’s what realistic post-COVID real estate meetings could look like.

1. Sales meetings

Virtual

I organize a sales meeting once a week. I used to do this at our office then moved it to a local hotel. Once the pandemic broke, we moved it to Zoom, and we’ll stick with it going forward. It’s not as awkward if someone has to leave a physical room, and it makes it easier to participate in the group.

In addition, the savings in avoiding a commute to work are significant, and the ability to share your screen and show things that are sometimes difficult to see in a conference room is significant. In addition, the chat function is not disruptive. Finally, the ability to save and store these recordings allows new hires or people who miss the meeting to review it at a later date.

2. List of nominations

In person, with virtual support

Registration appointments are best in person, not only for physically seeing the house (which is essential), but more importantly, for bonding with your clients.

This relationship is important on the list side, and it is difficult to achieve through a screen. Having said that, there is a lot more that you can convey and show on a computer, so I’m trying to find a balance or a combination of the two.

3. List of out-of-town appointments

Virtual with in-person assistance

Zooming lets you present much better than a phone call. Of course, you still have to physically walk through a property to talk about it and stage it in a smart way.

However, if we compare it to a phone conversation or sending a package, Zoom is simply superior.

4. Sales strategy meetings

In person, but with video conferencing as a backup

Currently, I am doing a combination of the two. It’s of course best to connect with people and read their body language in person. It also forces both parties to be better prepared and more focused in the office.

However, virtual meetings are still useful for agents and brokers who may miss an appointment or for those who work from home. It’s a great backup to have.

5. Supplier meeting

Virtual meeting, only for the first meeting

Video conferencing reduces all vendors who want to meet in person with fixed appointments in the office or over lunch.

For example, with Zoom, I can schedule a quick meeting, see vendors on screen, and hear what they have to offer in 15-20 minutes. It’s much more efficient to do a quick screen share and understand the products via a virtual meeting – no lengthy sales pitch is necessary.

6. First meeting with the buyer

Virtual

Doing this is virtually much better than using the phone. You will connect faster. Practically, you can also go over some strategies to help buyers better prepare in the market for this extreme seller.

7. Managers meeting

Virtual

We can get people everywhere that way. It’s also great for sharing flowcharts, charts, and other visuals. We will probably do this in person again, but I think it will be reserved for bigger and more important meetings.

8. Personal calendar

Flexible

As a broker, I will be working from home a few days a week. At home, I am able to concentrate on my virtual meetings and concentrate on work without having to deal with a lot of distractions.

However, face-to-face meetings are still essential in this industry; you do not want to lose contact with your agents, staff and team. We are not in the business of computer programming. Real estate is a people-centered, in-person career.

9. Maintenance new agents

Phone, virtual and in person

Basically start with a phone call and then switch to Zoom for presentation purposes. After that, we usually do face-to-face interviews.

A quick 5-10 minute phone conversation will let you know if it’s worth it. The zoom is excellent for showing marketing products and back-end systems, and a face-to-face meeting is always necessary to ensure there is a good synergy. This is when you also take a tour of the new agent’s office.

10. Training

Virtual and in person

For training, we usually do a combination of virtual and in-person sessions. In the beginning, there is more training involved with the Zoom recordings and meetings. Virtual meetings are a great way to start training, and then they can turn into one-on-one role-playing and office sales training.

There is still a sense of energy that an office space can provide. It’s a place to learn, focus and grow – and I think it’s essential, especially at the start of training.

11. Assistance

Virtual

IT support can be almost completely provided virtually. The same can be said of training when it comes to learning how to use contracts, databases and lead generation systems.

12. Mortgage and closures

Mostly virtual

I don’t see the need to do this in person on a large conference table. During the pandemic, technology has accelerated the advancement of these online services, and this trend will continue over the next few years.

A few caveats

  • Forever masks: At certain times of the year or to protect a loved one, it will be normal to see people wearing masks.
  • Disease policy: Stay at home! Being a hero now means keeping everyone safe and healthy.
  • Greetings: The punch, the nudge or the bow? Take your pick, but the handshake is over.

As COVID-19 ends, we’ll look back and see the myriad of benefits that pandemic-focused technology has brought. And I hope we will continue to use this technology as we enter our new normal for good.

Jeff Lichtenstein is the President / Broker of Echo Fine Properties. Connect with him on Facebook or LinkedIn.



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