Winning Agent http://www.winningagent.com Sales That Work Thu, 31 Jul 2014 23:00:22 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9.1 Five Reasons Why You Need a Killer Website http://www.winningagent.com/five-reasons-need-killer-website/ http://www.winningagent.com/five-reasons-need-killer-website/#respond Thu, 31 Jul 2014 00:39:43 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3358 Oh sure, every Realtor needs a website, right? Technically, yes—but only if you’re willing to put time, money, and creativity into making it a great website. And unless you understand the “why” behind website development and content, maybe you’re just wasting your time and your money. So why do you want a website in the […]

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Winning the real estate game...

Oh sure, every Realtor needs a website, right? Technically, yes—but only if you’re willing to put time, money, and creativity into making it a great website. And unless you understand the “why” behind website development and content, maybe you’re just wasting your time and your money.

So why do you want a website in the first place?

  1. It authenticates your brand
  2. It speaks for you when you’re not available
  3. It helps you train and educate your customers
  4. It establishes easy two-way communication
  5. It helps you stay current

1. Your website authenticates your brand. It tells your clients and potential clients exactly who you are. Do you specialize in vacation homes? Relocating seniors? Why are you good at that particular niche? What is your most recent success story? If you were a yoga instructor, you’d paint a picture of peace and tranquility. If you were a financial advisor, you’d set the stage for your clients to see themselves making money. You want to paint a picture of coming home.

Think first about your key selling proposition, about the overall benefits you offer your clients. How will the information on your web site help you build your brand?

2. It speaks for you when you’re not available. You have no idea who’s viewing your site, or when. Some soldier in Afghanistan, about to come home and marry the love of his life, may be visiting you at 3 a.m. on a Sunday morning. What do you want him to know? He wants to know who you are, what you do differently, why he should choose you over a dozen or more Realtors he’s already viewed. Obviously, you can’t sit down with him and spend an hour telling him why you’re the best choice. However, your website can do that 24/7 as long as the real you is present there. With the technology we have available right now (check out our special offer here) you can establish instant credibility across the globe.

3. It provides a way to train and educate your customers. Not only do you want your clients to know and love the real you, you also want to train them in the way you do business, so that when you sign that listing contract or buyer representation agreement, they are already prepared to work successfully with you. A Client’s Bill of Rights, for example, establishes in their minds the services you believe they are entitled to receive from you. Your calendar, office hours, schedule of open houses, and similar details let them see your work pattern. If you take one day a week off to be with family, or if you don’t return calls before 9 a.m., let them know ahead of time. Managing client expectations is an important component of your success.

4. It establishes easy 2-way communication. Whatever else you do on your web site, make your “Contact Us” information easy to find, complete, and simple to use. Don’t make a prospective client scroll through screens of copy to find your “Contact” link in tiny type at the bottom of the page. Make sure to list both your mobile and business phone numbers, your physical address (with a link to Google maps or similar), and, of course, your email.

5. It helps you stay current. We’ve all been there—to the web site or blog that says “Last updated February, 2011.” Bet you clicked right off that one, didn’t you? Your clients and potential clients want to know that you’re right on top of current market trends, financing, and relevant local happenings. For example, if you provide a current mortgage rate page, make sure it shows the date when it was last updated. Delete information that is no longer accurate, or better yet, update the page with current information. Keep adding new posts and pages about events that are happening, and never let your blog, if you have one, get stale.  It shows you are only half in the game, if at all. If you don’t like to write, or find yourself not having the time, let us do it for you.   Winning Agent can keep your blog current with original content weekly, bi-weekly or monthly – your call.

Winning Agent knows you. We know you’re not a webmaster or a web site developer. That’s why we created Winning Agent Pro, a WordPress theme designed specifically for Realtors with most of the work already done for you. Give us a week after you provide your content and you’ll be good to go. We have that special offer going on right now—click here to get the details.

Photo Credit - Brian Shamblen

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Winning Agent Pro Special Offer http://www.winningagent.com/winning-agent-pro-special-offer-1/ http://www.winningagent.com/winning-agent-pro-special-offer-1/#respond Sat, 26 Jul 2014 18:21:31 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3336 A new offer! You know you love the sound of that!  While this isn’t a listing offer, it might be the key that opens the door to you getting more of those listings. We are offering a fully installed, ready to work for you Winning Agent Pro themed website solution. In less than one week. […]

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A new offer! You know you love the sound of that!  While this isn’t a listing offer, it might be the key that opens the door to you getting more of those listings.

Winning Agent Pro Special OfferWe are offering a fully installed, ready to work for you Winning Agent Pro themed website solution. In less than one week. Seriously.

Why are we doing this?

We want to create a system that finally gets you the web presence you’ve been wanting, but had previously not been able to justify in your budget. Maybe you don’t have a web site at all, or, worse, a poorly performing one. The solution we’re offering is a high performing, mobile responsive, personally branded website — all in one week (after receiving your content).

Here is what you will receive:

  • Winning Agent Pro theme
  • Genesis Framework
  • Custom colors
  • IDX Search Bar Integration (see below)
  • All necessary plugins installed and configured
  • Gravity Forms
  • Up to 4 community pages
  • 5 additional pages if you have the content
  • Integrated Social Icons
  • Premium support for 12 months

Buy now – $449.00

What you need to provide/do:

  • Purchase this great deal using the links on this page only
  • Ready-to-use photography and content
  • Your web hosting information (we can help you there if you don’t have one)

Remember we are only offering a limited number of these, so buy now!

Buy now – $449.00

Questions we thought you might ask:

How long will it take to complete my site?

That depends on how long it takes you to provide the content necessary.  We would estimate one week from the time you submit your content.

If I already own Genesis, will I receive a discount?

Unfortunately, we can not offer any discounts as this offer is already deeply discounted.

Will this special price be available later?

We really don’t know. We are offering so much in this package that we cannot see this price continuing in the future.  We recommend taking advantage of it now.

What should I expect after purchase?

Within 24 hours hours you will receive a confirmation email along with a list of items you will need to prepare for us.  Items like your logo, content and log-ins to your existing host if you have one.

What is included with the IDX Search Bar setup?

We will install the custom search bar to work like the demo, provided your IDX provider supports WordPress customization. If not, we will assist you in setting up with Winning Agent’s Preferred IDX provider or install the Agent Press Listings plugin.

What should I expect when you are done?

You will receive a website that looks like the demo, with your logo, colors and information. The search feature will function with your IDX provider or with the Agent Press Listings plugin.

Will you do any customization of the theme with this offer?

In order to meet the week turnaround, there will be no structural changes made to the theme as well as your images and content you provide.

What is premium support?

Premium support is our yet to be announced and made available support service where you can obtain help with your WordPress website and Winning Agent custom services.

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Do You Have A Credible Website? http://www.winningagent.com/credible-website/ http://www.winningagent.com/credible-website/#respond Thu, 24 Jul 2014 01:30:19 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=2759 What’s Your CQ? (Credibility Quotient) Your clients and potential clients are looking for a Realtor with credibility. And the first place they are looking is on your web site. If you were looking at you, how would you rate your web site’s credibility quotient? If you want your potential client to stick around (or better […]

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Do You Have A Credible Website?

What’s Your CQ? (Credibility Quotient)

Your clients and potential clients are looking for a Realtor with credibility. And the first place they are looking is on your web site. If you were looking at you, how would you rate your web site’s credibility quotient? If you want your potential client to stick around (or better still, fill out that contact form) you better make a good impression and you better do it fast.

It starts with your site’s visual impression but that’s only the beginning. There’s still so much to be done after that. Here are four action items you need to implement immediately to give you and your web site a credibility upgrade.

  • Make it human
  • Make it current
  • Make it easy
  • Make it professional

1. How to make it human. Pretend you’re having a one-on-one with your client over a cup of coffee. Share personal details that help your readers get to know you. Let them know that the two of you have a lot in common. Use your own picture and make it a good, professional shot (avoid smart phone selfies, please).

Help your potential clients understand your service mentality. Use words and pictures that let them experience what it would be like to do business with you. Videos are one of the most powerful ways to show people who you are. And these days they are extremely easy to add to your site. Most of your visitors are probably visually oriented. And a good picture (or video) can still say a thousand words.

2. How to make it current. People can tell when your site hasn’t changed for months on end.  It’s a clear sign somebody’s not paying attention. And if you use Google Analytics or some other form of traffic tracking, they will be the first to let you know that you’re not attracting anyone’s attention.

Current research tells us that as many as 85% of potential homebuyers start their search on the Internet. If you want your visitors to stick around long enough to consider doing business with you, then you must give them a good reason. Your great content may get them to come back once. But if they continue to see the same featured listing and the same local weather report, they won’t pay you a return visit. The only place reruns are popular is on late night TV.

One way to keep really current is to run a blog in conjunction with your web site. It’s the easiest and best way to keep in touch with your audience. It doesn’t take long to post simple updates on what’s happening in your neighborhood and it’s a great way to feature the hyper-local content that makes your potential clients feel at home.

3. How to make it easy. Make sure your site’s navigation is simple and logical, and keep it consistent. Navigation that changes from page to page is a big no-no. Links to other pages on your site and to other sites should be available with one simple mouse click.

Make your home page scannable. Many people skim the page before they decide to actually read it. Hold on to the “skimmers” with lots of headlines, subheads and bolded text to highlight your key messages. Clients should be able to see “what’s in it for them” in a matter of seconds.

Skip the fancy stuff and keep your typestyle easy to read and large enough so people don’t have to squint. (Some of your potential clients may be seniors, after all.) Your color scheme should be consistent with your company’s brand as well as your own, and should have two or three colors at most.

Reading text online is much harder than reading out of a book so use short sentences, short paragraphs and break your copy up with numbered or bulleted lists. Avoid real estate industry acronyms and jargon that the typical reader won’t understand. And remember, nothing destroys credibility faster than misspelled words and awkward sentences.

4. How to make it professional. Brand messaging is not just a marketing buzz word. It’s critical for you to keep your message consistent and to put your best foot forward in all your client communication. Moreover, time is a crucial factor for you. You’ve got to deliver your message quickly because your reader’s time is limited. In the online world, potential clients can form opinions and make judgments within seconds. It’s very easy for them to hit the back button or click onto another Realtor’s website.

If you’re thinking there’s no way you can accomplish all that and still sell a few homes this month, we have a solution for you. It’s called Winning Agent Pro, and it’s an easy, cost-effective way to build your own personal brand and look great in the process. Winning Agent Pro is perfect for showing off your personality, your community, and your real estate listings. Take a test drive here and put yourself in the picture.

For today’s tech-savvy home buyer, websites are one more way potential clients will judge you and your company. If you have a website that does builds credibility and reputation in the eyes of your potential clients, you’ll be putting yourself into the top 1% of your profession.

So what are you waiting for? Let’s get started!

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Enhancing Your Clients Perception of You http://www.winningagent.com/enhance-clients-perception/ http://www.winningagent.com/enhance-clients-perception/#comments Thu, 17 Jul 2014 22:42:04 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3303 Perception Is Reality. How to Raise Your PQ (Perception Quotient) In 5 Easy Steps As a Realtor, you see yourself as being sharp, educated, playing at the top of your game. You’re pretty sure your clients perceive you the same way. But do they, really? You may know real estate backwards and forwards. You probably […]

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Perception Reality Opposites Truth Vs Myths Facts Fiction

Perception Is Reality. How to Raise Your PQ (Perception Quotient) In 5 Easy Steps

As a Realtor, you see yourself as being sharp, educated, playing at the top of your game. You’re pretty sure your clients perceive you the same way. But do they, really? You may know real estate backwards and forwards. You probably put together awesome deals on a regular basis. But maybe some small things are holding you back. Things like the way you write and speak, for example.

How about a quick five-point checkup on your communication skills?

  • Evaluate your messaging
  • Know your audience
  • Check your grammar
  • Junk the jargon
  • Reevaluate your messaging

1. Evaluate your messaging. Look back over the last week’s worth of emails, text messages, Facebook updates, tweets, and blog posts. Read them as though you were a client. What do you see? Are your messages well written? Are you cluttering them up with acronyms, abbreviations and purposely misspelled words? Electronic communication has made lazy writers of us all. But this trend does not add a thing to your professional image. Resolve that for the next week, you will use complete sentences, correct punctuation, and avoid acronyms and shortcut words. Which brings us to point #2,

2.Know your audience. Communicating with your kids, your spouse, or your close friends is an audience where you can take a few more liberties. But that stops when you enter the office door. Even if you feel you have a great personal relationship, even a friendship, with many of your clients, your written communications with them should be professional. This means using complete sentences, correct spelling and punctuation, even in a text message. There’s a big difference in tone between “Meet u in hr at propty,” and “Meet you in an hour at the property.”

Pay attention to age groups as well. If your client is a young married couple, they probably prefer text messaging over phone calls or emails. If they are empty-nesters or seniors, a phone call might be the way to go. And you can bet that many of them have no idea what “lol” means.

3. Check your grammar. My friend Steve is a part time Realtor but his night job is acting as security supervisor for a major gaming casino. He has to read (and unfortunately rewrite) all the incident reports submitted by his security staff. He showed me one report that was a full page long—all in one sentence! Very little punctuation and run-on sentence after run-on sentence. These people are supposed to be professionals. Some of them were even tested for writing skills before they were hired. But Steve is using his valuable supervisory time and skills to redo their work from start to finish.

Who’s checking your grammar? Do you know the difference between it’s and its? To and too? There and their? Do you know that an ‘s always signifies a possessive, never a plural? Little mistakes like these say one of two things: either I know better and I’m too rushed to care, or I don’t know better and therefore I’m not a true professional.

4. Junk the jargon. There are so many pop culture words and phrases that find their way into our daily speech that we’re probably not even aware of them ourselves. How long has it been since you heard “Whatever,” or “My bad,” or “It is what it is.” The first time you hear one of these expressions, you probably think, “That’s cool.” But after 100 or 1,000 times, these expressions simply say, “I’m too lazy to have an original thought, so I’m just going to say whatever pops into my head, which is probably something my teenage daughter brought home from school.”

5. Reevaluate your messaging. So for one week you’ve been monitoring yourself. There are many ways of doing this. You can use your original evaluation to make a list of the 10 most common errors you’re making. Put them in writing and look at them several times a day so they will stay top of mind in all your written and spoken communication.

Or you can make a game of it with a few of your colleagues. Share your most common faux pas and give yourselves permission to call the others on it when you see or hear them stumble. Put a quarter or a dollar in the kitty for a week and use the money to treat yourselves to a pizza or a box of pastries on Friday.

Whatever it costs, it will be worth it when you realize that your clients’ perception of you as a professional has probably risen at least 100% in just a week. Small price to pay for a big jump in credibility.

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When Should I Lock My Mortgage Rate? http://www.winningagent.com/lock-mortgage-rate/ http://www.winningagent.com/lock-mortgage-rate/#comments Thu, 10 Jul 2014 16:35:53 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3274 How should you advise your clients if they ask you about when to lock in their mortgage rate? “When should I lock in my rate on my mortgage?” I get this question all the time.  What a tough question that is…in most cases it is a question that no one can answer with certainty.  So […]

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How should you advise your clients if they ask you about when to lock in their mortgage rate?

“When should I lock in my rate on my mortgage?” I get this question all the time.  What a tough question that is…in most cases it is a question that no one can answer with certainty.  So how do I respond about locking rates?  I generally explain that if I knew what was going to happen with rates, I’d probably be trading bonds from my yacht in the Caribbean with my wife and children.  I use that little bit of humor to clarify the idea that know one really knows what is going to happen with rates tomorrow or over the next month.

There are so many factors that come together into play that mortgage rates fluctuate daily.  It is not uncommon for rates to range over one half of a percent during the course of 30 days.  Know this; even if rates are trending down (or up) it is not uncommon for there to be short term changes in direction that could go against you during the 30-45 days that it takes to close your loan.  Because of this, I will always recommend that you lock your loan as soon as possible.  This advice is the same whether you are buying or refinancing.

Lock-stickie

If you are buying a home, it is very important to lock your loan as soon as possible.  The last thing you would want is for rates to move higher before you lock in and to find out that with the higher interest rate, you do not qualify for the loan. Now, this would not happen with everyone, but many people buy as much home as they can, and higher rates, even by a little, could affect their approval.

If you are refinancing, and the current rate being offered meets your savings goal, then you should lock your rate.  Those that do not fall into this category are generally relying on the hope for low interest rates.  I say hope, because that is really all they have to go on as very few people have any real knowledge of what affects mortgage rates.

Locking-your-mortgage-rate-is-keyAlthough not a scientific study, experience has shown that those that lock their loan early in the transaction tend to end up with a better rate.  I believe the reason for this is that when you wait for a better rate (and they do get better) you still don’t lock because you are looking for an even better rate.  Then, when rates move higher (and they always do during the normal life cycle of applying for a mortgage loan) you lock out of fear because rates just moved higher.  The end result is that most of those that “play” the rate game lock when rates go higher instead of at the initial interest rate offered, or when they do move down.

Have a question or comment about this post?  How about what happened to you?  Leave a comment and I’ll respond.

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3 SEO Tips for Realtors You Can Implement Today http://www.winningagent.com/seo-tips-realtors/ http://www.winningagent.com/seo-tips-realtors/#respond Wed, 02 Jul 2014 02:09:49 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3221 Everybody wants to be on page one of Google, but it takes a lot of work to get there. Sure, your IDX listings may be indexed, but is that enough to get your website the visibility it needs to generate business? Here are 3 quick SEO tips designed for real estate agents to help you […]

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Everybody wants to be on page one of Google, but it takes a lot of work to get there. Sure, your IDX listings may be indexed, but is that enough to get your website the visibility it needs to generate business?

Here are 3 quick SEO tips designed for real estate agents to help you improve your site visibility today.

SEO Tips for Realtors

SEO Tip #1: Use keywords to name your images.

You’ve got a new listing going on the market. You drove by the property, whipped out your iPhone and took a few pics to use on your website. So far, so good! But here’s where most of us miss an SEO opportunity: We upload it directly to our website, with an absolutely meaningless name, like:

IMG_2807.JPG

Next time, take the extra step of renaming the photo before uploading it to your site. Use file names that are both meaningful (i.e. give you actual context of what the photo is) and contain a keyword or key phrase. For example:

cool-landscaping-idea.jpg

tudor-style-home-chicago.jpg

Search engines can’t see your photos, but they can read your photo names, so naming your images in a way that makes more sense (with or without sight) is good for SEO. The only catch is, don’t go crazy. Don’t keyword-stuff your file names (that just looks smarmy), but do take advantage of an easy opportunity to beef up your keywords where you can.

SEO Tip #2: Do your homework

I’ll let you in on a little secret: It’s not hard to rank top of Google… if you’re using keywords nobody’s searching for or cares about.

Why am I telling you this? Well, if you’ve spent any time trying to improve your site SEO, you’ve likely tried to optimize for certain keywords or key phrases based on your geography or area of real estate expertise. That’s great and maybe you even rank well for those targeted terms, but here’s the question: Is anybody searching for your keywords and key phrases? If not, you’re wasting your efforts.

The key is (pun intended!), know what people are searching for and then tailor your content around those keywords. I’ll give you two quick ways (one ghetto and one sophisticated) to get an idea of what phrases people use for search.

Use Google

You know when you go to Google, start typing in a search word and it offers up some suggestions to auto-complete? That’s Google making an effort to guess what you’re searching for based on the popularity of other search phrases.

Google Search Completion

While not terribly scientific, this is a quick way to get an idea for potential search terms. If you’re using a free SEO plugin, like WordPress SEO, use the selected phrase as your target term.

I warned you it was ghetto.

If you have a Google Adwords account, there’s a handy keyword research tool that’s a more sophisticated that just using your search bar.

Use a Paid Research Tool

There are loads of paid services on the web for keyword research, but my favorite is Scribe by Copyblogger Media. It lives right in your WordPress dashboard, so no web surfing required.

You can do rich keyword analysis from your post editor and grade your post content against your selected keyword (in other words, how relevant is your content for the selected keyword and what are the odds of getting ranked for it).

Scribe SEOScribe does other cool stuff as well, like helping you improve your internal link structure, making suggestions for social sharing based on current trends, and more. It’s not cheap, but if you write regular content, it’s definitely worth looking into.

SEO Tip #3: Write. Right Now.

There’s no magic pill to improve your SEO. Great SEO happens when you’re writing regular, relevant content. And writing content takes time and commitment.

If writing isn’t your thing, but you still want to publish regular content, Winning Agent can help (yes, that is a shameless plug). We can write property-specific posts, hyperlocal blog content,  or general real-estate topics.

If you want to write your content, but just need a little inspiration in the right direction, try out one of these ideas:

  • Pick a topic and write a series (i.e. building a home, or preparing to relocate)
  • Go try a new restaurant in town (yes, please!) and then write about your experience
  • Offer up a seasonal tips post (i.e. how to select a lawn care company, or how to deal with water restrictions)

Not every post has to be focused on buying and selling homes. Let your personality and unique local perspective come through in your content. If you want to see a realtor who’s done a great job of this, check out Doug Francis.

One last thing…

At the end of the day, we put our time, money, and efforts into our websites, because we want potential clients to see the unique value we offer. A great ranking in Google is just a means to an end – the end being the joy of handing over keys to a new homeowner, or getting a thank-you note for helping a family make a smooth transition to a new city (and, let’s not lie, cashing that commission check).

My final SEO tip? While it’s smart to think about SEO, don’t let it consume you. Think about your readers and what they’re looking for.

Trust me, if it’s good for your readers, it’s good for your SEO.

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How to Add a Custom Color Scheme to Winning Agent Pro http://www.winningagent.com/add-custom-color-scheme-winning-agent-pro/ http://www.winningagent.com/add-custom-color-scheme-winning-agent-pro/#respond Sat, 21 Jun 2014 11:00:48 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3173 The Winning Agent Pro theme comes out of the box with 4 color options, but perhaps you’d like to add your own to better match your brand. This tutorial will show you how. Requirements: This tutorial requires some basic PHP and CSS edits. The code snippets are provided below. If you are new to editing […]

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The Winning Agent Pro theme comes out of the box with 4 color options, but perhaps you’d like to add your own to better match your brand. This tutorial will show you how.

Requirements: This tutorial requires some basic PHP and CSS edits. The code snippets are provided below. If you are new to editing WordPress files, please take a moment to read this.

Don’t want to code? No problem! Save yourself the time and the frustration and let us create a custom color scheme for you for $99 (includes installation). Buy it now!

Overview

To choose a theme’s color style, you go (from your WP admin dashboard) to Genesis > Theme Settings > Color Style. Our approach to adding a new color style involves two steps:

  1. Add a new color selection to theme Color Style drop-down (done in functions.php)
  2. Add the new colors to the stylesheet (done in style.css)

So, we’ll keep the original color options intact and add a new color style (your custom color scheme). The benefit of this approach is that you can easily change back to another color scheme down the road.

Step 1: Add a new color selection to theme Color Style

Assuming you have installed and activated the Winning Agent Pro theme, from your WP admin dashboard, you can navigate to Genesis > Theme Settings > Color Style and see this:

Default Color Styles

Note that the Default color is the Gold/Black as show in the theme demo.

Now comes the fun part – let’s add your custom color scheme to this drop-down list!

Open up functions.php in your preferred text editor

Note: Do not edit files directly from the WordPress dashboard. If you’re new to editing WordPress files and didn’t read the link I posted earlier in the article, here’s your second chance. :)

In your functions file, you’ll find this bit of code:

View this code snippet on GitHub.

Here’s an explanation of what you’re looking at, straight out of the Genesis Framework documentation:

The style selector can be enabled and populated by adding an associated array of style => title when initiating support for genesis-style-selector in the child theme functions.php file. When selected, the style will be added as a body class which can be used within style.css to target elements when using a specific style.

So, we need to add our custom style to the array. I’ll take a moment to explain the format:

View this code snippet on GitHub.

'wap-orange', housed in single quotes, is the style that will correspond to the CSS we cover in the next step. In other words, if you select this option, you can use the selector .wap-orange in your CSS to target any theme element. You’ll want to change this to reflect your own color scheme. I recommend prefixing it with wap-, for consistency, and a single word after for brevity (you’ll be using this a lot in your CSS, so you don’t want a crazy long selector).

The double underscores with parenthesis __( ) is a PHP function used for localizing, or translating, a string. Winning Agent Pro is a translation-ready theme, meaning that we’ve prefixed all labels that appear on the front end with __( ), so that someone could easily translate the theme to another language.

Next up is 'Winning Agent Pro White/Orange' which is just the label we give to our color option. Its what shows up the the Genesis > Theme Settings > Color Style dropdown. You’ll want to change that label to reflect your own color scheme.

Finally, that little 'wap' at the end. What is that? Shorthand, I’d refer to it as the child theme prefix. Technically it’s the child theme text domain, used for localization. That’s probably TMI, but bottom line is keep it.

So, once you add your own code in, your updated code block will look something like this:

View this code snippet on GitHub.

Don’t forget to save your functions.php file!

Ready to check your work? Head over to Genesis > Theme Settings > Color Styles and you’ll see your new color selection in the drop down list. You can go ahead and select it, but of course it won’t do anything as we haven’t added those colors to the stylesheet yet.

Step 2: Add your colors to the style sheet.

Alright, now it’s time to open up style.css in your text editor. The simplest way to approach the color customization is to copy/paste an existing color style and then change the color values to match your color scheme.

You’ll notice a section in the style sheet called Theme Colors. In that section are the color options for Blue/Green, Red/Gray, and White/Orange. Since the default color scheme is Gold/Black, those colors are used throughout the stylesheet and it doesn’t have it’s own section.

Note that you may have to tweak certain elements, but to get started, let’s copy the Blue/Green section and paste it into a separate file for now.

View this code snippet on GitHub.

Search and replace every instance of .wap-blue with whatever style prefix you specified in the previous step.

Now you’re on the home stretch! Switch out the HEX values of the colors here with your preferred colors. If you need help selecting colors or getting the HEX value, use a tool like colorpicker.com or colorschemedesigner.com.

Once you’ve swapped out the colors, copy your new CSS chunk and place it back into your style sheet. In order to keep your styles organized and clean, I recommend placing your new color option directly after the White/Orange style block.

Save that sucker!

If you haven’t already, go select your new color theme from the Genesis Theme Settings page. Then go check out your site in the browser!

Troubleshooting Tips

It’s highly likely that you’ll want to tweak the color on certain elements differently than the “template” you were following by using the Blue/Green style selectors as a starting point.

If you’re still new to CSS, I recommend using a tool like Firebug or Chrome Developer Tools to help you identify what element you want to target with your CSS. Here’s a quick screen cast on using Firebug.

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Reverse Mentoring: A New Look at an Old Concept http://www.winningagent.com/reverse-mentoring-new-look-old-concept/ http://www.winningagent.com/reverse-mentoring-new-look-old-concept/#respond Thu, 19 Jun 2014 01:46:38 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3163 Did you know that January was National Mentoring Month? Missed it? Well it’s a little bit late to celebrate, but if you feel bad about missing this important event, there is something you can do to make up for it. Try reverse mentoring. In case you’re not familiar with the concept, here’s an example. When your four-year-old […]

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Reverse Mentoring: A New Look at an Old Concept

Did you know that January was National Mentoring Month? Missed it? Well it’s a little bit late to celebrate, but if you feel bad about missing this important event, there is something you can do to make up for it. Try reverse mentoring.

In case you’re not familiar with the concept, here’s an example. When your four-year-old granddaughter shows you how to Skype, that’s reverse mentoring.

Now we’re not suggesting that you invite your granddaughter to your next listing conference, but we do think that Realtors at whatever stage of their careers can gain a new perspective on their business by listening to the voices of another generation.

Here are three important areas of your professional life that can benefit from reverse mentoring:

  • Embracing technology
  • Reaching new markets
  • Changing attitudes

Before we give you some specific tips and examples about how you can use reverse mentoring, here’s a quick historical note. According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, the concept of reverse mentoring was pioneered by Jack Welch when he was the CEO at General Electric. Welch instructed 500 of his top level managers to partner up with young workers who could teach them how to use the Internet. Since that time, the concept has been used effectively in many Fortune 500 companies and other major businesses around the world. However, our brief and very anecdotal research indicates that reverse mentoring is not widespread in the real estate industry. Now could be the time to change that. Let’s begin with:

1. Embracing technology. In 2014, it’s doubtful that you need someone to teach you about the Internet. But how about partnering with a 20-something who can show you how to add some pizzazz to your Twitter and Facebook posts? You might even learn the finer points of using Instagram, Pinterest, Dropbox, and other tools for enhancing your visual presence on the Internet. And if the only thing on your iPod playlist is a collection of Frank Sinatra albums—you need all the help you can get!

2. Reaching new markets. Not all millennials are couch surfing with friends or returning to the empty nest they left behind at Mom and Dad’s. Recent research shows that millennials, a generation totaling about 75 million in the U.S., will be outspending every other generation, including baby-boomers, within the next five years. So it stands to reason that some of them may be in the market for a home. And whether they are interested in a studio condo, a converted loft, or a house-sharing arrangement with sorority sisters, they probably won’t respond to the same marketing techniques that have made you a success with young families or baby boomers.

When it comes to making big buying decisions, such as a first-time home purchase, millennials are more likely to rely on input from friends, family and even complete strangers. They’re totally tied to the Internet, which means that your marketing strategies must include social media marketing, search engine optimization and most of all, user-generated content. Your 20-something mentor can drastically shorten your learning curve by showing you how to implement these things.

3. Changing attitudes. Most of us have been doing the same things the same way for so long that we’ve dug ourselves into a nice comfortable little rut. Millennials have a totally different take on work, especially when it comes to location, environment, and work-life balance. The corner office or the title on the business card is less important to a millennial than workplace interaction, socialization, and a creative environment. They embrace concepts like job-sharing, unconventional work schedules, and kids (or even pets) in the office.

Why not ask your young mentor to put together a brainstorming session where people meet to discuss ways to create more collaboration in your office? Or maybe he or she could help you redesign your office space in a way that takes better advantage of technology and encourages creativity? The possibilities for growth and change are almost endless.

And here’s a nice bonus: Everything we’ve discussed so far is pretty much a one-way street. But reverse mentoring benefits the millennial mentors in totally different, but no less important, ways. They gain visibility with the people who matter. You have a chance to see their unique talents and give them opportunities to shine. This produces a high level of motivation and job satisfaction. Productivity increases while turnover decreases. As the song says, “Who could ask for anything more?”

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FHA 203k Contractor – How To Choose The Right One http://www.winningagent.com/hiring-a-203k-contractor/ http://www.winningagent.com/hiring-a-203k-contractor/#respond Thu, 12 Jun 2014 00:16:35 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3118 Choosing the right 203k contractor is scary for most people.  Add an FHA 203k loan into the mix, along with lender contractor requirements, and it’s downright confusing.  When working with 203k loans (and I’ve done hundreds of them), I always gave specific guidance to my clients on how to choose the right contractor. Follow these suggestions to choose a […]

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How To Hire The Right 203k Contractor

Choosing the right 203k contractor is scary for most people.  Add an FHA 203k loan into the mix, along with lender contractor requirements, and it’s downright confusing.  When working with 203k loans (and I’ve done hundreds of them), I always gave specific guidance to my clients on how to choose the right contractor.

Follow these suggestions to choose a good FHA 203k contractor

Hire a Real Contractor – Don’t overlook this point; it is probably the most important.  Look for a contractor that is a contractor all the time, not someone who is an accountant by day and contractor at night (no offense accountants).  You don’t want a contractor that works out of the trunk of his car or his spouse’s minivan.  Contractors that are in business full time are the way to go.

Permits – Some contractors say it’s better to not get a permit.  I hear this all the time, and it’s generally a lie.  Competent contractors pull permits.  Besides it being a requirement for all FHA 203k contractors and most lenders, it can really cause a lot of pain for you with the city or town you live in to not have a permit.  I’ve seen people be forced to rip out all of their newly rehabbed kitchen because they didn’t pull a permit.  And, yes, permits are required on 203k loans.

Licenses – Would you go to a doctor who doesn’t have a license? It is not difficult for a contractor to get a license; generally, it’s proof of insurance, and depending upon the trade, proof of competency.  If the one you’re looking at doesn’t have one, skip him or ask him to get one.  The lender that originates your FHA 203k loan will want to see their license too.

Insurance – This is non-negotiable.  Hire only contractors that have liability insurance and workers compensation for obvious reasons.  Real contractors have insurance; they want it just as much as you do.

Referrals – There are many places to get a recommendation for a good rehab contractor.  Start with friends and family.  Try your Realtor or lender.  But, there is a catch with referrals.  Never use a referral if the contractor is a “friend” or “family member” of the person referring them to you.  It may turn out ok, but more often than not, it doesn’t.

Also be wary of kickback fees. Be bold, and ask the person giving you the referral and the contractor if they are paying or receiving a referral fee.  No one should be paid a referral fee simply for providing a connection.  Think about it; where is the impartial opinion when the person giving you a recommendation knows they will get a 5% or 10% cut from the contractor?

If the people you know don’t produce some good results, try your local hardware store.  I have hung out in the electrical section of Home Depot and Lowes and just waited for a contractor to come and talk to.

Steps to Take in Vetting a 203k Contractor

Don’t make the mistake of just assuming a referral means they are a great contractor. It is very important to always keep an open mind and do some reasonably in-depth due diligence on a contractor. The fact that someone did a good job for one or two other people is a good sign, but to ensure your rehab success you should complete your vetting of the contractor with several other pieces of information.  You may not be able, nor want to do them all, but definitely do some vetting.

References – A professional contractor should have at least three non-family, recent references; most will have a lot more. Don’t be rude, but don’t be afraid to ask tough questions when you speak to the references. You can settle for looking at photos, but it’s ok to ask to actually inspect a recent example of the contractor’s work. A solid, long-term contractor should have a couple of clients who are willing to let him at least briefly show you their homes.

Better Business Bureau – Check with your local better business bureau; this is an easy step to take that can save you a lot of hassle. Make sure to check for complaints under both the company name and the name of the contractor.

Cash Flow – Since the FHA 203k loan requires that a 203k contractor be able to cash flow the project, I would make sure that the contractor has the ability to do so.  The contractor must be able to start the project without requiring any money up front from you.  They should have the ability to purchase materials and pay their employees and subs while they wait to receive a draw from the lender.  The one exception is the streamline 203k which allows for up to one half of the repairs to be paid to the 203k contractor at the loan closing.  However, not all lenders will permit this, and I would still not be in favor of hiring a contractor that wants you to cash flow his business.

Previous 203k Contractor - Most contractors have never worked on an FHA 203k project; that should not disqualify them.  However, it is a great positive if a contractor you’re looking at has worked on a 203k before.  They should be able to explain to you the 203k contractor requirements and be familiar with the process and what forms are necessary.

For larger jobs I would insist on a little more information.  If you’re planning on giving someone $40,000 and allowing them to spend months in your home, they better be willing to prove to you they are worthy.

Do a Credit Check – Ask for permission to run a credit check on both the company and the contractor.  You don’t necessarily need to see the full report, just make sure there are no bankruptcies or recent debt charge offs.  If you see a lot of past due credit cards, that could mean they are using your money to pay off a previous job.

Background Check – Do a criminal history check on the contractor – This step is especially important if you are going to have the contractors in your home when you are not present.  It can take a little extra time and money depending on the state where you live, but could be well-worth it if you turn up a major red flag.

The FHA 203k loan requires a real contractor that can complete your project on time. Interview real full time contractors and expect them to be able to answer your questions and prove to you they are capable of completing your project on time and on budget.

As a final point, do not simply look for the lowest priced contractor.  Look for the most competent contractor that is familiar with your type of project.  It will be cheaper in the long run.

Got an opinion? Tell me about it below.

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How to Make People Like You: 5 Proven Methods http://www.winningagent.com/make-people-like-you-five-proven-methods/ http://www.winningagent.com/make-people-like-you-five-proven-methods/#comments Thu, 05 Jun 2014 02:10:15 +0000 http://www.winningagent.com/?p=3069 Think you can’t make people like you?  Think again. Do people like you? Why? And if some of them don’t, why don’t they? Are you the kind of person other people are consistently drawn to? Do you attract the best clients, co-workers and friends? If you want to increase your likeability factor, ask yourself these […]

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5 proven ways to make people like you

Think you can’t make people like you?  Think again.

Do people like you? Why? And if some of them don’t, why don’t they? Are you the kind of person other people are consistently drawn to? Do you attract the best clients, co-workers and friends? If you want to increase your likeability factor, ask yourself these five important questions.

  • How much time do I spend talking about myself?
  • Do I ask for and accept feedback?
  • What kind of feedback do I give to others?
  • Do I speak positively about myself and others?
  • If other people could change one thing about me, what would it be?

1. How much time do I spend talking about myself? Business coaches and self-help gurus often advise people to toot their own horns, let others know about their accomplishments so they will get the credit they deserve and be perceived as successful. And there is certainly nothing wrong with a little well placed self-promotion. But if you track your conversations for a day, or even an hour, how much time do you spend talking about yourself vs. listening to others? Just for one day, make a conscious effort to ask your co-worker about his day before you tell him about yours. Talk about how his kids are doing in school before you brag about your Sally’s A in math. Ask about the listing he’s been trying to land and listen to him tell his story without offering any unsolicited advice. If he asks your opinion, share your ideas briefly, and then redirect the conversation back to him.

When the day is over, think about the conversations you’ve had. Were they more satisfying than usual? Did you feel more of a connection with others?

2. Do I ask for and accept feedback? A lot of us operate on the principle that “No news is good news.” If my boss isn’t criticizing my work, then I must be doing great, right? Not necessarily. Asking for feedback and advice is one of the best ways to get others to engage with you. What’s the best way to reach out to a co-worker, a client, or even a complete stranger? You have to ask the right questions and you have to ask the questions right. Assume that the person you’re talking to wants to help but she’s probably super busy and preoccupied with her own issues. Keep your question short, focused, and specific.

For example, if you’re asking your boss for feedback, don’t generalize. “How am I doing, Marsha?” is far too vague. “Marsha, how could I improve my video on the Gibson property?” gives Marsha an opportunity to give you some specific advice about a specific client—something you can implement immediately. Do that, of course, and don’t forget to thank her.

3. What kind of feedback to I give to others? Now the shoe is on the other foot. If a co-worker or subordinate asks you for feedback, respond with a question. Example: Jason says, “How do you think I’m doing?” You respond, “Good question. Tell me what you thought about your listing meeting yesterday.” This makes Jason feel as though you value his work and his opinion. And it gives you a kick-off point for giving him some feedback he can really use. You’re having a collaborative discussion rather than a critique.

4. Do I speak positively about myself and others? Gossip is good, but only if it’s done in a positive context. Skip the mundane chatter in the coffee room about who’s dating whom or how much Andrew spent on his new motorcycle. Instead, share some good news about a co-worker. “Did you hear that Cindy’s presentation really wowed that new client yesterday?” Spreading good news about a colleague or the company as a whole reflects positive light on both them and you. And on the flip side, if you are constantly spreading negative news about others, you’re not seen as trustworthy. If you tell me something negative about Cindy, what will you say about me when I’m out of the room?

5. If other people could change one thing about me, what would it be? This question calls for some honest introspection, and it might be a bit uncomfortable. It demands that you spend a little time seeing yourself through someone else’s eyes, and that’s not easy. Think about how you dress and how you talk. Are you willing to help a co-worker who’s in trouble with a client? Are you supportive when a client is having trouble with a buying decision? Are you on time for meetings? Do you complain about the traffic or the weather the minute you come in the door, or do you find something positive to say?

Likeability is a quality that must be constantly cultivated. Being negative, critical, or indifferent is the easy way out. It doesn’t take any effort at all. You don’t even have to think about it. Tomorrow, just for one day, keep the five questions we’ve outlined above on a card next to your phone or tape them to the visor in your car. And see what a difference a day makes.

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