Dachia here. Welcome back to Focus On Your Small Business.
I wanted to share a story with you about my personal experience working in/for a real estate company. There is a lot more to this story, but today I just want to share a small part of it.
And the reason I want to share this story is that I want to impress upon you how important your website is. And that you do need one. AND… you can still do this yourself. It can be quite simple.
Let’s dive in.
I was working as a virtual assistant for a Realtor. At least, that’s what I had signed on for. My client needed me to be actually in the office with her … and that turned out to be more and more… thus negating the virtual aspect and making it not at all cost-effective for me, but that’s another story.
While I was there one day, the managing broker, having become aware of my experience, asked me to take a look at the company website and give them some advice on how to make it better, if possible, because they didn’t get many leads through it.
I hadn’t really noticed the website before this. It was not part of my purpose there.
But I didn’t mind doing it. So, I dove in.
And…it was horrible.
I was surprised I never really noticed before.
Let me give you a few of the oh-so-many issues with the website.
The landing page included a large, not incredibly beautiful picture of local landscape. No houses. Not one. Just a static image of outdoors.
That image took up the entire space above the fold. When I say above the fold, it means without scrolling down. And in the middle of that image was an ugly search box. That search box was a typical “what sort of house are you looking for” type box. However, because of its placement, it gave the impression that you had to fill that out to see anything or leave that area.
My first suggestion was to change that image to a home. Or a slideshow of homes in the area. And to move that search box off the image and to change its format.
But then… if you happened to see that you could scroll down, it really got ugly.
There you would find a hodge podge of images of homes and properties for sale with a little information on each.
And there was no formatting at all. It was laid out in sort of a grid fashion, but all the pics were different sizes and some properties would include the number of rooms and a price and others would tell you the square footage… there was just no pattern. I mean it was an ugly mess.
But wait.. there’s more.
There were maybe 9-10 images there and then you scroll further and there was information in the center column, completely unformatted, that’d not go all the way to the sides, as the margins, which were the background image were overly wide margins. So there were these huge margins on the side of this white column in the middle.
Do you remember Blogger? Back in 2009… that’s when I got started blogging. And Blogger was what I used.
It was free… and simple. You chose a header image and a background… and there was white space in the middle to put your content.
That is exactly what this webpage looked like. And this was 9 years later.
So, I suggested formatting the images and including the same info on each and putting a lot more on the page.
And everything that was under those images… get rid of it. It made no sense to have a picture of the company car or grey-scale image of the course they were offering.
So, I wrote this up in a report, but the owner/broker just wanted it handled. I was asked to contact the company that services the site and make those changes.
After all… they have been paid… $700 … every month… for 10 years… this is something they should be able to do.
Wait… first of all… this has never changed in 10 years… and second… you kept paying for this for 10 years?
My first takeaway from this is you must audit your company. Bring in fresh eyes every 6 months, but no longer than a year… and get a fresh take on what image you are creating of your company.
And my second immediate takeaway is do not keep paying for a service if the provider offers you no updates. 10 years looking at this Blogger page… and even blogger updated several times… and that’s free.
So, I sent an email to the company, who had their contact info on the bottom of this page.. and included some of the points of my report. My report included what position this company was in the search returns for the keywords they wanted.
I suggested that ONE reason for this was that Google was looking at the bounce rate. There was nothing to keep a person on that landing page. I made suggestions on how the page could be more inviting and then we would see where the search results were. Change the header image, format the properties, get rid of everything under them and include more of them.
And they responded.. I kept the message. It was so incredibly .. what’s the word… rude, demeaning, insolent?… that I kept it and all the other messages from them.
Actually, I pretty much keep all messages… but the ones from this company hold a special place in my heart.
I suggested the owner look at other website builders and go somewhere else. These guys were highly overpriced considering the non-service of 10 years… and … they sucked at customer service.
Customer service is something I know very well. You do it well, like Chewy.com and I will sing your praises. You suck at it… like Camping World… and I will likewise tell the world… repeatedly… as often as I possibly can.
I was asked if I would like to build them a website.
3rd takeaway… Good grief… just because somebody knows more about something than you do does not mean they are a pro or should be paid to do it.
I found them a local guy who had built another agency’s site and it was very nice… and ranked high in a search… It was inviting. Big beautiful pictures of homes for sale… a sliding header image… I mean really quite nice.
We met with him and then the owner brought in opinions from corporate. Because apparently a great deal of the company nationwide was using the same company for their website.
So, I looked at some of the other sites and all were better, but still rather ho-hum. I suggested the entire company leave them.
They suggested a meeting between all of the main players, which somehow included me, and the corporate folks… and the folks from the website builder company. I wanted nothing to do with that. This had already moved me from happy virtual assistant who did work I bid for, to pseudo employee who had to attend meetings and do higher value work for peanuts… No.. I wanted nothing further to do with this.
The fact that this company had some sort of tie with a company who had been soaking them for $700 a month… for several offices… for 10 years… and for whatever reason wanted to stay… Nope… I’m moving on.
All of this happened in about Aril of 2018. I left my client in Sept.
I’m looking at the page right now. Header image was changed before I left, much better… but the text over the image still contains a grammar error that was there for 2 months before I left and was brought to their attention at the time. The search box has a better format and placement… but all the gobbledygook after the properties is still there..
The bottom 2/3rds of the landing page is just junk.
4th takeaway? If you want to change something… then do it. Don’t just pay it some lip service and move on.
If you are paying a company to provide you with a service… and they aren’t providing you with that service… stop paying them. Find somebody else.
Personally, I will never suggest Onjax to any of my clients or members.
Ok… maybe if they sold out and changed names… and all their employees and I didn’t realize who it was… then yeah… maybe.
I’ll keep letting you know what works and what doesn’t.
Keep in mind that if you are spending hours and hours in research mode online, learning what you need to do to build your business and then hours more figuring out how… you might want to check out the membership site. It can save you many hours every month in research and determining which resources are accurate and worth your attention.
You can find more information and a webinar that will walk you through whether or not this is the right path for you, on dachia.com/membership
Until next week. Make it a good one. It’s all up you… with a little bit of me.