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Stretch Your Team... And Your Budget

February 5, 2013

Building a successful multicultural real estate practice takes time, skill and business savvy, especially knowing how to grow your business without breaking the bank. Here are three areas global agents may want to explore:

1. Low-cost logos

If you’re forming a new real estate team, your first need may be a new logo and business cards. Note that marketing techniques and branding decisions may be dictated by state regulations governing how teams represent themselves in the market and/or subject to review and approval by your broker or corporate marketing department. If you need to develop your own branding, look online for numerous low-cost sources for logo and business card design, including:

99 Designs

Hatchwise

Logo Design Team

LogoSnap

Logoworks

LogoYes

Some of these services offer packages, where you first decide how many logos/designers you want to select from. Others work as contests, where you name your price and designers compete to supply the winning logo. Yet others are ‘do-it-yourself’ logo sites. Many logo sites also offer low-cost business card design and printing.

2. Part-time assistants

Virtual assistants can serve a valuable role, filling various temporary or ongoing needs, including website programming, design or maintenance, social media support, and various administrative tasks. Numerous sites let you post individual projects for competitive bidding or search for the right freelancer to fill your needs, including:

ELance

Freelancer

iFreelance

Guru

ODeskProject

4Hire

It may also make sense to seek out local assistants who can work part-time with occasional face-to-face contact. If you have a college or university nearby, investigate student interns. If you are trying to forge ties with a local immigrant group, seek out someone from the community who might be able to provide administrative assistance or other types of support.

For example, an assistant who is a member of the local immigrant community can help you forge ties by monitoring upcoming events, new businesses, and advertising/sponsorship opportunities—all of which can be leveraged for marketing purposes, including posts on your blog or Facebook business page. Just make sure that assistants do not engage in any conduct that requires a real estate license, unless you are using licensed assistants.

3. Translations

Any agent with foreign language skills certainly has a competitive edge. But if you don’t speak your clients’ language, you can still leverage new technologies that will help bridge the gap and demonstrate you are making an extra effort to connect.

Most importantly, buyers from all over the world will soon be able to view listings on REALTOR.com in 11 different languages, providing tremendous opportunities for non-English-speaking buyers to do business the way they feel most comfortable (See page 8 for more details.) To continue communicating with them in their native language, you can leverage NAR tools like the CIPS Widget. This free resource provides convenient 140-character translations (as well as currency, area and time conversions and world holidays) in an easy-to-use app for your smartphone or placed on your PC desktop. This free resource can be downloaded at realtor.org/global/cips/personal_marketing_materials.

For other convenient and free translations, check out Google Translate, which now offers as-you-speak translations for Android phone users. Called ‘conversation mode,’ the service records a user’s speech, converts it to text, translates, then sends an audio recording in the new language to the other phone. While each speaker must hit a ‘submit’ button, Google’s ultimate goal is to provide simultaneous voice translation.

Launched early this year, only Spanish-English translations are initially supported on Android devices. But since Google offers voice-to-text support for fifteen languages, more translation options are certainly on the horizon. And text-to-text translations are now available for 53 languages!

Not surprisingly, all machine translations deliver mixed results. You don’t want to rely on them for important documents, like contracts. For this, your local REALTOR® association may be able to help, providing translated versions of standard contracts. Another helpful product is DocuSign®, which allows you to send, sign, track, and store documents from anywhere in the world in over 10 languages. Visit www.realtor.org/realtor_benefits for REALTOR®-exclusive discounts (available to U.S. REALTORS® only, coming soon for international REALTORS®). However, translations of contracts are supplemental information only and do not replace the official agreement written in English. For legal purposes, both parties must sign the same document so your client will still need to sign a real estate contract written in English.