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5 Lies that Restrict Real Estate Agents from Going Solo

Going solo is a very appealing venture for many real estate agents currently under the umbrella of a bigger broker or firm, but it’s also surrounded by a lot of stigma within the industry.

However, there is much to be gained by leaving a company and deciding to make it on your own, like newfound freedom, independence, and yes—even higher salaries. Many of the cases against going it on your own are perpetuated by five lies:

1. “You can’t afford the operation costs.”

Starting your own real estate business does have certain costs, but with proper planning, operating costs should not extend past general start up costs. On average, start up costs can run about $1,500-$2,000 for necessities like licensing and insurance. However, if you operate your business from the home, rent an office cubicle or meeting rooms as needed, operating costs can be as low as $50-$100 per month.

2. “You won’t be able to have a brick and mortar presence.”

Even if you don’t have a permanent physical location for your business, you can still create the appearance of a brick and mortar presence. With a virtual office space, you can have a professional business address to use on your websites and business cards, mail forwarding services, and lobby directory listings. If you need to meet with a client, you can meet at the very same address in any of the variety of meeting spaces available.

3. “You won’t have access to the best technology.”

Going solo doesn’t necessarily mean that you won’t have access to the same technology offered by another company, neither does it mean you should purchase next generation tech and devices out of pocket. When presenting or meeting with a client, either in person or through audio/video conferencing, you can use available high-tech presentation tools included with virtual office solutions, such as meeting room rentals and virtual receptionist services.

4. “You won’t make as much as you would under a brand.”

Another misconception about going solo as a real estate agent is that your potential for a higher salary will decrease. Reports actually show that the annual salary of real estates that leave larger firms and companies to work alone can increase by as much as $100,000. This is largely due to the fact that compensation would no longer need to be shared among multiple business partners. You keep every penny you have earned.

5. “You’ll have to do everything on your own.”

While it is true that going solo will, indeed, involve extra work, you do not have to do everything on your own. Many real estate agents find that though they want to do everything themselves, they quickly burn out and lose productivity. If at any point you feel overwhelmed, you may need to ask yourself if you need to hire a virtual receptionist. Virtual receptionist services can assist with call forwarding/screening, appointment scheduling, and a wide variety of other administrative tasks so you have more time available to work on higher priority business.

If you are at a firm and thinking about going solo, don’t be afraid to make the leap. While it is a challenging enterprise, the rewards are immense. Not only will you have more independence, you will also have the potential for a larger percentage of commission and the ability to recruit partners as you see fit when it is time for your firm to expand. Until then, virtual office solutions can help you maximize productivity and cut costs along the way.

Find the confidence to go solo as a real estate agent with virtual office solutions by contacting Davinci Virtual today.

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Get Meaningful Client Connections with Quick Conversation Tips

Small talk serves a great purpose. Good small talk helps create a deeper bond, especially in business settings. Unfortunately, no matter how seasoned of a conversationalist you are, sometimes business conversations can seem awkward or forced.

To help you out, here are five simple things you can do to get the conversation flowing and make a truly meaningful client connection:

1. Express curiosity

One of the simplest ways to make meaningful client connections is to express curiosity. Did they say something clever or interesting? Ask them to elaborate. Did they make a passing comment about their family or their plans for the weekend? Ask about the details. Asking good questions demonstrates that you are actively engaged in the conversation and deepens the bond between you and your client, even if it’s off topic, so don’t be afraid of asking questions that don’t pertain to business.

Examples:

“Have any fun plans for the weekend?

“Oh, you have a dog? What’s his name?”

“How was your anniversary last week?”

2. Make it about them

Have you ever been trapped in a conversation with someone who centers the conversation on themselves? It isn’t pleasant in personal conversations, and conversations with clients are certainly no exception. Flattery is a useful conversation tool in business, so make sure that the conversation is about them. Show interest in their opinions and experiences by noticing things about them and making kind observations. Compliments and positive feedback encourage them to open up and trust you more in business.

Examples:

“That’s a really good point, [their name].”

“You sound chipper today. Did you have a nice weekend?”

“What do you think about this? I really value your feedback.”

3. Do your research

Prior to meeting with a client, do your research. What is their job and at what company? Where are they based? This information can give you a lot of ideas to break the ice. If you know they are the owner of a business located in New York, you can ask how they got into their industry or about the range of their professional responsibilities. Or if you are looking for a more casual conversation, you could discuss current events in New York such as entertainment and well-known establishments. Just a little bit of background information gives way to a lot of topics.

Examples:

“How long have you been at your company?”

“You live in Boston? How’s the snow over there? I hear it’s crazy.”

“Oh, you’re a [job title]. What kind of stuff do you do?”

4. Find commonalities

To establish more meaningful client connections and to make conversation easier long into the future, it is wise to search for commonalities. Did they just get back from a vacation? Ask if they like to travel. If travel is an interest of yours as well, you’ve found some common ground to draw on. Actively listen for hints on their hobbies and interests, including favorite sports teams, volunteer work, or just what they like to do during their off time.

Examples:

“You like the Steelers? Me too! Did you see the game last week?”

“I’m glad to hear you had a nice time on your cruise. Do you like to travel?”

“I was just finished reading [book title/article/etc]. Have you read anything interesting lately?”

5. Don’t forget to listen

As we fret about awkward silences or unnatural conversation, we often forget to listen, which may be the more crucial part of creating meaningful client connections. Conversation is a two-way street, so be sure to listen for cues and try not to interrupt them. There are many things you can do to be an active listener on the job, such as adding short commentary to show you are listening and prompting them to continue. Even try referring to earlier statements in the conversation when possible to demonstrate your focus.

Examples:

“Interesting. That’s a really good point.”

“That reminds me, earlier you said, ‘[X].’ How about [Y].”

“I agree with [restate what they said].”

Small talk is an inevitable part of business, but there are ways to master it and use it to your advantage. Next time you are meeting with a client, keep these tips handy and watch as you engage in a conversation that is sure to create a strong personal and professional bond.

For more advice on creating better client connections and other business solutions, subscribe to the Davinci Virtual blog and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.

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5 reasons why many small business startups fail

In every industry, most small business startups fail, and no matter what we tell ourselves, it’s not simply because of bad luck.

Startups fail for a variety of reasons, but they are always attributed to specific miscalculations. When a small business fails, either right after take-off or farther along the company’s life-cycle, it’s likely because of one of these five reasons:

 

  1. Bad business model

Often, entrepreneurs are overly optimistic, and unfortunately, the “If we build it, they will come” mentality is not a sound business model. Acquiring customers takes time and strategic marketing. You may have a great product, site, or service, but without a great business model, it will not hold your small business afloat.

If you think acquiring a few new customers will equate to success, think again. It’s the first rule to starting a business, but one that entrepreneurs often forget. Acquiring new customers actually costs your business more money than retaining the customers you already have. To avoid business model failure, focus on the lifetime value of a customer more than customer acquisition.

 

  1. Mismanaging finances

Another common reason small businesses fail is financial mismanagement. If you pay little attention to your bottom line, you’re almost immediately doomed to fail. When you’re running a small business, it’s easy to miscalculate operating costs, initial startup costs, product pricing, and founder’s salaries.

To avoid this mistake, be sure to consult a talented accountant, create and maintain a very detailed outline of expenses, and secure a long-term plan to raise cash.

  1. Market issues

It is possible that you can do everything right, but your startup could still fail. The reason may be problems with the market. In many cases, it’s possible that the market timing is bad. Your product or service might be ahead of the market by several years and depend on the emergence of other products in order for it to gain traction.

Additionally, the market should be recognized as dynamic and ever-changing. Even if your product fits the market when you started, it’s possible for the winds to change. Prepare to continually adapt your strategy to stay relevant by thoroughly conducting market research before you begin, and again at least once a year afterwards.

  1. Product/market fit

It’s also possible that the problem lies with your product or service itself, either due to market need or a deeper strategic issue.

Product problems may be also be apparent if there is not enough value proposition. At that moment in time, buyers may not have a compelling enough reason to purchase your product. However, if you properly demonstrate your product’s value to meet a relevant want or need, you have the potential to succeed.

  1. Hiring the wrong people

Even when all other startup elements appear to be in line, many businesses fail because they didn’t hire the right people. Startup managers, in particular, have the tendency to take on too many tasks and responsibilities, preventing both themselves and their team from achieving long term growth.

Free up more of your time and help out your team by learning how to effectively delegate tasks. Even simpler administrative tasks that take up the bulk of a business owner’s day can be outsourced to live virtual receptionists. With virtual receptionist services, hours of your day spent performing duties like customer service, processing orders, or scheduling appointments can be freed up to focus on achieving business goals and providing direction and leadership for your team.

As you take these reasons into consideration, it is critical that you create a living business plan to outline specific steps you will take to achieve success 3-5 years ahead, including your market analysis, financial projections, and plans to raise additional funds. This will help you foresee any possible roadblocks and prevent your small business startup from going under.

To learn more secrets to operating a successful small business, subscribe to our blog and follow us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

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Dramatically Increase Sales Through Better Communication

78% of consumers have canceled a transaction or decided not to make an intended purchase because of a poor customer service experience. -American Express Survey, 2011

Running a small business or startup can be an exciting time for a motivated mobile entrepreneur. With a growing client base, new business opportunities, and a strengthening brand, it's important to keep your customer service consistent and responsive. Recent surveys have shown customer service and communication with current and prospective clients are hugely important when it comes to improving a small business' bottom line. Having a team of live receptionists to answer calls, process orders, provide client support, and help keep your communication with clients organized is one of the most cost-effective and immediate ways to elevate your customer service.

When asked, 67% of respondents to the American Express Survey claimed to have hung up the phone out of frustration for not reaching a real person. While clients understand that at times they may need to leave a voicemail or message, if you're consistently struggling to quickly answer phones, up to 2/3 of your clients will look elsewhere. Davinci live receptionist average an under two second answer time for all inbound calls.

In a 2009 study, a Gensys Global Survey found out that 78% of a happy customer experience is based on competent service reps. While, as the business owner, it would be ideal to speak to every client personally, a trained and always available live receptionist service can always be counted on to provide a happy customer experience for your clients. Based and completely staffed in the United States, Davinci's receptionists will be able to communicate clearly, quickly, and with a personalized touch to your clients.

Finally, Lee Resources found that 91% of unhappy customers will not willingly do business with a company that has provided them with a negative customer service experience. Unless you're the only player in your industry, slow communication and non-personalized customer service will drive your clients to the competition.

To learn how to get your own team of virtual receptionists, please contact us at 888-863-3423 or visit us at www.davincivirtual.com.

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How to Have a Desirable Work Life Balance While Running a Business

We live in a society that demands commitment to be successful, but putting in too many hours is actually detrimental to your health. Employees that work at least eleven hours a day have a higher risk of depression, cardiovascular issues, insomnia, and even early onset dementia.

It’s important to balance work and your life outside of it, not only for your sanity, but also to increase efficiency at work. But when you are the owner of a home-based business, sometimes it might seem impossible to separate your two lives when they share the same space.

With these work life balance tips, you can create a perfect balance between work and your personal life:

Dress for work

If you don’t treat your home-based business like a real workplace, then it’s not going to be a very productive space in which to work. While some business owners like to take advantage of working from home by staying in their pajamas all day, this may not be the best option for someone who wants to stay professional and efficient.

Make a point to dress for work every day. It will help you get in a work-driven mindset and act more professional. Even in a home-based business, you have to remember that you are in a work environment and you should dress accordingly. And of course, when you are done working for the day, those pajamas will offer far more comfort than if you had been lounging in them all day.

Create separate spaces

On the subject of work environments, you should create separate spaces for work and play. To create a more business-like environment, set aside an area in your home to serve as your office, and only perform work duties in that space. Similarly, establish at least one work-free space that is meant purely for entertainment, relaxation, and fun, and do not ever let work cross your established boundaries.

Change of scenery

It’s common for entrepreneurs who work from home to feel stir-crazy, so it’s important to occasionally get a change of scenery. Whether it is during work hours or your downtime, make a point to leave the house.

While working, schedule meetings at other locations, work from your favorite coffee shop, or rent a day office for a couple hours or a few days. Once you are done working for the day or the weekend, make plans that involve going somewhere else: see a movie, go to the park, or go to a restaurant with friends and family.

Learn to turn off work

This may be the most important thing, but also most challenging, that owners of home-based businesses must do. Create a schedule for yourself, starting work at one specific time and clocking out at another. Time outside of those designated hours should be spent doing anything but work.

This means you need to disconnect so that your business is out of sight. Refrain from responding to calls or emails. You could even use virtual receptionist services to assist you by answering calls with a personalized greeting and routing them to you when you are available during work hours so that you aren’t tempted to keep working. Live virtual receptionists come with other features, like voicemail management, so you can rest easy knowing that any calls you miss outside of work hours will be recorded, transcribed, and emailed to you so you can respond when you return to work.

Avoid overtime

When you create a schedule for yourself, stick to it and try to stay within a 7-8 hour workday. This will help you avoid burnout and leave more time for you to unwind and tend to other details of your life. Working overtime is associated with a lot of mental disorders, so it is important to limit your amount of overtime hours to maintain overall health and happiness.

With a few adjustments, an adamant schedule, and commitment to both work and your personal life, it’s possible to find a balance between work and your personal life, even when you work from home.

Contact us to learn more about how Davinci Virtual Receptionist Services can help you strike a work life balance today.

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