Curb Appeal

Brokerage Success: How Virtuance Supports Brand Consistency & Streamlines Photography Operations

October 10, 2023 Virtuance Season 1 Episode 14
Curb Appeal
Brokerage Success: How Virtuance Supports Brand Consistency & Streamlines Photography Operations
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we unveil an inspiring real estate success story that showcases how innovation can revolutionize the industry. Join us as we sit down with Rick Ellis and Katie Sharp from Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Texas Realty to explore their remarkable journey toward achieving marketing excellence through Virtuance.

Discover the challenges faced by Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Texas Realty before embracing Virtuance's cutting-edge solutions. Hear how Virtuance's HDReal® algorithm transformed the quality of property photos, making them stand out in the market.

Learn about the seamless and time-saving solutions Virtuance provides, including simplified photo scheduling. Understand the competitive edge gained by using Virtuance's comprehensive marketing suite and dedicated property websites.

Get insights from agents who witnessed outstanding results and discover how Virtuance became an invaluable tool for experienced and new real estate professionals.

Whether you're a real estate enthusiast or a professional seeking innovative marketing solutions, this episode offers a wealth of insights and inspiration.

Tune in now and elevate your knowledge of real estate marketing!

🔗 Explore Virtuance's services:
🎙️ Subscribe to Curb Appeal for more real estate success stories and industry insights.

[00:00:00] Rachel: Hello everyone. I am so very excited to be sharing with you our first brokerage success story. 

[00:00:06] Today, we are talking with Rick Ellis and Katie Sharp of Berkshire Hathaway Home Services, Texas Realty. We are so excited about our partnership with them and just hearing about all the amazing successes that they've had with Virtuance, we're just incredibly grateful for all of the kind words, and I'm really excited for you to hear from them themselves.

[00:00:22] So without further ado, let's go ahead and hear Rick and Katie's success using Virtuance. 

[00:00:28] If you could just take a moment to share with us your brokerage story, how you got involved in the industry and where you're at currently today. 

[00:00:35] Rick: Rachel. Thank you. My name is Rick Ellis and our brokerage consists of about 200 agents in the central Texas area.

[00:00:42] And, this is my 27th year in real estate. I first heard of Virtuance years ago when I received an email from the company and I thought their name was interesting. I read through the email and what got my attention was a comparison photo of a professionally taken real [00:01:00] estate photo and the Virtuance photo and it was very intriguing in the difference and quite jaw dropping how the Virtuance photo was significantly, more improved than the other photo.

[00:01:12] So I got on the phone, I called Virtuance and we had our convention, our network convention coming up shortly. And I asked Virtuance if a representative was going to be there, and yes, there was gonna be a person there. 

[00:01:25] I made an appointment and I met the gentleman early morning, actually a couple hours before breakfast because both of our schedules were pretty full.

[00:01:32] And, we sat down and I introduced myself and I said, well, I'd like to know a little bit more about who Virtuance is. And what is the deal with these pictures? How can the Virtuance photography, look so much exceedingly better than a professional taken photo? And the gentleman was very nice, and we had a lengthy conversation.

[00:01:53] And he explained that the algorithm is called HDReal®. And I thought, that must be for [00:02:00] high definition real photography, perhaps. And it just got my attention. And after our discussion, I recognized... We need this. 

[00:02:08] Our brokerage, with a couple of hundred agents, we sell lots of real estate. We have a number of sellers who contact us and they expect the very best that we can deliver.

[00:02:18] And I thought, there were some inconsistencies with, several of our agents photography efforts and we needed a consistent system in place that delivered great photography for our listings. And within a few short days, we were on board with Virtuance. 

[00:02:33] It was introduced at our company sales meeting. Agents really recognized the fact that we needed this. The timing was perfect. And again, I think the HDReal® photography really makes a big difference. We noticed it right off the bat. And so we were very happy to bring Virtuance on board and we continue to get consistently great results. 

[00:02:53] Rachel: Yeah. Well, that's incredible. Heck we could just stop the testimonial right after that. 

[00:02:57] Katie: You're not leaving me anything to say, [00:03:00] lord! 

[00:03:00] Rachel: Leave, leave something for Katie.

[00:03:06] Katie: Well, I'm Katie Sharp. I've been with the company about 23 years. As Rick said, when he, brought Virtuance into the company, that's when I first saw it. I, work closely with our agents. So I got to see many different companies' products. And when I saw Virtuance, I was like, okay, wow, this is amazing.

[00:03:26] And so we really just started pushing Virtuance completely because there's no other brand out there that we would want to use. Once we saw the product. 

[00:03:35] So with that said, we, Rick and I, we don't list and sell. That's not our broker model, but there are times that I will have a family member or somebody that I would go out on a listing presentation.

[00:03:47] And so what I always did from that day forward was show the website at the time of Virtuance and showed the consumer, the difference between the two, because a lot of people are [00:04:00] visual, right? And so they wanted to see the difference. And in every listing opportunity that I went on, I got, and I think it, it was a lot because of Virtuance, because they saw the difference.

[00:04:11] It was just another product that I brought to the table for the listing presentation, and I stand above everybody. So that's my little story about how I got to know Virtuance. 

[00:04:22] Rachel: I love that. Thank you both so much for sharing. I just love how you guys have taken advantage, even of just additional materials and including items in your listing appointments and presentations to even help you get the listing and how Virtuance has helped you with all of that. So that's really awesome. 

[00:04:37] Rick, one thing you had brought up was the brokerage overall needing just consistency on how it was marketing listings. So I want to touch on that just for a second. So how would you say that Virtuance Has helped you achieve that consistency, but also why that consistency is so important for your brokerage.

[00:04:54] Rick: It's important for a number of reasons. Many years ago, the technology was not what it is [00:05:00] now. You really didn't have the ability of the multiple listing service to install photos on the listing. And since technology has moved forward, photography has become a more important effort on behalf of the agent to demonstrate to the client that we're putting the property in its best light.

[00:05:15] Before Virtuance, we had a number of agents, and you know, photography is not everybody's forte, is a soft way of putting it. And so, agents were often either without time to complete really nice photos, or they were kind of a half effort on the photos, often they were dark. They was just inconsistency in great looking photography within our listings. 

[00:05:40] There were some photos we would not allow on our website because they just didn't meet up to what we were looking for to demonstrate to everyone looking at those photos that you're with a company that cares about these homes and their presentation concerning the photography.

[00:05:57] So, I immediately recognized, I believe Katie too, [00:06:00] that we needed to have, yes, a more consistent effort from the agents. Perhaps even a little bit of help to the agents. And even beyond that, maybe some replacement of agent photography efforts due to the lack of consistency. And as cameras became more prevalent on phones, there was even more inconsistency.

[00:06:20] So when Virtuance came on board, first of all, the scheduling process is very simple, very easy. It's all online. I would say within a day the photo shoot is scheduled, the effort happens, and then within, sometimes less than a day, the agent receives the photo back. So it's very timely. 

[00:06:41] The photos always look great because the photographers have had training. They've had Virtuance training on what to do when they arrive at the property. Many real estate agents, they don't have that. This is a skill that many of them do not possess. They need help. And when you have a professional photographer armed with [00:07:00] the skills, and the HDReal® algorithm, the process is much more consistent.

[00:07:07] And I have to really say the photos are mesmerizing. They are really absolutely well beyond the scope of most agents' ability and probably some out there professional photographers ability to get the kind of results we get with Virtuance. So, it's a consistent effort. It's timely, very easy to work with Virtuance.

[00:07:31] The staff that we've been working with is absolutely, just a dream. Everybody is so kind, friendly. And we're all in the same boat to deliver a wonderful photography package to the client. 

[00:07:42] And, you know, we also recognize too that a lot of people out there these days, they like to save money and the dollar needs to go further. And we find that with our efforts with Virtuance, our dollar goes further. It's a superior product. And all the agents that have expressed any sort of [00:08:00] affection for what we get from Virtuance they do that to Katie and myself, and so we're just very, very happy with the result. 

[00:08:06] Rachel: Wow. Thank you so much for all those kind words. Katie, do you have anything else to add on just the topic of how important it is for your brokerage overall to remain consistent, especially when we talk about real estate marketing materials? 

[00:08:18] Katie: Well, I think when you present to the agents and even newer agents that really don't know where to go, what to turn when it comes to starting in real estate, they look to us to guide them and make their life as easy as possible.

[00:08:31] So when we give them the tools to provide the best quality for their listings, they realize, wow, they don't have to really go outside to try to search for all of the tool toolbox we presented to them. We show them how easy it is. I love the fact that all they have to use is our birth, their Berkshire email.

[00:08:50] And that discount is already included. That's a no brainer, right? And I love how I don't really have a lot of agents ask me after that point [00:09:00] of once they get into the Marketing Suite, what do I do now? 

[00:09:02] Cause it's really pretty self explanatory, but I let them know that they take that link. You can take that link and put it into our Berkshire tools. So that way it generates more visual, more lead generating because we use our tools and we use the link to the virtual website, and that helps generate more leads, more eyes, and that's what they want to see. And that's how they explain it to the seller. Because the number one thing in place that the consumer goes is online.

[00:09:32] And if your photos are not grabbing that attention, you've lost them. And that's why you have to be consistent and have great photos or you're, you're missing the boat. 

[00:09:42] Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. It really plays into just even as a brokerage, your overall brand and reputation, like when you are marketing your listing, you're putting your brand out there and your marketing materials are part of that.

[00:09:55] So you need to make sure that any images that you're using are reflective of the brand you want to [00:10:00] represent. Those are some really awesome points that, that you brought up. 

[00:10:04] Rick: You know, I might also mention, Rachel, that in addition to what Katie said, After working with Virtuance a short while, it was announced from Virtuance that they were going to have, as another part of their exemplary customer service, a marketing suite of tools that were going to be made available to the agents purchasing a Virtuance photo shoot.

[00:10:23] If that weren't enough, in the conversation I had with Virtuance, a dedicated website for each property. 

[00:10:31] Wow. A dedicated website. A suite of marketing tools, flyers and such, all included in the photo price of the session. It's just tremendous value. Katie mentioned probably about 60 to 70 percent of our associates that join the company are brand new, just out of the gate.

[00:10:48] They've just received their real estate license. They must have the ability to compete with stronger agents in the marketplace and Virtuance allows us and them to do that. 

[00:10:59] The [00:11:00] photos look great. The Marketing Suite is something that agents can utilize immediately and a website for each property. Goodness, absolutely fantastic. 

[00:11:10] So Virtuance continues to basically wow us. And in addition to, I might also add the education that Virtuance provides several webinars and tools are just available to help the effort be more consistent and allows us to be more knowledgeable about this process. 

[00:11:29] I often mentioned that it all begins at and when agents go there, they can acquire a lot of education, a lot of tools on there. And, the tools are enhanced when you purchase a, photo shoot. It's a very reasonable price. It's affordable to everyone. And so again, it is a total package that Virtuance offers our agents that we're very appreciative of.

[00:11:54] Rachel: Well, thank you. We're definitely grateful for your guys loyalty and trust in us. I think that's [00:12:00] one thing we really strive for just every day is making sure that we're not just seen as a real estate photography service, but that we're genuinely seen as an actual real estate resource. 

[00:12:11] So you can come to us if you need to learn how to use social media to market your listing, or maybe I just need to get started in search engine optimization.

[00:12:18] And that we have those resources available to you just to, again, even to your point of having a lot of new agents that, that come on board, they need to have somewhere to start. So hopefully they can look to us for that particular reason and that resource. 

[00:12:32] But then on the topic of just the Virtuance Marketing Suite, again, our goal is to make not, not only be that resource, but also to just make an agent's life a lot easier.

[00:12:41] And so one of the issues that we found was, you know, people are going through all of these different vendors for, I need a website designed, I need this, I need someone to create my brochure, I need the photography, I need the aerial video. And so that's why we've worked really hard to bring a lot of those tools in house and just deliver it to you with your images, is that [00:13:00] we can be seen as that one stop shop.

[00:13:02] You don't have to pay for five, six, seven different vendors for your one listing. You can really look to us to incorporate and encompass everything you would need to help you market. 

[00:13:11] Rick: It really is true. Katie and I both get contacted by other photography companies. We live in a big city. And there's a lot of competition out there.

[00:13:21] And when we mention we work with Virtuance, it's pretty much the end of the conversation. We let the other photography companies worry about competing with Virtuance, and what they have for us. 

[00:13:32] And so the, I don't think really there's a lot of competition between many of the other photography companies, the ability to compete with what Virtuance has.

[00:13:42] So it really is just an incredible amount of tools offered, to the brokerage. Each one of the recruiting meetings that I have with both experienced agents and agents brand new to the business. In each one of those packets, they receive Virtuance information whether they [00:14:00] join us or not. So they have full exposure to the company and what is afforded to them.

[00:14:05] I think everyone should know about what Virtuance offers. It makes the agent a better agent. It provides better service to the client and the cooperation, I think, between brokerages sharing information when you found really a tremendous product, you want to make sure everybody else knows about it, too.

[00:14:21] So we don't mind other brokerages in the city using Virtuance. It's all in the same effort to get these properties sold and help people understand what these properties look like and again it's just a cooperative effort that we like to share. 

[00:14:35] Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. Well, thanks for turning away our competitors.

[00:14:40] Katie: It's easy to do. Very easy to do. 

[00:14:46] Rachel: I want to flip gears just a bit and talk about your agents specifically. So you mentioned, you have a lot of new agents that come on board and you direct them to virtual ones to use our suite of services and our photography services. 

[00:14:57] What do you tell the agents who maybe have [00:15:00] had a previous photographer that they use, that they were comfortable with? How do you get them to flip over to using Virtuance as part of the partnership? 

[00:15:07] Katie: We do have agents that have been in the business a long time, and I hate to say it, I'm one of them, when it comes to teaching an old dog new tricks. Sometimes it's not about the product, it's just about giving them enough information for them to sit there and go, okay, let me look at this other product.

[00:15:24] And then once we show them, The difference between the two and how easy it is, again, the whole process, it's not, it's not that difficult to get them to try it. And I will say that if they've ever had any type of questions, they call your help desk and they get help, you know, instantly. So it's a win win for everybody, you know, for them to try it.

[00:15:44] Rick: I don't think it's too difficult to sell Virtuance over the competition. There really isn't anybody else in the marketplace that can deliver what we expect and get from Virtuance. 

[00:15:53] When I mention to agents, you get a dedicated website. A lot of agents pay for these things. A marketing suite and many [00:16:00] brokerages, smaller brokerages than us, perhaps they don't even have some of these things within the brokerage that Virtuance is offering them.

[00:16:06] We had a case recently where we had a gentleman come in and he had two vacant lots next to each other and a list price of just over a half million dollars for this property and newer to the company. And I mentioned to him, you know, you have a suite besides what the office provides. A marketing suite, on the Virtuance site because you had the photo shoot with Virtuance. And in addition, you have a website, dedicated website for the property as well. And he didn't realize that. And so it's a constant effort on behalf of the staff to show and demonstrate to the agents with us that Virtuance should be a part of their normal everyday work in the real estate business.

[00:16:49] And yes, we do have agents that use other photographers. Of course, they can use whoever they want, but I think side by side comparison when we show them, when they see the photography, some of our [00:17:00] other agents, stronger agents in the marketplace, they can recognize the difference. 

[00:17:04] But to me, the whole package of what Virtuance offers, it can't be matched. That's probably the best way to look at it. It cannot be matched by anybody else that we speak with. So that's another reason why we are just sold on the product and we want to make sure that everybody with us recognizes that they have a really a superior position in the marketplace when using photography from Virtuance.

[00:17:28] Rachel: Incredible. On that topic too, what have been some, I guess, just pieces of feedback from your agents and what they've seen through Virtuance? Have they noticed a change in increases in buyer interest? Their homes have been selling faster. What have been some of those pieces of feedback that your agents have given?

[00:17:46] Rick: I think for many of the agents, many of our agents just starting and some that are newer to the business. They look to the brokerage for guidance and direction, things like encouragement. There are several things when an agent comes on [00:18:00] board, and this is usually a business that they have not been exposed to before.

[00:18:03] They've been nurses or teachers or military or some such, and real estate is something brand new to them. And as technology becomes, more of an important part of what we do. They recognize that the photos must be really sharp looking. They must be absolutely fantastic because that is the expectation of the public.

[00:18:24] The public is looking at their home. They're comparing it to others. And unless the brokerage can match the others that are out there, we might not be as competitive. So I think the brokerage takes on a responsibility as well to educate people in the office about the things that we have. 

[00:18:40] We have vetted over many years a lot of the people that we work with. They are in positions here with the company whereby we can recommend them. Again, they're timely, they show up, on the appointed time, they do what they need to do, and the product looks wonderful. And anytime you can, I believe it's a [00:19:00] brokerage, a company like that in place, it's a benefit for everybody, it's a win win win all the way around.

[00:19:06] But I do think the brokerage has to get behind the effort because agents are exposed to a lot of marketing efforts and tools and information on a daily basis from a wide variety of different companies in the real estate business and related businesses.

[00:19:21] So there's a lot of competition for their time and the brokerage must take, I believe, an active part in demonstrating and showing the agent.

[00:19:30] At sales meetings and things that we do around the office to make the information available to the agent so that they know about it. And I think once the agent knows about it, once they have exposure to it, you've done your job right. I think for the brokerages that might not provide greater exposure to these tools, the agents kind of left on their own.

[00:19:50] And they, as independent contractors, they become more independent. And so, I think, again, the brokerage has a responsibility to show and demonstrate what is available to the [00:20:00] agent. In the end, they can make their own choice, of course, but, they need exposure to companies like this, and we're happy to, to do that, of course.

[00:20:08] Rachel: Amazing. So we're going to start just wrapping up. I just want to thank you both so much for your time on this and just giving such amazing and valuable feedback on your guys' success using Virtuance. I have two quick final questions. The first one, what are your favorite Virtuance products? 

[00:20:27] Rick: Okay. Well for me, I think it actually goes more beyond the product.

[00:20:31] Now the products are very important. What got me really so interested in Virtuance at the very beginning was the people within the company that we get to talk to and meet with. 

[00:20:42] Unless the staff can deliver what the brokerage is looking for, the tools become almost meaningless. The staff at Virtuance are people that you can talk to, get to know.

[00:20:53] They've been in these positions for a long time. I think when you have staff in the position for lengthy [00:21:00] amounts of time, they become more helpful. So I think the staff was our initial exposure on what a great product that was behind the staff.

[00:21:08] Yes, the products are very important. Technology is very important, but unless you have the staff available that the brokerage can speak with and get behind, there may not be as much exposure as needed without the brokerage being able to speak with the staff at Virtuance, learn more about the product.

[00:21:26] We're just forever grateful that we get to work with people at Virtuance that take care of us. And the products are. You know, in addition to the great exemplary customer service we received from Virtuance, the products really are an added benefit, I think, so we love the staff. We love the products. 

[00:21:44] I think once the agent uses the products, they really sell themselves. I do often, like the day filter. I guess it is that allows a dark cloudy day to become a sunny day is a [00:22:00] wonderful, example of how, you know, the weather. Sometimes you can't, predict what the weather was going to be, But Virtuance is there to turn a cloudy day into a sunny day.

[00:22:10] I think that's wonderful and I think of course obviously the dedicated website per property after that photo shoot is a wonderful extension of being able to market the property to more people in just a tremendously effective way.

[00:22:25] Rachel: Yeah, that blue sky guarantee is a really nice feature. It's exactly what you just said. It's, we're basically turning a cloudy day into a beautiful blue sky. So that again, your listing captures more attention. So it's a really awesome enhancement that we have. 

[00:22:40] Katie, do you have anything to add about what your favorite products with Virtuance are?

[00:22:43] Katie: I agree with Rick. I think that the dedicated property website is phenomenal, especially for the newer agents that don't really have a lot of deep pockets to be able to have something to provide that's really no cost to them other than the cost of just the simple photo [00:23:00] shoot. And then the ease of the flyer.

[00:23:03] Sometimes, you know, if we get busy in our own little day world in the office, an agent might have an opportunity to quickly need to make a flyer and they can pop on, do it themselves and not really have to have a staff member watch over them. So to me, that's another big added plus it helps me in my time and it helps them in there. So I love that. 

[00:23:24] Rachel: Yeah, absolutely. I love our brochure creator and the best part is it's, it's all integrated into your marketing suite. So any of the photos that we take automatically populate into that brochure creator. So easy to use. 

[00:23:36] Okay. I've got one. Final question. Why would you recommend Virtuance?

[00:23:42] Katie: Oh, well, I'll start. 

[00:23:43] I mean, I would recommend because it's top notch. I mean, you know, why do people come to companies like ourselves? I mean you want to put your best foot forward in the beginning. So why wouldn't you go to the best out there? And so that's personally [00:24:00] to me, that's why I've only used Virtuance.

[00:24:02] Rick: I think the choice is clear, complete exemplary customer service on the highest level. The products really speak for themselves. They're cutting edge products, not available from any other photography competitor that we've been exposed to. 

[00:24:17] The ease of scheduling a shoot, the final photography product. But the HDReal® algorithm sets apart the Virtuance final product clearly from any other competition. 

[00:24:30] There's a head above everyone else concerning Virtuance and real estate photography. So superior product, great staff that we get to work with, ease of operation of the site, the tools, everything.

[00:24:44] It's a complete package that a brokerage can get behind and support. Agents love the ability to go to one place. to one real estate company and have all the tools afforded to them that make their life easier on a [00:25:00] more affordable basis. 

[00:25:01] So I don't think there's just one thing. You have to put it all together and take a look at the cumulative effort that Virtuance puts out to a brokerage.

[00:25:10] Agents recognize the value. They use it. They walk away with results that they're proud of. Our buyers and sellers that see our website recognize that the listings that we work with, with them, the photography looks clearly better than our competition. So, it's really a complete total package that Virtuance offers that as a brokerage, we can get behind and agents recognize that it's just a superior over any photography competitions.

[00:25:41] So we'll continue to use Virtuance. And, we love the product and we will continue to insist that our agents use this product because of the results that it provides us .

[00:25:54] Rachel: Wow. Well, thank you both so much for your time today and all of your kind [00:26:00] words that you said throughout this testimonial. I'm so excited to share this success story with just everyone.