Home Business Ideas and Opportunities

Top Tips on Working from Home as a Real Estate Agent

Top Tips on Working from Home as a Real Estate AgentWorking from home is a great way to create a balance between your professional and private life. Some jobs are now seen even by employers as ideal for telecommuting employees, after independent agents have proven for years that they needn’t be tied to an office.

The real estate business is such a sector, where there are more and more realtors working from home, either independently or as representatives of a company. Many people now choose to join this profession because they are attracted not just by the potential to earn significant commissions, but because they want to leave the corporate environment and work from home.

If you are one of these people, you need to understand that working from home as a real estate agent has some challenges. For one, you will not have the advantage of going through the incoming demands of assistance either from buyers or from sellers, but must go out and scout for those clients. For another, you will have to work harder to build your professional image and find creative ways to win your prospects’ trust.

These are the top tips we’ve obtained from other professionals in this business working from home:

1. Offer Your Customers a Personalized Experience
You cannot offer your prospects the image of a professional corporate office with leather chairs and a business suit. But you can offer them something more valuable: the human touch in dealing with them. You can achieve this by offering to meet them at their home or in a quiet café nearby and discuss everything in a casual and friendly manner.

In a world dominated by corporate policies which tend to create a uniform army of employees, it is great to be different and to treat your customers in a manner which does not feel like it originates from a company handbook.

2. Find a Niche Where You Can Be the Best
As a home-based real estate agent, you may not compete with the large companies downtown, but you can shine in a specific niche. For instance, some realtors specialize in identifying and negotiating lease conditions for clients with pets or small children. Others are really good at hunting down bargains in the market of foreclosed properties or youth studios.

It is important to identify the market you can serve best in your local community and to build your expertise in it.

3. In Numbers Lies the Strength: Collaborate with Other Independent Agents
In companies there is almost zero cooperation, because each agent is trying to be the star of monthly sales and get the highest commissions and bonuses. But independent real estate agents working from home know that they do not have a giant umbrella covering them and bringing customers and reputation by association. Their own chance of survival on the market is collaboration among each other. There are many local professional associations of independent realtors, clubs, business accelerator hubs and other public forums which you should attend and meet other professionals like you.

“But, aren’t they my competition?” Not directly. You will certainly find realtors operating in another area than yours or specializing in a different niche. On many occasions they will be able to refer to you customers they cannot serve and vice-versa.

4. Go Out and Prospect the Market
Working from home as a realtor does not mean staying at home. While you will get some business from online listings, email marketing and your website, as a home-based real estate agent you have the freedom to go out whenever you want, look at properties for sale and evaluate their potential to be on your list, and leave business cards in your local community at colleges and other businesses where people may inquire for housing options, etc.

Always bring a personal touch to your approaches, such as inviting prospects for coffee and delivering your card and presentation leaflet in handwritten envelopes.

5. Invest in the Best Internet and Mobile Phone Plans You Can Afford
Real estate agents have to be on the phone and checking their emails and real estate listings all the time. This is why you need to upgrade your current plans to business level ones, where you get as many minutes and internet traffic at high speed as you can. You need to be reachable by customers at all times during your business hours, so you should also invest in modern and reliable equipment (mobile phone, laptop, etc.).

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5 Types of Challenging Customers and How to Deal with Them

5 Types of Challenging Customers and How to Deal with ThemCustomers are the heart and soul of any business. Business owners are working hard to attract new customers for their business and increase the retention rate through various loyalty programs. And, most of the time, they are rewarded for their efforts.

However, not all customers are the nice and easy-going type. Some of them are nagging, never happy or even litigious. As a home-based business owner, without an army of counselors and lawyers at your disposal, the perspective of an angry customer ruining your reputation online or even taking you to court is a nightmare. What should you do when you sense that a customer is encroaching on your business and proving more of a liability than an asset?

In general, challenging customers fall into certain categories and there are tested and proven ways of dealing with them. Today we will discuss exactly this aspect – how to deal with the most frequent types of challenging customer in a diplomatic and time-saving manner, so that your business and your peace of mind are both safe from turmoil.

1. Mr. Know-It-All
This type of nagging customer will frequently comment on your blog posts and social media accounts, pointing out aspects which you have missed in the topic you were discussing. This customer has tried this, done that and has a clever way of turning your words around. The problem with such a customer is that they undermine your authority in your own niche in the eyes of other potential customers. They will also prolong a purchase process way beyond the usual time required for any other client with questions and hypothetical situations in which your product or service may or may not be used.

The solution: this type of customer responds well to a little ego tickling and will be mollified quickly by praising their sharp wit, experience and know-how on that specific topic. This customer has the potential to become a loyal customer for the simple fact that they finally found a business which values their intelligence.

2. The Customer without Limits
This customer does not really grasp the fact that you have a private life and expects you to check your email around the clock. Also, if you had the unfortunate idea of supplying your mobile phone number for quick orders, you will have your phone beeping at all hours with messages.

The solution: Be firm in setting boundaries with the customer. Post your business hours on your website and on your social media accounts and enforce them. That is, refrain from answering texts or emails outside your business hours. The customer without limits will soon learn them and act accordingly.

3. The Overly Friendly Customer
This type of customer is not a danger to your business other than by being a tremendous time waster. This person keeps engaging you in conversations on the social media, requires one-on-one video conferences to discuss your products or services and their next order, and starts approaching topics completely unrelated to your business dealings. Most of the time there is a disproportion between the total purchases made by the chatty customer and the time spent with them.

The solution: Be friendly, but firm in steering the conversation back to the key topic (the sale). Do not encourage off-topic discussions by your silence, but politely intervene and stop the conversation flow.

4. The Customer Is Always Right
This is a potentially litigious customer and you should be very careful in dealing with them. There are lots of people who try to exploit small business owners by forcing the limits of the law in the customer’s favor at all costs. They will read your warranty policy, terms and conditions of sale and return word by word and attempt to find any small flaw they can use. Their general attitude is unfriendly, brisk and focused on what they consider their rights and your failure to satisfy them.

The solution: Exert all caution in dealing with this customer and do everything by the book. Keep all email and text exchanges with the customer in case you have to use them to prove them that they are not right.

5. The Undecided
This customer will take forever until they decide to make a purchase. They will analyze, compare your products against each other and with other products, and they will keep nagging you with questions, requests for more clarification, etc. This means that you are wasting time without the guarantee of getting a sale from that person.

The solution: Get to the bottom of their indecision: is it the price, the quality of the products, the terms and conditions for warranty? Once you have identified the core problem, you are in a position to make them an offer they cannot refuse. If they do – at least you stopped wasting valuable time.

Last but not least, remember to have all your business insurances in good standing and to make a clear legal separation between your personal assets and those belonging to your business. In case of an angry customer suing you, you need to protect yourself and your family from their claims (justified or not).

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How to Start a Woodworking Business From Home

How to Start a Woodworking Business From HomeMany people are extremely skilled at working with their hands and creating beautiful and useful things. One of the oldest crafts which is still appreciated in the present is woodworking. Wood is a sturdy, beautiful and resilient material which can be crafted in many ways, creating everything from everyday items to amazing artworks.

If you are skilled in this time-revered craft, here is some great news from you: the latest interior design trends have revived the rustic look of homes, with lots of handmade wooden decorations and furniture. This means that you stand great chances of being successful if you decide to open a woodworking home-based business.

Not sure how to do it? We are here to help you with tips and advice which will put you on the right path towards becoming a successful entrepreneur. When it comes to woodworking, these are the most pertinent issues a potential home-based business owner should know and consider:

1. Woodworking Requires a Minimal Start-Up Capital
If you want to open a woodworking business, chances are you have already been practicing this craft as a hobby for some time now. If so, you already own the most important tools you need and have a shed or a garage where you can work undisturbed.

Thus, you do not have to invest a lot of money in equipment and workshop location. It is recommended, however, to make sure that you separate the work area from the home area in order to be able to deduct your expenses with utilities (electricity, heating, water, etc.).

2. Find Your Niche
Woodworking is a very large industry. In order to be successful, you should specialize in a certain niche. This niche should be one you like and are good at; at the same time, you should make some inquiries and find out if you have a potential market for the items you want to make and sell. Some of the most successful woodworking niches are:
⦁ Cabinet making
⦁ Wooden toys
⦁ Decorative sculpted items
⦁ Rocking chairs
⦁ Bird houses
⦁ Fences
⦁ Handmade artistic furniture (headboards for beds, armoires)
⦁ Picture and photo frames

Your niche must be directly connected with the local area you live in. For example, if you live in a large city, artistic furniture is in demand, while in the countryside you will find more customers for fences and basic furniture (cabinets, garden tables and chairs).

3. Ask Your Friends to Spread the News
It is likely that you already have some crafted items which you have made as a hobby. You should start by gifting some of them to your friends and ask them to share their opinions on them with their own friends on social media.

Word of mouth is the best form of marketing and promotion, so do not consider that you are losing money if you give away a few items. It is more expensive to promote yourself without any support, and without anyone endorsing you and your products.

4. Have Your Items Professionally Photographed
As you prepare to launch your business, you should be ready to showcase your items in a website or on social media accounts. If you have a photographer friend, negotiate a fair deal – because you need professional photos of your items. Yes, everyone has a phone with a good camera, but a good photographer knows how to set up the background and the lights in order to capture the best angle of your products.

5. Learn How to Price Your Products
In order to make it worthwhile, you should make a profit from selling your items. The final price should reflect both the materials you used and the time and care you took in crafting them. To get an idea of how to price your products, search various online craft stores on Etsy and eBay and use those prices as reference for yours.

Last, but not least, invest time in building a personal brand for you and your home-based business, by creating social media accounts and engaging with potential customers.

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