By Connor Baldwin, Technical Product Manager
As seen in Mile 62 eMagazine.
Our goal as an organization is to make agents’ lives easier, and brokerages more profitable with our technology solutions. How could we possibly do that? There is such a wide variety of agents and brokerages in this industry, we could easily spend our entire year’s budget on user research and we still might not even get it right. So, you know what we do? We listen.
How do we listen?
We do it actively. We take cues from the people who give us feedback and dig deeper into that topic they are discussing with us. Examples of this are in abundance at MoxiWorks. Our Customer Support team, a vital part of our company, do this with our end-user’s every single day. They receive feedback through a variety of mediums and immerse themselves into what our biggest user group is saying.
Then we have our Account Management team – they have calls with all of our clients every single week and are always ready when something urgent comes up. They talk to some of the most important people at our client brokerages; the people who know and care about their agents as if they were family. We also have our Sales team talking to prospective clients to understand their potential needs, along with our Executives talking to partners and industry experts, and it all ends up back with us.
Our team (Product), then receives this expertly mined information and we analyze it. Once it has been analyzed, then we decide to spend some money and do user research on the things that this feedback has helped us deem as meaningful. This usually involves interviewing users and running usability tests. These are both time consuming, but they help validate our assumptions, give us new insight into the lives of our users, contribute to building out of extensive user personas, and help us address our user’s true pain points. These two exercises are essential to getting it right the first time, which saves everyone time and money.
Why do we listen?
This is an even longer list, so I will just talk about my three favorites.
One – we listen because we want to build brand loyalty. We want to strengthen our relationships with our client’s operators all the way down to their agents. It is important to us that they feel like they have a say in the evolution of our products. This shows them we truly value their opinions and it helps us grow with our clients. Hey, and maybe they will recommend us to a friend.
Two – we listen because we flat out want to build better products. These are our users, they know the products really well and they are associated with real world use cases. The information we get from them allows us to make valuable changes to our existing products and build badass new ones. This will help retain those who are near and dear to us, as well as add more folks to the Moxi family.
Three – we listen because we want to learn market trends. I know what you’re thinking, the third one is a little more specific than the first two. Cut me some slack though, I’m on the product team. The feedback we get from our various sources all has a ring to it. It signifies change in the industry. A basic example of this could be, “We want you to add/change this feature because there was a shift in the industry. Its original use is no longer helping our agents increase their productivity and our brokerages bottom line.” Ok, that was a poor example, but you get what I’m saying. All this feedback we receive paints a huge picture of the real estate industry and its volatility, and that is awesome, because that picture helps us not only plan for the future but drives us to innovate.
There is a phrase that is thrown around quite a bit in our company. It goes, “What got us here, won’t get us there.” This is especially relevant to gathering feedback from our users. Where simply letting feedback roll in from agents and higher-ups may have done the job two years ago, that is not the case now. In order for us to continuously improve our products we must find new ways to gather feedback. We must educate ourselves on interviewing users and finding the root of their problem. It is critical to set our users up to give constructive, contextual feedback. We would only be doing a disservice to our users and ourselves if we just stuck with the “Have Feedback?” prompt in product and called it a day.
By Tiana Baur
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Zestimates are the bane of being in the real estate business. They’re the unfortunate misfire in a consumer lead industry and that bell can’t be un-wrung. When reports came out that a Zestimate for a home was 700 percent off, it wasn’t surprising; we have learned to expect it.
The thing is, data integrity will be an issue for the foreseeable future. You can get upset about that fact or you can see the data for what it is really is: a starting point. That’s what Zestimates are. No more, no less. The world of real estate might not be able to pretend they have ceased to exist, but as consumers, we can all be smarter about the information they provide to us.
Pick up the phone and call your agent.
Some fun facts for you: The median error rate of Zestimates is five percent. That may sound menial as a percentage, but when computed with the median home sales prices, it can be tens of thousands of dollars lost to the bottom line, and that’s if you’re lucky. According to the Washington Post, “Zestimates are within 5 percent of the sale price 53.9 percent of the time, within 10 percent 75.6 percent of the time and within 20 percent 89.7 percent of the time, Zillow claims.” And people wonder why agents bristle when this topic is brought up.
Agents, of course, have access to information that no algorithm can. Zestimates can’t know what makes a home and neighborhood awesome. So, wouldn’t it be nice to find out what your home is really worth? A thoughtful, agent expertise-driven valuation is the only way to truly understand what your home is worth.
Pick up the phone and call your agent.
It’s not a revolutionary idea, just one that is way undervalued and underutilized. As you can imagine, MoxiWorks CEO, York Baur, had some words on the topic this morning, saying, “We have more than 100,000 agents that can provide you with a thoughtful hand-built evaluation for your home. If you don’t have access to one of those 100,000 agents, find someone that does.” He went on to say that, “As a man of tech, I don’t say this lightly: there is no replacement for hyper-local knowledge that your agent, your trusted advisor can give you. No algorithm will ever replace that vital, human piece of the puzzle.”
That home evaluation tool is called Moxi Present and you’ve likely seen a presentation built on it before. There were over 300,000 Moxi Present interactive presentations that went out in 2017. They showcase what the Zestimate was on all selected comparable properties to your current listing versus what they actually sold for. Want more info?
Pick up the phone and call your agent.
By Maddie Jostol
Taxes are a pain. Real estate agents face unique challenges as independent contractors because you’re running your own small business. This makes taxes an even bigger pain.
It’s really common for agents to miss out on deductions because the tax filing process is so time consuming and frustrating. Especially when you file on a quarterly basis, the accounting responsibilities of running your small business start to take over. Have you ever thought about how much savings you’re missing out on because you didn’t take full advantage of the deductions available to you?
A few of the many deductions to look out for:
– Mileage tracking
– Business-related technology subscription fees
– Meals and entertainment when you meet with clients
– Home office (or desk fees)
We’re going to focus on mileage tracking because that seems to be a common one for agents to miss out on. We understand why… it’s a huge annoyance to write down your mileage and then remember what that trip was for later on. We all end up with endless images of our car dashboard on our phone. That’s not exactly what you want to see as you’re scrolling through photos of your niece’s soccer game last weekend. When it comes time to file your taxes, it isn’t even worth trying to sift through pictures and records of trips you took for business. That means you’re missing out on some hefty deductions, though.
The good news? There’s a better way. We came across QuickBooks Self-Employed a few months back and realized it’s the perfect tool for busy agents. It’s an accounting tool built specifically for independent contractors, so it tracks your mileage for you so you don’t miss out on any deductions. Tracking your mileage and filing your taxes has never been easier… trust us.
When you have QuickBooks Self-Employed downloaded on your smartphone, it will track your trip every time you drive (yes, it knows when you’re in the car). Go into your app, scan your recent trips, and simply swipe left for business or right for personal. QuickBooks Self-Employed will categorize those expenses accordingly, making tax filing a piece of cake.
It also tracks and categorizes your expenses, making filing Schedule C deductions easy, you can also snap a photo and file away receipts, and see a snapshot of your business finances at any time.
Want to try out QuickBooks Self-Employed? Users are finding an average of $4,340 in tax savings per year. Since they’re a partner of ours, we’re offering you 50% off your first year. Click here for more details and to get set up!
You can also find out more about QuickBooks Self-Employed below:
By Maddie Jostol
Real estate agents: Now is the time to start your 2018 business plan. The end of the year arrived quickly (as always), which has most of us reflecting on the past year and setting goals for the coming year. As an agent, what’s your plan for ensuring next year is even more successful than this one?
It’s time to start your business plan, set goals, and put the right tools in place that will get you headed in the right direction – towards financial success. Here are a few things you should be thinking about this time of year, including a handful of free resources to help you get a jump start.
Set your GCI goal
Goal setting is a key piece of the planning puzzle. It’s vital for you to know what you’re working towards in order to map all of your efforts towards meeting that goal. Your GCI (Gross Commissionable Income) goal is a cornerstone to your financial plan, so set it early on and create a plan to reach it.
For those of you who are Moxi Engage users, make sure you enter your GCI goal into your Moxi account. This will show you the progress you’ve made towards your goal throughout the year. This transparency allows you to manage your time and finances more effectively. Want to learn more about this? You can in our help center.
Get a system in place
Get all of your processes in place so you can start the year off on the right foot. This includes a reliable accounting system and a smooth process for tax filing. As independent contractors, agents face unique challenges in tracking their expenses and filing quarterly taxes. Make sure you know what tools to use and which deductions to look out for. Want some tips? Download our Agent’s Guide to Stress-Free Taxes.
Our recommendation for 2018 is QuickBooks Self-Employed, an accounting app built specifically for independent contractors. It’s the perfect solution for busy agents. QuickBooks Self-Employed automates expense tracking, mileage tracking, and digital receipt storage and categorization. All of this is done easily on your smartphone, while on-the-go.
To give you a head start, we’ve partnered with QuickBooks to offer you a full year of QuickBooks Self-Employed for 50% off.
Make a plan
Whether you’re already starting your plan, or you’ve never created a business plan before – now is the time.
Join us for a free webinar on Tuesday, December 19th. We’ll have experts including Eric Thompson, Co-Founder of Windermere Leadership Academy and President of Windermere Services CO, and Charlie Snyder, Real Estate Specialist at QuickBooks. You’ll learn about getting started on your business plan, goal setting, saving money on taxes as an independent contractor, and managing your finances and business expenses throughout the year. They’re ready to bring you tools, templates, methods, and tips to help you be financially successful in 2018.
By Tiana Baur
Every single tax deduction you are or are not allowed to take is impossible to know without a helping hand. If you aren’t utilizing an accounting or tax management system, it means you’re losing a lot of money. And by a lot we mean thousands of dollars that could be in your pocket instead. Avoid overpaying on your quarterly and year end taxes with these tips:
1. Mileage – over $7,000 in deductions
You drive a lot, spending your days driving between properties, appointments and shuttling your clients. Sometimes you probably feel like a glorified Uber driver. How do you determine whether to go with the standard mileage deduction or track all your auto-related expenses?
For those who drive more than 10,000 miles per year, the IRS requires you to keep a detailed log in order to claim this deduction. It needs to include date, time, mileage and purpose of the trip. Do you use an app to track all of this? Even if the answer is yes, there’s a better app out there. QuickBooks Self-Employed is a tool that helps users track an average of $7,393 in mileage deductions per year. It automatically captures everything you need with the click of a button.
2. Meals and fun – save over $4,000 a year
You can deduct meals as a business expense in two forms: 1.) When you are travelling on business and 2.) When you are dining with clients or with other professionals for the purpose of conducting business or generating referral business. With these, you’re allowed to deduct 50 percent of your total expense, which includes tax plus tip for the meal.
Many agents save receipts in boxes and haphazardly enter them into spreadsheets or give them to an accountant later, but this leads to loss of money. QBSE streamlines this process. Simply snap a photo of your receipt with your QBSE smartphone app to digitally store it with your transactions. This process helps users save an average of $4,340 per year.
3. Marketing and ad spend
Online and social media advertising costs are quickly becoming a big part of agent spend. Agents are expected to do more for their listings than they ever have before and they need the tools to effectively do it. Did you know that production costs like writing and design fees are also deductible? This includes website design and hosting fees, search engine marketing, pay per click advertising, video production, and any other IT-related costs.
4. Home office or space
Do you have a home office or a dedicated space to work? If you do, you’re eligible for a home office deduction, even if you also have office space at your broker’s office — unless you’re deducting desk fees already.
5. Desk Fees
Your desk fees are deductible regardless of your brokerage. With QBSE, whenever you pay that desk fee, you can set a rule to automatically categorize this expense. This however is only an option if you aren’t already doing the home office deduction.
6. Big purchases
Stationary, photocopies, and any other consumables needed to run your business are deductible. The ones you need to make sure you deduct are the big ones: laptops, phones, furniture, copiers, etc.
7. Fees, Licenses, etc.
Annual fees are common costs of doing business and are deductible. In real estate, that means your state license renewal, professional memberships, and MLS dues. Also, you can deduct real estate taxes necessary for your business, but not self-employment taxes.
8. Education and travel
Given rapid industry change, continuing education is imperative. It’s also a requirement in most states. If you need to travel to attend an event or meet with a coach, make sure to track all the information correctly to ensure that you’re compliant with the IRS. One way to do that is by linking your banking accounts with QBSE. As soon as you incur an expense associated with travel, tap a button to categorize it in one of the IRS approved categories.
9. Tools and services
Any software needed to run your business is fully deductible, including subscription services. Products such as QuickBooks Self-Employed not only help you automatically track your expenses and mileage, but may be fully deducted as well.
Get started with QBSE today and start saving bundles of cash!
We have a new company to add to our best-in-class tools and services list! This time, the goal in mind is to help agents retain more of their hard-earned cash. QuickBooks Self-Employed puts the power back into the independent contractor’s pockets!
QuickBooks Self-Employed helps freelancers and independent contractors stay prepped for tax time––from separating business and personal expenses, to identifying Schedule C deductions. York Baur, CEO of Moxi Works said, “Moxi Works is all about helping brokerages and their agents make their business more profitable. Intuits QuickBooks Self-Employed is proven to save agents thousands of dollars on taxes, so this partnership will put a lot of money back into agents’ pockets.”
According to Intuit, 77% of all real estate agents don’t feel extremely confident about managing their finances. Today, agents are burdened by a variety of pain points, such as:
- Taxes: Quarterly and annual tax obligations
- Time: It’s the only thing agent’s control, and they want to save as much of it as possible, while using it wisely
- Thought Leaders: Agents are becoming more digitally savvy & are looking for brokers who are just as updated
- Cash flow: Inconsistent income but consistent expenses
- Visibility: Agents want an easy solution to know how much they really made after each sale
- Growth: Agents straddle the line between consumer & small business
QuickBooks Self-Employed includes a variety of exciting and extremely useful features, including Money Insights, Mileage Tracker, Receipt Snap, and Auto Expense. Here’s what they look like:
Money insights organizes accounts to show the agent’s income and expenses. This connects all accounts to organize the agent’s business finances in one place. QuickBooks Self-Employed automatically tracks and categorizes transactions as they come in. Agents can instantly see a complete picture of their business finances so they can plan for what’s next.
Mileage tracker automatically tracks mileage and allows users easy categorization — creating an increase in potential mileage deductions. Agents’ mileage will be automatically tracked and trips can be categorized as business or personal with a swipe. QuickBooks Self-Employed automatically tracks their mileage whenever they begin driving. Every mile they log increases their potential yearly mileage deductions.
Receipt snap allows users to snap a photo of a receipt from the Self-Employed mobile phone app and automatically create a transaction with the receipt attached. If a transaction already exists, receipt snap will automatically attach the receipt to the transaction. Receipt data is auto-extracted and an expense transaction is created for the user. No more sifting through piles of receipts!
Auto-categorization learns how agents runs their business, recommends categories, and allows users to accept transactions with a swipe. Agents can download all of their expenses, and with a swipe can accept them into their books. QuickBooks Self-Employed learns from past actions and automatically recommends categories. Transactions are organized based on IRS categories to save users extra work.
As it stands, 50% of agents save their receipts or use a spreadsheet to track expenses, leading to manual errors and loss of deductions as well as savings. We all know an agent that saves receipts in an old shoe box. The most shocking statistic is that 16% don’t track their expenses at all.
QuickBooks Self-Employed aims to eliminate these pain points, allowing agents to run their finances properly, while saving them precious time and money. Want to try it out? Click here.
We’d like to announce our new e-Magazine, built specifically for agents.
We wanted to find a way to give agents a set of monthly tools and information that helps them become more productive, more tech-savvy agents, without having to spend a lot of time to do so. Because we know they are short for time as it is. That’s why Mile 62 is made with agents in mind, period.
This e-Magazine, or real estate agent’s toolbox, will be distributed digitally on a monthly basis. Click, cruise, resume day. Your one-way ticket to being a trusted advisor!
What’s in it
Here’s what you can expect from the real estate agent’s toolbox, Mile 62:
Actionable tools and tips to increase productivity on topics such as,
- Social Media
- Marketing to your Sphere
- Client Gifting
Resources such as training videos and webinars
- Sign up for them live or watch them pre-recorded
- Watch videos in the magazine without having to click to a new tab
- Stay in the know
- Have topics always tucked away in your back pocket that you can use to showcase yourself as a trusted advisor
Expected Outcome: More knowledge, more time.
This not only helps agents be more successful with their own business, but it helps office managers stay in tune with the agent’s needs, wants, and hot discussion topics. It prepares them for the future of their brokerage and the future of the industry as a whole.
Why Mile 62?
Space is 62 miles (100 km) away. At Moxi, we truly believe the sky’s the limit and we want to help agents get there and achieve the goals they set for themselves. Every day is a good day to be a step ahead of the competition and be more knowledgeable, tech-savvy agents, that can position oneself as the go-to advisor for both clients and entire sphere. View Mile 62 while in line at Starbucks or waiting for an open house to begin! There’s no bad time to read and digest the real estate agent’s toolbox.
What would you do to reach the sky? Without further ado: Here’s the first edition of Mile 62!
A customer database is the lifeblood of a real estate agent’s business. Within their contacts are all the buyers, sellers, and prospects they’ve worked with in the past and hope to work with in the future. A timely, but vital task is keeping that database up-to-date and organized in the most efficient fashion. There’s one way to ensure database success: marketing segmentation.
With that in mind, here are ten customer segmentation strategies:
Segmentation via Demographics
You can breakdown your contacts by any combination of age, gender, income, education, ethnicity, marital status, education, household (or business), size, length of residence, type of residence or even their profession/occupation.
1. Try breaking contacts up based off type of residence. Those with condos might be looking to upgrade to a house. Those with a starter home and kids are probably looking for something a bit bigger.
2. Don’t forget the importance of age. Segmenting your client database by age can be especially important when it comes to the kind of content you’re sharing with them. This will help you adjust the messaging of your email and communications. Your younger audiences expect video and high-end content. Your older audiences might appreciate a letter in the mail if they aren’t super active online.
3. Are some of your client’s kids just about to leave the nest? Send some downsizing tips to these clients. Did anyone just have a baby? Send them some homes with a little more space.
Segmentation via Psychographics
This refers to ‘personality and emotions’ based on behavior, linked to purchase choices, attitudes, lifestyle, hobbies (recreation, entertainment, vacations, and other non-work time pursuits), personality and leadership traits. If the demographics are the “who,” the psychographics are the “why.”
4. You can ID all your “investors” into a group and send them opportunities to invest in. Although this can sometimes fall into the “work” category, some investors like to do it on the side. They also might be retired and doing it on a part-time basis.
5. Segment based off hobbies. Got a boat and a bunch of boating fans? Invite them to a meet up on the lake. Have everyone tie up together and do a barbeque on your boat. This works for just about every hobby under the sun.
6. ID based on their job title. If you have powerful thought leaders and CEOs in your database, they’d probably like to hear what other thought leaders have to say as well.
Segmentation via Geography
Drill down with zip codes, neighborhoods, or counties.
7. This can be helpful especially for neighborhoods that each have a unique feel to them. People that live in the city typically find different information helpful than those that live in the suburbs. Send each neighborhood new restaurants, just listed homes and homes that sold that are similar to theirs.
8. Most real estate data is divided by zip code or area code. Segmenting via zip code can be extremely helpful for those that are heavy into statistics are market updates.
Segmentation via Life-Stages
There are probably four stages of life you can focus on when looking at home buyers and sellers. Early adulthood (20-35), midlife (35-50), mature adulthood (50-80), and late adulthood (80+). Here are a couple ways to segment based off those:
9. Early Adulthood – Most millennials want to buy a house, but many think there’s too big of a barrier to do so. Send them info on reasons why a house is in reach.
10. Mature Adulthood (50-80) – These people are typically looking to downsize or move South. Send them info of why it’s a good time to sell.
Checkout the other life stages and get inspired for more ways to segment by the stage of life your clients are in.
*BONUS: Segment depending on how long they’ve been a client (or haven’t). If you have referrals sitting in your database, chances are they’ve heard great things about you, but don’t really know you. Segment these into a list and show them what you’re all about.
Customer Data that Powers Marketing Segmentation
You might be thinking, “these are great ideas but how on earth will I be able to know all that information about all of my clients?” Moxi Insights is a great place to start. Moxi Insights is a newly released feature of our Moxi Engage CRM and is no doubt changing the game for sphere marketing with the h
elp of public data. Moxi Insights gives quick and organized client information to agents through their CRM, from general demographics, housing info, lifestyle choices, financials, and hobbies to where clients/prospects donate and invest their money. Agents can potentially see if their clients have pets, drive certain cars, or if they’re a value shopper.
Customer data is an extremely powerful tool. Find out more about Moxi Insights and how to take advantage of this new tool to turn yourself into a marketing superstar with the click of a button.
What are you waiting for? Start segmenting your client database TODAY and start reaping the benefits TOMORROW (and every day after that)