In November of 2012, Liv Real Estate became the first real estate company in the Edmonton area to post third-party, verified customer satisfaction ratings on its website www.Livrealestate.ca. Using RealSatisfied.com to collect brand strength information, Liv has taken the lead in bringing a change to how the real estate industry looks at customer feedback data and how it’s used. They hope it represents a paradigm shift.
“Like many areas where we have innovated we expect others to follow and hope they do,” Sheldon Johnston, broker/owner of Liv Real Estate says. “You see most companies are still trapped in a time warp of measuring their agents sales productivity. This has been going on so long that it will take some time for some of the behemoths of the industry to get their peeps in on the act.”
Sheldon wants to lead Canadian real estate in a new direction. “When we were with an international franchise,” he reflected, “I was guilty of getting caught up in the age old industry mantra of promoting my team as the number one team in Canada for that franchise.” And while he recognizes that sales and revenue are the measuring sticks of a successful business, he wants to shift the focus. “There are sales people and there are advisors, and we have chosen to be the latter.”
Liv’s journey to this place started years back as Sheldon campaigned to get rid of sales awards in his Association. “2012 was the last year for our Medallion awards,” he said. “Instead, the association is now going to recognize its community builders and standout volunteers.”
Even 9 years ago, when Sara MacLennan came to us after being the Director of Marketing for that same international franchise, the first thing she did was shift the focus to the consumer. She got rid of Sheldon’s giant face on their homepage, and gave consumers access to listings on their sites without having to sign in.
“If we give the consumer what they want, and do it exceptionally well,” Sara believes, “they will remember us and our business will grow.” And grow it has. From a three person, family operation in 2005, Liv Real Estate now has 25 agents and staff that will do 8 times as many transactions in 2013 compared to 2005. “You’d be hard pressed to find us online in 2005,” Sara adds, “and today our web sites get almost 3 million page views/month, because we give Edmonton area buyers and sellers what they are looking for.”
Their journey to RealSatisfied has taken more than three years. They have watched companies in Edmonton startup with full page spreads in the Journal promoting their vision of agent ratings and reviews only to disappear like tumbleweeds. “We realized that this might be tougher than we thought,” Sheldon said. “Then there was YELP, which seemed like it had what it took to fulfill the promise. However, most of the time we have more trouble dealing with fake reviews there.”
“Even nationally, CREA wrestled with this very concept recently,” he says. “Our journey reached a culmination of sorts as we found that RealSatisfied could independently measure our customer experiences, and deliver back a lot more than just ratings.”
For the past 8 months, Liv has been posting 3rd party verified customer ratings on their web site for any consumer in Edmonton who is interested in buying or selling the home of their dreams. They used the RealSatisfied WordPress plugin to easily accomplish this. “Our customers now have a place to check out our awesome agents,” Sara delights in saying. “Other companies continue to promote their sales people’s income performance. They advertise that they are number one for this or that. We only have customer service awards. We are very proud of that.”