Blog Tag: national virtual tour company

Competition is GOOD for Your Virtual Tour Business!!

As a virtual tour business, you’re out to beat the competition. There are plenty of other virtual tour providers out there competing for your customers—which means you have to worry about not only offering a great virtual tour service, but also fighting your competitors for market share. Wouldn’t your working life be easier if you were the only game in town?

Actually, it wouldn’t be. Competition is not only inevitable, it’s beneficial for your virtual tour business. Here are just a few reasons that competition is good for you as a virtual tour provider.

Competition increases visibility
There are many real estate agents and businesses who still aren’t aware that virtual tour companies exist. The more virtual tour providers there are, the higher visibility is raised for the industry.

Also, you shouldn’t expect the number of virtual tour providers to negatively impact your business when it comes to visibility. Most people won’t automatically choose the first company they find—instead, they’ll research virtual tour providers and will be able to find yours among them so be sure to keep on blogging!!!

Competition lets you charge more
This statement sounds like it goes against the grain of business logic, especially since one of the most popular strategies is offering a lower price than your competitors. However, competition brings you higher profits in a different way.  More virtual tour companies entering the market means that the industry is growing, and demand for your services is increasing. This kind of growth typically leads to an across-the-board, average industry increase for pricing—so you’ll be able to raise your prices along with your competitors, instead of against them.

Competition gives you networking opportunities
As a virtual tour provider, you are just one person (or a team of people). It’s impossible for you to go out and create virtual tours for every single business and property out there. What you’re looking for are customers in your attainable geographic area—and when you have an inquiry from someone with a property that’s many miles away, all you can do is turn them down.

Unless, of course, you’re networking with other virtual tour providers. Competition lets you create strategic business connections. You can work with other service companies to send them referrals you’re unable to handle, and in return they’ll send you referrals that are within your capacities.

Competition keeps you motivated
If you were the only virtual tour provider around, everyone who wanted a virtual tour would come to you. You would be guaranteed business, and you might even get overwhelmed. With a practical monopoly, you wouldn’t have to try very hard—and you certainly wouldn’t have to come up with new ideas and innovations to keep your business fresh.

Having competition helps to fuel your drive to provide a great virtual tour service. As a motivated provider, you have happy, repeat customers, a good reputation, and the benefit of word-of-mouth marketing.

That’s what competition can do for you!

Real Tour Vision
National Virtual Tour Service
www.realtourvision.com
Order a Virtual Tour – 866-947-8687


Is Cold Calling Dead??

I just visited a website that announced that cold calling is dead.  This self proclaimed sales guru promises that if I will read his book, then I will never have to make a cold call again.  That I can “generate an endless supply of qualified leads” just by following his simple formula.  Hallelujah!  I hate cold calling so this sounds wonderful….except I’ve been in sales for a long time and I’ve read enough books and articles just like his and I know that it’s not quite that easy.

Because our virtual tour business specializes in small business virtual tours and healthcare virtual tours (which are more transactional) versus real estate virtual tours (which generally involve repeat customers), our virtual tour business requires us to constantly be attracting new customers.  A person or company pays us to photograph a virtual tour for their business or facility and if we have done a good job, then they sit back and enjoy the rewards of having a 24/7 virtual open house to share information about their business with their prospective clients.  Unless something changes, there is no need for us to go back.  After four years of running our virtual tour company, we have a good client base and can count on some repeat business – especially from our vacation rental virtual tours and real estate virtual tours.

We are a small business ourselves and we operate a cash only business and do not use credit.  As with any transactional sales business, this means we wake up unemployed many mornings.  There are statistics galore that will tell you that traditional sales and marketing is becoming obsolete as social media and online marketing become the wave of the future.  If you believe these statistics and the accompaning hype, then those of us who hate making cold calls are going to be happy campers.

After all, “They” will tell you that a great website, online marketing campaign and search engine optimization are the keys to building your business…that if you have the right graphics and buttons and text that people will find you and choose to do business with you by filling out an order form on your website.  I certainly wish that it was as easy as that!!

Don’t get me wrong – I believe that a good website and strategic online marketing campaign are important but there is so much more involved in growing our virtual tour business than just having a good web presence.  My experience with our website is that it’s the place where people go to verify what I have told them in our face to face or phone conversation.  According to a recent graphic from Kuhcoon.com, when it comes to trust in advertising, 92% of people said that they most trusted word of mouth recommendations versus 58% that said they most trusted a company’s website. 

A good website and social media campaign can certainly get us on someone’s short list of potential virtual tour photographers but unfortunately, 99.9% of our sales are still closed via good old fashioned conversations and emails and getting to know each other face to face.

As much as I wish it was otherwise – cold calling isn’t dead yet!

Healthcare Photography & Virtual Tours!


RTV Tour Track System – Something Extra!

 

If you’ve ever visited New Orleans, you may have heard the word “Lagniappe”.  Lagniappe derives from New World Spanish la ñapa, “the gift,” and ultimately from Quechua yapay, “to give more.”  It is still used in the Gulf states, especially southern Louisiana, to denote a little bonus that a friendly shopkeeper might add to a purchase. I’ve always considered Lagniappe to mean a little something extra — a bonus which is appreciated but was certainly not expected.

For our Charleston virtual tour business, our Lagniappe comes in the form of RTV’s Tour Track jobs.

RTV is a national virtual tour company with a strong web presence so it’s not unusual for them to get leads or to land national clients who need virtual tours in different areas.  Because we are a part of their network of virtual tour photographers, they share those virtual tour leads with us when one of the leads is in our area.

As an independent virtual tour business owner, if we don’t shoot, we don’t eat.  Any entrepreneur knows the feeling of waking up everyday knowing that it is our responsibility to close new business if we want to keep our virtual tour business going.  As our business has become more established, more of our business comes from referrals and repeat business from existing customers that we have closed ourselves.  At the same time, as our skills and experience photographing virtual tours has increased, we have had the opportunity to photograph more Tour Track jobs.

As the sales and marketing person for our virtual tour business, I am ecstatic when we get a Tour Track order.  Tour Track jobs are photography and virtual tour business that someone else closed and all I have to do is schedule the virtual tour and show up to shoot.  I don’t have to solicit the sale, negotiate the price, or convince the customer of the value of a virtual tour.  For me, getting a Tour Track order is like finding money in a coat pocket that I haven’t worn for a while.  I don’t expect it, I don’t depend on it, but I certainly do appreciate it when it comes.

Thanks for sending us of the apartment photography jobs RTV!

 


The RTV Family Reunion

If you have never been to RTV Tour Con, you may wonder if the time and expense are worth it.  If  you have been to an RTV Convention, you may wonder what you will gain by attending again.  After all you learned so much last year that you can’t possibly imagine that there’s anything left to learn.

For us, there is absolutely no question about whether we will attend.  Our virtual tour business was successful before the convention and was successful after the convention.  But something fundamentally changed for us as a result of attending last year’s RTV Convention.

We are a national virtual tour provider and we specialize in healthcare and hospitality virtual tours.  In the past two years, we have photographed in 33 states.  We celebrated our two year wedding anniversary last week and “our song” is Zac Brown Band’s “Free”.  The lyrics to the song — We live out of our old van, travel all across this land – just me and you — describe our life perfectly except that we travel all across the land in a 2010 Dodge Caliber.  We drive everywhere we go — we have over 107,000 miles on our two year old car.

We love our life but as our song says, it was just the two of us.  We would talk to other RTV providers occasionally and we had a great phone relationship with Jason LaVanture but we had never met in person.  We were active on the Facebook group and had preconceived notions of who was who in the RTV world.

All of that changed the day we arrived in Traverse City.  Facebook allowed us to put faces with names so we immediately connected with the faces we had come to know so well.  We walked into the lobby and for the first time since we joined RTV, it was no longer just us driving around the country.  Suddenly we were a part of a group and over the course of the weekend, we became part of a family.

That may sound corny but tonight we had dinner in Valparaiso, IN with Mike and Debra Higgins.  We are doing a joint job with Patti Hessing this week.  We spent two nights with Bobby Goolsby and his beautiful wife this spring and later attended the University of Georgia/University of Missouri football game with Bobby and his son.  Buffy Crosby cheered me on during the training for my first half marathon.  I helped Jacque Burke negotiate a barter for her wedding anniversary trip and I helped Cyndi Ingleton close her first healthcare virtual tour.  We’ve all watched baby Emerson grow and we all rejoiced with Nancy Bain as she welcomed her grand baby.

In the year since the RTV convention, we’ve cheered each other on, we’ve consulted with each other about how to improve our virtual tours and how to build our virtual tour businesses.  We’ve watched our Facebook group double in size and we’ve seen our respective businesses grow and thrive with the launch of the Fusion virtual tour software system. 

If you attend the RTV convention, you will learn about building tours and processing images in Photoshop.  You will learn about social media and sales and marketing.  But more importantly, you will realize that you are a part of something much bigger than your own little (or big) virtual tour business. 

When you leave Vegas, you will be energized and you will be encouraged and you will be challenged.  You will still be an independent virtual tour business owner but you will no longer be alone.

What happens in Vegas (or the hospitality suite in Traverse City) stays in Vegas but what you learn and experience at the RTV Convention goes home with you and stays with you throughout the year.  

Looking forward to getting lots of hotel photography shoots next year! 

 


Marathon Training For a Virtual Tour Company

Starting our virtual tour business was a lot like starting an exercise program.  When we started our vacation rental photography business three years ago, we had no idea what we were getting into or where our virtual tour business would take us.  We were starting from scratch and had so much to learn before we could even begin to set realistic goals.  

Real Tour Vision is a national virtual tour provider and we travel all over the country photographing virtual tours for healthcare companies.  We have photographed in 35 states in the past year and a half and while that means we have had some great adventures and seen some awesome places, it also means we have spent a ton of time in the car and eating fast food on the road.  Like most new businesses, we were on a tight budget which meant that our meal choices weren’t always the healthiest.

Let me start by saying that I am not an athlete. I have always wanted to exercise and have done it in spurts but was never consistent so I never reaped the benefits. I never played sports in school and I have never particularly enjoyed exercising.  My weight yo-yoed for years and as I’ve gotten older, I’ve gotten fatter and lazier and it became more and more difficult to lose the extra pounds.  After my mother was diagnosed with diabetes, I realized that I was on the same path if I didn’t change something.

I started exercising with an app on my iPhone  called Couch to 5k where I alternate running and walking for 30 minutes and every week did a little more running and a little less walking until eventually I was able to run 5k or 3.2 miles without stopping. At the beginning, I was lucky if I could run/walk a mile and I was wiped out after I finished.  But as I put in the time, the miles got easier.  I followed the program and soon the goal of doing a 5k seemed way too easy.

Fifty days from right now, I hope to be somewhere near the finish line of my first half marathon – The St. Louis Rock and Roll Half Marathon.