Moving Forward – ILC Goals for 2013
2012 was an unbelievably successful year for Illinois Land Company. Being the first year under new ownership, we were very uncertain what to expect. Like everyone, we had a few heartbreaks along the way. However, looking back at the year as a whole, we couldn’t be happier with the financial results, the personal connections and relationships, and the personal enjoyment. We learned a lot this first year. Now that the year-end administrative work has come to an end, we have had time to reflect on last year and focus on the upcoming year. We like to keep our clients up to speed on the direction and purpose of the company. Our goals are strategy based. It is our belief that if we work the right way and truly aim to help our customers, the financial results will come. So here it is…our focus and goals for 2013.
1) INCREASE THE OFFERING OF TRULY USEFUL BUYER TOOLS
This is without a doubt our biggest focus for 2013.
The two biggest things that 2012 taught us was that
A) We rarely have in inventory exactly what a customer wants at that specific time.
B) Our customers are buying land primarily as an investment, an equity builder, or to park money in a secure location. The added benefit is that they get to enjoy it through hunting, fishing, and general recreational uses.
What this taught us is that we need to build and manage relationships with our clients. They need to entail continuous open communication. Further, we need to provide our clients with a level of service that does not exist in the land brokerage industry. We envision the land broker/land buyer relationship as a dynamic one…not one that simply shows property. Each land buyer has unique financial and personal goals, risk tolerances, and circumstances. Consequently, each customer should be handled uniquely. We need to provide them tools that make their land buying experience enjoyable. We need these tools to ensure our clients that their investment is fundamentally sound amidst any short term market trends or volatility.
As a results, ILC is in the process of implementing what we are currently calling the “5 Star Service”. The five services planned are as follows…
1) LAND ADVISERS
We have narrowed our search to three individuals. We may end up going with all three because they all have unique talents. All three have or are working on masters degrees from the some of the worlds most prestigious schools including Harvard and MIT. Their talents for analyzing market trends and wealth management are unparalleled. These advisers will be on hand to offer guidance on any specific land question. They will also help with referrals for customers with specific requests.
2) LAND SALES DATA
ILC has taken land sales data to the next step. Over the last several months, we have been working diligently at obtaining records of each and every land sale recorded in our core areas (primarily central Illinois). Further, we have pulled satellite aerials on these farms that contain both soil type info and timber/tillable ratio. What this allows us to do is determine the trends for each soil type and property type. It will allow us to identify attractive buys. It will allow us to pull objective, non-emotional comps for any property that our clients are looking at. This process will be updated monthly to ensure that we stay up to date with market trends. We are super excited about this! Without question, a unique and exclusive offering!
3) FREE PLAT MAPS
We are working with a publishing company of Illinois Plat Maps. It is our goal to offer our exclusive clients free digital copies of any county plat map in Illinois that they want. These will be updated as available. Another way to make land buying easier and effective for our clients.
4) LAND DATABASE
It is no secret that the land industry is largely segmented. While residential offerings are typically part of the MLS, land brokers mostly operate independently. Consequently, it is hard to search for property. They are spread out online at small brokerage websites, land listing services such as LandWatch, and residential broker webpages. We have done research and have attempted to find every site online that offers land. We then took all those listings and put them in one place behind a protected password for our exclusive customers. Simply another way to make the land investing experience easier.
5) PROPERTY PREVIEWS
Not everyone markets a property like Illinois Land Company. There are some companies that do a great job. But most companies do an awful job. Their sites do not even contain the essential information like aerial maps, location maps, and pictures. This prevents a lot of our clients from wanting to waste their time looking at them. What we plan to offer is a property preview where an ILC employee makes a property visit and takes pictures, obtains maps, and any other pertinent information. We then send it to the perspective buyer so he/she does not have to waste time looking at a property that is not a fit.
All these services are going to be available free of charge to our exclusive clients. We think that purchases of this magnitude deserve a different level of customer service. This Five Star Service is our plan to achieve that elite level.
2) GEOGRAPHIC GROWTH
Customers are coming at us from all regions of the state. Our goal for 2013 is to be able to handle customers from one end of the state to the other. I have interviewed dozens of candidates. So far, only three have the knowledge and commitment to be part of the ILC Team. By mid 2013, we should have Brokers in about half the state. Our goal by 2014 is to cover the entire state.
3) IMPLEMENT NEW TECHNOLOGIES TO PROPERLY MARKET PROPERTIES.
In late 2012, we introduced user controlled 360 degree tours…giving our prospective buyers a 360 degree view of some cool areas of our listed farms. Currently, we are exploring 360 degree video…which gives the user the ability to stop a video tour and take a 360 look around. We want our customers to have a great feel for a property before they go tour it. We dont want to waste anyones time.
4) INCREASE OFFERINGS FOR OUR SUCCESSFUL LAND BUYERS
Many of our land buyers do not have the ability or time to maintain their property or to manage small projects. We hope to organize and offer land maintenance services for our land buyers…including farm mowing, trail construction, and many other small excavation projects. Another way we plan on making the land buying experience more enjoyable through ILC.
5) INCREASE OUR AWARENESS
ILC has had incredible viral success. We want to build on that success by growing out social network and blog subscriber count. We plan on achieving this through more blog writers, outdoor shows, and online ads. Our goal for 2013 is to have 20,000+ facebook subscribers and 10,000+ blog subscribers! This online community is a large reason for our success.
6) HUNTING LEASES
Many of our facebook fans and blog subscribers are not in the position to purchase land yet. Currently, there is nothing that we can really offer them…which doesn’t seem right. We are in the process of aligning some partnerships to offer land leases throughout Illinois. We want to develop these relationships so that ILC is their first choice if they decide to purchase a tract of their own!
7) INCREASE INDUSTRY ALLIANCES
Another reason for ILC success in 2012 was that we developed some great alliances with key players in the industry. We want to expand on that by developing even more alliances including brokers throughout the state. If any broker in the state wants help selling a tract of land, we want them to think of us. Many land brokers would prefer not to work with other brokers so they do not have to split any commission. We believe that is detrimental to the overall need of our clients. We want to find the perfect tract of land for our clients and many times it is a listing that we do not have.
One alliance that we are excited about is a partnership with The Land Connection…who specializes in helping organic farmers find suitable land. They also help these farmers develop and sustain growth of organic fruits and vegetables. We think that this would be a huge benefit to our community and we look forward to playing a role in that!
8) MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN THE COMMUNITY
We continually search for ways to give back to the community. We sponsor several local golf tournaments. We are a continuing sponsor of Hooked on Fishing. We are currently in the process of donating a War Eagle boat to the park! Additionally, we will continue to give to our local church – Northwoods Community Church – who pushes us to make a difference in the community. Northwoods Community Church has done some great things and we are proud to be a part of that!