After high school, I worked in construction for a couple of years and then got a job selling Harley-Davidson motorcycles. I was like a duck in water—I loved sales! I met many successful real estate people buying expensive toys and realized there was something interesting about their industry. In 2003, during the last housing boom, I became a mortgage broker and focused on working with real estate agents. When I saw how much time they spent answering the same questions about home buying and financing from their clients, I wrote an instructional homebuying book they could hand out up front. It was a marketing tool they could use to brand themselves, make a positive impression, and save some time.
The recession kicked in, and the mortgage industry became more regulated with fewer opportunities to be entrepreneurial. It was no longer the right place for me to be. I took a year off and started a business producing marketing services and products for mortgage brokers and loan officers. It was difficult to monetize, so I got my license in 2012 and jumped over to the real estate side.
Building Systems That Work
I started at a small brokerage in Portland, Ore., and then moved to Premier Property Group in 2014. A few months later, one of the three partners wanted to leave, so I bought in. I serve as vice president of sales and marketing and also lead my own 12-person team.
After jumping to Premiere, I was number one in sales volume and transactions within a few months. Other agents wanted to see what I was doing, and I was happy to help them. I’m a marketing guy, and selling houses is a marketing job. I also love systems. Systems make you more efficient and consistent and faster. I basically started systematizing every process and strategy I knew worked well and making them available to everyone at our company.
The welcome package I introduced to go along with my homebuying book is a beautiful, legal-sized, four-color portfolio that includes agent bio, testimonials, guide to home architectural styles, sample contract, a pen, business cards, and a copy of the 60-page book. The welcome package is delivered in a white gift box. It is a marketing tool any agent can send, and it completely wows prospective clients.
We also built an online marketing platform that allows agents to fill out a one-page feature sheet and order what they want from an à la carte menu of materials: videos with drone flyovers, voiceovers, 3-D virtual tours, flyers, brochures, websites, and signposts. The platform feeds into the MLS and can send blasts to 4,000 area REALTORS® as the property is going live.
In-House Marketing Saves Time, Money
The feature sheet goes to our three-person marketing staff, which coordinates all the service providers and creates the materials. These were tasks that would take an agent hours to do individually. And instead of 700 agents talking to 100 different photographers, we as a company use five or 10 photographers. We keep their calendar, so you don’t have to figure out when they can do a shoot.
We bill agents for our marketing services, and we pay the vendors. It’s up to the agent whether to pay in full each month or defer payment until the transaction closes. We charge 10 percent more if we float them. By allowing them to pay later, we enable them to market their properties better. Otherwise, if they had to write a check, they might not do everything. We also offer a fee-based transaction coordinator at each branch and we’re working on an online store, which will sell pens, t-shirts, and other logo items.
Flexibility for Agents
Agents have two options for paying their desk fees. One is they can write us an annual check for $7,000. The other is we take a 25 percent split from every commission until they cap out at $12,000. That’s it. They don’t have to use the marketing department or any other service. They can just run their business and keep their head down. But we’ve created robust and secondary streams of income for our company that are such a tremendous value to our agents that most buy in and use them.
The word is getting out, and we are getting calls every week from agents who want to make the jump. Two years ago, Premiere had about 350 agents. Now we are at 700 and growing.
I am constantly looking at my personal book of business and asking how the company could create a better experience for me as an agent and for my clients. I do the beta testing and tweaking, and once something works, I can share it with the company. I could keep all my secrets to myself, but by sharing them with my agents, they know I want everyone to be successful. If I lift them up, I’m going up with them. I have an abundance mindset. There is plenty of business for all of us.