The Takeaway with Nobu Hata, Featuring Raziel Ungar
In today's market, establishing trust among home buyers and sellers is vitally important. Nothing does that better than having past clients talk about the good job you did for them. Raziel Ungar has built his web site around his client testimonials. First, he gets a professional photographer to take a portfolio of pictures of them and then accompanies the pictures with the clients' words on the success they've experienced with Raziel's help. Raziel talks about his strategy in depth in the latest The Takeaway with Nobu Hata.
The Takeaway With Nobu Hata is an audio podcast series. It features in-depth discussions on business-building tips that successful real estate pros are using in the field.
Listen and share The Takeaway with Nobu Hata.
Nobu Hata, NAR Director of Member Engagement: Hey, welcome to The Takeaway. This is Nobu Hata, and I’m here talking about reputation management with one of my good friends, both inside and outside of this business, Raziel Ungar. Raziel, can you introduce yourself, who you’re with, and where you are in this world?
Raziel Ungar, broker-associate, Pacific Union, Burlingame, Calif. Absolutely, Nobu. I’m in Burlingame, a community of about 29,000 people 20 minutes south of San Francisco and 20 minutes north of Palo Alto, so we’re kind of north of Silicon Valley. I’ve been selling real estate for 11 years, basically since I was 23 years old and I got my brokers license. Last year, I did 30 transactions for a little over $50 million.
NH: The amount of business that you do is an amazing thing. For this podcast, what I want to talk about is reputation management, because you take that to the next level compared to what a lot of agents do. A lot of agents get portal reviews and recommendations from their clients but for you this whole idea about being people-focused kind of perpetuates itself throughout your marketing. If you want to check out Raziel’s web site, it’s burlingameproperties.com, and it’s one of the best websites that I’ve seen in a long time. Before we jump into this, I want to get down to the nitty gritty. Why did you go this route of people-focused real estate? Is it because your market is so competitive? What was it about the market that you made you want to go this route in your marketing?
RU: I think the competitiveness of the area is part of it. I mean, I had a lot of success with my previous web site, which was focused on the neighborhood and it was the only kind of REALTOR® website in my market that had this kind of detailed information and statistics. I thought that would be great but I remember seeing this ad campaign that Corcoran [a New York City real estate company] had done which was fantastic and they featured celebrities like Tyson Chandler, who played for the Knicks at the time and they had done this photoshoot with him and other Corcoran clients. I thought, “Wow, that is so cool!“ They featured their clients in their homes and then the light bulb went off for me, and I decided that, when I redo my web site, that’s the kind of focus I want to have, something based on this people-focused concept and just to be as related as possible as our market as such a melting pot. Even though I’ve grown up in Burlingame, only a few of my clients actually are local and our area attracts some of the best of the best from around the world. I want to showcase that everyone that I’ve worked with looks different, English might be their second or third language, and so on. I felt that was the best way to capture that.
NH: That’s interesting. So, really, it was about more of the external market forces that were driving you. You are in an area that not only is it competitive, but you have the tech community, which attracts folks who are not from the area. Yes, getting your clients to talk about your services is an amazing thing and to get your clients to talk about what your services were and the experience that you brought to the table is quite a victory. How did you get them to get their pictures taken and to go and answer these questions and get it out there? Did you pick them? Did they pick you?
RU: I was really nervous in the beginning, Nobu. I just thought, ‘Oh, man, they’re not going to want to be on the web site. Like, anyone can see them and they are my clients.” After all, most of my clients are very private people, or high profile. I just thought, “Well, I’ll ask, because they are really cool people and we had a great experience working together and hopefully I will earn their trust.” The photographer I selected was a really good friend of mine and has just incredible people skills, so I knew he was different from other incredible real estate photographers I’ve worked with. This photographer really had no experience in real estate. My whole goal was to have someone who had exceptional people skills, whom my clients would feel comfortable with, so the first two or three photo shoots, I was present. I thought I needed to be there and kind of break the ice. Later, we ended up doing dozens of photo shoots, and I didn’t even need to be present. I just kind of asked my clients and said, “Hey, I would be very honored and grateful if you would consider being on my web site. Out of the 32 clients who I asked over a several month period, 30 said yes and the two who said no just had a different privacy perspective and didn’t want to be online.
RU: I was very surprised. I started asking more clients if they wanted to be on the web site. And they’d say things like, “Oh, wow! I can’t believe you asked us! It’s just been fun!”
NH: that’s cool, because I can only imagine people, after seeing your other clients raving about you on your web site, want to be a part of this club, right? That’s an interesting take on that. Right now, I’m looking at Jeff and Linda Thompson, who talk about their transaction. “We financed our home and it was the best decision we have ever made.” And then the next one is Jennifer Mark and Mark Van Looy, who work and live in the area and they say, “We only had four to five weeks to get out of our house and get into a new home, so it was really stressful for us and Raziel took the stress out of this.” I mean, the human messages here are an amazing thing. You put yourself on Yelp, too. Everyone seems to have a positive Yelp review and rating, right? But Yelp for you is a large part of your lead generation plan? How does this mindset get deployed out of Yelp for you? Is it the same kind of thing? Do you ask your clients?
RU: Good question. I mean, there’s really no formal strategy on Yelp. You have to be very careful. For me, I was perhaps fortunate to be on Yelp for many years and my reviews go back towards the beginning of my career, which is probably seven or eight years ago, so it’s not that I have a ton of reviews. It’s a small percentage of my clients who do take the time to write a review and when they do, of course, I am grateful for it, but I don’t have a plan. I know many agents reach out to their clients after a certain time period or while they are in escrow and say, “Here’s the link. Can you write a review?” For me, that just felt a little forced. I have every once in a while said, “Hey, if you felt comfortable, would you mind sharing your experience online with others so they can kind of benefit from hearing about what your experience was like working with me?” I don’t say specifically Yelp. I just say there are several web sites, where if you felt comfortable that would be great to share that and it’s happened and obviously having a large presence on Yelp is certainly helpful for business. I do have people reach out to me and say, “Yes, we saw you on Yelp and we’d like to work with you,” and that’s fantastic and then just get a resume builder, too, because some people will go to my web site and they’ll say, “Oh, that’s pretty cool,” and then they’ll go to Yelp. The more you have out there the better!
NH: That’s where I think a lot of it is missing in agents strategy when it comes to lead generation, especially if it’s built around things like reviews, because when they go from Yelp or anywhere and to your web site there’s a disconnect. You have actually taken that whole Yelp experience and set it in cement on your web site, putting all of those people front and center. What would you suggest for somebody who is looking to do this type of thing? There’s a lot of money to be spent on web sites like yours. Is there a cheaper way you would get somebody to do this? Like put them on video? What would you like folks to do?
RU: I think it’s pretty simple. I would just ask three or four favorite clients if they would be willing to do a public endorsement of you. Show up with their iPhone and shoot a video of, like, two to three minutes. Or tell them that my profile includes podcasts as well. I kind of stuck my iPhone in their living room and asked them a few questions. I think there are small things that people can do. Obviously, the more the better, but just having a few things on there is better than not. I agree with you, Nobu. Yelp and the web site kind of go hand-in-hand and I think if you don’t complete that picture, there are missed opportunities.
NH: Is there anything specific you ask your clients to do when they’re writing a review for you or putting anything on your web site? Is there a unique question that they’re like, “Oh, I never thought about sharing that with people in public.” Is there anything that you do to challenge them, to get them to write a better review about you than an agent would normally get?
RU: For an online review, no, because I want them to come up with it on their own. I think if I knew they were writing the review and I was guiding them, all of the reviews would sound similar and it would probably feel forced and people could read through that. I really don’t want to engage in that. For the profiles on my web site, the questions are pretty similar. What was your experience in working with me? What made it special? Clients would send their responses back to me and maybe I would ask them a couple of questions about something unique from their transaction that they felt comfortable elaborating in that profile.
NH: Nice. It’s more of a natural, organic asks for Yelp and the portals, but for your website, it’s a little more tactical and a little more specific about the experience. Awesome! Well, Raziel, thank you so much for sharing your expertise with us when it comes to reputation management. Everybody check out burlingameproperties.com and if you have a question or anything like that, Raziel are you around?
NH: Awesome! Thank you so much for your time!
About Our Speakers
Raziel Ungar is a broker-associate at Pacific Union in Burlingame, Calif. He is in the Top 1 percent of sales associates in San Mateo County, and the No. 1 broker in Burlingame.
Nobu Hata is the director of digital engagement for the National Association of REALTORS®. Before joining NAR, he was a real estate agent with Edina Realty in Minnesota. The self-described geek has called Alaska and Minnesota home. Now, he’s in in Chicago or on the road meeting with REALTORS® and association executives to talk about NAR, their business, and the integration of digital technologies in the real estate industry.